Qualifying for the Mythic Championship at 13 Years Old

Hello everyone! My name is Milan Bhayana and I am a 13-year-old hopeful professional Magic player. In late April, I achieved my long-standing goal of qualifying for the Mythic Championship.

I started playing 3 years ago and was immediately sucked into the world of Demons, Dragons and Knights. I didn’t really understand the rules but loved the art and fantasy. I played it for a bit, then got bored and put it away. Then, a year or later I saw an article on the most recent Pro Tour winner, and I remembered the amazing world of Dragons, Demons and Knights. Except this time, I could get FAMOUS and make money playing this amazing game! If those aren’t the greatest motivators, I don’t know what is.

I learned the rules, found the nearest local game store and pleaded with my parents until they took me. I remember going to my first FNM, and getting mercilessly crushed during the games, but then having everyone helping me after the game, teaching me about Draft, sequencing and card advantage. If I wasn’t hooked before, I was now. The depths of the strategy, I loved it. I devoured every recourse available on the web, podcasts, articles, videos. I went from consistent 0-3er to draft endboss. But despite all this, I wanted more. So when I heard about my stores local PPTQ, I had to go. I borrowed a random mono red deck, sleeved it up and entered the tournament.

Qualifying the Mythic Championship at 13

The Competitive Spark

To my delight, I ended up fourth in that event, and my competitive fire was lit. I played every tournament I could and amassed a wealth of Top 8s and qualified for my first RPTQ. I went on to barely miss the Top 8 of that RPTQ, but I it didn’t even faze me. I was determined to make to it to a Mythic Championship. I tried to attend every event in a feasible distance. And to my surprise, I started to put up more and more results, and before I knew it I was making money and making a local name for myself!

So when I had to chance to travel during spring break to a Legacy GP, I wanted to go. There was a small problem though–I’d never played Legacy before. I learned everything about the format, borrowed a deck, and I was off to my first Legacy event. Then, strangely, my mix of cards (thrown together from multiple far better lists) kept winning. And winning. Before long, I was in my second MCQ Top 8 and playing for an invite to the Mythic Championship. The tournament culminated in a tense three-game affair vs Abe Corrigan. A Jace and True-Name Nemesis sealed his fate and I was off to Barcelona and the Mythic Championship.

My Process and Methods

An important thing I believe many people pass over when they talk about how to get better at the game, or how to properly prepare for tournaments, is the value of going over your games with other people. Many people advocate playing online as the end-all, be-all way to practice for tournaments, and when I first started playing competitively, I did just that. I grinded constant leagues and online tournaments.

While I found success with this method, something was missing. I felt I wasn’t learning from the practice, I was simply practicing. So for my next major tournament, I tried something different. Instead of only practicing online, I spent lots of time going down to my local game store and playing lots of matches with real people, then after each game we would talk through our decisions, and talk about what we could have done to change the outcome of the game, or what would have been more optimal play lines. Even when I can’t go over my games with someone else after each game, I’ll go back and look at replays of my matches and think about my important decisions.

While in the beginning this may seem time-consuming and does not provide a quick level up, over time I’ve found it has made me a far better player.

The Final Week

Finally, after months of preparation and excitement, my first Mythic Championship was almost here. I got to Barcelona a week early and met up with some friends who were also attending. We tested drafts, Modern and talked about sideboarding. After testing multiple different decks, I narrowed my selection down to Hogaak and Jund.

Jund, for the first time in its existence, had a slew of good matchups across the board. In addition, it had just gained 3 very powerful new cards with Seasoned Pyromancer, Wrenn and Six and Plague Engineer. In my opinion, it only had one bad matchup: Hogaak.

Hogaak similarly, had a lot of really good things going for it, with lots of raw power and a decent resilience to hate. The problem, for me was its reliance on the graveyard. So heading into the final week, I was pretty set on Hogaak–but then Kanister 12-0ed the Modern Challenge with the deck.

But wait, isn’t that a positive thing for the deck? Sure, but for me, a big issue arose with this high-profile finish. I felt that the deck could get hated on by proper graveyard hate and a prepared meta. And so I decided to play the deck which I thought would beat all the decks gunning for Hogaak, but also have a chance against the deck.

And here is where I made the first mistake of the tournament. I tricked myself into going away from the far more powerful deck without much testing, by convincing myself that it wasn’t powerful enough to beat the hate. I was wrong.

The Tournament

And so, with my first mistake behind me, I began the tournament. The first segment was Modern Horizons draft. This section I felt would be my best. I had practiced with many of the best Limited players and played hundreds of matches. I had a clear idea of what decks I wanted to draft (U/B Ninjas) and the decks I didn’t (any deck with white cards).

I had a very interesting pick between the powerful Crashing Footfalls and the more disciplined pick, Man-o-War. Once again, I tricked myself by overthinking the pick. There was another powerful blue card in the pack, and as the pick was very close I thought that it would be better to stake a claim in the color and have my neighbors fight over blue. Once again, I believe that was the wrong choice as I think that Man-O-War is a more powerful and consistent card in draft and that having another powerful blue card shouldn’t change my decision. The draft then proceeded to go awfully wrong, as the overall power level of the draft was very low and the G/W deck I drafted lacked the key cards to close out games.

After a disappointing match after a disappointing match and a deck that just failed to get opponents dead, I walked out of the draft portion with an 0-3 record. A quick destruction of Humans followed by an army of flying Phoenix and I was fighting to stay alive. Once again, a flurry of birds and a bolt of lightning later, I was out of the Mythic Championship.

Despite being a disappointing finish, I learned a lot from the experience and the tournament. I’m happy a got this chance, and I hope it’s a start to a long and prosperous career!

– Milan Bhayana

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