Spain is a country that continually transforms itself by building on its past. It is a mix of old and new, traditional and modern, past and present, in unexpected ways, with passionate, sophisticated, and earnest people. The nation of Spain has a rich history of producing world-class players who have reached the highest pinnacle of competitive Magic. The very mention of Spanish Magic might bring to your mind two of the most celebrated players to have walked the peninsula, Javier Dominguez and Antonio Del Moral León.
Javier Dominguez and Antonio Del Moral León represent Spain's mark on the international Magic scene, with Dominguez sporting a World Championship finals finish and for Del Moral León, a Pro Tour title.
As the all-time Spanish Pro Point leader, Dominguez was among the most experienced players in the land. Not only does he have six Grand Prix Top 8—including two wins—he was also crowned the National Champion on two occasions. Despite excellent showings at the Pro Tour, a breakthrough performance eluded him. Twice, he finished a heartbreaking ninth place, and on one other time, eleventh.
Dominguez chuckles whenever you mention these sore spots, but he takes it in stride. Bumpy cobblestones often pave the road to success, but there is no failure except in no longer trying. And this is precisely why Dominguez keeps going. After all, the future is bright, and you only regret it if you did not give it your best shot. Dominguez trudged on, and the highlight of his career came during the 2017 World Championship, where he was a single match away from being crowned a World Champion.
How did he feel about this bittersweet moment?
"Actually, it's not bitter at all. It's sweet! Whenever I think back, it's all good memories for me. It would have been nice to win, of course, but not winning also means I still have a lot to fight for and work towards."
Dominguez's easygoing demeanor and positive outlook on life was also the reason for all his successes and triumphs over the last decade. He had not changed very much and continued to focus on the work he needed to do. To "show up" every single day, never cutting corners, and always giving a hundred percent. Dominguez, who was still destined for great things due to his unrelenting tenacity, stated that his philosophy in life and Magic were his most influential guiding principles.
"I'm still going to be playing Magic a lot in the upcoming year," he said. "The only difference is that I have a little more experience, which can help me play more comfortably at the highest level. There are some matches which can be very intense, and experience is what is going to tide me through. What is the most important about being successful in Magic is to enjoy the journey. I cannot emphasize that more. If you enjoy your journey, you're going to end up playing better Magic as you grow as an individual."
As for Del Moral León, he did not become a household name until he won Pro Tour Fate Reforged, becoming the first and, to this day, the only Spanish player to win a Pro Tour. Darting right to the top in his fourth attempt, it was a promising start to an ideally long career.
When this fresh-faced 20-year-old turned Platinum and embarked on the fast track to stardom, it was a source of inspiration and beacon of hope for all of Spain. It's not like he hasn't delivered on all surfaces. Del Moral León also has a pair of Grand Prix Top 8s, in addition to an appearance at the 2014 Magic Online Championship. He was also the 2015 National Champion.
"I started playing Magic when I was 14 years old, but I only became competitive a few years ago," he said. "I enjoy the game greatly, and I've always dreamed of winning a huge tournament. My friends and family inspired me to give it a try, and that was why I spent a lot of time practicing on Magic Online."
They say that consistency is the true foundation of trust and perfection. Del Moral León's advice to his community is to just "keep playing," "be constant," and "never give up."
Both players have shared sentiments that the Spanish community was large and growing and that there were numerous up-and-coming players from the emerging generation. As the veterans, or the godfathers, Dominguez and Del Moral León hoped that Spain would continue to impact the international Magic scene, even if it means surpassing themselves.
When all is said and done, people will only remember you for what you earned and what you learned. We all have an opportunity to make a difference, and it doesn't call for wealth or fame.
What kind of legacy do you wish to leave behind? At least for these two Spanish players, their names will be etched in Magic history forever.