Team FaceToFaceGames.com is comprised of many individuals, but our core six players for the pro circuit are Shaheen Soorani, Gabriel Nassif, Pete Ingram, Morgan Mclaughlin, Edgar Magaelhae, and myself. Between us we have two Platinum Pros (Morgan and Myself), four Gold Pro’s (Everyone else), a half dozen GP Top 8s this season, a Hall of Famer (Gab obv) and a bunch of other sweet accolades that I could go on and on about. I want to talk a little bit about our journey getting to this point. What our goals and expectations were/are and what it’s like at the end of the rainbow.
When people refer to you as a Magic pro it tends to come with some expectations. Many assume it is a career choice and that we do not have occupations outside of Magic. I’m a therapist, Shaheen is a teacher in a managerial role, Morgan is an engineer, Pete is a game designer, Gabriel is a streamer and former poker pro and Edgar is young enough that he is still figuring that part out. So when you strive to make the accomplishments above as part of a squad you’re essentially signing up to have very little free time. This works great when you enjoy the game as much as we do. “The Grind” — as it is sometimes referred to — can be a hard road and it isn’t for everyone. The pressure to maintain your pro level and continue to perform at a high level can be overwhelming.
Before GP Tampa this past weekend for instance, Shaheen Soorani was in danger of dropping down to being a Silver pro without a great finish. He needed two additional points to maintain his Gold status. So he was gunning for an X-4 or better at GP Tampa, which is a manageable goal and something he has met or exceeded many times, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t stressed about getting it. The thought of having to pay for flights to Mythic Championships when the next two are both overseas is quite the intimidating. Not to mention losing his third bye.
I was stuck at the top of the Gold level bracket with 50 points, I’d used all 12 of my slots and my minimum slot was a two point finish. I would need a four pointer to make that push into Platinum. At a GP that requires going X-2 or better or which puts you in Top8, a pretty lofty expectation. I have 8 GP Top 8s, I assume I’ve played about 80 GPs, which puts me at around 10 per cent to achieve this goal based on my career results.
So when I booked Tampa, I knew my back was up against the wall for Platinum. Especially with Izzet Phoenix having such a big target on its back.
Luck was on our side that faithful weekend though.
Both Shaheen and I made it into the Top 8 of the GP. Shaheen had previously had a top four in a team GP, but this was his first individual GP Top 8. An amazing accomplishment for most players and something he was beyond due for as he had gotten the unlucky side of the stick in many many win and ins before Tampa. This of course locked up both of our goals for the weekend.
As far as pro players chasing points, this was about as much of a cinderella story as I could manage. We were ecstatic.
It was a long journey to Platinum and it was only made possible by running hot as the sun to win two different GPs:
Grand Prix New Jersey in the fall was Standard, I was sporting one of the earlier versions of Jeskai Control at the event. Many players were playing Golgari Carnage Tyrant and Boros Angels was the breakout deck for the pross at that event. Lucky for me both of those were great matchups and I got to be the only undefeated player in the room after 12 rounds. This started me down my path to where I am now.
In January, this time in California I had the jump on Modern. After watching some coverage and play-testing Arclight Phoenix online, I quickly concluded it was the top contender for Modern. Everyone else seems to have come around to the same conclusion since then as half the Top 8 in Tampa was on Arclight and it won the GP overseas that last weekend as well.
Those first place finishes secured eight points each and my team did pretty well at Pro Tour 25 to secure another large point finish. After that I still needed to use all 12 of my open slots filled with mostly three point or higher finishes to attain Platinum.
It’s not an easy feat unless you have one really solid performance at a Pro Tour and even then, many players still have a hard time reaching it. I’m kind of sad they’re doing away with the levels for next year, but I’m hopeful they know what they are doing and they will give us something great in its place. They’ve told us a little about the new system, but you never really know with Wizards.
It’s hard to bemoan anything when you’ve just reached Platinum, but I do wish they were still doing the players cards. I think it was Alexander Hayne that put it best: “I can’t think of a worse money/equity to sadness ratio for Wizards to do away with”. I mean I am glad I won an invitational and have my own token, but getting both was definitely a feather in the cap I was aiming for a couple years ago. That said, I think it is important to recognize one’s own accomplishments, be proud of attaining them, and then reassess what comes next. I’m still working on that part for myself. I’ve been averse to beginning streaming without knowing what kind of free time the future holds for myself. I know I probably should be getting setup to do so and that it probably holds the most lucrative future for myself in this profession.
Speaking of journeys I want to highlight the journeys of some of my other teammates as well. Morgan McLaughlin making Platinum status is no small feat, with some impressive runs at back to back Pro Tours. He did not even use up all 12 of his open slots to get there! Edgar was in the Silver pro status range and he decided to travel to a few extra GPs, had a couple Top 8’s to clinch the Gold status he was chasing.
Edgar is really been making a name for himself and already has quite the reputation as the Amulet expert in Modern. Pete Ingram came off the design team bench and immediately crushed a GP and then went X-4 at the first Mythic Championship! (I still want to call them Pro Tours). Gabriel Nassif needs no introduction as one of the leading Pro Tour Top 8 finishers in the history of the game, but he also recently decided to crush a GP with Mono-Blue in Standard and get a nice second place finish (I’m convinced he threw the finals so that he wouldn’t show up my first place run in Jersey).
We’ve come a long way together this year and for me it’s been an amazing ride to be a part of. I hope that this success can be replicated in the coming months together. We’ve all reached our goals and secured our pro status for the next two Mythic Championships. The sky’s the limit for Team Face to Face Games.
Top 8, GP Tampa, Izzet Phoenix – Eli Kassis