Hello, and welcome to another episode of Raise Your Standards. The Core Set 2019 Store Championship is coming up at a store near you next week. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been looking forward to this tournament since the last round of Store Championship tournaments happened a few short months ago. There are things that I both love (competing for some awesome prizes) and hate (the pressure to do well as a way to prove my worth as a Magic player) about tournaments like this. Since I’ve already written about the decks I think have the best chances of winning this tournament in my article on CoolStuffInc.com, for my article here I’ll be giving you some tips to make sure you’re able to be at your best so you can bring home the Championship playmat.
Your Deck Choice
The first thing you need to decide is which deck you’re going to play. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve already written about the decks that I think stand the best chance of winning. However, the most important factor for you when determining what deck to play is going to be to find a deck that you enjoy playing. For me personally, I know I’m an aggro player. That means I stand a better chance of winning an event if I’m playing a deck in the style that I enjoy. Sure, I could have success with a different style of deck, but the first time I lose a match, I know my thoughts will be consumed with concern that I don’t know how to pilot the deck I’m playing correctly. By playing to my strength and going with an aggro deck, I can minimize those negative thoughts if I end up having a bad match and can focus more on how to correct things for the future.
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve gotten to practice with the deck by playing at least a few games with it. Often when I go to my local Friday Night Magic, I’ll end up playing a brand new deck that I just sleeved up the night before. Usually the first round of play is where I’ll learn some of the intricacies of the deck. Often I will end up making a misplay and losing a game or match. That’s okay when playing at FNM, but when there’s a Championship playmat on the line, it’s much better to be very familiar with the ins-and-outs of your deck.
In order to make sure I know specifically which cards are in my main deck and which are in my sideboard, I often find it helpful to write out a decklist by hand, much like I would do if I were entering a much larger tournament. I find that the physical act of writing the card names helps me remember exactly which cards are in the main deck and which are in the sideboard. That knowledge helps between matches so that I can easily reset my deck to its original configuration.
For me, as the tournament progresses it becomes more and more difficult for me to not focus on my standing in the tournament. And when I know that I need to win the next round or I won’t make the cutoff for the top eight, I begin to get very nervous. To help combat this, in between matches I try to step away from the tournament area and clear my head. Occasionally I’ve listened to music to help get myself back to true neutral. Even stepping outside for 30-seconds and getting some fresh air helps. The pros will tell you to treat each match as if it’s just another game of Magic. While it’s hard to do, it becomes more possible if you manage to clear your head prior to each match.
The Night Before
Another thing you should do prior to playing in a tournament like this is to make sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before. I’m not really sure why, but this is something that I usually have trouble with. Invariably, some family event will be happening a day or two before an important tournament which will prevent me from being as rested as I would like. Or, if I am able to get to bed at a decent time the night prior to the tournament, the excitement makes it so that I have a hard time falling asleep. If you’re able to find something that helps you fall asleep consistently, make sure to do it the night prior to the tournament.
The final piece of advice I have for you is to stay hydrated while you’re at the event. Start the tournament by purchasing a bottle of water (or your favorite beverage) and make sure you take a few drinks from it after each game. If you know the tournament you’re playing in will be 8 or more rounds, you might also consider having a snack at some point, but skipping on hydrating is just asking for trouble. By staying hydrated, you’ll be able to think more clearly and make better decisions during a game. Plus, you won’t feel as exhausted at the end of the day.
For those of you that are playing in your local Store Championship this coming week, I wish you the best of luck. I’d love to hear what deck you end up playing. Let me know by leaving a comment. Or you can reply to me directly on Twitter (@mikelikesmtg), or email me directly at email@example.com. And, don’t forget to like our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MTGDeckTechs/) to be sure to be notified when a new article is posted.
Also, be sure to check out my articles every week on CoolStuffInc.com. I have a new article there every Friday as well. If you like the innovative decks I write about here each week, you’ll want to check out my articles there as well.
Be sure to join me back here next week for another installment of Raise Your Standards. I’ll see you then!
— Mike Likes
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