Recently there's been some debate as to the merits of playing in either the SCG Tour® or on the Grand Prix circuit. While both are fine avenues to take if you want to progress your Magic career, there are benefits to both. For me, the marketing of players is the biggest reason I chose to play exclusively on the SCG Tour®. I like to think that my success playing on the SCG Tour® has brought me my notoriety, but that would be a lie. While I've done well playing on the SCG Tour®, having won three Opens in the last eighteen months with two other finals appearances at Team Constructed Opens and a handful of other top 8s, if it weren't for Star City Games® and the amazing job they do making people watching care about the players playing, I wouldn't be where I am today.
Many people would call me lucky and there's no denying that. I'm a very lucky person in more ways than just Magic, but I like to think that I've earned a great deal of that luck, and I do owe a lot of it to circumstances that I've had a part in sculpting. I'm sure many of you have heard recently that I'll be attending Pro Tour Core Set 2019 through a special invite and I'd like to explain how that came about.
For those of you who don't know, recently Wizards of the Coast announced what is to be known as The Silver Showcase , an exclusive booster draft on Sunday of Pro Tour Core Set 2019. This booster draft invite was sent out to the top Pro Point leaders across the world in four different regions and four players handpicked by WotC for what I'm sure amounts to a marketing venture since the players are most notable for accomplishments in other games or aspects of gaming. While the entire notion of rewarding people who haven't devoted their lives to Magic and the community of Magic might be bewildering to many, I can see what they're going for with this, but I'm not sure it was executed in the proper way.
I could elaborate on that, but that's not the focus of what I wanted to talk about today. The politics of all this are beyond me, and I'm not going to get caught up in discussing what should have happened with this or how people believe WotC has messed up for the millionth time. The fact of the matter is that it's happening, and I hope that the mistakes that seem to have been made here can be learned from in the future to create a better experience for the target audience.
What is the main focus of this is the fact that the players who do not spend all their time playing Magic that were special invited to this event also were invited to play in the Core Set 2019 Pro Tour which is a team event. You could imagine the difficulties of a player not too well connected in the Magic community like Jason Chan, more commonly known as Amaz, to join a team of existing Pro players who have likely had their teams lined up for months now on such short notice. With that in mind, earlier this year I found myself watching a Hearthstone stream and randomly making a snide comment about some play that was made and got a response from Amaz. He recognized my name from being partially involved in Magic, having been invited to Pro Tour Ahmonkhet the year prior and we began chatting.
This all started at the beginning of this year, and we talked more and more about Magic over the months when new sets would come out, but he never expressed interest in playing much Constructed, which was fine. I invited him to play with THE Tannon Grace and me at an Open earlier this year. Being the busy bee that he is, he couldn't attend, but said that if there was another chance that we could play in the future, he'd try and make it happen. Several months went by and nothing really changed except for more random Magic talks and more snide comments in his Twitch chat, but then nearly a month ago he asked if I was going to the Pro Tour. At the time I was unqualified and had an RPTQ coming up that I'd hope would get me there. He mentioned that he might be getting a special invite again and wondered if I knew people who were going who'd want to team with him. After much review of the RPTQ system and seeing who can team with who and why, it seemed that it would be unlikely that I'd be able to be of much help since, as I mentioned before, most of the people I know had already locked up their team months in advance. While that didn't bode well for Amaz, it did have him inquire further if he could invite his own team.
While I had no idea that anything like The Silver Showcase would happen since I rarely pay much attention to the "Pro" Magic scene, what it also meant was that Amaz was able to invite two people of his choosing.
Quick aside: I want to make it clear that there was no confirmation from him of who he'd want to team with prior to the RPTQ I played in.
While my team didn't quite get there, it was a blast to play Magic again since it had been the Season One Invitational that I had last battled. With that in mind, Amaz asked how we'd done which didn't inspire confidence I'm sure, but as anyone who's met me will likely tell you I'm pretty easygoing and can take my losses with (Tannon) Grace like anyone should.
Then it happened.
