I’ve been playing Magic for a very long time. While, at twenty-one, I’m not as successful as the two-time World Champion, Shahar Shenhar, at least I get to say that I’ve been slinging spells longer.

Like most people, Magic has been a cornerstone to my social life. Yes, there are some of my friends who have nothing to do with Magic, but the game has brought me together with a lot of people.

The dynamic of the game changes greatly when there are people who play with you, especially if they play for the same reasons. Any game is more fun with friends, but when your friends are working to win PTQs and tune decks (if that’s what you’re into), it makes it all the better. I never really understood how lucky I was to have a group of players who were interested in the game at the same level that I was. Some of the statements I’ve heard in the last week or so in regard to testing/choosing a deck for this weekend’s PTQ:

“If you want to proxy it up, I’ll play.”

“I have absolutely no clue if that’s good, but let’s play with it.”

“Do you want to keep playing like this, or would you rather play against a deck that’s more represented?”

There are hundreds of things like these statements that I’ve taken for granted since I’ve been part of a “team”, but they really do matter. It seems silly, but a friend (JD, from my GPNashville team) offering to set his deck aside and find a deck that he wouldn’t ever play in a tournament so that my testing was more well-rounded helped me remember why I grinded out FNM after FNM with budget decks that slipped through the holes of the recently-opened Silver Creek Game Shop’s local metagame. Maybe I’ve lost some of that drive, taking the game for granted, but there aren’t many times I remember being as proud of myself as when I was asked to join the team that was forming.

Teams are an interesting subject. Some people feel as though the “super teams” of pro players have put a wall to the highest-level competitive play, and others feel as though playing by themselves makes them a better player. I’m not here to say one person is right or wrong, but I wouldn’t do well in this game if it weren’t for my team.

I’m not on a 20-person, hall of fame-stacked team with a combined total of a thousand pro points, but I do find comfort in the knowledge that I have a group of players who I respect within the game that share knowledge with me. I may fall in and out of the competitive side of the game, whether it be for Commander, Tiny Leaders, Cube Drafting, or whatever random casual format takes my attention that week, but I really do enjoy playing in tournaments. My first article here was about how dangerous dropping early in tournaments was, and that was more aimed at myself than anyone else, because I feel obligated to keep playing so that I get better and help my friends get better, as well.

As I go into this weekend, looking toward the last real PTQ that I’ll go to, I’m trying to figure out which deck to play. I don’t have much time to test this week, and there have been some huge waves in Standard between Worlds and the most recent SCG Open. I’m pretty anxious about it, to be honest. That being said, I know that I’m not alone in it, and that’s the biggest perk to being on a team, even if it’s just a few friends who travel to tournaments together. I’ve sent more text messages about decks today than most high school students send in a week, and, while I know it’s annoying, I’m grateful to have people willing to talk about all of the matchups, decks, tech cards, sideboard strategies, and all the other headaches that come with playing in a constructed tournament. It speaks a lot about a group of people when they’re willing to sit down at a table on a Friday night and spend an hour or more breaking down sideboard plans for each person’s deck against every popular archetype. Don’t be fooled by the thought of it, it’s not a fun activity. That being said, there’s not a group of players I’d rather sit with at that table than the team from Silver Creek Game Shop.

I don’t have a fancy deck list this week, but I’m not too worried about it. I’ve got games to grind, decks to get mad at, and an orange shirt begging to be worn.

Duncan Martin is an artist/musician/writer/whatever from Jeffersonville, Indiana, who spends his days sorting cards, helping people brew decks, and petitioning to have Second Sunrise unbanned in Modern. He likes to draw cards, dredge cards, scry cards, and talk about old formats, Pro Tours, and awesome decks that have long since passed.

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