It was only a little more than three years ago when the world was introduced to Montreal's Alexander Hayne in a big way, when he took home the trophy at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in Barcelona, Spain 2012.
Now a fixture on the Pro Tour, Hayne has chained together multiple seasons with Platinum status in the Pro Tour Players Club, has gained a reputation as one of the Grand Prix circuit's best players, and he has continued to enjoy all the things that come with the Pro Player life-style and as a sponsored player for Face-to-Face Games: he travels the world, hangs out with friends that he has made across multiple countries, and enjoys the variety of food options that come with visiting new places.
2015 World Championship Competitor Alexander Hayne
It's amazing to realize that, looking only a year prior to that win in Barcelona, Hayne wasn't even on the Pro Tour as a regular.
"Interestingly enough, I had encountered Magic cards many times before I really knew what the game was," he said. "The first time I ever saw a Magic card was when I was camping with my dad, his friends, and their kids. One of his friend's oldest sons had some cards and was trying to teach one of the adults how to play. I must have been eight-years-old or so, but I still remember the look of the cards. I remember not being interested since I thought the game had something to do with billiards because of the back."
"I was an avid chess player, and spent a lot of my time playing in tournaments and practicing, and didn't really have time for another game," he continued. "I ultimately quit chess a couple years later because I wanted more social time for non-chess friends and girls, but started playing again at CEGEP (school in between high school and university that we have here in Quebec). A friend at CEGEP of mine, Mike Ahn, actually introduced me to Magic."
"I was totally hooked, and Magic became my escape," he went on. "With my competitive chess background, I took fairly quickly to the game, and wasn't really intimidated by tournaments as I had played for thousands of dollars from a young age already. I kept seeking out tougher and tougher competition, finding out about the Pro Tour and devouring coverage, and dreaming of someday playing on it with these players who I had watched and learned from."
While Hayne first discovered Magic at a young age, and began playing years later, it wasn't until about four years ago that he found his way on the Pro Tour.
"My first Pro Tour was Philadelphia 2011, the first Modern Pro Tour," Hayne said. "I qualified by winning a PTQ, beating Rich Hoaen in the semifinals and finally closing after a lot of near misses. At that point, I had zero lifetime Pro points, with a very sad Nationals ninth place finish as my best accomplishment. Now, less than four years later, I have over 200. It's strange to think about."
"For the event, I tested with a bunch of friends who had also qualified, most notably Pascal Maynard," he continued. "We ended up deciding to play Splinter Twin, as it was the combo deck that could fight other combo decks. I went 3-2 in the Constructed portion, then lost the first round of the draft and was paired against Raphaël Lévy at 3-3, where I beat him and convinced him not to drop since, back then Top 200 got three pro points and 200+ only got two. I then lost my final round of Day One, putting me at 4-4, a record that nowadays would make Day Two, but didn't back then (you needed a 5-3)."
"I remember learning two things," he added. "One, that I had a lot of room for improvement as a player. I could have won at least one, if not two more matches that day. I knew I could do better and be better. The other thing I learned is that the players on the Pro Tour, for the most part, were also not that incredible, that they were people like me who played a flawed game of Magic, and only a few of the top players really impressed me with their play. I vowed to requalify, which I successfully did two weeks later at Grand Prix Montreal with a finals performance."
2012 was truly a momentous year. Not only did he find himself hoisting the trophy at the end of the weekend at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored, but Hayne also found himself playing against some of the world's best at the Players Championship that year. "I just had to experience the challenge of playing against the best, and when I competed in the Players Championship in 2012, I got to experience that to a whole new level," he commented.
Now, as this season's Top Grand Prix Pro Points earner, Hayne will make another return to a World Championship event, where he again gets to play against the world's best.
"I'm glad I get another chance to prove myself to myself, like I did at the Pro Tour level after Philadelphia," he said.
The 2015 Magic: The Gathering World Championship takes place in Seattle, Washington, during PAX Prime on August 27, 28, and 30. To learn more about this year's competitors, head over to the 2015 World Championship Competitors page, and check back every weekday leading up to the World Championship for new profiles on each of this year's competitors.