Meet the Magic Online Championship Competitors

Posted in Magic Digital on May 11, 2016

By David Whitfield

David works on the Magic community team as a content specialist. He spends his days writing about Magic Online and trying to play too many colors at once in Limited.

Once a year, masters of Magic from across the globe converge on a location disclosed to them via ancient scroll (delivered by a rare Bird Wizard courier) to determine who is truly the best player on Magic Online. Those days of destiny are fast approaching: May 13 through 15, the 2015 Magic Online Champion will be decided!

Last time, we learned a little bit about each of the competitors, how they qualified, the gauntlet of Magic trials that they will compete in, and the coverage team who will be recounting their deeds and etching them into the annals of history. Since then, we've been chatting with the competitors to learn how they've made their way to the Magic Online Championship and a bit about their Magic history.

What Shadows over Innistrad cards are the competitors most excited about, what other hobbies do they enjoy outside of Magic, and—most importantly—what colors represent them on the Magic color pie? Read on to find out, and don't forget to tune into twitch.tv/magic May 13 through 15 to find out who will walk away as a Magic Online Champion!

Jonathan Anghelescu (JPA93)

Sam Black (Vicalis)

Daniel Gräfensteiner (smother2)

Alexander Ivanov (BeReborn)

Magnus Lantto (Lantto)

Niels Noorlander (NielsieBoi)

Bernardo Santos (bernardoccsa)

Mike Sigrist (msigrist)

Joe Spanier (ExisFlame)

Gerry Thompson (Thage)

Oliver Tiu (tiutangclan)

Peter Yeh (DeepFinesse)


Jonathan Anghelescu (JPA93)

Qualified via the Season 12 Legacy MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

Casually around 2004, more seriously in 2011, and competitively in 2014.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

Legacy. Its gameplay is unique and intricate.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

Reading, drawing, painting, movies, music, and traveling.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

Since the summer of 2014.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

Triskaidekaphobia, because it lets you win Limited matches in style. I like the set as a whole, great flavor and atmosphere.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

White-Blue Spirits.

What colors do you think best represent you?

Blue and red.

Who is your favorite Magic player to watch?

Owen Turtenwald.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

In high school, I learned Latin and ancient Greek before English.

What other Magic results do you have?

Top 16 at GP New Jersey in 2014.


Sam Black (Vicalis)

Qualified via the Season 4 Dragons of Tarkir-Fate Reforged Sealed MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

Roughly May of 1994.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

Any format I haven't played much before. I just like learning new things.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

Cooking and writing.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

I started shortly after it came out, around Torment's release.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

Tireless Tracker. I like cards that challenge traditional understandings of card advantage.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

Green-White Delirium.

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

Blue. I'm curious, rational, and methodical. I'm also calm and dislike the outdoors.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

I don't like surprising people, so I try to be pretty open about things that might surprise someone. I'd hope there's not much that would surprise people who have been paying attention at this point.

What other Magic results do you have?

Two PT Top 8s, eleven GP Top 8s, the Team Worlds title for the US in 2008. I've [also] won a car, the most recent Super Sunday Series Championship, and a handful of other odd titles from years ago.


Daniel Gräfensteiner (smother2)

Qualified via the Season 11 Battle for Zendikar Sealed MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

I started playing Magic with Judgment.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

My favorite format to play is Limited, mostly because I've never had a large collection.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

My hobbies aside from Magic are playing football (not American football), beach volleyball, and League of Legends.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

I think I created my Magic Online account in 2002.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

My favorite card in SOI is Thing in the Ice because of the artwork.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

My favorite archetype is White-Blue Spirits.

Who is your favorite Magic player to watch?

My favorite Magic player to watch is my brother Tobias Gräfensteiner, because he makes almost no mistakes and plays clean Magic. I learned a lot watching him play. He's a good sportsman and doesn't rage when he goes on a losing streak. I think he is the best player in Germany.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

I've never won a Pro Tour. ^_^

What other Magic results do you have?

One Pro Tour Top 8 and one Grand Prix win.


