Growing Up with the Game

Posted in Event Coverage on August 28, 2015

By Chapman Sim

A while ago, Magic: The Gathering celebrated its 22nd birthday. To be more specific, Alpha was released on August 5, 1993, which makes Magic: The Gathering approximately 22 years and three weeks old.

It was the first trading card game to be ever created and since then, the game has grown from strength to strength. To this day, it is still going strong.

In a sense, it's like watching a tiny sapling grow into a mighty Coast Redwood.

The World Championships in 1994 was the only Premier Event on the Magic calendar, as was the World Championships in 1995. Organized Play expanded four-fold, bumping up the number of events to a grand total of FOUR!

Cute, isn't it? But as the game proliferated, the Grand Prix circuit was introduced in 1997, featuring only five locations that year. It more than doubled the next year, and then quadrupled when we crossed over into the 21st century.

Along with the ballooning number of players, the number of Grand Prix has also steadily increased over the years. Today, we're pampered with around fifty Grand Prix annually, to keep the insatiable fan-base of twenty million players clamoring for more.

In the midst of Magic: The Gathering's growth from infancy to adulthood, some of the players in the field also underwent a similar transformation.

To be exact, five of our competitors today are actually younger than the game itself! Thiago Saporito is not one of them, but he deserves a quick mention here because he was born a month before Alpha's release.

Regardless, this can only mean a couple of things. Either the game has had a really long heritage, or these talented players are really young. Or both!

(13) Shahar Shenhar and (21) Antonio Del Moral León are the oldest of the five players today who are younger than the game itself, at 21 years old. Shenhar was born a month before Unlimited and Del Moral León was born after Revised was released on shelves.

To put things in perspective, Shenhar is around the same age as any white-bordered Black Lotus is, while Del Moral León is just about as old as any Volcanic Island you encounter.

Antonio Del Moral León is one of the field's younger players, younger than the game itself.

And yet, both players have already accomplished more than anyone in their age group, or most Magic players for the matter. Shenhar's a two-time World Champion gunning for a three-peat, while Del Moral León has won a Pro Tour with only six Pro Tour appearances to date.

(11) Ondřej Stráský and (6) Jacob Wilson are next on the list, both at 20 years old. At that time, (possibly) you and I were engaged with Magic's latest release, 4th Edition.

Both players have similarly young careers and have already notched up two Pro Tour Top 8s. Coming in sixth at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir and third at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir, Stráský's conversation rate is an astounding 33% considering Pro Tour Magic Origins was only his sixth lifetime Pro Tour.

Wilson's second place finish at Pro Tour Born of the Gods and seventh place finish at Pro Tour Fate Reforged also puts him at two Top 8s. With a conversion rate of one Top 8 in every six Pro Tours, it is a scarily impressive ratio too.

And who happens to be the youngest contestant today?

It is none other than Martin Müller, our reigning World Magic Cup Champion 2014. Clearly, age is not an indication of one's skill and talent!

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