About the Author
@RayFuturePro     -     Email     -     Articles

On the Rookie of the Year Race and the World Championship

Given the recent events that have taken place, I wanted to express my personal views and opinions on the Rookie of the Year situation. This will not be an article talking about the incidents that took place, but rather about the aftermath that could happen—depending on what the DCI decides in the near future. This is my story.
Rookie of the Year is a title only a rare few are able to have on their resumes. When I was finally able to qualify for the PT, I told myself to make sure to show everyone that I deserved to be there. I just so happened to end up qualifying for the first PT of the year, and thus had a very good shot at making ROTY myself. Rookie of the Year was not only something I wanted to attain for pride reasons. Starting this year, the title also rewards a slot at the Player Championship. The honor alone is a big deal, but with an entry to a major tournament, it’s worth so much more than it has been in the past.

I put in a lot of time for my first PT. So much, in fact, that it was taking a toll on me and my personal life. I wanted to give it my all and see where I could stand when it was all said and done. I ended up being featured in an article because I was winning so much and there happened to be a few of us rookies there. I ended my first PT in 11th place and had a great lead in the ROTY race. Fast forward to my third PT, in Atlanta, where I didn’t day two and was left with no invite for the last PT. I had come so far, and there was still hope to win the race, but I knew I needed to get to the last PT to even stand a chance. I had grinded hard the whole year and I wouldn’t go down without a fight. I ended up winning a PTQ and was featured in another article on the Mothership. This was my last chance at one last dance. All I needed to do to win the race was actually top eight or win the PT. I know that many think that is a tall order, but I was planning to give it my all like always, and after already making top 16 at a PT, a top eight was definitely not that far-fetched.

I ended up only in the top 50 of the last PT to end the season two points short of being a Gold Pro, as well as losing the ROTY race. I came to terms that I lost the race, but was content that I gave it my all and still had what most considered a great year. It felt good knowing that while I may have lost the rookie race in my eligible year, I would have won in almost any other past year (except for the year Hayne won a PT and thus won the rookie year very easily).

This past weekend I was attending the TCG Player 50K Championship in Indianapolis when someone mentioned that I could actually be the true Rookie of the Year. I won’t go into the details of what is going on, as that’s not the point of this article. This does, however, lead us to the main issue I want to discuss here.

If in the event that the current Rookie of the Year loses the ability to compete due to a suspension, there is nothing stating what happens to the title. Does the title get passed down to the next person? If it does, does that person now become the candidate who competes in the Player Championship? If you haven’t guessed by now, I am the next person in line to become Rookie of the Year.

I went to Twitter to see if there was any information out there, as this matters not only to me, but many other pros and individuals in the community. I found a thread where Helene Bergeot stated that in the event of the ROTY becoming suspended, the Player’s Championship slot would pass down to the next at-large pro in the standings. This made no sense to me at all. Why would that be the case when the spot was specifically made for the ROTY?

Clearly, the logical thing that I assumed would happen is not correct. I assumed that if the rookie slot is left vacant, it would get passed down to the person next in line. All the benefits would then also be passed down as its part of being the ROTY. How can it make sense to have a specific spot in a tournament and then not fill that spot when there is the ability to do so? It would be one thing if there was no one else in the category, since then you would have no other choice but to fill the spot with a fair applicant, like the next at-large pro.

This is a very unique situation. This is one instance that has never came up in the history of the game. There is no precedent to this situation, and thus I think that there needs to be one set. If the spot is designated for a rookie, first assign the next eligible person who is in the standings the ROTY title, and then use said rookie in the designated rookie place at the Player’s Championship. Simple enough, right? I guess not, and so here I am making sure that I at least get a chance to say something and once again give it my all. I have never gone down in anything in my life without a fight—and I do not plan to start now.

fighttothedeathI have worked hard and honestly to get to where I have in the world of Magic. I am not a savant at the game. I didn’t catch a hot streak out of no where to end up where I am at. I spent many weekends grinding PTQs, adjusting my hours at work to allow me to test, doing everything in my power to get better and better at this game. It means a lot to me. I had to put in hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to get to where I am today. When I read that I could be, in fact, cheated out of something that I would have otherwise earned, I was devastated. I was even more distraught when I became aware that even if I did get the title that I have earned, I would still in fact not reap the benefits of receiving it in the first place.

