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MTG Pro Tutor - Insights, Tips & Advice from Magic: The Gathering Pros

MTG Pro Tutor is a top rated Magic: The Gathering podcast and here's why: professional Magic players and community notables share their origin stories twice a week (Tue & Fri) and impart actionable tips you can use the next time you sit down to play. Learn from the wealth of experience they've built through hours of practice and playing against hundreds of opponents and start seeing improvements in your own skill right away. Don't you hate feeling like you play and play and don’t improve? Surrounding yourself with better players is the best way to level up and the MTG Pro Tutor podcast is your way of doing that. Subscribe if you want to take your Magic: The Gathering skills to the next level while hearing cool stories and getting actionable advice from the biggest names in the Multiverse.
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Now displaying: October, 2015
Oct 30, 2015

Hannes Kerem is an up and coming Magic: The Gathering star who has 2 Grand Prix top 8s and 1 Pro Tour top 8 on his record. Hannes' expertise is in Limited and he is from Estonia!

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Hannes Kerem when he shared his story on MTG Pro Tutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep39

First Set

Onslaught

Onslaught

Favorite Set

Lorwyn

 

Lorwyn / Morningtide

Favorite Card

I need your help! I was a poor host on this one and didn't actually catch the card Hannes mentioned. If you figure it out please tell me.

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

The competitive scene and draft.

Early Challenge

Deck construction.

Level Up Moment

Going 6-0 in Limited at his second Pro Tour Qualifier is when Hannes noticed his skill had improved.

Proudest Magic Moment

Winning Nationals in 2008.

Best Format

Limited

How to Choose a Standard Deck

Hannes trusted the advice of his friends and then tested. 

If you aren't confident in choosing a deck, ask someone who is more knowledgeable then you.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

People don't stick to 40 card Limited decks.

Keep your emotions in check. Don't say "Oh my gosh I drew a land again!!"

Emotions betray your hand and intentions. Stay stone faced and gain a slight edge.

Card Evaluation Tips

Compare new cards against ones you've encountered before.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Always play 40 cards.

Sealed: Look at your cool rares and build your deck around them.

Draft: You only get one pack from the left. Don't worry too much about screwing up their draft.
Hannes puts more weight on his first pick then most players and tries to stick with it. 

How to Effectively Play Test

Play a lot of Magic. In person or online, it doesn't matter, as long as you play a lot.

You need to know your deck inside and out so you give yourself the best chance of winning.

Keep detailed notes. Who went first, who won, etc...

Improvement Suggestions

Mono red is always a deck and often times good. It's a great way to break into Standard. Once it's built, just stick with it. 

Magic Resource

Channel Fireball

Connect With Hannes

Twitter: @Hanneskerem

Hannes on Facebook

Like What You Hear?

If you like the show, head on over to iTunes and leave an honest Rating & Review.

Let me know what you like and what I can do better so I can make the show the best it can be and continue bringing you valuable content.

I read every single one and look forward to your feedback.

5 Star Rating

Oct 27, 2015

Lee Shi Tian has 5 Grand Prix Top 8s and is the Champion of Grand Prix Birmingham (2008) he has also made the Top 8 at 4 Pro Tours. He lives in, and joins us from, the tallest city in the world, Hong Kong, China.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Lee Shi Tian when he shared his story on MTG Pro Tutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep38

First Set

Odyssey

Odessey

Favorite Set

Shards of Alara

Shards of Alara

Favorite Card

Vendilion Clique

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

Shi Tian love that there are lots of interaction and synergy between cards and that the games is refreshed every time a set comes out.

He also enjoys the people reading part of Magic too. Looking for tells when playing against an opponent is fun for him.

Early Challenge

Being a Professional gamer is not highly regarded in Hong Kong so Shi Tian was constantly asked "When are you going to get a real job?" from those around him. Until he made Platinum it was a constant challenge standing up to the pressures.

