Sheldon is a competitive Magic: the Gathering player commonly referred to as a “grinder.” He attends countless events and plays thousands of games to compete at the highest levels.
This is an insight into his journey of traveling the competitive scene.
17th at Grand Prix Dallas Fort-Worth
If you asked me a year ago, I’d have told you I hate Limited Magic, at least as far as competitive Magic is concerned. To me, it always added another level of gambling to a game that is already rife with randomness. Then, about 8 months ago, I decided to try and see if I could get better at it. My Magic Online rating for Limited was around 1500, to give you an idea of how bad I was at it. I’ve only Day 2’d one Limited event at this point, and won 0 drafts on the second day, opting to draft rares in my second draft. So, I started grinding Kahns drafts. Then KTK-FRF drafts. Then DTK-FRF drafts… Basically, a whole lot of drafting. I managed to drag my abysmal rating up to a little over 1800. After feeling fairly comfortable with my Limited ability, I decided, at the coaxing of some friends, to buy a last minute ticket to Dallas-Fort Worth for the Origins GP.
My initial plan was to play a bunch of sealed events on Friday, as I was getting in pretty early, however, as with most plans, this one went awry almost immediately. I got sidetracked with Cube, goofing around with friends, and the extreme heat of the location. I decided instead to return to the hotel and do a Magic Online prerelease draft. While there were many outside factors including drinking, forgetting my mouse, and hotel Wi-Fi that contributed, I ended up going 1-2 in that draft, going to bed concerned that I may have made a grave mistake.
The morning of Day 1, I headed to the hall, having paid for the Sleep-In Special around 10:30. They are allowing us to build our pools as we arrive, and I decided to just get it over with, so I could spend some time walking around and discussing my build with my friends. I began sorting my pool by color: White, Blue, Black, Red… Wait a minute… I almost call a judge, as it appears my pool doesn’t have any rares in it. I look at my green and as any Limited player’s dream often start, all my rares are in one color in my sealed pool: Green. I lay out all my green cards and realize, that even with the rares, the deck is unplayable. I’m not going to bother spelling out my entire deck(as at this point, I don’t honestly remember), but I ended up u/x.
The deck I ended up building was good, and I ran very well throughout the day. I played against a fair amount of good players, and all were very nice. I ended up going 8-1 on day 1, getting my first loss in the last round against Greg Orange. These games weren’t super close, his deck was better than mine, and he drew timely Rogue’s Passage both games. I obviously wanted to go into day 2 with 0 losses, but was pretty happy with my respectable record.
Day 2 is all drafts, which makes me more excited, despite my prerelease experience, as it is what I spent so many months practicing. My first draft pod goes very well, though I only ended up going 2-1. I don’t think I made any play mistakes, and my deck was very good, but I was a bit weak to flyers, and he had very good hands that I ended up not being able to outrace. Draft pod 2, the wheels really came off. First I got cut off the colors I was initially trying to go, then got cut off on the color I tried to switch to… I ended up deciding to go 3 colors with no real fixing, opting for power if my hand drew right, as opposed to playing an extremely mediocre, more consistent deck. I mentioned that I was pretty sure I couldn’t win a match with the deck, especially doubtful that I’d be able to go 3-0 in order to top 8 and get my PT invite. I ended up going 2-1 again in this pod, losing the last round very badly to not one, but several mistakes on my part. That said, I’m not trying to discredit my opponents win and his eventual placing in the top 8, it was just a little sad to get so close, to miss it by one match.
GP DFW was great. I had a lot of fun as I usually do when I travel with my group of friends, and didn’t do too badly. I managed to score 3 pro points at the very end of the Pro Point year, but it felt very good to have done so well after practicing. Going forward, I will continue to practice formats for events that I intend to travel in, hoping to continue to improve. Next up is GP San Diego, and while I remain a bit unconfident in standard at the moment, all I can do is continue to practice and hope for the best!