Tuesday, February 23, 2010

magic as a spectator sport

A blog post not about combo, for once.

This past weekend I watched some of the Pro Tour: San Diego coverage, though not with as much interest as the GP the previous weekend, because blech standard (maybe I'll write a post about that soon). First off, I'd like to mention how much better the ggslive coverage is that the official WOTC; a video feed that covers matches as they happen with random pros stopping by the booth is incredibly cool, and way better than having Hagon (shudder) and BDM (no rock star himself) jabbering over just the top eight. More than almost anything, what bothers me is Hagon's approach to the game. Many Magic theorists seem to like talking, writing, and thinking about Magic when they could be applying the same analysis to any game, whether it's chess, bridge, or football. Hagon, on the other hand, seems to approach the game almost completely as a spectator, cheering on certain pros, and looking at it completely through a lens not of what's doing well in the tournament, but who. This bothers me quite a bit.

To be clear: LSV is an amazing player. I'm no LSV. If I was playing against him in any format and we switched decks after each match, he'd probably beat me at least 75% of the time, because he is much better at Magic than I am. But he's not really doing anything especially worthy of attention or note when he plays those games; he's just not making mistakes. When Hagon covers him, he's not pointing out the tiny differences in decision-making that give LSV an edge, he's just going "HOLY SHIT LSV LSV LSV 16-0" or whatever, but more British. What's great about Magic, to me, is that the day after a PT, anyone with an internet connection and either a good paycheck or a healthy collection can build the deck a pro player used and try the deck for themselves. Cards are expensive, sure, but the barrier to entry in terms of doing what they're doing is very low compared to, say, watching an athletic event. Wizards seems to want to mythologize pro players as if they're doing something truly incredible, without ever telling us what that is. If you're going to give LSV wall-to-wall coverage, can you at least tell us what the hell he's doing that makes him win so many more games than anyone else? If I'm giving up part of my day to watch the PT, I don't just want to know who won, because I don't care that much. I want to know why, and the Wizards coverage, especially Hagon, is awful at telling me this.

In summary, shut up Hagon, you're impossibly annoying.


ethan.john said...

I could not agree more. BDM and Randy Beuhler were a better pair since at least Randy would ask the basic questions like "What's the right play here?" and would then evaluate those conversations post-hoc.

Hagon is just... ugh.

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