Competitive Lands – Season 2 – Intro

The Tournament

Last time that I played in a Showcase Challenge was in June 2021 just after MH2 had been released. This was 8-9 months ago! I have a real itch to get back into these big tournaments, and I have therefore chosen to dedicate Season 2 of Competitive Lands to demonstrate how I prepare for such a tournament. We will cover the following topics in this season:

  • How to articulate a Dream and set Goals. 
  • How to manage your data. 
  • Your testing plan and time management.
  • Macro Strategies for common matchups.
  • Decklist & Sideboarding.
  • Mental Health and Exercise.

The tournament that I am preparing for is the Legacy Showcase Challenge that takes place on the 10th of April 2022. I hope that you will enjoy seeing me prepare. This intro article is also available as a video in case you prefer that medium.

Goals vs Dreams

I define a goal as something that you want achieved and where you have full control of its outcome. I define a dream as something that you want achieved but where you don’t have full control of its outcome. 

For example if someone says “I want to be well prepared for the tournament” then they are expressing a goal because if they put in enough work then they will be well prepared. It is within their own control whether or not they will achieve this goal. But if someone says “I want to Top 8 the tournament” then they are expressing a dream because it’s not fully within their control if they will Top 8 any given tournament. They will in fact need a fair share of luck in order to make a Top 8 even if they are a very good player.

Why do they need to get lucky in order to Top 8? If you look at the best Legacy players online their long term winrate is between 60% and 70%. In order to Top 8 an eight round tournament you need to go 7-1 or 8-0 (some players sneak in at 6-2 but let’s ignore that for now) and you therefore need a winrate of +87.5% for this given tournament. If we assume that you have 65% probability to win every match, and that the outcome of each match is independent of each other, then the probability that you go 7-1 or better is 17% (this is calculated as 8 * (0.65^7 * 0.35) + 0.65^8). Seventeen percent is far from a safe bet and as you can see you will need to get lucky in order to Top 8 a tournament (but if you play in 5-6 tournaments per year then you will on average get one Top 8 every year). 

This does not mean that you should not work hard towards realizing your dream. If you don’t prepare then you will not have a 65% winrate. Your winrate will more likely be close to 50% and now your probability to Top 8 an eight round tournament drops from 17% to 4%. 

My Dream and Goals

I have formulated the following dream and goals for Season 2 of Competitive Lands. 

My dream is to qualify for the Legacy Showcase Qualifier in June. This will be achieved if I Top 8 one of the next two Showcase Challenges or if I go 5-0 in one of the Last Chance Prelims.

In order to maximize my chances to realize this dream I have put up the following goals for myself. I will try to complete these goals before the Showcase Challenge on the 10th of April.

Strategy Goals

First step to get an edge over the field is to have a good estimate of what “the field” will be and then to register 75 cards that are well equipped to beat the expected top decks. It’s also important to know your role(s) against these decks. I have defined the following strategy goals to help me achieve this:

  • Estimate the winner’s meta prior to the tournament.
  • Have a decklist and sideboard that is tuned for the winner’s meta.
  • Know the macro strategy for all big matchups (>5% metashare).

Gameplay Goals

Macro strategy is very important but it’s also important to get the basic gameplay right. Most games of magic are won by the player who makes the fewest mistakes. We make thousands of micro decisions in a tournament and there are plenty of opportunities to make bad plays and mess things up. I have set the following goals to help me  improve my basic gameplay:

  • Practice all big matchups (>5% metashare).
  • Be conscious about when to play using intuition and when to stop up and think. 
  • Do a coaching session with Jarvis Yu where we go over replays of one of my tournaments. I hope to get into a process where I am able to spot and learn from my mistakes and also get some tools to minimize doing bad plays. 

Mental Goals

In the math example that I gave above I did a simplification that you had a 65% winrate in every match. In reality your winrate changes from match to match. Two things that influence this is of course your matchup and your opponent but these factors are out of your control. Another thing that influences your winrate is your mental stamina. I have lost many late round matches against good matchups where I was tired and made bad plays. Likewise I have won many times when I felt fit and where my opponent messed things up. I have defined the following goals to ensure that my mental stamina is on top for the tournament:

  • Get regular exercise during Season 2 of Competitive Lands.  I want to run at least once per week.
  • Ensure that my tournament weekends are not filled with mentally exhausting activities.
  • Don’t “practice” too much. I especially don’t want to be jamming leagues, all night long, up to the event just to get mentally numb. 

Practice Plan

I don’t feel like playing too much before the new Channel Lands are available on MODO as I believe that these (in particular Boseiju, who Endures) will change how we build Lands. I do want to decide rather early what type of Lands deck that I will play and a key driver for this decision will be the control matchup. I will therefore schedule a dedicated testing session vs control already now in February. 

My aim is to be well prepared for the Showcase challenge on the 10th of April. There is also a Showcase challenge on the 6th of March and I will use this as a “practice round”. I don’t expect to be fully prepared for this tournament but I will play in it anyways, and I have also talked to Jarvis about having a coaching session afterwards to review my plays and give me advice on how to notice and correct in-game mistakes. 

I have a busy life with work and family but I will try to dedicate 1-2 nights each week to playing magic. Taking this into account I have created the following  plan for how to prepare for the tournament.

Week (starting with)Actions
7th of FebruaryKick-Off.
14th of FebruaryChoose target decks.
21th of FebruaryMatchup-testing: Control.
28th of FebruaryBuild a sideboard map.
6th of MarchLegacy Showcase Challenge (Practice Round).
7th of MarchCoaching with Jarvis to review my play in the Showcase.
14th of MarchReview of my deck choice.
21st of MarchLegacy Prelim and / or matchup testing.
28th of MarchLegacy Prelim and / or matchup testing.
4th of AprilReview Sideboard map.
10th of AprilLegacy Showcase Challenge (The Tournament)
11th of AprilLast Chance Prelims

Final Words

I am super motivated to play in the Showcase circuit again and I hope that you will enjoy seeing me prepare for the Showcase Challenge on the 10th of April. I will do my best to achieve all goals that I have set out in this article, and I believe that this will give me the best chance to get lucky and realize my dream to qualify for the next Showcase Qualifier. 

As always the Competitive Lands project is a combination of articles, YouTube videos and live discussions in Discord. You can use this link to find all places where I post my content. 

Thanks for reading!

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