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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: February, 2016
Feb 26, 2016

Jake Mondello is a 19 year old dedicated Magic player, clocking an impressive 10-14 hours a day on Magic Online. He has 2 Grand Prix top 8's in his record, one in Cleveland and the other in Quebec City. Currently chasing Silver level - and almost there with 14 Pro points this season. Jake lives in Connecticut.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Jake Mondello when he shared his story on #MTGProTutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep73

First Set

Champions Kamigawa Kamigawa

Favorite Set

Innistrad Innistrad

Favorite Card

Brainstorm

Early Challenge

Identifying which aspects of a Magic match were due to variance instead of his own mistakes was a difficulty Jake experienced early on in his career.

He felt unlucky and found it hard to determine what, if anything, he was doing wrong in matches. After a while Jake began to closely analyze his games and realize small mistakes he made, which helped define what elements of the game were out of his control.

Level Up Moment

After losing a PTQ he asked Mike Sigrist, who he had met at another tournament, to help go over his pick order and practice Drafting.

Over the course of a week they Drafted as much as they could along with Devon O’Donnell. When something interesting took place they would pause and discuss whatever aspect had cropped up, then proceed with their games.

Best Format

Limited

Heaviest Magic Moment

One of the heaviest losses Jake has experienced came at Grand Prix Miami.

He wanted to take a shot at qualifying for the Pro Tour, but ended up losing against Seth Manfield playing for Day 2. Jake says he punted, giving up an advantage he had that led to him losing the game. He attributes his mistake to “playing scared.”

While a difficult loss, this helped Jake learn to play to win instead of playing not to lose.

Proudest Magic Moment

Jake points to his first Top 8 at Grand Prix Cleveland as his proudest moment, but it comes tinged with a touch of disappointment.

He managed to take second place at the tournament, losing to Bill Tsang for First place. This was another match where Jake attributes his loss to playing scared, but it helped solidify his mindset of coming to tournaments to enjoy himself and have a good time with his friends. Dominating every tournament he goes to is an unrealistic point of view to maintain, and Jake has worked to keep that mindset in check.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Complaining about luck is a big mistake in Jake’s playbook.

He finds that the art of complaining distracts players from what they need to do in order to win the game. Once someone has allocated mental energy to complaining they have taken the first step towards giving up. Sometimes your opponent will draw everything they need in the perfect order, but sometimes you will too.

Don’t let one match define how you feel about your entire Magic career.

Best Way to Get Resources in Magic Online

Drafting can be higher risk when it comes to pumping real money into Magic Online.

If you are starting off low, Jake recommends playing a constructed format like Pauper to build up a collection first. The daily events and 8 man single elimination matches are some of the highest value. Having a friend that plays online can make it easier to procure good cards early on, as you can trade whole decks back and forth until you build up a proper collection.

What Has Magic Taught You About Yourself?

Magic has helped Jake develop a drive which enables him to go out into the world and strive to achieve his goals. As a recovering agoraphobic, Jake found that Magic was instrumental in being able to travel and live his life to the fullest.

What's in Your Tournament Bag

Pen & Paper

Deck

Deck Box

Player Cards for Tokens

Dice

Final Wisdom

Jake urges players to learn from every Magic experience they have, and to make sure they enjoy themselves while doing it.

Magic Resource

Gerry Thompson Articles

Channel Fireball 

Connect With Jake Mondello

Twitter: @JakeMondello

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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Feb 23, 2016

Jim Davis made 24th place at Pro Tour Prague in 2006, 8th place at Grand Prix Dallas in 2007, 33rd place at Pro Tour Honolulu in 2009, 2nd place at SCG Invitational Indianapolis in 2011, 3rd place at SCG Invitational Seattle in 2014 and is the Champion of SCG Open Indianapolis 2015 as well as the 1st place, gold trophy winner, undisputed champion of the SCG Players’ Championship 2015. Jim lives in Long Island NY.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Jim Davis when he shared his story on #MTGProTutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep72

First Set

 7th Edition

Favorite Set

OnslaughtOnslaught

Favorite Card

Fact or Fiction

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

Jim is drawn to the competitive aspects of Magic where he can analyze player’s mental states and the psychology behind playing. He finds that Magic is a great competitive game due its complexity and challenge, and the way it balances skill, excitement and chance.

