Hello everyone and welcome to my first written piece for the collaboration between Snapcardster and MTGMintcard. My name is Michael Bonde – and I am a Gold Level professional Magic player, 31 years old and from Denmark. Outside of Magic I’m an educated teacher in the disciplines English, Sports and History, now doing my master’s in education and I’m a former sergeant and 1st lieutenant in the Danish military.
This year, my goal is to try and achieve gold for the first cycle of next year and then 1-up my Pro Tour placement, from two times 17th place. Alongside my friends and teammates from Snapcardster x MTGMintcard I also see great things in the upcoming Team Series and hopefully a Team PT. BUT – enough about me 🙂
Over the next couple of weeks I’ll try and give you an insight to my approach to the competitive aspect of Magic. Over the course of four articles that I’ve called “Remember the Magic” I will try and depict why I love playing, travelling, grinding and pretty much everything that surrounds the Magic lifestyle – and I will give some potentially helpful pointers that help me keep this light glowing and keep a healthy mind.
As a prelude to these articles I will however start off by talking a bit about the Worlds competitors, that have meant (still) a lot to me, both in my growth as a player – but also people that I genuine love hanging out with and travelling/playing alongside. This is a prelude in the sense that without all these magnificent people I would not be here today and I would not enjoy what I do in the same extent as I actually do – with great love and passion.
The Early Past
Crossing the Atlantic
In 2013, before Müller hit it big with his two PT Top8s, before Dang won a Pro Tour, before Chris had eight Grand Prix Top8s, before Simon slept in and accidentally won a GP, before Thomas was a WMC champion with the Danes or I knew what was up and down – we all had a flame that was burning more than ever.
Thomas and I had just won a lot of matches at GP Strassbourg with our Legacy weapon of choice (Death and Taxes <3) and we wanted to cross the Atlantic and conquer the world – and so we did. I travelled the US and went on the tournament grind alongside Joel Larsson for the first of my two months, then both Chris and Thomas joined in for the last 30 days. During this trip we got to know Gerry Thompson.
The three of us being somewhat no names to the community we got to talk to Gerry, Todd and Brad – and they invited us to come and stay with them in Roanoke for approximately 10 days. I could write an article about how great I think this Roanoke squad is, and how much it meant to us, because they are and they did! However I will focus on Gerry here.
Gerry had a fire, dedication and thirst that I had rarely seen in anyone before. Every day he came over to the house we were staying at (Todds) with a stack of cards and wanted to talk, discuss or play Magic. Acknowledging us as equals, even though he was the master, and wanting to tap into our knowledge and understanding of the game – to broaden his own understanding – was amazing and desirable. He had a crush on a game called KaiJudo, which he was not shy to teach to me and Thomas, just to manhandle us afterwards. Gerrys approach to Magic as a whole and he himself as a being, became one of my idols for the next couple of years and to this day. I am happy to call him my friend and to see him, many years later, be a total dominating factor of the PT-circuit and a great human being!
Testing with Pros
Everyone has idols – people they see, that in one’s eyes are almost perfect, ideal and at a place, where only your imagination can bring you. This is how I saw Martin Juza and Shuhei Nakamura when I started spending my spare time on Magic. Maybe you can imagine how I felt, when Martin asked me if I wanted to join the former testing team “Cabin Crew” – you guessed correct – I had never felt more torn between flatter, nervousness and just overall “I can’t believe this is actually going on”! Like Gerry, Martin has Magic as the core of his soul, he has an understanding of the game state and the limited game mechanisms like no other but most importantly, he is a genuine friend and a fantastic guy to hang out with. This was my first touch into pro level testing, and my initial entry on the pro-scene, where I actually thought that I had a chance, when competing against the PT field. I eventually got an additional invite, that lead to me achieving Gold Level, and I do not see this could have happened without this opportunity, but also with how the atmosphere of the testing was. It was literally 12 guys, listening to Taylor Swift, joking and having a good time – while enjoying each others company and then getting some insane testing done. This is what it is all about – stories, friends and remembering all the wonderful things we do together.
During this endeavor with Cabin Crew, I was lucky to get to know Grzegorz Kowalski (Greg). Greg is a wonderful guy through and through, with great wit and a stunning personality. This is combined with a killer instinct and a mind for Magic that is unbelievable! I am honored to have met Greg and to call him my friend – and I could not have had a better Snapcardster team mate for PT 25, than this guy. If I should put in a “one timer” – I would do it for him!
Cheering for friends at Worlds
In the present, I had the opportunity to get close with both Javier Dominguez and Andrea Mengucci. And once again the mixture of greatness and kindness is at its fullest. Getting to travel, test and hangout with them made it no big deal to put more time into Magic, while also managing my school – because I knew, that when I met up with these guys, I would be able to be myself, have a great time and also get some very good testing in, while enjoying myself and my company. Playing monored vs zombies for 10 hours straight can be a dull experience but if its with your buddy it can actually turn into a great time – with very few downsides.
At this point, I am aware that it is very sentimental. What I want to tell all of you is that one of the things that make this such a great experience is the friends and the times with friends that you get to experience when you travel and focus on it! Just thinking about it as something that is a constant, neither good or bad, makes you forget how great these people are. Magic players are rare individuals that more often than not have a way of approaching life that is very unique and their intelligence, whether it being social, mathematical or something else, is through the roof – this is inspiring if you remember it, and let it flourish.
My plan for the future is to collaborate with the Latin American and Portugese guys that are no less magnificent than the others I have talked about up to this point. And like them, I hope that Luis Salvatto and Marcio Carvalho played out their hearts and did their best to try and crush the World Championship!
Out of the competitors at Worlds it didn’t even matter to me who would win because they all deserved it and their opposition was through the roof. There were insane plays and some great stories, and I was of course sitting on my couch and watched the coverage, hoping that I could play in this tournament one day!
I did of course cross my fingers and cheered for my friends to do well because what it all comes down to, is that we play the most epic and wonderful game in the world – but what is it, if we can’t share it with our friends!
This article was written by Michael Bonde in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com