Who is Charis Kikidis aka Mogged?

Keraan Chetty  00:00 

The Sharks MTG podcast back, fresh after the recent Pro Tour. And I’m joined by my regular co host, Kaloyan Petkov. Kaloyan, how are you doing pal? 

Kaloyan Petkov  00:11 

Hey Keraan, I’m doing well excited to be here with a very special guest today. So yeah, let’s get it going. 

Keraan Chetty  00:20 

Yeah, very special indeed. Lots of you might have heard, well you’ve definitely heard of the name Mogged from the MTGO streets, a man who has been terrorizing everyone on that platform for the last few years, otherwise known as Charis Kikidis Charis welcome to the show.  

Charis Kikidis  00:38 

Hello, guys, glad to be here. 

Keraan Chetty  00:39 

Yeah, it’s a privilege to have you here, especially after your breakout performance at the Pro Tour, which we’ll get into a little bit later. But first and foremost, for the people who, you know, want to get to know about you and your story. You know, your entry points to magic was it, is it safe to say Magic Online? Was it or were you sort of a paper, kitchen countertop magic player? How did you get into magic? 

Charis Kikidis  01:02 

I started playing better magic back in 2013. I won at the time, it was called like, like the greek qualifier or something for the national team. Like we had the World Cup tournament, which was the best event in Magic’s history, by the way. Where teams would face off each other, like from each country. So that was my breakout competitive magic playing this tournament. After that, I joined Magic Online. I left paper, and then COVID came, and then the Pro Tour was announced, but then they start to get back into it. 

Keraan Chetty  01:39 

Right. So which you said 2013? Was that the year that you were there? Would that have been in Nice?  

Charis Kikidis  01:45 

Oh no, I want in 2015. So yeah, I guess my break at competitive magic was like 2015. But I did MTGO ever since. And now like, I’m pursuing the solo path for the pro tour, I guess, ya. 

Keraan Chetty  02:00 

Kal were you there? I think I was definitely there in 2015 as well. I can’t remember which one it was was, getting old and all of this. But yeah, you’re right. Absolutely right. The World Magic Cup was by far the best. And Kal you also played in the old world, right? Safe to say the World Magic Cup was the best experience for you as well. 

Kaloyan Petkov  02:19 

I mean, yeah, it’s great because you, there’s like a lot of camaraderie. There’s a lot of national pride. But I think maybe the reason for me why it was the best was because the to opportunities to play abroad and, you know, competitively on the world stage was so few and far between back then. So I think that’s probably why it really stands out. You know, aside from maybe one, what used to be pro to qualify per season for our country, you know, nationals and worlds, and then later on the World Magic Cup. Were always the highlights. But yeah, I was on a brief hiatus, actually my only hiatus from magic and just came back in 2015 so, by the time Fate Reforged came out. So yeah, I have a sense of when this was, yeah. 

Keraan Chetty  03:07 

I stand to be corrected here Charis. I know, it’s similar. I think that the Greece magic scene, again, being a little further away from sort of the magic hub of sort of, far Western Europe, and a lot more opportunities, lot of PTQs is in places like Italy, and you know, those historically bigger magic regions. I know a lot of Turkish players as well. And I know that you guys faced similar sort of challenges and can relate to what Kal is saying about limited opportunities in paper, I guess is that is that a reason why you drove you to Magic Online? 

Charis Kikidis  03:39 

Oh, yeah, for sure. Like the GPs seemed like hard to access from a financial standpoint. There was like too much to pay for accommodation and tickets to be worth it to play the event and like, pursue this in like, professional competitive way. So magic online seemed like an easier way to play tournaments and compete for like, some cash or whatever. Some Greeks did it, but I think it was, it was like a hobby, and not so much about professional path. So yeah, you’re absolutely right, that affected things back then. 

Kaloyan Petkov  04:20 

And as far as magic today for you, would you say at this point you’re pursuing it with a professional mindset that you’re looking to do this full time? 

Charis Kikidis  04:31 

Yeah, I guess I’m looking to do this full time and the Pro Tour path is like a very good opportunity because you get to you get to like cover some expenses by winning like the RCQ than doing well at the RC like this. I think the path is better suited for this kind of thing than the Grand Prix ever was in the past. 

Kaloyan Petkov  04:58

And it’s far as where you are in your life now, you know you’re a young guy. How long have you been doing this magic thing is in the context of your life. 

Charis Kikidis  05:07 

I’ve been doing this, like, semi professionally for the last eight years, but every year, I’m all more into it. And spending more and more time to magic. 

Kaloyan Petkov  05:21 

May I ask how old you are right now? 

Charis Kikidis  05:23 

Yeah, I’m 30 years old. Okay. Yeah. Cool. 


Commander/Pauper Talk 


Keraan Chetty  05:29 

So I couldn’t help but notice when I went to, I just tried to find some sort of info on you beforehand. And as you say, because you’ve been doing magic online for such a long time, the bulk of information comes in Magic Online. And I noticed a few years back, if I go back to 2015, or 2016, I think a lot of your results, were commander, competitive commander, sort of leagues and stuff. What’s up with that? Is it just something you really enjoyed? Or was it something you thought you could just get a lot of equity out of by grinding commander leagues? 

