Simply put, I grew up playing Magic. I made some of my best friends playing Magic. Had some of the most memorable times in my life playing Magic. I could go on and on about how much of an effect it had on me. Perhaps I’ll dust off an article I wrote in 2015 and post it here if there’s interest. There’s an argument to be made that Magic is the biggest constant in my life. I always came back. It didn’t matter how much time I spent away.
The last few years have been tough, though. The rising cost of cards meant that I was reduced to using a single deck. The remote nature of my home meant tournaments were incredibly difficult to travel to. Small ones weren’t worth the time. Grand Prixs were too expensive and too much of a disruption in my daily life. Magic Online? I used to grind it for hours, but my anxiety regarding money made it an impossibility. A single loss would send me spiraling into despair. And, while I gave it a go a few times, it never worked out.
I started with Arena during the closed beta, but I burnt out every time I really sunk my teeth into it. I don’t Standard anymore. The decks I fell in love with, Gobvantage, Cephalid Breakfast, Shortbus Slaver, Monument Jund, Affinity, they aren’t around anymore. Magic has changed. Wotc’s vision of the game is different than it used to be, and I’m just not a fan. It’s funny. When I play Magic Online it’s the money which causes problem. When I play Arena is the fact that nothing is at stake which makes all the things I don’t enjoy about the gameplay so pronounced.
Arena has changed Magic and I don’t like where it’s going. but that’s not a dealbreaker, though it certainly does rankle me. It’s more the fact that I realized my childhood dream of making it to the Pro Tour will never happen.
And now we come to the reason I needed to do a rewrite this blog. After writing it the first time and doing some reflection I realized that there was one memory from my magic career which stood out above all others. It wasn’t the weekend where I went like 21-3-2 or something like that and won over 1000 dollars. It wasn’t when I qualified for JSS Champs the first time in the basement of King’s Games in Brooklyn. It’s so obvious. It was always the first Pro Tour Qualifier I ever played in.
The tournament was a fairytale. I started off 4-1, but got paired against my best friend in Round 5. Instead of playing a win in which would lock one of us for Top 8 and eliminate the other, we chose to draw. That meant both of us had to win in the final round if we wanted to advance. I don’t know if I’d ever been more nervous in my life, but I sat down and managed to win against this random mono black homebrew. He did the same. I dare Hollywood to write a better story than that.
The tournament was already going better than I’d ever imagined when I left home that day, but things only got better. I won in the quarters. I won in the semis. Suddenly I was in the finals. If I won I was going to qualify for the Pro Tour! That needs an extra exclamation point and caps! IF I WON I WAS GOING TO THE PRO TOUR!! I was going to get to play against all those guys I’d read about online. The guys who I’d come to idolize over the past few years. The best part was I was going to have to play the mirror matchup and I was 4-0 against it that day. I called my parents, excited to tell them the news. This is where the the story sours.
Back then Wotc didn’t give you a plane ticket when you won a PTQ. They gave you some product and 500 dollars. That’s fine if the Pro Tour is being held in America, but the one this PTQ was feeding took place in Nagoya, Japan. 500 dollars wasn’t going to make a dent in the travel costs, especially because my parents didn’t want their 15 year old son going to Japan alone. They told me I couldn’t go, and that I should figure out some way to split the prize. I was so happy then I never realized how much that moment would haunt me.
I never got any closer to qualifying for the Pro Tour. I made the Top 8 at the next two PTQs I went to and missed some win and ins at another, but I never got within a match of making my dream a reality again. Back then I was playing so well and posting such great results that I figured it was only a matter of time, but that’s not how it turned out. And, as I think about it now, I know I never will make it to the PT. The game has left me behind, or maybe a part of me has left it.
Magic will always be a central part of my life. You do anything for 20 years and it’s like that. But I think I’m done. There’s too much in my way. I’ll still get chills thinking about the time I opened that foil Treachery, or how I drew my fourth straight Arcbound Ravager in the top 8 of that New York City PTQ, but that’s all in the past. There’s nothing left for me in Magic. It’s time to move on.