How I qualified for my first Pro Tour



This is the story of how I qualified for my first Pro Tour without exactly trying to.

I was 16 and, at that time, I didn’t think my mother would let me travel to a Pro Tour, even if I managed to qualify because I didn’t think she approved of my passion. She had tried to stop me from playing but I kept doing so in hiding, pretending to be hanging out at my friend’s place after school. She eventually found out but I guess she decided to just let me be and allowed me to keep playing.

Even though I didn’t think she would let me go, I still wanted to compete in the biggest tournaments I could enter though so I would play in Qualifiers anyway and just scoop if I ever played against my friends.

I once even rode along with some friends to the south of France, a 16 hour round trip, to play in a Limited PTQ. I started off 4-0 and ended up getting paired in Round 5 and 6 against Antoine Ruel and Florent Jeudon, both of whom I conceded to. They both made Top 8 of the PTQ but that day, the slot evaded us as a Spanish player ended up earning his way to the Pro Tour.

Another time, I was off to a 6-0 start in an Extended PTQ in Paris. I piloted a Red Burn deck back when Jackal Pup and Ball Lightning were extremely powerful cards and got paired against Fred Courtois, who was playing a Stasis deck, an archetype that had re-emerged after the printing of the “free” spells in Mercadian Masques (Gush, Daze, Thwart). I scooped to him and he ended up taking down the whole thing, qualifying for Pro Tour New York 2000. I even helped him test for the event as well and he earned himself a Top 64 finish with a sweet mono-blue Cowardice deck in what I believe was his first PT.

Entering the 2000 European Championship

This scenario had occurred a few times when the 2000 European Championship came around. It was held in Paris, basically my backyard. I wasn’t qualified for the main event but obviously I couldn’t miss out on the action. I spent most of the weekend cheering on the other French players and one of my friends, Loic Dobrigna, even made Top 4 with an Accelerated Blue Control deck based around Grim Monolith which we had spent days tuning at Ostelen, our local game shop.

The biggest side event was a Mercadian Masques Block Constructed PTQ for the Chicago 2000 Pro Tour. I registered the Blue-White Control deck I had brewed up, based around the synergy of Wave of Reckoning and high toughness creatures (Drake Hatchling, Stinging Barrier and Blinding Angel). As usual, I figured I would try and do my best and hopefully get paired against one of my friends at some point, making their road to the invite a bit easier.

Drake Hatchling  Stinging Barrier  Blinding Angel

Given the nature of the event though, the field was massive. At least 300 players from all over Europe had entered this Sunday PTQ. I started winning round after round and kept doing so most of the day without ever facing a familiar face. The deck performed great and, after making it into the Top 8 and winning my quarterfinal match, I once again got paired against a foreigner and had a decision to make.

A brother's advice paves the way

I tried to call my mom but she wasn’t home and it was my brother who picked up. I let him know what was going on, that if I won this next match, I would be qualified for a major tournament held on the other side of the ocean (I had never travelled to the US then) and asked him if he would help me convince our mother to let me go if I did win. He told me not to worry about it, that he would talk to her and that I should beat that guy - which I did.

I don’t exactly remember what my mom’s reaction was but it was definitely not as bad as what I thought it would be - not bad at all actually. Of course, she was still a bit worried but also happy for me.

I ended up making Top 64 in my first Pro Tour in Chicago, good enough to cash but not quite good enough to qualify for the next one. I wouldn’t have to wait too long to be back though. In fact, it would be less than a year, and that time, I would make the best of it, making it all the way to the finals of the Team PT in New York only a week after making it to the finals of GP London, earning myself a spot on the PT Train. The rest, as they say, is history.

Author: Gabriel Nassif

Magic the Gathering Hall of Fame, Member of Team CFB UltimateGuard

While Gab has one of the most storied and prolific careers in Magic, he came from humble beginnings, learning Magic in middle school around when Ice Age came out. While Gab is known for being a Constructed specialist and considered one of the best deckbuilders of all time, he has a deep love for Limited in all forms. Learn more about Gab.