Charis Kikidis  05:59 

Well, it’s both like, it used to be equity, but it was also the best format I ever played, I still think it’s the best format I’ve ever played till today. Like, if you guys can get allow me to have like a short parenthesis and talk about this. Okay. So commander one v one, is like a singleton format that is basically like, similar to legacy in a way, but also has the commander is the extra thing. Like you play all the cards from legacy as one of and then the commander fills your empty turns. So you can build your deck in a way that you will never flood, or screw. Like the classic stuff Magic players complain about. So commander, like actually fills those voids. And you will always get to play the game. It’s more like it’s more like chess, and it leads to like, huge games of magic that go about like 30 turns. And like, you have to answer the commander and find, find the answer, find the land and not stumble in any spot and think 5 turns ahead. It’s very, very deep and it’s like one game that lasts as long as three games but it’s so intense. 

Kaloyan Petkov  07:25 

I think that what you did immediately reminded me of was battlebox If you’ve ever played that, it’s like a limited format where you can choose where you draw either lands or spells. And then any you can pick one of 10 one enemy of friendly dual lands that enter the battlefield tapped is like your source of mana. So you can either draw from a stack of you know, powerful creatures and spells or a duel land and then in that sense, you have to plan ahead okay, what kinds of mana am I going to need? My land is going to be entering tapped you know, this kind of thing. So yeah, that’s very interesting. I hadn’t considered that when we weren’t commander would be a good magic format, you know, so very cool. 

Charis Kikidis  08:09 

Yeah, I felt that when in fact in because they Daybreak announced like they’re gonna make commander thing and we’ll have to bring back one young commander because it’s the best format I have ever played. 

Keraan Chetty  08:21 

Yeah, I can just see into the future, Mogged wins the one v one commander challenge on the Saturday coming up that’s interesting. Like yeah, we have never considered that and you know it just most and it’s interesting to get your perspective because most people who are into competitive magic typically frown upon Edh you know, Commander they don’t usually want to play commander, because of I guess the traditional setting and as you say, maybe the one v one aspect of it is very different because it removes the politics of oh I must you know, who am I going to attack can I be nice to this person so they don’t kill me and all that nonsense, you know? 

Charis Kikidis  09:01 

No, yeah, no, it’s definitely not like that. Like it looks it looks more like a super competitive format like legacy than the rest of Commander I guess. Okay. 

Keraan Chetty  09:15 

I think maybe you need to Coach Kal and I’m here to teach us about competitive commander at some point. Charis so you get into MTGO, do you start finding your niche your formats that you enjoy? Initially, as you say, it’s a lot of that one v one, a commander, would you say that you have a format that you’ve sort of fancy your favorite format or does it not matter is it whatever the competitive format is for you? What is your preference? 

Charis Kikidis  09:44 

It definitely matters I hate playing pioneer for like an important tournament. I guess modern similar I like playing standard and pauper usually standard is by far the best like unless they have a huge problem like OKO, it always ends up being super interesting, because midrange is usually the best news in these formats. So you will have a very nice metagame developed around that. And you will have a lot of deck building decisions, and long games that really test your prowess compared to something like pioneer, which has all these decks that the win on turn five, and you have to like, it’s like the modern of old time, where they use of like, lots of combo decks and you have to like, devote sideboard slots to fight of specific things. And you can’t really, you can’t really protect yourself against the metagame you will always concede some matchups. And like, feel lucky when matched against something else. It’s, it’s not very in your control pioneer. So standards, the best, pauper is okay and then pioneer is the worst. 

Keraan Chetty  11:10 

That’s an interesting observation. Usually when I hear people complain, especially on Twitter, people complain about pioneer, they say, oh, it is a play draw format. And if you’re on the draw, there’s almost nothing you can do. And you’re going to lose, which, which I generally disagree with that comment. But I think the interesting observation that you made is that matches tend to be quite swingy. And you need to dedicate a lot of sideboard slots to protect yourself against particular bad matches. Do you think perhaps that’s the reason why something like the red black midrange deck is so popular because it’s customizable. And in essence, you’ve got the answers to beat almost anything in the format Apart from maybe the extreme decks that go over the way over the top of you. Generally, you got the tools you customize your list and your list can be tuned to beat anything is that maybe the reason why the deck so popular and seems to do well and in Pioneer? 

Charis Kikidis  12:04 

Yeah, sure. Sure. I agree with that. It’s, it’s a very good it’s one of the few decks that pioneer has in that archetype. I guess. Even blue white control feels like it’s less of a  control them red black right now. Red Black probably have a good matchup with most decks if it chooses to. 

Kaloyan Petkov  12:32 

So a question for you regarding you know, like the texture of these formats. You mentioned you like pauper for similar reasons that you like standard. But I would argue there’s like a wide variety of archetypes in pauper that you know, can be competitive. You know, you have big man or you have some combo decks, you have really low to the ground aggro, you know, in the case of burn, has some of the best burn spells ever printed available in that format. So, yeah, there’s like a wide range of decks, is it because the metagame really condenses? Come challenge time, and you don’t expect people to be to bring you know, some of these archetypes. And as a result, you’re able to dedicate more slots to what you’re expecting. Why would you group pauper into the same realm as standard in this case? 

