As one of the three players competing in the 2015 World Championship that are younger than the game of Magic itself, Ondřej Stráský represents a new generation of Pro Players from eastern Europe. His team, the Cabin Crew, represents notable European Pro Tour competitors such as Hall of Famer Frank Karsten and fellow countrymen Martin Jůza and Stanislav Cifka.
Among the team, it was Stráský who had a breakthrough season as this season's Pro Tour Summit Prowler, with Sunday appearances in both Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir as well as Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir. Stráský's monumental season made him a solid guess on being one of the three top Pro Point earners from Europe, and he did not disappoint.
2015 World Championship Competitor Ondřej Stráský
So where did it all begin for Stráský? His first brush with Magic began, as it does for many, in grade school.
"I started playing during Time Spiral block with my classmates," Stráský reminisced. "I was actually the last one who joined in on the fun because I didn't want to spend my money on cards. Luckily, one of my friends convinced me, and here I am now."
"My first deck was a Black-Green Fungus pre-constructed deck which I 'tuned' into some sort of Rock deck with just about every single playable card I had. It was the first deck I went to a tournament with. After that, I pretty quickly started playing Legacy—the format that was played in our area the most—with Merfolk. I quickly became known as the kid with Merfolk in the Czech Republic."
Stráský's ascension to the tournament scene did not take long. Aside from gaining a reputation as his country's resident Merfolk pilot, Stráský also eventually found his way onto the Pro Tour, courtesy to the allure of a Legacy Grand Prix.
"My first Pro Tour was a lot of a fun," Stráský recalled. "I qualified through a Top 16 finish at a Legacy Grand Prix in Amsterdam 2011. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you look at it—the Pro Tour was in Hawaii. This meant that the plane ticket to go was super expensive, so for a long time it looked I wasn't going to attend. However, in the end, every member of my family chipped in and I went alone as a teenager. Since I was on a small budget, I was supposed to get in on Wednesday before the Pro Tour and I was planning to leave the Monday after."
"I was super nervous because I never travelled alone before, and my first flight got delayed, which meant I had to spend a night in the Amsterdam airport because I missed my connection. Luckily in the end, everything worked out, and I arrived to Honolulu on Thursday evening. I had no one to test with so I just played the easiest deck I could pilot in Standard—White-Blue Humans—and I drafted about three times total. Even though my preparation wasn't good, and I ultimately lost playing for a money finish in the deciding round, it was probably the best Pro Tour I've ever played in. Everything is so exciting the first time."
Stráský's taste for high-level Magic didn't end there. Before his spectacular 2014-15 season, he was one of the young guns in the 2013 Magic Online Championship, where he got his first sampling of smaller and more exclusive tournaments.
Now Stráský will have his chance to compete in another twenty-four player tournament later this month, where he and the rest of the field will all be battling for a hefty prize purse and the honor of being the Magic: The Gathering World Champion.
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.