Name: Carlos Alexandre dos Santos Esteves
Qualified via Special Invitation
Pro Points: 14
Pro Tour Debut: Philadelphia 2011
Pro Tours played: 2
Win percentage: 47.2%
Top 8: 1 Grand Prix (1 won)
Planeswalker Level: 41 (Battlemage)
Carlos Alexandre is better known under his Magic Online alias “Batutinha.” Whereas Batutinha has been one of the foremost Magic Online grinders basically since grinders existed on Magic Online, Carlos Alexandre hadn’t made much of splash in paper Magic for a long time. It was only in June 2014 that Carlos Alexandre won Grand Prix São Paulo with his teammates Guilherme Merjan and Tulio Jaudy.
Q: You are a legend on Magic Online, probably the best known grinder all around, yet you have played only two Pro Tours so far. How did that happen? Was the Pro Tour not a priority for you before? And why did you receive the Special Invite? What does it mean to you to play a Pro Tour again?
A: Playing on the Pro Tour has always been a priority, but unfortunately I’ve only managed to qualify twice for it. I’ve played dozens of PTQ Top 8s, and also a MOCS finals (which I lost to Brazilian World Champion Carlos Romão).
I played my first Pro Tour in 2011 in Philadelphia, to which I qualified through, fittingly, an online Standard PTQ. It was the first Modern PT, and I was pretty happy to make Day 2, but my second draft was terrible and I didn’t manage to finish in the money. Last year I played in a second Pro Tour after winning GP São Paulo in the Team Limited format, but I did badly in it and got eliminated on Day 1.
Pro Tour Fate Reforged will be my third Pro Tour. I qualified by receiving a Special Invite after losing yet another MOCS finals, this time due to a bug that I had even reported myself in the week prior to the event, and happened to me again in the final match. I was playing Jund Planeswalkers against Rabble Red, and MTGO didn’t let me sideboard, leaving me with a massive disadvantage since I couldn’t bring the many cards I had to beat aggro, like Anger of the Gods, Scavenging Ooze, and other removal spells.
(That bug consisted of a 16th card appearing in your sideboard, leaving you incapable to submit your sideboarded configuration and then being forced to play without sideboarding.)
Q: On Magic Online you play mostly Constructed formats, which is just natural when taking into account the better EV in tickets and QPs. Which kinds of formats do you most like to play when these considerations do not influence your choice? Which types of decks do you like to play?
A: I certainly prefer to play Standard over anything else, but I also really loved Modern Masters draft, which was the Limited format I won the most at, ever. I prefer to play midrange decks, which usually don’t have many bad matchups and almost always let you leverage your skill better.
Q: What does the lifestyle of an MTGO grinder look like, considering that you have a family to take care of? How much do you play, and how many matches can you play in parallel? Do you even own paper cards? And how did you become a grinder in the first place?
A: I live with my wife and our two kids and I always try to keep a routine: I wake up every day at the same time, an hour or so before the first Daily Event I want to play, take a walk, have breakfast, shower, and then I start my PC for the grind. Playing on Dailies also gives me a lot of downtime while waiting for rounds, which I use to help my wife around the house or to play with my kids.
Before v4, I could easily play 3 or 4 matches at a time (leaving me with less downtime but earning a lot more money), which is impossible now, so I join a lot fewer DEs.
You only live once, and so you should live it in a way that leads to the most happiness possible. I wasn’t happy at college, and I get great pleasure out of playing Magic. Since I started making a living from it, why should I do anything else?
Q: When the transition from MTGO v3 to v4 happened some of the MTGO grinders stopped playing. kaOz_Zeh for example said that he really wanted to play, but just couldn’t make it work at least bearably. Some time has passed since the transition and while some people still proclaim their unhappiness about v4, the complaints have gotten quieter. In your estimation how has the new client affected the grinders and the feasibility of becoming a grinder? Some people stopped playing MTGO, but you are still around. Why do you think you made the transition whereas others quit?
A: Honestly, I have to say that I did want to quit once v4 hit. Things are much worse now for both grinders and casuals alike than they were on v3. I did grind on PokerStars for a while, but Magic makes me more confident in a financial return, and I’ve got my family to consider. I still have hope that eventually MTGO will become good again, but if the current situation stays as it is for some more time, you can expect to see me on poker websites and not on Wizards websites.
It is unacceptable that a program with the magnitude and scope of MTGO is so awful and has so many issues and problems, some of them even simple ones, that didn’t exist on the older program. Nowadays, when people ask me, I don’t even recommend playing Magic Online anymore, and that saddens me a lot. I mean Wizards even had to give me a Special Invite to this PT to make up for a bug, right? I lost the final match of the MOCS to this simple and often-reported sideboard bug, and even now, months after, I still lose matches to the same bug. This kind of lack of concern for the players is what makes so many of us quit MTGO these days.
[Editor’s note: This article incorrectly stated Carlos’s PT Debut as Pro Tour Fate Reforged.]