I have competed in a lot of games over the past 10 years.

I wasn’t always that competitive of a player, I used to play MapleStory non-stop because I liked seeing numbers go up. I kind of enjoyed the communities of the things I had forays in more than anything, mostly because school and work didn’t really do it for me. I struggled to maintain relationships, as contrary to popular belief, I am very to myself. Gaming was a huge outlet for me, as it allowed me to meet people, establish many lasting relationships, and really discover what I wanted to do in my life. I feel that I’ve grown much more as a person now than before, and while I’m no saint, I definitely have the tools to do as much as I can to be decent to myself and those around me.

2012 was when I really started making moves in Magic: The Gathering. At this point, I wanted to be as competitive as I could, but MTG was also a creative outlet for me. I had an incredibly strong desire to express myself through what I was thinking at the time, and laying that out in the form of decklists, card choices, general Magic discussion, and the like, was my way of doing it. This wasn’t always the best thing to do, but it was the only way I really knew how to test myself on the creative side of things. This often conflicted with my competitive drive, because I wanted to win, really badly, as well. It was sometimes problematic of me, because I would make the classic mistake of tying my self-worth to it. It’s one of those things I still struggle with today, but I feel I’ve done much better on that front recently.

Looking back, I’m now very ambivalent towards my MTG results in general. I’ve said time again that I was never an all-star, but I feel that my contributions to the game have been pretty good. I’ve helped multiple people win events, make the Pro Tour, and just become better players, and I take much pride in that. One of my fondest memories was watching Ross Merriam win the SCG Open with G/W Aggro in SCG…Columbus I believe? The talk about the deck the night before was a realization that I was valued by my peers, and it would boost my confidence significantly.

MTG card: Confidence from Strength

When I left MTG (the first time), I took a dive into competitive Overwatch. It was a new game, and it really scratched that itch again. Weirdly enough, this was the time that solidified my writing career, despite having been a writer in MTG for over 5 years at that point. I took a very good job writing for a major Overwatch coverage site and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It motivated me to pursue both competitive gaming in general, and writing as a semi-career. They treated me very well and that venture really taught me how to value myself as a writer. 

After Overwatch, I went back to what started my gaming in general, MMOs. Now, I’ve always played them, even when I played MTG competitively, but they were kind of on the backburner aside from the dip here and there (aside from the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV with a free tri- wait, this is not the time for that!). During this lull in competitive gaming, I really sunk into community and friends and just gaming with them a lot. One downside of my experiences in competitive MTG, and a lot of other competitive avenues, is that yes, while it is about the friends you make along the way, said friends are hard to come by when you aren’t pursuing the same thing they are. It often felt shallow and unfulfilling to go to a Magic event, jam a tournament, but not be able to talk to people about anything but the game. “I don’t care about your record, how are you doing?” was kind of a meme at one point, but I was dead serious when I asked people I haven’t seen in a while. It’s unfortunate that it ended up like that, but the people that stuck with me past, and throughout, are so incredibly valued to me. I could not put into words just how appreciative and grateful I am to know them and have them in my life.

Of course, after Overwatch, there was this ambitious little project called Zero to Evo.

What the hell was I thinking?

Well, turns out that that wound up being the best performance of any competitive event I’ve done. 49th at EVO, the fighting game world championships, is nothing to scoff at, but the real takeaway is that this was the time I fell in love with fighting games, and never looked back. Since Zero to Evo, I have competed in almost every fighting game I’ve played. I made a number of top 8s at the HOC and NLBC, a TNS top 8 in DNF Duel, a number of HOC top 16s in Guilty Gear Strive, and most importantly, the beginning of my commentating tenure. Commentating fighting games is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done for any game, and I would love to pursue it more often at big events (I’m sorry for missing your events Big E!). I thank Bum163 for giving me the opportunity to be myself in your events and on your time, your generosity is so very much appreciated.

Nowadays, I still compete in events from time to time. I still struggle with a lot of things that competition likes to make you think. You know, the “you aren’t good enough but you’re doing well but you still suck” type of thing. That said, I’m not getting any younger, and I want to do more to contribute to the communities that have given to me. 

Here’s to another 10 years of gaming, and maybe 10 more years of competing, if my hands keep up…

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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