The experience I had at the Mythic Invitational was like no other. The tournament had a different feel to it. I was there to win, of course, but overall, that’s not what was important. Magic: The Gathering was planting its foot into the world of esports, and for the game to be taken seriously, this event needed to go well. Long story short: it did. Not for me, but for Magic, and that’s ultimately more important. Right? Meh, probably.
The week began with a quick visit from Alexander Hayne. He flew in Monday and crashed at my place for a night to hang out. We didn’t test together but our deck lists were in, so we weren’t doing any more testing anyways. Alex spent the evening playing with my girls and watching Searching for Bobby Fischer. The girls persistently instructed him to “be a monster” and threw a blanket over his head while he groaned and chased them around. The next morning and nearly every day after my daughters have told me “Alex is my favorite boy.” When they eventually came to the tournament, in spite of all the incredible things going on, they walked around asking where Alex was.
Since this tournament was held in my backyard—well, 30 minutes away from my backyard—some other members of the MPL were kind enough to let me use their guest passes so that my family could attend the event. My mom has always wanted to come to one of my major tournaments, but she generally doesn’t fly. This gave her an opportunity to drive down from Vermont to watch her son battle it out in the biggest Magic tournament ever. It was an experience I am incredibly grateful for. A shout out to Lucas Berthoud, Piotr Glogowski, Grzegorz Kowalski, Marcio Carvalho, and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa for giving me that opportunity. It meant a lot to my family, and probably even more to me. There’s no feeling like looking up and seeing my mother, father, daughters, and wife wondering if I won after a match and giving them a thumbs up. I wish there were more thumbs up to give, but you can’t win ’em all, right?
Thursday was when the tournament started. I had this day off, since I was in group C, a.k.a. “The Group of Death.” I had my eyes focused on Shahar Shenhar and Andrew Cuneo because I was playing against Reid Duke the following day, and it was likely he was playing the same or similar decks as them. It turned out that both Andrew and Shahar played the same decks, which made me feel fairly confident that Reid would as well, but I got thrown a bit of a curveball when he showed up with Golgari. It’s not a huge surprise—it is Reid after all, but BO1 Standard isn’t really a good spot for midrange decks.
After the first pods were done, Matt Nass, the only member of our testing team to play, quickly 3-0’d his pod to find himself in the Top 16. This gave me a bit of a confidence boost. We had a Red and Esper setup, and I noticed a lot of players with Esper decks combined with White Aggro decks I thought were disadvantaged against both of our decks. While it was best-of-one and the die roll counted for a lot of each individual matchup’s win percentage, I was happy with our deck choices.
That night, my wife and I made our way over to this VIP MTG Arena party Wizards put on. They rented out an entire nightclub, had food, an open bar, and gave out swag bags. This was one of the most memorable nights I’ve spent at a Magic event. We got to bond with MPL and non-MPL players alike, and discuss our futures and our goals.
Carlos Romao suggested we get all the members of the MPL onto the dance floor and take a picture. What seemed like a kind-hearted gesture was also just a ploy to get us all on the dance floor, which, up until that point, had been a barren wasteland.
Now that everyone was on the floor, people started moving a little more. Carlos challenged me to a dance off. Too scared to face the master, I merely danced with than against. After that, and introducing myself and meeting many of the competitors in the Invitational I hadn’t already, I noticed Carlos had fixated himself on his next victim, Matt Nass.
I snapped this photo of the pair together and showed Matt the tweet I had prepared. He shrugged it off and said something like, “yeah that’ll never happen.”
As you can see from the photo, with a little help from the Wizards account we managed to smash 1,000 likes, and Matt’s punishment awaited. Carlos and I continued to own the dance floor, and the only person who could stop us was the DJ, who interrupted my sweet, sweet 90s and 2000s hip-hop songs with weird mixes of Mario music.
I had so many people, too many even, come up to me and tell me they appreciated my content, or me as a person. As a content producer, I can’t tell you how much it means to me when something I create influences someone in any meaningful way. Whether it’s a smile, a laugh, or something I’ve taught them about Magic, it makes me feel like what I’m doing matters. To everyone who showed their appreciation, I really hope you know I appreciate you even more.
This also got me to thinking that I want to make sure I go out of my way to compliment others on their work more often, or at least point people to content that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. For instance, we all saw Piotr Glogowski this past weekend with his good-natured emote trolling on stage. Piotr has been a regular streamer for a while now, and I’m constantly amazed how he’s not one of the top watched streamers. He’s incredibly entertaining and one of the best players in the world to boot. If you’re not watching him stream, you should be. I don’t watch a ton of Magic streams, but I watch Kanister more often than most. I’m hoping his 2nd-place finish this weekend draws him more attention, because he’s truly a one-of-a-kind individual.
The rest of the evening I spent dancing with my wife and friends. While it was a good time, I also wanted to burn off as much energy as I could so that I would be exhausted when the party was over. I had a huge tournament to play the next morning and wanted to fall asleep, and stay asleep. Luckily, the plan worked.
Friday morning, it was my time to battle. I woke up, checked my phone, and sent Matt Nass a screenshot of my Twitter post and a link: “How to do the Floss Dance for Kids.”
When I got to the site, Reid and I exchanged deck lists. I spent some time thinking about which of my decks I’d submit for game 3. We went down to the stage early, logged into our accounts to make sure everything was correct, and sat there for a bit. I spent some time relaxing and battling Sparky with my decks to get in the rhythm of playing, and to shake some nerves. My second or third game battling with my Mono-Red Aggro deck, I was defeated by Sparky’s mono-blue Psychic Corrosion deck. All of my confidence went straight out the window. I spent over a month preparing for this event, with a one million dollar prize pool, and the online tutorial dispatched me rather easily.