Early Challenge

Jim didn’t see value in adopting other’s strategies and decks when he first started playing.

Popular decks were out of the question for him, and he found that it was damaging because good decks are good for a reason. There are lessons to be learned from those decks because players have studied and practiced for years in order to craft them. He now finds it beneficial to play established decks so he can understand how they operate.

Falling into the mindset of “I’m only this kind of player” is detrimental to evolving your style and philosophy as a Magic player.

How to Maintain a Positive Attitude

Shaping his attitude is a skill Jim has refined over the years. In reading The Mental Game of Poker, he was able to break down every aspect of who he was emotionally as a player.

Maintaining a Big-Picture mindset when it comes to tournaments helps keep him away from tilt, but it’s a process that starts long before any single event. Jim understands he has days where he is going to crush matches, and some where he is going to fall short. He focuses on trying to give himself the best chance to win while keeping a positive attitude, even if the results of his match don’t reflect his effort.

Heaviest Magic Moment

In the 2014 Players’ Championship Jim started off poorly and was placed in an elimination match. He won the first game, but in the second match he attacked prematurely and winded up getting his creature killed. He lost that round and the next one, which placed him out of the tournament.

It was difficult for him to have prepared all year long and then lose, on camera, in front of so many people. He re-watched that match before the next year’s Championship to remind himself to keep a positive outlook and a level head.

Proudest Magic Moment

Coming off his third round loss at the Players’ Championship, Jim practiced for an entire year to come back to the tournament in 2015 and win. He found the experience of taking that heavy loss and translating it into a tournament win was an incredibly surreal moment, one that was difficult to take in all at once.

He was humbled even more so by the opponents he beat, Brad Nelson and Todd Anderson, who invited him to an after party and even toasted to his victory.

Best Format

Legacy

What Would You Tell a New Legacy Player?

Jim finds that watching coverage, like live-streams can expose you to a lot of decks and how the function in the format. Since there is commentary on the streams players can understand what is happening more easily, and it acts as a crash course for the format by giving a bird’s eye view of the matches.

How to Effectively Prepare for a Big Event

2015 Players’ Championship: Jim went to every tournament he could attend and ended up qualifying for the event early in the year. He found it difficult to practice because the Players’ Championship switched to a 3 format event: Legacy, Modern, and Standard.

He focused on Standard the most since it was the Day 2 format, and his girlfriend kindly culled data from 6 months’ worth of tournaments so he could see what everyone had been playing that year.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Latching onto a one-sentence reason for why a player lost is a common mistake Jim sees being made. It keeps players from analyzing the dozens of other decisions they made in a match, some of which certainly contributed to their loss. He recognizes that it can be difficult to tease out all that information on your own, which is why he finds getting feedback from others so valuable.

Focus on what you can control.

What's in Your Tournament Bag

Card Binder

Stack of Cards: for last minute deck changes

Final Wisdom

Jim has noticed that players like to complain, which affects one of the most important aspects of Magic: Attitude. He challenges you to go to a tournament, and not say anything negative about something that was outside of your control. See how it feels.

Magic Resource

My Top 8 Cards: Jim Davis

Twitch: @JimDavisMTG

Legacy Weapon

Connect With Jim Davis

Twitter: @JimDavisMTG

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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Feb 19, 2016

Robert Wallerstein has played Magic for 13 years and made his first Grand Prix Top 8 in Mexico City 2016. He is mainly a drafter and bases his success on solid drafting fundamentals. He will make his first Pro Tour appearance in Madrid 2016. Robert is from Akron Ohio and has an amazing, uplifting Magic community.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Robert Wallerstein when he shared his story on #MTGProTutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep71

First Set

Odyssey Odyssey

Favorite Set

 Darksteel

Favorite Card

Woolly Thoctar

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

Robert enjoys how he can play Magic with his friends without having to resort to drinking for entertainment. But most of all he loves drafting and taking on the challenge of sitting down with 7 people while trying his best to beat them.

