The 2013-14 Premier Play season was a fruitful one for Hall of Famer and Paul Rietzl, who solidified enough support for his induction in the Pro Tour Hall of Fame Class of 2014 with his fifth Pro Tour Top 8 at Pro Tour Theros in October 2013. His stellar season earned him an invitation to last year's World Championship.
This season, Rietzl has not slowed down. Despite not putting up a Top 8 finish, the new Hall of Famer has continued to perform at the Pro Tour level with consistency, earning enough Pro Points to be part of the conversation of who would be Player of the Year in the 2014-15 Premier Play season. While he did not win that title, he did earn enough to earn one of the at-large Professional Point invitations to this year's World Championship at PAX Prime. And impressively enough, he's done all of that as a weekend warrior all while managing a demanding job as an executive recruiter in Scottsdale, Arizona.
2015 World Championship Competitor Paul Rietzl
But that is the present Paul Rietzl, a Magic player who has gone through many lessons and who has moved on to life outside of where he grew up and has moved on to adulthood and the burden of maintaining a regular job and social life. But despite that, Magic has still remained a part of him. His origins in his hometown of Boston are a testament to that.
"My babysitter taught me to play Magic when I was nine-years old, and I was naturally competitive, so I sought out a place where I could improve and hone my skills," Rietzl recollected. "I was very fortunate to find the YourMoveGames shop about fifteen minutes from where I lived. There you could find Hall of Famers Darwin Kastle, Dave Humpherys, and Rob Dougherty as well as the occasional appearance by William Jensen or Brian Kibler."
Given the competitive level of YourMoveGames, it was safe to say that Rietzl had plenty to learn, growing up in what was known as one of the toughest stores to consistently perform at. "Playing in multiple tournaments a week with players of that caliber is what made me the player I am today," he said.
With the competition Rietzl regularly faced on the east coast, qualifying for the Pro Tour was not easy given the tough field at every Pro Tour Qualifier. That said, achieving the win and the invitation to compete one Magic's most famous stage made for an excellent memory.
"My first Pro Tour was Osaka in 2002," Rietzl recalled. "I was 16, so my Mom decided to accompany me to Japan. I ended up losing playing for Day Two to Mike Turian, but was definitely hooked on high-level Magic from the start. We took some time to explore Japan, including trips to Kyoto, Tokyo and Hiroshima."
From then on, Rietzl was hooked. "I definitely wanted to see if I had what it took to play the game and see the world," Rietzl said.
Despite Rietzl growing up, he has made Magic an important part of his life, one where he is able to regularly re-unite with close friends on the weekends he is able to pull away from work to partake in the game he's been part of for years. He'll have that opportunity again in a few weeks, as he returns in an attempt to add a World Championship title to his already well-decorated resume.
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.