Mental Magic: The Importance of Maintaining Composure During Competitive Play

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Mental Magic: The Importance of Maintaining Composure During Competitive Play

Team Constructed: a format that has been the center of controversy in Magic for almost a year now. But whether you agree or disagree with its existence, it’s still important to consider the unwritten rules of this interesting format.

First – off, how does Team Constructed work? Team Constructed is a format where each of 3 team members participates in a different match each round, with each match consisting of decks from a different format, the most common of which being Standard, Modern, and Legacy. Each individual teammate participates in their own match, and whichever team wins two out of the three individual matches wins the team match.

Although this concept may seem simple on paper, Magic: the Gathering is a game designed for two individuals, at least at the competitive level, and many players tend to become aggressive or toxic when placed into this environment. Sometimes, even something as simple as offering friendly advice to a “tilted” teammate can lead to an argument, and the overall defeat of your team. Here are three simple pieces of advice that can help your team find success in this intricate format:

Use your teammates as a resource – within reason.

One of the most exciting parts about playing Team Constructed events is that you, as an individual, have the opportunity to play one of the most exciting games ever created, alongside some of your best friends. It’s an experience unlike any other, as often you get to “Three – Headed – Giant” against your opponent, and utilize your team’s combined intellect to overcome the opposition.

However, it is important to remember that each player on your team is participating in their own game, and each time you ask a teammate for advice, they have to direct their attention away from their own game. To find success, ensure you can find that fine balance between “too many” and “not enough” communication between teammates.

Remember that everyone handles pressure differently.

Team events foster a pressure to succeed unlike any other Magic format. Most players are comfortable controlling their own fate, but when two other people become involved in the decision – making process, suddenly the pressure begins to pile on. For some, they will rise to the challenge, answering the call when their teammates need them most. For others, the pressure becomes too much, causing them to crack, and the team to crumble.

Roshen Eapen puts it perfectly: “Being able to convert high pressure matches is essential to achieving success in MTG. Whether it’s a win-and-in for day 2, top 8, or even the match to win the tournament, nerves will always be a factor in how we play MTG, so it is on us to try and control its impact on our play to as little as possible.”

I believe when the pressure is on, team chemistry plays a major role in team success. If your teammate begins to face adversity in the crucial, match – deciding game, it’s important to keep team morale high. One of the best examples of outstanding team chemistry is shown by Team Lotus Box. When speaking with team captain Zan Syed, he stressed the importance of being able to “sync up” with his teammates, and their synergy has shown, as collectively the team has found a ton of success on the StarCity Games Team Open circuit.

Losses will occur. Handle them properly and keep pushing forward.

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Sylvester Stallone, in the Rocky series: “It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. It’s how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”

Any competitive Magic player knows that no matter how great of a player you are, losses will always occur. However, the greatest players on the professional circuit all have one thing in common: when faced with a loss, they each find a way to bounce back and win the rest.

Magic is inevitably a game of chance, and variance will always come into play with every match you partake in. You can’t always control the cards you’re going to draw, or the decks you’ll be sitting across from, but you can always control one thing: your attitude. Too many times, I’ve seen players cost themselves percentage points by taking themselves out of the game before it’s even over.

One of my favorite professional Magic players is Jody Keith, leader of The GoonSquad, and Team Bearded Dragon member. Jody prides himself on being a positive personality in the Magic community, and always tries his best to be the “hype man” for his teams, to keep morale up.

When interviewed, he brought up another fantastic point: “I see people post their personal records all the time on social media, and I think that’s wrong thinking. You are a part of a team, so your team record is the only one that matters.”

If you gain nothing else from this article, please, Please, PLEASE, take this with you. In life, no one likes a sore loser. The fastest way to cause a rift between you and your teammates, and ensure you never find teammates again, is to separate your personal record from the team’s record. If you’re a member of the team, then YOUR record is the TEAM’s record. As the old adage goes: “There is no I in team.”

Wrapping up

As this article comes to a close, I wanted to thank some members of the Magic community who took the time to teach me the etiquette and poise required to play the Team Constructed format.

Joe Stempo and Roger Carroll, you gentlemen took the risk with picking me up as a 3rd teammate, and although we didn’t day 2, I had an absolute blast playing alongside you, and would do it again in a heartbeat. Anthony Cendagorta, for teaching me to put my trust in the new guy, and for piggybacking my 1-8 Legacy performance all day long in Philadelphia. And last, but not least, the Daddy, Kevin Jones, for always proving to be a mentor when I need you most, and always encouraging me to do my best. Thanks everyone for reading, and best of luck in your upcoming team events!

Robert Benson

Robert Benson

Robert James Benson is a self – proclaimed Jeskai Bro, hailing from Manalapan, NJ. In his free time, Robert enjoys going to the beach, or hanging out in the backyard with his Yellow Labrador Retriever, Jada. He currently represents Tapstart Games, located in Westminster, SC. A Blue mage at heart, his favorite card is Snapcaster Mage, as shown by his Twitch Channel: Robcastermage13. He is currently ranked on the Star City Games Leaderboard. Robert is a member of Team TopDecked.