Interview: Javier Dominguez – Striving to be the Ideal Pro Player

晴れる屋

晴れる屋

Translated by Daniel Pham

Having made the finals of the World Championships 2017 with Mono Red Aggro, Javier Dominguez finished last season with a total of 64 Pro Points qualifying him again for the World Championships for the second year in a row as the top Pro Point earner.

Not only that, amongst the best players in the world, he was the first player locked for top 4 with his final results being 6-2 in the Standard portion, and 5-1 in the Draft portion.

He decided to pilot the same Standard deck that most players chose, which was Red Black Aggro, making up more than half of the field. Having had good results with Jeskai Control in modern, I decided to ask him why he chose to switch to Aggro for this tournament.

Javier Dominguez

Aggro or Control?

Hazoret the FerventTeferi, Hero of Dominaria

— “Congratulations on your second World Championships appearance. First with Mono Aggro, and in the second half with your Control style featuring 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》, this has left a very successful impression with us. There is great interest surrounding your use of play style for professional players.”

Javier: “Certainly that is the case. I think many people were impressed that Mono Red was able to win the World Championships.”

— “Now that you have had success with Control as well, which would you say you are? Aggro or Control?”

Javier: “Hmmm… that’s not easy to explain. When it comes to playing in a tournament, it is definitely true that your playstyle and the deck you are used to are very important factors to your success. You need to separate decks into two categories, fast and slow decks, and find the value of those decks through a lot of repetition and refinement. So what do you do if you can only play Aggro decks and through researching the meta and various beat down style decks, you discover that they often have bad matchups? I think that by sticking to your playstyle, you end up choosing a weak deck and at the highest levels, it’s difficult to show a high level of play or performance as a result. However if you can master all the archetypes, you can continue to choose the most advantaged deck for any given Meta. I believe this is what it means to be an ideal pro player.”

Javier Dominguez

Javier: “One of the themes I was working on this season was that it would be disadvantageous to have a limited amount of deck options at the highest level of tournament competition. At first, I was known for being a beatdown player, but having participated in several PTs, my confidence and way of thinking changed and I believed that I needed to master various archetypes. That is why I decided to learn to play control. Oh whoops, that isn’t an answer to the question right? The separation between beatdown and control may be ambiguous, but personally, I like midrange. It’s because you can be both control or the beatdown depending on the situation. I guess you could say I like midrange that’s closer to aggro.”

— “Let’s change the topic to Modern. For someone who is known for playing with 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 in Modern, I’d like to ask what you think is the best Aggro deck in Modern? And what is your reasoning behind that?”

Champion of the ParishThalia's Lieutenant

Javier: “Many players share the same opinion, but I believe 5C Humans is definitely a cut above the rest. Even if we’re not talking about Aggro decks. That was one of the reasons why I chose to play Jeskai Control in Grand Prix. Recently UW control seemed to be gaining in popularity, but I believed that Jeskai had good answers not only to 5C Humans, but also to all other matchups as well. This is especially true against decks with a lot of small creatures.”

How to Win and the Path to Take

— “As someone who has also been known to play Control at the Pro Tour, is there a playstyle that you would like to aim for in the future?”

Javier: “I am prepared to play a Control deck at the Pro Tour, I am also confident in my ability to do so. However, through playtesting, I won’t choose to play Control if it is not favored or badly positioned. You should always just play the best deck.”

— “Lastly, congratulations again on making top 4 for 2 years in a row.”

Javier: “Thank you for your kind words. It is definitely an amazing feeling. I think that this was proof enough that our playtesting was correct. Besides, it was a wonderful experience to be able to play against the best players at the highest level in the game.”

— “By the way, is there a particular reason why you were able to win this tournament?”

TOP4

Image Copyright: Wizards of the Coast

Javier: “For each Pro Tour, Limited is the one area that gives me stress, but this time the Dominaria Draft environment is one that I practiced a lot and had a lot of experience with. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said I loved it. Basically, the games are slow, there are a lot of expensive and useful cards that are playable, as well other more unique decks can still be viable. In my first draft I put together a very slow Grixis Control deck, and in my second draft I did the opposite with a mostly Mono Red “Flame of Keld” deck that got me a 3-0. In a limited environment with not many answers for it, it makes it very difficult to deal with.”

— “Thank you very much! As expected Hareruya Pros finished in both 1st and 2nd place!”