Or how I did 9-2 in the Mythic Point Challenge and 9th at the MagicFest Online
Let’s start with the title, for the one of you that doesn’t know this Latin saying the meaning is “a healthy mind in a healthy body” and express the theory that physical exercise is an important or essential part of mental and psychological well-being.
I know what you might think is that this does not apply to everyone, but you should reconsider that. This article is inspired by another (written by a certified personal trainer and great Magic player) that was talking also about this factor that is mostly ignored by most of the players.
Now take in consideration that theoretically good result in Magic are mostly affected by three main factors with an approximate percentage division, those factors are: preparation, skill and luck.
Now I would like to focus on the preparation over the other 2, but a little digression about skill and luck as well I think is needed.
Lets talk “briefly” about Skill
Skill is by definition the capacity to play at a level that might be considered above average as a player or anyway have a good level of play. You are not necessarily an old date player but maybe you have the capacity to focus on the game more than others and you see more game lines that will bring you to victory. Imagine that some people have edges on different sides of the game, like some players can read your body/facial tells (obviously this apply only in IRL event) but yes that is a thing. This is just to contextualize, but there is a lot more if you go deep into it.
Luck aka the L factor
Luck I don’t think you really need a description of this, but I might let you think of some things that are actually indirectly luck. You can get paired against a very good match up, your opponent is tired and does an error that cost him the game (yes that’s luck, not your opponent being a bad player), opponent that mulligan into oblivion and don’t play the game. And in this digital era you can even put in various miss-clicks and disconnections of the opponent. Just a little example of massive luck, PVDDR (no discussion on how great as a player he is obviously) won the final of PT Kyoto because the opponent forgot to discard with Hazoret the Fervent before the attack (missing lethal) that is definitely luck for PVDDR that would have died if the opponent did not forget that.
Now we go to the point, Preparation
Preparation, now that we have a context we can talk about the main thing. The preparation is in my opinion composed by different aspects as: testing, reading and physical preparation (last but not less important).
In the title I mention 2 of my latest result/achievement and I’m going to explain how my preparation was.
Deck Choice/Technical preparation
I personally love Magic so I spend most of my free time on it, that said to prepare for the tournament the first thing I did was to test almost all the decks of the format for at least 3 or 4 matches to see what was convincing me the most, on the side of that I was reading some articles about the decks and I found an article about Rakdos Sacrifice (Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger version) written by an Italian guy I know and that usually play that kind of deck strategies very well, he was at the time the Standard trophy leader on MTGO with 12 trophies (to get a trophy on MTGO you have to go 5-0 in a league) that meant he was winning a lot with the deck.
So I started to play the deck on Arena to try it and in no time I was Mythic rank #25 so I decided to keep playing the deck testing in various tournament and as well with some trusted friends. Well I decided obviously to participate to the Channel Fireball MagicFest Online qualifier and after a couple unfortunate 4-2s I finally qualified for the Weekly championship. In all this process I played around 100 matches with the deck and still I was seeing new lines the more I was playing. That looks like an overwhelming number and maybe it is (that is time and dedication to the game) but that is only the point of the iceberg, I was qualified and I really wanted to play that tournament at the best. So I texted this friend asking if he was still playing the deck and if he found some things he wanted to change, we discussed a bit on the match ups and he suggested some changes to the sideboard. I was once a good deckbuilder, now I admit that I leave that aspect most of the time to people that do it better. You can find the decklist here https://www.streamdecker.com/deck/SAZUTTEp0
Ok, I know I kinda digressed again, but was to give you an idea of what “technical” preparation is for me, a good volume of matches with the deck you want to play (and if you can with the decks you aspect) so that you can find weak spots and angle of attack to win games, Magic is a game with a lot of small edges that can change the sort of a game! But as for the title the physical aspect is part of the preparation.
If you play every day 8 hours you are probably doing that match volume that I was saying before, but that might cause a burnout unless you are really used to it. There are some tips I suggest to consider: drink a lot of water, hydration is really important your performance depends on that as well, imagine playing a soccer game of 90 minutes without drinking water, well playing Magic for a day is not that different. Drinking water is IMPORTANT!
Eating well, now you would think “who’s this guy to tell me what to eat” and you are right, I’m not pretending that you change your habits because is not what I’m trying to do, but if you eat like a dragon at dinner most likely you feel sleepiness and heaviness, or at least most of the people does. If you have to play it’s probably better for you to eat something light that keep you body and mind going, but does not let you fall a sleep. Give it a try, does not cost a lot to it.
