Ascending to Stardom

Posted in Event Coverage on February 2, 2018

By Chapman Sim

There aren't many Magic players who step away from their kitchen tables and transition directly on to the Pro Tour, but there are many who rose to prominence as quickly as they started taking their game to the next level. Within the last few months, we've witnessed a handful of aspiring grinders who are en route to becoming full-fledged pros.

Piotr Glogowski had been on a tear recently, and his rise to fame was so stunning one could call it divinely ordained. From a relative unknown, Glogowski was now the pride of Poland. It is not very often you get to read or listen to Glogowski talking about his feelings and his passion for the game.

"I really enjoy Magic, and I've been playing for quite a while now," he said. "I'm delighted that I've been doing so well recently, and it feels like all my hard work has paid off."

After coming in second place at Poland Nationals—and securing his spot for the 2017 World Magic Cup—Glogowski advanced to the Top 8 of Pro Tour Ixalan, becoming the first Polish player to achieve this momentous feat. A month later, he and his Polish teammates Grzegorz Kowalski and Radek Kaczmarczyk made it to the finals of the 2017 World Magic Cup, falling only to the Japanese powerhouse trio. Glogowski also has a pair of Grand Prix Top 8s, one at Grand Prix Milan 2015 and the other at Grand Prix Birmingham 2017.

"They were moving moments, both Pro Tour Ixalan and the World Magic Cup. I did not expect to be in range for hitting Platinum, but I think it is now within reach."

Despite these achievements, Glogowski was a Silver Pro yesterday. Sitting at 33 Pro Points before this weekend, he would lock Gold with the conclusion of Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, qualifying him for at least the next three Pro Tours. Slowly and steadily, Glogowski rose from the ranks to international stardom.

Piotr Glogowski's breakout season has finally come, with a stellar last three months of 2017 giving him momentum into the next year.

"I'm basically going to every single Grand Prix in Europe, so my next stop is Lyon, where I will be playing Modern again. It's my favorite format, I think it is vibrant, and I enjoy the complexity. In particular, I enjoy exploring the cool decks in Modern, trying them out, and figuring out how best to break the format. Standard and Limited are deep in other ways, but Modern really challenges me to think in a broader perspective. Sometimes, I feel like these decks are like pieces of art. Lantern Control is a masterpiece brew, in my eyes."

Next, we've got Samuel Ihlenfeldt, a member of team Tower Games who also made wonders that same weekend. Breaking into the Pro Tour Top 8 in his debut, Ihlenfeldt advanced to the Top 4, only to be stopped by the legendary Seth Manfield. Nonetheless, that dominating performance alone guaranteed him a pair of Pro Tour invites and possibly more in the future. Counting the 25 Pro Points he had as well as the minimum three points each from Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan and Pro Tour Dominaria, Ihlenfeldt is a small grind away from boarding the Pro train.

What were Ihlenfeldt's plans for the upcoming year now that good things were awaiting him?

"I recently put together my Grand Prix schedule for the next four months," he said. "I'm traveling twice a month to Grand Prix, and my next stop should be Memphis. I'm also putting in more time to learn new formats and new decks. I want to do well at Magic, so it's important for me to keep improving and learning." True to his word, he routinely asked his opponents if he had committed any mistakes or if he had sideboarded incorrectly, just like he did all throughout today. By seeking—or blundering—we learn.

Samuel Ihlenfeldt found unexpected success at Pro Tour Ixalan, and he's committed to learn as much as he can to maintain his early lead in the season.

"I personally find that the best way to improve is to play with more people. I've cranked up my hours on Magic Online, and I also try to meet up with my friends and teammates whenever I can. I'm also really close friends with Meghan [Wolff], and sometimes we meet up just to practice Modern the entire day. I'm also a grad student now, so trying to balance schoolwork and Magic is difficult."

Hey, you know what they say. It's not always easy, but that's why it is worth it!

"Because of my busy schedule, I'm starting to appreciate Magic Online more and more. I can put in some games after I finish my homework, or just run a draft in the middle of the night. Magic Online has helped me manage my time more effectively and allows me to play Magic in situations where I usually cannot."

So, having said all that, after calculating all the minimum points he would gain at the upcoming Pro Tours, Ihlenfeldt needs about four more Pro Points to secure Gold. Before we sent him off for his next round, he would like to send a special shout-out to Daniel Weiser, Jackson Hicks, and the rest of his teammates from Tower Games.

"Jackson and I have qualified for multiple Pro Tours, and we're trying to help everyone get qualified too so we can work on our ranking on the Pro Tour Team Series Leaderboard. Everyone has been doing genuinely well at recent events, and I hope that we can all move up together!"

Last but not least, we arrive at Spain's very own Sergio Ferrer Rozalen. He had just about the most fantastic start any amateur could ask for. Qualifying for Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, he finished eleventh place with a stellar 12-4 record and was also one of seven players to go 6-0 at the Booster Draft portion. To make things even more impressive, he repeated that performance at Pro Tour Ixalan, finishing twelfth. With these newfound Pro Points and upcoming qualifications, Ferrer Rozalen was now a Silver pro shooting for greater heights.

Sergio Ferrer Rozalen has had two back-to-back Pro Tour Top 16s in his first two times playing on the big stage. As one of Spain's up and coming competitors, he's looking to make Bilbao's Pro Tour the one that cements him among the top of the leaderboard.

According to Javier Dominguez, "Sergio has been doing really well lately, and I believe that he is one of the strongest players in Spain at the moment." To gain affirmation from a fellow countryman and grizzled veteran was only a testament to Ferrer Rozalen's mastery.

The last couple of peripatetic years had been the most exciting ones for these three up-and-coming players. As they compete in Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, we wish them the very best in their ascension to the top. Stardom happens--you can't plan it—and sometimes it's destiny. Nobody should allow anything to stand between them and their dreams. Others argue that the triumphs of your life are not accidents. You have to want it and command it, and then success will come to you.

Isn't life interesting this way? When are you going to command success for yourself, the same way as these three players have?

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