I just want something to be done. Even if this is all for nothing, in the event that the DCI concludes that there is nothing worth penalizing, I think there still needs to be language in Organized Play policies stating what would happen in the event that this situation ever arises again. I hope that WOTC does the right thing this time around, but even if they find a reason not to, I hope that anyone in a similar situation in the future can at least not have to endure the roller coaster of emotions that I have had to so far.

Raymond Perez, Jr. – Stories of the Grinder

I am a huge fan of articles that talk about things outside of decklists and tournament reports. While these types of articles are a good way to find a deck to sling at FNM or a PTQ or what have you, I also like to read about real-life events and how they affect people. People put pro Magic players, and even people like myself who are just coming up, on a pedestal. At the end of the day, though, everyone is still a person and goes through trials and tribulations like everyone else. I would like to spend some time today going over some of the life lessons I learned in the last six weeks of tournaments and grinding.

SCG Cleveland and PT Theros – Finding A Balance

Around this time I was testing for my first pro tour, in Dublin, for which I was leaving the following Tuesday. I was stressing about a lot of things: if my deck was the right choice, if all my testing was actually real, if I missed a deck or decks that would be there to crush me, how I’d alienated friends due to my focus on MTG the last few years, and the list goes on. I was quite upset with life and just how things were going.

It’s not everyday when your best friend decides to send you the following text: “If you bail on me again, our friendship is over.”

That really hurt. It hurt badly. Didn’t the world see that I just won a PTQ and that all I had time to do was work and do Magical things? Didn’t they understand how much this meant to me? What I failed to realize was that I was also giving up what meant so much to other people. This friend wasn’t the only one who felt this way, either . My sister, who moved to Florida earlier this year, was upset I didn’t call her on her birthday. I sent her a text saying “Happy birthday, hope all is well.” I told her I would call her later. What happened? I got caught up in playtesting for the PT. She would understand right? Well, she did, but it’s mainly because she’s my sister and we are super close. The point is, though, that I was consistently letting people down over and over for a tournament that I wasn’t that comfortable about in the first place.

It all came into perspective the last day I spent in the states, when I went out to eat with my mom. My mom has always supported anything I do in life, including and especially my card habits. Everything from Pokemon to DBZ to Magic, she was there. She was willing to drive me to tournaments and buy me cards for my birthday and Christmas. This day, she was still there for me, just like she always has been. She told me that it’s all about balance. Finding that balance and how to make everything work time-wise, money-wise, and life-wise. After the encouraging words and nice dinner without much Magic talk, I felt a lot better about the tournament and what I was going to do with the rest of my time in the game. But I have to admit, it was getting to the point where I was going to quit the game for a while if all the hard work for the PT didn’t pay off.

Fast forward to the PT the following weekend. I looked at the final standings and saw that I had managed to finish in 11th place at my first pro tour! While it was an amazing feeling to know all the hard work had indeed finally paid off, it was also not satisfying enough for me. One more match and I could have been in the top eight of my first pro tour. One more match is all that has stood in my way from top eighting multiple SCG opens as well as PTQs. One final match is what got me to the pro tour in the first place and one match is what kept me from winning an additional $5000 as well as more pro points. Eleventh place wasn’t good enough for me.

What I ended up learning from PT Dublin was that the hard work and long hours paid off. I also learned that going forward, sometimes that extra day of playtesting, which would often turn into just hanging out at the LGS, could be better spent seeing the ones you care for or picking up the phone more often. It’s hard to break the habits that I am in right now but I am making an effort to spend time or phone calls with people I have neglected the last few months.

GP Louisville – Call it a Night

Sometimes on Magic trips, I forget that I am actually there to play a tournament and think I am just there with friends having a good time. GP Louisville is one of those times.

I know that a lot of people just get food and a beer or two before calling it a night, whether at tournaments or just in general. I, on the other hand, love to party. I always have. I am a very social person and being in so many new places because of this game just makes me want to go out and see the town even more.

