79: Martin Dang Shares What it Takes to Be A Pro Tour Champion
Martin Dang is a Platinum Pro Level Magic player, who lives in Aarhus, Denmark with his lovely girlfriend Tina Dahl. He makes his living by playing every Pro Tour and every Grand Prix in Europe. Martin has 1 Pro Tour Top 8 where he won at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir in Brussels 2015! He also has 2 Grand Prix top 8s – including a win at Grand Prix Liverpool in 2015, a top 8 finish in the World Magic Cup and is a proud member of Team EUreka.
What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?
Martin finds Magic to be a good way to relax while also exercising his competitive urges, but like most long time players, he still had to take a break from the game. He wasn’t getting to where he wanted to be with the game, but after a while he started working at a game store. Working in an environment surrounded by Magic had him Drafting twice a week and rekindled his desire to enter tournament Magic again.
The biggest enemy Martin faced in his early days of Magic was himself.
At tournaments he would be nervous in every match he played, as his opponents appeared to be better, older, or just different. This led him to play the game by their principles instead of his own, and he felt as though he was just losing to himself in these matches.
In order to become comfortable playing Magic, Martin continued to play more and against different people and eventually eased into the competitive scene. He found that playing more helped him meet more friends, and that if he stuck to playing by his own principles things went pretty well for him in matches.
Level Up Moment
Martin’s biggest period of growth came when he started working at his local game store. Before that he was playing Magic less frequently, but after working at the game store he was playing almost every day. He believes the key to getting better is playing as much as you can against as many different types of people as you can. Playing more pushed him into formats he wasn’t comfortable playing, and that helped him become a well-rounded player.
Proudest Magic Moment
Martin cites winning the Pro Tour as his proudest moment in competitive Magic. It was his first Pro Tour in over 5 years, so he didn’t have high expectations for his performance. After winning it took months for him to fully grasp the reality of winning the tournament. He started to receive a large amount of recognition from the community and other players.
This acted as a confidence boost that has helped him power through other tournaments as well. His Pro Tour win helped establish team Eureka, as before they were just a bunch of loosely affiliated guys who tested for that one event. Now they get together and test for all of the Pro Tours.
Heaviest Magic Moment
After winning Nationals in 2010 he got to go to the World Championships, but didn’t do as well as he liked. He placed in the 40’s, and felt that he had made a lot of errors in his matches. This led Martin into a down period where he felt as though he couldn’t focus on the game enough, so he distanced himself from tournament play for a while.
After reflecting he started to see that he hadn’t prepared adequately for the tournament. This has pushed him to prepare more going forward, and has helped him form a team which was something he didn’t have before.
What Would You Tell Someone New To Drafting?
Martin has noticed that players will show up to their first Draft not understanding anything about the format. Even if you’ve played a lot of formats, you can’t expect to sit down for a Draft and end up doing well. Learning the cards and their synergies is one of the first steps to understanding the format.
You want to go into the draft with a plan, ideally three strategies that you can be flexible with. Try and stay open minded, and look at spoilers to see what certain colors and cards actually do. After the match ask the other players what went wrong with your deck and why it didn’t work like you had hoped.
Biggest Mistake Players Make
Players can often be too settled in the way they play Magic, and this is an attribute that Martin thinks gets a lot of players stuck early on. They will come to the game store for the first time, not having played much, and are thrown off by other’s play styles and the faster tempo of play. Having a mindset that lets you absorb these new experiences will help you adapt to game store play, and eventually tournament Magic.
Deepest Thing Magic Has Taught You
Martin really loves to win in Magic, but he doesn’t take losses so heavily anymore. Losses used to haunt him for days, if not months afterwards. While he still thinks about his losses now, it’s in terms of what could he have done better instead of beating himself up over them.
How to Effectively Prepare for a Big Event
Training for Grand Prix’s differs from event to event, but he doesn’t practice so much for the Limited portions, as he has a good grasp of the format and plays a lot at his store.
Pro Tours are different.
Team Eureka will set up a forum and Facebook group 3 months ahead of the Pro Tour, and anytime one of them has an idea of something to test they will post it there. They basically prepare for the full gap between Pro Tours. Two weeks in advance of the tournament they meet up and grind out games all day long.
The preparation is grueling; they pair decks against one another and will play ten games pre sideboard, and then twenty games post sideboard. They will discuss the games, add new sideboard cards, tweak decks, and start all over again.
They hold daily meetings where they discuss the matchups, what cards were good, but they also talk about how they felt about their decks, not just the results.
What’s in Your Tournament Bag
Martin wants to emphasize that there are no shortcuts in Magic.
You have to practice a lot if you want to improve, so get out into the world and play, and don’t be afraid to seek advice from everyone else out there.
Connect With Martin Dang
Facebook: Martin Dang
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