Growing up, Trevor Holmes didn't know what Magic was. He had never heard of a Planeswalker, didn't know how to cast a spell and had no clue what could be so enticing about sitting at a table and turning pieces of cardboard sideways over and over. He certainly didn't understand the appeal of traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles just to spend much of it inside a convention center.
But he knew one thing: he wanted to be like his dad.
"My parents split up when I was young, and I lived with my mom so I didn't get to see my dad very often," Holmes explained. "So when I did see him, I wanted to do what he did."
What his father did was play games. Lots of them. From board to card games, Trevor found something in common with his father Jeff, even if it was only for a few hours a week.
It started with chess, then his first card game. Whatever the contest, Trevor attacked it fiercely. When his dad taught him to play chess, Trevor lost dozens of times while learning to play. Soon he was researching how to improve online, and then the day finally came when he turned the tables on his dad and beat him for the first time. Soon enough, it was Trevor who was winning the majority of their games.
"He wouldn't play with me anymore," Trevor recalled with a laugh. "So we started playing a different game."
That game? Magic. It was unlike anything the Holmes had played before.
"My dad and I are both really competitive, and we loved playing it together," Trevor explained. "It was around Shards of Alara, and we started playing every week back then."
Sitting across the table from his father, playing a game he grew to love with the man who taught him to love it, Trevor had no idea then where the journey would take him.
He does now. Gazing over the bay at the mountains over a calm sea, a pristine view on a perfect day in Vancouver, Trevor reminisced about the game—and the father—that brought him to Pro Tour Magic Origins.
"If I let you win, you'll never learn anything." Jeff's mantra was enormously frustrating to his son growing up, but it was a lesson Trevor took to heart. Never accepting a loss without learning from it, the younger Holmes quickly improved at Magic, and before too long he was placing highly in local tournaments and yearning for more. He found it in the Grand Prix circuit, and while his results never lived up to his hopes, Trevor was thankful for the opportunity to play and improve while sharing the game with his dad, an opportunity many players never receive. Setting his sights on the Pro Tour, Trevor began to work toward that goal.
Graduation and college enrollment threw a wrench into those plans. He drifted away from the tournament circuit and his free time to chase his dream waned. While he would still occasionally play when he visited home, that was as far as it went.
That is, until a day earlier this year when a conversation with the man who introduced him to Magic changed the course of his future with it.
"My dad asked if I wanted to go to a Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier with him, and I said sure on a whim," Trevor said. "He loaned me a deck, and I went on to win it."
Trevor Holmes, competing in his first Pro Tour.
If the fire had waned, Trevor's win reignited it with an explosion. He didn't just prepare for the Regional Pro Tour Qualifier that offered him a shot at the Pro Tour; he enlisted the help of a few thousand of his closest friends by starting to stream his matches on his Twitch channel.
"The channel just started so people could watch me and help me get better," he explained. "I figured if I was going to play in a Regional PTQ, I should be serious about it. It just kind of grew from there."
Did it ever. Trevor quickly grew to be one of Magic's more prolific streamers, and soon he was watching his viewer count go up along with his win percentage. The day of the Regional PTQ quickly arrived, and Trevor entered more confident than he had in years.
When the dust settled on the tournament, it was Trevor who stood at the top, and suddenly the kid who had started playing the game just to spend time with his dad found himself with an invitation to the game's main stage. Regardless of the outcome this weekend, Holmes is grateful for the chance he almost never had.
"That's when Magic took over," he said. "It's awesome, and my dad loved it. He's been doing everything he can to help me get ready and have cards for the tournament, and I'm sending him updates whenever I can. He's going nuts back home to watch the tournament and knows I'm playing in it."
What started as a pastime with his dad has quickly turned into something much more, but Trevor Holmes still embraces the fact that Magic was a way of bonding with his father.
The future is wide open for Trevor, and he doesn't know exactly what it will hold. His streaming career is growing—he recently became a partner on Twitch, an honor reserved for the game's top streamers—and he has the drive to play in more tournaments regardless of his outcome in Vancouver. At the same time, he has a challenging college road ahead of him to complete his degree in architecture, and making the Magic rounds while balancing coursework isn't always easy.
But the game that started on a kitchen table nearly a decade ago isn't going anywhere, and neither is Trevor.
"This is a culmination of a goal for me, and an experience I'll never forget," he said. "This feeling is contagious, and I'm going to do everything I can to get back here. I'll be back at it the next day after I land back home at the airport."
You already know who will be waiting there for him.