#TeamChandra 2014

In this creative writing piece, Anthony Lowry sums up 2013, thanks you all for your support, and looks toward the future.

"And he’s down! Down on the floor in excruciating pain in what appears to be his knee! This is disastrous for #TeamGeist!"

As those words were said, the future of the multi-sports team and its superstar, Geist of Saint Traft, were in immediate jeopardy. It was Game 7 of the MBA Finals against the Miami Heat, and they were down four points with 30 seconds left on the clock. It was his final game before the end of Innistrad season, and retirement was looming.

It couldn’t end this way; it just couldn’t.

Saint Traft was being carted off on a stretcher, with a 4/4 Angel by his side. He had a torn ACL after getting his alley-oop attempt blocked. The team didn’t know what to do. Some panicked, and some sat with their heads down. Coach Domri Rade, relatively new to the team, did everything he possibly could to keep the team focused and composed, but to no avail. Domri was a huge pickup for the team, having had a ton of college success at Gruul University with two MCAA (Multiversal Collegiate Athletic Association) Championships and five Elite Eight appearances. This was his first time in the MBA (Multiversal Basketball Association) Finals, and they were up against two-time defending champs the Miami Heat on their home court. The stakes had never been higher for the coach in his first professional year.

"Alright guys!" Domri shouted. "This is not going to be easy, okay? We’re going to need someone to step up to the occasion! We need a leader! We need to step up for Traft!"

He did his best to rally his team, but with the captain down and out, the morale was visibly dwindling with every passing second. Purphoros, the center out of Theros State, had only two points and no assists, while Stormbreath Dragon, power forward also out of TU, had been struggling as well with only four points.

"Coach! I got this."

A young redheaded planeswalker stood up and walked toward the team circle from the bench, with fire in her eyes and a spirit brighter than anyone in the gym.

Her name was Chandra Nalaar, a third-year pro out of Lorwyn State University. Undrafted and inexperienced in her professional career, she stepped up with no fear and pure confidence.

"You need a leader? You’re looking at her," she said. "This is our time to show them what we can do! It’s not going to be easy, but we’ve dealt with adversity all season. They want us to fail! They want us to collapse under the pressure! We can fight through it! We are good enough to win the title!"

Chandra’s eyes began burning brighter along with the team’s morale. She was no stranger to success, with her college team being dubbed the "Fab Five," the first all-planeswalker team to make the Final Four of an MCAA Championship. The rest of the team began to stand up and rally behind her, believing that they could really do it.

The huddle broke, and they ran their inbound play. The crowd was rowdy as could be, with a massive "defense!" Chant.

Marv Albert on commentary:

"Ash Zealot inbounds the ball to Chandra at the top of the arc, being guarded by Dwayne Wade. She calls for an isolation, and a double team comes! 23 seconds left on the clock. She breaks out of it, drives in, steps back, and shoots . . . "

. . .

A whistle blows.

"Count it! And the foul! The chance for a three-point play! With twenty seconds left! What an amazing shot by Chandra!"

The crowd swiftly quieted as Chandra walked toward the foul line. Despite perfect execution of their inbound play, she knew it wasn’t over yet. The score was now 90-89 in favor of the Heat.

You could feel the tension in the air as she began to take her shot . . .

"This is for a tie and potential overtime."

She took her shot.

. . .

She missed off the front rim!

No one got the rebound, and it was a loose ball! There was a huge scramble, but LeBron James came up with the ball!

"Twelve seconds left! LeBron James on the fast break! Dishes it to Wade, back to LeBron . . . and he’s blocked! Stormbreath Dragon with the monstrous block!"

Miami’s coach, Eric Spolestra, was livid, and the crowd resonated, screaming for a foul. There was no call, and play continued . . .

"Eight seconds left. Stormbreath rushes up the court, dishes it to Ash Zealot, over to Chandra. It’s a one-point game . . . "

The tension rose, and the crowd was on their feet, chanting "defense!" as loudly as they possibly could. All eyes were on this moment.

"Four seconds left. Chandra gets a screen from Stormbreath Dragon and is wide open on the far side of the three-point arc. Double team by LeBron and Wade! She’s trapped momentarily but breaks free . . . What’s this!?"

In an amazing feat of athleticism, Chandra jumped from the corner of the three-point line in a 360 motion above everyone else! The basketball caught fire in the middle of the leap, and with everyone helplessly watching, Chandra slammed it home with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.

"Chandra! With almost no time left on the clock! Literally catches fire and jams it home! What a miraculous display!"

With the crowd swayed in disbelief, the Miami bench disheartened, and Chris Bosh complaining about a traveling violation in an attempt to cover his terrible defense, history was made. Spike Lee was jumping in excitement, and Christian Calcano, who sat next to Spike, never tilted faster. Chandra ran to the center of the court, giving coach Domri a huge hug, and the rest of the team shortly followed. The cameras showed coach Erik Spolestra, with his hands on his hips unable to fathom what just happened. The unimaginable happened—a spectacle was witnessed, and a star was born.

"#TeamGeist defeats the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the MBA Finals!"

With the injury and following retirement of Geist of Saint Traft, the general manager of the team, Anthony Lowry, made a statement before the upcoming season:

"We will be changing our organization’s name to #TeamChandra in honor of our newest star. We have also signed Chandra to a two-year 300 million-dollar contract"

After being asked about the future of other important role players, such as center Purphoros, God of the Forge, Lowry had this to say:

"We feel that they will be key players for our future and will remain devoted to our team for the long haul."

