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Hello, and thank you so much for visiting the Guildpact Gaming website! My name is Andrew Hakenewerth, and I’m the team captain for the Eastern division of Guildpact Gaming. In addition to my duties as captain, I also work as a graduate assistant in the music department at Eastern Kentucky University.

One of the topics that I have always been interested in has been the overall balance when it comes to not only fulfilling my competitive drive as a Magic player, but also fulfilling my dream of earning my doctorate in music. Because of the nature of graduate school, it can be tough to attend every single event that exists. That’s why planning is imperative in order to maintain a healthy life and Magic balance. I will use examples from my life in how to balance these things, and while it may not be applicable to all, I hope that the information can be transferable. This article is mainly geared to those who aren’t sponsored and have Magic as their full-time job.


All the responsibilities of life come first.

This was a tough lesson to learn earlier on in adulthood. When I was starting undergraduate school, I believed that I had all the time in the world to travel and compete. While I had success at the competitive level, my schooling suffered and ultimately made completing my bachelor’s degree take longer than I would like. Be proactive on personal responsibilities before prioritizing entertainment. I made the mistake of prioritizing Magic over my professional life, and ultimately paid the price for it.


Have a Goal for Growth.

I’ve wasted many years of my Magic playing life playing games that “didn’t matter.” What I mean by this is that I’ve played many games of Magic without having a goal or a purpose set for the time spent. Sure, it’s nice to play Magic for the sake of playing the game and to enjoy it, and casual play like that has an important function in playing development. But when it comes to improving skills, it’s imperative to have a goal or a plan. My personal goal has been to improve my tournament stamina.  I usually start tournaments strong, but then fatigue towards the end and make mistakes that ultimately end my tournament. The secret to these types of events isn’t that the people who lose are unworthy of making it to the next day. Most people who attend SCG Opens and Magic Fest tournaments can win the entire event, but there is a reason the same people end up in the day two standings- they practice habits that let them play as strong in round 15 as they did in round 1. For myself, the usual tips for improving stamina have helped.

  • Travel with plenty of time to unwind before the event. Making red eye drives across the country can be detrimental to your overall success and should be avoided at all costs.
  • Have an idea of what deck you’re going to play.  This will help mitigate any uneasiness before the event. Audibling deck choices in order to metagame the tournament is a commonly used strategy, but it’s less effective when the change is made the day before and negates the time spent on the previous deck.


Consume video content to mitigate practice loss.

We are at a point in history where we are now receiving the most Magic strategy and video content that has ever been created. Because of this, we now have the capability to supplement our playing development with those who are inherently more seasoned than we are. I make it a personal goal to watch about an hour to an hour and a half of competitive content per day. This is mainly because with my professional responsibilities, it becomes difficult to go and meet up with teammates to practice. In addition, watching gameplay in order to analyze game choices in certain situations will help with mental cognition when the exact same situation arises in a future game.


Use Magic Arena.

In the same vein as the video consumption, playing games of Magic has become infinitely more convenient with the creation of Magic Arena. While Arena doesn’t help with practicing eternal formats, having access to a way to play on demand games helps with keeping decision making skills sharp. It’s also an opportunity to test decks that may not be in your current collection or within the immediate play group.


Remember that Magic is a game and that it is fun.

This is the most obvious but easily forgotten piece of advice amongst competitive players. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we are defined by our results. I remember a time that I was very results oriented, and anything less than a tournament win wasn’t good enough. It’s unreasonable to expect to win every tournament participated in, but it’s the nature of any activity where people compete. Instead, make each tournament about playing the best Magic possible. Many pro players claim that if each game is approached with care and the intent to perform at the highest level possible, then the outcome of the game becomes less important. Personally, losing a game where I perform my best isn’t as demoralizing as it used to be, and taking losses with grace and reflection helps improve not only personal skill, but the view of the game.

I hope that for those of you who read this enjoyed the content! For next week, I will be talking about the deck that I play for SCG Cleveland and have a general report of the event. Thank you so much for the continued support!

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