For Robert, it’s all about drafting the best he can and reading his opponent’s signals while trying not to give his own away.

Early Challenge

The fundamental rules of Magic tripped Robert up at first.

He never had a rule book that showed him the steps of a turn and how to play. Small rules can make for deep plays that go over new player’s heads.

Robert also stuck to big creatures when he first started, which made it easy for tempo spells to take him down. Playing with friends proficient in these spells helped show him how to balance his deck and move on from his full on beat down decks.

Level Up Moment

During Innistrad block Robert attended a GP in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry, which is an amazing venue for an event: think of a city housed in the pterodactyl cage from Jurassic Park 3.

Being unemployed at the time let him play a lot of Magic leading up to the event, and he managed to Day 2 for the first time. At the end of the GP he managed to rank higher than Jon Finkel, who was in his first Draft Pod, which helped Robert realize he could step up and progress in the competitive scene.

Proudest Magic Moment

While many players point to a personal achievement as their proudest moment, Robert instead points to the amazing Magic community he is a part of.

One of his long time Magic friends sadly took the community by surprise when he committed suicide years back. Robert’s community held several great memorial events which helped donate money to their friend’s family. For Robert, the feeling of helping and maintaining this tight knit community has been the best feeling to come out of Magic for him, even more so than making Top 8 at GP Mexico.

Heaviest Magic Moment

One year when Robert went to Gen Con, he left his backpack in the care of his friend and it ended up getting stolen.

He lost entire collections of cards and it was incredibly hurtful; those decks and collections were a reflection of him. He thought about quitting Magic then and there, but his friends and community helped keep him in the game by lending him cards they knew he was fond of.

Robert emphasizes that, while it may be awkward, you should really find out who out of your friends can be trusted to look after 5 thousand dollars worth of cards. He also recommends not bringing your entire collection to an event.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Robert finds that many players find it hard to slow down and focus on their plays and outs.

While you don’t want to be annoying by slowing down to a crawl, taking a few extra moments to consider your outs and how your cards can be played is tremendously beneficial. Robert sees players plateauing when it comes to thinking outside the box. Many players will play a card exactly how it’s meant to be played, but they don’t take the time to consider what other lines of play a card can open for them.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Sealed: Looking at your best cards and knowing what your best colors are some of Robert’s guidelines for Sealed. He finds that removal spells are key in most limited formats, as you are undoubtedly going to have to deal with sizable threats.

Draft: For Robert, success in Drafting comes down to card evaluation. Doing research to know what creatures are in a specific format and what spells you need to kill them are crucial. You need to be mindful of what cards you pass on as well, as that sends signals to everyone else as to what color you are playing to and what your weaknesses are.

For A New Draft Player: Robert's basic outline for a deck consists of 15 creatures, 8 non creatures spells and 17 lands. Know how many creatures and removal spells you have, because that will determine what you pick when it comes your time to draw.

What's in Your Tournament Bag

Sleeves

Dice

Pen

Paper

Sleeved Basic Lands

Improvement Suggestions

Robert finds that playing against more skilled players is a surefire way to hone your own skills.

While better players can be hard to find, Robert knows that most skilled players are more than happy to talk at events so long as they aren't wallowing through the aftermath of a bad beat.

Final Wisdom

Robert urges players to have fun with the game, and if you aren't having fun, then playing might not be worth it.

Magic Resource

Derium's CCG

Connect With Robert Wallerstein

Facebook: Robert Wallerstein

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

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Feb 16, 2016

Eric Freytag is the founder and CEO of PucaTrade.com. He’s been playing Magic since 1994, has 14 commander decks, and spends most of his MtG time brewing in Vintage, Legacy, and Modern.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Eric Freytag when he shared his story on #MTGProTutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep70

First Set

Mirage Mirage

Favorite Set

Battle for Zendikar Battle for Zendikar

Favorite Card

Crucible of Worlds

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

Eric believes Magic is the best game in the world thanks to its perfect blend of strategy, technique, deck building, and creativity. The community Magic has fostered is incredible, and he thinks this is because the game has so many facets and ways to play. Magic’s social scene and sitting down with friends to play the game in person is one of the most important aspects of the game for Eric.

