On Preparing for a Set Championship


I think it’s pretty well established that optimism correlates with achieving good outcomes. There are a lot of ways to build up optimism for those of us like myself who are not necessarily naturally predisposed to it but I would say that the primary tool for doing so is reliant on success spirals where you set goals, achieve them, and move forward with more reason to believe in future success.

The Magic grind does a lot to facilitate this with qualifications to higher level events being earned through wins at your current level but for whatever reason this has not led to me building up any sort of confidence. Rather, whenever I achieved something I could observe almost in real time my expectations adjusting, leaving me unsatisfied with said achievement, and just as lacking in confidence as I was in the first place.

So on some level I can recognize that my approach is broken. I don’t really know what else I can do though and even if I did that wouldn’t necessarily mean I would be able to get out my current mentality. I’ve had a few discussions related to this about what our goal posts for being “good” are supposed to be and have always advocated for the only measure being the highest level of play but while that attitude has helped me stay motivated in some ways it’s also quite draining.

I’m really quite a big believer in being able to do most things given a week. I see that sort of builder’s mentality as integral to my journey with coding and to who I am as a person but if you start digging into it it doesn’t really make sense. I can achieve a lot of the goals I might set for myself in a week and believing that to an extent helps me set more ambitious goals but there is a huge swathe of things I could do not even operating at maximum capacity.

This is where I find myself now with this Set Championship. If the grind is supposed to prepare you for this in gradual cycles I can’t help but feel that I have skipped some. Really the fact that I was extremely lucky to get here is undeniable. There are people who are favored to qualify for any given PT type event but I am certainly not one of them. I hit my high-roll though in a number of ways and am here now at a point where it’s hard to see myself doing anything other than 0-4 dropping when the time comes.

What more can I expect really? Every cycle many players get lucky to qualify for their first event of this sort and the bulk of them scrub out. On my MTGO homeground I know that there are few actual good players and that I can gain an edge by putting in work where others are not but here neither of those things are true. Sure I can get lucky to an extent but the event is protracted enough that even if I do get lucky in its initial stages I am still overwhelmingly likely to scrub out in the longer run.

But look, I don’t really want to be defeatist. It’s just that what outcome am I even supposed to aim for here. The reasonable thing to do is have no expectations but I don’t think I can do that. I have this opportunity now where in addition to getting into the event in the first place I was also able to land with a group of talented and motivated people preparing for the event. So I’ll be damned if I don’t take my best swing at it. The issue as I see it though is that said swing is almost never good enough and that it is not particularly clear to me how I am supposed to reconcile that fact with the fact that I am trying as much as I am.