Over the last couple of weeks I’ve received a number of IMs, texts, and emails inquiring about Team Draft League. Here’s everything you want to know about Team Draft League.

Hugh and I started Team Draft League to have curated drafting experiences. We want to choose who we draft with so we can lower variation. We don’t want to draft with random people who aren’t so hot at drafting and/or jerk-offs who aren’t so fun to spend a few hours with in a confined space. As we get older there’s less and less time to play Magic: The Gathering and what time we had needs to be focused on leveling up our skills and having a fucking great time.

So, choose who you play with carefully. Maybe you don’t care about who you play Magic with. Team Draft League has a strict “No Jerks” rule. Don’t be a jerk, plain and simple. Thus far three people have not been asked back due to inappropriate behavior, not showing up to league matches, and not paying the league fee.

We charge $75 per team ($25 per member) to play in Team Draft League. All of the league fees go into a pot that is divided up between the first, second, and third place teams each season. Hugh and I make no money off of Team Draft League.

There are three members per team. You can only be on the same team two seasons in a row. This is to help break down cliques and help people get to know one another better (which leads to stronger community bonds).

Each team is responsible for coming up with a good team name. The value of “good” is usually up to me and Hugh. Some teams come up with really shitty names (they know who they are ‘cuz Hugh and I have complained to them about their lousy names in the past). Some teams come up with amazing names. Here are a few of my favorites:

Old Border Collie
J-Chan Allstars
Her Big Shiester
WuTan Clan
Brendaxian Mobliterators
Bird Law & Order

Most of the funny names are super inside jokes and/or based off of the names of the people on the team. You may not get the jokes if you don’t know the people, and that’s ok, ‘cuz within the community it’s pretty hilarious. It’ll be hilarious when you guys come up with team names for your Team Draft League in Sacramento, Topeka, Walla Walla, and El Paso.

Once all the teams are signed up and league fees paid, “ProTour” Dave McCoy throws the team names into some algorithm and it spits out pairings. Each season’s length lasts as long as whatever the current block is. The regular season starts the week of the prerelease and runs until three weeks before the prerelease of the next season. The week immediately after the regular season the top four teams start the playoffs. The top seeded team plays the fourth seeded team. The second seeded team plays the third. Winners play each other the following week for the championship and the runners up play for third. There is one week off before the start of the next season.

Seasons run seven to nine weeks. If you have more teams in the league than weeks in a season not all teams will play one another. As long as your pairings are random this is totally ok. You also have the option of dividing the seasons into multiple divisions. We did this for our second season and it was kind of a pain in the ass. Teams in separate divisions didn’t really pay any attention to each other and that didn’t help enhance the community. We nixed divisions for the third season and it feels much better. Every team doesn’t play everyone else, but we’re all in one division and it feels more unified.

Ok, so, you’ve got your teams and you’ve got your pairings, where and when do teams play? It’s up to the paired teams to contact all members of the scheduled weekly match to set up a date, time, and location. 90% of the time all six of you will be able to play on the same day. Sometimes you can’t find a day where six of you can play but you can find a day where five of you can meet up. The team with two people needs to find a sub for that week so their match happens. ALL MATCHES MUST HAPPEN WITHIN THEIR SCHEDULED WEEK OF PLAY. There’s some give on this, sure, but getting behind or ahead is never much fun and puts unfair strain on other teams.

All six members of the two teams can meet at someone’s home, or studio, or public space with room for a draft, at say 7.30pm on a weekday night. You show up with your own packs (the League doesn’t provide packs) from whichever set the season is following (this season it’s all M15). You figure out a way to randomize seating and you sit down to draft so that you aren’t sitting next to a member of your own team. Then you draft like normal. Left, right, left. When the last card is drafted you break off into your teams and you guys all build decks together. You can only build from your own pool, but you get to talk over your deckbuilding with your teammates. This is one of the best parts of Team Draft League. Seeing how your teammates would build your deck and openly talking about your decisions with one another is a totally fucking valuable learning experience. I have yet to build with teammates and not change something out of the initial deck I put together.

Pairings for round one are (usually) randomly decided. Teams sit on the same side of the table. Teammates can talk to each other at any point in a game. You can help one another with mulligan and play decisions. No one is supposed to start the second round until all games are finished in round one (unless everyone agrees otherwise). This is to not put undue pressure on individual matches.

The first team to five wins takes the match.

The winning team divides up all of the rares among themselves. The person with the best record usually picks first, and so on.

Game and match wins are reported directly into www.teamdraftleague.com now. Before “ProTour” Dave had set this up teams would report in email to me and Hugh.

The first two seasons got a lot of the kinks out of the system. Season three is running pretty damn smoothly.

I feel closer to many members of the community. I get a lot more out of drafting, and let’s be honest, I wouldn’t even be drafting at all if it wasn’t for Team Draft League. It’s a terrific excuse to hang out with the amazing people that make up the community of players I’m blessed to be a part of. If you’re thinking of starting a Team Draft League in your area just do it. It fucking rules.

If you have any questions please hit me up in the comments.

Thanks for reading!


Matt Jones (born 1980, Rochester, New York) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Matt works between a variety of inter-related genres that explore mythology, archaeology, ancient history, theoretical physics, comedy, and the paranormal—all developed and inspired by research and personal experience. Together his bodies of work form a way for Matt to evaluate, negotiate, and play with the world around him. You can check out his art at www.mattjonesrules.com.

Matt’s played Magic since early 1995, took a break for a decade or so, and came back to the game the weekend after the Scars of Mirrodin release. With Hugh Kramer he formed New York’s Team Draft League and is one of the original writers for Hipsters of the Coast. Matt’s been sober for seven years.

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