Know Yourself: Tournament preparation tips

Hello dear readers, and welcome to this week’s Know Yourself. A lot of what makes or breaks a magic experience on a tournament level is preparation. Many a magic player has lost at the hands of poor preparation, sleep, etc. So, in order to keep you from falling into the same pitfalls as the common player, here I have a list of tips and tricks in order to keep you on the path to victory, regardless of what round it is.


I know this sounds a lot like your parents ragging on you, but one cannot sustain oneself on carbonated sodas and coffee alone. A lot of the problem you encounter with fatigued players other than the actual actions they are taking that drain their energy, is lack of hydration. Drinking water is just a good decision for your own life overall, but it comes double when you are participating in something like an SCG open or a Grand Prix. Any long tournament will wear a player down, so a small edge like making sure you’re drinking water goes a long way. Speaking of which…


  1. SLEEP

Undersleeping is the BANE of tournament play. You hear stories of people staying up till 3am crafting the perfect list in order to dominate the tournament, but you rarely here stories of players taking that list all the way to 1st place. The reason there is that you should have done all that prep work well before hand in order to focus on the fun part of actually going to a tournament. Having the perfect 75 that  corners the meta is rarely that important if you’re a caffeine riddled grinder running on 4 hours of sleep about to squashed by someone who’s been playing the same list for 4 months and got 9 hours of sleep and had a full breakfast. You are human, so sleep! Resting for a tournament will increase your results more than any “grand discovery” of card choice will. I also know how enticing it is to go out to dinner and have some beers with friends before the tournament, or perhaps stay up playing videogames you brought with on the trip. If your goal is to win the tournament, I would resist that temptation. I will also roll in taking a shower and having a good breakfast in this as well. Just try to take care of yourself.


But let’s say you’re in that position where you just can’t seem to figure out your list. You are torn between two cards, you rack your brain, you don’t know what color to splash, and you don’t know which of 2-3 decks to sleeve up. You simply are just on the fritz as to what to do. In this situation, I ultimately just advise to making A decision, rather than spending two hours finding the “right” one. Chances are, the choices here will be so marginal that the better option is to make your call, and then get reps in. A player who discerned that control is the pick for the weekend within 15 minutes of the tournament starting is going to do much worse than the player who knows mono red may be 2nd or 3rd best in the meta right now, but is playing it regardless because they’re the most comfortable with that archetype. This is not unlike in business when you are making a product. Eventually, you must ship the product, and here, it is the same. Eventually, the tournament will start, and eventually, you must choose a deck. And finally….


  1. HAVE FUN!!!

I know that you have probably heard this a lot, but this is still a card game! There’s no point in participating in a tournament if you aren’t having fun and enjoying yourself. We do these things, play in tournaments, write articles, socialize, and build communities, for the love of the game. So I know that it may seem bleak when you sit down against an opponent at 6-2 in round 9, playing to make it to day 2, but that doesn’t permit rudeness to your opponent, or for your opponent to be rude to you. Try to be inviting, and try to have fun. If someone gets upset, just pin the blame on something else to de-escalate the situation. Magic: The Gathering is a wonderful, prolific game, so when you’re at a tournament, you’ll meet all kinds of people. So remember, whether at a GP or an FNM, have fun!

thanks so much for reading, and I’ll see you all next week!

-Forrest W.


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