Arnost Zidek: The Interview
When 97 World Champion Jakub Slemr quit the Magic scene, it let a gigantic hole in the Czech Republic's Magic landscape. Since Czech republic had to wait for the 2005 season to see 30-year-old Arnost Zidek from Ostrava take up the torch. After top 8ing the 1600-player GP Paris, the teacher in Mathematics recorded the same finish at PT London. At barely three weeks from Prague, Arnost shares his impressions about the Pro Tour and the evolution of the game in his country.When did you first play Magic?
It was in 1997 I guess, a few weeks after the Tempest Prereleases.
And when did you first qualify for a PT?
In 2002. I was qualified for Worlds in Sydney... without success of course.
You finally reached the Top 8 of PT London and have become a Level 3 mage, usually pros who play Magic for a long time enter the train faster. You also posted many money finishes last year including a 19th place in PT Los Angeles. What changed between Arnost 1997 and Arnost 2005?
First. I ‘ve been playing much more these last two years. Then I’ve learnt how to lose... After any loss I am thinking as much as possible why it happened, and what to do next time to prevent it.
Does your work let you enough time for work for testing?
It is rather ok. They arranged all my lessons for tuesday, wednesday and thursday (so i can travel for GPs and PTs even in the school terms). And outside of the big tournaments I am often playing via internet... Anyway Magic consumes most of my free time now... But I am not complaining.
Is it easy to play magic in Czech Repuclic?
No... The years of Jakub Slemr are over. There isn't any connection to good players outside the country. There are some good players, but until lately, when we travelled to the PTs, results were really bad, because we had absolutely no idea what the rest of the field would play, This happened in Sydney for example. The second problem is that the economy in our country is still not that comparable to other parts of EU and the cards are very expensive for many people. And I am not talking about money for travelling.
What do you get if you win a PTQ in your country?
We had many problems with our distributor in recent years, but the situation is much better now. A few years ago, you received some boosters and that was all... Now if you win a PTQ, you will get almost the whole flight (unless it is team PTQ). The number of Czech players travelling to PTs grows and the good results too.
Can Czech players test together before PTs?
There are groups testing together. My group, the Moravian one, is made of Petr Nahodil, Jan Brodzak (Top 8 GP Rimini 2004), Daniel Krutil (2nd in GP Lille 2005)... We are playing together for almost every single tournament, even the local events. The Prague group is testing together as well, but there is small rivalry between these groups.
There are only two Czech players on the train (Arnost himself and Petr Nahodil, Level 3). Except for you two, whom would you recommend keeping an eye on at Prague?
We are the only two Level 3's at the moment, but there will be other Czechs playing too, including Jakub Slemr (World Champion 1997). And don’t forget the Slovaks. Two members of the Slovak national team are qualified as well and they were both almost in the finals of team competition in Yokohama.
How are the relations between Czechs and Slovaks players?
We are very good friends with the Slovaks... Almost always travelling and testing together to PTs, GPs...
How does it feel to have a PT in your home country?
It is great... There are many people looking forward to it, not only the few that will be playing
Is it important for you to try and do well there?
Off course ... It IS my home country, I like it very much and I am very proud to be Czech... I hope everybody likes our country...It is very important to me because the start of my season was very bad.
Any money finish yet?
Only in GP Lille, where I lost the final round for Top8 to my team member Daniel Krutil. It was a draw though, but the draw meant we would both be Top16. Since he had better board position, I conceded. It was his first Top8, so I was very happy he reached the finals then.
Are you glad to draft with Dissension in Prague?
Yes, but it will be very complicated format
What are your plans for playtesting? Do you have a Prerelease in Ostrava?
Yes we have... I would like to play two Prereleases the first weekend and then play as many drafts as possible, mainly thanks to MODO’s beta.
On the last beta, there was no RRG draft, do you think there will be RGD this time?
I hope so... This is the best way for MODO testing team to see all the interactions of the whole Ravnica block. And there will be many people testing beta, so I guess it will be useful for them.... I haven’t really used the Guildpact beta anyway, except for constructed testing for Honolulu. I had no time for drafting.
And before London (when there was whole Kamigawa block), it worked.
Who do you think will be in top 8 in Prague?
Hard to say... Masashi Oiso, Anton Jonsson, Frank Karsten, Richard Hoaen, your brother Antoine, Osyp Lebedowicz, Helmut Summersberger and somebody we’ve never heard of.
What is favourite guild in draft?
Boros and Izzet.
Most overrated card?
Vedalken Dismisser just now, people are taking it as 2nd pick very often and I don't understand it, even if it is very good
Julien Goron answered me the same two weeks ago, I soooo agree.
Yes... I like it so much, but you cant afford to take in at 2nd pick... 4th is much better I guess.
Peel from reality. I am drafting it higher and higher and every draft I find new exciting situation when it almost wins you the game.
Enough for now, let's talk about outside Magic
Ok... what would you like to know?
Let's see... favourite movie?
Lord of the Rings
Rudolf Hrušínský, but only Czechs can know him. Eddie Murphy then
What's your standing for the trilogy by the way?
1. Fellowship of the Ring
2. Return of the King
3. The Two Towers
Nightwish, HIM, Rasmus, Iron Maiden
Metallica / Metallica (the black album)
Metallica / Nothing else Matters, U2 / One, Nightwish / Wishmaster... hard to decide.
Stephen King / It , Douglas Adams / Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy
Hobbies besides Magic?
Math, computer games, trips to mountains.
Favorite video game?
Do you often go hiking?
Almost every month a small trip, even if there is snow on the mountains... I like to spend every New Years Eve at the top of one mountain not far to Ostrava
By the way, did you see the picture of Rakdos (leader of RB guild). He looks almost the same as Diablo himself.
Hehe, true. A couple of extra questions about magic, best memory as a player?
First memory that come to my mind now is two weeks ago when we were playing team draft together, you put on the table Terraformer, then Djinn Illuminatus and then casted Gather Courage 7 times in one combat to kill me.
The best memory for myself is still PT London, when I was leading the tournament for 24 hours approx and I had absolutely no idea, how it happened.
Force of Will
Control deck with counterspells and big card advantage
A final word for the readers?
Come to see PT Prague. Our country is amazing
Thanks a lot and good luck in Prague!
This interview was composed while listening to Emak Bakia/FRECUENCIAS DE UN ROJO DEVASTADOR and The Fiery Furnaces/REHEARSING MY CHOIR