Introducing Serokell Magic: The Gathering team

When a company grows beyond a mere startup, it acquires some disposable income. That means that you need to invite some people that do this magic called marketing. If you haven’t heard, it gets rid of your spare cash quite well. Do something amazing, they say, do something that makes the people go nuts. Some companies sponsor LoL, DotA, CS: Go, Starcraft teams, but we are too hip for that. We also don’t have enough resources to film a potato and put it on Super Bowl like Cards Against Humanity. Today, we are announcing the launch of our Magic: The Gathering team.

No, no, but seriously. Why?

I asked our CTO Jonn Mostovoy this question, and he replied with some mutters (a busy person, you know), which more or less transcripted to this:

“I listened to a podcast about Slovak MTG community, and an idea sprang to mind. I wanted to build a community in Latvia. To put Latvia on the map, and show what we are capable of. And maybe what we are capable of is producing a pro player like Ivan Floch. Now that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Why exactly Magic: The Gathering? Magic always fascinated me when I played it during my school years, and it does now. It is a complex game with a lot of possibilities in plays, strategies, and card choices. Through Magic I have met intelligent people with backgrounds in fields like economics, computer science, mathematics. I wouldn’t mind meeting a few more. ”

What in the blue blazes is Magic: The Gathering?

Nice that you asked. It’s a card game, similar to Hearthstone, but played with actual paper cards. If you haven’t heard of Hearthstone, it might be a little harder to explain it to you. It’s a card game where you and your opponent summon mighty creatures and use intricate spells and sorceries to reduce your opponent’s life total to 0. Whoever does that first, wins.

If you are interested in more details, watch this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtUvFRcKIwg

Magic: The Gathering is played by a lot of people all over the globe. It is also quite old (Wizards of the Coast has been releasing it for 25 years, and don’t plan to stop) but that only adds to the flavour. There are competitive events with more than thousand players ran almost every weekend, and huge professional events ran 6 times a year.

But I am not going to bore you with details. Here is our rooster.

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Roster, I mean.

Gints Dreimanis (The Grinder)

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Oh hey, that’s me.

How does it feel like talking to yourself? Quite weird.

Tell an interesting or funny fact about yourself. I can solve a Rubik’s cube using only my non-dominant hand in 20 seconds and I once slept in a forest while attending an MTG tournament in Copenhagen. I also write poetry.

What are your best MTG achievements? World Magic Cup Top 16, 20th at GP Birmingham 2017 (1743 participants), 33rd at GP London 2018 ( ~2000 participants)

How did you decide to get into Magic? I played Yu-Gi-Oh! when I was a child, but didn’t have enough money for the cool cards. Flash forward like 8 years later, I started playing Hearthstone. I played HS for about a year, but then noticed that they talked about an actually good card game (MTG) on HS reddit. I decided to try that one out, and it was OK, so I started playing it. Now I have no money, but all the cool cards. (What is interesting, I didn’t actually like MTG at start. They had just released some weird cards with Greek mythology flavour, and I didn’t dig them.)

What is your favourite deck in MTG? How would you explain it to a person that does not play Magic? I really like decks that are more than the “sum of their parts” (emergence, heh), especially if they have some kind of combo finish. Following from that, my favourite deck should be Rally the Ancestors. It involves playing a lot of useless creatures that do something useful when they (or other creatures) come into play or die. At one moment in game you sacrifice all of them to power up one big shadowy boi, then bring all of your creatures that died in this game back to life and sacrifice them again. Your opponent dies either from your huge creature, lifepoint loss, or from utter boredom while you resolve all the little effects that happen there.

What do you do outside of MTG? If you apply for a job at Serokell, or write something bad about us, you will probably have contact with me. I also play bridge, read a lot of books, and watch Youtube courses on unrelated things like economics, biology, math and philosophy.

Viktor Kazanski (The Pro Tour Guy)

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Tell an interesting or funny fact about yourself. Solving problems excites me compulsively, which makes Magic a perfect game for me and makes me super annoying to everyone close to me. :D

What are your best MTG achievements? 4th at Grand Prix Barcelona (out of 2084 competitors), 11th at Grand Prix Prague 2017 (out of 2005 competitors). Played at 5 Pro Tours. Bronze Pro level in the current season.

How did you decide to get into Magic? I started playing Magic after watching some Japanese cartoons about CCGs (Children’s Card Games). Playing a lot of Preferans (not a children’s card game) as a kid inspired me a lot as well.

What is your favourite deck in MTG? How would you explain it to a person that does not play Magic? One of the best and most fun decks I have ever played was called “Sea Stompy”. It was a deck that both had an aggressive strategy of attacking with big/evasive creatures and a powerful 2-card combo that sometimes won the game on the spot out of nowhere. Bonus points for the wackiest ensemble of different creatures represented in the deck: Goblins, Apes, Humans, Faeries, Ninjas and some Lhurgoyfs, of course.

What do you do outside of MTG? I am currently doing an internship at Serokell for a Project Manager position. I also try to travel a lot with my girlfriend.

Vitaliy Bukovskiy (The Prodigy)

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Tell an interesting or funny fact about yourself. I photo myself in front of every place named “Victoria” in every city that I go to cause I’m in love with a girl with the same name. I already have more than 50 photos. My best one is in front of the ocean liner “Victoria” in Stockholm.

What are your best MTG achievements? I won PPTQ Hour of Devastation in Estonia.

How did you decide to get into Magic? I played some casual magic in school and I liked it, but was never serious about it. In summer of 2017, my friend Jonn Mostovoy proposed me to play tournaments with him (even outside Latvia). He treated me like I was a good player already, and at some point, I started to believe in that myself and became more serious about magic.

What is your favourite deck in MTG? How would you explain it to a person that does not play Magic? Grixis Death’s Shadow. You hurt yourself a lot (lose life points) and then play a creature (Death’s Shadow) that becomes more powerful when you have less life points. So opponent starts believing that he has won the game and then you kill them in 1–2 turns! Death’s shadow gives me that “being on the edge” feeling all the time. Playing that deck involves a lot of hard decisions and risk taking. And it’s fun!

What do you do outside of MTG? I have been playing “What? Where? When?” (a kind of quiz) for 14 years.

Domantas Zavadzkis (The Modern Expert)

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Tell an interesting or funny fact about yourself. I used to do fire dancing and I am straight edge. (No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes)

What are your best MTG achievements? World Magic Cup Top 16 and Bronze professional level in this season.

How did you decide to get into Magic? I always have been into card games, and a classmate showed me MTG in 9th grade.

What is your favourite deck in MTG? How would you explain it to a person that does not play Magic? Jeskai Ascendancy Tokens. It’s an underpowered deck that does random looking stuff until you deploy a card that makes everything very synergistic and snowballs out of control. It’s so complex that often times you forget what those cards actually do for the fact that you want to get rid of something from your hand.

What do you do outside of MTG? Video games (Monster Hunter: World and a lot of roguelikes) and movies. I work at a board game store as well.

Well, that’s all we have for now. If you want to follow us, we will post some news about our next achievements in Serokell twitter account, which very conveniently is @Serokell. We will also have an epic logo soon, I promise. Goodbye till next time, and wish us the best of luck in GP Lyon on this weekend.

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Serokell is a software development company focused on building innovative solutions for complex problems. Come visit us at serokell.io!

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