Opening Doors

Posted in Feature on March 3, 2006

By John Klauk

Everyone walks away a winner. It is a phrase that parents and coaches use all the time. It is a phrase that sometimes gets tossed around far too much. Heck, it’s a phrase I’m about to throw around a bit. Watch out… here comes the first hurl of it!

Every competitor walks away from a Junior Super Series Challenge event a winner! Every competitor entering a Junior Super Series Challenge walks away with an exclusive JSS premium card. In addition, the top eight competitors at these tournaments will scoop up product prizes (also known as free booster packs of Magic: The Gathering®, etc.). The top two finalists will receive invitations to compete in the 2006 Junior Super Series Championship as well as splitting $1000 in scholarships. If that wasn’t enough, the winner snags free Magic cards for a year!

Okay, so some walk away bigger winners than others.

These JSS events are open to any competitor fifteen years of age or younger (as long as they have not already won a scholarship by placing first or second in a JSS event so far this year). Also, if the competitor already has any Pro Points, he or she may not enter another JSS Challenge event this season. Remember that you only get Pro Points by attending the Pro Tour or the World Championships or by finishing in the top thirty-two at a Grand Prix event. But if you already have these achievements to your name, then move along… you’re already ahead of most of us. In fact, I could use a new playtest partner for the current PTQ season. Gimme a call kid. Maybe you can tell me what I’m doing wrong once I get to the top eight at the PTQs I attend.

Now, here’s the part you should really pay attention to if you want to earn an invitation to the 2006 Junior Super Series Championship. These events are winding down. What started as over 200 qualifying events is quickly dwindling in numbers as well as your chances to win. In fact, the last chance you have to bring home the proverbial bacon is Saturday, July 29, at the Junior Super Series Open. This showdown is happening in Atlanta, Georgia at the Cobb Galleria Center. I know if I was a young whippersnapper, I would be clawing at the chance to compete for a piece of the $100,000 up for grabs in scholarships. Scholarship prize payouts will be given all the way down to 64th place, which skips away with $500, and all the way up to 1st place, which hops and jumps away with $10,000.

$10,000.

Everyone walks away a winner. One guy wins a foil JSS card. One guy wins $10,000. Yeah… that phrase definitely gets used way too much.

But it’s not about winning or losing (I figure one overly used phrase definitely deserves another). That’s not why we all play and love this game. Everyone knows that we all play and love this game for the pursuit of winning. It might be the manner in which you win, or it might be the volume of wins you chalk up, or perhaps it could be winning in a way no one else has before. Oh, yeah… and the fun and camaraderie involved whilst playing too. Those are very important reasons we all play as well. At least that’s what my parents, coaches, and fiancée keep telling me.

Really though, for each person that plays this great game of Magic: The Gathering, they each have their own reason(s). I know for me, it is a healthy combination of the search for success mixed with the entertainment of each individual game. To me, each individual tournament I compete in—from a local FNM tournament to State Championships to a Pro Tour Qualifier* or a Grand Prix—is really about me having a good time and hopefully doing well in the process. Whatever your rationale is, it is just as legitimate as mine for playing Magic. And whether you sling cards around the kitchen table or at a JSS Challenge, the reason you continue to do so is obvious. At least it’s obvious to all us Magic players out here.

I like to imagine that competing in a JSS Challenge is like walking down a long hallway full of doors. Now granted, there also happens to be lots of original Magic: The Gathering artwork hanging on the walls in between each door in my imagined hallway.

My imagination, my visualization here folks. Humor me.

Each door is either locked or unlocked. Makes sense, right? You either have the key to that door or you can get the key if you are skillful enough to figure out how to craft it. Notice that I didn’t say you don’t have the key.

Do or do not… there is no try my young padawan. And yes, Yoda is sitting in the hallway in my vision. Actually, he’s in a blue backpack on my back, but that’s a picture for another time.

Anyway, long story short, either you don’t get in the door or you do. The nice thing about this JSS hallway is that it seems to have a lot of doors that open to the Magic Pro Tour. Many current and past pros got their start at JSS events. In fact, I do believe there is a Hall of Fame player that began his legacy at these “kids” events. The portals you gain access to may not lead you out of the JSS Hallway and into the Hall of Fame; perhaps yours will only lead to a half-open door with a hotdog wiener vendor behind it who has a penchant for squirting mustard and ketchup all over your autographed Masticores. I hope not, but it could happen. Or maybe you are able to turn the key on several doors that have piles of cash for college behind them.

Much better than your typical condiment.

My point is, if you like playing Magic: The Gathering and you are fifteen years or younger, why would you not want to see which keys you hold or can make for yourself? You’re young, and this is the time to be trying to open doors for yourself.

And I haven’t even touched on the other things you can walk away a winner of at the 2006 Junior Super Series!

No really… there’s more. I’m not kidding! Wizards of the Coast is pimping out the JSS Championship event so much this year, you don’t even have to compete in the actual event to win stuff!

They are holding creation and writing contests focused on future careers in the gaming field that will offer $1000 scholarships in four different categories. Try your hand at Game Design, Fiction Writing, Strategy Article and Tournament Report Writing, or Fantasy Art. If you win, not only do you get the scholarship cash, but you get a personal one-on-one discussion session with the Wizards of the Coast employee who judged the category you took home the gold in. If your dream** is to work in the game industry, this is an incredible opportunity; this feedback will be something the winner will take with them for life. More information on these contests will be posted online in the spring. Remember, you don’t have to compete in the actual JSS Championship event to participate in these awesome contests.

Yet another reason why anyone who goes to the 2006 Junior Super Series Championship event can walk away a winner. Well, if you’re not an old fogey like me at least, that is. If you are, then I challenge you to instead take a younger player under your wing and help him or her make a trip to a Junior Super Series Challenge event or the Junior Super Series Open in Atlanta. Then maybe, just maybe, you can enjoy watching him or her open doors you might not have gotten to even walk past.

Catch Y’all Later,
John H. Klauk

*My personal choice for self-inflicted torture.

**Isn’t this everybody’s dream? I wish they had this competition when I was 15! This is good stuff. I give Wizards of the Coast a big thumbs-up for this new addition to the JSS Championship.

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