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WHY DO PLAYERS LIKE COMPETITIVE PAPER MAGIC? MATT BROWN 13/03/2019

I often get asked exactly what it is the drives me to continue to pursue Magic at the highest level. For many people there are a wide range of answers and in this article I will be asking some of the top players in the UK Magic scene exactly what it is that pushes them to compete at the top level.

Tom Clark is from Norwich and is an MTG Coach over at @TClarkMTG. He made the Top 4 of the Glasgow RPTQ and competed at Mythic Championship One in Cleveland.

What first made you look towards playing Competitive Magic?

I was in Vietnam backpacking with my girlfriend and we met up with a friend who I used to play Magic with back at University. He was talking about new cards and showing me his modern deck, and we both got chatting about taking MTG a bit more seriously. I came away from it feeling really fired up and wanting to see what I could do, so I decided I was going to try to get on the Pro Tour!

What do you most look forward to days before an event?

I'm usually most excited to see all the people I never see in my day to day life.

In the last 12 months, what is your best memory from a tournament you have attended?

In the finals of a PPTQ, we're in the Jeskai mirror (standard). It's game 3, I'm on the play. I sideboard in Legion Warboss, and I have to mull to 5. It's my turn 3 and I have no more lands or counter spells in hand, my opponent has 2 mana up. I basically decide that I'm unlikely to win a long game since I'm missing land drops, so after a lot of deliberating I decide to just slam the Warboss and cross my fingers. I actually win off the back of the Warboss and at the end he shows me his hand of 3cmc counter spells, Disdainful Stroke and Negate!

 

João Choça lives in London and is a Silver level pro. Having competed in Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica and Mythic Championship One, João is looking forward to testing Modern in preparation for Mythic Championship London.

What first made you look towards playing Competitive Magic?

Back in 2009, my dad stumbled upon Grand Prix Brighton and realised it was a very doable 5 hour drive. It was incredibly short notice, but we travelled down in time to play the Nationals LCQ - little did I know that my trusty Cruel Ultimatums would actually qualify me for my first ever 'real' event. The thrill of the tournament, alongside watching a friend battle Olivier Ruel in the Top 8 of the GP, made me realise I never wanted to look in from the outside and I have never stopped; playing every qualifier I'm allowed to play.

What do you most look forward to days before an event?

I love travelling, which is easily the best part of competitive gaming. Sometimes you have a good deck and you get to look forward to playing the actual event, but having a good time with friends (and hopefully good food!) is what I most look forward to before each event.

In the last 12 months, what is your best memory from a tournament you have attended?

It didn't really feel like that at the time, but being part of history by capturing the moment where Autumn locked up their Top 8 in Cleveland is possibly my favourite memory, even above winning a trophy myself!

 

Duncan “Gary’s Friend” Tang, @tpuefol, hails from Glasgow and is most famously known for being an RPTQ runner up and leading any chants for UK players.

What first made you look towards playing Competitive Magic?

I don't think I ever did really. It was just happenstance or accidental. You just naturally move up a level when you're sated. I played a bunch of other games before so I already had an idea of Organised Play and where that could take you.

What do you most look forward to days before an event?

Hopefully doing well but mostly seeing the group of friends I've made over the years having played the game

In the last 12 months, what is your best memory from a tournament you have attended?

Easily Gary Campbell winning the GP. Best celebration of any event possibly ever.

Ridiculous that it happened. Just magnificent.

 

George Channing is from Guildford and is best known for his encyclopedic judge knowledge and crisp technical play. George is also a multiple Game Day Champion.

What first made you look towards playing Competitive Magic?

My brother and his best friend had been playing Magic for a little while and they were going to play at GP London 2013 and asked if I wanted to come along. I went 1-5 and did some side events but I enjoyed the game and I never really play games unless I'm going to try to be good at them and compete at a high level; I'm hoping I might get to that level someday with Magic!

What do you most look forward to days before an event?

It depends on what kind of event it is. I enjoy traveling to foreign countries a lot and experiencing different cultures, foods and the like if I'm going to an event overseas. If it is a domestic event then I enjoy getting the chance to see my friends and hang out with them and I also enjoy the experience of sitting across, physically, from an opponent and engaging them in the mental exercise of playing Magic. The discussions you have with both your friends and your opponents about the games you've all played and the turns you could have played differently are extremely mentally stimulating and I enjoy that a lot.

