Las Vegas – Reid Duke, 27, is an economist, born and raised in the sleepy town of Sugar Loaf (NH), an hour away from New York, and is number 5 in the Magic: The Gathering player rankings. In the Las Vegas GP Legacy event, Duke qualified for the second day, getting to 21 points with his Elves. In a field that, he himself predicted, would be diverse, when talking to our special envoy Fausto de Souza before making his first game, it is not enough to have a good deck and know how to pilot it well. It takes much more. And Duke has that something else.
“One of my features, as a player, is to be able to stay calm and focus on what’s going on, without bothering with what’s around”. People looking and talking, time running. Some people start to think, when someone is watching the game, ‘what will happen if I win? What will happen if I lose?’ But I can focus on the game, no matter what’s around me”, he explains.
Duke believes that this ability to concentrate has a lot to do with his hometown and the environment in which he grew up. “My parents worked hard to give me a still childhood, and they always supported me. I’m very lucky”, he says, adding that Sugar Loaf is a place of peace and tranquility, but it is close to New York, which for him is one of the best places in the world. His background in economics from Darthmouth College in New Hampshire also helps to develop his game a lot.
“All forms of thinking that use mathematics, economics, are the same way one should think about Magic”. Understanding the basics of how people behave, how probability works, all this we study in Economics. It’s important that a Magic player, for example, play chess, poker … this helps to give new perspectives to the game, “he teaches, from the top of the winning experience of five GPs.
Why Jund on the last StarCity Open?
Willy Edel, a Brazilian professional player who’s in Magic Hall of Fame, was surprised to see Duke change the white for the red in the StarCity Open Modern. Fausto conveyed this doubt to the American player, who explained the decision that took him to the fourth place among 903 players.
“I’m a big fan of Willy, and we both agreed that the strength of the deck comes from the green and black cards, such as [mtg_card]Thoughtseize[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Liliana of the Veil[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Fatal Push[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Tarmogoyf[/mtg_card]. Then you choose the third color. I made that choice thinking about dodging the deck’s weaknesses and to have acess to the ideal sideboard for the event”. And Duke’s bet on Jund instead of Abzan has showed up as being very adequate. He told us that, since decks with [mtg_card]Collected Company[/mtg_card] were very strong and he thought they would be popular, having cheap removals as[mtg_card] Lightning Bolt[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Grim Lavamancer[/mtg_card] would be vital. “But if it was in a bigger event, like GP Vegas, I would choose white. [mtg_card]Lingering Souls[/mtg_card] is very strong in the mirror, against Grixis [mtg_card]Death’s Shadow[/mtg_card]. But it’s power is on BG, and the third color depends on what you’re hoping to fight against”, teaches.
In that event, there was a game in which he surprised not only his opponent, with a Dredge, but everyone who watched the game, while giving the exact lethal damage, doing the calculations very quickly. “When I play Jund, I like to play defensively, to stabilize the game and not to let anything bad happen. Once this goal has been reached, it is important to take advantage of the chances to finish the game soon, not letting the opponent have the opportunity to draw resources. In this game against Dredge, I stabilized the table with the [mtg_card]Scavenging Ooze[/mtg_card], which was growing turn after turn and I knew at a certain point in the game that I could beat him in two or three turns, so I got the creatures down and I played the cards with this lethal attack in mind”.
GP Las Vegas
Reid Duke hopes for a miscellaneous field on the two constructed formats that take place in Vegas. Regarding Legacy, “the only deck I’m sure I will meet is Delver. The others will be diluted, so I know they’ll be present, but I don’t know if I’ll be playing against Storm, Reanimator, Elves, Sneak and Show, control decks. And it’s very hard to prepare against a filed that’s so diverse”.
In Modern, the player bets on the popularity of Grixis with Death’s Shadow. “It will be a good choice for strong players who have byes”. But he points out that, in Modern, there are players who like only one kind of deck and always play with it. This makes the field also very diverse.
When questioned if he knew of his popularity in Brazil, Duke was surprised and thanked the affection. “I want to meet the country and see some of you personally. Thank you very much!”.
Editing: Paulo de Tarso