A little less than a year ago, back in November 2014, Immanuel Gerschenson had left his first bigger mark in the Magic history books, becoming champion of Grand Prix Madrid 2014. I decided to sit down with the reigning GP Madrid champion and ask him what his year had been like, expecting some good stories since he added yet another championship to his résumé back in February when he won GP Seville.
Gerschenson told me that he first started playing Magic around the time the Kamigawa and Ravnica blocks had been released (2004/2005). Like many other players, he first got into the game playing casual Constructed, but when Ravnica, City of Guilds was released, he also participated in drafts. In the first few years he was playing the game, he only enrolled in local tournaments, taking a break every now and then and not really sticking with the hobby.
Growing Up with Magic
Gerschenson turned 18 in 2012 and decided to pursue his Magic career a little more seriously; in that same year, he attended his first ever Grand Prix in Madrid. He didn't explicitly confirm my suspicion, but I'm fairly certain that Spain is his favorite Magic country. After all, he won both of his trophies here!
Despite putting in a lot of hours and doing well at local events ("countless PTQ Top 8 and finals appearances", as Gerschenson put it), success at the championship level eluded the Austrian up until Grand Prix Madrid 2014. Gerschenson admitted that he hadn't really changed his approach for this particular event, though. That meant he got together with the same group of regulars at his local shop and played lots of Magic to get a better understanding of the format.
Ironically enough, Gerschenson had considered taking yet another break prior to his first victory in Madrid. Ever since, the thought hadn't crossed his mind again.
"A lot has changed since GP Madrid," Gerschenson explained. Over the course of the past year, he had been testing heavily with a group of friends for the events they attended. Despite them shifting gears, they didn't do too well at Pro Tour Fate Reforged in Washington, D.C., as no member of the group managed to put up a decent result. While the jet lag had also played a role in Gerschenson's mind, he realized that their approach was still leaving a few things to be desired.
"We had too many people in the team. It felt like a number of smaller groups that all tried to work together rather than one big team with a common goal."
They decided to cut a few people for the following events and go for an even more structured approach during testing. They agreed on a schedule so they would build decks for a certain amount of time, then draft for a few days, followed by lots of Constructed games to refine the decks they had assembled.
Having made those crucial and difficult decisions, Gerschenson had little trouble focusing exclusively on the next event ahead: Grand Prix Seville. It took place just one short week after the Pro Tour, but the Austrian was now pulling out all the stops and he added a second victory to his résumé.
Joining The Pro Player Club
At the same time, that meant he was now up to 19 Pro Points and he had just secured a ticket for Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir, which in turn meant he would definitely reach the Silver level in the Pro Players Club.
Unfortunately, after this up came another down: He performed well below expectations at the Pro Tour stop in Brussels; his whole story sounded like a big rollercoaster ride. Gerschenson had tasted blood, however, and he wouldn't just lay down his arms after his two incredible results in Spain.
He decided to attend Pro Tour Magic Origins and pay for the trip out of his own pocket. He came up with the following plan: Finish 12-3 at the Grand Prix in Dallas that took place one week prior to the Pro Tour and follow it up with an 11-5 (or better) finish in Vancouver. The force must have been strong in Gerschenson over the course of those two weeks as he did exactly that, which meant that he ended the season on 35 Pro Points, locking up Gold!
He described the moment as "career-defining" and he vividly explained that it took him more than just a short moment to realize what he had accomplished.
It wasn't just him who had put up decent results, though. His entire team did well. His friend Simon locked up Silver and two other friends ended up with 34 Pro Points, missing Gold by just one point. Still, they were more than happy at that point as they felt they were finally on the right track.
Looking Forward To The Things To Come
While it seemed like Gerschenson had finally jumped on the Pro Tour train, he said that he wasn't sure whether he could make it to all of the upcoming Grand Prix events that he would like to attend. The main reason lies in the fact that he needed to be present for certain classes of his physics degree (otherwise he would automatically fail) and unfortunately many of those were Friday classes.
He admitted that he couldn't really complain, though. His goal for the new season was putting up solid results in several Pro Tours. Since he now has both the right team as well as the right strategy, he was confident that he could now succeed where he had failed before.