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September 9, 2016

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6 Tips for Mastering Team Limited

This is a bonus article for the week as Grand Prix Louisville is this weekend and I will be sharing 6 tips for mastering team limited. There are lots of articles on the internet that will help you succeed in an individual sealed format, but there are very few articles that can improve your team sealed game. This article will break down some of these concepts for you so that you can take it forward at your next team event if it isn’t this weekend. In my last two team limited Grand Prix, I have finished 26th with the exact same team consisting of Jesse Moulton and Vince D’Agostino. (See image above)

1. Practice With Your Team

I know this sounds really obvious, but let me elaborate. It is not enough to just practice playing limited with your team or simply building sealed pools. Growing up, my parents had high hopes that I would follow the family tradition and become a doctor. One of the steps that I took toward this unrealistic goal was writing the MCAT. Now I don’t know about you, but when I put my time into something I go all out, so I invested in a prep course. Wait, isn’t this article about Magic? Yes, I’m getting to that.

The biggest takeaway I got from this course, was that they wanted you to simulate the exact environment that you would write the test in before you actually took it. It wasn’t enough to write it on your computer or in your PJs. Actually pretending you are in the same conditions really helped you improve your score. So what does this mean for your team sealed event?

Complete simulations by preparing deck registration sheets and sit with your team to simulate the deck registration process. Make sure that you have someone keep time, to find out how long it is taking you to register your pool, determine decks and sideboard options. By running between six to ten simulations, not only will you find that you will become more efficient but it will become natural for you to do this.

Once this has been completed, ensure that each of your team members knows all of the common and uncommon tricks of the format at the very least. This will come in handy as all of the pools are very deep in this type of format and you will not be able to avoid running into the various tricks of the format. To that end, I would suggest that each team member play at least five sealed and fifteen booster drafts of the limited format. The top four of these events are the only portion that a booster draft is employed, but it’s a much more convenient format to play in general. This will allow you and your teammates to get an understanding of what cards are good and how to play around various tricks.

2. Build Team Rapport

You may be teaming with your best friends, but tilt and frustration is common with magic players and this is no different. Since winning two matches will ensure that your team notches a round victory, it is common to get upset if your teammate makes a bad play that winds up costing your team the round. Since you will have to play with them for the rest of the tournament, the only thing you can do is to move on and try to not make them feel bad since they probably already feel guilty for letting the team down.

In addition, it is not helpful to compare your individual records. So many times, I have witnessed people saying something like “well I’m 8-1 but Joe went 3-6 so we are only 6-3”. This does nothing to help your record and once again just promotes a feel bad attitude. Keep that out of this tournament, as it will only cause friction and get in the way of you succeeding in the tournament.

3. Deck Selection

Do not give the best deck to the worst player or the worst deck to the best player. I’ve made this mistake in the past as it seems like it would help but this does nothing to help your team. You should focus instead on your teammate’s strengths. If you have one really good player and two average players then you should give the deck that rewards the best decision making skills to the best player. The remaining decks can be distributed based on how it complements the strengths of the remaining teammates. This comes in handy when you consider that this will reduce the time it would take for the better player to coach the weaker ones, since less crucial decisions will have to be made.

4. Don’t Abandon Your Team

When your match is over, stick with your teammates. Don’t get up and get involved in other matches since you will not be allowed to return. The moment your match is over, you should focus on helping the weakest remaining player on your team that is still playing. Help them identify what the opponents may have in their hand based on tells and plays that they are making.

5. Remember This Is A Team Event

Communicate with your teammates on the regular but only when needed. It can be distracting if you are continuously trying to coach your teammates or receive coaching. This will not only lead to a lot of unintentional draws but it can also interfere with your teammates thought patterns. Usually the player who has been part of the entire game will have more insight into what the correct play is based on their opponent’s actions, despite a better player with more experience coaching them. This is not always true, but something to keep in mind.

You can also utilize this information in mulligan decisions. Oftentimes, when the match is about to start and I have a tough mulligan decision, I will wait to see what my teammates opponents are playing so I can tell if my opponent is likely to have the aggressive deck. This has come up for me three times in the last two team limited events, so I know how useful you will find it.

6. Get Proper Rest and Nutrition

This is similar to the advice that you would receive for a normal Grand Prix but it is exemplified since your teammates will be counting on you. The last thing that you would want to do is let your team down by being half asleep or not mentally aware.

I hope that reading all these tips have given you some insight into how you can improve your team limited performance. Best of luck to those of you competing this weekend. Have a great week!
Sammy T

Sammy Tee, David Ochoa, and Doug Potter went 9-3 at Grand Prix Louisville!