Canadian Magic has become a force in recent years. Highlighted by eighth-ranked Alexander Hayne's miracle victory at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in 2012, the Canadian Magic contingent has been steadily rising over the years, recently with Paul Dean making the Top 8 of Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar and Pascal Maynard doing the same at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch. A community that was once disjointed and used to only occasional success has united and become a core to be reckoned with worldwide.
One man stands at the middle of it all.
Meet Captain Canada.
Kar Yung Tom. known affectionately as “KYT” or, as his friends have named him, “Captain Canada."
Kar Yung Tom's journey into Magic has been unique. He's never made the Top 8 of a Pro Tour and you've never seen his name up in virtual lights like some of his countrymates.
He's the man hanging those lights.
It began with a blog. Disappointed after his competitive chess run left him with plenty of success but few of the friends he began the grind with, Tom vowed the same wouldn't happen to him as he began his foray into Magic. That led to the creation of ManaDeprived.com, a personal blog that Tom hoped would serve to keep tabs on the Canadian Magic community.
“I actually got the idea from Pascal Maynard,” Tom explained. “People don't know this, but he was the very first, when he was super young. He lived in Quebec City and went to tournaments to write about them, but not as many people read it because the articles were in French.”
To provide content for the blog, Tom wrote regularly himself, and reached out to an old friend.
“Alex Hayne and I had met 15 years prior on the chess circuit,” he explained. “We reunited at a Zendikar Prerelease, and he started helping with content.”
We know Hayne's story from there — he won Pro Tour Avacyn Restored and catapulted into the elite among Magic pros. What goes overlooked in his story is how that win helped launched the blog he was sharing with Tom into something much more.
Before long, the site became a rallying point for Canadian Magic, just as Tom hoped it would. And as it grew, so too did Tom's own success. He qualified for a pair of Pro Tours to fulfil his Magic dream even while managing a site taking off.
More than giving competitive Magic in Canada a home, Tom's site succeeded in exactly the way he had envisioned.
“As chess got more competitive my friends disappeared, they weren't as studious as me to read chess books and stuff, so when it came to Magic I I focused a lot on the local community so my friends would keep coming to these events. Whereas in chess it dwindled, in Magic it grew exponentially. Have way more friends due to Magic than I could ever imagine.”
And thanks to the the site Tom poured his free time into, those friends had a place to go.
Tom's success didn't go unnoticed. His podcast — The Eh Team — earned a sponsorship deal from Canada's own Face to Face Games, and when that company decided to expand their own tournament offerings in Canada they knew exactly where to turn.
Today, it's safe to say Tom lives the dream of many a Magic player. He turned a small blog run with friends into a job. He travels the country for tournaments and has made Magic both a career and a life. And he's done it all while creating a true Canadian Magic community.
“It feels amazing, but at the same time I know that I don't deserve as much credit as I've gotten,” Tom reflected. “I was the first to do these things, but anyone could have done it. I consider myself the catalyst but I don't give myself as much credit as other people do.
“I'm not able to play as much any more, but there's still a competitive bucket list of mine. My biggest goal is to represent Canada at the World Magic Cup — that means more to me than qualifying for the Pro Tour.”
If his track record of success is any indication, before long Captain Canada may just officially earn his nickname.