There was a lot on the line here in Barcelona, at the final stop of the 2017 MKM Series. In addition to all the usual prizes and trophies awarded, the weekend also marked the conclusion of the race toward the Power 8. The eight most succesful players of the year would be rewarded with sizeable credit whenever they attended one of next year's stops, and this was everybody's final chance to garner more success.
Kevin Wagner didn't intend to go for a Power 8 berth at the beginning of the season, but after two Top 8s including one win at main events, he found himself within reach of one. He entered the weekend tied on points for ninth place. His biggest achievements were: playing Mishra's Workshop to a first place in Vintage at MKMS Frankfurt, when most everyone was shying away from the deck, and playing Miracles to a Top 4 finish in Legacy at MKMS Prague, only weeks after the ban of Sensei's Divining Top. Time to learn a little bit more about the player who had proven to have such a good read on the metagame so often!
How old are you, where are you from, and what's your occupation when you're not busy winning at Magic?
I'm a 25-year-old software engineer from Frankfurt, Germany. I work for JK Entertainment as their Chief of Technology, which, in addition to programming, entails a lot of administrative work such as pricing and gathering statistical data. For a job in a company that deals mainly in Magic I have surprisingly little to do with cards or the game itself.
When and how did you first get into Magic?
I played casually when I was 12 years old, but stopped for a long time, until my friend Max Lorenz confronted me with Legacy by chance …
When and how did you get into Legacy?
I was a late adopter of the game for sure. In late November 2012 I was bored and the WoW servers were down for the afternoon, so I downloaded Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 on my iPad because of an ad and some memories of people playing Magic in summer camp years and years ago. I quickly transitioned over to Magic Online, my competitive streak took over, and within a month I was grinding modern Dailies with a full Jund deck.
What is/are your favorite format/s currently? What do you like about it/them?
I'm primarily a Legacy player. Not only do I like the sheer amount of consistency that the blue cantrip shell provides, but I also very much enjoy the more mature atmosphere that most eternal tournaments provide. Last but not least, I really enjoy playing with and against pretty decks; foil Worldwake Jace, the Mind Sculptor and foil Mercadian Masques Brainstorms are simply a thing of beauty that you dont get to see or play against anywhere else.
When and how did you get into Legacy?
A lot of it is due to one of the other competitors for the Power 8, Julian Knab. When I was still a bored student grinding Modern leagues I stumbled on his Twitch stream (back when there were a few dozens watching before he won BoM 2013). I was impressed by the format and kept following him on social media, which immersed me in the format and meta. After the ban of Deathrite Shaman in Modern I made the switch over to online Legacy and later to paper Legacy. A lucky break at my first tournament—Top 8 of the 155 player End-of-the-Year Event 2014—gave me the confidence to pursue playing the format on a competitive level.
Looking back at the 2017 MKM Series so far, what's your biggest regret, what was your closest miss or your most upsetting bad-beat story?
Biggest regret: Skipping MKM Series Milan because I was in a competitive slump after throwing away multiple matches at the End-of-the-Year Event 2017.
Biggest miss: Missing Top 8 of the Vintage tournament at MKMS Hamburg by 1.4% OMWP didnt feel particularly great, neither did losing the first rounds of both Legacy tournaments that weekend to a mulligan to four and to drawing twelve lands out of fifteen cards respectively
Looking back at the 2017 MKM Series so far, what's your happiest memory, what was your luckiest break or your favorite game/match/tournament?
The happiest memory was certainly my win in the Vintage tournament in Frankfurt. Finally having my name pop up on mainstream coverage/deck sites was a cool experience. Similarly Top 8'ing with Miracles in Prague after the ban and showing the community at large that dedication to a deck still pays off was great.
My luckiest win was certainly the semifinals match of MKMS Frankfurt in Vintage, which included attacking with two Fleetwheel Cruisers on turn two with a Thorn of Amethyst on board. Believe it or not, I won that game.
My favorite match would have to be the quarterfinals of MKMS Prague. Not only did I play against an interesting archetype—Nicklas Krull's Esper Delver—but my opponent was an absolute delight to play against even though it was a high-stakes match. The same goes for my match against Johannes [Gutbrod] in the semifinals, but the horrendous matchup took away a bit of fun.
What are your goals for MKM Series Barcelona and for the season? Where do you think you'll be able to make the most points yet? Do you expect the conclusion to the Power 8 race to be a hard fight still?
I want to be the very best, like no one ever was, hehe! In all seriousness I recognize that I am very much outmatched in skill when compared to the likes of Rodrigo [Togores], Julian [Knab], or Johannes [Gutbrod], who are all longstanding pillars of the Legacy community in Europe. I'm just happy to have the opportunity to actually compete. I see my best chances in getting a strong placement in the Vintage tournament, since I am pretty darn decent at drawing absurdly strong opening hands with MUD. The best I hope for is a Top 4 finish in the overall ranking. As far as the competition goes I expect the Vintage event to be a big factor, as I expect many of the top competitors to compete in that event.
Have you heard about the news that the 2018 MKM Series will feature six instead of five stops and that the Power 8 prizes have been increased accordingly, by 20 percent? Assuming you'll secure a berth among the Power 8, can we expect to see you at all stops next year?
Next year will be a very strong year for Legacy with four Legacy GP events around the globe, which I will likely all attend, which cuts into my vacation days. A strong start at the local MKMS Frankfurt would certainly drive me to consider skipping Richmond in favor of the MKM Series.