Kuala Lumpur is a great metropolitan city of rapid socio-economic and cultural development that's really not that much different from Kaladesh. Today, hundreds of inventors are gathered at the Sunway Pyramid Convention Center getting ready to strut their stuff and hopefully pick up a bunch of Pro Points, some cash and prizes, or even a Grand Prix title.
The Sunway Pyramid Convention Center
However, a Grand Prix is far more than just a tournament. For many Malaysians, having a Grand Prix in their home country is a big deal. Let's take this opportunity to speak to some of the local players and have them share what this weekend means to them.
Veterans of the Malaysian Magic Community, Joe Soh and Terry Soh
Some of you might be familiar with Joe Soh, finalist of Grand Prix Kobe 2015 and younger brother of Invitational winner Terry Soh. Instead of card-slinging this weekend, he has shouldered the responsibility of running Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur as the tournament organizer.
"I'm grateful for a chance to give back to the community, even if it means that I get less opportunities to compete. I've been playing Magic for over twenty years and I appreciate how important it is for Grand Prix goers to have a great experience as possible. We're all here to enjoy ourselves among good company."
Aside from figuring which are the best cards in Kaladesh (Joe insists that it is Verdurous Gearhulk), he suggests taking some time to visit his city. Incorporating travel along with Premier Events are a great way to make the best value from your far-flung trips.
For those who love shopping and night markets, Joe recommends Chinatown of Petaling Street. Not only is it vividly alive at night, its also a bargain-hunter's paradise. If you're interested in seeking a gastronomic heaven, Alor Street is where you want to be. Amidst oriental culture and heritage, it is also an excellent place to head for dinner or supper after attending the main event.
His brother, Terry Soh, would be less-inclined to dive in, tempting as the cuisine may be. He's recently gained interest in bodybuilding, which means that his strict meal plans have convinced him to consume only wholesome chicken breasts and delectable brown rice.
However, he is not opposed to showing up at Sunway Pyramid to spend some quality time with his old friends from all over the region and to play with some of the newest cards! Having a tenured career consisting three Pro Tour Top 8s and three Grand Prix Top 8s, he is also one of the few privileged players to be immortalized on his very own card, Rakdos Augermage.
"Originally, I had confided in some of my friends that I wouldn't be playing at Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur even though it was only a fifteen minute commute. I just didn't feel that I was well-prepared enough to win and I didn't want to show up being inadequate. With a business to manage and a family to take care of, Magic just isn't one of my biggest priorities at the moment. However, watching Pro Tour Kaladesh unfold has certainly sparked my interest and I really liked the artwork and mechanics. In addition, my brother made a good case by telling me that I should at least 'show up' and 'say hi' to everyone."
"It made a lot of sense because so many of my friends would be coming to Kuala Lumpur, so I decided to pick up Lee Shi Tian's deck and drop by for a spin. The deck looks like a pretty straightforward beatdown deck and I was looking forward to attacking with undercosted three and five-powered guys."
To this day, we have no idea who was the wise soul who said that "nobody ever really quits Magic", but I do know that it was Benjamin Franklin who said that "friendship increases by visiting friends but visiting seldom."
In its essence, this is what the entire Magic experience is all about. Even if we don't get to see each other all the time, these opportunities allow us to refresh our web of ties through the Organized Play program, an initiative that has bonded each and every player so closely to one another.
For some others, it's about being an intensely patriotic person, not just to your country, but also to your team and to your friends. For Chye Yian Hsiang, he has other things on his mind other than winning Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur.
The Grand Prix Hong Kong Champion and the current Malaysia National Champion confides, "If I'm here to compete, I want to do my very best. Playing to the best of your abilities is the highest form of respect for yourself and for everyone who is rooting for you. Outside a game of Magic, I'm a really happy-go-lucky guy, but when I'm locked in battle, I generally mean business."
From left to right: Chye Yian Hsiang, Shawn Khoo, Wee Pang Ming, and Rick Lee, your 2016 Malaysian Team and friends for life.
As a matter of fact, he just beat Shawn Khoo in Round 6, one of his three teammates who will be headed to the 2016 World Magic Cup in Rotterdam. Together with Wee Pang Ming and Rick Lee, they have been heralded as one of the strongest teams to have ever been assembled locally, so there are high expectations for the quad.
"We've already started to prepare for the tournament a month ago. We know that our community is hoping for us to have a good result and we don't want to disappoint those cheering us on. We want to be as prepared as we can going into the World Magic Cup."
Having said that, I've learned that sometimes the best journeys in life take you to a place that is not found on any map. Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint you can on it. For each and every person in the room this weekend, they're in the process of creating unique memories of their own.
A nine-year-old participating in the main event with a deck he built himself! A master deckbuilder in the making?