Though everyone in Chile is beyond excited for the first Grand Prix in Chile in two years, the tournament began on a somber note. Yesterday morning, local player and Grand Prix Trial grinder, Luis “Luchon” Ancamil died of heart complications. A member of Team Loss in Santiago, he had been a mainstay in the Chilean Magic community for years. After the players sat down before the first round, the tournament organizer Jorge Peñailillo held a moment of silence while a collection of pictures of Ancamil showed on the hall projectors. When the slideshow ended, the silence was broken by the entire room erupting in applause. For many people here, this Grand Prix is dedicated to Luchon (“Big Luis”).
So hard is his passing that some of Ancamil’s closest friends are missing the event, the biggest Magic event in Chile for years, because of it. However, I was able to talk to Team Loss teammates, Juan Veliz and Cristian Stone about the late Ancamil and what he meant to the community. Though they immediately told me that Max would be the best person to talk to, playing today was too difficult for him and declined to attend. But both Stone and Veliz were eager to extol Ancamil’s impact on the Chilean Magic scene.
“He knew everybody from across Chile,” Veliz said, adding Ancamil learned about all the stores and local players at each while traveling all over Chile and Brazil, hitting up every Grand Prix Trial he could. When Veliz said “all over” he meant all over. Chile is a very long country (about 2,700 miles long, while often less than 100 miles wide), and Ancamil and his team would get on eight-hour-long bus trips to play in another local game store for a Grand Prix Trial. “And he would always seem to win them. Every Grand Prix he attended, he had tons of byes somehow,” Stone remembered.
Speaking further on his competitive exploits, Veliz said that at Grand Prix Rio de Janeiro this year, the local Brazilian coverage featured he and Ancamil in Round 7. He wasn’t proud to admit, but he did: “Yeah, he beat me.” But Veliz went on to finish in the Top 25, so he shouldn’t feel too bad.
A player for fifteen years, competitively for five, Ancamil had a large, jovial personality that preceded him wherever he went, traveling across South America playing the game he loved. Stone was quite explicit that Ancamil’s personality went well “beyond Magic.” Though much of our conversation was spent talking about Ancamil’s exploits inside the game, both Stone and Veliz emphasized that his big smile and friendly demeanor extended outside the cardboard. “We went to movies and soccer matches,” and he was always a friendly presence in whatever group he was with.
Grand Prix Santiago is the largest Magic event to come to Chile in years. It’s a weekend to showcase how the community here is growing and thriving; it’s a weekend to fiercely compete, pick a winner and show how the Standard format is evolving; but for many in the Chilean Magic community, it’s a weekend for Luchon. Not just anyone gets a Grand Prix dedicated to him. Though the event is a solemn reminder of Ancamil’s untimely passing, the loud clapping and cheering when the moment of silence ended shows that this weekend is also a celebration of the game that Luchon loved, the community he helped to build, and friends he made along the way.