Alexander Ivanov (BeReborn)

Qualified via the Season 1 Standard MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

Since 1998, between Urza block and Mercadian Masques.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

I like to play Draft. Some sets are very skill-intensive and make Draft really interesting.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

I like to play a lot of other online games.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

Since the Magic 2015 set.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

Thing in the Ice! There are so many deck variations in a variety of formats that can use it.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

Black-red. Madness is a very powerful mechanic and there's a lot of great removal in those colors.

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

Blue because I like to draw more cards. :)

Who is your favorite Magic player to watch?

Sam Black.

What other Magic results do you have?

I don't have any good results in Magic yet.

Defending Champion Magnus Lantto (Lantto)

When did you start playing Magic?

Close to 20 years ago, during the time of 4th Edition.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

It's been changing through the years, but I used to be really high on Limited, then Modern, but the last year I'd say that Standard has just been the best by far.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

I'm a big foodie, so trying out new restaurants and cuisines during my Magic travels is great!

How long have you been on Magic Online?

Since the beta.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

Traverse the Ulvenwald—green toolbox strategies have always been a thing for me. Also Thraben Inspector—so innocent yet does so much for your draw.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

White-based aggro. I even had a turn-four kill yesterday with this!

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

Green. Definitely the color I enjoy playing the most, and it's been a part of every successful tournament I've had so far.

What are you doing to prepare for the Magic Online Championship?

I [have been] testing for Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad with team EUreka, so that is where I get my testing for Draft and Standard. The older formats I mostly test online, but get great help with inspiration from the team.

What other Magic results do you have?

Winner of last year's Magic Online Championship, 5th place at Worlds 2015, winner of GP Milan 2014, 2nd at GP Madison 2015, and Top 8 at GP Brussels 2015.


Niels Noorlander (NielsieBoi)

Qualified via the Season 6 Modern Masters (2015 Edition) Sealed MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

I started playing in 2000 when a girl from my class showed me her Quicksilver Amulet Dragons deck.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

My favorite format is Booster Draft. Playing with a different deck every three rounds is very fun and keeps a format interesting after you have played it a lot.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

I'm a season ticket holder for the football club in my city: Feyenoord Rotterdam.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

I've had my account for quite some time, while I only occasionally played a draft, but I started playing a lot in August 2014.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

White-Black Sorin, Grim Nemesis Control.

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

Red because I can be impulsive and blue because I strive to be rational.

What are you doing to prepare for the Magic Online Championship?

Obviously, playing Magic Online a lot. Besides that, me and my friend Mitchell Manders, both from Rotterdam, were lucky enough to both qualify for the Magic Online Championship, so we will be doing some testing between the both of us.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

I don't like chicken.

What other Magic results do you have?

Top 4 Worlds with the Dutch team, one Grand Prix Top 8, qualified for eight Pro Tours.


Bernardo Santos (bernardoccsa)

Qualified via the Season 2 Khans of Tarkir-Fate Reforged Sealed MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

I started playing in Magic 2013 tournaments.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

I really like Limited. I've enjoyed most recent Draft formats, with triple Khans of Tarkir being my favorite.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

I enjoy playing different sports with friends like soccer, handball, and tennis.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

I've been on Magic Online for approximatively two years.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

Pyre Hound, also known as my friend Luis Gobern's puppy.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

I like red-green because a lot of the Werewolves are good. Usually, I focus on playing whatever's open.

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

I've always liked the blue-red combination, as I enjoy playing tempo decks. I don't know if those colors describe me, though.

What are you doing to prepare for the Magic Online Championship?

I'm planning on playing a lot on Magic Online and in various tournaments. I will also try to talk to some friends about what they think of the formats to try to gather information and be the best prepared I can be.

Who is your favorite Magic player to watch?

Marcio Carvalho.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

I lived in Democratic Republic of Congo for eight years, from age eight to sixteen. I lived for two years in a small town called Boma. When I arrived, I didn't speak French, so I had a difficult transition period. Fortunately, I was able to adapt to the change, and I learned how to speak French in about a month.

What other Magic results do you have?