My last experience
In my case this was really important and effective because the MagicFest Online was starting at 8:00pm and was a 8 rounds tournament (and I started earlier the MPC that is 10 wins or 3 loss) so I was about to play a lot of Magic. I Started streaming that day around 4:00 pm with a match for an Italian tournament, then I played 2 matches of the MPC and said hello to everyone to go have a dinner before the “massacre”. So I definitely needed to have energy to play 8 rounds in the night on the computer and trying to explain my choices to my viewers, that said I know myself and if I had to much for dinner I would have felt drowse in about 2 round or even less, long story short I had a salad (not extremely rich but was ok for me, obviously eat what you know your body need) and a coffee. For the records I’m an Italian guy so I do like coffee and drinking, maybe too much, but that day I kept the coffee count to just 2, morning and afternoon.
Why that? Because if you give to much caffeine to your body you might get a “caffeine crash” where all the energy that the caffeine gave you become fatigue and affect your performance. But if you use caffeine properly you can get a light boost from it. I’m not suggesting to use caffeine, I’m not a medic but, I’m giving you an example. We all know that guy that in the morning drinks an X amount of energy drinks and think that’s going to work, well I discourage to do that. The best things to do are to try to get a nice good sleep at night, a decent meal for breakfast and lunch to keep the energy at a good level.
I know it’s hard to do that when you are around for MagicFests and you have to squeeze in a lunch between rounds, but try to stop by from a shop/supermarket the day before or on the way for the location and get something healthier than what you can find at the location, some fruit, dried fruits or ready salads. And while you are there buy the water (remember I said to stay hydrated?).
Now, you are most likely stuck at home so you have no excuse, try to eat well if you can.
Going back to the tournament, after the dinner I was at my desk feeling very well and ready to play, I will not talk about all the matches but I give you an overview of the whole thing, I started with the opponent that did not show up (big luck for me) so I played a match of the MPC and lost going 2-1, then it was time to play round 2 of the challenge and my pairing was vs Kvartek (a very good player in case you don’t know him) the decklists were open so I see that he play UW control with 3 Dream Trawler, so not an easy match up, but I was still fresh and a bit lucky, I win 2-0, there is a bit of time and I leave my desk, because I’m drinking a lot of water, round 3 pairings I see I have 4 points and not 6, well for the rush I forgot to submit the result and that is counted as a draw and there is no way to change it.
Keep focusing/don’t tilt
I admit I got a bit tilted because it was a silly error and easy to prove and fix but rules are rules so I had to take it, I watch the list of my opponent and they’re playing Temur Reclamation, that is a bad match up for me and that makes me tilting even more because all that was because I forgot to put the result and I was playing vs a deck that actually get a draw, my chat insist that I should focus and not tilt. I drink some water, cool down and play the best Magic I can, well the result is that I win that match and the following 3 playing some really cool matches.
Get a boost
Between rounds I play some matches of the MPC and eat a banana to get some energy, I lose the last 2 rounds of the championship to a bad match up and a mirror in which I drew lands and he drew Midnight Reapers (3 in a row) while both with oven/cat in play and the board stalled by that, well the deciding turn I drew land and he drew devil after digging 9 cards with the reapers. So I put this loss as a unlucky lost. At that point it was like 4:00 am and I was playing basically from 12 hours (with 1 hour dinner break) but I wanted so bad to finish the MPC so I made myself a coffee to get a boost and play 2 more hours, well I ended up at 6:12 am 9-2 with no more time to play the last game and tired. Total of 19+ matches played in 12 hours Earned 5 Mythic Points and to play the day 2 of the MagicFest Online.
Get some sleep and finish off
I’ll wake up in the afternoon and I decide to not open Arena till it’s tournament time, I relax a bit, do some workout (that helps to clear the mind). I felt really prepared for what I had to do, my chances of making top8 needed a perfect on the 6 rounds of the day 2 and yet I believed that I could make it, I had again a salad and some fruits for dinner and started playing.
After being on fire and winning 5 matches in a row I was really happy and made the counts on the standings, a draw was enough to lock the top 8, but my opponent was nearly 100% out with a draw so we had to play and he won, it was a mirror and I had really few choices that I could made differently so I knew there was only one chance to make top 8 anyway and was based on another “table” result. Did not happen and I ended up 9th and a bit disappointed but still managed to bring home a good result, some dollars and the invite to the Season Finals.
Again it was the middle of the night and I was tired but happy after all. I watched some of the matches of the top8 and went to sleep with a smile.
To simplify all the digression I made, the preparation was not only related to the game but also to the physical and mental form I needed to have to achieve that result. Think about it. I hope that all this can help and you enjoyed reading!
Stay strong and stay hydrated!
Saverio Quinto AKA Space Cowboy
Forgive my English, after all I’m still an Italian.