77: Inside Wizards of the Coast with Mike Turian: Smash Doubt, Embrace Your Intuition and Play More Magic!

Mike Turian has participated in a staggering 32 Pro Tours, 5 World Championships, 6 National Championships and numerous Grand Prixs. He is the Champion of Pro Tour New York in 2000 and Grand Prix Montreal in 2002. He has a top 8 finish at Worlds Toronto in 2001 and Pro Tour Amsterdam 2004. Mike also finished in the top 4 of Pro Tour Boston in 2003 and Pro Tour San Diego in 2004. Mike has amassed 234 Pro Points over his career and currently the Digital Business Manager at Wizards of the Coast in charge of Magic Duels.

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First Set

Revised Revised

Favorite Set Played

The Dark The Dark

Favorite Set Worked On

common expansion symbol Scars of Mirrodin

Philosophy On Making Planeswalker Points

Mike was one of the Wizards who helped make the competitive score tracking transition to Planeswalker Points. He saw how the old system made players hostile when they sat across from one another at competitions, dreading losing the match and losing points.

Making the shift to a system where playing Magic was good, and winning at Magic was better, was Mike’s goal in fostering a healthier competitive scene. He wanted the community to be more inclusive, less hostile, all while recognizing the achievements of players who strived to be the best. At the end of a match Mike wants you to shake your opponent’s hand and say good game, not run off deducting points from your score.

Heaviest Magic Moment

Losing in the Top 8 of the World Championships in Toronto stands out as a sore moment in Mike’s career. At the time there was no Hall of Fame and taking the crown at the World Championship had been his dream since his early days playing.

Unfortunately, Mike got out played and out sideboarded, and ended up walking away from the match feeling like he could have done much more. While it remains a high point to even make the Top 8 at Worlds, he still feels as though he lost an opportunity he can’t get back. Being even keeled is a character trait has helped Mike appreciate the loss and push him to practice more.

Level Up Moment

For Mike, getting a car led to a long period of growth in Magic. Being able to travel and extend his Magic intake beyond local tournaments helped open up the world for Mike.

He made an 8 hour drive to a New York Pro Tour and got to play against, and defeat, Mike Long in a side event. This confidence booster helped Mike take steps to push himself further into Magic’s competitive realms.

Proudest Magic Moment

Mike points to winning his first team Pro Tour as one of his most memorable moments playing Magic. Playing as part of a team made for a communal experience that helped Mike feel as though he was part of something greater than just his one-on-one matches, even though he wasn’t the hero that outright clinched the win for his team.

Mike had a conversation with Jon Finkel on the topic of teammates, and what Finkel said is that it’s hard to see your true self when looking in the mirror. What great friends and teammates do is help you look and see who you are.

Best Format

Draft

Tips For New Draft Players

Mike’s tip to new Drafters is establish your colors clearly. He doesn’t like to focus so much on reading other player’s signals, but rather approach it from an angle of “What am I going to accomplish in this draft that will give me flexibility and a line of play towards winning?”

He has noticed many new players don’t understand their play style well enough to bring it into their drafts. Getting consciously comfortable with your style is a great area to focus on, as it’s a tough concept to grasp since it isn’t something totally tangible.

Biggest Mistake Players Make

Mike has noticed that some players simply don’t play enough magic. If you want to succeed and get better, you really have to put in the time to do extra drafts and put in your reps.

Players actively striving to rise to the top tier of Magic players often put in 35 to 40 hours a week. While that’s clearly not an option for many players, what you can do is actively incorporate Magic into your life more fully.

Go play Magic, and afterwards go somewhere and hang out while talking about your matches. Think about the game in your day to day life until you get to the point Mike was at when he was muttering “Ancestral Recall” in his sleep.

Deepest Thing Magic Has Taught You

One of the things Mike learned about himself through Magic was that he cares deeply about winning. He doesn’t outwardly express his craving for victory like some other players; his demeanor conceals that desire.

Mike generally views himself as laid back and easy going, but Magic has shown him that version of himself only applies in some scenarios. When he becomes engrossed in a competition he can focus on winning 100%.

Reader Question: How Do You Tell When A Card Is Good Or Bad?

A big area of focus for Mike is understanding the casting cost to power ratio. Look at the cards and see what their drawbacks are, and even more importantly, see how or if those drawbacks can be turned into an advantage. Removal spells are always going to be excellent in Limited.

One of the most important lessons Mike has learned is not to get trapped holding onto an awesome card when your opponent plays a bad or low level card, especially early on. Having the mindset that you don’t want to drop an amazing card on something weak can come back to destroy you later on in the match.

Final Wisdom

Mike believes the key to getting better on your Magic journey is to make sure you are having fun every step of the way.

Magic is a game, after all. It’s supposed to be fun. Enjoying the game is the only way you are going to be able to play over and over again in the years to come and stay engaged with the game.

There are thousands of other players pouring their whole lives and hearts into the game, so don’t go approaching Magic halfheartedly and expect to rise.

Connect With Mike Turian

Twitter: @mturian

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