Early Challenge

Deck building was a hurdle Eric had to overcome in his early days playing magic. Evaluating cards and making cuts causes a ripple effect through the rest of the 75 cards, and it took practice building lots of decks for him to understand that. Eric spent time identifying each card he liked, and then found cards relevant to his deck’s concept that were good to draw at any stage of the game. Looking for cards that stack is important for him, since you don’t want two of the same card if one of them will be useless if both are drawn.

How to Put Together a Commander Deck

Eric maintains a detailed spreadsheet of his cards where he organizes them based on their role and type. Next comes making columns for cards that pair well with each other and what type of situations they do well in. At some point making cuts becomes necessary, and you will have to get rid of some pet cards if they aren’t good in most situations. Be honest with yourself about if a card is going to synergize well with the deck concept you are working towards. Getting too attached to cards at this stage in a brew is something Eric finds dangerous. He looks at each card to see how many others it can combo well with, and loves when he finds ways for cards to come together and turn a disability in a match into an ability.

What Has Magic Taught You About Yourself?

Most of Eric’s personal growth in magic came from managing tilt. While he doesn’t feel incredibly competitive, he is emotionally invested in all his time spent trying to master the game with skill and creativity. If the deck he brewed doesn’t perform well, or he doesn’t pilot it right, he can definitely be thrown off balance. The feeling of personal failure is common to a lot of players when they play poorly. Eric sees managing tilt as not only an aspect of growing as a Magic player, but as improving as person. The best time Eric has had playing Magic is when he is having fun, even if he is not performing at his best.

How to Manage Tilt

Eric believes you can start right now, reading this sentence. Take a moment to acknowledge that at some point in the future you are going to mess up. You are going to fail at some aspect of Magic. Period. You might fail because of luck, because of bad drops, or because you played the wrong card. It happens to everyone, even the pros. You can mentally prepare for that moment now, and accept that the cards won’t be in your favor and that you’re going to make a mistake.

Best Format

Commander

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Eric finds tilt to be a major issue players face, and it’s an issue the player can directly control. A player can manage their reactions to what happens in a match. When players get dragged down by something that went wrong in the game they often stop paying attention. By controlling your reactions and staying engaged in the game your chances of pulling through to the end go up, even if it’s just a small amount.

What's a Non-Magic Related Activity That Has Helped You Play?

Eric found that Magic actually helped him with other activities. While he was a video editor he felt the same sense of creativity he got from building a Magic deck. Skills like knowing what cards to cut from his deck helped him take out unnecessary shots from the videos he was editing. Understanding his deck concepts worked in a similar way, letting Eric grasp what the overall vibe and aesthetic of his videos should be.

On Creating PucaTrade

Eric created PucaTrade based on how his playgroup traded cards and interacted with one another. The way they traded was personal and focused on giving rather than nickel and diming each other to death. This helped him realize that lots of players get trapped in their own way of playing Magic, where they don’t see the full spectrum of people who love the game. There are around 50-100 ways to play Magic, and Eric believes uniting that community through cards is one of the greatest things in the world.

How to Tell if a Card Is Fake

First and foremost, never damage or destroy a card to determine if it is fake. The best and easiest test to determine if you have a fake is to shine a LED flashlight through the back of the card. About 40% of the light should shine through the card. 95% of fake cards fail this test and will block all of the light. PucaTrade has a guide with steps you can follow if you feel you don’t have an authentic card, and if you still are questioning your trade you can mail it to PucaTrade and they will test it for you!

Final Wisdom

Playing with other people’s decks is something Eric doesn’t see enough players doing. When you play with someone’s deck that has been meticulously crafted and thought about for hours on end, you get to look through a window into their mind. Seeing what cards they value and prioritize gives you an incredible glimpse into how they play Magic.

