After having a breakout performance at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar and qualifying for the World Magic Cup, Ryoichi Tamada is still quite unknown to most of the world. The 30 year old player from Osaka is one of the most shy players I've interviewed. I caught up with him about Magic, his past performance and his future aspirations.
"I started playing around Odyssey while I was still a student," Tamada mentioned when I asked him about how he started playing Magic. It took him a number of years before he started playing more competitively having played in a handful of Pro Tours since 2010. His biggest success before Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar was 27th place finish at the 2010 World Championships. "Because of my rank and my ability to go to worlds [via the World Magic Cup Qualifier], I started playing a bunch more." Playing more netted him his two big successes to date: winning the WMCQ in Kyoto and qualifying for the WMC, and getting second place at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar.
While he might not have as much experience as some of the other members of Japan's WMC team, Yuuya Watanabe and Kenji Tsumura, he looks forward to practicing with them: "Right now it looks like we're all going to meet up in Tokyo before [the WMC] and practice there. We haven't talked too much, but that's what we're going to do."
Being a relative rookie to the Pro Tour, it was surprising to see him have the success he had at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar. More surprisingly he prepared to the Pro Tour by himself. "I played a bunch of Magic Online to practice for the Pro Tour." Having this outlet to practice Standard and Battle for Zendikar draft was invaluable for the Osaka native. "Normally, though, I don't really play too much [MTGO]–maybe 1 hour a day." This weekend he continues playing the deck that brought him success on the Pro Tour–Jeskai. He made a couple of changes to his trademark deck archetype, but he wants to keep them secret.
Looking forward to the future, Tamada was excited: "[Next year] I just want to keep playing Magic," he mentioned. Why wouldn't he want to? After getting 2nd place at a Pro Tour and qualifying for what looks to be one of the strongest teams at the World Magic Cup, he's got only opportunity ahead of him.