Level Up Moment

After Shi Tian's first Pro Tour Top 8 Wizards unbanned Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle which allowed Shi Tian to play the Scapeshift deck.

Shi Tian also joined with Taiwanese player Kuo Tzu-Ching, who was on the winning team of first ever World Magic Cup, to form the team MTG Mint Card. 

This period of his career was full of growth and level ups for him.

Proudest Magic Moment

Top 8 at Pro Tour Honolulu.

The Pro Tour was during a tumultuous time for Hong Kong and Lee Shi Tian was proud to bring attention to the issues his countrymen were facing.

Best Format

Draft & Modern

How to Choose a Standard Deck

Players at Grand Prix are much more diverse so Shi Tian plays the safest deck. The one with the best results.

For Pro Tours he tries to surprise the field because the format is relatively undiscovered by that point.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Limited: You should know your game plan and always track the game tempo. Know your role for the match up. Are you the aggro player or the player with inevitability?

Card Evaluation Tips

Review the spoiler several times and identify supported archetypes.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Evasion is Shi Tian's secret. 

Get lots of cards with flying.

Draft: Remember the 3 best cards in the pack. Do that with every pack to get a feel of what color people are in.

To "read the draft" you should identify the best commons in each color. You see commons more and it's easier to pick up on what is open if you track the commons.

Always draft a good curve.

Team Building

Teams are great because when you're going solo you don't have time to play every deck. Team mates help round out your knowledge.

How to Effectively Play Test

Know your meta game. What's going on locally and how can you beat it. As you scale up change your side board accordingly.

Improvement Suggestions

Watch videos online to pick up on the latest strategies.

Read articles.

Magic Resource

MTG Mint Card

Star City Games

Channel Fireball

Connect With Shi Tian

Twitter: @leearson

Like What You Hear?

If you like the show, head on over to iTunes and leave an honest Rating & Review.

Let me know what you like and what I can do better so I can make the show the best it can be and continue bringing you valuable content.

I read every single one and look forward to your feedback.

5 Star Rating

 

Oct 23, 2015

Joel Larsson keeps busy working as a Pro Magic player, writing articles, streaming and traveling. He has 3 Pro Tour top 16s, 1 Pro Tour win, 1 Pro Tour 2nd, 5 Grand Prix Top 8s, and many Grand Prix Top 16s. Joel has been the Swedish Captain 3 times and was on the Nationals Team under the old system. He is 23 years old and lives in Stockholm with his lady, Sandra. 

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Joel Larsson when he shared his story on MTG Pro Tutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep37

First Set

SaviorsKamigawa

 

Saviours of Kamigawa

Favorite Set

Time Spiral

 

Time Spiral

Innistrad

 

Innistrad

Favorite Card

Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

The social aspect kept Joel around in the early days but now it's the thrill of the competition.

Early Challenge

Joel had to get to the point where he could trust his gut about cards. He only got to that point by putting in a lot of time and playing on MTGO, testing decks and honing his skills.

Level Up Moment

Joel's breakthrough in Paris 2011 took him to the next level

Proudest Magic Moment

Winning Pro Tour Magic Origins

Best Format

Commander (1v1. Not multiplayer.)

Tasigur, the Golden Fang is Joel's Commander.

Check out Joel's article, Competitive EDH is Awesome, on MTG Mint Card.

How to Choose a Standard Deck

Joel follows the progression of the meta game and thinks about what will beat what just did well, and then plays a deck that beat that.

Side boarding: Think of your deck as a 75 card deck. Then take out the 15 cards to be your side board.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Grinding just to grind and losing the fun of Magic. Also, playing with the same people and not reaching out to play with people better than you.

Card Evaluation Tips

The first thing Joel does is compare new cards to cards that are already printed. For example, [card]Ruinous Path[/card] and [card]Heroes Downfall[/card].

Joel will also consider older cards that haven't seen much play and if they are relevant now that a new set is out.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Sealed: Joel looks for removal and what colors give him 14-16 creatures.

