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I don’t know how much cash you’ve had reason to hold in your hand, but it can make you feel a little loopy. At least that was my experience when my CFO handed me four envelopes with $20 bills that totaled $1,900. This money wasn’t mine however, it was the 1st – 4th place prize in a tournament we dubbed, “Buffalo’s Best Magic Tournament”
I should say that it wasn’t meant to be “the best Magic tournament in Buffalo” though it certainly felt like it, but rather a Magic tournament meant to draw the best players in Buffalo together. Since we opened the doors of our huge gaming area at our Transit Road location we’ve been doing everything we can to put on bigger and bigger events. Our Friday Night Magic is always free entry and comes with the guarantee of a free pack. These events always draw at least 50 people a week. Not too shabby for an organized play location not even a year old, but with Buffalo’s Best, we blew the roof off.
As the tournament began, I was pleased to see a lot of non-familiar faces. This tournament had drawn people from all around. A group of players from a local gaming store (Dark Forest Games) came down, all wearing t-shirts to mark their affiliation. For some reason, this really tickled my funny bone. Visions swam in my head of a Magic the Gathering version of The Sandlot, where the kids on the bikes and the nice uniforms showed up on the protagonist’s turf to challenge them. Some giddy part of me kept waiting for someone to shout, “You play cards like a noob!!!” Like I said, nearly two grand in my pocket had put me in a weird mindset.
For those of you who read my articles you’ll know that I am not fiercely competitive player. I like to kick back with a few buddies, crack open a frosty beverage, and chuck some cards. That should not be confused with me not having a great respect and, indeed, admiration for those people who don the gauntlets of competitive play and dive into battle. There’s a quality to how competitive players handle their cards. Watching them shuffle their hand last card to first, first card to last. Equal parts distraction and nervousness. When I play Magic, I keep my cards in a reasonable order, usually tap my mana one at a time, but pro-level guys have a certain fluid manner to them that almost seems like a magic trick to me. It’s was fun to watch.
While this wasn’t an event for which Wizards of the Coast demanded Competitive Rules Enforcement Level (as it was with the Grand Prix Trial – Pittsburgh) we had a lot of cash on the line so I tapped local DCI Judge Joe Shea to help me run the event. I got all that I bargained for and more. Joe, in addition to knowing the rules, was an absolute machine. Every time I turned around to do something it seemed he had already beaten me to it. The only time I saw him stop moving was when we brought in 8 sheet pizzas and three hundred wings to feed the players after the third Swiss round. Halfway through the tournament I started to think, “It’s a nice day out, maybe I’ll go for a walk.” because I knew full well that, if left to his own devices, Joe Shea would finish the tournament without noticing I’d left.
However, that’s not what you do when you’re the tournament organizer for one of the world’s largest card companies. Standards must be maintained. Between the two of us Joe said it was one of the smoothest run tournaments he’d ever been a part of, which is high praise. In the end, the cash prizes went to two guys from the local gaming store and two of my FNM regulars. Of course, one of the guys from the local gaming store also plays at Dave and Adam’s from time to time as I assume is true of the two FNM regulars from my store.
That brings me around to my greatest point about this tournament. While this was certainly Dave and Adam’s largest event (and we’ll puff our chests out and strut over it a bit, thank you very much) what this event represents is a victory for the greater Magic the Gathering community of Western New York. As Magic players we’re not beholden to one place to play. Whether it’s at Dave and Adam’s or home or a Grand Prix in some far flung city, we pick up our decks and we go. When we all come together though, in huge tournaments like Buffalo’s Best, that’s when the area itself starts to get noticed.
Big events like this make Wizards of the Coast say, “How many people attended? Where is Buffalo?” and as far off as the idea might be today, that is just bringing us one step closer to seeing local Pro-Tour Qualifiers and more.
What does the future hold? No one can say. Grand Prix Buffalo?
One can always dream.
Thank you everyone.