Charis Kikidis  13:22 

Yeah, that’s a fair question. I should probably have got more into that. I think pauper right now is in a terrible spot, like right now. But most of the time, for most of most of these history, fairies was the number one deck. And that was always a nice time to play pauper. Because it kinda reminded me of a format with a midrange deck on the top, and then the aggro decks being a bad choice into that. And then you have some decks that try to go over the top. And it’s like, grindy, and you play a lot of turns and aggro sometimes correct, but not always correct. So it was very interesting, right now it’s probably the worst that’s ever been, but I think it’s gonna get fixed. Usually, like, that’s what usually happens to pauper. 

Kaloyan Petkov  14:11 

you know, for our listeners, and maybe other people that aren’t as clued in to pauper why or what is it that you don’t like about it right now? 

Charis Kikidis  14:20

Well, the issue is affinity has basically shaped the entire format and Burn is to good of an aggro deck that it can have like 50/50 matchups with everything. So instead of being incentivized to make a good control list or try to contain these things you have to you just have to do a more proactive strategy and try to find your wins that way. 

Kaloyan Petkov  14:53 

Okay. And if you had a say in how to correct the format issues right now. How’d you go about doing that is just a nerf to burn? Is it as simple as that? Or do you think there would be another kind of problem deck as a result of doing so? 

Charis Kikidis  15:10 

I don’t think there will be a big problem, affinity is probably the hardest to beat. So if you take care of that, and then take some power away from burn, like, like a big kind of reset, I think it’s gonna be so interesting. As long as we have, like, a steady deck on top. Like, I mean, a variety of slower decks. 

Kaloyan Petkov  15:38 

Yes, popular decks, keeping the format in check, or keeping, keeping people honest, okay. Have a sense of what you mean. 

Keraan Chetty  15:46 

Yeah. Isn’t this the nature though of sort of your eternal formats, whether it’s pauper or modern, whatever the case is, eventually, more and more cards get printed into said format, and it pushes the boundaries and starts fracturing what you enjoy about the format, right? Like, isn’t that is just the nature of it. And isn’t it inevitable, and maybe it speaks again,if that is the case. And if I’m not mistaken, then that always argue against those eternal formats and leave standard to be that one format that has the best room. 

Kaloyan Petkov  16:19 

So not to steal Charis’s thunder, I am sure he has a strong opinion with regards to this question. But I think in pauper, this is definitely like the most evident anytime they introduced any, you know, Legacy mechanics. So in the case of the last thing as commander, boulders gate, when we got the dungeon was very evident. And, you know, a lot of changes had to come about the very short time after the introduction of that set. But I think as far as making changes, like Harris was suggesting, you know, you do have a very invested player base, but making those changes is not going to be as devastating to them financially, as you know, other digital formats, like modern or legacy where, you know, you ban OKO, and now well, I’ve had to go and acquire, you know, tropical island to my deck that I wouldn’t otherwise have gotten, or what have you. But in the case of pauper, you know, you really you rebalance, burn, and maybe someone can move laterally and play like red black madness, or something like that. But Charis, please go ahead. 

Charis Kikidis  17:25 

Like the last additions to pauper were really devastating, initiative and storm. I think of the latest things they included into the format and not by choice, it’s probably just like, random after effects of the sets they released. And this will be a problem because this will happen more often. And I don’t know how to fix this unless they directly include pauper into the format’s that they think about what they’re design new sets. 

Keraan Chetty  18:03 

Could it be as simple as something like the commander, Commander products, you know, not making commander products legal in improper? Because from what you say, it sounds like some that’s where some of the biggest problems with the initiative and that sort of thing. Being a challenge. 

Charis Kikidis  18:22 

Yeah. I don’t know what the fix is like. But I’m pretty sure if they had someone who enforces some pauper protection, they probably get around it. 

Kaloyan Petkov  18:37 

I think you just found the name of your first podcast. Pauper protection with Charis!


Path to the Pro Tour 


Keraan Chetty  18:45 

Yeah, I think we found the name of this episode as well. Okay, I think it sounds clear that you’re passionate about pauper and I know Kal is as well and hence he is providing a lot of these questions. I think. So you’re in it. You’re in the streets. The grind is part of your life. As you say you’ve been doing this for years now. What changed? Because there’s a tweet in December. There’s a tweet in December by you, you say. Well, this is the I’m going to pursue Pro Paper play. What changed in you that made you say, Okay, I’m taking it from Mtgo streets to wanting to make it to the top of pro magic. What was that tipping point for you or what? What led to that decision? 

Charis Kikidis  19:28 

I guess what happened is I was ready before but there was COVID and everything and actually getting to the arena. How do they call it, like arena championships was kind of hard. I never really understood most of the ways you get there. So the moment paper started, I somehow missed the first one. I don’t know why. But then I realized oh, this is like such a good tournament. It incentivizes you to play competitively. So I’m just going to do this. 

Keraan Chetty  20:03 

Right? So I guess and that’s where am I right in saying then you went to the qualifiers to play the RC in in Naples? Am I right? Is that? Is that where your journey started? 

Charis Kikidis  20:16 

Yes, I basically won an RCQ and then went straight to Naples. And that’s where it started. Yes. 

Keraan Chetty  20:25

Yep. And if I remember correctly, it didn’t start too well, you had a really ba start didn’t you? Weren’t you 2-2 after four rounds in Naples or something? 

