Samuel Black's Origin Story

Posted in Feature on August 17, 2015

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

The feeling of accomplishment, the overwhelming emotion, and the life-changing effects of winning a Pro Tour can place a lot of emphasis on results rather than growth. For long-time player, renowned deck-builder, and regular StarCityGames.com content provider Samuel Black, accomplishment came from his growth, one success building upon another.

However, even before his first successes in professional Magic, Black had long developed a reputation as one of the game's best deck-builders, and he's gone on to be one of the key influencers for his team's deck choices at Pro Tours. His deck building has made him one of the game's most recognizable players, and for good reason, as his insights have led to some absolutely phenomenal deck selections for Pro Tours.

It wasn't until the 2013-14 Premier Play season, however, that Black's career as a professional Magic began to truly take off. After going on a tear in the Grand Prix circuit following his semifinals finish at Pro Tour Theros, Black was a quick favorite to be one of the 2014 World Championship competitors. There, he battled to a very close Top 4 cut. This season was hardly different, as Black put up consistent numbers all year and was one of the names in the Player of the Year race heading into Pro Tour Magic Origins.


2015 World Championship Competitor Samuel Black

Speaking of origins, Black's beginnings with Magic happened at a young age, long before his origins with the Pro Tour.

"I learned to play Magic when I was eleven or twelve years old," Black recalled. "My friend brought two starter decks of Revised, one for him and one for his brother, and we split them in half and played a four-player game. We didn't understand how turns worked. We thought everyone shared an upkeep, then everyone drew a card, then everyone could play lands and spells, and then everyone attacked. Because we were playing a group game with starters of Revised, the boards were never complicated enough that we ran into problems resolving combat, but it was a much more political game."

"My first Pro Tour was Honolulu in 2006," Black continued. "I qualified playing Ichorid in Extended, and traveled with Lex, who's still my partner now. I dropped at 0-3 because I incorrectly thought I was eliminated from the event. Since then I've finished in the top 25 after starting 0-3. It was a great experience even though I didn't win any matches or knew many people. I can't really get into it, but, thinking about that trip, it's amazing how much I've changed since then."

However, to Black, his origins on the Pro Tour really don't begin with his first event, which was special for other reasons. To Black, his real Pro Tour origins took place with his first successes in the game, where he proved to himself that he had the ability to build a deck and win with it.

"I think of my real Pro Tour origins as my first major Magic successes," Black explained. "Winning a car and winning Regionals with my own decks were both very influential in giving me confidence to build my own decks in Pro Tours moving forward."

The car, in question, was from the Win-a-Car tournament that took place at the 2007 World Championship. It was Black's big breakthrough, and the motivator needed to continue doing what he does best: brewing awesome decks, and winning with them.

Black will be competing in the Magic World Championship for the second consecutive season. The only way he can improve on last year's finish is with a Top 4 appearance. Will he succeed?

The 2015 Magic: The Gathering World Championship takes place in Seattle, Washington, during PAX Prime on August 27, 28, and 30. To learn more about this year's competitors, head over to the 2015 World Championship Competitors page, and check back every weekday leading up to the World Championship for new profiles on each of this year's competitors.

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