In the last 12 months, what is your best memory from a tournament you have attended?

From a personal perspective I think my favourite recent memory is from Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica. I had spent quite a lot of time on the limited format and most of our in person testing in the house had been focused on draft. I became fairly comfortable with a few archetypes and had a good plan of how to draft the decks I preferred to be in and expected to be most available within the pods. I think that the usage of Magic Online leagues has led to people being far less aware of the nuances of in pod drafting and I could gain some edge there. I drafted two very different decks, one a Boros aggressive deck and one a multicolour rare-heavy gate deck and finished 5-1 in the draft portion. A very close second is playing Grand Prix Liverpool alongside my brother and Raoul Zimmermann and having them win all their matches and carry me to 22nd place.

 

Paul White lives in Leeds and had a memorable run of winning the LCQ followed by the RPTQ to qualify for his first Mythic Championship in London later this year.

What first made you look towards playing Competitive Magic?

I always loved the challenge of playing games competitively and Magic is such a deep and ever expanding game that I already loved player so it was just a perfect fit for what I wanted.

What do you most look forward to days before an event?

It mostly depends on the event.

With (formerly) PPTQs and Win a Box style events I just look forward to playing some competitive magic, I don't really play at a LGS during the week so those events were a good way to scratch the paper magic itch.

With large events like Grand Prixs I look forward to spending a weekend with friends that I don't really get to see that often more than the magic, the meals and drinks after each day are always the best.

In the last 12 months, what is your best memory from a tournament you have attended?

I just think the LCQ/RPTQ as a whole weekend will always stick with me as one of the best events I've played in. Having all the work I did testing and preparing pay off with achieving a long time goal of me was just incredible.

 

Kayure Patel resides in Cheltenham and has been a driving force in UK Magic ever since his win at GP Bologna in 2016.

What first made you look towards playing Competitive Magic?

I love competition. When I first started playing, even casually, I always wanted to win and tournaments were the next logical step.

What do you most look forward to days before an event?

Seeing my friends, going for dinner and hanging out. The camaraderie. While initially it was the winning that was the draw; as I've played more, it's always the gathering part of the game I enjoy most. Paper magic lets you see your friends and play the best card game. Literally the best of both worlds!

In the last 12 months, what is your best memory from a tournament you have attended?

João winning GP Turin. Almost all of Axion were there, crowded round the feature match area for the Top 8. Pulling up chairs from elsewhere in the venue so we could see the action while still being close. I vividly remember Francesco walking behind João opponent, looking at his hand, then walking behind João. Then walking back to us, smiling, and just saying winning in his distinctive voice. Though João not doing the Goreclaw pose as the photographer suggested was a shame. Classic João.

Reading through these responses there is a common theme, competitive paper Magic is all about the experience. It might be winning your first PPTQ and the excitement of qualifying to play in the RPTQ, It could be the mountainous climb from LCQ to RPTQ to Pro Tour/Mythic Championship. Maybe it is the thrill of success when being surrounded by close friends, or being the one that is surrounded but the takeaway, for me, is that Magic lives and breathes through its competitive side.

The path for competitive paper events is unclear as it stands for now and the lack of information and clarity from WotC is frustrating for everyone. The path to the Mythic Championship is no longer just through paper events, but through Arena as well. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still have the same great experience playing competitive paper magic and the same feeling of accomplishment when you do well at a tournament or even win it.

I believe that this transition period of uncertainty will become good for the long term future of Magic and while the digital aspect will bring a new audience and a new dimension to competitive magic, the paper side of Magic will continue to live on and the adrenaline rush of celebrating with your friends will be something unique to paper.

Competitive Magic might not be for everyone but sometimes all you need is someone to root for, competing at the biggest tournaments to be heavily invested and maybe something Mythical can happen to inspire a nation and change the game forever.

About Matt Brown:

Matt started playing Magic in Innistrad after learning to play at school in 2011. After going 11-3-1 at his second Grand Prix Matt gained the fire to play competitively and regularly attends almost every Grand Prix in Europe. With a Grand Prix top 8 in Birmingham, 2 Pro Tour appearances and a handful of other Grand Prix cashes to go along with Bronze status, Matt aspires to become a Pro Tour regular and a Grand Prix champion. With a love for Standard, Matt can often be found at competitive level events jamming games of his favourite format.