Charis Kikidis  20:35 

Yeah, I was. I thought, it’s, it’s nearly impossible to make it now. But I’m going to be playing anyway. And it, I went with 6-3 to make day two. And I basically had a very good run and in the end, the last round, I can basically get in with an ID. And like everyone around me has submitted IDs. And I’m the only one sitting on the table and waiting for my opponent. And my opponent is taking like a 10 minute bathroom break. And he comes back and he wants to play. So like, my like the entire season like having like a Pro Tour standing. But I managed to get there and I was happy about it. 

Keraan Chetty  21:26 

Yeah, and I imagine quite frustrating because as you say, if you lose that round, you miss out, you probably miss out on the invite to the to the Pro Tour. And all you need to do is handshake, take the ID and you’re both qualified and unfortunately, or at the time, it seemed unfortunately, Elliot, who happens to be a friend, for whatever reason, the renowned deckbuilder had other ideas and wanted to play. But it worked out. 

Charis Kikidis  21:54 

Yeah, it worked out like I was very glad to see his list because I thought I had a really good match up so that rallied me back into the game. 

Keraan Chetty  22:03 

Yeah, I remember he played like a crazy deck with that dragon that cast spells from the graveyard with the cost reduction and one of the classic Elliott brew decks as always, I mean, in fact, when we went I think when Kal and I  were in the World Magic Cup as well, he gave us the deck for our team as well, one of those cycling decks at the time. But yeah, great deck builder. But yeah, I’m glad it worked out. So you get the result. You qualify for the pro tour finally. And it there’s a tweet, there’s a funny tweet. And just for people who don’t know they I think you’re a great follow. People need to follow you on Twitter, and maybe you can plug your Twitter handle a bit later. But there’s a post that you made you tweeted split the split finals of the standard challenge. And then someone replied something along the lines of, you’re lucky that Jabberwocki wasn’t there. He was at the pro tour. And you replied No, they are lucky that I’m not at the pro tour which I thought was hilarious. And as it transpired by evidence on this past weekend, you were absolutely right, because you did exceptionally well. Can you take us through the pro tour and your preparation? Are you very much one of these people that you know, does your own thing? Or do you work in a team. 


The Pro Tour 


Charis Kikidis  23:22 

I worked in a team for this pro tour, my process was to first of all root out the bad decks, I guess, and then focus on stuff we already know, we thought for this one brewing would probably be hard to do, because there was so little time and I don’t think the team was big enough to support this. So we just focused on what we knew and like, based our deck building on the previous metagame, in the end, I think the team, the team thing is very time consuming. And I have not learned yet how to work in a team. So it seemed to me that it’s better if I if I keep doing this on my own, but maybe it’s because I don’t have any experience. And maybe like someone will teach me how to be more efficient with teamwork.

Keraan Chetty  24:34 

Yeah, I think that’s something that like you know, the dynamic understanding the people that you’re working with, have you worked with them before you know how they work, it takes time to bond and understand people. There’s some people that are really smart and you can be on a team with them, but they say very little or they maybe don’t have the right ways of sharing their ideas. And then conversely, you get some people really loud and just have these hot takes, you know, even though they’re not really sure what they’re saying and can put points across with confidence. So it’s really an interesting balance. And I guess that’s where over time, finding the right group of people to work with probably can be beneficial.  

Kaloyan Petkov  25:13 

Do you find that, maybe challenging to you or not as fruitful as you would like, because you tend to be the idea person and you know, you’re having to convince others of why something is good? Or is it because everybody’s going in different directions, and it’s hard to kind of bring it back in and really narrow in on something specific, that’s, you know, the right thing to be doing. So it’s kind of maybe hurting your confidence, in a sense, because people are maybe pulling you away from what you think is good. And then, you know, in your mind, inevitably, it wasn’t worth it. Because you believe that your strategy is the way to go? 

Charis Kikidis  25:55 

Well, I think my team in this case was like, very open to my ideas, and very supportive, it’s just that I think it takes a lot of time to be in a team, and like, run a team, because I was like, head of standard in a way. So it’s, like, so much time to write down stuff, talk about everyone’s ideas, and, and instead, like just jamming games on leagues could be more beneficial. Like, I’m not sure where the correct line is, like, I don’t know, but it felt like very, very time consuming. And you have to go do all this non magic stuff in a team that to meet it seemed like I was doing better before. But that’s probably because of my inexperience of running a team. 

Kaloyan Petkov  26:47 

Specifically, the non magic related things is this, like coordinating people and, you know, maybe doing things outside of the scope of being, you know, quote unquote, head of standards. So in a way, you want to be dedicating time to playing games and, you know, learning the intricacies of matchup or how to sideboard, you having to do a lot more facilitating, like, you know, maybe presentations for other players and having to argue, argue with them for or against something. 

Charis Kikidis  27:19 

Yeah, definitely expressing myself was the hardest part of this, like, how do I put into words, what I think about the standard and how to convince others, like how to make my points clear, and it’s when someone has a different idea. You have to use like others  skills and getting into their worlds a little bit. And I wasn’t, I just think it was good in doing this thing. 

Kaloyan Petkov  27:48 

So when you were playing, and as far as like, the actual preparation goes, would you be, you know, like you said, jamming leagues, and then have players from your team, maybe watching you on Discord at the same time, so you guys can see it in real time. As things happen, you know, this is the critical turn for this matchup, you know, I’m not going to be baited to go down, you know, in this direction, or commit to this line, because I know that this is a way that this matches last, et cetera. Like, is that how you were doing it? Or were you independently playing and then saying, Listen, guys, this is my build of black, red, this is my build of grixis. And then having to kind of start from scratch. So without them having seen it, or without them having put in the games, to really be able to understand in depth, like your point, where you coming from? 