Drafting: Draft a lot and form your own ideas about the format. This will help guide your draft. Focus on your curve and prioritize removal.

Tournament Preparation

Look at the last tournament in the format that you will be playing and look online for MTGO results and get a feel for the field. Then build a deck that beats those.

Improvement Suggestions

Proxying cards is a great way to inexpensively practice.

Magic Resource

MTG Mint Card

Twitch.tv/JoelLarsson

Connect With Joel Larsson

Twitter: @JoelLarsson1991

Like What You Hear?

If you like the show, head on over to iTunes and leave an honest Rating & Review.

Let me know what you like and what I can do better so I can make the show the best it can be and continue bringing you valuable content.

I read every single one and look forward to your feedback.

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Oct 20, 2015

Ross Merriam is a writer for Starcitygames.com and is a Silver Level Pro with 2 Grand Prix Top 8s, 2 Star City Games Invitational Top 8s and 3 Star City Games Open Wins. Ross lives in Connecticut.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Ross Merriam when he shared his story on MTG Pro Tutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep36

First Set

Odyssey

Odessey

Favorite Set

Time Spiral

Time Spiral

Favorite Card

Vendilion Clique

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

The competitive scene and the people.

Being a rather competitive person Ross enjoys the challenge of tournaments and consistently placing in big events. He also appreciates that he's met so many cool people through Magic: The Gathering.

Early Challenge

Not understanding what cards were good in a competitive setting versus when playing with your friends at home was tough for Ross at first. People at his local game store took him under their wing and taught him the ropes.

Level Up Moment

The growth and changes he experienced at college greatly contributed to Ross' Magic abilities.

Specifically he developed his analytical skills, communication skills and humility.

Proudest Magic Moment

Going 13-2 with an Elves deck at a Legacy Grand Prix in New Jersey. He navigated a field of decks that should have beaten Elves and got back on the Pro Tour.

Favorite Format

Pauper Cube

How to Choose a Sideboard

How your opponent plays is one of the least relevant factors when determining how to sideboard. Ross considers the match up and what their list looks like.

Ross has an idea of 2-3 cards he will side board against each match up.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Holding lands as a bluff.

If you're holding a card in your hand for several turns your opponent will know it's nothing special. Balance the bluff with the benefit of having the card on the field.

Card Evaluation Tips

For a fall set that initiates a rotation, keep in mind the powerful shells from the previous format and rebuild your understanding from scratch.

When evaluating a set that come out in the middle of a format, look for cards that push existing archetypes.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Sealed: Do cards have more tactical or strategic synergy? Look for cards that lead to an overall goal.
Avoid even numbers in your mana base because it causes the most variance in your draws.

Tournament Preparation

Have friends with similar goals. If your friends want to get cards signed their focus is vastly different than if they want to make a run for day two of the GP.

How to Effectively Play Test

Always take time to decompress and talk about your play session at the end of the day. Discussion

Improvement Suggestions

Reading articles and talking about them with others is a great way to improve on a budget, as is watching coverage.

Play test on cockatrice.

Magic Resource

Stat Trek

Cockatrice

Star City Games

Paulo Vitor articles

Reid Duke articles

Luis Scott-Vargas articles

Connect With Ross Merriam

Twitter: @RossMBoss

Like What You Hear?

If you like the show, head on over to iTunes and leave an honest Rating & Review.

Let me know what you like and what I can do better so I can make the show the best it can be and continue bringing you valuable content.

I read every single one and look forward to your feedback.

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Oct 16, 2015

Andrea Mengucci is a cultured Italian man who has made it to the Top 16 in one Grand Prix as well as the Top 16 and Top 8 in two Pro Tours. We will definitely see more of him in the years to come.