Magic Resource

PucaTrade - sign up with a free account to start trading and receiving

PucaTrade: Counterfeit Guide

PucaTrade: Articles

MTG Goldfish: SafronOlive

Vintage Super League

Ask A Magic Judge

Connect With Eric Freytag

Twitter: @PucaTrade

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

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Feb 12, 2016

Parker Willard recently made day two and cashed Grand Prix Pittsburgh playing Merfolk. He’s an average Joe grinder hoping to work his way to the Pro Tour. Parker lives in Michigan.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Parker Willard when he shared his story on #MTGProTutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep69

First Set

Return to Ravnica Return to Ravnica

Favorite Set

Return to Ravnica Return to Ravnica

Favorite Card

Snapcaster Mage

Local Magic Scene: Michigan

While there isn't an abundance of competitive players directly where Parker lives, a short drive to Detroit offers a healthy Magic atmosphere.

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

After a series of concussions from wrestling in high school, and a car accident, Parker found that Magic easily filled the competitive gap in his life left by the sport.

Not only that, but Magic aided tremendously in his recovery process. The mental workout of playing kept his brain engaged and got him back up to speed in school.

Parker attributes this success to the multitude of mental tasks Magic makes a player take on all at once. Doing combat math, trying to figure out what's in his opponent's hand, remembering what cards are in their deck, and evaluating the board state are all aspects that helped in his recovery.

Tips for Combat Math

Parker finds it important to double check your calculations. Did you misread your opponent’s creature? Did you check to see if your opponent has lands open? Sometimes he will simply do the math itself over again to make sure he did it correctly the first time.

Early Challenge

Card evaluation was a skill that impeded Parker when he first started. He didn’t know what any cards did, so he was easily blown out by simple combat tricks and removal spells.

Understanding what made one creature good in comparison to another was something he learned to do by playing Limited. This helped him understand not only what cards did in gameplay, but which ones were good relative to others.

Level Up Moment

Parker’s greatest period of growth came by taking a break from Magic. He found himself grinding in the game, playing every opportunity he could, thinking that’s what he needed to do to get better.

During his break he realized that he had been getting a lot of practice, but not competitive practice. When he came back to the game after 3 months he started playing Magic Online and attending one competitive Magic event a week. He found that attending the one competitive event helped him more than an entire week of casual magic.

Proudest Magic Moment

Making Day 2 at Grand Prix Pittsburgh stands out to Parker as it was a hard won victory.

He had to overcome an opponent that played mental games with him over several rounds to try and put Parker on tilt going into his final round. Parker managed to work through the frustration and use his opponent's slow roll tactic against him during his last round, which let him push through to Day 2.

Heaviest Magic Moment

Parker can't single out a single moment, but points to a streak of losses which lead to him taking a 3 month break. After two months of getting crushed at every event he attended he finally decided he needed to take a break, something he had to do with Poker as well.

How to Get Feedback from Magic Online

Parker admits that it can be hard to get feedback from online matches. One way he was able to get valuable feedback was by streaming on Twitch. People in the stream's chat always called out his missteps and whether or not he was making a good play.

Best Format

Modern

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Not remembering information that's given is a common error Parker finds players making. He will write down cards if his opponent has to show their hand, this way he doesn't have to exert mental energy remembering or risk the chance of forgetting. If his opponent takes a long pause or gives pause at a card Parker plays he will make note of that as well.

Knowing When to Switch Decks

Parker finds that if a deck isn't performing as it should he has to analyze the pillars of the format he's playing in. By looking at the main decks used in the format he can start to see if his deck is being exposed by any of them.

Listening to podcasts and reading articles often hints at what decks make for bad matchups in any given format as well.

How to Effectively Prepare for a Big Event

Grand Prix Pittsburgh: Parker played between 1-2 tournaments a day on Magic Online leading up to the Grand Prix. He also made sure to attend a competitive Modern event every Saturday for several weeks before the tournament, familiarizing himself with the deck he would use at the Grand Prix.

What's in Your Tournament Bag

Main tournament deck

A deck for side events

Playmat

Binder if you like to trade

Snacks

Final Wisdom

Parker believes the key to improving in Magic is getting better practice. Don't be afraid to move beyond Friday Night Magic and seek out Grand Prix trials and more competitive events.

