This past weekend at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, I finished 97th with an unimpressive 3-3 in Draft alongside a 6-4 in Constructed with the Seasons Past deck. I was happy with the list, and if there were Pro Tour tomorrow with the same information I had the first time, I would play the deck again for sure. I got favorable matchups against 4-5 Humans decks, but lost more times than I would like. I don’t think it’s a particularly good choice moving forward given the decks that made Top 8.
I’ve had a good run at the Pro Tour the past few years so it seemed only reasonable that the other shoe would drop eventually. That said, it doesn’t soften the sting of failure, and I can say for certain that I made many mistakes during the event. I find it difficult to play well when I’m getting a little unlucky, and my focus was not as sharp as it should have been.
I think the biggest mistake I made at this Pro Tour was my lack of preparation in Limited. I played about 12 Drafts, whereas in the past I was able to do as many as 20. It’s difficult because you can’t win the tournament if you don’t have a good Standard deck, and most of the Swiss rounds are Standard, so it makes sense to dedicate more time to that format. Still, Draft is important, and I neglected it this time.
In my first Draft I had a poor deck, because the deck that was open—blue/green Clues—is difficult to draft well without tons of practice. My second deck was pretty good but I made a big error in one round due to unfamiliarity with the cards. These are unacceptable lapses for anyone trying to properly prepare for a Pro Tour.
The losses I took in Constructed were much easier to blame on bad luck—my losses in Limited felt more in my control. It’s tough to judge yourself harshly when I did still come out with a winning record but I felt like I was dancing with two left feet all weekend. It’s difficult to reconcile bad play with bad luck because often when you’re doing well in a big tournament, it means even when you make errors they don’t come back to bite you.
It’s easy for people to console you: “everyone makes mistakes.” True—but also not remotely helpful. I can’t try to be the best in the world if I allow myself to be content making mistakes. Similarly, I can’t be a healthy person if I let the occasional misplay haunt me for days. I haven’t found a productive fix for this yet and I doubt there is one. Doing badly at the Pro Tour has another kind of sting because—I can’t lie—I had visions in my head about locking up the Player of the Year race and getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, but neither of those things will happen if I stop winning matches and even more worrisome is that the timing of those matches I win may be totally out of my control.
It was a particularly strange event, given the last-minute change to sleeve the cards during the Draft instead of revealing flip cards and letting the draft occur organically. I don’t mind if the cards are sleeved or not sleeved, but I do mind the rules of the event being changed 48 hours before I’m set to play. Telling people to prepare under one set of rules for weeks and then playing under another for no real reason is a bit weird, especially since flip cards were first printed 5 years ago and they’ve had Pro Tours with drafts since then without issue.
On Monday after the PT, they announcement the premiere of the Magic documentary Enter the Battlefield, in which I was featured. I was relieved to see the project finish and I’m happy with how it came out. It was shot over two years ago so in all that time, I had to sit and wait, and hope to be portrayed in a fair light. If you’re reading this article, you probably care at least a little bit about the Pro Tour and me, so I recommend watching it.
I won’t remark on the Platinum Pro Club cuts and eventual changes, but I will say the new and final update means that in the 2017 season, Platinum is unlikely to exist how it exists now. I’m a professional Magic player and have been for about 5 years, and Platinum appearance fees make up a reasonable portion of my income. I’m not excited about the fact that the money will get funneled into Worlds where if I have one bad tournament in the year I get less money (or if I don’t qualify). Before these changes I was happy to say that I wanted to be a Magic professional for the foreseeable future, but this new model looks like it may be unsustainable and I do not know if playing Magic at the highest level will be something I want to do 2 years from now. We’ll have to wait and see.