Go East

Posted in NEWS

Go East

Mark Wraith

With a player base of two thousand, which is growing rapidly, Poland fully deserves its first Grand Prix. So far this year, almost four hundred tournaments have taken place in the country. The Polish situation is similar to other Eastern European countries like Russia and the Czech Republic where Magic has been booming the last year. Players are also attracted to the Grand Prix from areas such as the Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus and so on, for whom this represents there first chance at a reasonably local Grand Prix.

Warsaw is an old city but few traces of it remain, as the Old and New towns were both completely rebuilt in the aftermath of World War Two. One can still look around the old castle, which was painstakingly reconstructed from a pile of rubble at incredible cost between 1971 and 1984. Still the rebuilding succeeded, and Warsaw was voted as one of the top world heritage cities in 1980. It's definitely worth the look around.

If the number of judges can be an indication for the level of play in a country, then Poland is a force to be reckoned with. There are over thirty judges, one of which being Jakub Wysoczanski, head judge of this Grand Prix and the only other European level four judge apart from Cyril Grillon. It's actually thanks to the likes of Jakub and Adam Cetnerowsky, level three judge, that Magic is as big as it is today in Poland. "They are the real drivers. Did you know that nine Polish judges will be going to Vienna later this year - unsponsored. That kind of motivation is invaluable," according to Cyril Grillon, who will be scorekeeping this weekend. ISA the Polish distributor of Wizards of the Coast have also been a great assistance in organising a Grand Prix in this country.

Most of the players at this Grand Prix will be unknown, and Poland itself has had little success on the international scene so far. Gromko Radislaw is the only Pole with any decent results at the top level, with a top 8 in Porto. Most of the Polish National team are here, they achieved notoriety at Worlds this year by all dropping out after the first day. Yuri Kolomeyko, the Ukrainian player who made top 8 at Pro Tour Barcelona is here too. The field has been weakened by the clash with Pro Tour New York. We do have Craig Jones of England, Mattias Kettil and Richard Österberg of Sweden, Janosch Kühn as well as a host of other German players, and a decent selection of Frenchmen, Michael Debard, Pierre-Alain Laur and Pierre Malherbaud included.

In total around four hundred players are here to contest the Grand Prix. The format has already been heavily played around the world - at Grand Prix Denver, Santiago and London, and each time the field has been influenced by the one before. The Polish players might not be playing much Domain, but judging by the number of Planar Overlays being traded here before the first round starts, they are certainly ready for it.