If you haven't heard about Stanislav Cifka yet, you must have been living under a rock. He's just a few Dollars short of joining the exclusive club of superstars that have already earned a six-digit amount playing Magic: the Gathering which should give you a pretty good idea of how good he is.
To break that number down a little bit: He advanced to the Top 8 of a Pro Tour twice and he even won Pro Tour Return to Ravnica! He also made it to the Top 8 of a Grand Prix three times already and all of this happened over the course of just 3 short years!
My first question for him was why he picked Utrecht rather than staying for another week in Portland like so many other players that participated in the Pro Tour?
"I prefer Constructed more and I wanted to go home in between events. The other guys I tested with stayed over in Vegas and after 2 weeks in the States, I felt like it was time to return home."
Stanislav Cifka just finished yet another impressive season!
Your preparation for the Pro Tour was a little different this time. Did you prefer it compared to your previous approach to playtesting?
"Most of the time, I'm preparing with Ivan Floch or some friends from the Czech Republic or Slovakia. This time, we were joined by Frank Karsten and Martin Juza, which obviously added a lot. If we can, we will prepare together again, but it might be difficult to work out where to meet to prepare for the Pro Tour since it's going to be held in Hawaii."
"Then again, all of us were very successful and happy with the testing and overall, we did exceptionally well. It was a very structured approach and we had less breaks in between games than we used to have at past events."
You will be the captain for the Czech World Magic Cup. How excited are you for this event?
"Although I don't know yet who I'll be teaming up with, I'm looking forward to the event quite a lot. I really enjoyed my time there last year; it's a big change when compared to the singles competition. Even if you go there as a team, you will play your rounds as an individual and then compare numbers at the end of the day. At the World Magic Cup, it's completely different since you are constantly talking to your teammates, even during the matches."
"A few years ago, everyone just played the deck they liked. The event evolved quite a bit in that regard. You now have to work well together and that's a big difference compared to the normal events. It results in a completely different metagame; you have to play a new format and I really like this challenge!
How happy are you with your past season? Do you consider it the most successful season so far?
"It might not have been my most successful season; it's about the same compared to 2012 when I won the Pro Tour. My goal is always to lock up Platinum prior to the last Pro Tour. I also want to be in the race for the player of the year, but last year, that seemed a little out of the question since Reid and Jeremy were doing so exceptionally well."
"This year, I want to have a head start and not waste any time and try to do as well as possible as early as possible and that's also why I'm here. Last season, I even flew to Mexico to get some results in before the rest of the competition.
"What I like the most about these early events is that there's a little less pressure on you, though. You don't have to do well to lock up a status or collect a few more Pro Points - that's what will be happening at the last 10 events in the Season."
"Still, last season was exceptional. I enjoyed the Block Formats as well as the other formats; it was lots and lots of fun. My highlight of the year was probably the Player's Championship in Amsterdam. We had a great time there, even though I wasn't doing so well. From a competitive perspective, it was the Pro Tour Journey into Nyx where I ended up in seventh place."
Stanislav Cifka easily attracts a crowd whenever he's playing these days!
What do you think about the Standard metagame after the Pro Tour?
"I think it's quite fine at the moment. The Sphinx's Revelation Decks are really strong, then we have the Black Decks and Jund and Burn are also rather competitive. So I think there's something in there for everyone. It's hard to say what deck is the best deck since all of them can beat all the other decks with the correct draws. I think that the Black Decks have a minor edge with Thoughtseize and Pack Rat, though, but it's only by a tiny margin."
How do you decide which deck to play for a weekend?
"Most important is to feel comfortable with your deck choice. In general, I like to play the slower decks, but most important to me is to not play a Mid Range Deck. I want to either have a very fast or a very slow deck. I hate having to switch gears all the time, so I want to go into the match with a clearly defined game plan!"
That was quite a lot of advice from one of the finest Magic players we have at the moment. I hope you were able to take something away from this article and you will aspire to follow Stanislav's impressive example and make a name for yourself as well!