How to Break out of a Slump
I was not quite sure what to write this week. Two weeks ago, I found myself in Baltimore for the SCG Open but playing Modern has not been my priority since I have the sealed RPTQ coming up this weekend. I am also going to play in a standard PPTQ but no one really wants to hear about that. There some new cards spoiler but no one knows if they are real or not so that eliminates those choices. I then thought I could write a MTGFinance piece but then I realized that even though I am a vendor at some events, I despise 99% of the people involved in MTGFinance. It then dawned on me that I can write about what to do when I find myself in a downswing and how I come out of it.
Step 1: Stop Playing Magic
When I find myself not winning as much as I am normally do, my first reaction is to keep grinding and come out of it. However, the longer I have played magic, the more I realize I need to treat it how I use to play poker and instead of continuously make mistakes I should take a step back and think about what I am doing. A younger kid at the SCG Open made a comment that he “studies MTG every day” and my first response to him was “take a break and pick up a non-Magic hobby.” This seemed foreign to him but I made the point that you need to clear your head every so often. Why do you think other athletes play so much Golf?
Step 2: Play Simple Magic
When I am ready to come back I want to get a feel for the basics of Magic again. This is doing something as simple as playing a burn deck in Modern, an EDH deck with the craziest combos you can imagine, or even loading up some Momir Vig on MTGO. Just focus on the basics of playing Magic. I do not want to have think overly hard about dodging counterspells or high-level calculus to figure out combo math 5 turns in the future. I just want to play Magic and have fun. Fun is why we play the game, right?!
Step 3: Have a Plan for Playing Magic
When I started to prepare for the RPTQ, I knew I wanted to stick to a schedule. I decided for the first 2 weeks that Amonkhet was available I would try to do 3-4 Sealed events a week, whether in real life or on MTGO. I would screen shot my pools and ask people I knew were smarter than I was if I built correctly. I would write down notes based off what they said and try again the next day. After the Pro Tour, my goal was to play 5 sealeds a week and make sure I took 2 days off from playing and thinking about Magic to make sure I did not burn myself out ahead of the RPTQ. I want to be fresh going into the tournament and not just looking forward to a grind being over.
Step 4: Have Fun Playing Magic
This is the most important step. Magic is a game. None of us are going to make hundreds of thousands of dollars playing this game. I have a full-time job and I use magic to feed my competitive hunger. Yes, winning is fun, but as I have gotten older I see that having a well fought match that I lose can be also as exciting as winning in a blowout. It is solving the puzzle of not only your deck but also what your opponent’s deck is doing. If you are not having fun playing magic, I would recommend seeing “Step 1” and starting this all over again. We all just thought that Magic was a fun game when we started but after going to a PTQ or seeing a Twitch stream we knew that there was so much more to the game that we might have lost track on the “having fun” aspect of Magic.
This is going to be a short week for me since my time is crunched between work, the RPTQ, birthdays and most importantly Penguins hockey. My next article will recap not only the RPTQ but also a PPTQ I am playing in on the Saturday before the event in Baltimore. If you have an upcoming RPTQ, I wish you good luck and most importantly, have fun!
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