Magic Resource

Limited Resources 

Masters of Modern

Channel Fireball 

Star City Games

Connect With Parker Willard

Twitter: @thewhiteweenie

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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Feb 9, 2016

Gaby Spartz streams Magic: The Gathering on Twitch by night and by day she’s the co-founder and VP of Content at Dose, the Chicago-based media company behind Dose.com and OMGFacts.com. Gaby lives in the windy city of Chicago.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Gaby Spartz when she shared her story on #MTGProTutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep68

First Set

M12M12

Favorite Set

Khans of Tarkir Khans of Tarkir

Favorite Card

Ambush Viper

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

The constant push to learn and improve is a major draw for Gaby. Similar to how she took an entrepreneurial plunge with Dose, Gaby knows Magic’s learning curve is incredibly steep.

She likes the fact that no one ever stops learning Magic and that there’s something to take away from every match played.

Early Challenge

When Gaby started drafting it was difficult for her to understand what her deck was trying to do. By picking up cards here and there her deck had no cohesion or game plan.

Not being able to tell the difference between defensive and offensive cards was a hurdle she had to overcome. Listening to podcasts and getting input from better players helped Gaby understand the nuances of her own deck and come up with a strategy for the games she played.

Level Up Moment

A crucial component to Gaby’s Magic progression was sticking to linear decks when first getting into a format.

Having a deck with a game plan that’s repetitive and the same from game to game helped her hone specific skills and familiarize herself with the deck. This made it easier for her to think about her deck outside of matches without the pressure of having to make decisions in the moment.

She thought about her deck in relation to others in order to construct a better sideboard. By writing down her sideboard plan and going over it with more advanced players she was able to Top 8 her second PTQ while still being a fairly new player.

Proudest Magic Moment

Winning the Standard Super League is a moment that sticks out for Gaby.

She went in simply trying to not place last. She understood that the other players had more experience than her, so she wanted to overcompensate by picking an unconventional deck to play.

She chose a high variance deck (Goblins with Obelisk of Urd) and was able to go undefeated through the group stage which got her a bye into the playoffs.

Heaviest Magic Moment

Moment 1: For a while Gaby couldn’t draft to save her life. She found herself trying to draft decks that didn’t make sense, and ended up losing so much that she felt incredibly demoralized. When playing stopped being fun for her she ended up taking a break from Limited.

Moment 2: While playing a team sealed event Gaby beat her male opponent, who after the match expressed that he couldn’t believe he had lost to a girl.

Her opponent couldn’t seem to grasp that she had beat him because she had played better, prepared better, and exercised her Magic skill set more precisely.

Having skill attributed to gender is something that Gaby is working hard to fade from the competitive Magic scene, and will allow all who love the game to be evenly recognized for their accomplishments.

How to Make a Deck Plan When Drafting

Playing Constructed helps you see not only what your deck is trying to do, but what it’s trying to do in relation to your opponent’s deck.

Understanding your sideboard is critical for this. A player needs to be able to figure out how to thwart their opponent’s plan to take control of the game, or see that there’s nothing they can do against their opponent’s card and act accordingly.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Focusing too much on the results of a match is a pitfall Gaby finds a lot of players in. If a player makes 5 mistakes in a game and wins they have a tendency to overlook what went wrong.

There are other times when a player might play perfectly, but still lose. Dwelling excessively on these results can stagnate progression.

Gaby believes if you’re not trying to learn from your wins and losses then you’re not going to be happy in Magic. Finding take-aways from both your wins, and losses, is how to improve as a player. Managing losses by not beating yourself up over them is crucial for this.

Remember, you shouldn’t let one match loss beat you twice.

Final Wisdom

Playing with better players is something Gaby can't emphasize enough.

When you play with better players it can blow your mind to see how they play and understand why they make the decisions they do. More advanced players can help walk you through all the possible scenarios and outcomes for any given situation you may encounter while playing.

