July 24, 2022
Magic: The Gathering
travelling, Team CFBUltimateGuard, Magic: The Gathering
I have been playing Magic for more than 20 years now, which is pretty crazy when I think about it.
I started like most others, when my classmates introduced me to this new game at school during breaks between classes. I like all kinds of games, so I was quickly hooked and building my own decks. Keep in mind that this was around the year 2000 when the internet wasn’t really too much of a thing, so all the rules and information we were working with was very limited and our decks reflected that.
In about a year, we found our way into the local store and started playing against other players, trading to improve our decks and just generally having a good time hanging out after school. After some time playing locally, I made it to Nationals, where I went on a tear of making the National team four years in a row, including winning in 2005 and 2006.
From Hobby to Pro Level
Back then, I was still treating Magic as a hobby while going to school. Every year, I would make it to Worlds through Nationals and to one Pro Tour, but I didn’t really do a good job of practicing and mostly thought of the big tournaments just as a nice vacation with friends, where I could maybe win some money if I do well. Of course, the results reflected that and I think my best finish was a top 32 at Worlds.
Then in 2008, I qualified for a Pro Tour in Berlin and we found a great deck - Elves. I think this was the first time when we actually had a proper playtest group, including a message board to discuss ideas with friends from other countries as well. This PT went exceptionally well - I ended making the Top 8 and this pretty much started my professional career, as I’ve been able to qualify for every professional level event since then thanks to my ranking in the Pro Club.
Altogether, I’ve played in over 200 GPs and 50 Pro Tours and most people ask me how I was able to do so much travelling. My answer is simple - that’s always been the best part!
I did spend a crazy amount of time at airports and hotels, but thanks to Magic, I was able to visit something like 50 different countries, which is something I’m very proud of. The Magic “motto” used to be “Play the game, see the world,” and that’s exactly what kept it fun for me over the years.
My top five places that I was able to see are:
1. Easter Island
Between PT Memphis and GP Santiago de Chile, we went on a five day trip to Easter Island and it was the most amazing place I’ve ever been to. It’s a very small, remote and kinda of mysterious island with all the weird statues, but there are also nice beaches and warm weather. I already can’t wait to go back one day.
2. Machu Picchu
Before another GP in Santiago de Chile, this time about five years earlier, we went on a nice tour in Peru, all the way up to Machu Picchu. Another pretty awesome looking and mysterious place on top of a mountain that’s quite hard to get to. You have to fly all the way to Lima, then to Cuzco, take a train to Aguas Calientes and then wake up at 4 a.m. to take a bus up on the mountain or hike for a few hours so you can catch the sunlight. Definitely recommend checking it out if you ever make a trip to South America.
3. Fiji and an active volcano in Vanuatu
After GP Sydney, Stan Cifka and I reserved about two weeks for hanging out in southeast Asia. We ended flying on a little vacation in Fiji, with all the amazing beaches where they shot movies like the Castaway. After that, we flew to Vanuatu, which I only knew about from watching the TV show Survivor. The scenery looked beautiful and I wanted to see it one day and this was the best opportunity. We booked a one day overnight trip to one of the smaller islands where there’s an active volcano, where you can observe the boiling lava from the top of the rim of the volcano during the night.
4. Pyramids in Egypt
This wasn’t exactly a part of a Magic trip, but we did go there together with two other Magic friends - Frank Karsten and Chris Mascioli. Giza in Egypt, with all the pyramids just chilling there for thousands of years, has always fascinated me and I spent hours just sitting there in the sand, watching the spectacular view.
5. Honolulu, Hawaii
Getting your flight ticket and a hotel on the Waikiki beach paid for by the Pro Club to go play a Magic tournament in Hawaii is the ultimate dream of every gamer.
The best part about Magic is that there are so many ways to enjoy it. You can be into art, a collector, a competitive player or a casual one, a tourist or just simply enjoy pimping out your foil foreign Legacy deck. I’ve been doing a little bit of all of that, but mostly it’s been the travelling that kept Magic fun for me over the last 20 years and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity.
Martin learned to play Magic at a young age after he saw some of his classmates playing it. Once he learned, he built a beginner deck and ever since then, he’s been hooked. Considered one of the top players in the world, his busy travel schedule made him become a real Magic Globetrotter, representing the game worldwide. Learn more about Martin.