From Hiatus to Resurgence
I started together with my big brother back in elementary school, and I played for around a year until I entered junior high. Back then I really loved Serra Avatar. I’d use Noble Purpose’s lifelink effect to double my life, use Angelic Chorus, and other stuff like that. It was just the sort of flashy deck that kids love. Those cards really have a lot of memories for me, and I want to keep that going forward.
I didn’t touch the game for about ten years after that, but about five years ago I had a slow patch at work and figured I’d pick up Magic again. After looking around, I saw that you could play online now, and that seemed like it would be a simple way to play. Getting back into things, it was easy to see how fun Magic was. It was also a big surprise to see how strong creatures had gotten—Ravenous Baloth in particular was a real shock to me. It was a 4-mana 4/4 creature that had an upside rather than any sort of downside.
I didn’t have any sort of goal; I was just playing by myself and having fun. But there was a lot that I didn’t know playing alone, so I searched on Niconico and found a lot of videos of Magic: The Gathering there. Streaming seemed like it would be fun, so I started about two weeks after picking up Magic again. At first I was doing it because I didn’t have anyone to turn to for advice, but now I look at things a bit differently. I’m there to have fun with the viewers, and I view streaming as one of my lifeworks.
Growing the Industry and Sponsorships
I never had it in mind to go pro. It’s not as if I gradually took steps toward being a professional. I made the Pro Tour Top 8 twice in a row and went Platinum as a result; it was just at that time that there was a real movement among card shops to sponsor pro players, so I took part in that.
I hadn’t written many articles before my contract with Big Magic [in the previous season], but I realized just how fun it could be. Being able to take part in events as a pro was also hugely educational. BIG MAGIC really works hard to put on all kinds of events, and it was also great to get a behind-the-scenes look at that.
I didn’t really know much about Cygames when the team was formed, but during some of our early meetings I was really impressed by how serious the higher-ups seemed. It wasn’t just a whim or an afterthought for them. They were really passionate about wanting to help create Japanese players who could win on the Pro Tour. Their passion was really something that I could relate to.
Pro contracts really shouldn’t be made just within the card game industry; things can only develop so far without outside money. Part of the reason that I accepted was because I wanted to help create external sponsorships.
If things shape up right, I think that we have the chance to get the mobile games industry onboard with us. Smartphone game users will be more aware of Magic and vice versa, so it’s a win-win situation. That would be the best.
About the Team
It’s only recently that I first got to know Teruya. At first he just approached me like, “Hey, teach me Magic!” I was really cautious that he might be trying to get something out of me because I was winning. But his attitude was exactly the same just a year later, and I realized that’s just how he is. Winning really doesn’t change a person.
Teruya also apparently likes to read alone at cafés for hours at a time (laughter). It was kind of funny the other day when he was stressing to me how selective he is about cafés.
Back before I knew any pro players, Yamaken (Kentaro Yamamoto) was always running the same sort of deck as me in Magic Online. I knew him by name, so it left a real impression on me when I DMed him to ask all about his deck and he responded right away. He really didn’t stand to gain anything from answering me, but he did right away.
He’s also just plain good at limited. While he stays out of the spotlight much and doesn’t really talk about his games, he wins an incredible amount. He just has an excellent foundation in limited.
My goal for this season is to accomplish something that I wasn’t able to last season—getting into the Pro Tour Top 8. Given my current ability, taking the championship would probably be a stretch. To create a deck that can win, we probably still need to keep adjusting things within the team and work on building the scene. One of my dreams going forward is to learn English. People come up to talk to me on the Pro Tour or elsewhere all the time, and I feel like I’m losing a lot of great opportunities by not being able to speak English. Even if it’s just a lot of small talk in the end, I feel like it would make things more fun. It’s really tough to make friends from other countries in the course of everyday life, so I’d really love to be able to speak English.
The thing that I’d most like to do for our website is to have some guests on and make videos with them. Stuff like making a 10-15 minute video where Kentaro reviews his Pro Tour match, stuff like that. It’s the kind of thing that can be a huge challenge to put into writing; there are some finer points that are not so tough to get across in speech, but which get really long when you write out. Even if there are a lot of Magic players who don’t have a flair for writing, it’s unfortunate that there aren’t more outlet for them to communicate—I feel like there’s stuff that we could get out of them. We could throw in some images of cards and decklists to improve the appearance. It would be great to toss things up too.
I’m sure that you were as happy to hear from me as always (laughter). Thanks for all you support!