Magic Resource

Limited Resources 

TCG Player

Channel Fireball

Star City Games 

Twitch - Gaby's Channel 

6 Things You Can Do To Get More Women Into Magic

Connect With Gaby Spartz

Twitter: @GabySpartz

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

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Patreon milestone 2

Feb 5, 2016

Whitney Otteson is an avid Magic: The Gathering player and game store owner from Walla Walla, Washington. She has taken recent interest in the competitive scene by making and achieving a goal to make day 2 of Grand Prix Oakland 2015. This accomplishment has motivated her to set her sights even higher.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Whitney Otteson when he shared his story on #MTGProTutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep67

First Set

Innistrad Innistrad

Favorite Set

Innistrad Innistrad

Favorite Card

Avacyn, Angel of Hope

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

Whitney is competitive when it comes to games and the level of critical thinking required to play Magic is a major draw for her. When she works hard at Magic she feels like she has accomplished a great goal, and it inspires her to push her skill further.

Early Challenge

When Whitney first started playing she found herself wrapped up in the board’s current state. Looking ahead to future turns was a skill that took time for her to develop.

She talked to players that were better than her about her deck and sideboard, then studied the choices they made when they played. When she realized that they were playing with future turns in mind she made the mental shift to incorporate that practice into her own play style.

Level Up Moment

Winning two local Radcon tournaments for two consecutive years helped Whitney believe she could progress beyond just playing Friday Night Magic.

She went to GP Seattle with the mindset to just have fun with Legacy, but she entered some Standard side events and did really well. These three moments helped her decide to buckle down and reassess how serious she was going to take her progression.

Proudest Magic Moment

The month of hardcore preparation that went into her making Day 2 at GP Oakland stands out as Whitney's proudest moment.

How to Effectively Prepare for a Big Event

GP Oakland: Whitney completely immersed herself in magic a whole month before the tournament. She got a Magic Online account and played at least one League every night, basically playing 5 rounds of Magic a day.

She watched Magic streams, read articles and deck lists, and talked to players that were better than her to help her analyze what she needed to do.

Thoughts On Setting Goals in Magic

Whitney wanted to set a goal that was attainable for her; she didn't want to set the bar for her so high that she was constantly disappointed. This led her to setting a goal that was realistic, but would be a real challenge to obtain.

How to Choose a Standard Deck

For GP Oakland, Whitney played around with several decks and landed on an Abzan deck. She thought about what decks would be at the tournament and then worked, especially on her sideboard, to alter her deck in a way that it could exploit other decks at the tournament.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

A common mistake Whitney sees players making is the way they view their sideboards.

She has a written a sideboard guide to help her make decisions in heated match ups instead of just making choices on the fly. Putting a lot of weight into your sideboard, and viewing your deck as a whole 75 instead of 60 and 15 is something she believes helps strengthen how you play your deck.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Sealed: Read through primers online and apply that information when you're looking at the set. Learning how to take advice from better players and apply it in the moment can be key.

Draft: Being able to recognize when a card is good is something that takes putting in a lot of reps, talking to other players at your store, and trying to learn how to read other's signals.

What's in Your Tournament Bag

Gum

Granola & Crackers

Pen & Paper

Extra Sleeves

What Does a Playtest for You Look Like?

Whitney finds that she learns the most from match ups she loses.

Taking a loss makes her sit down and talk out what she could have done differently with her opponent.

She has friends that will sit next to her in matches and help point out the mistakes she makes mid-game, which helps her think out decisions in the heat of play.

Final Wisdom

Have fun!

Whitney knows it’s easy to get wrapped up in Magic’s serious aspects, but at the end of the day you should leave a tournament feeling like you had a great time and a great experience.

Magic Resource

Lady Planeswalker Society

Limited Resources

TCG Player

Connect With Whitney

Facebook: Whitney Otteson

Twitter: @whitneyriffic

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

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Patreon milestone 2

Feb 2, 2016

Pierre Dagen is a 28 year old French entrepreneur who has been playing Magic: The Gathering since about 2006. His first Pro Tour was Paris 2011, and since then he has scored 3 Grand Prix Top 8s and a Pro Tour Top 8, as well as making it to the Top 4 of the World Magic Cup in 2015 as the captain of team France. Formerly a founding member of team Revolution, he is now part of team EUreka.