It was past the midnight hour and I received a message from Amaz saying he wanted me on his team for the Pro Tour if I was willing. I won't lie, I was thrilled. Not only was it going to be a great weekend to look forward to finally getting to hang out with someone I'd consider a good friend I hadn't yet met, but I wasn't going to be left out of the office get away! For the last Pro Tour when everyone left to go test for a week, it was a lonely time at Direwolf Digital. We got plenty of work done regardless, of course, but it did feel like I was left out of an exclusive club in some way, which I'm sure everyone has felt at some point in their life. While I couldn't wait to tell my girlfriend and fellow BCW teammates, one question was still left in my head that I couldn't shake:
Who was going to be the third?
While I knew it wasn't my decision to make I had the person in my mind who I knew I'd pick hands down not close if given the option. I'm speaking of course of THE Tannon Grace, who's been my teammate at every single team Open I've ever played in.
Then the unthinkable happened, I was asked who I thought a good third would be. Now I did mention a few people aside from Tannon who also would have been amazing pickups, but I knew in my heart of hearts who I'd love to share this experience with, not to mention this Pro Tour would involve Legacy and having a seasoned veteran like Tannon at the helm would be one of the easiest slam dunks I've ever heard. There was some deliberation on Amaz's part, who I'm sure was feeling the pressure of wanting to make a lot of awesome people happy by bringing them to the Pro Tour, but he knew that the team dynamic would be all but locked in if Tannon was on board, having spent more time physically talking to Tannon than he and I ever had.
Not too much longer and we were given the green light, the golden ticket so to speak. You can call it whatever you'd like, but that doesn't change the fact that Tannon and I are going to be on an awesome team for the Pro Tour and have more experience in this format than most anyone else.
While I'm sure that many people would consider this kind of thing a stroke of luck, it does come back to the fact that this all happened because of the SCG Tour®. If I never did well at these events and didn't make something of the publicity I was given from the amazing people at Star City Games®, I wouldn't have been able to parlay that into successful streaming, into writing, into a sponsorship with BCW or likely into the job at Direwolf Digital I have now. I was recruited by Patrick Sullivan late last year to apply and I'm pretty darn sure that I wouldn't have moved across the country for a job working on another game if I didn't do my best to market myself and catch the eye of those who have the decision-making capabilities in the business we all love.
So, I'll bring this back to a phrase I tell people all the time:
"You make your own luck."
It's true and does get you far, but only so far. So what's something that you can do to help make your own luck and make your story worth talking about? One thing I'll have to say is that it might not work out for everyone and it's certainly not a foolproof method. The best advice I can give is just to be positive. While that might sound simple enough, it's hard for a lot of people. Life can be hard, and the toughest thing to do is smile when you've been kicked in the teeth. It's hard to shake the opponent's hand when they just topdecked you out of the top 8 of an event, it's hard to be kind to someone who just tried to rules lawyer you on something that was a simple misunderstanding, it's hard to wish someone luck when you feel like you deserved the win because of some ungodly sense of entitlement.
Whatever the conundrum you might face in Magic or in life, just try and take it in stride and be the force you want to see reflected upon you. Good things will happen. When playing any game, keep an open mind and be willing to be wrong. Those who believe they're always right are those not willing to learn some new way to approach a difficult problem.
Listen. Listening gets you places.
Some advice I took from Patrick Sullivan long before he cared to remember my name was that you shouldn't trouble your life with things that don't make you happy based on the expectations of others. Who's to say you're not supposed to be happy? At the time I heard this I was in an unhappy relationship and those words inspired me to make the change in my life and move forward. I wasn't trapped. I could make a difference, I just had to do the next right thing each day.
Not all roads lead to a golden palace, and I'm not promising that. We're all human with our own impulses and desires. We live in a world where you're taught to think about yourself a lot and make choices to better yourself at all costs. While you should take steps to better your own life, don't forget the feelings of those around you.
This article might not have been all too much about Magic since I've given a lot of what I think the format has to offer in previous weeks leading up to SCG Worcester, but I do think there's room in your busy day to take the time and reflect on what you're doing and more importantly, how you're doing it.
As a culmination of all these things, I do implore people to realize that there's a difference between the SCG Tour® and the Grand Prix circuit, and what path you choose can affect a lot of doors you may or may not have open to you. It's up to you what you make of it. As for me, I'll be making the best of all that the SCG Tour® has to offer this weekend in Worcester by battling alongside some of the best people I've met playing on tour and can't wait to finally complete "Operation Get Tannon a Trophy!"