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DeQuan Watson

    Many readers have gathered a lot of information about me through my writings.  For those of you that haven't though, this should tell you a little more. 

    I'm 25 years old and I own my own business. Well, more accurately I own a game store.  The Game Closet, my store, is one of the premiere places to play in the Texas.  I play Magic on a pretty regular basis.  I help people build decks and teach the game to people multiple times a week.  Owning a store is neat, because it gives me another perspective to write my articles from.  I can usually tell what the average player likes and can judge some of the tendencies of the average player a little better.  Of course, owning a store means I have knowledge of a lot of games and not just Magic.  I also find out my fair share of insider information on the industry.  But having other resources to pull from makes for more informative writings.

    However, I know a decent bit about pro level play as well.  I myself have
played on the Pro Tour.  I have multiple Top 8 finishes at Pro Tour Qualifiers.  I also have made Day Two at two Grand Prix tournaments.  I have also been invited to the Event horizons Invitational.  These are not stellar achievements, but high enough to let you know I have my head on straight when talking about the game. I also spend lots of time each week talking to, e-mailing, or chatting with top level players.  I get to see their perspective on a lot of things as well.  Between the two, I think I get a good sense of balance of the game.

    Most importantly, I still enjoy the game for the sake of the game itself.  I like the time, the competition, and the general interaction of players.  I plan to be playing it until it fades away...if it ever does.


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Raising Your Level

By DeQuan Watson - 2.3.06 

I'm not big on the idea of making New Year's resolutions.  I personally try to make myself better all the time.  I usually pick small things and work my way up.  A lot of people look at the new year as a chance to make some big changes.  And that's totally fine.  Every good idea starts somewhere.  It usually begins with the thought, which, when put with motivation, can get the ball rolling. 
I bring this up, because I've been having several discussions with players lately regarding, their level of play.  Many people want to get their quality of play up.  They also want to get a higher DCI ranking.  Others want to qualify for the Pro Tour.  Some just want to qualify for Nationals.  Whatever, your goal is, be aware of the odds. 
You can't just go from being an average 2-2 player in your local Friday night Magic crowd to dominating qualifiers.  I guess, in reality, you could.  I just wouldn't bet on it happening.  I take that back.  I would bet on it.  Against it.
I know this all sounds negative, but it should.  You should get reality in check before taking on a large endeavor.  There is a lot to be thought about.  There are some sacrifices that you will have to make.  There are some things you will need to work on and change.  So, I'll quit being so general about things and I'll give you some specific things that you can work on.
At some point you will need to start playing more.  This may sound silly.  But how do you think Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird became great basketball players?  They spent a ton of time in the gym.  You need to practice your craft.  Natural born skill can only take you so far.  
More often than not, when I ask a player how often they play competitively each week, I get a saddening answer.  The most popular answer is ONCE.  How good would the best players you know be if they only played once a week on a regular basis?  They probably wouldn't be one of the best players you know.  And just playing around with your fun decks can only get you so far.  You have to get someone skilled to play against you.  Go to your local store.  Find that player you acknowledge to be a better player and get some help from them.  
It's about more than playing.  More often than not, there is a huge exchange of ideas that happens.  You can learn one thing that might step your game up.  You might learn one rule, or maybe a combat trick, that can raise your win percentage up a few points.  Anyone can learn the rules to the game.  But the good players are the ones that learn the tricks and nuances.  When you play more often you are on top of the latest trends in each format.  You're also less likely to get surprised by something in a tournament.
And playing in Friday Night Magic is good.  It's a start.  And you should continue to play in FNM.  It's a good practice field to try out a few new ideas or strategies.  But don't expect a lot from it as the local FNM crowd isn't going to be as skilled.  Try to play in more events at your store outside of FNM.  Most stores hold drafts weekly.  Others do tournaments on Saturdays and/or Sundays.  These are the events you should be targeting to get into.
One of the biggest reasons is the difference in K value.  The K value of a tournament determines the point scale of an event including the maximum amount of points that can be gained or lost in each match.  This is a huge concern for those of you wanting to get your DCI rating and ranking up.  FNM will only get you maximum of 8 points per win.  This means if the absolute lowest rated player in the room played the absolute highest rated player in the room, there will only be a change in 8 ratings points.  So, don't expect your rating to climb too fast playing just FNM events.  Those other events however START at 16K instead of the 8K on FNM.  Depending on other variables, these other events can be 24K or more.   
Playing in these other events will go a long toward preparing for the next level and getting your skills up.  And it will at the very least, get your competitive play per week up to TWO sessions.  But, there some other things, that players need to work on to better themselves on an even more personal level.
I'm about to say something that sounds a little harsh, but it needs to be said.  It's something that players have a hard time getting a grasp one.  Simply put, don't feel sorry for yourself.  You WILL lose.  In every game there's a winner and/or a loser.  That's just the way it is.  You WILL make mistakes.  You're only human.  It's something we do.  Don't let small things get to you.  Just chalk it up to error or something.  Learn from the down times.  Just don't repeat and mistakes.  Doing this over time will minimize your mistakes.
Don't make excuses.  Players so often wanted to say their deck screwed them or whatever, when that many times isn't the issue.  Look at the match as a whole and see if there is something you could have done to buy another turn or two.  Should you have targeted a different creature with a spell?  You never know.  Small things can change the outcome of a match.  If you get asked something like, "Why are you playing that card?" don't say something silly like, "This is just a fun deck."  Do the smart thing and ask for suggestions.  See if they might know of a creature or card you may not be aware of. 
Read, read, read.  Right now is definitely a huge information age for gamers.  No matter what your game is, there are thousands of websites that mention and talk about it.  After all, that's why you are reading now.  Keep doing it.  Check back weekly.  There is so much information out there.  There are a ton of different opinions and ideas.  You never know when once person might say something that turns a light bulb on for you.  The best businessmen in the world still share information at seminars and presentations each year.  Most of the time it's just for a different perspective.
Finally, don't get TOO competitive.  Keep your mind right.  You still want to have fun.  IF you start losing site of that it's going to start feeling like a job and you're going to want to get away from the game.  No one wants that.  If things start getting frustrating and out of hand, take a step back.  Do something to relax for a day or two.  Take a few deep breaths.  Remember, it's still a game.  That's something that's easy to forget at times.  And other times, you just need a reminder.
Well, I hope my perspective was useful to you all.  I hope everyone is able to step up their game.  Many players I know are just a few small steps from being really good players.  It's just a matter of taking the right steps toward making that transformation happen.
Until next time,
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com



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