A few days ago, my friend and fellow Canadian Threshold enthusiast Sean Brown published a tournament report for his 1st place finish at an Australian Legacy event. Please, go ahead and read it, I’m not going anywhere.
Finished reading? Good.
I’m not here to talk about his list, his play or anything like that; I’m a little out of the loop when it comes to actually playing Legacy.
One thing that irked me though came after his recounting of the actual event. They split the top four, then played for the title. That was the decision Sean made at the time. In his report, however, he came to the conclusion that splitting was wrong, that he would have preferred to duke it out for the first prize. He wrote he “vowed to never prize split in a tournament again.” I am perfectly fine with that; you can decide what you’re going to the tournament for.
What I do take issue with is my friend Rodrigo Togores’ stance on the matter:
No offence, but this is just elitist BS. If anyone feels their own win is diminished when they’re not playing for anything but a title, I have no problem with that. But extending that to others and taking away from their accomplishments is a problem.
Not only is the pressure of playing for money different for everyone, oftentimes prizes are not worth the same for all players involved or people are actually playing for completely different things – imagine a Grand Prix finals where one player is playing for just the money with no interest in the Pro Points while the other player needs to win in order to hit a certain threshold. Incentives are mismatched, thus the pressure is uneven. One player has much more in the balance than the other.
On a smaller scale, maybe there’s a local tournament where one finalist is working and has lots of disposable income whereas the other still goes to school – 100€ might not be a lot of money for someone with a steady source of income, but for the student it can make a big difference.
Now, to be fair, the ability to perform under pressure is one aspect of competition, but there are many others. For paper events, people have to travel. This gives an advantage to those who have to travel less. You can play Magic Online from anywhere, but timezones can be tricky – competitors whose natural rhythm lines up better with event times are playing with an advantage.
There are many variables and I really don’t mind if people are trying to level the playing field. In the end, I care more about playing well and having interesting games than winning – in fact, I barely get any satisfaction from getting the W anymore at all, but that’s a topic for another day. If you care about the win first and foremost and pride yourself on being able to compete under immense pressure, that’s cool. I respect that.
Saying that someone else’s win is not “complete” because they made a decision you disagree with? I’m not a fan. You might argue that you’re holding them to the same standards as yourself, but as I tried to explain above, it is not the same standard, these things are subjective.
Thanks for reading!