How to Level Up in MTG – Deep Dive

With the announced return of the Pro Tour, Magic players everywhere are trying to level up. Some who’ve only ever played casually are trying their hand at tournaments for the first time. Those who’ve never quite broken through are trying to win a Qualifier, and those who’ve always dreamed of playing the Pro Tour are looking eagerly towards the Regional Championship. People like me are working towards a lifelong dream of winning a Pro Tour.

Newer players might see a Magic Hall of Famer and think that everything’s always come easy for them. But let me assure you that my MTG career has followed a bumpy road. There have been times when I’ve gotten stuck, where progress has been slow or nonexistent. To illustrate, let me share my timeline of events as it concerns competitive Magic.

  • Age five I learned the game
  • Age 19 I made my first Pro Tour Qualifier Top 8
  • Age 21 I played my first Pro Tour, where I started out 0-6
  • On my 7th try, I finally finished in the money in a Pro Tour
  • On my 14th try, I finally made the top 8 of a Pro Tour

As you can see, these “level up” moments don’t come quickly. In fact, you shouldn’t take it for granted that they’ll come at all. Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting in the time and the reps. But other times it might require dramatic changes of scenery, work ethic, or mental state. 

Regardless of your level, my goal with this Deep Dive is to help you push past your current plateau, and find success at a level that’s outside your comfort zone. I’ll include plenty of links to supplemental reading throughout. No need to take everything in at once, but please do pursue the topics you find interesting or challenging.



Header - Setting Goals

When I work with someone as a teacher or a coach, the first question I always ask regards goals. Anyone can benefit from honing their craft and learning MTG on a deeper level, but not everyone is aiming for the same target. 

Some are content to stick to the kitchen table or local store play, while some want to compete on the big stage. Some view creative deckbuilding as a goal in itself, while others are willing to play whatever gives them the best chance of doing well. 

If you’ve signed up for CFB Pro and clicked on this article, then you’ve already taken a big step. You’ve set the intention of improving, and found resources to help you. Now all that’s left is putting in the time, hard work, and honest evaluation!

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5 thoughts on “How to Level Up in MTG – Deep Dive”

  1. This was a great article for someone like me Reid. Thank you. I am a magic player who aspires to play the best I can and hopefully one day make it on the pro tour and play with the best of them. I truly believe that telling your goals to someone helps keeps yourself accountable, so I will tell you. I will keep playing and doing my best and I will play in the pro tour against the best in world.

  2. This was truly an amazing article to read up on. It’s content like these that keep me going, knowing that there are truly people out there who pour their heart and soul into the game, more importantly, to the benefit of not only himself, but the community. You’re a gem of a writer, Reid!

  3. Thanks a lot Reid! I’ve learned so much from this. One thing I wanted to highlight, that you did mention, that has helped me so much is “Old Tournament Coverage.” There are some brilliant games on YouTube that I watch over and over. Marcus versus PV in worlds 2020 finals, LSV versus Nassif in Kyoto 2009, Yuuki Ichikawa with the Golgari Charm in PT M14, the control mirror between Shota and Romao in the finals of PT Kaladesh. While I’m not getting better with a given deck (there are no tournaments with Alara/Lorwyn BW tokens) I feel like, when I watch some of the classic matches, my general grasp of Magic gets better. So you saying it’s a good resource makes me feel like my intuition was good, thanks!

  4. This article was inspiring for me to get back into playing. I started in 2013 and qualified for Pro Tour Kaladesh 3 years later. My performance in the draft portion was a reflection of how little preparation I had, being that I was college at the time. After coming close to qualifying at the next RPTQ but falling short, I lost the drive to continue trying to get back on the train. The competitive scene in my area has dried up, but I want to experience the Pro Tour again. While the Pro Tour was much more competitive, you could feel the respect people had for each other. This is not something I’ve experienced playing in GP’s and Opens. I’d like to get back into playing on that level again, but I’m unsure how to go about this. Do you have any recommendations for the next step?

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