This past weekend I travelled to Pittsburgh for the final Grand Prix of the year. Amusingly, I never discovered where to turn in my match slips, putting my
record in Modern over the last two tournaments at 0-5. Failing to heed the warnings of others, I registered Zoo. While I hesitate to be publically
hyperbolic, let’s just say I’ll never be registering Wild Nacatl in the format as it stands again.
That being said, Magic is great.
It’s funny, last week I was counting the days before getting an extended break from Magic before the holidays, but as we were leaving the hall this past
Sunday, I was starting to look up prices for tickets to the #SCGINVI in Vegas.
At this moment, however, I’m not thinking about or preparing for any upcoming tournaments.
I value reflection and introspection highly as a means to grow both as a person and a Magic player. Despite my cliche’ timing, getting back home with the
holidays in sight and a month of playing in the books, it seems appropriate to think on and talk about this wave of Grand Prix, but perhaps not in a manner
that I typically would.
I’m incredibly fortunate. After Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar I was still without an invite to the upcoming Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch in Atlanta,
needing a few Pro Points to ensure my Silver status. I succeeded in that on the first week with a little help from Seth Manfield’s concession on the way.
After failing to make day two at #GPSeaTac, I again put up another three point finish at #GPATL before this past weekend.
Needless to say, I have a lot of work to do to be a player truly worthy of my ambitions, but I am currently on the appropriate trajectory necessary to
achieve those goals. For anyone who isn’t aware of how the Grand Prix and Pro Point system works, I ran fairly close to perfect for having converted no top
8 finishes. Since only six Grand Prix slots are allotted for Pro Point club thresholds, 12-3 (three Pro Point finishes) are a necessity for maximizing a
season. If, for instance, I had cashed all four Grand Prix I played in the past month, receiving 2/1/2/1 Pro Point finishes, I would be actively looking to
replace at least three of those with better results over the following year. As it stands, I now have half of my allotted finishes already locked in a
place where I’m happy with them.
Another understated aspect of only making deep runs or losing in comical fashion is getting to hang out and enjoy the cities with the people that make it
This is truly my point. Magic is great, but perhaps we undersell as a community the most valuable asset that the best game in the world has: It attracts
aware, thoughtful, and engaging people. Getting to spend the last three weeks with those kinds of friends, especially those who have opened their homes to
myself and others is nothing short of a blessing. I’d like to again extend my thanks to Gerry, Matt, Steve, and Stu.
In a few days, it’s not that I will be having the itch to play Magic (especially Modern) so badly that I may feel compelled to book a flight in December.
If that were truly the case, I could try to quench that thirst with Magic Online. Rather, the tournaments, which I do genuinely love, are a means to an
end. I’ll reiterate, I’m blessed that I am in the position that I currently am to take part in these contests that regularly bring together some of the
finest people in the world. However, even outside these large public events, I frequently travel short distances away to cities where inevitably I end up
at a local store under the guise of playing in a Cube draft. While it goes without saying that I love to play Cube, Battle Box, or really just about any
other form of Limited Magic, I’m meeting up to engage with my friends.
There are other great games out there, some that I even play, but they will never have the same vibrant social dynamic that Magic has. While I still remain
at one extremity on the axis of competitive play, some of the most beautiful people I know who have challenged me to think, re-assess, and strive to be a
better and more complete person are not. Despite having busy lives, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good for brunch and a Cube draft when a local tournament
We often joke that it’s impossible to ever truly quit Magic. It’s not clear whether we appreciate that sentiment enough.
Over the past year I’ve also been fortune enough to be a part of
Team TCGPlayer Team Tight Goose Team BMK Gaming
a team. Many others have written pieces about being a professional Magic player, from how that individual got to that point to the logistics and general
lifestyle. I simply want to touch on a social attribute of our team: investment. I want everyone on my team to win, and they feel the same way towards me.
This may sound silly, but I think it’s an underrated aspect of tournament Magic. When you are working in an environment where everyone is trying to empower
one another and encourage productivity, than you have a positive culture capable of thriving.
If you’re trying to succeed at Magic and you are surrounding yourself with individuals who don’t want to help you win and feel good about your success, I
would encourage you to reevaluate your position. You can do better, and improvement will follow if you take your energy elsewhere.
The last thing I’d like to talk about is related to some of the Grand Prix, the attendance caps, and the social media outcry by players. It is not my
intention to use my voice here as a soapbox to complain about the ways tournaments are run, as I am not educated in the logistics involved in doing so.
It is understandable that folks are upset, particularly those that were barred entry when they have a small window of knowing whether they can attend a
tournament. However, it is imperative to realize that those running the tournaments (and making the game for that matter) are quite literally invested in
their product. Not only is there a great deal of monetary risk to assume that could potentially jeopardize their ability to provide players with more
opportunities to play Magic in the future but everyone who does attend has the potential for their experience to be damaged by poor logistical planning on
part of the Tournament Organizer. Just because an accommodation is possible doesn’t make it the best use of resources.
I don’t wish to incite a debate over this particular issue though. I hope that to this point I’ve been able to properly articulate that I believe that the
ceiling on the Magic community is incredibly high. As I said, Magic attracts a wide berth of intelligent people, so I would simply encourage that instead
of taking the road of shrewd sarcasm when discussing topics in a public forum that players care about, they would rather try to involve themselves in
constructive dialogues that appropriately bridge the gap between organizers and players or anyone else representing a relevant position.
I didn’t have too much strategic substance to relate this week, but I’ll be back next week to discuss the #SCGINVI formats with a better idea of whether I
will be attending. In the meantime, I wish everyone a lovely and safe holiday with their friends and family. Also best of luck to anyone casting
Brainstorms this weekend at #SCGNJ.
As a bonus, here’s something I’ll be playing with on Magic Online this week:
- 2 Elvish Visionary
- 2 Hidden Dragonslayer
- 4 Den Protector
- 3 Deathmist Raptor
- 3 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 4 Hangarback Walker
- 2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
After the break out of G/R Eldrazi Ramp, I started working on this deck as a means to improve the earlygame of the ramp deck and sacrifice some of its
explosive power for resiliency. While I discovered the deck has legs, it had absolutely no real shot in the ramp mirrors, especially when I didn’t have
Hidden Dragonslayer as a means to kill Void Winnower. Now that Eldrazi Ramp and Jeskai Black are on the decline, with the latter even starting to cut
Mantis Rider, I think it might be time to go back to this and start working on actually tweaking the numbers.
The last card I really wanted to fit in the sideboard?