This isn’t a goodbye. More like a “we’ll see.”
I’ve had a lot of personal ups and downs, but overall, I’m happy with what I’ve done and where I am right now. I have done more this year than I have in my entire Magic career, and it’s great to see the support behind me, always pushing me to better myself, both in and out of the game.
Without a doubt, the biggest accomplishment I’ve had this year was solidifying myself as a writer. People who are more competitively successful and more privileged tend to take something as seemingly mundane as writing about Magic for granted, and I hold nothing against them. For me, it’s one of the most important things I could ever do in Magic. It is something I value extremely highly, because not very many people get to do it, much less consistently over the course of years. I’m proud to tell friends who don’t play Magic how much I contribute to a game I love. Every single word that gets put out for you to read is me. Not what everyone wants me to be. Not what I think one wants me to be, and certainly not something I wouldn’t want to be. If you’ve followed me for a while, you may have noticed a drastic change in tonality and structure to my articles. Well, the aforementioned was a big contributor to that. I pride myself on talking about how I actually feel, regardless of what anyone thinks. This isn’t something that some people look for, and that’s okay. The worst mistake you can make when producing content of any kind is trying to make everyone happy.
So, because of all this, you see a lot more personal topics, or things that resonate with me a lot. You see more open ends, leaving room for you to fill in. You see more topics about Modern, because it’s one of my favorite things to talk about–despite how much people will make one feel like they shouldn’t like anything that isn’t Legacy. You see less sugar coating, and more talk that’s to the point. I don’t hold back when I have a problem with how something affects me personally. I don’t have an issue with talking about things from the outside looking in, because often enough, that perspective isn’t present in today’s Magic writing. I’ve often had difficulty attaining tournament results that were satisfactory, and that has affected my writing big time before, but that was my fault for taking in what everyone else wanted me to do. Every time I lost a win and in for top 8 or day two, I would be less inclined to write, because who cares about someone who isn’t winning every tournament every weekend? Writers are often flavors of the month for many readers, and for good reason. Everyone wants to have a leg up on the competition, and what better place to get it than from someone who succeeded? I had to make some difficult decisions outside of my Magic life, which caused me to take the second half of the year almost completely off due to my health declining, and me neglecting to do something about it. It was even more disappointing due to a strong Season One and Season Two showing, where I was firmly in the top 16 of the Players’ Championship Leaderboard, which clinched two byes and put me in a strong position to do well at a number of Opens. I was in prime position to make strong runs and make something out of it.
But I let it all go.
You could see it in my writing, too. It was increasingly bitter and was lacking direction, and quite honestly, I was ready to give up and subsequently give in to the people who felt that I didn’t deserve to be here because of their preconceived notions of a successful Magic writer and/or player. What I wasn’t seeing, however, was that the very people who felt I didn’t deserve a spot here were also the very people contributing to my success in the first place. When my incredible colleagues helped me see this perspective, my writing took a huge shift, and I really started making an effort to not only separate my writing from my tournaments, but to embrace what I had already accomplished in Magic. It’s not often that your influence among players, judges, staff, and even Wizards employees themselves is heralded, and that was all I needed to continue motivating myself to be where I am today.
Of course, this process took a lot of work, because I still wasn’t entirely sure how I could continue to be a successful writer while being away from the tournament scene to maintain my health. I began going much harder on the things that a lot of writers wouldn’t write about. Instead of just saying what I would play for Modern States and my reasoning, I just put out a called shot, and got people talking. Instead of just saying “Hey, I think these Modern cards are great!” I tethered those into something that people viewed as iconic: A Power Nine. Ranting about a ban listand having an opinion that you know is going to be different from everyone else’s was the perfect formula to having a great article, and I pounced on that opportunity.
Opportunity being the keyword.
My philosophy on Magic writing differs a lot from many others, but it’s mostly because of my position in the Magic community over anything else. There isn’t much reason for me to write a lot about the Pro Tour if I’ve never played on it, but people are very respondent to what I say on social media and, arguably more importantly, how I say it. I want you, the reader, to feel something, positive or negative, because that’s what gets players talking. Everyone in Magic loves to give their opinion, and I want to give them an avenue to do so at every possible opportunity.
And I am damn good at it.
I don’t really know what’s going to happen in 2016. I’ve always just tried to wing it. I’ll always be around Magic in some capacity, and writing for StarCityGames.com will always be my priority for as long as anyone can stand me here. I will always be thankful for everything they’ve done for me.
Brad Nelson: For always taking the time out of his busy schedule to help me out when I seemed to go off the rails, both in and out of tournaments. Your work ethic has definitely rubbed off on me, and I can’t put less than my all into the things I care about the most.
Chris VanMeter: Similar to Brad, you’ve always made sure I was kept on track when things seemed to be rough for me. Seeing you win the Open in Syracuse was one of the many highlights of our friendship for me, and that level of trust will never, ever be neglected.
Mark Nestico: You and I are the Hype Bros of the Select side, and you’ve made me more confident in going after what I want. Because of you, I’ve learned to properly embrace any type of exposure, and more importantly, use it to my advantage and maximize it.
AJ Kerrigan: I could write an entire article on how much you’ve impacted my life and how essential you are to my growth as a player and as a person, but I know you wouldn’t really like that, and I’d probably get in trouble. I’d have never thought that meeting you at the first Modern Pro Tour in Philadelphia would have such an insanely positive influence over the next four-plus years. You were always the logical and reasonable one when I wasn’t being such, and you’ve gone so far out of your way to help me out in the worst times. Thank you so much for everything.
Also, that Dragonstorm deck was terrible; and Burning-Tree Emissary, Farseek, and Falkenrath Aristocrat were broken.
Sean McKeown: For backing every single tournament I’ve played in this year. You enabled me to pursue the successes I wanted, and your selfless act is something that I never took for granted. I know that you won’t accept anything in return, but I’ll figure out a way!
There are so many other people, hundreds if not thousands, that have been there for me this year, and each and every one of them deserve praise. I have the best boss ever, some of the best players and writers in the world, and most importantly, some of the best friends in the world, all by my side, and I couldn’t be more appreciative.
To everyone that has ever supported me in any way. To everyone that has hated my guts. To everyone that never understood why I belonged here in the first place. To those that knew exactly where I belonged and helped me get there. To every player that let me sign a playmat. To that one kid that let me sign his Comic-Con Chandra, Pyromaster. To every judge that has ever given me a high five or any form of support.
Thank you. I wouldn’t be here without you.
This isn’t a goodbye. More like a “we’ll see.”