Oliver Tiu has 1 Grand Prix top 8 and 1 Pro Tour top 16 on his record. He’s also won a MOCs final, and cashed both of the PTs he’s played in. He loves Magic and plays as much as he can - mostly on Magic Online. Oliver is 18 years old and is always striving to become a better player and staying open to learning more.
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Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Oliver finds it difficult to pinpoint a specific aspect of Magic that has him hooked. He loves how no two Magic matches are the same, and when he plays he is on full competitive burn aiming to win.
While he feels he always had a good grasp on Constructed, Limited was challenging for him to dive into. Oliver improved mostly through playing Magic Online, since the wealth of great players helped him learn quickly from his mistakes.
He also watches streamers, like NumotTheNummy, which helps him see other player’s choices and thought processes. Talking to other players about the format is good help, but he has realized that while talking about rares is fun, it is usually more fruitful to have conversations about commons.
Oliver found his Magic skills vastly improved when he qualified for his first Pro Tour after making Top 8 at Grand Prix Providence. He found a deck that was played in a Japanese Grand Prix that was an excellent match up for the Abzan deck, which was the most popular deck in the format at the time.
He refined the deck by playtesting and analyzing which cards over performed or underperformed; his philosophy on playtesting is not to necessarily focus on winning, but finding out what cards in his deck are doing what they should, and which ones aren’t.
A few years ago Oliver felt as though he couldn’t win anything. He was losing multiple PTQs and tournaments, and decided to take a break. This helped him shake off some of his frustration with the game, and gave him the space and perspective to learn from his old mistakes. He learned that while he was playing a lot of Magic, he wasn’t actually learning from his matches.
For Oliver, making top 16 at his last Pro Tour stands as his crowning achievement in competitive Magic at this point in his career. He played against Sam Pardee, and managed to beat him due to a weak hand in their third match. Oliver made Silver level pro, which has qualified him for the next 3 Pro Tours: Pro Tour Madrid, Pro Tour Sydney, and then Pro Tour Honolulu.
Oliver's advice for a new Standard player is to adapt to the metagame. If you want to perform well at tournaments your deck needs to be able to adapt to the most popular decks being played. Keeping an eye on Magic Online is a good way to see what's being played leading up to any major tournament, and Oliver generally tweaks his decks as opposed to outright brewing them.
Before Oliver took a break from Magic he was blaming all his losses on luck. This is one of the biggest pitfalls he finds players, including himself, trapped in. He was unable to see that he was making mistakes in his play or deck building. In terms of actionable advice, Oliver found that ignoring the luck aspect all together helped him focus on the things he could control such as his play style, sideboard and deck building.
Sealed : Oliver separates his cards by color and which cards are unplayable. It takes a while to know what’s unplayable, but it can come from experience playing previous formats and what types of cards worked well in them. Watching other players helps give you an idea of what is playable and what isn’t as well. It’s important to know what type of deck you are trying to build as well. In Control Decks it is generally less important to have two drops, but you will still want defensive creatures to play early on, however in Aggro decks you will want a lot of two drops.
Draft : Focusing on learning what cards are good and what cards aren’t are what Oliver finds a new player should focus on. He sees many new Drafters put un-impactful cards in their decks. While there are other things you could focus on, like pinpointing when you should change colors and how to balance removal spells in your deck, for a brand new drafter the first step is card evaluation.
In preparing for larger events, Oliver identifies which decks are popular and then meets up with a bunch of friends to assign decks and playtest. They will stop and identify what is working best, what sideboard cards are functioning well, and investing time to understand the metagame.
He prepared with a team for the last Pro Tour, but he found that it wasn’t as helpful as it should have been. While they played a lot of games, he felt the team's effectiveness was hindered since they didn’t take time to reflect and discuss their matches.
Playmat (if you think the tables will be dirty)
While it may be tempting to go beat up on new players, Oliver understands the best way to improve is to learn from better players. Ask them if there were any obvious mistakes you made in the match after the fact, and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice and their thoughts about your game.
Sam Pardee MTG Pro Tutor episode
Kenji "Numot the Nummy" Egashira MTG Pro Tutor episode
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