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Learning, Loving, Leading

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Magic Culture

[Editor’s note: Anthony Lowry has received the great opportunity to write for TCGplayer! Join everyone at Legit MTG by thanking him for his contributions and supporting his future role in the Magic community.]

What is your goal today?

What’s your motivation for achieving that goal?

Think about it for a bit.

Is it more difficult to come up with the motivation than the goal itself? It could be. Without motivation, without drive, the goal is but a chore. Without a goal, motivation becomes misplaced. Finding out what we want can often be easier than finding out the steps to obtain it, but how does one go after something they don’t even know they want?

That was the position I was in about three years ago, when I walked into my first Magic event on a Thursday night in Manhattan. I had no idea what exactly I was trying to get out of this unexplored world of Goblin Guides, Baneslayer Angels and “holy hell is that a 5/4 for three!?”‘s, but I decided to dive in anyway, knowing that I’d find my goal eventually. I was looking, looking for anything, anyone that would help me learn the game.

A seemingly startled yet helpful Isabel Hayes was the first person to share her thoughts. From there, I wound up meshing with newfound friends who wanted to begin taking their game to the next level. This small group was called ManaShift, and it was my first real taste of the ups and downs of competitive Magic. I still didn’t know what I wanted my endgame to be, but at this point I decided to surround myself around the game to make a run for the higher levels of competitive play. Documenting all of this would be tough, since I couldn’t just ask to write for a site, right? After all, I couldn’t just go up to a well-known player and ask how to write for their site; they’re too good to bother with the likes of me!

I decided to start my own blog, keeping track of my tournaments, decklists, anything I could remember. I wanted to be heard, and I felt this was a great way to start. Maybe, just maybe, someone important would take notice and let me on. I had so much to say, and I wanted people to know that. A good number of friends were supportive of this and noted my up-front, passionate, almost volatile personality — they affectionately suggested the name “Firebranded.” I don’t know about you guys, but I sure thought it was cool at the time.

Neale Talbot thought likewise, and decided to recruit me to his site, Wrongwaygoback. It was here that I began to fall in love with contributing to a community more than winning, more than simply “being heard.” I’ve always had a hard time explaining things verbally to people, and writing about it started to become my way of presenting all of my thoughts to my friends. The goals were developing, and the motivation was surging.

It was a couple of months after this that I saw a tweet by Jonathan Medina. He was starting a site called LegitMTG and he was looking for writers. I snap-offered my services, offering what I think was a Wolf Run Ramp primer. A response came from someone unexpected — Caleb Durward. He liked my piece, but said I needed to work on presenting my ideas and sentence structure. You know, elementary stuff. I was pretty starstruck at the time, but I took a breath, calmed down, and redid the piece sentence by sentence. I wanted to show that I really, really wanted to write for them. I didn’t think I’d get the gig because my writing wasn’t on par with any other pros. So I was very surprised when Caleb and Jonathan gave me a shot. I was looking for ways to improve my writing, and everyone on the staff worked with me.

It was at this point where I went through some pretty huge changes in my life, which included being diagnosed with Osteomalacia, and other significant health problems. I’ll spare you guys the sappy story, but it was a real wakeup call for me and what I wanted to do inside and outside the game. I basically got my shit together and decided to focus on getting better and on progressing rather than just “winning” — at the game, at life, behind the turntables, everywhere. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Working to improve will beget results, so why sweat the results in the first place?

More importantly, the primary goal was revealed. The Pro Tour was always something I wanted to go to and stay on. That dream was fading, not because I didn’t think it was possible, but because my priorities were changing. There was only one thing I wanted to do more than anything in the game.

Help.

I wanted to help. I wanted to help newer players get into the game and keep them hooked. I wanted to give back to the people who have given so much to me. I wanted to become a part of something that was greater than myself, my results, or my efforts. I felt like I owed them at least that much. The writing, the sitting down with casual players looking to break into the competitive scene, the long talks with players who got dismissed by those who weren’t trying to hear anything outside of “Tier 1” strategies. I wanted to be someone who would say, “What do you think works best in this card slot?” rather than “Play this because I know more than you.” I wanted to be the person who isn’t afraid of trying new things, despite the “nobody cares” and “that’s wrong” mindsets of the world. It goes on and on. Self-expression is the reason why I decided to take up writing in the first place, and actively applying it outside of that, in an effort to objectively and openly help others, was what I wanted to do all along.

Today, we pursue this goal together. We’re all major parts of this vast world of planeswalking, spell-slinging and Fblthp. It doesn’t matter what level of play you’re at. For some of you, your local PTQ or StarCityGames Open Series is the big time, and that’s perfectly fine. Put everything you have out there. Kick ass the way you know how! This game is so much more than just tiers, Spikes, and “good/bad.” We’re all students, with each other as teachers.

I want to thank every single member here at LegitMTG, past and present, for giving me the opportunity to write here, for putting up with my constant nagging, and for supporting me the entire way. Jon and Caleb, you guys opened the door and let me grow as both a player and a person, and I’m so grateful for that. My best friend, Isabel Hayes, for sticking by me throughout my complaining, pestering, and overall highs and lows. Jason, Heather, Nina, all of you. I love you guys, and I will neither confirm nor deny my tearing up during this writing.

But most of all, I have to thank you — the reader, the player and the lurker. The hater and the supporter. If it weren’t for you, I probably would have stopped a long time ago. Now there are a ton of new ways I’m looking to give back, including a potential podcast, radio interviews, organizing tournaments, and coverage for PTQs and 5Ks. There’s so much in store for the future, and you make it possible. Progression has been, and will continue to be the theme going forward, and we’ll progress together, as a community. Now, every single day, I can answer both questions with utmost certainty and confidence:

What is your goal today?

What is your motivation for achieving that goal?

Thanks for reading

~Firebranded
Twitter: @aulowry

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