If you don't know about the MKM Series Power 8 yet, it's about time! In a nutshell: All year long, players are fighting for leaderboard points and the most succesful eight of them at the end of the season earn some serious benefits in the form of credit of up to €300 whenever they attend a stop of the MKM Series 2018. Detailed information as well as the current ranking can be found here: http://series.magiccardmarket.eu/leaderboard-2017/

Now Prague, the third stop of the year, marked the half-way point of the season: an opportunity to check in with Julian Knab, one of the frontrunners and one of the biggest fans of the race toward the Power 8.

“The Power 8 system is cool, really cool. It adds a whole new level of competitiveness to the Series,” said Knab. “Personally, I would have been at all stops anyway, but I know of a lot of people for whom it made an actual difference. Folks like Rodrigo [Togores] and Angelo [Cadei] are much more dedicated now.”

Knab mentioned that he had already placed highly on the leaderboard for the MKM Series's very first season, but had been dismayed not to find an adequate reward associated with it then. So he welcomed the change. “It's the first time we have a thing like this; no longer just a string of tournaments but a pan-European challenge where you can truly prove yourself!”

Knab's start into the 2017 season was a little rocky though. “I believe in Milan I finished in the Top 16 in both Legacy and Modern, and yes, I was disappointed. Particularly because I lost multiple win-and-in matches in favorable matchups. Frankfurt, however, was incredible. I was virtually eliminated from Top 8 contention going into the last round, but then other people who really shouldn't have drew and a weird sequence put me in the Top 8 after all. Those were some important points I got there,” he noted.

I asked Knab whether his position in the race might influence a decision, for example, for or against a certain deck, going for either a risky choice or a safe call. Knab thought for a moment. “Sure, if I were in a comfortable lead I might be more inclined to play just any run-of-the-mill deck. But I don't think simply pinning your hopes on a high-variance deck makes sense here,” he answered. “If I found myself falling behind after Hamburg, I'd rather increase my efforts, really test on Magic Online, study the metagame, and try to find the best deck. In any case, these considerations will only come up for the final event in Barcelona, especially with the additional 1.5 multiplier on the points awarded there.”

I noticed that Knab had only ever played Legacy and Modern tournaments at the MKM Series, although he could have earned extra points by branching out. In fact, when the MKMS Power 8 was first announced, several members of the community had voiced concerns that players might even be tempted to “farm” points by signing up for as many tournaments as possible. Knab didn't share these worries.

“I won't register for an event if I have no intention of actually playing. I don't think that's the way to go, and results so far suggest it's not a problem. Marius [Hausmann] and I considered playing an additional tournament in Frankfurt though [where all four main events took place on different days].”

Knab's goal for the season? “I guess I'm almost certain to land somewhere in the Power 8 if I go to the remaining events. This is the bare minimum and anything less would be very disappointing. No, I'm definitely going for first place, for Power 1 …”