Marketing Yourself

Brennan has received some good fortune recently! It’s all because he’s just lucky, right? Well, not exactly. He talks the Grand Prix circuit, the SCG Tour, and how we often make our own luck!

Recently there’s been some debate as to the merits of playing in either the
SCG Tour or on the Grand Prix circuit. While both are fine avenues to take
if you want to progress your Magic career, there are benefits to both. For
me, the marketing of players is the biggest reason I chose to play
exclusively on the SCG Tour. I like to think that my success playing on the
SCG Tour has brought me my notoriety, but that would be a lie. While I’ve
done well playing on the SCG Tour, having won three Opens in the last
eighteen months with two other finals appearances at Team Constructed Opens
and a handful of other top 8s, if it weren’t for Star City Games and the
amazing job they do making people watching care about the players playing,
I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Many people would call me lucky and there’s no denying that. I’m a very
lucky person in more ways than just Magic, but I like to think that I’ve
earned a great deal of that luck, and I do owe a lot of it to circumstances
that I’ve had a part in sculpting. I’m sure many of you have heard recently
that I’ll be attending Pro Tour Core Set 2019 through a special
invite and I’d like to explain how that came about.

For those of you who don’t know, recently Wizards of the Coast announced
what is to be known as

The Silver Showcase

, an exclusive booster draft on Sunday of Pro Tour Core Set 2019.
This booster draft invite was sent out to the top Pro Point leaders across
the world in four different regions and four players handpicked by WotC for
what I’m sure amounts to a marketing venture since the players are most
notable for accomplishments in other games or aspects of gaming. While the
entire notion of rewarding people who haven’t devoted their lives to Magic
and the community of Magic might be bewildering to many, I can see what
they’re going for with this, but I’m not sure it was executed in the proper

I could elaborate on that, but that’s not the focus of what I wanted to
talk about today. The politics of all this are beyond me, and I’m not going
to get caught up in discussing what should have happened with this or how
people believe WotC has messed up for the millionth time. The fact of the
matter is that it’s happening, and I hope that the mistakes that seem to
have been made here can be learned from in the future to create a better
experience for the target audience.

What is the main focus of this is the fact that the players who do not
spend all their time playing Magic that were special invited to this event
also were invited to play in the Core Set 2019 Pro Tour which is a
team event. You could imagine the difficulties of a player not too well
connected in the Magic community like Jason Chan, more commonly known as
Amaz, to join a team of existing Pro players who have likely had their
teams lined up for months now on such short notice. With that in mind,
earlier this year I found myself watching a Hearthstone stream and randomly
making a snide comment about some play that was made and got a response
from Amaz. He recognized my name from being partially involved in Magic,
having been invited to Pro Tour Ahmonkhet the year prior and we
began chatting.

This all started at the beginning of this year, and we talked more and more
about Magic over the months when new sets would come out, but he never
expressed interest in playing much Constructed, which was fine. I invited
him to play with THE Tannon Grace and me at an Open earlier this year.
Being the busy bee that he is, he couldn’t attend, but said that if there
was another chance that we could play in the future, he’d try and make it
happen. Several months went by and nothing really changed except for more
random Magic talks and more snide comments in his Twitch chat, but then
nearly a month ago he asked if I was going to the Pro Tour. At the time I
was unqualified and had an RPTQ coming up that I’d hope would get me there.
He mentioned that he might be getting a special invite again and wondered
if I knew people who were going who’d want to team with him. After much
review of the RPTQ system and seeing who can team with who and why, it
seemed that it would be unlikely that I’d be able to be of much help since,
as I mentioned before, most of the people I know had already locked up
their team months in advance. While that didn’t bode well for Amaz, it did
have him inquire further if he could invite his own team.

While I had no idea that anything like The Silver Showcase would happen
since I rarely pay much attention to the “Pro” Magic scene, what it also
meant was that Amaz was able to invite two people of his choosing.

Quick aside: I want to make it clear that there was no confirmation
from him

who he’d want to team with prior to the RPTQ I played in.

While my team didn’t quite get there, it was a blast to play Magic again
since it had been the Season One Invitational that I had last battled. With
that in mind, Amaz asked how we’d done which didn’t inspire confidence I’m
sure, but as anyone who’s met me will likely tell you I’m pretty easygoing
and can take my losses with (Tannon) Grace like anyone should.

Then it happened.

