There can be many important moments in a man's life: Making your first Pro Tour Top 8, or your second, for example, which is something Magic coverage often deals with. But as players grow older, other milestones become increasingly more important: Getting a good job, finding the love of your life, marrying, and becoming a father.
Two people who could look back on all of the previous pragraph's achievements were Nico Bohny and Marijn Lybaert. I sat down with both of them and asked them about the challenges of combining Magic and fatherhood.
"It's a tough task," said four-time Pro Tour quarterfinalist Marijn Lybaert. "I think a full-time job, competitive Magic, and fatherhood is close to undoable."
Ironically, he figured that more Magic could also be a solution. "As a full-time Magic player it's probably doable, but if you also have a job there's just not enough time."
So, naturally, what had to give was the Magic part of Lybaert's life. "At least for the first few years," he said. "My son's seven months old now. This weekend, he's staying with Grandmommy and Granddaddy, while my wife and I took a little vacation."
Marijn Lybaert rocking his baby son; not pictured: son
And it really was a vacation for him. Lybeart laughed about the fact that he got more sleep here than at home. "You don't have to wake up at six in the morning, you can actually sleep until 7:30!"
He didn't have high expectations for this event, though, mostly for lack of preparation. "In the past, when I came home from work I still had time to play Magic Online. Now I have to take care of the kid, and then I'm too tired. So in a way, you return to being a casual player again. Not completely, of course. I mean I still wanna win. But it's not the main thing anymore," he said.
"Plus, if you count on having byes, there's no chance. I didn't even have enough Planeswalker Points for one bye," he added and made a sad face. But Lybaert hoped he might get to play more in a few years' time. "Of course, further down the line, coming to a tournament with my kid, that would be sweet. Qualifying for the Pro Tour with my son? I mean that's the dream, right?"
Lybaert pointed out that he wouldn't be pushing Magic on his son, though. "I'd be happy if he's more into sports for example."
Lybaert's final thought on the topic: "All the best players right now are fathers, aren't they? Seth Manfield and Mike Sigrist?"
Nico Bohny, meanwhile, was skeptical about this idea of having more time when children get older. "My daughter is about one-and-a-half years old now and I'm definitely spending more time with her. When she first hatched she mostly just slept and clung to her mother. I have a feeling that the older she gets the less I'll actually play," he explained.
Nowadays, most of Bohny's Magic playing had moved online. "Magic Online is a great tool to stay connected to the game. Not so much to the community, though. I don't know what's going on in my local community. But I stay in touch with old Magic friends. We often do video chat sessions while drafting," said Bohny. "There's still time for a draft or two on the weekends or during the week after eight p.m. when the little one is asleep.
Nico Bohny, proud father
"But the opportunities for real-life Magic really are far and few between, a Grand Prix here or there, but only on rare occasions," said Bohny. "More just isn't possible. Although me being more busy at work is probably also a factor.
"I can't even remember my last Grand Prix. Although it's not actually been that long ago, probably half a year or something," he said. "But that's quite a change to what I used to do in the past, the number of events I used to go to. My next GP may be in Rotterdam this year if I can get out of a work event, otherwise some time next year."
When I talked to him, Bohny also wasn't doing particularly well in this tournament. He had already taken two losses in the first four rounds. "I would have hoped for a little more. But I guess that's to be expected," he said. "I don't know the format very well because it's only been on Magic Online for a day. Though, I did spend that day, yesterday, playing Grand Prix Trials which is good practice too."
In any case Bohny was currently playing more with his daughter than playing with Magic cards. Which begs the question: Was he looking forward to play Magic with his daughter some day? Would he teach her the game?
"That depends, on whether she's interested in Magic. Right now, she's more of a daredevil which I guess doesn't bode well for the chances here," said Bohny, laughing and smiling like, well, like a father talking about his daughter.