Click to Tweet: I learned how to mulligan from Andrea Mengucci when he shared his story on MTG Pro Tutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep35

First Set

Champions Kamigawa

 

Champions of Kamigawa

Favorite Set

Innistrad

 

Innistrad

Favorite Card

Bloodbraid Elf

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

You always have changing formats. From tournament to tournament the decks change drastically even though the cards in the set are the same.

Early Challenge

Keeping bad hands was Andrea's early challenge. Just because you have a good spell, if you have one land you can't keep the hand.

Learn how to mulligan to overcome this. In Limited your hand is the main concern in whether you mulligan or not. In Constructed, the match up is the main factor in your mulligan decision.

Level Up Moment

Finding someone who was at the next level and playing with him constantly helped Andrea improve.

He also watched tons of videos and learned from the pros and won a PTQ because of it.

Proudest Magic Moment

Making it to the Top 8 of Pro Tour Atlanta.

Andrea took control of the situation and asked Mike Sigrist if he could room with and practice with him for the Pro Tour. This friendship has helped Andrea grow.

Best Format

Standard.

The best results go to the player who practices the most. Follow the decks every week to stay ahead of what's going on.

How to Choose a Standard Deck

Look at the decks that performed well recently and brainstorm their weaknesses. Consider what deck is best positioned to exploit those weekends.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Not knowing when to mulligan.

Showing up with the wrong deck.

Watch your opponent. Do they think a lot during combat? That could mean a combat trick. Likewise, even if you don't have a trick you should take a few seconds before passing priority so your opponent thinks you have a trick.

Card Evaluation Tips

First, lay out your decks and identify which cards can be strictly replaced by new cards. (This applies to all formats; Standard, Modern etc...)

Then identify powerful cards in the new set that are build arounds and build every Standard deck around that card that you can.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Pre-release: At a pre-release play your rares, even if they aren't that amazing, so you can try them out and see what they do. The pre-release is not a big tournament that Andrea says "I need to win". He just wants to test new cards.

Draft: Don't pass a great card just because there are other good cards in that color. In fact, if you do that and that color doesn't come back that means that you know how many other players at the table are in that color.

Take the best card regardless of color but lean more towards the color of your first pick.

How to Effectively Play Test

Know your opponent's deck list and play around what they have. Track deck lists and identify the cards that always appear in a certain archetype and know them cold.

Playing with people in real life is better than playing online. When possible, go to your local game store and draft with real people.

Improvement Suggestions

When you're first getting in, pick a deck and stick with it. As new sets come out just get the pieces you need in your colors. 

Magic Resource

Channel Fireball

Andrea Mengucci's Mana Base Article

Mana Base Article v2.0

Connect With Andrea

Twitter: @Mengu09

Like What You Hear?

If you like the show, head on over to iTunes and leave an honest Rating & Review.

Let me know what you like and what I can do better so I can make the show the best it can be and continue bringing you valuable content.

I read every single one and look forward to your feedback.

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Oct 13, 2015

Zvi Mowshowitz has 9 Grand Prix top 8s including winning Grand Prix New Orleans. He has 4 Pro Tour top 8s including being the champion of Pro Tour Tokoyo in 2001. He was inducted into the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame in 2007. Zvi was born and raised in New York City.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Zvi Mowshowitz when he shared his story on MTG Pro Tutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep34

First Set

Revised

The Dark The Dark (first booster pack)

 

Favorite Set

Innistrad

Limited: Innistrad

Favorite Card

Jayemdae Tome

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

The people he's met and the friends he's made. Zvi met his best friend through Magic as well as a business partner for one of his ventures.

Zvi also loves that Magic is constantly changing. 

Early Challenge

Age and travel distance were an obstacle for Zvi early on. Thankfully his parents trusted a fellow player (who was older) and allow him to take Zvi to tournaments that were further away.

Level Up Moment

Zvi's first Pro Tour (during Tempest block) where he realized he was actually good and could swing it with the big guys is when Zvi started taking his training seriously.

