Sometimes I forget that Magic is a game. Sometimes I spike out and get obsessed with winning every single game, every match, every tournament. I am very used to success in MTG: I always do well at local tournaments, and I always make Day 2 of a Grand Prix. I always win.
Grand Prix Portland was a new experience for me.
Grand Prix Portland was a team sealed event, which sets me up to make all sorts of toxic, destructive, and unfair complaints like these:
My teammates held me back
My sealed pool was garbage
I deserve success more than they do
Both of my team mates performed extremely well at the GP, and I know better than to call them out for “holding me back.” John Torrez is an extremely skilled magic player, and Thomas Black is as skilled at magic as he is at breaking limbs. The thing is, nobody should ever blame their teammates for failing in team sealed.
Team sealed is all about one thing:
Having a fun time during a team sealed event is all about how your team works together. John, Thomas, and I talked over Facebook for a few weeks prior to the GP. We talked strategy, we told jokes, and we got to know each other. By the time we met up in Portland, we had the foundations of trust and friendship already built, and we were able to construct (pun intended) on this sturdy base.
We ended up opening a pretty average pool. I ended up marking down half of the rares on my deck-list sheet. Two of them were in the main, and four were in my sideboard. Notable rares in the sideboard were the 5 color Sliver Hivelord, an off-color dual land, and Crucible of Fire. Variance happens. Not every pool is amazing. We set out to do the best we could with the cards we were passed.
The most trying time for a team is during deck construction. I feel like most of our success was attributed to how well we worked together to open, sort, and evaluate the cards. We were joking around during deck construction, finding synergies, and coming up with strategies. We knew each others strengths and weaknesses, and we tried to fill those gaps with the decks themselves. We had a great time, despite having a mediocre pool.
The team one table over from us was quite the opposite. Two of the players were very hot-headed with each other, constantly vying for control of the deck creation. The other team member, presumably a newer player, was keeping quiet. In the end their deck construction was rushed, and the newer player ended up receiving a deck-list that he didn’t have a part in making and didn’t fully understand.
The toxic team ended up barely making Day 2 of the Grand Prix, and subsequently lost all of their matches on Sunday.
My team went 3-3 drop on Saturday, but I guarantee that we had more fun.
On Saturday night, we took a box of conspiracy and another team that dropped to a 24-hour hot cake house. We drafted, enjoyed delicious Portland coffee, and had strawberry pancakes with whipped cream and bacon. The only thing that was missing for me was Maple Syrup, but my American teammates didn’t seem to mind. I ended up going home with cheeks sore from laughter.
On Wednesday I was all alone in Portland.
On Sunday I was surrounded by new friends.
Is having fun with your friends more important than winning? Trick question.
Having fun with your friends is winning!
The team who fought all day did a little better at the tournament, but in the end their relationships were frayed, and in need of some soul mending. I walked through airport security knowing that I had made a personal connection with a dozen incredible magic players, and that John, Thomas, and I had become Triplicate Spirits. Portland was the most fun I have ever had playing Magic: the Gathering, and I didn’t even need to win.
Magic isn’t just a game. It’s a community.