I don't have a lot of other Magic accomplishments. I've qualified for Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad in an RPTQ. As of today, I went 8-1 in the first day of GP Barcelona.


Mike Sigrist (msigrist)

Qualified via the Season 8 Magic Origins Sealed MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

I started playing Magic around the time 4th Edition was released.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

I like Booster Draft the most because the games are always different.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

Other than Magic, I mostly spend time with my daughters and wife at home.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

I've been playing Magic Online since it was released, off and on.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

My favorite card in Shadows is Archangel Avacyn. It's just completely busted.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

The one that's most open.

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

Blue and white—I like to be in control.

What are you doing to prepare for the Magic Online Championship?

Going to play Magic Online and test with Gerry Thompson

Who is your favorite Magic player to watch?

My favorite player to watch is Owen Turtenwald. He plays with precision, so I like to compare the plays I'd make to his.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

I am in no way related to Brad Nelson

What other Magic results do you have?

Two-time GP champion, two PT Top 8s, and 2014–2015 Player of the Year.


Joe Spanier (ExisFlame)

MOCS Last Chance Qualifier Winner

When did you start playing Magic?

Seventh grade, right around the release of Legions. I was playing competitive Pokémon at the time, but the girl I had a crush on was playing Magic and told me to give it a try, so then I started.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

Legacy. The games are incredibly deep and pack a lot of highly relevant decisions into a short period. On top of that, many of the top decks function very differently, so even though a lot of the cards are the same, the games play out quite differently.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

I cook a lot.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

Late 2010, about a week before Scars of Mirrodin came online. That was also when I came back to Magic (after quitting around Dissension as high school debate took over my life). I haven't actually made much of a return to paper Magic. I consider myself almost entirely a Magic Online player.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

It has to be THE GITROG.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

Rise from the Tides. I haven't drafted the set much at this point, but it's Spider Spawning, or at least the closest thing I've seen so far.

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

I would tell you my colors, but then I would have to kill you. If only we had a guild...

What are you doing to prepare for the Magic Online Championship?

Playing Magic. Then playing more Magic. And when I'm done? I'll probably play a bit more.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

I have never chewed a piece of gum. Yes, really. Someone offered me a piece of gum in chemistry class in tenth grade, and I realized I'd never had any before. I then decided I'd rather be able to say I've never chewed a piece of gum, so I haven't.


Gerry Thompson (Thage)

Qualified via the Season 5 Standard MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

My first sanctioned tournament was the Invasion Prerelease. Before that, I played at the end of the hallway during lunch in high school.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

Is Extended circa 2002 a real answer? If not, I guess I'll say Legacy since those formats have some similarities. Realistically, I just like playing Magic.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

When I get invested in something, I tend to go deep, which doesn't leave very much time for anything else. Plus, Magic is how I make my living, so most of my time is spent on it, whether it's brewing, writing, playtesting, or even just thinking about it.

If I have time, I enjoy JRPGs, loud concerts, anime, and reading.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

Since triple Odyssey drafts were a thing. I got in more reps than I ever could playing in real life and it elevated my game quickly, so I never really stopped playing.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

Thing in the Ice!

Casting instants and sorceries is something I already want to be doing, and then it resets my opponent's board and smashes them. I also have a history of thawing ice counters.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

I'm always down to mill myself for profit, so Black-Green Delirium.

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

Blue is a given due to my thirst for knowledge and overwhelming desire to be in control of any situation. Red because of my temper and bouts of temporary insanity.

What are you doing to prepare for the Magic Online Championship?

Leverage the knowledge I gained by testing for, and playing in, Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, plus brewing a Legacy deck (or just asking Mike Sigrist what decks he's playing).

Who is your favorite Magic player to watch?

Michael Majors for the crisp, clean, perfect gameplay.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

In the last couple years, I found a fond appreciation for the competitive Pokémon VGC [Video Game Championships] scene. I even played in several Regionals, some of which I flew to. Shout-out to Tiago Maltez, a Magic player who got me up to speed quickly.

What other Magic results do you have?

