Let me warn you upfront. This is not a strategy article. It was meant to be. Somewhere along the way I went off the rails though. I promise that the next one will make an active effort to make people into better players but this one’s for me.
Magic is the best damn game in the world! Full stop.
People say it all the time. Of course, it’s a matter of opinion and the statement is a little hyperbolic. That being said, in my eyes, it’s 100% the truth. It’s difficult to put into words how much this game means to me and so many others. It likely means a lot to you as well, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Since this is so much more than just a game to me, I hope you don’t mind if I get personal for a bit. For those of you who don’t know, I came in second place at GP Hartford earlier this year. I got there playing my pet modern deck: Amulet. Everything about that weekend just felt so unreal. I played well but definitely not the best I could have, but it didn’t matter. I never got punished and it felt like I couldn’t lose. From people wishing me luck along the way to getting my first GP feature match to talking to the legendary figure that is Rich Hagon everything was just so cool, you know, in a really nerdy sort of way. But as much as I was excited by what was happening, I was also incredibly focused. I think that focus was good. It let me keep playing good magic and keep winning. Going into round 14, I was 13-1. If I won I was locked for top 8, a fact I wouldn’t have realized if Rich hadn’t mentioned it to me. I lost. To Tron. One of my least favorite decks in modern, and a favorable matchup. The real kicker was when I congratulated my opponent I found out I had been paired down and now neither of us were locked. Heading into round 15, knowing what was on the line, was probably the most stressed I have ever been in my life. I did whatever I could to calm down. I called my girlfriend, who couldn’t talk. I called my mom. I walked for what felt like hours around the convention center, talking to various friends. I ate an apple (thanks for the snack Ed). In that final round, I was able to beat affinity and make it in as 5th seed. When the match ended I was so relieved. I had done it. I did what needed to be done.
The response I got for top 8ing that GP was huge. The support was palpable. I actually couldn’t even use my phone for a few hours because all the notifications and messages were making things crash and quickly dropped my battery. People were staying to watch me battle. It was amazing. My favorite part was the top 8 announcement. Hearing the clapping and cheers when my name got called felt so good. This community is great and if you give to it, it will give back to you. All that being said, for as excited as I was, I also just wanted to get back to business. I didn’t want time to think about what was happening. I wanted to battle. I wanted to play three more rounds and hoist a trophy. The top 8 was delightful. Something I’ve expressed for a long time is that I feel like the last round or two of swiss events get really serious, but once you make it to the top 8. Everything seems jovial again. Everybody wants to win, but it doesn’t feel like people are out for blood, and I was delighted to still feel that way here. Even in the finals. I can honestly say, despite losing to Matt Nass, that finals appearance was one of the more fun matches I’ve played even if I didn’t love the outcome. The GP Finalist plaque is way nicer than the trophy anyway though so maybe I sort of won anyway.
After the finish in Hartford, I really felt the fire. As much as I love competitive magic, I never really traveled too much to play before that. I certainly wanted too but it’s hard to justify driving more than a few hours. Magic’s hard and the expected value of playing in a Grand Prix is very low. It’s also hard to convince myself to travel to an Open where the value is better but there’s not an end goal. After Hartford, I went on a two month stretch where I played in a premier level tournament basically every week. The hope was too have another strong performance and then maybe start streaming while I had some momentum behind me and see if I could dive further into content producing and just get my name out and become a bit better connected. Well, while I had a lot of fun it largely didn’t work. And then it was over. It felt like I was living a dream, traveling and playing magic, and then it ended and reality set in. I went back to working full time. I wasn’t traveling every week. My fairy-tale was over. I definitely feel like I improved a lot over the past few months as a magic player but maybe it was a fluke. One result doesn’t mean much in a game with so much variance. That’s a harsh and simple truth. But it did mean something. It meant I got to experience one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had. It meant I got to make more friends and strengthen some friendships while I was at these events. It meant I got to go to my first Pro Tour. It meant so damn much. That being said, I don’t think I ever processed how much it meant to me. I was so focused on trying to continue to do well that I never stopped to really take it all in. Then when I was done traveling I was focused on some real life stuff. For those who don’t know me or follow me on social media, I got engaged to my longtime girlfriend. We rescued a puppy together. I won a year’s worth of free burritos from the place down the street. Yeah, this year has been kind to me.
