The Death Of A Dream

When a lot of players lose the fire, they force themselves through it and push harder. Mark doesn’t always believe that’s the best way to go. Find out how he’s recovering from the post-Pro Tour blues and what advice he has for the burnt out Magic player in all of us!

I set my standards pretty low, so I’m never disappointed.”- Otis Driftwood.

What do you do when your dream has died?

I don’t know. Died might be too dramatic.


Everyone has a goal when they start playing Magic. Some people want to make friends, collect cards, or earn their shot at glory.

Make best friends? Check.

Pretty nifty collection? Check.

Earn their shot at glory? Check.

Ever since I could remember I always wanted to play on the Pro Tour.


Each PTQ Top 8 loss was brutal.

Losing a win-and-in caused me to drink my sorrows away…quite literally.

Don’t even talk to me if it’s an 0-2 drop.

February was different. That’s when I won my shot to compete on the Pro Tour. It was surreal. Guys and gals, I cannot even begin to tell you how numb my
right fist was from pounding it on the table after I converted. That numbness would spread to my psyche as I was unable to even believe that it had
happened, so the following weeks were filled with a lot of “uh huh’s” and “hey thanks” when it came to accepting this thing that I had wanted for so long
had some true.

Big deal, though, right?

Lots of people play on the Tour.

Lots of people qualify.

Lots of people don’t think it’s a big deal.

But for me it was. Sue me.

The Fire

You read about it a lot.

Like a lot a lot.

Writers talk about this thing called “the fire.”

Webter’s dictionary defines it as

“an inexplicable drive to win at Magic following a successful performance. Whoever shall obtain the fire will constantly play at their peak potential,
and each victory will continue to fuel it.”

I obviously made that up. It’s not in Webter’s dictionary, but it’s pretty close to how most people talk about it. I should contact the good people at
Webter’s and ask them to add this in.

So anyhow. I had the fire. I had it pretty bad. All I wanted to do was play Magic, so I did.

I worked hard for a couple GPs, almost won a Super Sunday Series, jammed a ton of games on a hideously unplayable program that passes for Magic Online,
talked theory with other big names, and chomped at the bit to get my ass to Europe.

Battles I wanted, and battles I had.

I lived and breathed and ate and exhaled Magic. It felt great. It was one of the best times I’ve ever had.

I lived, I died, I lived again. Every day I was reborn a better player.

The knowledge of my team was the lumber on an already raging bonfire. I was Johnny Storm: the Human Torch.

And just like that it was over.

I played, I won, I lost, I cheered on my teammates. I watched Lucy and the third Hobbit movie on the plane ride home. Exodus was
awful. The Gambler was awful. Taken 3 was a guilty pleasure.

All I wanted to do was play more Magic.

Impostor Syndrome

Brad Nelson had a great talk with me. Nerves were shot. I was afraid of failure. I was living my dream, but have you tried to talk draft strategy with
eleven of the best players in the world? It’s frightening. He told me that I belonged, and that I wouldn’t be on the team if I didn’t. I wasn’t too sure. I
was good at making BBD laugh. Maybe I was the court jester. That’s a lot of pressure. The Dizzler is a tough customer.

I knew I belonged, but at the end of my trip I knew something else.

As much as I’d like to believe it, I’m just not one of them.

I look forward all week to FNM.

When my wife says it’s cool and I can go play SCG Game Night on Wednesday, I get giddy.

I wanted to play at the height of competition, and I did. But in the end I’m one of you (us).

I read articles every day. Watch videos. Talk to my friends about what Patrick Chapin thought or the latest VS Video. I still get butterflies when I think
about what decks I’m going to play on Friday.

Once upon a time I played a lot of Magic and started writing about it and ended up here. It still blows my mind to think about it. It’s an even bigger
mind-job when I realize there are people that dig it.

There are moments where we’re lucky enough to be extraordinary. I get those every Tuesday, but don’t mistake me when I say that right now you could be
doing the same thing.

I may not be an impostor, but I’m just happy to be here.

Halt and Catch Fire

I went 0-1 at an FNM this week.


You’re probably like “Why is he telling us this?”

I really have no idea. It’s indicative of a bigger problem.

The last few tournaments I haven’t been “feeling it.”

You know when you’re somewhere you don’t want to be, but feel like you’re supposed to be?

You have a meeting at work. You don’t want to go. You can feel it in the pit of your stomach that you wish you were doing other things.

That’s how I’ve felt the last few weeks.

I’ve dropped early from the last three events I’ve played in because I was just too agitated. The salt is real. Whatever analogy you want to use for being
annoyed. Everything ticked me off.

Draw poorly? I’m pissed.

Make a play mistake? I’m pissed.

Don’t get to eat between rounds because my opponent played slowly? I’m pissed.

It was a bad feeling. I started snapping at people. I don’t do that. I’m not snappy. Snappy dresser maybe, but not snappy. I rolled my eyes a lot. I didn’t
want to shake hands anymore. This is what happens when I don’t get my Chipotle.


It was deeper than that.

My dream was always to play on a Pro Tour.

I did that.

Everything else lost its luster.

I was playing in local events because I felt like I was supposed to. If I didn’t play, I’d get rusty. If I did play, I’d just with I was home doing
something else.

Catch 22s.

Getting Back To Basics

When Rocky was destroyed by Clubber Lang, he turned to once rival Apollo Creed. Rocky felt broken. He felt like he let everyone down.

Apollo knew the only way to get Rocky back in the ring with Clubber was to take him back to the beginning. They retrained. They worked on his stamina and
his footwork. They raced on beaches and hugged in the sand. Rocky couldn’t go toe-to-toe with the utterly devastating Clubber, so instead they knew the
best way to approach him would be to gas him out.

In other words, they had to devise an entirely new strategy to get Rocky’s head in the game.

It was a success. Lang gassed, Rocky won, Adrian cried, and then Apollo and Rocky punched each other in celebration. Easily one of my favorite movies of
the 1980s. #MarkFacts

I hate hashtags.


My biggest hurdle is going to be getting my head back in the game and rediscovering what I love about Magic. I know I don’t need a break, but I know I need
to reevaluate my goals going forward.

You see, we all hit this wall after a while.

We all feel like a mouse on an exercise wheel. Spinning and spinning, but we’re not going anywhere.

So what’s the play here?

Together We Can Set The World On Fire

I’m getting seriously introspective the closer I get to #100.

For those of you keeping track at home, this article is number 98. With this kind of milestone on the horizon, you start to look back at what you’ve
accomplished and what you wish you’d done better. There’s a lot I’m really pleased with. There’s a lot I’m really not.

I need the fire back.

I need to love what I’m doing again.

I need to feel something when I play Magic.

A good friend told me the cure to what ails you is to forget about your past and focus on your future. If Magic was feeling like too much of a job, worry
about making it fun again. Build Tiny Leaders decks. Start trading again. Travel with your friends to tournaments. Leave work early to spend the night
before a tournament laughing on a road trip where you take the long way.

There was a time when those moments meant everything, and weekends lasted forever because you savored every second.

I want to laugh again.

I want to smile again.

I want to enjoy Magic again.

Today is going to be the start of me rebooting myself and getting my ass in gear when it comes to Magic. I have a wedding to attend this weekend in
Tennessee, but when I get back it’s time to go hard in the paint.

What do you do when your dream has died?

You find a new dream.