Important Things for Tournament Success – Part 5: Building Connections with Others


Magic is a game that makes people happy.

This is something I already understand clearly. With this game, in order to win and enjoy yourself, being good-natured is crucial in allowing you to create ties with more people and make more friends and acquaintances. Magic is a game where a greater number of friends and acquaintances mean a better experience, both in terms of success and enjoyment. Consequently, it is a game that naturally builds connections with others.

Now, after reexamining the importance of this phenomenon, I will be writing about the increase in the expected chance of winning that results from more actively having connections with many people.

Why is it a good idea to have connections with others?

Since the goal is to increase your recognition as a player, I will begin by giving several examples to prove that connecting with others is an excellent idea.

– Practice and Information Exchange

If you have many players with whom to practice, you will be able to play against various decks in a shorter span of time. When you want to draft, it becomes much easier to gather eight people. If you have many players with whom to exchange information, you can gather more news about the game. Of course, in order to be successful playing with just anybody is not necessarily a good idea, but this kind of choice is not often encountered. This concept is very simple, and I think most non-beginners will agree.

– Dropping and Conceding in Tournaments

Right before the Top 8 of an event is decided, following the final round, there are players who have already definitively made the cut and those whose fate has not yet been decided. There are times where players in the latter group give up and drop from the event. And, in both these cases, having a chance at that time or not, there is still the possibility of making the cut. Without involving the prize money or trophy, in terms of the rules there is no problem whatsoever with the following. In that case you can:

Concede a match to a friend of acquaintance
Not concede to someone you are unfamiliar with
Have a friend concede to you to give you a chance

The reality is there are many players who do this sort of thing.

I think there might be people who think to themselves “Aren’t people who know fewer players at a disadvantage? Isn’t that too bad?” Yes, that’s true. It’s a disadvantage that comes with having a smaller number of acquaintances.

It is highly likely that the success of friends and acquaintances will improve your personal Magic environment more than when players you are unfamiliar with win, but I think it’s something that cannot be avoided. Whether you have many friends with the same DCI rating or few depends on your own effort.

– Information Exchange at Tournaments

Going into an event, haven’t you had the following conversations? “There are so many people playing that deck today.” Or, “Now that I think of it, I’ve seen that person playing that deck before.” If these small pieces of information are gathered in great numbers it is not trivial. For example, if it happens that ten individuals are saying “Today, about half of the room is playing Jund,” this is likely to be correct and probably approximately half of the tournament’s participants are playing Jund. For example, if you don’t know your opponent’s deck game one and are wondering whether or not to mulligan a difficult hand, you might think to yourself, “If half of the room really is playing Jund, this is a keep!” since the amount of information upon which you base this kind of judgment is increasing.

– Making the Event More Fun

If you have many friends and acquaintances, you will have more fun at tournaments. Haven’t you been to an event that was attended by only a few of your friends and felt a little lonely? It will be more fun before and after the tournament and in between rounds, and you’ll feel like going to the event site more. And best of all, as I said in my second article of this series (Important Things for Tournament Success – Part 2: Having Fun), being in a position where you are enjoying yourself makes it easier to win.

How to Make Friends with a Greater Variety of Players

I think now you have an understanding of why having many Magic players as friends and acquaintances is advantageous. In this next section, I will make suggestions on how to build connections with more people in the community.

– Stand out from the Crowd / Become Famous

I think this is an extremely effective method. The more you stand out from the crowd and the more famous you become, the more people will want to talk to you. I have been very lucky. Although only one year had passed since I had begun playing Magic, when I was in high school I was able to win a large Japanese tournament. Suddenly, the number of people who knew me increased drastically and it became easy to build personal connections. Even after that, the more my reputation spread, the more people wanted to speak with me. I am certain of this since it comes from my own personal experience.

Winning is not the only method for gaining a reputation with other players. On the internet you can create websites useful to other players and write articles and create strong and interesting decks, or you can cosplay at tournaments or a myriad of other things. By continuing to use blue/green in combination in Constructed formats and writing reports in his personal blog, the Japanese professional player Naoki Shimizu finally became involved in official event coverage. This “Simic Prince” became an overwhelmingly famous celebrity in the Japanese Magic world. And due to his extremely unique character, he has been able to build many personal connections.