So why am I reflecting on all of this now? Well the past two weeks were a return to playing magic for me after a lot of events in a row where I was the judge instead. First was the RPTQ where I had a very disappointing performance. As much as I would have loved to have done better it was great watching two of my friends requalify for the Pro Tour and seeing my fellow LegitMTG writer, longtime grinder, and one of my best friend’s and eventual groomsmen Billy Mitchell qualify for his first PT. If you’ve read his most recent article, you already know he cried. He cried like a baby. We both knew he would. I thought back to my top 8. All I could think about was that feeling of relief I had. Well that and a need to go 13-2 at GP ReidDuke…I mean GP Richmond so we could prep for the PT together. Different people process things in different ways though so I didn’t think much of it.
GP Richmond was disappointing for me. I failed to make it to day 2 of the Legacy GP. It was able to pinpoint mistakes I had made in two of my losses that might have cost me the matches. At least I had another shot with the Standard GP. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run back the same UB Midrange deck I had played at the RPTQ. I had access to Billy’s 75 and thought about audibling. I had played mono green at the last rptq and in an earlier standard GP after all. I was pretty confident that UB was good and I could play it well though. My RPTQ felt like round after round of bad luck and flooding out more than anything else. While the standard portion of Richmond didn’t result in an invite, I am more than happy to have finished with an 11-4 record. Especially after the disaster of the RPTQ. The real exciting part of the weekend, was yet again seeing my friends crush it. My friends Alex Chen, Lucien Longlais, and Joe Stempo all top 8d. I didn’t actually see Lucien throughout the weekend but I bumped into Alex and Joe multiple times. Seeing their enthusiasm and how much this meant to them was incredible. It made me stop and think on the car ride home about how much this game, this community, and that top 8 all mean to me. On the car ride home, watching Joe’s quarterfinals match is when my top 8 truly sank in. I live in a great area for magic. I’m really proud of all my friends who crush it over and over again. I’m really excited for my friends who aren’t there yet but who are making strides. And I’m really proud of my friend Alex Smith, for fact he went 3-0 in his GP Hartford side event. And then he did it again in Richmond. He may have made me promise to give him this shoutout but he’s clearly a master and going places as long as he sticks in his side events lane.
If you read this whole thing, I really appreciate it. Since this article has been about me, I’m going to talk about myself just a little bit more and my plans for the near future. In a couple weeks I’ll be attending the Baltimore Open so that will be my focus. I am not sure what I will play. I played Death’s Shadow in Richmond and enjoyed the deck but for reasons I’ll delve into later do not think it will be a good choice. My Tabernacle will be getting back from being altered between now and then so Lands will look mighty good to me. Honestly though, since I haven’t gotten to play much paper magic lately, I miss casting Primeval Titans and might play 12 post for the first time in my life regardless of if it’s good or not. Once that is done I believe I will be focusing on modern for the next RPTQ. I plan to return to writing content more regularly. I say this a lot but I think I mean it this time. I love the process of writing about and discussing magic. It forces me to think about my process and helps me learn while hopefully putting out something others can use. I want to talk about my processes as well as trying to do some level up type articles. I’m going to shoot for a weekly article. Feel free to harass me if I slip up. Lastly I’m going to try to be better about not misclicking horribly on Mtgo. Last week I lost a match because I typed the wrong card name when I cast Sorcerous Spyglass. It’s embarrassing and needs to stop. And in the meantime I’ll post embarrassing mtgo horror stories on twitter to shame myself.
Thank you so much for reading this. I’ll be back soon with an article on how to be better than me at this game. I promise. Magic is the best game in the world. Fact. And I’m so very lucky to be a small part of it. Magic is the best game in the world. Fact. And I’m so very lucky to be a small part of it.
Tags: Michael Mapson
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