I am the only person to win both StarCityGames.com Opens in the same weekend. The tournament structure changed, so I will forever be the only person to ever do that. While it's nice to know I won't ever get surpassed, I did enjoy watching them try.


Oliver Tiu (tiutangclan)

Qualified via the Season 9 Legacy Cube Sealed MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

When I was around nine years old. I was introduced to the game during a summer camp.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

Standard, because I enjoy the challenge of constantly adapting to a dynamic metagame. It also often consists of grindy and interesting games.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

I enjoy watching poker, although I haven't played much of it.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

Around three or four years.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

Rise from the Tides—the card is very fun to draft around and also powerful in the right deck. It's a crucial aspect of the Blue-Red Spells archetype in draft.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

Blue-Red Spells. The deck wins in very unorthodox ways, and is a blast to play.

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

Blue because I'm a Spike and always play to win. Blue is the most powerful color in Magic history, and I also enjoy drawing extra cards more than anything else in Magic.

What are you doing to prepare for the Magic Online Championship?

Playing tons and tons of Magic Online.

Who is your favorite Magic player to watch?

LSV, he's one of the all-time best and also very entertaining. He often sees weird lines of play, and is extremely knowledgeable. I learn a lot from him.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

I cashed my first Grand Prix at twelve years old.

What other Magic results do you have?

Top 16 Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, Top 8 Grand Prix Providence.


Peter Yeh (DeepFinesse)

Qualified via the Season 7 Modern MOCS Finals

When did you start playing Magic?

Scars of Mirrodin.

What is your favorite format to play and why?

Draft. I love it when all the pieces of a good Draft deck fall into place neatly. I also (occasionally) find it amusing to attempt to salvage a train wreck at low-stakes events.

What hobbies do you have aside from Magic?

I play bridge competitively. Unfortunately it's taken a back seat recently due to my Magic activities.

How long have you been on Magic Online?

Since original Innistrad. I burned so many tickets back then, but it helped me improve tremendously as a Limited player.

What is your favorite Magic card in Shadows over Innistrad and why?

It depends on the day, and on recent Limited events I played in. Today, it's Avacyn because I opened one in my Sealed pool.

What is your favorite deck archetype/color combination to play in Shadows over Innistrad Limited?

Green-blue with Graf Mole and Epitaph Golem.

What colors do you think best represent you? Why?

I suppose it's blue and red, since I find myself to be methodical, intellectual, and secretly very self-centered.

What are you doing to prepare for the Magic Online Championship?

I'll be leaning on my friends' expertise in Urbana-Champaign and I suppose I will also play a lot of Magic Online.

Who is your favorite Magic player to watch?

I enjoy LSV's Draft videos a lot.

What is one fact about you that might surprise people?

I spend a lot of time daydreaming.

What other Magic results do you have?

I Top 8ed the first Release event I ever attended; it was Mirrodin Besieged Sealed. I also won a play set of Underground Seas at Red Raccoon Games in Bloomington, Illinois, a while ago.

We were unable to reach Mitchell Manders and Akira Tamaki in time to include their interviews within this article. Furthermore, due to circumstances beyond our and the players' control, Konstantin Puzanov and Dmitriy Timohkin will be unable to attend the Magic Online Championship. We've extended them a special invitation to Pro Tour Dublin in 2017—we look forward to seeing them there!

We're only a few days away from the big event. Remember to keep your Twitch tuned to twitch.tv/magic from May 13 through 15 to find out who emerges with the title of Magic Online Champion!

Latest Magic Digital Articles

BLOG

September 22, 2021

MTG Arena Announcements, September 22, 2021 by, Wizards of the Coast

Progress Update Bugs are being squashed as we continue to work on issues you've reported. Tomorrow's release will have more fixes, including these: Fix for a bug in which Grafted Identi...

Learn More

BLOG

September 15, 2021

MTG Arena Announcements, September 15, 2021 by, Wizards of the Coast

Stabilization Progress The team has made progress on improving stability and eliminating bugs following the update. Thursday’s (September 16) update will bring a few notable fixes:: Fi...

Learn More

Articles

Articles

Magic Digital Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All