– Proactively Introduce Yourself to Others

If you have the time and opportunity, go talk to other players in your Magic community. I think that trying to make friends with a new person has nearly infinite benefits with little or no large drawbacks. Even across distances, we are all brothers and sisters linked by Magic. At the beginning, I think saying things like “What’s your record?” or “That card is a rare inclusion! How has it been working out for you?” are good ways to break the ice. In this way, it is not only your success as a player but also your happiness that increases.

– Trading

I manage my own card shop, and although this might seem strange I take my excess cards and trade them to another shop: ChannelFireball. I think it is good for shops to use this sort of strategy in times where it is urgent or otherwise important. Because it is easier to communicate when trading than during a match, you could say that this is the most suitable way of befriending other Magic players. I have traded with many people throughout the world, and my friends and acquaintances have multiplied considerably. Some I am even able to call close friends. This is the happiest thing, and my information network has also increased helping me to understand local metagames and familiarize myself with new deck technology.

– Running or Participating in Events

Doing things like holding events or entering large tournaments increases your chances of building connections with others. And, I think it’s no problem even if the event in question is not a tournament. For example, recently after Japanese premier events I have begun holding “Random Magic Player Drinking Parties”. As long as they are a Magic player, anyone can attend. It’s a simple plan where the goal is to drink and have some fun together. Recently I held the second one, and this time there were also many foreign players in attendance with about 70 players participating altogether. Naturally I began to think that this might have increased the expected value of the happiness of many Magic players, but as anticipated, because it increased Magic players’ connections, I think it may also have had a favorable influence on their chance of winning. Everyone, if you come to Japanese premier events, let’s make sure we drink together! This year after the World Championships in Japan I am thinking I would like to hold an even larger event. Also, if someone in another country would hold something similar provided my schedule permits I think I would like to attend!

If you play Magic, you can naturally increase your personal connections. However, I strongly recommend being keenly aware of the importance of the role connections play, and proactively working to increase them. Also, I myself still have work to do in this regard, so let’s strive to do our best together!

I hope that through connecting with more people, everyone becomes happier and has greater tournament success!

From Tomoharu Saito, to Magic players throughout the world

19 thoughts on “Important Things for Tournament Success – Part 5: Building Connections with Others”

  1. Happiness is definitely more important than success, so there need to be more articles like this.

  2. “Happiness is definitely more important than success, so there need to be more articles like this.”

    Success will always lead to happiness, happiness will not always lead to success, therefore articles on success are just as valid(if not more) as articles on happiness.

  3. can u work in this list?my email – [email protected].i

    2 Day of Judgment
    3 Condemn
    3 Destructive Force
    2 Oblivion Ring
    2 Gideon Jura
    2 Ajani Vengeant
    2 Cancel
    4 Mana Leak
    3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
    4 Divination
    3 Everflowing Chalice
    3 Fieldmist Borderpost
    4 Wall of Omens
    1 Terramorphic Expanse
    3 Plains
    2 Mountain
    4 Island
    1 Arid Mesa
    2 Scalding Tarn
    4 Celestial Colonnade
    4 Crumbling Necropolis
    2 Jungle Shrine

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  5. The traditional Japanese tea ceremony is largely based on parties that the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa hosted at his famous retirement villa: Ginkaku-ji. The parties were famous for two things: ‘guess the tea’ contests, and drunken linked poetry. So I think a ‘Magic Drinking Party’ is a nice homage to Yoshimasa.

    Anyway, awesome article. Perfect timing too, I’m guessing everyone who reads this will be extra friendly at their launch party today 😉

  6. If most of your friends are due to your success, then there is a high probability that those relationships are somewhat superficial… I wish you always to be succesful, so that if you lose that success, you dont have to find out if you’re gonna lose those friends too…

  7. “…you can cosplay at tournaments or a myriad of other things.”

    Have you actually seen this? If so, where/how good was it?

  8. Great articles Saito, you are one of my favorite players i keep track of.
    Btw i just noticed this now and you kind of look like Kentaro, the Smiling Cat.

  9. “Success is when you’ve reached that point when LSV remembers to water you, even if he’s frustrated he just lost at Magic.”

  10. I want to attend one of these drinking parties, mostly because (from experience) the Japanese tend to get wild as hell when they drink.

  11. 2Jenesis:
    “cosplay at tournaments”

    Russian National 2009 was won by Alexander Privalov who played first day with Joker’s (from “Dark Knight”) make-up.

  12. Another great article. I really like how you focus on increasing happiness and success. Aristotle would be proud. I am definitely on board with the drinking party plan!

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