Team EUreka

Posted in Event Coverage on January 31, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

The pro teams of Magic have historically been nothing if not fluid. Players have separated into groups based on region, friendship, sponsor affiliation or even just how well their schedules match up. For years, it wasn’t a surprise to see a prominent player be a part of several different testing groups over the course of a year.

Team EUreka is changing that.

The team — named so because its members all hail from Europe — has been one of the most consistent groups over the past 12 months. Their first breakout success came when Martin Dang won Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir, and Joel Larsson followed that up three months later with a win at Pro Tour Magic Origins. The run at Pro Tour titles ended at Pro Tour Battle For Zendikar, when the team had to “settle” for Martin Muller’s Top 8 appearance.

That’s a dominating stretch for any team, much less one that has existed for all of a year. But, while the tournament success is impressive — and there’s no doubt it is — it’s also not what team members are most excited about.

“We’ve never had a single person want to jump ship,” Dang asserted proudly in the hours before the majority of the team shuffled up for Grand Prix Mexico City, the event they chose to congregate at before heading to Atlanta for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch next week. “It’s the first team I’ve been on where everyone works so well together. Everyone is on the same level and is a valuable part of the team.”

Joel Larsson, backed by members of the red-hot Team EUreka, was crowned the champion of Pro Tour Magic Origins.

It’s not luck that has brought about Team EUreka’s success — or their team comradery.

“We put people together who see the game the same way and want to be professional,” Muller said. “We looked for that mindset, and it’s worked out great. As a team, we really respect each other.”

That’s no easy feat when it comes to something with as many moving pieces as a professional team, but EUreka hasn’t only managed to assemble a cohesive team: they’ve built one of the best in Magic’s history.

With two Pro Tour champions in the last 12 months and hall of famer Olle Rade on the squad — not to mention two more players currently ranked in the Top 25 — perhaps the most defining feature of Team EUreka is that there is no defining headliner among the 15 members rostered for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.

“There are no giant egos to deal with,” Dang explained, “just a good group of players working together.”

With their opportunity to run their streak of Pro Tour Top 8 appearances to four in a row, most of the players converged in Mexico City a week before the Grand Prix. In between frequent trips to sample the local cuisine, the team has spent the time deep in preparation for the Pro Tour. That meant non-stop Oath of the Gatewatch-Battle for Zendikar drafts, and they were pleased to share what they had learned so far.

“It’s a really different format than triple Battle for Zendikar,” Muller said. “In a lot of ways it’s more of a ‘normal draft,’ where you don’t have to draft a ton of synergy. It’s really changed the way you evaluate some cards. For instance, Wave-Wing Elemental was a borderline card before, but now it’s actually quite good. There are a lot of defensive creatures in Oath of the Gatewatch, and you can’t always get big guys like Eldrazi Devastator to end the game like you could before. Back then you would play a 3/4 flier, and they would just play an 8/9 and kill you. Now that doesn’t happen as often, so you actually need finishers.”

Cards like Spawnbinder Mage, Loam Larva and Blinding Drone have significantly slowed down the draft format, making aggressive decks much more difficult to conceive.

“They are still playable, but you have to be more efficient or have evasion because the games go longer,” Dang explained. “It’s definitely a different format now, and more balanced throughout the colors.”

Of course, testing can only get you so far, and nothing matches up to a live tournament. By the end of Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, we’ll know exactly how accurate Team EUreka’s take on it is — and whether they can keep their Top 8 streak going.

Team EUreka

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