Jim Davis hinted at a new team coming to the SCG Tour® after his win at the Baltimore Standard Open earlier this month. The 2015 Players' Champion hoisted his second SCG Tour® trophy, but gave credit to his testing partners Danny and Andrew Jessup, Peter Ingram, and Kevin Jones – the man who designed the Bant Company deck that fueled his win and went on to be the deck to beat at the Columbus Invitational. Though the squad wasn't ready to announce their partnership yet in Baltimore, the five of them are on the verge of launching Team MetaGameGurus.com.
With the rise of teams on the SCG Tour® in 2016, it was only a matter of time before a group of New York players came together. Team MGG (@TeamMGG) started as an idea of Rick Meditz and Frank Pendl, two longtime friends and Magic players who met Davis and the Jessups playing locally years ago. Though family and careers have steered Meditz and Pendl away from playing as much as they'd like, starting a team allows them to stay connected while supporting the growth of the game they love.
The two pitched the idea to Davis and the Jessups after the 2015 Players' Championship and the plan was simple. They would back the team by handling the financial end and landing sponsors while the players only had to worry about playing Magic. Meditz and Pendl would take care of travel and hotel arrangements along with supplying the physical cards, leaving the five players to focus only on the game. The team would have an adjoining website with the long-term goal of offering coaching and allowing players to interact with the team directly.
“Look at how eSports are growing right now. They're on ESPN and Yahoo, Twitch is huge, and the SCG Tour® is learning how to market and display the game to the public and no one is taking advantage of that so that's what we're doing,” Davis said. “Team MGG is a business. We're not weekend warriors or some Facebook group. Our website is an LLC and we're going to run this like a business and treat it seriously.”
Team MGG's move toward legitimacy includes already landing BCW Supplies as their first sponsor and they are aggressively seeking more. On top of financial backing, BCW is supplying sleeves, deck boxes, and other gaming supplies to the team. Along with their launch this weekend, the team will be sporting custom jerseys similar to those worn by teams involved in League of Legends and Call of Duty.
The team decided on the full launch this weekend as Season Two of the SCG Tour® hits Milwaukee, where all five players will be in attendance. Team MGG has no intention of slowing down and has plans to play every Open this year. In fact, the team was specifically created to play exclusively on the SCG Tour®.
“We are a team formed to compete on the SCG Tour®. I'm accused of being an SCG homer, but the SCG Tour® is by far the best place to play Magic,” Davis said. “It has the best prize money and best coverage by far. Those are the two things that combine to make Magic profitable. The fact that the match between me and Todd Anderson at the Baltimore Open had the same amount of viewers as the Pro Tour finals is crazy. Put a logo on me and let me sell something, you know? Why am I wearing a Metallica shirt?”
Team MGG has been planning its launch for about three months now, but started formally testing together the week before the Baltimore Open. With a new Standard format with the inclusion of Shadows over Innistrad, the team traveled to Baltimore early and tested at their hotel. The result? A Bant Company deck that dominated the competition. Davis took first place while Jones and Danny Jessup finished 10th and 11th, respectively. The deck they crafted warped the Standard metagame the following week at the Invitational, with three copies making the Top 8 of the Invitational while nineteen copies showed up in the Top 32 decks in the Columbus Open.
Davis is a longtime hockey fan and as the captain of Team MGG, his jersey will brandish the “C,” similarly to his favorite sport's mark of leadership. After Davis and the Jessups were approached with the idea of the team, Davis reached out to fellow New York players Ingram and Jones to join the team. The five players combine for 29 Open Top 8s with four wins, four Invitational Top 8s, and five Players' Championship appearances, including Davis's win in 2015.
Davis intends for this opportunity to lead to a career and has recently gone fulltime in combination with streaming and writing articles. He was recently accepted as a Twitch partner after his push into Magic streaming. For him and his teammates, this is the future and they want to make it as successful as possible and be an example for other players.
“Between Team MGG, articles, Twitch, playing, and sponsorships, this is the goal. Obviously, you can't expect to win as much money as I did last year every year, but that's the way we are approaching this,” Davis said. “Platinum is great and whatever, but that is a tiny thing for a tiny subset of players. There are a lot of great players and personalities out there in Magic, but they aren't making money and that's awful. The point is to have a team, allow ourselves to support ourselves, and get money form where we should be getting money.”
For Meditz, a software designer and co-founder of Team MGG, this is a passion project with Pendl. They've been around Magic for more than fifteen years and have recently seen the growth of the game and its coverage. They want to be involved in the wave, while forming a powerhouse team to represent the Northeast. They also want the team to be accessible and connected with players looking to get better. The website will allow Team MGG to directly interact with players and allow for more opportunities in the future.
“Frank and I have been friends for 24 years and have played Magic a long time. We still want to be connected to the game even though we have families and careers,” Meditz said. “After seeing the shift toward eSports and people like Mark Cuban and Rick Fox looking into purchasing teams, this is the future. It's fun and exciting to just be a part of the esports movement and we want to see the game grow.”