How to Prepare for the Biggest Event of Your Life

Testing is the most important skill when it comes to winning in Magic. You might be the most talented player in the world, but if you haven’t read the spoilers, you aren’t going to win your Draft pod, and if you haven’t played a single game with your Constructed deck, you’re not going to win a big event. You need to understand how to test properly, and how much time to dedicate to each deck and format.

Last weekend, I attended the Magic: The Gathering World Championship in Las Vegas, an event I was proud to play, since I worked hard last season to get one of the 24 spots. The formats were Standard and Dominaria Draft, and while they are somewhat old formats now, there was still plenty of work to be done.

I also had Nationals coming up. I never played in the Old Nationals, and I wanted to be a real National champion. I fell just short, losing in the Top 8 to the eventual winner Tian Fa Mun, who’ll join me and Mattia Basilico at the World Magic Cup, an event I can’t wait to play.

It’s always important to keep in mind how much time we have to dedicate to Magic. I’m one lucky person who can live off of Magic, but not everyone can eat and breathe the game. Whenever you have to prepare for a tournament with a Limited portion (whether a PT, a GP, or Nationals) you have to Draft a lot!

Draft is the hardest format to master, and where you’ll get the biggest edge on your opponents. Make sure to do at least one Draft per day, and focus on your pick order and how it evolves during the Drafts. What cards stood out from your deck, and your opponent’s? Which color combination or synergies are worth playing over others? There’s always a lot to learn in every Draft, and you have to be ready to get the most out of it that you can.

Testing Constructed also takes dedication, but it doesn’t always mean that you have to jam 20 MTGO Leagues with each deck to understand whether you like it and need to explore it.

Let’s take, for example, my experience with U/W Gift testing for these upcoming events. As I was joining some Leagues with R/B Aggro, I played against U/W Gift two times in a row, and lost both times. Therefore, I understood that the deck had potential and that I needed to try it before dismissing it. I played one MTGO League with it and immediately went 5-0. I told myself that this could be the deck to break the format!

I built it in real life and jammed 20 game 1s versus R/B, and the deck did not deliver. I stumbled way more often when I wasn’t reanimating Angel of Invention on turn 4, and I decided that while the deck had potential, it wasn’t the deck to beat R/B. You could argue that 20 games isn’t a large sample size, but for me it was enough to know that I didn’t want to spend more time testing it.

I also took into consideration other decks, but none of them passed the “good versus R/B” test, so I stuck to tier 1 once again and tried to tune it to the best of my ability. I came to the conclusion that Doomfall was better than Unlicensed Disintegration, as The Scarab God was picking up in popularity and was the way U/B Midrange was beating our deck, and that Karn, Scion of Urza was the best card to win the mirror match.

I flew to Valencia some days prior to the meeting in Las Vegas, and Javier Dominguez and I played Magic roughly 12 hours per day. We played about 200 mirror matches and we tried all of the possible sideboard configurations to find what we liked most.
When we were testing Heart of Kiran, we had Javier draw six cards + Heart every time, so that we could see how much that increased his win percentage.

This was the list that we ended up playing, and I believe it was the best 75 we could have had. Now this is history, since the format is rotating next week and we have more exciting challenges in front of us.

Red-Black Aggro

Javier Dominguez, 1st place at Worlds 2018

Along with playing Standard, we kept drafting and sharing our Limited ideas. It’s important to never let the preparation for one format overshadow another. Always try to play and read about both formats every day. Never lose focus.

Worlds was a great experience for me. Even though I finished in 17th place, I got to enjoy Las Vegas with my dad, did a lot of sightseeing in the casinos, and even went on a trip to the Grand Canyon (which was unfortunately on Sunday, which meant that I couldn’t follow Javier’s win live or on Twitch).

But this weekend, I’ll meet up with him to celebrate his win. He’s no longer only a Worlds finalist, but a World Champion!

Pro Tour Atlanta is my next big event, and I can’t wait to join the team in Atlanta to try to continue my streak of good PT results so that I can get the new Pro season off to good start.

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