Player Profile: Antoine Ruel

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The letter T!oday, I am going to introduce you to my brother Antoine. The 26-year-old triple GP champion and PT San Diego finalist had a difficult season last year, having almost no money finish until he won PT Los Angeles. In good shape since then and currently 5th at the 2006 Pro Player Race, Antoine explains us what eventually made him a PT champion while he was not playing his best Magic. He also shares his thoughts onPrague and the current draft format.

Olivier: Let’s start with a fast introduction.
Antoine: Sure. I’m 26, I live near Montpellier, France and I’m a Magic Pro Player.

Olivier: You finished in the money in only two PTs last season, but you still came 11th in the Race, how can you explain these irregular results?
Antoine: In Nagoya, my health was pretty bad and I was nearly unable to play, then I got a little luck from PT London (21st). Actually I think it’s all about cycles. You’re lucky or not in a tournament; then if you’re having a good day, play well and have trained enough, you do well. Sometimes things just go wrong and there is just not much you can do at a tournament. Training as much as possible helps, but it doesn’t win VS huge mana problems or broken rares.

Olivier: Already 1 GP Top 8 and one PT Top 8 in 2006, that’s already as much as over the last year. Is it going to be a good season?
Antoine: I hope so. It’s great to see risks can be rewarded sometimes. I played Psychatog in LA, and Hibou (French for Owl, pronounce e-bu) in the last two constructed PTs. Both times my deck lost to the most played deck of the format (Affinity in LA, Gruul and Zoo in Hawaii). I got my best finishes at periods where my involvement in the game was rather low. I wasn’t playing great either but the choices I made worked pretty well for me.

Olivier: Does it make you want to play more Magic again?
Antoine: Of course! Thinking that I can win, despite being far from my best level, gives me a huge boost. If I can get as good as I’ve been in the past, I can reach the Top 10 in the race.

Olivier: How much time did you spend playing the game lately?
Antoine: It varies. I draft either in 4-3-2-2 or 8-4 (Magic: Online draft formats), the queues filling faster in 4-3-2-2. But usually I play in 8-4, I would say between 15 and 20 hours a week.

Olivier: Is online draft your only practicing?
Antoine: Nearly, yes. Wait, I play Wagic (huge draft with most of the good cards since Alpha) at my mate’s Loïc Caron very often, so you can add 4 hours a week.

Olivier: Isn’t it frustrating to do so well in Constructed compared to Limited while you spend so much time practicing draft but never play constructed?
Antoine: Obviously, it is. I think the average level is much higher at a Limited PT than at a Constructed one. There is no such thing like bets in a limited format, except maybe at San Diego 2004 where white was underdrafted so I made it to the final table drafting White Weenie all day long.
In constructed you can “break the format”, in draft it’s pretty hard. The average level is much better due to Magic: Online. Even if I’m better than my opponent, the gap between his skills and mine is not big enough to guarantee me a win as it can be at GPs.

Olivier: Prague is coming fast, how do you feel about that RGD Format?
Antoine: Pretty good! I eventually feel like my Limited experience can get me a better result. I feel like I’ll have something others won’t have there.

Olivier: Are you going to play a pre-release this (last) week end?
Antoine: Obviously! I’m trying to get all my mates to come and play too. The reason is that in France, every match won in a pre-release makes you win a booster. We’ll luckily be able to get enough to draft a couple of times.

Olivier : Who will compose Prague’s top8 in your opinion?
Antoine: Finkel, Bernardo (Da Costa Cabral), Morita, Farid (Meraghni)… Oiso of course, three Pro Tours without top 8 in a row, he must feel lost.
Then three more… Quentin (Martin), Raph (Lévy) and any Fujita. I’ll bet there will be three Japanese players.

Olivier : Which Fujita ? Osamu, Tsuyoshi, Ken’ichi?
Antoine: I said there would be three Fujitas, so I’m trying to widen the possibilities.

Olivier: Is there a player you respect more than any other?
Antoine: not really.

Olivier: Do you have a nemesis?
Antoine: Let me think… Raph (Lévy)! This guy is amazing, I can’t beat him.

Olivier: Let’s talk about draft now,
Antoine: (he cuts) Wait don’t you wanna know who I beat all the time?

Olivier: Hmm, must be me I guess?
Antoine: Correct! Mention it in your article!

Olivier: I know my job thanks.
Antoine: You’re welcome.

Olivier: Drafting then, what’s the most underrated card in the set?
Antoine: Wait, there is one player I respect more than any other: Pedro Miguel Pauleta (best player from Paris soccer team, and forward from the Portuguese national team).

Olivier: Thanks…
Antoine: Anytime. So the most underrated, I’d go for Brainspoil, people pass it so late, even when they’re black. They even take Dismisser over it.

Olivier: Overrated?
Antoine: Vedalken Dismisser! God knows I love this card but it’s not a first pick. People should calm down.

Olivier: I’ve had that same answer for the last three weeks!
Antoine: Peel from Reality is pretty underrated too.

Olivier: I’ve only had that one once in the last two weeks. Best memory from a Magic tournament?
Antoine: Honolulu. Maybe winning LA too… nah, both being in a PT Top 8 was the best, it was amazing. Do you have any better memory?

Olivier: Not really, and you winning LA is #1 too on my list also. What about the worst memory?
Antoine: Craig Jones’ topdeck.

Olivier: Char or Helix?
Antoine: Helix!

Olivier: We talked about Prague, but on the day after the PT you’re already leaving, for Los Angeles where you’ll play in the Invitational. Fan Favorite last year, you’re invited this time as judge pick, how does it feel?
Antoine: I truly appreciate the judges and their work, that’s why their invitation is really special for me. And I sincerely mean it.

Olivier: More than the Fan’s?
Antoine: It’s not the same. Being popular means a lot to me, but being elected by people who live tournaments from the inside is really special.

Olivier: Let’s talk about outside Magic now. Favorite movie.
Antoine: Space Jam.

Olivier: …
Antoine: Probably Fight Club or Amélie from Paris then, in very different kinds. One has blown my mind, while watching the other makes me feel happy for weeks.

Olivier: Favorite actor?
Antoine: Edward Norton.

Olivier: Book?
Antoine: Maybe "Nine princes in amber" by Zelazny, but when I was a teenager, the one that impressed me the most was "I’m Legend" (Matheson).

Olivier: Band or singer?
Antoine: Lately "Bizarre Contact", but maybe you need some non-trance answer or something better known?

Olivier : As you wish.
Antoine : Then I’ll name also "Noir Désir", the best French rock band. I’ve listened to "The Doors" a lot lately too, but my favourite band might just be "Mano Negra".

Olivier: Favorite song?
Antoine: "Paint in Black" (Rolling Stones)

Olivier: Favorite Magic Card?
Antoine: That is not going to be original, but let’s say Psychatog

Olivier: Thanks a lot, we’re almost done. A final word to conclude?
Antoine: I’ll be in the French National Team this year! It’s my goal.

Send your impressions and thoughts to Olivier Ruel @ olivierscorner@hotmail.fr, Olivier typed this interview while listening to Belle and Sebastian/LAZY LINE PAINTER JANE and Syd Matters/A WHISPER AND A SIGH.Brothers in arms
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