Proudest Magic Moment

Winning Grand Prix New Orleans

Best Format

Block Constructed

How to Choose a Standard Deck

If you want to dominate your local scene, stick with one deck. If you want to really improve, play with a lot of different decks so you learn how they play and how to beat them.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Always play to win.

HOWEVER, don't ever feel like your time and energy was wasted if you lose.

Walk away from every event asking two questions: Did I learn something? Did I enjoy it?

Have a growth mindset. Say "today will not be a waste, and in order for it to not be a waste I have to learn something." 

Failure to identify the key resources in any given game is the biggest mistake Zvi sees players make. 

Who has inevitability? A lot of people just play and don't have a plan and don't track who has inevitability to win?

Mid-level players often play around things that they either can't play around or shouldn't play around.

Card Evaluation Tips

Wait until the full spoiler comes out before evaluating the set for Limited.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Sealed: What are your amazing cards? Focus on having a good curve of good cards. Generally you want two colors with early drops and a reasonable curve.

Avoid the devil's mana base. (6/6/6 lands)

Draft: If what you pass to your left is not a bomb, just remember the color and don't waste brain space on memorizing the exact card.

Tournament Prep & Team Building

Find people that you get along well with and test with them.

Travel together and split a room (for cost reasons).

Improvement Suggestions

Watch others draft. Have others watch you and give you feedback. Proxy up decks. Play online for repetitions.

Magic Resources

Cockatrice

Magic Online

Channel Fireball

Star City Games - Great tournament circuit

Connect With Zvi

Twitter: @TheZvi

Like What You Hear?

If you like the show, head on over to iTunes and leave an honest Rating & Review.

Let me know what you like and what I can do better so I can make the show the best it can be and continue bringing you valuable content.

I read every single one and look forward to your feedback.

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Oct 9, 2015

Justin Cohen is the 2015 Rookie of the Year and has started topping the charts by making it into one Pro Tour top 8.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Justin Cohen when he shared his story on MTG Pro Tutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep34

First Set

Fourth Edition
(This set had no symbol)

Favorite Set

Modern MastersModern Masters

Limited is Justin's favorite format so Modern Masters was  his favorite because it had a very deep Limited format.

Favorite Card

Gaea's Cradle

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

Drafting. Plain and simple, Justin LOVES to draft.

Early Challenge

Finding others to play with was hard as a young player. On top of that he had to find players better than himself so he could improve. Whenever Justin identified someone he could learn from he would gravitate towards them and soak in all he could.

Level Up Moment

From Theros to Khans was Justin's biggest growth spurt. He avidly consumed content and by knowing more he made better decisions.

Proudest Magic Moment

Making Top 8 at Pro Tour Fate Reforged in 2015.

Best Format

Draft.

How to Choose a Standard Deck

Take up a deck that minimizes your opponents advantage. Justin will likely play a fast deck because Standard is not his strength and limiting the time a superior Standard player has to gain control is advantageous for him.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Getting their priorities mixed up. People say they want to improve but then default to protecting their ego. Too many people ascribe luck to their loses instead of internalizing what they did wrong.

Card Evaluation Tips

Justin needs the whole picture and waits for most of the cards to be released before he sifts through them.

He looks for trends in the size of creatures and trends in removal quality. Justin also will consider the archetypes being supported.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Sealed: Justin looks for flexibility. Try to construct multiple decks with your pool. Register your best deck but constantly reevaluate and sideboard aggressively to combat your opponents strategy.

Too make this work you should sleeve your entire pool and pay close attention to what you take out and put in.

Draft: Remember 2 things: what you expect to be taken for the 3-4 picks after you, then look at the next set of good cards so you know what's likely to come back.

Keep a mental tally of your mana curve.

Team Building

You want people who are not afraid to be wrong and who aren't afraid to throw out ideas. Surround people who complement your skill set.

Improvement Suggestions

Build a set specific cube to learn the interactions between cards and for a way to practice that's easy on the wallet.