Charis Kikidis  28:38 

I probably should have done more of the first thing of playing leagues and talking through lines. But instead it was a little bit more chaotic than that. So I don’t think like, I don’t think I found the way by just making threads and playing matchups and, and just pairing people and hoping to get conclusions. 

Keraan Chetty  29:10 

I think especially when your approach to something is radically different to I guess the convention getting people to buy into that can be quite challenging. So for example, your decklist and your approach prior to this in the in the grixis mirrors, or as I was always taking out the Invoke despairs, right like that was the plan even at Naples, siding out and people thought that was crazy. I mean, whoever I played against good players. You know, no one would cut their invoke despairs, maybe trim or something along those lines, but they thought it was the most important card in the matchup. And you are coming in with a plan of you know what, I’m not going to just sideboard these cards and I’m not going to include it in my list. And on top of that, I’m cutting Sheoldreds as well where other people are you looking to go up to threes and fours? You stayed down at two. So yeah, and as Kal highlights, some people will even bring in the fourth copy of invoke. So when you come up with such a radical point of view, how is that received? And how was that received amongst your team, that the team sort of go with that approach that they all agree and, you know, cut the invokes because I imagine that’s a really difficult sell when the average person can’t understand why you’re doing it. 

Charis Kikidis  30:27 

Well, my team was running Hidetsugu. But when I explained the, the idea of cutting involves, I think they agreed. We didn’t end up playing that deck when we ended up playing like, like the four or five of us played Hidetsugu, me and  Frank, we played grixis, and then two other people played esper legends. But I think they were all very understanding of my ideas in a game with me in how the match ups should be played. 

Keraan Chetty  31:00 

Because it’s insane. Let me tell you the first time when you when you told me like, oh, no, just cut just cut the invokes cut, whatever, we’re cutting the sheoldreds, we’re cutting the invokes. It’s like okay, so when I’m playing this deck, you’re telling me I need to cut all the best cards in the matchups you know, the only good one I’m leaving in his fable like it, you know, until you actually play it. And then you see how the game goes and I think Kal made a point a while ago, and we were looking at standard, it’s almost like you approach it as a, as a fish deck, you know, you go low to the ground, cheap interaction interactive spells, whether it’s counterspells removal, discard, cheap threats, and other people are trying to play these expensive over the top cards and you just go underneath which, which I think is just brilliant. And the little bit I’ve managed to catch up coverage that’s all the commentators could speak to. They were like, well, this is the guy with no invokes like you know, like they just couldn’t believe that you weren’t playing invokes. I missed your interview with Cedric what did you have to say about you not playing invokes 

Charis Kikidis  31:59 

He asked me why I have no invoke he expected a better answer, but I told him it’s probably a mistake. Because in that meta game, I should probably have been running invokes, I think in Naples, running invokes and then cutting it was the best thing you could do against grixis. But in this meta game, I should probably be running more invokes because they’re still good red black they’re still good against atraxa. They’re still good against grixis game one at least. So I guess it was like a misread of me. I should probably have a more stock list for this tournament specifically. 

Keraan Chetty  32:33 

Yeah and that’s fair. And that’s something that we spoke about because my when the red black decks first start breaking out. And Kal was playing the RC and in the US San Diego, and that was our thing. And we said okay, well because they can’t counter your invoke. It’s safe to tap out and play this five mana spell. So it made sense. So that was our plan to keep in all the invokes against red. So we thought it was really good. But it’s interesting that you say you think it was probably a mistake, I guess in hindsight, given how the metagame turned out, and the matchups in the decks that you saw there. 

Charis Kikidis  33:14 

Yeah, so my idea was, this is kind of an open metagame slightly like there’s gonna be a little bit more aggro. There’s gonna be more esper legends, maybe some more mono red because Yeah, more like a random new deck. But there was none of that there was like a low percentage of esper legends, maybe 12% and that was the only deck I could pray upon with not having invoked basically. And the moment I saw the meta game. I’m like, okay, my deck is not super well positioned. But I did think grixis as far as the archetype was the best thing for this tournament. Because you would have like a slightly bad red matchup and be good against atraxa way more than red black is because of the counters. Yeah. So in in the end, I was still happy but I wish I was playing stock grixis with invokes. 

Kaloyan Petkov  34:18 

So how were you able to find success? You know, given that you, you know, in your mind you don’t think you went with the best version of the deck for the tournament was it you know, the usual combination of good play with some luck and you know, in terms of how you drew which matchups you got paired up against, you know, ultimately having finished ninth I think 11 Four and one or whatever it was how did that come together? 

Charis Kikidis  34:44 

I was lucky in limited I think is the first draft I drafted the mono red that was a pretty good deck but not a 3-0 deck. During my second round, my opponent had an insane deck but I somehow drew very well and beat my opponent, which was probably a win I shouldn’t get. And then I’m in the 2-0 bracket against Karl Serap, Terribad. And he has the worst 2-0 deck I’ve ever seen, like even tells me like, I don’t know how I got 2-0 with this deck. So my decks a little better than his and I managed to get the 3-0 but it’s like too coincidental things that took me. So Limited was lucky day one. And then I do think I was really well prepared for standard like I knew of the sequences. So I have a 7-3 record in standard, I I don’t think that was too lucky. That was probably like, in my expectations. But clearly that is the big thing, I guess which another good like, I’m not a good drafter compared to most of the top pro tour players. 

