How Winning Player of the Year Changed Luis Salvatto's Life

Posted in Competitive Gaming on March 15, 2019

By Corbin Hosler

To say it's been a busy year for Luis Salvatto is an understatement. After all, it wasn't that long ago that the reigning Player of the Year was just finding his footing on the competitive scene. Before his breakout performance at Pro Tour Madrid in 2016, Salvatto was just an Argentinian Magic player dreaming of leaving his home and competing with the best in the world, a dream he was confident he could achieve, but one he knew would take hard work and dedication.

Three short years later, Salvatto is getting his wish. He'll compete alongside 63 other competitors at the Mythic Invitational March 28–31 at PAX East.

The only difference between that dream and the new world Salvatto finds himself living in? He won't be challenging the best in the world—he'll be competing as one of them.

Salvatto is still finding his footing as he begins to settle into life as a Grand Prix winner (Rotterdam and Santiago 2018), Pro Tour Champion (Rivals of Ixalan), Player of the Year (after only the second playoff in history), and one of the 32 members of the Magic Pro League.

Salvatto is no longer the man who showed up to his first big Grand Prix five years ago, and he's no longer the same Magic player. His teammates look to him for advice. Fans around the world follow him. Thousands of people have tuned into his streams after he took on the new responsibilities. It's a lot for anyone to adjust to, and for Salvatto, it's come with a bit of perspective.

Salvatto is living the life he never dreamed of, and he's going to hold onto every moment of it.

"Look, I could lose every match in the MPL and it wouldn't matter to me," he explained matter-of-factly. "I'm super happy with how things are going, and I'm excited to be a part of it."

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Salvatto's rise through the ranks has been nothing short of meteoric, and he is still adjusting to the opportunities he's been given.

It's been quite the adjustment for Salvatto. His days are now filled with streaming, creating content, preparing for tournaments, and generally finding his place as the Magic landscape shifts around him. He's embraced the change and leaned into the new normal, though, if truth be told, there's one thing Salvatto hasn't quite yet adjusted to.

"It's like I'm rich!" he couldn't help but exclaim with a smile when asked about the biggest change in his life since the formation of the Magic Pro League.

For a player who has traveled the world from his home of Buenos Aires, it's a meaningful development—and Salvatto will forever be thankful for achieving so much so quickly. In fact, complacency has been the biggest challenge for Salvatto after his historic run a season ago, which included a wild six-week sprint to tie Seth Manfield in the Player of the Year race at the last possible moment and force a playoff.

"That fire has gone down a little bit, and I feel like I need to get ambitious again," he admitted as he completed a pedestrian 8-8 run at the first Mythic Championship in Cleveland to punctuate his sentiment.

It's hard to begrudge Salvatto a little downtime after taking part in the historic marathon he undertook to earn the Player of the Year title, but Salvatto doesn't have to look very far ahead for motivation. The Mythic Invitational will offer $1 million in total prize pool and a unique format—Duo Standard, where players bring any combination of two Standard decks—that Salvatto feels plays to his strengths perfectly.

"I'm really ready to work for this tournament," he said. "Honestly, deck building and sideboarding plans are not the strong parts of my game, so I'm looking forward to the format. What you want to do is pick two decks that cover the field pretty well so that you can switch to something completely different if you need to. For me, I just want to play, play, play. I want the games to go long because that gives my opponent the biggest chance to mess up, and that's what I want to take advantage of. If I can do that, I feel pretty good."

Salvatto has shown every other Magic up-and-comer that it's possible to reach the top from humble beginnings. Some of those people will be at the same Invitational he sees as a chance to take the next step in his career and leave his mark not just on Magic, but the larger esports world. However he finishes in the event, Salvatto knows his run has not just been the ride of his life, but a critical development for the thousands of players looking up to him as he represents the region.

"It's an honor to be in this position," he said. "However things go this season, it's great to be a part of the league, and I'm going to have fun no matter how things go this year."

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