By Jeremy Dezani
Welcome to “Player Focus”!
“Player Focus” is a short interview with one of the greatest MTG players in the world. The goal is to present the player and his MTG profile to Japanese and international communities. “Player Focus” will feature a different player each time.
This Time we have Martin Juza (@Juzam_).
Martin Juza is the first Czech player who joined the MTG Hall of Fame. He is one of the most successful players at a professional level and many people consider him as the best limited player in the world.
- First Name: Martin
- Last Name: Juza
- Age: 30
- Nationality: Czech Republic
- Sponsor: Channel Fireball
- Lifetime Pro Points: 583
- Pro Level 2017/2018: Platinum
Occupation / Hobbies outside MTG:
Hearthstone, Poker, Soccer, NHL, TV Shows
When did you start MTG? Which set? How did you discover the game?
I think I started around the Urza block. My classmates were playing the game and it looked interesting, so I learned the rules and started playing with them. We were really bad with the rules at the beginning but eventually started going to local tournaments and learned from the more experienced and older players.
What famous player influenced you the most to become a professional player?
I’m pretty sure it was Kai Budde. I was reading about him in the Sideboard magazines that we had in our local store and he was just winning every tournament. Everyone wanted to be like him. Even to this day I sometimes open coverage of old events and read how easy he made winning look. It’s pretty inspirational.
PT TOP 8: 3
GP TOP 8: 28
Others: Hall of Fame class 2017, 3x Czech National Champion
If you have one, who is your favorite Japanese player and why:
Hm, that’s tough, all of them are great, it’s really hard to pick just one. Shuhei Nakamura, Yuuya Watanabe, Kenji Tsumura, Shota Yasooka, Ken Yukuhiro, Masashi Oiso, Saito Tomoharu… When I started playing, Masashi and Kenji were my two favorite players to watch.
But obviously Shuhei stands out, he always helped me out when I started traveling and he is a good friend.
Favorite MTG Format and why:
Draft! it’s just so much more fun than constructed. Every deck and every match is different.
Favorite MTG Deck:
Standard: Sultai 《Winding Constrictor》
Modern: I’m not really sure I have a favorite Modern deck. Probably Jund if I had to pick one.
Legacy: 4c Aggro Loam
Do you prefer to play aggressive, control, midrange or combo deck?
I usually prefer being aggressive and be able to punish my opponents slow or clunky draws. People usually don’t mulligan enough and this a good way to take advantage of that. I don’t mind playing midrange or combo though if that’s currently the best strategy in the format.
What is your favorite deck to play at the moment?
1 《Dryad Arbor》
4 《Verdant Catacombs》
2 《Windswept Heath》
3 《Grove of the Burnwillows》
1 《Barren Moor》
1 《Tranquil Thicket》
1 《Dark Depths》
1 《Thespian's Stage》
-Land (26)- 2 《Deathrite Shaman》
4 《Dark Confidant》
1 《Gaddock Teeg》
4 《Knight of the Reliquary》
3 《Abrupt Decay》
3 《Punishing Fire》
2 《Life from the Loam》
2 《Sylvan Library》
4 《Chalice of the Void》
4 《Mox Diamond》
3 《Liliana of the Veil》
I currently started playing more Legacy because of GP Seattle 2018 and the team constructed GPs and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great format with lots of decisions and usually close games and you can play so many different decks. Unlike Modern, 《Force of Will》 helps keep the crazy combo decks in check.
My friends are making fun of me that I’m playing 4 colors and none of them is blue, the best color, but I like the deck. It’s kind of like lands but you aren’t all in on 《Life from the Loam》. Every hand with 《Mox Diamond》 is really strong and 《Chalice of the Void》 on 1 is sometimes game over for a lot of decks in the format.
Also many decks play only 5-6 mana producing lands to go with fetchlands so 《Life from the Loam》 + 《Wasteland》 also sometimes just wins the game on its own. This deck doesn’t have a good matchup with the combo decks like Sneak and Show but it’s pretty good against the Delver decks or Miracles.
After being on the ballot for years, you are now the first from Czech Republic to join the members of the Hall of Fame. What does it mean to you to finally become one of the members?
It’s pretty cool, I’m not gonna lie. Now it means I don’t have to play so much because I’m qualified for all the Pro Tours anyway, but I still enjoy playing tournaments so I’m not planning on retiring anytime soon.
Last season you became a finalist at 3 Limited Grand Prix and won the title of Draft Master for 2016-17 using Amonkhet / Hour of Devastation cards. Did you have specific strategy or did you just take every draft separately?
I was mostly just drafting aggressive decks and punishing people for having slow starts. The two drops in Amonkhet / Hour of Devastation were really strong and Exert was a very good mechanic for the aggro decks making sure your creatures were able to keep dealing damage even when your opponent played something bigger.
《Aerial Guide》was my favorite card!
You are known as one of the biggest travelers in the game as a World Grand Prix Grinder. You went to almost everywhere to play MTG. What was your favorite place?
For years, Czech Republic is one of the strongest European countries in MTG having 2 Pro Tour winners and many Platinum Level Pros. You are the first who became a pro. Were you teaching them your experience as an MTG professional player?
Not really teaching them, maybe helping them make friends with the other pros I already knew. I was always happy when there were more of us because we always seemed to have a good squad of guys having fun and also winning a lot.
From the group of Czech/Slovak players Lukas Blohon, Ivan Floch and Stanislav Cifka have all won Pro Tours in the past few years, that’s pretty amazing.
What kind of mistakes to avoid and recommend do you have when you teach people who wish to become an MTG professional player?
Don’t think you are the best player and every loss you take is because of bad luck. Of course sometimes you lose because you had a bad draw or because your opponent had 《Tetzimoc, Primal Death》 but usually chances you could have done something different which would have turned the game in your favor.
Try to find the mistakes and learn from them instead of being stubborn and always blaming losses on bad luck.