Posted in GRAND PRIX DENVER 2015 - WELCOME on January 4, 2015

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Valentin Mackl Top 8ed his first Grand Prix last Summer before going on a tear over the remaining course of the year that included three Grand Prix Top 8s and eleven Grand Prix Top 16s. Austrian, Mackl often finds himself a stranger in a strange land when he travels to North America for Grand Prix tournaments. Despite huge amounts of success this last year, most Magic players still don't recognize Mackl. I had the opportunity to sit down with the 2014 Austrian World Magic Cup Captain to talk about his experience with Magic.

Valentin Mackl

When did you start playing Magic? How?

I think I was eight years old when I bought my first booster pack. It was Odyssey, I opened Mirari, which I assumed was amazing because it was legendary. My friends and I didn't speak English well at the time and, as a result, we didn't have a great understanding of the rules. I didn't play for a few years after that. When I was fourteen years old I switched schools and a lot of the people at my new school played Magic. It was a great way to make friends.

When did you start going to tournaments?

I'm very competitive. I started beating all the other people at school and I found a local game store where I could start playing tournaments. I met people that went to PTQs and I started taking the game more seriously. When I was eighteen, I finally won a PTQ for Pro Tour Paris. I started off doing well, but I ended up not cashing. It was a great experience and I wanted another opportunity to play on the Pro Tour.

Tell me about yourself. What kind of music do you listen to? What are your hobbies?

I listen to terrible music. For example, I really like songs that are sped up to play at three times their normal pace with pitched voices. When I'm home, I generally spend time hanging out with friends and playing computer games.

You and Patrick Dickmann seem like an inseparable pair. We've been seeing a lot of you two and North American Grand Prix events recently. How did the two of you meet and become friends?

Dickmann and I were on the same testing team for the Pro Tour he Top 8ed. [Pro Tour Born of the Gods] Afterward, Dickmann wanted to chase Platinum and started asking around to see if anyone would be interested in traveling to the Modern Grand Prix events in Montreal and Richmond. I decided to take a shot and go with him. Since then, we've become very good friends. We're both terrible at planning trips and we often find ourselves without plane tickets or hotels. Our mutual lack of responsibility is nice because neither of us feel bad when we didn't plan something well, even when we should have. Now, Dickmann gets in touch with me whenever he wants to travel to foreign events.

You like to chain Grand Prix events together when you make these trips. What's your plan for the coming weeks?

Dickmann and I are staying with a friend here in Denver. We plan to go skiing this week and drive to Grand Prix Omaha next weekend.

Awesome! I love skiing. Do you ski often?

I haven't been skiing in four years, but I used to go about twice a year when I was younger. I got hurt the last time I went, but I'm looking forward to getting back on the slopes.

What's your plan for the upcoming Pro Tour? Who are you testing with?

Dickmann and I were not on the same team for the last Pro Tour. He tested with Revolution and I tested with a group of friends. For the upcoming Pro Tour, (Fate Reforged) I'll be testing with Revolution.

What are your goals as a Magic player?

I'd like to get Platinum this year, but I'm just trying to play my best, travel, and have fun.

Valentin Mackl is new to the professional Magic scene. In less than a year, he has already managed to string together a Grand Prix resume that reflects someone that's been playing for the last decade. We can expect great things from Mackl in the future!