Magic, it's more than just a game

It’s so much more.

This is a tricky post to write but I’m going to give it a real shot, because ultimately, it’s about people and people are always worth writing about.

People that play MTG at a casual level really enjoy the game, right? While it empties our wallets / purses, it brings us together to have some fun with friends, families and total strangers for a bit of good, honest fun. Sometimes though, we take the game a little more serious because we really, really like it! We become more invested both financially and personally. People that start to take the game seriously start attending more and more events, spending more and more money to build a versatile collection to catch our unsuspecting opponents off-guard and begin stepping out of our local regions to chase victory at the next MagicFest!

When it comes to Magic, this is something that more and more people are doing every year, and the popularity is increasing. With regards to Organized Play (OP) Wizards of the Coast and Magic: The Gathering have some real work cut out for them, because the community is speaking up and they sure have lots to say. I am not the advocate for the MTG Community, not even close and I don’t claim to wear the crown. What I am though, is the master of this domain and as such I will share my views on what several people have been saying and chyme in where I think it’s appropriate.

 

Trying to breakthrough as an MTG Personality

Becoming a household name for some players in the MTG Community is a serious goal they have. I can understand and relate to this goal as it was originally something, I wanted for MTGBlogger.com some 6 years ago. I wanted anyone and everyone to know what MTGBlogger was through Twitch, YouTube and Twitter. I can say that this brand had some success being referenced on ChannelFireball, being involved with CardHoarder and sponsored by local business, it was successful. The amount of success though isn’t always equal to the work, and Success isn’t easy. It’s a grind, a different kind of grind than you may think. When you try to make a business out of a hobby, it changes the way you view the hobby which may spell disaster for that hobby you enjoyed oh so much before.

Something I see coming up in my Twitter feed recently is Players feeling like their voices aren’t being heard. These people are winning events, pouring countless hours into MTG and improving their ranking online but getting no where when they try to publicize themselves to the Community. It’s a scenario that you ask yourself “What more do I have to do/can I do?” and it’s not an easy pill to swallow. Sometimes there just isn’t enough room in the spotlight for everyone trying to get into it. For some people, the light seems to focus on them a little more for some reason. Wither its likability, personality, charm or whatever that human interaction is, it’s easier for them. That’s life, right? It’s not always easy, and it’s not always fair.

It’s my stance that Wizards of the Coast doesn’t owe us as customers anything. Wizards of the Coast provides a service to us in the form of a game. What I would personally love for them is to continue creating more great content for us to enjoy in the form of new sets, cards and interactions that keep this amazing product alive.

Making Magic:The Gathering a profession

This is where it gets messy. I’ve personally been playing Magic off and on since Tempest block. Looking back, I would say that I was casual for a long time. I would only attend Magic events at local stores for a very long time. I grew up in comic shops and card stores and even worked in them, so I had access to cards I wanted to use and try and eventually own. I think it was this access that allowed me to interact with all kinds of people, from casuals to competitive players boasting about how good their deck was! I’ve never been one to shy away from a good old-fashioned deck duel, so I would try to get what I needed to win. Fast forward to today, competitive Magic is the primary way that I prefer to play. I don’t find myself gravitating towards Casual play at all, and I love the feeling of winning a game, ultimately solving the puzzle my opponent presents.

Wondering if it’s possible to make a profession out of Magic is something relatively new considering it’s been something on my mind for about ½ a decade now. I always wonder what I could do to make this dream a possibility, but I don’t recall ever thinking – what can Wizards of the Coast do to make my dream come true. I’ve always sort of looked internally at what I can do. I don’t think it’s fair for me to assume this company would provide me with a financial base to do nothing more than play their game. Anyone can do that, and there are better people suited for that than I. I don’t deserve anything just because I use their service (play their game), and neither do other people. Just because we turn on a camera and play their game doesn’t means we are entitled to anything more than the enjoyment it brings us.

The Magic Pro Tour though, that’s another story. The Pro Tour was a place you could play and get paid some real money and start making the dream of becoming an MTG Pro player a reality. To be on the Pro Tour meant you would get paid appearance fees, be included on the tour with chances to making a decent living. The Pro Tour of course won’t be the only thing you need to sustain a living though, you would need sponsorship's and some luck to keep winning. But, it’s something to start.

In the Pro Tour, it was cool because we got a chance to watch players story lines and see how their journey evolved up to the very end of the event. I really like the idea that we could follow a player playing at the professional level and see how they did. It’s exciting. I think we have lost this narrative as onlookers to the events and that is a real shame. I also think that people that win a Pro Tour, deserve a spot on the next Pro Tour. This is a very old story line that says becoming a Champion of anything is an attacking game to get to the throne. Staying the Champion is a defending game against everyone else. This is a narrative that I think is very important and would very much prefer it to stay this way.

Now, in 2019 we have the MPL (Magic Pro League), which consists of 32 players who are offered contracts by Wizards of the Coast. These players are automatically invited into Mythic Championships (Re branded Pro Tours) where paper-based events offer $500,000 in prizes and digital-based events (MTG Arena) can pay out $750,000. I don’t know where/how they got their invitations to participate and can’t say for sure that everyone there fully culminates the best the game has to offer. What makes someone great? How they play the game mechanically? Maybe it’s their personality? Maybe it’s the number of viewers they can bring to the service? It’s not even close to my call to make. The goal posts are shifting on this topic because people feel that they deserve their spot. Nothing is deserved, and there is no expectation. If this game died tomorrow, wouldn’t you be talking about how cool the game was? Or would you be talking about how unfair the esports scene was? Feel free to stop by my stream (www.twitch.tv/mtgblogger) to discuss this more in depth because I know there's tons to say on this topic.

 

What does it mean to you?

Ultimately, why do you play Magic? For Fame, love of the game or because it’s the only thing you can see yourself doing? This is a very important question. Magic esports is very real now, and it’s possible to earn your stripes against some of the best in the game that you may never had the opportunity of playing against before while fulfilling the dream of being a full-time MTG player, but you have to earn it in the eyes of those that make the game and provide a service. We’re lucky to have this opportunity, so let’s make the most of it while we can.

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