At the beginning of day one of Louisville, I met a cute girl at a Bob Evans who invited me to come out and party with her for her friend’s birthday. She gave me her number and I carried on with my day. I figured if I scrubbed out of the tournament, then I would go out and have a good time. If I made day two, I would be responsible and go to sleep and be well rested for the next day. I should have known better about how I am. Fast forward to the end of day one and I am 7-2. My two friends and I went out to eat some food and figure out the plan for the night. I told myself that if it were after midnight when she got back to me, I would go to sleep. At 12:04 a.m. I received a text asking if I was still coming out. I know I shouldn’t have, but the party juices were flowing.

I tried everything to convince myself not to go. I flipped coins saying if they were heads, I would go. Of course, I flipped tails. I rolled dice saying the same thing but for evens and odds. We opened packs of cards saying if the value were over four dollars, we would go. All signs were screaming, “Stay here and sleep!” but I didn’t want to accept the truth. I called one of my close friends and asked him what I should do. He was a Magic grinder himself and would have my best interests at heart.

“Go out and have fun, man. We go to these things not just to play but also to have a blast.”

It was settled. ROLO*. We were going out and having a ball! After all the drinks and good times, it was now 4:30 a.m. and I had to get up for day two at 7:30 a.m. What was a man supposed to do? I did the only logical thing (drunk logic is usually not correct) and stayed up all night for fear of sleeping in.

Well, day two was a horror scene. I was fatigued. I was exhausted. I was hungover and it was only 10 a.m. I ended up going x-5 before the last round and dropping so we could start the journey back to Michigan.

I learned that I am still a party monster, but that isn’t the best thing to be when there is a serious event on the line. Being in the Rookie of the Year race means that I need to take all GPs and PTs more serious than usual if I want to be crowned with such a title. I threw away a perfect opportunity to get more Pro Points and some more cash, all for a night out on the town. Would I do it again? Most definitely – if there’s not a day two on the line. Do I regret it? Not one bit. I don’t have the power to change things that have already happened, so there’s no need to regret one of the best nights I have had in years. I do, however, need to make sure that I take tournaments more seriously and know that there will always be party nights – but there won’t always be a GP of which I made day two. It’s important to make day two count!

SCG Invitational and TCGPlayer 50K Championship – Prep or Bust!

I was going to be in attendance for both of these events and planned to play Esper for both. I battled with Esper at SCG Cleveland, GP Louisville, and the pro tour. I knew Esper better than any other deck in Standard. I even played Esper the majority of last Standard due to my affinity for the Esper Walker deck after an SCG top four with it. This is where I made a mistake: I chose not to take the testing for these tournaments seriously.

I thought that I knew Standard well enough that I didn’t need to tune my deck much. I knew how I was losing my matches in the last few tournaments and I knew what decks were good. What I failed to realize was that I wasn’t as well-versed as I should have been in the matchups that mattered. I ended up losing to Mono Blue Devotion at the TCGPlayer 50K as well as the 5K Diamond event on the following day. That is one of the matchups that was supposed to be in my favor, and yet I kept losing to it. I didn’t respect the deck enough to know that I needed more games under my belt as well as dedicating more sideboard cards to the matchup. I didn’t even make it through the Standard portion of the SCG Invitational because I picked up two losses in the Legacy portion. I caught a poor match up against blitz RDW and some poor choices against RG Devotion left me signing up for the Standard open the next day. I didn’t test nearly enough Legacy for the SCG Invitational nor enough Modern for the TCGPlayer 50K.

This taught me that even though I was able to have a good showing with the best of the best at a pro tour, it doesn’t mean that I have the ability to sit around and think I am good enough at this game. I need to practice. I need to study. I need to keep grinding just to keep succeeding. This was proof that if you want to take this game seriously, there are no holidays. There are no breaks. There is only hard work and dedication. Magic is a lifestyle for me, not a hobby. Some people want to be the best body builder, the best athlete, even the best hot dog eater. I want to be one of the best Magic players and I promise you all, I won’t stop learning and progressing until I am. These are all just lessons that will get me from where I am to where I need to go.

Wrapping Up

I hope that these tales of woe will help you improve somewhere, be it in life or in the game. These are just a few of the mistakes I have made on my journey and I am sure they won’t be the last, either. But if I am able to turn my mistakes into something people can learn from, it will all have been for something.

