A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article detailing different ways to play test and practice for a big event—but that isn’t the only important ingredient to success at a big tournament. This week, I am going to talk about what you can do at a tournament to keep your head in the game and stay on top of things in and out of a match.

Let us think about a tournament for a minute—an SCG Open or a Grand Prix are two day marathons. We are looking at nine rounds, plus a player meeting, and deck building if it is a limited event. That is a long, long day. You start at nine a.m. and end around ten p.m. That’s more than 12 hours! So, let’s think about some things to do to keep your mind in tip-top shape for those couple of hours.


This is one thing that is very hard at tournaments, especially if you play a deck that tends to make matches run long—you don’t have time for lunch! Food is one of the most important things you can have to keep your mind focused and in the game. I know that when I’m at tournaments, I have to bring things like granola bars or Soylent to keep me going because I tend to get hangry (getting angry because you haven’t eaten in a while). When I haven’t eaten I am more prone to becoming tilted and it is hard for me to stay focused.

Snacks can help you stay afloat for these long days and keep your body wanting to go. Keeping your body going is what helps to keep your mind sharp for those long, intense games of Magic: the Gathering.

Staying Hydrated

For any day, your body needs you to stay hydrated. Whenever you go to a MTG event, make sure you have WATER. That’s right, water. Not Coke, not Dr. Pepper, not tea—water. Staying hydrated by drinking water helps combat the feelings of exhaustion and fatigue, which can lead to mistakes throughout your games. Water is one of the most important sources of energy for your body. It helps cells complete important enzymatic activities which contribute to the production of ample energy to get you through your day.

If you don’t like the taste of water, here are some things you can add to make it taste better for you before you hit the Magic tables:

Having a Support System

Going to these events with friends are one of the best things you can do. Everyone can take turns helping each other out. At GP Indianapolis last year, I had friends who brought us dinner for the people who were still playing in rounds seven and eight. It is support like this that can help get you through the most grindy of times at events where it is hard to keep you head in the game.

Without these guys being there every step of the way, I would’ve never done as well as I did at GP Indianapolis. They were there to help me after every match, telling me what I could’ve done better so I was ready to go for the next round.


Before you got to any event, you need to be prepared. Not only do you need to know the meta or your deck inside out, but you also need to make sure you are mentally and physically ready for the marathon ahead of you. Playing 9+ rounds of Magic in a weekend is exhausting and you will feel that way even after day one of a tournament. To do your best and to give yourself the best chance you can to get to Top 8, or even win, one of these big events requires you to take care of yourself even when you are focused on the game at hand.

  • If you need to go to the bathroom, call a judge and don’t wait until the end of the round.
  • Try to always have a water bottle filled up before each round of Magic.
  • Make sure you bring snacks so you don’t feel hungry – you need to make sure your body has plenty of energy the hours of play ahead of you.

I hope these suggestions will help you at your next big tournament. I know for me, with Grand Prix Detroit coming up, I will be getting a nice water bottle and packing up lunch and snacks for the weekend ahead of me.

Thanks for reading!

Lexie Mettler is a Level 2 judge from Fort Wayne, Indiana. By day she is a student, by night she streams MTGO and practices for tournaments all over the Midwest.

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