Like other sports, we have quote, unquote professional Magic players. They are the elite or luckiest of us all. I began to mull about the pro player status after my last article. In the spirit of it, I analyzed my progress and devotion to the game. The music on ITunes drifted me off into a void of questions. The professional Magic player question was the more intriguing of the bunch. Do I ever want to try and go pro? I found the question fascinating for it only brought forth more questions. At what level would I be considered a pro? Who acknowledges my pro status? What defines a pro? Would making pro double my salary for writing articles?
Illusions of Grandeur
To reach most goals, there is an objective. Graduating college entails taking classes to meet X credits. In no time, a student has their diploma in just eight short years. A problem exists in reaching professional status as a Magic player. What is my goal? Wizards of the Coast have those pesky Pro Tour tournaments. It would seem logical that anyone attending such exclusive tournaments would be considered a professional. Participation doesn’t equate into success. Going 0-9 day one wouldn’t make me feel like a professional no matter where the competition is taking place. Maybe making day 2 would be a better criterion?
The Pro Tour seems like a fine way to set the bar. However, what about other major tournaments like Nationals, States and a Grand Prix? I would hope my win at those fine competitive events would give me some clout amongst my peers. In imagination land, I can only fathom the cheers and the many players bowing in my awesome presence of awesomeness after winning Nationals. Back to reality, a person winning any of these events is no small accomplishment. Beating down opponent after opponent takes skill and a finely tuned deck for the metagame with chance on your side.
For sake of argument, we define the level needed to be an elitist. So, I win a Pro Tour. Hey, it could happen. Anyway, does a one-time win give me credence for the rest of my lifetime? The thought reminds me of the show Married with Children. In it, Al Bundy notoriously reminds everyone of his highest achievement in life of scoring four touchdowns in a single high school game. It would be hard for me to justify being a pro ten years after my one time win. Then again, I think I could milk a Superbowl win for the rest of my existence.
After 5 years of college, I walked down an aisle to shake hands with the president I had never met and a person who I will never see again. The handshake meant so much to me. Can you tell? However, the accomplishment still brought me a sense of pride. I had worked long and hard to successfully complete my majors. In the end, the most important aspect was that precious diploma. A piece of paper brought acknowledgment. Besides getting a job, the diploma represented that people of considerable academic stature confirmed my smartness. A person isn’t smart until other smart people reaffirm that person’s smartness.
Wizards tried to give some respect to the more successful players with those Pro player cards. They have since stopped such printings. After fumbling through my cards, I stumble upon a Richard Hoaen card. As I read through the impressive credentials, all I can’t but help think of whether I care. It is a card and impersonal. Don’t get me wrong. Having my own card would flatter the heck out of me. However, cards of pro players don’t inspire me. What I love is getting to know players on a more personal level. Writing and tube videos are the main mediums to obtain this connection in this day and age. If a professional player doesn’t appear in any of these, a young and aspiring noob has little to grasp upon. The faces of Magic are the only ones to gain any public recognition. This seems a little unfair to the potentials and other top competitors.
In a better world, I would love to see more video interviews about the professionals. I don’t care about the style. The main focus would be just getting to know the players. A few written interviews are conducted here and there, but video captures so much more. Mannerisms, voices, and personal characteristics are captured within a lens. Writing is so impersonal. The worded format can be used. The problem lies in the fact it takes a very long time to get a good grasp of a player’s personality through their writing. Over the years of reading articles, I sometimes feel I have a good handle on certain people. It isn’t until I have met them in real life I get some epiphany of sorts of it all coming together. It is as if suddenly, it all makes sense.
Endorsing a Professional
I won a Pro Tour. Now what? Seriously, I am a professional Magic player. I am stuck on easy street and I am lost. The opportunities include writing an article for a site and maybe getting paid for a single article, maybe two. If I don’t want to write, there aren’t a whole lot of options. Am I missing something? I suppose I could always put in an application into Wizards. That is the ultimate goal. Isn’t it? I guess I’ll take my oversized check and trophy and go home.
In the sports world, success usually leads to endorsements. The gravy train flies in with deals to sponsor cereal boxes, soda drinks, and maybe Hanes underwear. NASCAR is all about advertising. The human body becomes a living billboard. Fans can buy their favorite racecar drivers jacket with endorsements on it. What do professional Magic players get? There is absolutely nothing. I wonder if it is simply a lack of pro players being innovative and ambitious enough to get sponsors. I wouldn’t mind wearing a jacket or T-shirt from a company if they gave me cash to sponsor my habit. The video game and soft drink companies seem like fathomable sponsors.