Kaloyan Petkov  35:55 

So just taking a step back as far as like the macro standpoint, for this pro tour, you said, you know, before we actually started recording that, you know, having it having been your first pro tour of there were a lot of things you noticed. So you know, you experiencing it for the first time, you have a lot of takeaways, you want to share some of those with us? 

Charis Kikidis  36:16 

Sure. So paper tournaments are really different. I didn’t know it was going to be 13 hours of playing or something. It was very long. So endurance is really important in these tournaments, I started getting like very, very tired in the later rounds. And like day 2, so I woke up sick because we had a terrible pizza the last night. So I was like throwing up and I had slept like no hours. And I play my first round. And I completely mess it up. I played so bad that the first round I and I get a draw, it should have been a win. In the end. Like that’s, that’s around the defined my pro tour. But you know, that’s all in hindsight. So it’s like, the physical things that that are attached to the pro tour and you can’t just like zoom out and play online and like just take it over your chess clock and be in your comfort zone. I don’t have these things in paper. And those are like big disadvantages to me that other players are more experienced with. 

Keraan Chetty  37:32 

There’s a couple of things that you said there and the one I want to touch on is paper play the transition to paper play. So when you as you say you go Magic Online, there’s complexity with playing Magic Online. But there are also some easy things where you know, you cast your blood tied harvesters, the token comes into play, you cast your whatever it is the tokens automatically appear when paper it’s a simple thing, you know that the card does this but it’s very easy to mess up that mechanic of not putting the blood token in play not putting the treasure token in play, like how much concentration or how much did you find that being a challenge just to remember these little things that online platforms just automatically do for you. 

Charis Kikidis  38:13 

I guess that takes like this is like having less RAM like less memory devoted to this thing in multiple line. But when you’re in paper you have to take away some of your focus to do all this stuff. And I haven’t played since Naples hadn’t played paper since Naples, maybe like one time in the LGs but it you know it’s a it’s something you have to get used to and it diverts about your focus unless you’re like a pro at that thing because there’s so many things like it seems it’s just one blood token but no you have to like do like all the phases and like many triggers and pass priority and like communicate everything it’s yeah, it’s different.

Keraan Chetty  39:00 

Would you have done something different to prepare yourself for paper play? Was there something like going into the next major event pro tour or whatever the case is that you’re playing? Would you do something differently in order to make sure you are more prepared and you know you’re going in a better space you more practice to paper mechanics hitting what and what would that be? 

Charis Kikidis  39:20 

I will do one week of bootcamp with my team and play every game every day. On paper of course, that’s we only have two days that like those two days were probably the best days. In my preparation they gave me so much equity those two days. If I had a week, it would be so much better specifically for me, the thing I’m lacking is like paper experience. 

Keraan Chetty  39:47 

Yeah, fair enough. And I imagine as I say, I had a similar sort of experience recently when before Naples. I haven’t played paper Magic for the longest time and dumb things like forgetting tokens and all these kinds of things kept on happening because, you know, you just weren’t doing it. And now that I’ve started playing paper Magic again, it’s second nature. So yeah, absolutely, I think it’s something you can benefit from. And the last thing, the other thing you mentioned earlier, when you’re talking about the drafts, you know, it gives me that example, I always tell people the last pro tour I played in, in fact, I practice with the Frenchies with, Raph Levy and with Elliott, and at the time, in the sort of house we were at, I was killing it on Magic Online, you know, lots of drafts, and whatever the case is, the time the pro tour comes along, I, you know, I don’t do well in the draft and Raph just casually , I think he’s 6-0ed the draft or whatever, like, you know, no problem. You know, just some of these guys have been doing it for such a long time. And it’s such a high level, it really takes a lot of work, to be able to compete at that level consistently. And again, I guess, for most people, the draft element is the one that becomes where you need to put a bit extra work and to get it to that level. So back to I guess back to you’re done with the one draft, you go on to the rest of standard, and you have a strong day, as you say into standard and you finish 7-1? 

Charis Kikidis  41:12 

7-1, 3-0 in limited and 4-1 in standard. 

Keraan Chetty  41:17 

Right. And as unfortunately, as you say, not a great night, you were not feeling well probably led to you playing poorly and throwing away a win early on. And so how does the rest of the draft unfold? 

Charis Kikidis  41:30 

I play round 2 against Javier, we are on the same green white deck, which is probably a mistake from my side. Because I passed the green white counters card, I had signaled that this is open but I ended up in that deck because I tried to stay open. But then, I didn’t feel there’s any other path, in pack 2. So I defaulted back to a deck that’s already been played on the table. And it’s like a very medium deck, like a 4/5 out of ten deck. So I’m just hoping to get like, 2-1, but in the end, I get one win one loss and one draw, which was ok, from that deck. 

Keraan Chetty  42:24 

So then you would be I guess, what, nine and a half after 12 rounds? Yes. 

Charis Kikidis  42:31 

And during the third round of the draft Karl and Nathan, choose to ID. So I haven’t done the math. But um, I think, well, if they think an ID is getting in, then that’s good for me, because I just need to, I might just need 3-2 standard and get in, which I ended up doing. I ended up 3-2ing the standard but no loss, no tie and no 11-4 got in the top eight. So I guess they were wrong. And yeah. 

