It’s crazy to think about how much can change in a year.
When I first started to take magic more seriously, around the start of 2015, I was blessed with a couple good results, I Top 8’d two different Grand Prix’ by the end of the season and really put my name out there as a force in the Canadian Magic community. But that got to my head. My preparation process got worse; I started taking the things I used to work at for granted. I would study less, I would test less and most importantly I would listen less.
No matter how good you may or may not be at this game, there is always something you can learn from someone else. That’s the beauty of it, and it’s what brings us as players back again and again. We are constantly challenged every time we sleeve-up to play. Unfortunately, my hubris clouded any chance I had at improvement and my results stagnated for what felt like an eternity. I had entered an all too common spiral of middling results and horrible habits.
Eventually I succumbed. I knew in my heart of hearts that it wasn’t luck, it wasn’t a “cold streak”, it was me. If I wanted to improve, to really get good at this game I had to put the work in and set aside my preconceived notions. I started reading articles again. Watched videos of players better than me. Reviewed my own matches for spots where I could have gained those small percentages that are integral to success. Most importantly, I listened to all of it, none of it was absent minded.
Almost exactly a year ago, I was rewarded with an MTGO PTQ win. That win felt amazing. After two years of not playing at the Pro Tour I was able to once again prove that I belonged there, but this time I was going to do it right. I worked hard, and throughout the rest of the season I kept putting up results. A GP Top 16 was followed by an RPTQ win, which let me play in consecutive Pro Tours for the first time, and two more GP Top 8s including a win. All of a sudden Gold Pro Status was in reach, and alongside my good friends Matthew Dilks and Tariq Patel we were able to Top 16 GP Detroit which got me enough points to lock up gold for at least the next 9 months.
But enough about me, for this journey was merely the prelude of something much bigger, something that I am optimistic will lead to great things in the coming year. Since I was able to lock up gold, and at least three more Pro Tour qualifications, I thought it would be in my best interest to find some fellow competitors to join a team series team with, and luckily for me, there was an opportunity almost immediately. A collection of six gold pros, all of which have a great deal of skill and are hoping to achieve some great things together in the coming year.
Introducing the rest of Team FaceToFaceGames.com:
Shaheen Soorani hit gold off the back of some incredibly consistent Pro Tour finishes, finishing 9-7 or better at all four Pro Tours last year. A notorious control player, it will be important to not be baited by his bias towards the strategy, but his expertise will prove invaluable when we need tuning and testing with the archetype.
Eli Kassis really showed his range last year, piloting aggro, control and combo all through great success, as well as Top 8ing a Limited Grand Prix. Eli is a very methodical player and his analytical tendencies will be very important for breaking down the surplus of information available.
Pete Ingram — fresh off his stint working for Wizards of the Coast — proved that he is still capable of competing with the best, culminating in a GP win earlier this year.
Gabriel Nassif. How much can be said that hasn’t been already about one of the all-time greats. His history with the game will help us all, and I can only hope that I can gain even a fraction of that success through working with him, and hopefully help him get back to Sunday again himself.
Morgan McLaughlin, the only other Canadian on the team and someone that I have known for a while. I remember him being somewhat of an end-boss for me when I first started playing competitively, and this year he was able to chain a GP win into a PT 9th and another Top 8 to go from nothing to gold in what felt like overnight.
All of us come from different backgrounds, and have valuable resources to bring to the team. The testing process has just started with us, but we are already seeing some results with still so much time for more. Our initial task was tackling the new Guilds of Ravnica Limited format and I believe we were able to get way ahead of the competition. Eli was able to finish 12-3 at GP Montreal, and Pete Ingram along with his teammates sported a Top 4 finish at GP Denver, with friend of the team Jacob Baugh taking down the whole thing.
Eli had mentioned that he wanted the team goal to be to put one member into a PT Top 8. I am confident that we can achieve that. We have been talking every day about the Standard format and have our sights set for GP New Jersey and the Pro Tour in Atlanta following that.
Keep your eyes out for us, and feel free to say hi because we will be taking on the majority of the East Coast events in the coming year, and continuing to put up results.