If I were a company looking to sponsor a professional Magic player, I would hesitate at spending some ching. My main objective is to get as much advertising for my new line of lotion for Magic players as I can for my buck. The lotion is specifically designed to keeps hands moist for maximum card griping while keeping cards from sticking together. As a business owner, why would I sponsor somebody that gets absolutely zilch for airtime, internet time, and public exposure? Take a Pro Tour winner. He/she gets about one/two weeks on Wizard’s home page, in a little box, with one, possibly two pictures of the winner. Not exactly a lot of exposure for my lotion. Secondly, sponsoring a Magic player is almost worst then betting on ponies at the horse track. If my sponsored player doesn’t win the Pro Tour, the odds of them winning are slim; they get almost nothing for exposure.
Therefore, I have decided if I ever do choose to go pro, I will try to expose myself as much as possible to the public eye. This way, I can be more influential in my negotiations with Coca Cola and Playstation. With the right cash flow, I could actually make a good living or career at playing Magic. The money at the large events can be nice, but the prizes don’t cover medical insurance, a college fund, and escorts. Being able to afford the classy kind of escorts takes some major dollars. One cannot skimp on the escorts because they are needed to distract my opponents during matches.
I finally have money and time to prepare myself for the big leagues. The next part I need to work on is practicing and deck building. The major dilemma is the time commitment. The wisest of decisions would be for me to form a team. I feel this is important for a couple of reasons. Beating up on Timmy and Billy at FNM doesn’t exactly prepare me for major play. People only get better by playing against better people. I remember an interview with one player from the Chicago Bulls. He commented on the only reason he became so good was because of the opportunity to play with Michael Jordan. The same holds true when playing Magic. It does me no good to be beating bad Fairies players then go to a major event and get squashed by good Fairies players. Therefore, I will need to find a good group of people to test with for upcoming events.
The other reason is to minimize and maximize the time testing and building. Why spend my time building and tweaking eight viable tournament decks when the work can be spread upon eight different people? Since I love elves, it would be my focus and responsibility to report my findings and analysis to the group. Brian would take up the Sligh field, test and report. Collaboration would minimize the time I would spend testing. It would also be maximizing my efficiency by getting my cronies to do the legwork. Besides, if somebody else in the group wins, I can always ride their coattails and leech some credit for their success.
Until I get into the Pro Player’s Club, I will have to drive to all the PTQs in America. Having cronies would allow me to have people to split gas money and the bill for the hotel room. Cronies can also drive the car when I get sleepy. Since I will have to compete in almost every single PTQ to remotely qualify, the drive may be nonstop to New York. The bad news is the drive will take us through Ohio. The good news if we drive around the clock, we can be there by nine in the morning to register with an hour to find some breakfast. The heck with it, I’ll just make sure we pack enough beef jerky to get us through the weekend. Then, we don’t have to stop for food or get breakfast. Oh, I can’t wait for the smelly car ride home.
Time in a Bottle
Finally, how much time, money and resources do I want to dedicate? This not only entails how long I want to be on the Pro Tour, but the amount of Pro Tour Qualifiers I will attend before giving up. Sure, it may sound like a quitter strategy. After the 30th PTQ on not qualifying, do I call it quits? My money tree should last long enough for 30 attempts. Travel to and from PTQs can get expensive. Several tournaments are close by my residence. Great, if I win. Losing means traveling further for another chance to qualify. Distances will get even further if I continue my streak of bad top decks. I might have to put a cap on my travel and make Tokyo my limit.
After mulling all this over, I think I will just play it by ear. When I have time, I’ll go to a PTQ. When the bank account is short on funds, I’ll stay home. Here, at the end, some parts of this article matter while others not so much. Nothing will ever compare to attending a large tournament with hundreds of other players hoping to take home an oversized check. (A quick aside, I always wondered how I would get it home?) Tournaments are fun and I will try to keep it that way. If I win, great. If I lose, at least I had fun. Oh, I will try my very most bestest.
Probably the most important aspect is whether going pro will make me happy. In my current lot in life, I am happy. I get to play occasionally with friends. Schedule permitting, I get to hit a FNM. With just a little bit of planning, I can ensure my calendar is open for a PTQ. I don’t think the Pro Tour circuit will change my current outlook on life. If anything, I think the pressure and time commitment will take away more than it can possibly give me. We will see. I guess.