Peek is a series of brief interviews of Magic personalities who support Planeswalkers for Diversity. Tom Martell has been a key member of both the Channel Fireball and StarCity Games pro teams and had his first Pro Tour win in February of 2013 in Montreal. Tom joined on Tuesday September 3rd on www.twitch.tv/mtgdiversity as part of our Judge of Currents series.
p4d: How did you start playing Magic: The Gathering?
TM: I started in 1994 when a friend at summer camp introduced me to the game. I’d been playing chess for a number of years and had recently started attending tournaments; Magic appealed to me in a very similar way and I took to it quickly. I ended up quitting during Fallen Empires until my senior year in high school, when some friends started playing during lunch. I was winding down my competitive chess “career” but still wanted a competitive outlet, so when they told me that the game now had a large tournament scene, I dove in. I went to FNM that week and I was hooked; I won a PTQ for PT Chicago 2000 a few months later and was off to the races.
p4d: Congratulations on your Pro Tour win earlier this year! Do you have a favourite play of the event that sticks out in your mind where you almost took a different line that would have changed the result?
TM: Honestly, a large part of that tournament is a blur. I felt I played very well during the drafts, winning some extremely close games with solid but not spectacular decks. Against Mihara, playing at 2-0 in our second draft pod, I left up removal instead of playing a creature on a turn where I thought he’d have to play a Madcap Skills. I was able to 2 for 1 him and pulled out a close win.
p4d: Does your Mom still listen to the Top8Magic podcast?
TM: I suspect she still tunes in from time to time.
p4d: Why do your twitch viewers keep talking about your amazing graphic design skills?
TM: I recently created my first MS Paint image for a friend who was streaming with me as she wanted to maintain a degree of privacy. I created it as a joke but it took on a bit of its own life.
p4d: What can Magic players do to improve at the game?
TM: This is a hard question – everyone learns differently and needs to work on different aspects of their game. The most important thing you can do is learn to be very honest with yourself and aware of what you are doing – after a match, ask yourself what you did well and did poorly but also try and remember what you were focused on. One mistake players can make is they tunnel in on a specific line of play or line of thinking and never ask themselves if they were focused on the right things.
p4d: How can players can make the Magic community better?
TM: At the end of the day, Magic is a game. We do this because it is fun and we enjoy it. Fun is not a zero sum game – we can work together to increase the total amount of pleasure we are all experiencing from Magic. It is also a social community. Don’t ruin it for others and don’t sit silently while someone else ruins it for another person. It is our shared responsibility to speak up for what we believe is right and to make sure no one feels attacked or persecuted for who they are as a member of the community.