This week we once again bring the champions of our game together for the quarterly brawl we have known only as, the Pro Tour. You may be reading this with coverage playing in the background right now, or flipping between tabs at work as we watch the masters of our game bring not only skill, but innovation to the grand stage. With the Pro Tours now so close to the release of a set, it has become a complex chess game of testing while covertly creating a hypothetical field as almost all of the pros approach lockdown for what really matters.
There was a day when I strived to be under those cameras; a time when I put ten hours in every day theorycrafting and working with what local resources I had to break onto the scene. My career was short lived at best, only ever attending one Pro Tour with a mediocre finish. Since then I have moved on in life, but still find myself in love with everything that is Magic. As many of you know, I run my own business dealing with Magic and still attend a fair amount of events. This is all due to that rush and exhilaration of traveling abroad to play this game. I have been afforded many opportunities by this game and I hope some day I may be able to give back- but that is not why we are here.
What does all of this have to do with a finance based Standard article you may ask?
I started this long trek into Magic finance shortly after the Pro Tour, I still had a number of friends involved in the higher levels of play at that time. I spent a great deal of time at Grand Prix trading and working with dealers as well as building my brand. I of course ran into a number of my friends, as I still do, and was able to glean information off of them regularly whether it was cards they needed and knew would be in demand or hot tech on the next Pro Tour deck. In this end of the business that kind of information can of course be excessively helpful and not always obtainable for most people. I utilized this information at times while I was on the trade floor or moving cards, I began to hold cards I had tips on only to find them worth triple in a few weeks time. This, along with many more factors than I care to list, has built me to where I am now.
When I first started traveling to events I would end up crammed in the middle seat of a friend of a friend's car for twelve plus hours just to get to events. Not everyone needs to go to these extremes, but anyone who is looking to take Magic seriously enough to be looking at the financial side needs to experience these events. Not only does obtaining a group of locals that are looking to travel allow you the obvious benefits, it can also turn into some of the best friendships you will ever have. Spend a few hours road tripping with a stranger and you will either never speak again or have a friendship that spans years. Usually the latter in my experience.
I have talked in the past a number of times about exactly why events are a great outlet for cards and trading, less so now than a number of years ago, but what I have never really talked about is the knowledge you can gain by being on the floor. With the increase in coverage you will certainly have less time to move in on any cards online and with the ordering process now you may find more cancelled then delivered but this is the one time the trading floor still shines. This is where you can still shark the sharks. With everyone having to work nearly even margins now at events given the popularity of floor trading over the past decade it has almost become a player’s market. With card availability at an all time high for Standard and prices so low down the jumps we see in the right cards can be far more drastic than they have been in the past. Cards that see no initial play settle to bulk much quicker as the format is figured out allowing you to trade for them for next to nothing as the internet panics to buy and relist.
In addition to the trades you can acquire, this is also the best way to unload these types of cards. Many times, the trader who has everything and is willing to move these bulk cards in the first place also has a store they own, supply, or at least trade through. This means, if a card is in demand, they will need to pick it up again after the spike. Unlike waiting to sell cards online, if you time it right you can get out of cards during the weekend, putting your trade numbers right at the peak as the internet assists you with buyouts.
I have talked many times in the past about how to assist your local community by bringing cards in, as well as working with store owners, and this is another piece to assist you at making that step.
The last benefit that is less relevant now than it used to be, though still useful when tracking decks, is to take note of some of the more flashy or entertaining decks. You may put no stock in the four color Starfield of Nyx deck who is currently 4-2 but that you may have a local who hasn’t put Opalescence Leyline down in a decade. Keeping note of your local players style can not only allow you an outlet for cards that may otherwise see little play and drum up little interest, it can also show your local community you are there as more than just a trader.
So what about the decklists? Everyone loves the decklists after all; this is about Standard and the Pro Tour is going on right now. Well point one of this article was knowing people on the Pro Tour or at least those that compete at the upper levels of the game to glean tech from. As of recent years, I have watched one of my good friends, Raymond Perez Jr., go from that avid grinder to Rookie of the Year, and, hopefully after this weekend, two year standing pro. I was not any real part of Ray's success, but I did travel with him when I could. Over the years he has become more than just a friend I see at the game shop. I have always talked to Ray when I was adamant about playing Standard, and he has always been willing to share what he could with me- again back to those shrouded secrets every team must keep. This time around expect a deck that we have not seen from him and his team. I cannot give away any secrets so instead I want to focus on some of the individual cards that will be making an impact this weekend.
This card is so much better than originally anticipated and given the already rising prices it seems people are catching on. I expect this to pick up after this weekend even more but I cannot see this card dropping in price any time soon. The real question is whether any of the other Planeswalkers will also make their mark this weekend. I would really like Liliana more but I do not feel like this is her time given how many Hangarback Walkers we will be seeing. Chandra seems to be given some attention finally after people realized how easy it is to flip her but I have yet to hear any rumors of any real decks.
Out of all the cards in the current affinity builds I have seen this is still at bulk and has the most room for growth. On top of the potential play this weekend it also has a great outlook moving forward as we head into a block full of colorless creatures. I am huge on this card and feel that you should at least have a set now before you pay twenty for one.
This guy has been slightly neglected for a while now, and his price has progressiely dropped, leaving him south of five dollars in many places. This will not hold. Even if the Pro Tour does not reinvigorate him, Red always shines in new formats, meaning he will likely get a boost regardless.
I don’t want to get too deep into singles this week as that detracts from the general message but just gleaning small amounts of information can add up over the course of a weekend and provide a solid payday when the dust has cleared. Hopefully I will run into some of you this weekend at Gen Con but for those not attending I encourage you to boot your computer up and catch as much coverage as you can. Next week we can finally loosen some lips and get some lists started meaning it is back to the usual Standard grind.