For this article I will propose applying systems I have studied over the past decade towards improving your EV over the long, endurace-testing battlegrounds of Grand Prix and PTQs. Attending these large scale tournaments where I am expected to play magic for a minimum six straight hours has evoked my interest in health and wellness, and this being a subject so dear to my heart, I hope to pass on some of these concepts on to you.

But first things first: Why do I even bother reading this? I know there are some of you out there who might not agree or care to think about what it might mean to sensitize yourself to the body/mind connection inherent in human biology. So I ask you: step back from yourself, take a breath, and consider the possibility that there are very real and studied methods out there capable of increasing your brains ability to maintain clarity and process information over a long period of time. And isn’t what what we all as Magic players want from our brains? To minimize the moment we have each faced where we fog out, choke up, even if only for a moment; a moment that could change the course of your tournament performance. None of us want that, for anyone.

This is by no means a guarantee you’ll become a better player. What this will do is support your own, internalized ‘Extended Value’ system we all expect from ourselves when we step up to the table to apply our homework. Now be a sponge. I am not here to chastise anyone, or belittle their lifestyle choices. This is for everyones betterment.

Finally, I am not a nutritionist, or a teacher. These findings are the result of empirical studies, consultations, and endless research. While everyone nurtures an individual climate inside them, the core concepts stated herein remain standards for comparison. Every body really is different; but every body is very much the same.

Okay, so you have a Grand Prix weekend coming up, and you’re traveling with some buddies, either by car or by plane, to a city and an event site together to battle. You spend your week or weeks leading up to the event testing, getting into the nitty-gritty of the format. Making deck choices and testing match ups. Predicting the metagame. You’ve done so much work and you’re ready, you’re sleeved up, good to go. You’re excited, nervous, anxious, determined. There’s so much running through your mind. How awesome is the weekend going to be? It’s going to be really awesome. It always is. We have great people around us and are playing a beautiful game. So, on Thursday and Friday night, between travel and last minute testing, get some serious sleep.

Fatigue is the progenitor of basically everything that’ll go awry in your brain. And the rock solid method we all know too well to combat fatigue is getting enough sleep, and even better, is getting quality sleep. Time away from the process is part of the process itself. Let all the testing you’ve done really sink in, and step away from it, if only for a day, and use that day to rest and relax. Mental preparation should result with a calm and sharp mind, not a cluttered and overworked one. My advice? Take that Friday to travel, eat some food, play a game or two, and go to fucking bed at a decent enough hour.

The next word i’m going to use is a loaded one, so bear with me, hear me out. I’ll start with a visual cue from PT Dublin. Check out what Makihito Mihara is doing here:

This is what i'm talking about!

This is what i’m talking about!

This act, which some like to call meditation, is a powerful tool to help clear the mind. If you are just coming off a rough loss or a tough win, or you are simply overcome by nerves before a particular match, this is one of the best things to do to help alleviate whatever you are thinking/feeling, and refocus on the task at hand. Theres a wealth of information on meditation practice online, and even videos on Youtube that can guide you through the process. But at the end of it all, the simple act of closing the eyes and focusing on breathing, even just for a minute, allows the mind to observe its current state, and if you can become adept at observing your state of mind instead of becoming arrested by it, you will release yourself from the emotional or mental clutter, everything will flow through you, and what is left is clarity of the mind. It takes only a minute, but it takes a little practice.

If you don’t want to sit across from someone and meditate, find a little corner or clear table and just sit, for a moment, and collect yourself.

