The local community has ballooned over the years and my partner-in-crime (Ray Walkinshaw) has an excellent piece about the history of Grand Prix Singapore.
While there will be stories written about the bigger teams and the biggest names as the tournament progresses, let's put our spotlight on one of the biggest casual teams in Singapore.
Introducing Mad Cow Inc.
Mad Cow Inc. is probably the biggest team in Singapore in terms of member strength. What started off as casual Magic gatherings has evolved to more than 10 years of friendship and bonding.
Today, with their current member almost at 20, they are one of the best embodiments of friendship and community building that Singapore has to offer.
Daniel Chua (Leader Cow), Kenneth Goh, Lau Zhao Zhi, Alvin Neo, Andrew Lim, Gordon Tan, Eugene Neo, Jeremy Tnee, Ng Wei Qiang, Lee Chao Lin, Neo You Wei, Stan Lee Chao Hsien, Yap Teng Chiong, Gavin Teo, William Au, Ng Zi Xuan, Lim Jun Long, Fidel and Xavier Pok.
Named Mad Cow Inc., the founder of the team is Daniel Chua who originally had the idea to help people to get started to play Magic at local game stores. The ideology was to band together small pairs or trios of people, or even lone rangers to make them feel at home.
Chua explains, “Most people learn how to play Magic from their friends, but what if you're a solo ranger who wants to get in the game? You don't know anyone, you don't know how Organized Play works, and it was easy feel left out and get pushed away.”
Together with the initial members Kenneth Goh, Alvin Neo and Zac Lau, the team slowly built up its roster with a simple goal. All they wanted was to be able to fire off a draft pod or kickstart a sanctioned tournament whenever they gathered. Today, they also share a collection inventory, order products in bulk and “block-book” seats in tournaments.
The Steaks Are Not Very High
Unlike full-fledged Professional teams like StarCityGames, ChannelFireball and MTG Mint Card, Mad Cow Inc. is all about friendship and having a great time together.
The fundamental principle of the team is plain and simple. To have fun playing a game together. Winning is not the most important thing, even if it is a very welcome bonus.
Most of them attend weekly Friday Night Magic outings and attend Grand Prix Trials, Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers together.
During the holidays, team outings also frequently take place, making it the perfect excuse to hang out and catch up with one another.
Not all of them may show up because of their individual schedules, but there is always an annual staycation where the full strength makes the commitment to attend!
Mad Cow Inc. at Grand Prix Taipei
Milking it for All Its Worth
The team has evolved to a stage beyond just simply playing Magic . Just attending events together in their team polo tees and swanky tailor made jackets have made them one of the most closely-knitted groups.
To them, the experiences they share are priceless. Here's what some of the cows have to say about their journey.
Alvin Neo: It's been sixteen years since I started playing Magic but the best memories are from all the road trips we've had together. We try to attend two Grand Prix as a team annually, and there is a lot of excitement planning the itinerary together. I could not have asked for a better team. Mad Cows forever!
Andrew Lim: Mad Cow Inc. is really about friendship. Though brought together by a common hobby, we are not just companions playing a game. The relationship among our team members run deep. We seek each other's advice when we face problems in our personal lives, support each other, and look out for one another.
Neo You Wei: It's the friendship that's been holding us together for so many years. I can still remember my first overseas Grand Prix just like it was yesterday, because it was one of the best gaming experiences a gamer could ask for.
Ng Wei Qiang: Having a team of great friends ensures that you can always get someone to attending events with you. You will never have to go alone, even on weeknight tournaments. I think the relationships formed have more than transcended the game itself, with the game acting as a great platform that glues the team together.
Stan Lee Chao Hsien: I've been with the team since I was 14. Daniel Chua invited me to join Mad Cow Inc. together with my brother and helped us to prepare for the Under-18 Junior Super Sunday Series where my brother Lee Chao Lin came in 9th place. Fast forward 10 years and everyone is still coaching us on how to play better!
Gordon Tan: Attending events is always more fun with people you can mingle with in between breaks. That said we have had many experiences and foraying into overseas in different occasions for Grand Prix events together; and we try to enjoy a trip as well after the Grand Prix together. It's always great to see other team member doing well in events to some what represent the team. It's always hard to balance everyone expectation and attitude towards Magic but the team seems to have managed it and letting each member enjoy playing Magic while balancing competitiveness and fun.
Jeremy Tnee: Having a group of friends where they share the same hobby as you is one of the biggest joys of life. Team Mad Cow is also super fun, bordering crazy. All in all, I would not be the person I am today if it wasn't for this group of friends. Thank you Richard Garfield for making Magic and for creating the opportunity for this team to be formed.