“I hadn’t missed a Pro Tour in seven years,” Joel Larsson said in his post-match interview, “but with Artifact being this fun, I’m going to give it a chance and see what happens.” This was Joel’s second Artifact tournament win in the limited format, establishing himself as the current player to beat in drafting. “The game surprises you so much with how many levels there are.”
Joel Larsson swept through the Artifact Preview Tournament with a 10-0 record, winning Artifact’s first broadcasted tournament without dropping a single game, and earning $4,000 of the $10,000 prize pool. Hosted by Beyond The Summit, this weekend’s tournament was the first opportunity for viewers and future players to see new Artifact gameplay since PAX West two months ago. The 128-man bracket included decorated players from various titles, from Hearthstone, Gwent, Magic: the Gathering, and even the captain of The International 2017’s Dota 2 champion team, Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi.
The 27-year-old Swedish MtG pro is no stranger to top tier competition himself, having reached the Top 8 of several Magic tournaments in the past, and having won both a Grand Prix and a Pro Tour. He met F2K’s Gwent content creator Miguel “Mogwai” Guerrero in today’s grand final. The last game of the day ended in peculiar fashion, with Mogwai passing the turn. This may have been a mis-click or the timer running out while he considered his options. Joel punished this by using his Keenfolk Musket to remove one hero, and casting Intimidation (which he had just TopDeck’ed that turn) to remove another from the lane, pushing 24 damage out of the second tower’s 22 remaining health.
Joel told the casters in his interview that he originally thought Mogwai was going to have to choose between saving the Phantom Assassin or using the ability from Chen (Holy Persuasion: Gain control of an enemy creep), which Joel was ok with either. He planned on winning the lane either way, preparing for a scenario that gave him the best chance of doing so. Then Mogwai passed the turn, casting an unexpected Hand of God, which provided Joel a lethal opportunity that he took.
After being asked what would be next for him, Joel responded. “It’s going to be more Artifact for me. I also started studying, and I can’t do all that and a social life. I’ve done Magic for a long time.” Joel opted to pass on the opportunity to compete in this weekend’s Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica tournament, whereas Lukas Blohon (October’s $10,000 Artifact limited-format tournament winner) did the opposite, and skipped the Artifact tournament to compete in the Pro Tour. “I’m not going to abstain from all Magic my entire life.”
And he has only improved since his last tournament win. “At first you think a meta game is solved,” Joel said. “Then you realize a card or strategy is good and everything becomes way more complex all of a sudden. If that’s strategy good, it can be applied to other places. This way of playing the game is a thing and that enables strategy… The more you understand the game, the more you understand how to build decks and draft.”
Prompted by Savjz, Joel revealed plans to take the next steps in his Artifact career, expressing interest in streaming and finding a sponsorship (“which works very differently for content creators than in Magic”).
It’s a new world for Joel Larsson, but one that’s off to a strong start.
The NDA drops next week, allowing alpha testers to begin streaming and producing content for Artifact. He’ll be attending Beyond The Summit’s Artifact House Party, going live on November 17th, 4pm PST. This will be broadcasted from https://www.twitch.tv/btsartifact.
You can follow Joel Larsson at @JoelLarsson1991 for announcements and more.
Images courtesy of https://www.twitch.tv/btsartifact