So you’ve gotten some sleep, you’re sleeved up and good to go, so what do we do about sustenance? Certainly the average convention center fare is far from ideal, and while many of us rely on this food to get us through the day, there are some things to think about when eating your bland sandwich or greasy hot dog and cheap pizza slice. If we are focusing on maximizing our brain power, then we have to prioritize good fats and slow burning carbs to bad fats and bleached starch. Everyone knows protein is good for you, and that white carbs are bad for you. Without getting deep into the science of all this, as there is abundant research online regarding healthy fat consumption, good fats are quite simply the best brain food you can consume. Sugars spike and crash your bodies blood sugar levels, and can cause mood swings, brain fog, and fatigue. Healthy fats burn slow and steady, feeding the brain, while not bogging down the bodies digestive tract. The best fats are, in no particular order:

1. Avocado

2. Nuts and Seeds

3. Coconut and Olive Oil

4. Fish

5. Eggs

6. Grass Fed Butter

Obviously many of these options are not easy to pack or prepare at a convention site, and I wouldn’t ask anyone to bring a tupperware full of cooked fish and eggs to a Magic tournament. That’s disgusting, impractical, and ludicrous. So the best options are nuts and seeds, ideally in a trail mix of some kind, with dried fruits and shredded coconut flakes. You can probably make a big bag of this stuff and portion it out each morning. Barring that, if you have the gumption to wrestle with some avocados and a knife, more power to you!

Aside from this, choosing high quality energy bars and fresh fruits are great options that will help sustain your energy. In an ideal world, the convention centers will have fresh vegetables and organic boiled eggs, but hey, a man can dream!

Last up on the sustenance subject is one we all know: hydration. Drinking enough water is so utterly absolutely fucking necessary I don’t even know how hard enough to stress it. DRINK WATER. A half gallon to a gallon per day. Sure you’ll pee a lot in between rounds, but the benefits of staying hydrated are nearly infinite. I also strongly suggest adding electrolyte packs to your water bottle during the day. They’re cheap, and offer instant-speed nutrient boots. And we all know how good things are at instant speed. Just ask Teferi!

My next subject has a shout out to Travis Woo for his article on good posture while sitting in a chair. Because he’s right. Good posture during matches has a lot of EV. And what’s more, is movement. Moving around between matches, getting in some quick stretches before sitting down again, is smart, and has proven benefits for both the body and the mind. At GP Worcester I had a round that ended quite early and I had a solid 30 minutes before time was called for the next round. So what did I do? I put my backpack on and went outside for a walk. Just a simple walk around the convention center, digging on some buildings and stores around the immediate area. Keeping your blood flowing by walking is a simple and effective way to maintain good circulation over a long day sitting down in chairs. It can also help to clear the mind.

And stretches are great too. Even while sitting in your chair waiting for the match to start there are a bevy of little things you can do to maintain good circulation. Rotate your ankles, twist your back, roll your hips. Keep your body relaxed and limber, and your mind will follow.

My last suggestion is one I have invested in, and while not as wholly necessary as I believe the above to be, are fun and interesting supplements. Because that’s exactly what they are: supplements. My current roster for Grand Prix morning cocktails involves the following:

1. Ginseng Extract – an adaptogen that stimulates mental endurance

2. Raw Greens Powder – nutrient supplement in the absence of fresh vegetables

3. Fish Oil – essential fats

4. Ubiquinol / CoQ10 – a powerful compound that increases cellular activity

5. E3 Live – blue/green algae supplement

The basic idea is to help stimulate endurance, both in the mind and in the body, and feed myself a well rounded assortment of nutrients.

I hope that some of this was useful, and if any of this seemed confusing or interesting, please feel free to write me an email. I’d love to hear from you! It’s attacks winning on a different axis, and doesn’t guarantee anything. But what it does do is something very specific we all want to have in our pockets when we play competitive magic: to support ourselves by giving us the best chances of making the right plays, over a long period of time. And if you do take some of my advice and try it and scrub out of the tournament? Don’t be results oriented! Look at the Extended Value!

After a ten-year lapse from Magic, where his favorite combo was Tradewind Rider with Stasis, Derek is back to learn the new-border variant of the game. While less frustrating cards have been printed, he now has to get used to planeswalkers, and people rolling dice when he resolves Hymn to Tourach. He qualified for the Junior Super Series in 1999 at Pro Tour New York, then used his collection to finance his college education. Years later, he works in the fashion industry as a stylist, consultant, and sometime-matchmaker for brands. He loves all things black leather, and is out to journal his level-ups with hopes of playing at the highest competitive level of the game. You can reach him at [email protected]

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.