Some of this may seem like common knowledge. Some of it may not apply to you. Regardless of whether you heed my words or not, I hope you have enjoyed reading these stories! If you guys are interested in seeing more of these types of articles, let me know in the comments or on Twitter. If you guys just want to hear about Esper (what people usually ask me about in person or online) I do not have an issue with that, either. I just tried spicing things up a little bit this time around :)

Until next time!

@RayFuturePro on Twitter
RayFuturePro on MTGO

*ROLO stands for Raymond Once Lives Once or Raymond Only Loses Once :D

Ray Perez – My First Pro Tour Experience

My First Pro Tour Experience

First thing, allow me to introduce myself! My name is Raymond Perez Jr. I have played competitive Magic since the tail end of 2010 where I thought I was an insane player but was proven wrong when I went to my first GP. Fast forward to today and I think I have improved slightly but still have lots of room to grow. That’s the fun part, though!

I recently won my first PTQ a few months ago and was finally able to qualify for the Pro Tour in Dublin, Ireland for the first time ever. I worked hard the last few years to be able to do such a thing and was excited to finally get to the big stage. The thing that everyone forgets to tell you is that it’s just the beginning of an insane battle. No one warns a new guy like myself about all the stress, time, money and other things you must sacrifice just to prepare for this one tournament. That was a wake up call for me to know how much this all meant to me. It’s a sad moment when you realize just how hard and grueling it is to prepare if you ever want to play a PTQ or get qualified for the PT again as someone without a full pro team or people that know what is going on or what to expect. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let us start from the beginning.

Winning a PTQ

The first time I ever won a PTQ was for Dublin. This meant two things:

1. I was finally qualified for the Pro Tour! “Everything is paid for (outside of hotel and food) so it will be a nicer trip to attend!” This is what I thought, ignorantly, about the trip.

2. I would need a passport now to even attend. No biggie; I need one anyway so this will just speed up that process. Another hidden cost I forgot to total in my head for the grand scheme of things.

So, lucky for me, I had a couple months to “prepare” for the Pro Tour. I thought that would be plenty of time to figure out standard, get guys together to test and draft and save money for the trip so I could enjoy myself while I was there. I did lots of things right, but I also did more things wrong to prepare. This will be my attempt to let others like myself know how to do things differently so they don’t become stressed as much as I did.

I want to address a few misconceptions that a first-timer might have.

The illusion That You Will Have Optimal lists

First off, I am a horrible deck builder. In the past, I usually just scanned the internet for the best deck and tuned it. Once I knew I loved control I was able to tune my lists way easier week to week than if I were to pick up a different deck like Jund. This was my strength going in. I knew that if I were to build a control deck from scratch, I would have gotten most of the things right on the first time. The thing about control, though, is you need to build for what you’ll face. This was where the optimal lists came in.

My buddy Mike McShane and I built a gauntlet of the decks we decided we would face. A majority of them were just saying “Hey, we should make a red deck.” and throwing cards that seem like they would fit in there into the deck. This led to us having some very rough decks and not much time to tune them as we had to keep figuring decks out. This let me to believe certain things about my deck that most likely weren’t true. One such example was that I was favored against the red decks with my control decks. We never spent too much time on the decks and when they Fanatic of Mogis version debuted at SCG two weeks before the PT, we had to readjust and go from there.

That People Will Have Time to Help

This was my biggest concern and what caused the most stress. Knowing that you aren’t testing in groups with pros such as Jon Finkel or even insane players like Gerry Thompson etc. feels like you are fighting a battle that you cannot win. They will be miles ahead of you due to the fact they have a team of like-minded individuals that can shed light on lists, draft strategies etc.

Going in, a had multiple people saying they would help me with testing, drafting, etc. Well, life happens and people will be people. The biggest thing I can say is don’t count on anyone to do what you cannot do yourself. I lucked out – my buddy Mike McShane was able to spend hours on hours during the day before I went to work and he was the reason I was able to come to understand the standard format. He was willing to jam deck after deck against me and had that not taken place – well, let’s just say calling me “stressed out” would be an understatement.

