Professional Teams have been a large part of Magic's storied history. In the early days there were teams like Deadguy from the East Coast of the US and The Legion spread all across North America and Europe, followed by Carnegie Mellon University's Team CMU dominating in the late '90s. These days our feeds are filled with talk of teams like ChannelFireball's The Pantheon, Team Ultra PRO, EUreka, and East-West Bowl. Almost all professional Magic teams share one thing in common: they're based in North America or Europe.
After Tzu Ching Kuo captained the Chinese Taipei team to a win at the World Magic Cup in 2012, and Lee Shi Tian followed up with a Top 8 at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, Lee approached Kuo with an idea…
"Throughout the whole of Magic history there has never been any Asian teams outside of Japan, and we thought we could do better than that," Lee said. He and Kuo partnered with a well-known Magic store in Asia to form Team MTG Mint Card, and they've since tallied countless great finishes around the world, including a further three Pro Tour Top 8s for Lee.
Lee Shi Tian has four Pro Top 8s to his name.
The team has grown rapidly since 2012, picking up players throughout the Asia-Pacific region and recently as far away as Europe and the United States. New Zealand's Jason Chung and Australia's Paul Jackson were perfect fits for the team after Chung's Top 8 finish at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir and Jackson's Top 4 at Pro Tour Magic Origins.
"It's my first time testing with a real team, and we have players all around the world," Jackson said. "It's crazy, it's been awesome. It means a lot to be included, to feel wanted, it feels great."
Given it's been fourteen years since the Pro Tour was last in Australia, it also means a lot to Jackson to have a Pro Tour in his backyard.
"I love it; I don't have to travel far. But I'm in Perth (Western Australia), so I still have to travel the farthest. Jason's flight was shorter than mine, which is crazy, and he's flying from New Zealand. It would mean the world to me to Top 8 this Pro Tour. Any Pro Tour, really, but if you can Top 8 one in your own country, it's special."
From left: Lee Shi Tian, Paul Jackson, Zen Takahashi, Andrea Mengucci, and Jason Chung
Earlier this week Hélène Bergeot announced that the 2017–2018 season would include the launch of the Magic Pro Tour Team Series, which was very exciting to professional Magic teams around the world, and MTG Mint Card is no exception.
"We work together online because of the distances, so players on the team will often test with local players and report back to the team," Lee explained. "We have already been testing with Tomoharu Saito's team, Hareruya Pros, so [the announcement] means the future direction for Team MTG Mint Card will [involve] continuing to work with them. The big teams have their star players, but I think we will do our best."