My life and Magic in COVID days

COVID first showed up in Italy in February 2020 and I had just returned from Worlds 2020 in Honolulu, a two week trip in one of the best places in the world, feeling ecstatic after finishing in the second place of the 2019 MPL Season.

On my return from Honolulu, I had few weeks to rest, celebrate my girlfriend’s degree in Milan and then start playtesting and traveling for a month in the United States for the Pro Tour Finals and Regional Pro Tours.

But something unexpected happened, something that I never experienced in my 26 years at the time. A global pandemic meant that people were of an unforeseeable disease, and almost impossible to cure at the time. The only stop it was to stay home to not spread what could have been a lethal virus.

The world met COVID in the worst way possible - with people’s lives.

Learning to live with a new reality

The only way I got to see COVID was on television, with doctors and our president keeping us updated on deaths per day, cases and the risk we could encounter every day.

While the world was living an unprecedented event, I was comfortably at home, playing Magic: the Gathering for a living, streaming MTG Arena in the morning, playing Magic Online in the afternoon, sharing my games and my laughter with Twitch chat and then with my friends on Discord.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Magic definitely kept me busy and so did ChannelFireball first with their Online MagicFest that I was often taking part of as a commentator, and then with the content I was providing for ChannelFireball (and still do).

In April 2020, Ikoria came out, an incredibly powerful set that shook every Magic format with the original companion mechanic that was both busted to play and very changeling to build around. I’m not sure how the world would have reacted to Lurrus of the Dream-Den if it was dominating in real life events and it was really fun playing Vintage and Legacy during those days.

While the 2020 spring quarantine was a huge hit for many people, I kept my job as a content creator and kept myself busy everyday in front of a computer with both my job and my friendships.

I saw all the MPL tournaments and the countless opportunities slowly disappearing, the tournaments moving to digital only and the Organized Play slowly fading away.

I was careful enough to not only focus on my professional play and tournament Magic; I always kept my writing contract with ChannelFireball and cultivated my stream consistently since January 2019, so I was able to make Magic my profession even in COVID days and after Organized Play was dismantled.

I’m proud of that and of my long-term outlook.

The second lockdown

The second quarantine, the one that happened in December 2020, was much harder.

We’ve lived through the first year of COVID, and assumed things were going to be back to normal. They weren’t.

While in March 2020 I was happy to spend my days on MTGO and Discord with my friends, the same Discord and MTGO queues became unbearable one year after.

The MPL weekly matches felt like a chore, a burden that I never wanted to take on my shoulders.

I understand I was in a privileged position of having a job in tough times for many people, as well as playing cards - digital cards - for a living, but I experienced some very hard months, due to the realization that things were never going to be normal and the best years of my life were gone for something out of my hands.

I had a nice escape collecting cards, so I spent a lot of time and money, collecting pre-Modern and Old School cards, reading about new decks and formats and playing on Discord and Spelltable with some friends. It was a cool new experience that helped keep me going through one of the toughest periods of my life.

Tisch mit Magic The Gathering Spielkarten
"Totally changed deck and strategy for tonight’s Premodern match. Going with Reanimator!!! 🧟‍♂️ #premodernmtg" - via Twitter: Mengu09, Feb 26th, 2021

The Ending of the MPL

The toughest period of my life was May 2021 when they announced the end of MPL. I got literally harassed on social media by Italian people who were celebrating the end of my professional career, which made me feel not welcomed by my own peers, and realized that my life was never going to be the same and was most likely going to be worse than what I’ve lived until 2019.

The best years of my life were gone, when I wrote this piece, two years have passed. My life has changed, and I have changed with it.

I’m now a professional Magic content creator for Twitch, YouTube and I keep myself busy for about eight hours a day playing, writing and recording Magic: the Gathering.

I play Magic for a living and that’s amazing. I can see my future holding strong with how the world is evolving and accepting the gaming industry. I see Magic growing year after year and I hope this will be my life forever.

Author: Andrea Mengucci

Magic: The Gathering, Member of Team CFBUltimateGuard

Andrea first learned Magic as a kid back in 2004 at probably one of the most peculiar places to find Magic: the beach. In his expansive Magic career, Andrea’s proudest moment in Magic was winning the 2015 Magic World Cup, representing his beloved homeland of Italy and marks, in his words, his first big achievement in Magic. Learn more about Andrea.

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