Drafting was also a huge thing. Ryan Bushard, one of the Brainstorm Brewery podcasters and my sponsor, bought me 3 cases to draft with. Sounds insane, right? Well, only if you have people willing to draft. It was hard enough just finding people that would actually draft at the same time and also hard to find people that I could actually learn something from. The random Joe Smith at the stores will not help me understand the limited format for a PT so I was forced to be picky. Even after assembling a fine draft crew, I still didn’t learn a ton. Whatever we played, I already knew from the few drafts I did personally at prereleases the weekend prior. It also didn’t help that when you have people who are biased towards certain archetypes, you tend to get a repetitive draft atmosphere where certain people are just taking RB because they like it and the rest don’t mind as they like something else.

I also underestimated how much time it would take to draft then play rounds. I never considered how long it would take before as it was only for me when I drafted and if I lost then I can find another draft or just move on. We only ended up getting through 2 boxes of product for drafts before everyone left. Definitely not where I wanted to be a few weeks before the PT. This is where MTGO comes in. Thankfully, they made Theros live on MTGO the weekend before the PT and that is where I would recommend getting reps in for drafts if you have the same issue as I did with groups. I drafted for a solid 16-18 hours doing three drafts at a time to prepare. This is where I learned everything I knew about the format. I was able to draft multiple different decks and find the one that I thought would give me the best chance at winning my draft rounds at the PT. When in doubt, MODO it out.

Cash Rules Everything Around Me

A usual Magic weekend for me ranges from $180-260 to get a hotel, food, events etc. This is what I was assuming would be the same range of costs for me at this tournament. The huge flaw I looked over in that thought process was that all those trips I have my buddies with me to share expenses. Going to the PT meant I was traveling alone and most likely rooming alone for the first one. Those were costs I had to factor in and definitely did not think about it when I was prepping until later on. Don’t be an idiot like me – draw up a plan. Try to find people to go with as it makes for a better experience as well as cheaper expenses. I ended up staying by myself across the event center which was super convenient but was boring once the night was over.

Try to research how expensive things are there. I was blown out by not knowing what I would paying, on average, per day for meals and transportation. People in Europe were telling me that Ireland is expensive on its own and even more so to Americans as the Euro is worth more than the dollar. I usually spent around 15-20 Euro on a meal and would spike a good deal every now and then for 10 Euro. That adds up when you stay there for multiple days.

Which leads me into my last words of advice.

Play The Game, See The World

I chose to fly in Wednesday morning and leave Monday morning. This was a mistake to the fullest. I missed out seeing some of what Dublin had to offer because I just didn’t have enough time. I really wanted to go to the countryside and also other bar districts to see what those were like but ran out of time fast. Even if you don’t have a team of players getting a house for a month prior the tournament, try to get at least a week to spend around town. Getting to travel to other countries is something I never thought I would have been able to do a few years ago playing this game and now that I was able to, I wish I was able to take advantage of that. DON’T DO WHAT I DID! See the beautiful sites!

I was able to qualify for Valencia, Spain which is the next PT, so I will be more equipped this time around. Less stress is always a good thing in life and these were the major issues I had with prepping for the PT. I hope you all get to go to a PT yourself as it’s such an insane time. Getting to travel to play a game you love is always a good time and getting to meet so many new people is also always a great thing in life. Hope this will help anyone expect the unexpected in their PT preparation and if you have any other questions about what to expect, I will always be happy to chat about them! All you have to do is find me on Twitter, MTGO or message me on Facebook.

Till next time,


Twitter: @RayFuturePro

Facebook: Raymond Perez Jr.

Magic Online: RayFuturePro


Bonus Section

Because you asked, here is the deck Ray played at the PT

[deck title= Esper Control]


*1 aetherling



*1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

*3 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

*4 Jace, Architect of Thought



*2 dissolve

*2 syncopate

*1 scatter

*2 far

*1 doom blade

*4 supreme verdict

*4 azorius charm

*3 Sphinx’s Revelation

*2 detention sphere

*3 Hero’s Downfall



*3 plains

*4 island

*4 temple of silence

*4 temple of deceit

*4 watery grave

*4 hallowed fountain

*4 Godless Shrine



*1 ashiok, nightmare weaver

*1 aetherling

*1 detention sphere

*1 duress

*1 jace, memory adept

*2 glare of heresy

*2 blood baron of vizkopa

*4 thoughtseize

*2 negate