Magic Resource

Star City Games

Channel Fireball

Connect With Justin

Twitter: @trippdup

Like What You Hear?

If you like the show, head on over to iTunes and leave an honest Rating & Review.

Let me know what you like and what I can do better so I can make the show the best it can be and continue bringing you valuable content.

I read every single one and look forward to your feedback.

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Oct 6, 2015

Frank Karsten was inducted into the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Fame in 2009 after putting up impressive results and contributing greatly to the Magic community. He has 3 Pro Tour top 8s and 6 Grand Prix Top 8s! He is a writer for ChannelFireball, has a PhD in stochastic operations research and game theory and is a member of the EU Grand Prix coverage team. He lives in Eindhoven Netherlands.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Frank Karsten when he shared his story on MTG Pro Tutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep32

First Set

Tempest set symbol Tempest

 

Favorite Set

Champions Kamigawa Kamigawa block

(because the Kamigawa block constructed was great)

Favorite Card

Gifts Ungiven

What makes Magic fun for you?

Frank loves the creative and puzzle solving outlet Magic provides as well the opportunity to travel the world and make wonderful friends.

Early Challenge

Frank had to convince his parents and teachers as a 16 year old that going to his first Pro Tour in New York City was a good idea. He successfully did this.

One year later, as a 17 year old, he was back in New York City on September 11, 2001! Thankfully he had a friend that he made through Magic that he could stay with as he waited for the airports to open again.

Level Up Moment

Grasping the concept of tempo opened Frank's mind to a new way of playing Magic.

Tempo is using less mana than your opponent to affect the board. Killing a creature with a cheaper costing removal spell is a good tempo play.

Damage clocks also plays into tempo.

Proudest Magic Moment

Being inducted into the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame

Best Format

Block Constructed is a pet favorite of Frank's but today his best format is Limited.

Current Standard Deck

Aggro decks are Frank's go to as of late, but he started out as a control player.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Too many players blame luck for their losses instead of considering their misplays.

Also, too many players don't have a plan. They just make random plays.

Frank has seen so many players build their deck with terrible mana bases. It's an easy fix. Talk to people better than you and browse the internet for good resources.

Evaluation Tips

Frank evaluates a new set once all of it has been released.

He compares new cards to similar, base line cards from previous sets to see if they are good for Limited.

Baseline: 2/2 creature for 2 mana; 3/2 or 2/3 creature for 3 mana; 4/3 or 3/4 creature for 4 mana. If stats are worse than this you should expect some kind of upside. If they fall short and don't have upside then the card is probably not good.
Four mana or less removal spells are really good in Limited.

Cards that cost 3 mana or less and lands see the most play in Constructed.

Limited Tips

Sealed: Two color decks do better in Sealed because you will have a more consistent mana curve. A good rule of thumb is to have four 2 drops, five 3 drops, three 4 drops, three 5 drops, 8 spells and 17 lands.

Look for two colors that will get you close to this mix.

Drafting: Frank developed the first pick order list and still makes one today for each new set. It serves as a starting guide line when he's drafting.

Beginner Draft Tip: Pick you colors early and stick with those throughout the draft.

Play Testing

Communicate with teammates. Build in time for discussion so everyone can benefit and improve.

Improvement

To get better at Magic you should expect to invest some amount of Magic. Like tennis, where you need a racket to play, you have to have cards to play at a tournament.

You can have a friend over and play online and then discuss the game so you can get better.

Active discussion is key no matter what format you are studying.

Interview Links

Channel Fireball

Draft Sim

Magic: The Gathering Online (MTGO)

Connect With Frank

Twitter: @karsten_frank

Like What You Hear?

If you like the show, head on over to iTunes and leave an honest Rating & Review.

Let me know what you like and what I can do better so I can make the show the best it can be and continue bringing you valuable content.

I read every single one and look forward to your feedback.

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