Click to Tweet: I got a ton of value from Pierre Dagen when he shared his story on #MTGProTutor today! Click here: http://bit.ly/mtgprotutor-ep66

First Set

Champions KamigawaKamigawa

Local Magic Scene: Paris, France

With about 90% of French pro players living in Paris the scene is very competitive.

Favorite Card

Gifts Ungiven

What makes Magic: The Gathering fun for you?

While Pierre likes chess and sees the similarities to Magic, he felt that chess could be a bit mechanical. The complexity, strategy, and need to enter your opponent’s head are major draws that keep him playing Magic. Pierre notes how Magic has allowed him to travel a lot more than he usually would, which has allowed him to meet a ton of great people.

Early Challenge

Pierre had trouble building his decks early on. He tried to do this on his own without consulting friends or any other players. At some point Pierre says he humbled himself, and asked for help and feedback from other teams.

Level Up Moment

Pierre attributes a major level up in his game to the first time he joined a team. This allowed him to playtest twice a week in sets of 10-20 matches with teammates that were better than him. The team helped his Magic mindset evolve from just wanting to have fun, to playing each turn as if he was solving a puzzle and finding a solution to the match.

Proudest Magic Moment

t8_france_team

This came for Pierre at the World Magic Cup in Barcelona where Team France made it to the Top 4. Pierre only knew one player on his team, and had just met the other two. This led them to think that they wouldn’t do that great, but they were all surprised at how well they were able to perform together.

Heaviest Magic Moment

Pro Tour Montreal: Pierre was invited for coming close to qualifying. He entered the tournament stressed out, believing he needed to prove himself worthy of being there. His bad memories of the tournament stem from him not believing he was a good player and losing a lot. He forgot that his first goal should have been to have fun, so after he lost his last match all he wanted to do was go back to France.

What Has Magic Taught You About Yourself?

Over the course of Pierre’s Magic career he learned that he can have a lazy approach to playing. When he first started, he would go into matches just to have fun and ride out games instead of trying his hardest. He thought that you needed to be a genius to be great at Magic. But when others asked him for advice he found that if thought about it hard enough he could usually figure out a solution to their problem. This led to him trying his hardest on every turn and let him see that anyone can be really good at Magic if they put the effort in.

Best Format

Sealed

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Pierre sees a good number of players that are overly optimistic about their deck. They only think of the good things that will happen with their cards, and don’t consider the situations where everything falls apart on the next turn, or 3-4 turns out. Player should always be thinking about how the match will go wrong in order to prepare for when things go right.

Sealed & Draft Tips

Draft: Pierre thinks it’s important to remember that you need a bit of everything in your deck. It needs to be coherent while not focusing on one specific area that might end up sinking your deck.

Sealed: One of the keys to sealed is balancing power and consistency. Deciding if you are leaning towards one end of that spectrum or the other should be a constant thought.

How to Effectively Prepare for a Big Event

Have a deck that you like and play it a lot—don’t try to come up with one the day before a tournament. Remember, there’s no surefire way to prepare against every player’s deck. Playing one deck, playing it a lot, and playing it against lots of other decks is a good way to get comfortable with tournament play.

What's in Your Tournament Bag

Pens

Pad

Snacks

Water

Deck

What Does a Group Play Session Look Like?

Pierre’s play tests usually consist of two deck groups: a group of decks everyone on the team likes to play, and a group of decks that are known to be at a specific event. They will play matches with all combinations from both deck groups, compare results, and revamp their decks.

Final Wisdom

Pierre wants to hammer home that a Magic player shouldn’t be lazy. You should treat Magic in such a way that every turn is a puzzle, and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but you should always be trying to solve the succession of puzzles to the best of your ability.

Magic Resource

MTG Top 8

Magic Online 

2015 World Magic Cup Top 8

Connect With Pierre Dagen

Twitter: @ElPruno_Dagen

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

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Patreon milestone 2

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