Hello everyone, it’s Tomoharu Saito.
Today I will be discussing the subject of “your Magic environment”.
Now, the conditions you play in are naturally important in determining how much you can accomplish. However, from a wider perspective reexamining the conditions themselves is what is really crucial.
I currently live in Tokyo. It competes in size with the world’s largest cities with around 10,000,000 people residing there. If you include Tokyo’s outskirts (Kanagawa prefecture, Saitama prefecture and Chiba prefecture where the World Championships will be held this year) this number becomes 35,000,000 people. In my estimation, in this whole region there are about 10,000 Magic players. Many card shops exist, and every weekend there are 100 player tournaments held in varying locations.
The Tokyo suburbs are a region considerably rich in Magic players. It is also clear that more than half of Japanese professional players live in this region. Usually when I play Magic, I play it here. Does this seem lucky to you?
But this does not mean that I began playing Magic in Tokyo. With the hopes of improving my own personal Magic environment, I moved to Tokyo when I was 18 years old, around the time I graduated from high school. Because there were many tournaments there and a large player population, there were also many skilled individuals. Having that kind of ability was the dream of young Magic players from rural areas.
And in truth, by entering a lot of tournaments I met a lot of players and came to play against many skilled opponents. When I think about the reasons I became a professional player, I think that this is largely the primary factor. By changing to a good environment and playing Magic there I began winning.
I don’t know what kind of tournament you would like to win, but in order to do so, playing in a good Magic environment is extremely important. I have many sports stories I could relate, but I like the following a lot. Once, a local team faced off with the “King Team”: a group of the most skilled players who had practiced with only the best equipment and facilities. Defeating the “King Team” required great effort and a lot of guts, and in order to win and become stronger competitors the local team needed to overcome the disadvantages of their native environment. Stories like that can teach us very important things. However, what would have happened if the “King Team” had done the same thing? I think that in many cases your original ability and environment, and moreover the advantages these two things can give you, can create an overwhelming difference.
Is this unreasonable? I don’t think so. As far as “winning a tournament” is concerned, I think the important things are all found within the individual games. If you would really like to become better at Magic, your own thoughts and actions are crucial. Today’s theme will be all the more valuable for individuals who feel they are playing in a poor Magic environment. In order to begin to improve this environment, there are certain courses of action you should take.
I have discussed my own thoughts and experiences about the importance of a good Magic environment. From here on, I think I would like to give a few examples of methods you can use to improve your own environment.
Suggestion 1: Live in a City with Many Players
It is easy to improve your skills in this sort of location. If this is what you desire, it is best to move to a large city to play Magic similar to my living in Tokyo. If you already live in a large city, please ignore the following. An environment with many players, tournaments and cards is ideal. This kind of environment provides what is needed for growth as a player and above all, is fun. In my last article I related my thoughts about the importance of feeling like you are having “fun” when playing Magic. This too will accelerate the improvement in your abilities as a player. However, realistically I think that for many people moving to a large city would be difficult. I am mainly recommending this for people for whom changing residence is not impossible, and for individuals who truly want to succeed at the Pro Tour level of play.
Suggestion 2: Live in a Place with an Excellent Magic Scene
Another possibility is to live in a place with a relatively large population of Magic players or one that is close to a card shop where players regularly gather. I recommend my first suggestion for those who wish to succeed at Pro Tours and Grands Prix, but if your main goal is to win area specific tournaments, PTQs and GPTs, this idea can be a suitable replacement. I think that it is highly likely that large cities are not the only environments that can foster this kind of success. But this is quite a difficult thing to achieve. It may still be alright however – there are even more possible solutions.
Suggestion 3: Actively Travel
Even if you are unable to change residence, there is also the method of using travel to compensate for your current environment. The well-known Shuuhei Nakamura has used this approach in a variety of ways. For a large amount of time before each tournament, he comes to Tokyo to practice. If you are unable to commit a great deal of time to this, I think that even using just vacations from work or school to travel will produce results. Provided that only a little time is spent traveling by car or train to a better Magic environment, using this method is effective.
Suggestion 4: Use Magic Online
Whenever, wherever you are, if you just have a personal computer and an internet connection you can play Magic as much as you’d like. You can smoothly and easily compete with various decks. Whenever you want to draft, 8 players are automatically selected for the event. In order to use Magic Online, you need only a credit card, a small amount of English ability and a computer that isn’t obsolete. Whatever kind of Magic environment you live in, you should put Magic Online to use effectively.
Suggestion 5: Improve Your Current Environment
While I believe that each situation is different, I also think that generally the friends and colleagues you have who play Magic and the place you play are your current Magic environment. I think there are various things you can do that, although simple, will improve this environment. For example: there’s a new person with a willingness to try the game and the potential to become involved. Do you proactively search for this type of individual? Naturally, the more good players you have, the better your environment becomes. What equipment is required? Are you using chairs and tables or similar things at tournaments? How about considering getting everyone to contribute money to purchase necessary items? Getting as much practice as possible in an environment similar to that of a real tournament is more effective.
I think that there are various other methods, but these are the main ones. The information you have available to you and your relationship to your fellow players are other aspects of your environment, but today I have talked thouroughly about that of everyday Magic.
“How much can I accomplish in my current environment?”
This kind of thought is a very important thing.
But before this, I would really like you to try to think:
“How can I improve my current environment?”
Incidentally, in today’s Magic world I don’t think there are many players who, like the local team, strive to overcome the circumstances in which they play through hard work and great effort. So, don’t worry and try your best! Professional players also each have their own scope of ability. I don’t think that anyone can exceed their own limits as a human being. The situation is such that there are people who have great ability, those with an average amount of ability and then those who have less.
In other words, if you are looking to win tournaments and you live your life by constructing your own environment you will have as many chances to succeed as you like.
I hope that everyone is able to play in a better Magic environment!
From Tomoharu Saito, to Magic players throughout the world