Of the 700 teams locked in battle this weekend, not everyone is here with their friends. As a matter of fact, many are here with family and a handful of teams comprised only of family members. In particular, we've been made aware that there are three teams who are formed with a band of three brothers!
Exploring preexisting relationships between Magic players is always an interesting facet of the community and we've spent some time hunting down these trios and learn a little more about their family, as well as their involvement in Magic over the years.
The Ecker Brothers
From left, Danny Ecker, Manuel Ecker and Niklas Ecker
The Ecker brothers are from Germany. The eldest of the three, Danny, 35, resides in Frankfurt while Manuel, 27, and Niklas, 25, live around Koblenz. Because of that, they don't get to see each other as often as they would like, making Grand Prix Rotterdam a perfect time for a road trip. With an age gap of almost ten years, Danny first to picked up Magic as a hobby in 1995.
“I started playing around Ice Age and the Fourth Edition with another brother, Florian. At that time, Niklas was barely five years old. I think he would have preferred toy cars at that point. And yes, there are four of us, but we could only register three persons today. No matter, he had to work and stay home with the kids anyway.”
Despite not being able to teach the game to his younger brothers just yet, Danny continued to play Magic on and off, and it was not until Manuel and Niklas reached middle school when the magic actually happened. Manuel and Niklas recall fond memories of their older brother introducing the game to them.
“Basically what Danny did was to unearth all the old cards in his closet and I remember we were playing with bad cards such as White Knight and Order of the Ebon Hand. We were so excited to discover that there were so many cards in the game and it quickly became one of our most enjoyable hobbies. It was around the time when Torment was released (around 2002) and also marked the first time all three of us played together. It was an amazing adventure that's likely to last a lifetime.”
Just to be clear, White Knight and Order of the Ebon Hand aren't as “bad” as they say. In fact, Danny insists that they were “the best” and the truth is they were Standard staples back in those days. Regardless, the engaging gameplay and constantly-evolving climate sparked their interest and they never looked back. Of course, there were times when school and work commitments caught up to them, forcing them to take occasional breaks in between.
Then, sometime in 2008 when Shards of Alara released, “big brother Danny” suggested buying two booster displays to play some sealed deck. Just for the fun of it. Naturally, Manuel and Niklas were receptive to the idea and that reignited their passion for the game. It was also then that they started to take the game more seriously, frequenting Friday Night Magic tournaments together and then moving up to participate in Grand Prix Trials, Pro Tour Qualifiers and Grand Prix.
Since Rotterdam was only a three-hour drive away from Germany, it made a lot of sense for the brother to unite once more. Even amidst their busy schedules, they could not pass up an opportunity to play Magic together once again.
“Team Grand Prix are our favorite events right now. Even though we don't get to see each other on a weekly basis like before, we mark down Team Grand Prix on our calendars and make the effort to find time for each other. Having said that playing Magic is great but not as important as staying in touch with family. At the very least we want to catch up with one another.”
The Wieser Brothers
The second trio of brothers we're highlighting are the Weiser Brothers. Can you also tell that two of them are twins? I quickly pointed out that there were definitely not identical which caused all three of them to burst into genial bouts of laughter.
From left, Lukas Wieser, Felix Wieser and Markus Wieser
I asked myself if I had said something silly, as looks of puzzlement filled my vacant face. Felix, 26, the eldest, quickly stepped in to quell my apprehension.
“It's funny because literally nobody has said that. You are probably the very first one to say that they look different! Everyone thinks that Lukas and Felix are identical. But I've been looking at both these boys for 22 years and not once did I think they looked the same!”
With my doubts dispelled, Lukas and Markus quickly gave me the run down on the family's Magic “heritage”. They started playing together around Champions of Kamigawa, which was released in 2004. In particular, they were drawn to the great artwork and the presence of cool Samurai.
Well, the brothers are not wrong. Samurais are pretty cool and they quickly fell in love with the flavor and lore of the Japanese-styled plane. However, they didn't “go competitive” until two years ago, when Khans of Tarkir was added to the mix. As they grew older and “wieser”, their thirst for competition increased gradually. Lukas assumed the role of the eldest and pitched the idea of attending Grand Prix Trials, Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers and Grand Prix together. The idea was well-received and they would find themselves at local stores on a weekly basis.
Markus added, “Grand Prix Utrecht in 2014 was actually the first time we traveled to a Grand Prix together. It was an individual event unlike this one but we had a lot of fun anyway. Since we all live together in Nuremberg, Bavaria, it is only a seven-hour drive from Germany. When we heard about Grand Prix Rotterdam, we were sure we wanted to come and quickly made arrangements.”
Individually, they each have different hobbies and different areas of interest but the one thing that keeps their bond strong and ties them together is their passion for Magic.
Lukas was quick to elaborate. “For example, Felix and Markus plays football and I don't. And we're working and furthering our studies at different stages of our young adult life. However, the one thing that never changes is that we can always play Magic together when we're bored. Sometimes, when we're at home and have some time, we'll sit down and play a few games of Standard and Modern together. With so many ways to play Magic, that never gets old.”
I guess the best thing about having a sibling is that you'll always have a playmate and if you have two you'll never be stranded at Team events. Seeing how close-knitted the three are as a result of Magic, I secretly felt a twinge of envy develop inside me. Playing a Grand Prix alongside two brothers is something I will never get to experience.
The Cornelissen Brothers
Last but definitely not the least, we arrive at the Cornelissen Brothers. The Cornelissens are household names within the Dutch Magic community much like the Ruels and Dickmanns are in France and Germany. There was a time when the three brothers played frequently together.
And then, one of them got much better than the other two. Stijn was quick to fill me in on the details.
From left, Jesse Cornelissen, Stijn Cornelissen and Kamiel Cornelissen
“Kamiel was doing very well on the circuit and he soon found better teammates and ran off without us. Haha! We weren't always qualified for the Pro Tour and he always was, so even if we wanted to play together we couldn't always do it.”
And then, in 2004, the headlines screamed... together with World Champion Tom van de Logt, “the two lesser known Cornelissen brothers finally got their chance to stand out of the shadows of their more famous brother Kamiel. Congratulations to team Schietkoe, winners of Grand Prix Bochum!”
Naturally, Stijn and Jesse lorded their victory over their big brother for weeks. But their big brother had the last laugh, of course. Kamiel wasn't about the take that lying down and went on to win Pro Tour Seattle 2004 with Jeroen Remie and Jelger Wiegersma a mere three months later! This story was a great source of “entertainment” for at the dinner table conversations and family reunions and is a memory that will be etched within the Magic community for eternity. Most importantly, the remembrance has also kept the Cornelissens closer than ever.
Nonetheless, Stijn and Jesse acknowledge that they'll never be the fantastic Magic player Kamiel is, and we both overjoyed to see him get inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009. How does it feel to have a brother who is a Hall of Famer? I guess Stijn and Jesse will tell you that it's pretty awesome!