Magic is an individual pursuit. Sure, there are a few formats where you play as a team but for the most part it’s you and your opponent. Mana et Mana. That’s cool though. That’s what we signed up for. We like that feeling of beating an opponent using our individual skill and cunning. That’s just how it is… except that it’s not.
The first time I experienced being part of a team was when my LGS Cheap Thrills ran a GPT event for the Manchester GP. We had an influx of gamers from another store. It was great to see my local shop so full of geeks. One of the judges told me he got down to the shop very early to set up and went to grab breakfast at McDonalds. Whilst he was in the queue he heard a table discussing banding and flanking, and looked over to find a large number of players he didn’t recognise. He saw a gang united for a common purpose. They had come to win, or at least top eight.
At the shop, it was like that big party from school where you seek out the familiar faces. The locals all hung around in groups of twos and threes, chatting about spoilers, (I can’t actually remember if we were but we nearly always are so it’s a good guess.), sizing up the incomers. As the games began and the results came in, I became aware how important it felt to me that our shop should make a good showing.
Thankfully, round after round we celebrated the shop’s successes and consoled our fallen comrades. It was a great day and by the time the cut for the top 8 came we had five local players in there, one of whom was my nine year old son. Eventually a worthy winner was crowned but the good natured ‘Us vs Them’ battle that had played in the shop that day left a lasting impression on me.
That team spirit has only grown with each higher REL event I have attended. GP Manchester saw us form a more competitive group within our larger group. We were able to be more competitive with each other than might be expected at FNM. We tested and studied, we messaged each other with tech, we lent out cards, and we made ourselves a unit. But more than that, WE GOT T-SHIRTS!
Sure, when we are actually at events we are in an singular battle with our opponents. But the team is a resource and a comfort, the guys you look for after getting up from the table. A quick nod or shake of the head when one of your teammates is still in their game to let them know how you did. It’s a nice feeling to have, having people around you who understand how awful it was that your opponent top decks into his only answer or how brilliant it was that you drew a god hand in game three.
There is a buzz about as these away days approach. We live on an island so any higher REL event involves a very early morning and a ferry ride. Last time we went to an event it was a WMCQ. As we sat on the boat one of our group checked his phone.
“Onslaught fetches are back.” he stated, and with that we were off. Seven friends talking about their application in standard and their effect on the price of Zendika fetches. This just adds to the excitement we feel when we are on our way to compete.
I’m sure you have all travelled to events with your friends. No matter how informal your team there is still the feeling that we are all doing the same thing. Our hobby. Geeks united under a common cause.
Every team has their characters. Rules Guy. He might be a judge or just a lover of precision. He probably does not appreciate your use of the word ‘fizzle’. Spike, the one everybody hopes makes top 8 because deep down they know he has the skill. Danny the Drop and Side Event Sally. These guys don’t get hung up on playing all the rounds in the main event, they just want to maximise their levels of fun. The Rook. That’s probably me. I’m playing every round, even when I’m 1-X at the end of the day. Trader Joe. He probably didn’t even enter the event. He just needs four more cards to finish his blinged out EDH deck.
Somewhere in there you can find a bit of who you might be at these events.
At quite a few of these events I’ve bumped into those folks that originally came to our shop for the GPT. It’s good to see them. Whilst not part of our team, I still ask them what their record is. I like to hear they are doing well. Of course if they ever come back to my shop I hope they get crushed.