Keraan Chetty  43:04 

Right. So you got the 3-2 as you as you as you pointed out, in the remainder of standard. And you finished with what 34 points for ninth place. Is that Is that right? Yes. 34 points. And as you say it was a win. You needed one more win, essentially. Yeah. 36 points?


The Online Era of Magic 


Kaloyan Petkov  43:26 

Okay, yeah, so we were talking about like experience and pro tour regulars. You know, knowing how to draft having been there, being able to transition seamlessly between Magic Online and paper magic or maybe not putting in as much preparation as, you know, maybe in the case of myself and Keraan have to, in order to feel like we’re fully ready and still perform and get those top results. But then in many senses. This is the second advent of Mtgo players, or just online players in general, in some case, arena players showing up and starting to take over the pro tour  you know, there’s your results having finished ninth and then some others like Chevette. I think it’s a better known as Pedro Penini from Brazil. Yeah, he also had a really good result. And, you know, I’m sure you interact with a lot of these people on a daily basis, you know, with how connected we are in this day and age and just being able to, you know, message someone directly on Magic Online or have them in a discord chat. Do you feel the same way that these former pros or top players maybe not as motivated and not putting in the time they need to in order to compete at what is now a higher level? Because you guys, you know, especially in your case, you know, you play every challenge every weekend, regardless of format, you are playing the prelims you just at the forefront of like the tech in every format, you’ve played the games, you know the matchups you know the line Yeah, what was it like getting to meet a lot of these people? And do you agree that in a sense, now’s the time for the online players who have qualified to show how good they are. And that maybe magic is moving to be even more competitive in this day and age. 

Charis Kikidis  45:21 

So there was an era back in poker that you used to have all the greatest of all time, like, the ones who won, the championships and everything. And then PokerStars was a big thing. The online players moved on to the scene, and they tear everything apart. I do think this is what’s happening now. More so in the case of like, Nathan Steur, or like Karl Sarap all these online players that have been doing really, really well, in the pro tour. I think it’s natural in a way because they’re playing the most amount of magic than anyone. When you’re in Magic Online, you play way more matches than you play in paper. So you have more experience. You’re like a veteran, even though you’re young. So this is what’s happening now. And, it’s like a new era of magic. Like, I do think like, Reid Duke winning the last pro tour was nice, a great moment for the game. But it’s probably an exception. And now the online players are like the, I guess the ones to fear the most.  

Keraan Chetty  46:44 

To be fair. Reaid is one of you, you know, if we’re going back years. 

Charis Kikidis  46:49 

So, yeah, it’s so true. Yeah. It’s so funny. 

Keraan Chetty  46:53 

Yeah, I mean, Reid was that guy who, you know, the first, if you will, going back the Magic Online and boss, who made his way and eventually became a staple in the paper scene. And then, I guess years later, it was Brad Nelson, who did that. And I think Brad also finished ninth just like you, in his in his first pro tour, if I’m not mistaken. So, that’s why I thought it was a really cool moment when I saw Brad tweet something about playing some event and he’s got a decklist from you, or you hooked him up with some decklist like a month ago or whatever. And I thought that was like a cool moment where like, you know, former Magic Online and boss and current Magic Online end boss come together. So yeah, it’s changing of the guard so to speak. 

Charis Kikidis  47:38 

Yes, it’s funny how, like, I think I noticed guys were like, Magic Online end bosses, but I now think that those guys are, like, the paper like the paper greats. And like they’re the old guard, but it’s so funny how it turns out. 

Keraan Chetty  47:55 

Yeah, because like, you know, you go back and there’s different phases and like, you know, a few years back it was I guess was Logan Nettles, it was Jabberwocki and before that, I guess it was Butakov, and it’s really cool In fact, I think the last PT I played in my draft pod, my two opponents, my second and third opponents were Demetri Butakov and Logan Nettles. You know so yeah, I guess that’s the way of the World Magic Online or Arena if you if you will, to a lesser extent, just on the arena versus Magic Online. Obviously the monetization aspect on MTGO is a big draw card to play MTGO but taking away the monetization and the fact that you know you can actually make money off of MTGO, what’s your opinion on the two platforms and what they offer and I guess level of competition because that’s something that we always comes up on this blog. 

Charis Kikidis  48:47 

I think Magic Online offers way better training for competition than magic arena does when you’re in Magic Online, you get to play against the best players in a challenge like you will face like I don’t know a world champion, two people who finished in the top 8 of the pro tour. You’re playing really good players in Magic Online and every weekend. In magic arena I don’t think that the ladder for most formats is that competitive. You get to see a lot of decks that are questionable. And just the way arena works like it has taught players to, to play in a different way. Like sometimes skipping phases and all those weird shenanigans, I don’t think it’s like the best. I don’t think it’s like they’re comparable. I think Magic Online is way better to train yourself into magic than magic arena. 

Keraan Chetty  49:50 

I think somebody made the point on this podcast previously that while arena technically is magic, magic arena almost feels like a video game where Magic Online feels like applying the same paper based game on a on a computer. And I think that’s a, that’s a good way of summing up the difference between the two environments. That being said, you did say that the actual arena championships or the qualifications or whatever you thought that was quite difficult or maybe more difficult than you expected. 

