Andrew Klein is in a unique position right now: He’s the only person qualified for the 2017 NRG Championship who didn’t play in last year’s Championship.
Andrew, also known as “Box,” has been a regular in the Madison Magic scene and on the PTQ circuit for several years. Madison has a well-deserved reputation as being a hotbed of competitive Magic, and Andrew has certainly held his own, earning five Pro Tour appearances over the years.
In this Q&A, Andrew weighs in on his history in the game, figuring out Standard, and the Championship Series.
First, his winning decklist from the February CT:
Four-color Saheeli, by Andrew Klein
1st place, February 2017 CT
Casey Laughman (CL): How long have you been playing Magic? What got you into the game in the first place, and what keeps you involved in it?
Andrew Klein (AK): I’ve played since Revised edition. It was a school trend in 6th grade, 1993. A couple of years later, I met a Madison store owner named Chad Butterfield who introduced me to competitive magic, such as cash tournaments and Pro Tour Qualifiers. I joined their competitive team, consisting of the best players in the community at the time. A lot has changed since then, but it’s that combination of friendships and competition that has kept me involved in MtG.
CL: You won the February CT with 4-color Saheeli. What was it about the deck that made you feel it was a good choice at that time?
AK: I chose the deck because it had performed very well on Magic Online during the week leading up to the CT. I had actually paid very close attention to Standard League 5-0 results. I noticed that the majority of most recent trophies earned were by 4c Saheeli players.
CL: Any memorable plays/games/matches that stick out from the tournament?
AK: The semifinal match was incredible. My opponent didn’t show up! Apparently, Peter Tragos had to leave, and he did so after he won his first top 8 match. I’ve never been so fortunate to have a bye in Top 8 before, so I owe many thanks to whoever or whatever kept him from playing against me. I believe he was on 4c Saheeli as well, so we would have had an interesting match. Aside from that, there wasn’t anything particularly memorable. I do recall Chandra’s +1 for RR being very relevant and sometimes key to winning several games.
CL: With a new Standard season approaching, can you walk us through how you evaluate new cards and decks? Do you do a lot of tinkering yourself, or do you wait for the format to settle out to make your decisions on what to play?
AK: I generally get chat threads going with a few friends where we share ideas about new cards. You can usually isolate a handful of the most powerful cards or “build-around” cards that deserve attention. Knowing what strategies have worked in the past helps streamline the process. Sometimes you have to trust an instinct and go for it. It’s much easier to try a list by replacing a few cards, than it is to start from scratch. For something completely new, you’d need to test it for a while.
CL: You’re the only one of the players to this point who is qualified for the championship this year and didn’t play in last year’s. Do you feel like that’s a disadvantage due to them having familiarity with the format or an advantage because you’re less of a known quantity when it comes to trying to metagame the field?
AK: That’s actually quite impressive and a testament to those players’ skills that the series already has so many repeat participants from last year. I’d say it is neither advantageous nor disadvantageous for me, since the field should still be large enough where deck choice (especially when spread over multiple formats) won’t matter that much. Even if I knew exactly what everyone was going to play, and none of them knew what I would play (the extreme case), it’d still be difficult to use that information to get an edge.
CL: The championship is divided between Standard, Modern and Legacy. Do you have a preference as for as those formats go, or do you feel pretty comfortable with all three?
AK: I play Legacy infrequently, and do not know matchups very well. That one will be tricky, although I feel very confident in the other formats. I know a few Legacy experts who should be able to advise me beforehand.
CL: How do you feel about the championship and the series overall? Has you winning a CT put it on the radar, so to speak, in Madison?
AK: I couldn’t be happier with the efforts made by all those involved who help promote, manage, and run the series. Everything about it is what makes competitive MtG worthwhile. Many of us in Madison have been looking to branch out to other tournament series, especially if we have already won a PPTQ/PTQ. We have a local events calendar and travel preparations Facebook group with many active members, and recently we’ve decided to add other tournament series, including this one. It definitely has exposure up in Madison now, and we will send players down fairly regularly, I’d expect. Perhaps it will come closer to us in the future with CT trials events. The more the series grows, the better!
Andrew Klein won the February 2017 CT. Casey Laughman is editor of Nerd Rage Gaming. Email comments and questions to email@example.com.