Pro Tour Qualifiers are now accessible via Magic Online, a relatively recent development that is to this day having its effects measured. Pro Tour–San Juan was a great place to examine how those qualifiers were affecting the Pro Tour, and we took the time to chat with four players of particular note. They were:
Christopher Stefaniw (C0dex)
Matt Ferrando (Delas0ul)
Guilherme Medeiros Merjan (Rastaf)
Malte Holm (MalteKO)
Each member of the group had qualified to play in San Juan via a PTQ on Magic Online, it was their first Pro Tour appearance, and each had battled through to Day 2 competition. So how did they feel about the Pro Tour, their performances, and Magic Online?
The Impact of Magic Online
"It's the only place I play," said Christopher Stefaniw. "I live in Breckenridge, Colorado, and there isn't an FNM for probably 80 miles around. Magic Online is really interesting because you can't make mistakes online that you can make in the real world. Game State Errors don't come up, but you can accidentally skip your second turn against Mono-Red like I did in the second round of the PTQ I won to get here. It's good for learning the fundamentals but can make winning in real life harder. I really like it; if it weren't for MOL I wouldn't be playing cards."
The Brazilian Guilherme felt similarly, "I play about four hours a day online. Its impact is very significant; I've improved a lot using Magic Online. The only live tournaments I play are Pro Tour Qualifiers, Pro Tours, Nationals, and Grand Prix."
The second American of the group, Matt Ferrando, agreed with Christopher that it can both help and hurt. "Magic Online goes both ways, helping and hurting. It helps remind you of triggers if you're forgetful like me, but in the real world you get to interact with people."
Matt Ferrando: 'Magic Online goes both ways, helping and hurting.'
Denmark's Malte Holm benefitted from the digital version of the game in a manner unique to Denmark's geography and player population. "There aren't really any big playgroups in Denmark," he explained. "Magic Online gives me more time to play with the cards, and the more you play the better you get."
On Pro Tour–San Juan
Everyone agreed Pro Tour–San Juan was a pretty great Pro Tour for first timers. Ferrando, who lives in New Jersey, admitted he liked Day One better than Day Two, but enjoyed the interaction between pros, something Magic Online doesn't quite replicate. Guilherme waxed more poetically on Puerto Rico itself, saying, "I've enjoyed being here a lot. I'm here with my friends. The Pro Tour is such a big event, and enjoying it with friends is amazing."
Guilherme Medeiros Merjan: ''The Pro Tour is such a big event, and enjoying it with friends is amazing.
Helm was also enjoying San Juan, including his performance. "I'm pretty happy with my performance this weekend. I knew I wasn't going to have the best Block deck, so I took red and hoped for the best. I play a lot of Limited, but Puerto Rico is great. The weather could be better, but I like it so far." Christopher Stefaniw was also pleased with both the Pro Tour and his performance, a solid Day Two finish considering it was his first Pro Tour appearance ever.
With Magic Online PTQs looking like they're here to stay, their impact is already being felt by at least these four players. But you can get your shot at glory simply by taking the time to sign up and play. For more information about Magic Online, visit the official page.