It was past the midnight hour and I received a message from Amaz saying he
wanted me on his team for the Pro Tour if I was willing. I won’t lie, I was
thrilled. Not only was it going to be a great weekend to look forward to
finally getting to hang out with someone I’d consider a good friend I
hadn’t yet met, but I wasn’t going to be left out of the office get away!
For the last Pro Tour when everyone left to go test for a week, it was a
lonely time at Direwolf Digital. We got plenty of work done regardless, of
course, but it did feel like I was left out of an exclusive club in some
way, which I’m sure everyone has felt at some point in their life. While I
couldn’t wait to tell my girlfriend and fellow BCW teammates, one question
was still left in my head that I couldn’t shake:

Who was going to be the third?

While I knew it wasn’t my decision to make I had the person in my mind who
I knew I’d pick hands down not close if given the option. I’m speaking of
course of THE Tannon Grace, who’s been my teammate at every single team
Open I’ve ever played in.

Then the unthinkable happened, I was asked who I thought a good third would
be. Now I did mention a few people aside from Tannon who also would have
been amazing pickups, but I knew in my heart of hearts who I’d love to
share this experience with, not to mention this Pro Tour would involve
Legacy and having a seasoned veteran like Tannon at the helm would be one
of the easiest slam dunks I’ve ever heard. There was some deliberation on
Amaz’s part, who I’m sure was feeling the pressure of wanting to make a lot
of awesome people happy by bringing them to the Pro Tour, but he knew that
the team dynamic would be all but locked in if Tannon was on board, having
spent more time physically talking to Tannon than he and I ever had.

Not too much longer and we were given the green light, the golden ticket so
to speak. You can call it whatever you’d like, but that doesn’t change the
fact that Tannon and I are going to be on an awesome team for the Pro Tour
and have more experience in this format than most anyone else.

While I’m sure that many people would consider this kind of thing a stroke
of luck, it does come back to the fact that this all happened because of
the SCG Tour. If I never did well at these events and didn’t make something
of the publicity I was given from the amazing people at Star City Games, I
wouldn’t have been able to parlay that into successful streaming, into
writing, into a sponsorship with BCW or likely into the job at Direwolf
Digital I have now. I was recruited by Patrick Sullivan late last year to
apply and I’m pretty darn sure that I wouldn’t have moved across the
country for a job working on another game if I didn’t do my best to market
myself and catch the eye of those who have the decision-making capabilities
in the business we all love.

So, I’ll bring this back to a phrase I tell people all the time:

“You make your own luck.”

It’s true and does get you far, but only so far. So what’s something that
you can do to help make your own luck and make your story worth talking
about? One thing I’ll have to say is that it might not work out for
everyone and it’s certainly not a foolproof method. The best advice I can
give is just to be positive. While that might sound simple enough, it’s
hard for a lot of people. Life can be hard, and the toughest thing to do is
smile when you’ve been kicked in the teeth. It’s hard to shake the
opponent’s hand when they just topdecked you out of the top 8 of an event,
it’s hard to be kind to someone who just tried to rules lawyer you on
something that was a simple misunderstanding, it’s hard to wish someone
luck when you feel like you deserved the win because of some ungodly sense
of entitlement.

Whatever the conundrum you might face in Magic or in life, just try and
take it in stride and be the force you want to see reflected upon you. Good
things will happen. When playing any game, keep an open mind and be willing
to be wrong. Those who believe they’re always right are those not willing
to learn some new way to approach a difficult problem.

Listen. Listening gets you places.

Some advice I took from Patrick Sullivan long before he cared to remember
my name was that you shouldn’t trouble your life with things that don’t
make you happy based on the expectations of others. Who’s to say you’re not
supposed to be happy? At the time I heard this I was in an unhappy
relationship and those words inspired me to make the change in my life and
move forward. I wasn’t trapped. I could make a difference, I just had to do
the next right thing each day.

Not all roads lead to a golden palace, and I’m not promising that. We’re
all human with our own impulses and desires. We live in a world where
you’re taught to think about yourself a lot and make choices to better
yourself at all costs. While you should take steps to better your own life,
don’t forget the feelings of those around you.

This article might not have been all too much about Magic since I’ve given
a lot of what I think the format has to offer in previous weeks leading up
to SCG Worcester, but I do think there’s room in your busy day to take the
time and reflect on what you’re doing and more importantly, how you’re
doing it.

As a culmination of all these things, I do implore people to realize that
there’s a difference between the SCG Tour and the Grand Prix circuit, and
what path you choose can affect a lot of doors you may or may not have open
to you. It’s up to you what you make of it. As for me, I’ll be making the
best of all that the SCG Tour has to offer this weekend in Worcester by
battling alongside some of the best people I’ve met playing on tour and
can’t wait to finally complete “Operation Get Tannon a Trophy!”