Charis Kikidis  50:22 

I still don’t know how you qualify for this. Like, I’m not sure how you qualify for this. I remember like there was something in online and then getting like, like a qualifier weekend and then like day two and then having a score, but there are probably more ways that I am missing.


What is next for Charis


Keraan Chetty  50:45

Okay, I get you. Yeah, it’s not something I even bother with historically as well. I guess we are here at the end of the road now, the pro tour is done. Will you be playing these events? So will your next event be paper event that is, will you be playing in Valencia? Or are you skipping that one?

Charis Kikidis  51:08 

Valencia? I know the next one is enough as the next paper. I don’t know. I don’t know anything about Valencia.

Keraan Chetty  51:16 

Valencia is like, whatever they call it like a LMS. I think it’s like a new type of Grand Prix. It is not actually the regional championship. It’s called LMS Valencia. 

Charis Kikidis  51:27 

Okay, I’ll like look into that. Maybe I can I don’t know when it is. Maybe I can combine it. But my plan was to just do the Athens regionals. And then because it’s in my city, I don’t have to travel and then just play the pro tour in Barcelona.

Kaloyan Petkov  51:47 

Yeah, and you would have to play pioneer if you were to play the LMS. GP and you told us you’re not a fan of that. If you don’t mind quickly telling us about pioneer, do you have like, maybe a deck or two that you typically play? Or that you would that you prefer? And if you could just give us a short reason as to why.

Charis Kikidis  52:08 

Yes, I think my most deck is probably the Phoenix, the UR Phoenix deck. I think it’s a very consistent deck that doesn’t have any terrible matchups. Like people say, rb is so good against the Phoenix, but I don’t think that’s the case. Like all the bad match ups are close, they’re like 45%. And it’s so good in open metas usually that deck, but it might not be the case this time. So I really don’t know. It’s far too early for me to know what deck to play in  Athens, which is pioneer, as well.

Keraan Chetty  52:47 

I saw a bunch of you complaining about the venue in Athens? Apparently, the venue is not great, or it’s out of the way or something of that sort. Did they move it or is that still the case? 

Charis Kikidis  52:57 

I don’t think they moved it. Like after the deal has been made, right? It’s like too late. It’s like we’re just whining at this point. I don’t think we could change anything, we just like talked about it. Basically, the venue is near the airport. And the like compared to other cities, the airport is like very far away from the from the city center. And like Athens is a great city to experience. Like, it’s going to be in the summer. So everybody can go to the beach, or they can go visit like Acropolis there’s some site seeing to do in the city center. And, great food and everything but near the airport, like all of these things are far away. So you probably can’t match them with the days that you play. It’s going to be too many hours, and then you need like three hours to go back and forth. So you’re gonna like people visiting the they will have to stay more days if they want to experience Athens and there are venues in much better places, like near the beach that would allow them to spend more time doing stuff. 

Kaloyan Petkov  54:17 

On that note, I saw your tweet. In preparation for the pro tour. You said that you packed your bag, you had your American flag, swim trunks ready to go and your playlist was ready. What sort of Music where you listening to on that plane right over and you know, maybe before and after the pro tour. Did you get up to any shenanigans were able to experience some of the US besides a crappy pizza? 

Charis Kikidis  54:42 

Yes, so I visited my family. They live on the east coast near DC, Washington DC. So I went to the museums I have great food we like they grow weed so it’s Yeah, we had like Some very fun time. I mean, it’s legal you know. So we had some really fun time and then in Minneapolis, I managed to do like one day, like half a day to walk around the lakes and one day to visit the Mall of America, which is the biggest mall and do all the consumerist stuff it was fun. 

Keraan Chetty  55:27 

Nice. It’s funny, you mentioned the weed thing. And it’s so interesting, because I know a lot of people in other countries that consider weed, it’s drugs, it’s, you know, it’s bad, or whatever the case is. And it’s funny, because as a South African, it was never officially legal. Yeah, like years gone by, but it was a normal thing. It was like, you know, like, practically like smoking a cigarette, like you’d smell weed everywhere. And you could buy it just about anywhere. But it was like always just a known thing. So it’s always interesting when you have these other countries, and they’re like, oh, it’s legal. It’s cool. You can do these things. And, you know, people would go to Amsterdam, or whatever, and go to those cafes and buy some joints and but as a South African or is like never a think because you can, we could always just you know, you could buy it easily accessible whenever you want from the time you were a pretty much a teen. But that being said, Kal, is there anything else you want to finish off with Charis.

Kaloyan Petkov  56:17 

Now, just thank you for your time. I think we learned a lot as usual. And really appreciate your time and your perspective. So wish you all the best here for the next hour. See, hopefully, you can crack pioneer and maybe share some of your findings with us because we’re a bunch of mono green gamers over here for the time being and it’s kind of flippy floppy as far as the results with mono green. 


Charis Kikidis  56:43 

Thank you for having me, guys. 


Keraan Chetty  56:45 

No, no, thank you, man. It was a pleasure having you here and you know, just listening to some of your insights on the way your mind works and the way you approach things. It’s, you know, so unconventional. And I’ve learned a lot from you. And yeah, thanks for your time, man. I really appreciate it. And we’re going to be following you to see what you do next. And you’re already looking forward to seeing you at the next I guess RCs and pro tour coming up. Thank you, Keraan. Bye. All the best and we’re out.