Finally it was time to battle and I managed to get the best of Reid in two quick games. This guaranteed I’d get to battle at least two more rounds, and I got up to see my Mom looking for the results. She was thrilled to see that I had won. I spent some time quickly talking to my family before watching my possible next round opponents battle in a close match. Savjz ended up on top. I got to battle on the stage, and defeated Savjz in a three-game match, locking up two win-and-ins for Top 16. For those who didn’t watch, Savjz played truly incredible Magic throughout the weekend. I was told he hasn’t played a ton of Magic, but he certainly played as if he did the entire weekend. With Magic having as much money in the prize pool as it does now, it scares me thinking about what kind of talent will be drawn to the game, leaving us mortal beings in the dust.
On top of the world at 2-0, I quickly felt the agony of defeat, losing two quick ones to Seth Manfield and in a rematch against Reid in the final round. While it was sad to lose, the rest of the event was still so incredible that it didn’t really faze me after the first minute walking off the stage.
I had all of PAX to enjoy, but instead, I spent my time in the players’ lounge, getting to know other participants better, watching the tournament, and appreciating the event for what it was. It was a celebration of Magic’s dive into Esports. Wizards has put their money where their mouth is, and this tournament proved that.
I went home early and slept earlier than usual. After any huge tournament, I need to sleep for a few extra hours. The whole process of a tournament like this exhausts you both physically and mentally. I woke up the next morning before it was time for the players to start, drove back to the site, and was prepared to watch the entire day unfold to see who would be left in the Top 4.
The most important part of the day, however, was figuring out how to make Matt Nass pay up and show the world what they never knew they didn’t want. Our plan was, when introduced for a feature match, Matt Nass would floss for the whole world to see. Unfortunately, he never played a feature match that day. He lost the first round, and faced elimination for the next couple of rounds. He did get on camera, playing a sick game against Seth Manfield, which was one of the most incredible games to watch. He did an excited post-game interview for that, but still, no flossing.
He eventually lost and was eliminated from the tournament. Still, I wouldn’t let him back out on this.
— Michael Sigrist (@MSigrist83) March 30, 2019
At the time I’m writing this 25,000 people have seen Matt Nass floss. With only about 1,500 likes on my tweet to bring this video to life, I can only surmise that the video, much like a bad car accident, is just something you can’t look away from. No reasonable human being is going to vote to make the car accident happen, but when it does, people don’t look away. Full disclosure: I’ve probably watched it approximately 1,000 times myself to listen to him say “I’m so sad right now” with a big grin on his face. I just can’t get enough.
After this, the rest of the day was basically shot. I was too busy checking my phone to show Matt Nass the comments on the video to enjoy it, but I did at least try. I did a meet and greet with a bunch of other MPL players, met some awesome people, and even more people thanked me for my content.
After that we did a Draft with six of the competitors from the Invitational. Javier Dominguez was hoping to be the last in the pod, but after waiting in the long line the person in front of him took the last spot in the Draft. When Javier walked over to us to tell us the bad news, I screamed loudly, pointing at him and saying, “It’s the World Champion, everyone it’s the World Champion.” Hundreds, maybe thousands of people looked up to see what the fuss was about. He blushed and waved his hand at me, as if asking me to stop, but I continued to shout until he sheepishly ran away from the area, hoping to not be recognized and swarmed by his adoring fans. After drafting a sweet Reanimator deck that started with Through the Breach into Unburial Rites, I lost to Hayne in the second round of the Chaos Draft. Unlike our favorite movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Brad and Hayne, who met in the finals, decided to share the championship so we could proceed with our evening.
I caught some dinner with friends, then went home for the evening, excited to watch the Top 4 the next day.
Sunday was truly a spectacle. The morning lead off with a panel for War of the Spark. I sat there with other members of the MPL, awaiting what I thought would be a rather normal reveal of cards and some pictures. I was not prepared for the trailer I saw. If you haven’t seen the trailer, stop reading this article right now and watch it. It’s incredible, and makes me proud to be part of this game.
Following that were some sweet new preview cards, including a preview of what uncommon planeswalkers will look like (much like enchantments). I knew it. I knew it.
After that everyone went back to the players’ lounge and watched the Top 4 unfold. Between Ondrej Strasky, Savjz, Piotr Glogowski, and of course Andrea Mengucci, there was nothing that could go wrong. All of these players played their hearts out and were worthy champions. It was a lot of fun sitting backstage, watching with all the other competitors, and especially the Challengers. Listening to them discuss plays, talk about their beats from the tournament, and talk about how great the tournament was, was a true bonding experience. Every single competitor was simply amazing. I can’t say it enough.
Game 3 between Piotr Glogowski and Savjz was the most intense game of Magic I’ve ever watched. The back and forth, and close plays left us all in the backroom screaming at the TV, excited to see how it would end. Both players played incredible Magic, and it was sad the game had to end at all.
After all the chips fell, CFB’s own Andrea Mengucci was the champion. I’ve known Andrea for quite some time now. When we were both occasional PT competitors instead of Mythic Championship regulars we worked together for a few events. He’s been a very dear friend to me, and I can say no one has worked harder than Andrea to achieve the success he’s had in the past few years. His passion for Magic is unrivaled, and he’s a truly great ambassador for the game. I’m incredibly happy for him and can’t wait to see if he spends the money on Beta power. I think I believe him.
This event was truly special. I can’t say enough how honored I was to be able to be there, let alone get to participate. My family got to see how big Magic is and how big it’s going to be, and my friends won a ton of money. The whole weekend was a huge success for Magic and I can’t wait to see where this takes the game.
We esports now.