In preparation for the 2014 MBA Season, the newly crowned champions made some ambitious moves, which include the purchase of a new arena, Nykthos Center; signing Frostburn Weird to a one-year four million-dollar contract to bolster their defense; and trading for second-round draft pick and sixth man Mistcutter Hydra from the Brooklyn Nets for 4/4 Angel, a bag of Doritos, and cash considerations.

While the current season hasn’t been as magical for one of the league’s premier offensive planeswalkers, Chandra and the rest of her teammates remain a strong contender for this year’s MBA title. The competition is much tougher, however, with two clear title contenders. The Mono-Blue Wavemasters have the best record in the league. Their star, Master of Waves, has averaged 21 points a game and has put on a defensive clinic against #TeamChandra’s red hot offense. Their center, Thassa, God of the Sea, has also been tough to deal with. She was 5/5 from inside the paint at their last meeting, making their defense look non-existent, while also helping set up teammates along the perimeter.

The Mono-Black RatPack is not far behind the Wavemasters, and their big three are Pack Rat, Desecration Demon, and "Gary." Pack Rat has proven to be near-unstoppable if left unchecked. When asked about his performance this season, Pack Rat said, "Sometimes you gotta put the team on your back though. Desecration Demon is one of the hardest0hitting players in the league, and I definitely wouldn’t be in the position I’m in without him."

Those words are definitely true, with the Demon averaging six points and six blocks per game. Backed up by the rookie from Gray Merchant from Asphodel University, "Gary," as nicknamed by his teammates, has lit up the scoreboard this season, averaging 24 points a game.

It’ll be a tough road for the defending champs, but their lineup looks very promising.

(Props to Jim Davis for the inspiration on the decklist.)

With 2014 upon us, will #TeamChandra reclaim their spot among the elite teams in the league, or will one of the other contenders dethrone them? Tune in as the season develops!

With many goals achieved and even more to pursue, I cannot be more thankful for the immense amount of support and encouragement you’ve all given me this past year. A whole lot has happened so fast, and there’s still so much more work to be done. Every bit of positive and negative criticism, every compliment, every single person that has ever said hello . . .

Thank you.

Thank you for allowing me into your community. Thank you for being some of the best people I’ve ever met, and thank you for the opportunity to become even more involved. I’ll be traveling to a lot more StarCityGames.com Open Series events in 2014, and I’ll be working harder than ever to improve myself. I’m not one to get too caught up in results, but I’d be a fool to act like the big monkey on my back isn’t there. Making Top 8 of an SCG Open remains one of the big things I’d like to experience, but I also understand that it may very well never happen. While I will put every bit of effort and energy I can muster into achieving that, I would not consider my Magic career a failure if it doesn’t happen, and quite frankly I’m of the belief that no one should. Results can refine my career, but I’ll never let them define it.

In the bigger scheme of things, the constant remains: learn. Every single thing you can do in this game you can learn from, and as long as I never take any of it for granted I can learn something. Lastly, I want to have less fear in doing what I’m comfortable with. I’ve had a whole lot of trouble in the second half of this year being confident in my own decisions in card and deck choice along with gameplay. No more of that. While listening to other players, especially those you respect and who are better, is very important, it take a lot to understand that you’re still your own player, and you need to do what you feel is best for you regardless of agreements and disagreements from those people. I promised myself that I’d do a much better job at staying in my own element, and that starts immediately.

As a writer, I want to be more vocal about the more difficult things and be more creative (if the Chandra bit didn’t tip you off from the get-go). Not all of my articles will be the article of the year, but similar to my improvements as a player, I know that I need to do a better job at being in my own style. I will be more fearless with what I want to talk about while figuring out a better way of translating my thoughts into a piece. I’m extremely grateful to have the best boss ever watching over my progress and helping me become the writer I am today, so expect much more openness from me from here on out. From a pure content perspective, I want to write more Modern pieces. Modern is far and away my favorite format, and I can talk endlessly about it. I’d love to share a lot of that with you guys, and I plan on it very soon.

As a person, my primary goal is to be healthy again. For those that didn’t know, I suffered from a condition called Osteomalacia, lasting for the greater part of the year going back to 2012. This made traveling incredibly difficult at times, and my overall health was very iffy at best. With this no longer being an issue, I’m looking to following in Chris VanMeter, Brian Braun-Duin, Riki Hayashi, and Brad Nelson’s footsteps by also improving myself physically. Improving yourself physically is one of the best ways to improve your game, and I really hope that more people partake in this quest. I will be getting more involved in the community as well, doing my part to help current players achieve their goals through social media, event organization, and hopefully becoming a judge very soon, and helping newer players stick with the game through more engaging interactions for smaller events.

We’re more than just a bunch of people playing a card game. We’re a community, a culture, and a team. We still have a long way to go and aren’t perfect, but we’re pretty damn good and can only make it better from here. #TeamChandra is more than just a funny Twitter hashtag that came about because of my excitement for Chandra, Pyromaster. It’s a representation of everyone who has ever put in the hard work in bettering themselves and those around them. It’s an undying passion for improvement, assessment, and camaraderie for all. We’re all pretty deep in this thing already, and I know for a fact that I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without each and every one of you. I’ve never been more excited to be a part of something bigger than myself. I say:

Bring it 2014!