Last weekend was one of the biggest weekends in Magic: the Gathering history. 14,715 players took part in four Grand Prix tournaments in Chiba, Japan, Utrecht, Netherlands, and Las Vegas, America. And in the top eight, one pivotal moment has led to no small amount of drama, and one of the most expensive cards ever being sold on eBay. Here's how it got there.
From one moment in the final stages of a competition, to a card gathering over $US19,000 worth of bids on eBay. The card in question, the Tarmogoyf, is below.
These tournaments were so large that they had to be broken up just so that the software could handle the numbers.
Players who made the cut for the second day of these events played with decks drafted from the recently released Modern Masters 2015 set. In Magic drafts, players are separated into pods of eight and given three booster packs. They will simultaneously open a booster pack, take a card and then pass the remaining cards to the next player. This process is repeated until all cards have been drafted and players will then construct a deck from these cards. Players will then play several matches where the winners will move on to another draft and then the top eight will do one more draft.
Pascal Maynard, a Canadian professional player, won his way into the top eight draft of one of the GP Vegas main events. As part of the coverage for the event, his draft was broadcast live to thousands of viewers on Twitch.tv. After the first pack, Maynard was putting together an aggressive red and white double strike deck. Then he opened his second pack.
It had a foil Tarmogoyf. (seen below at 5h40m)
Tarmogoyf was originally printed in 2007 as part of the Future Sight set and has been a staple of high level play ever since. It is also the most valuable card currently in print with an approximate value of $US175. A foil version is worth at least twice that. Maynard was presented with a difficult choice: take the card appropriate for his deck or take the guaranteed money? He did what most people would do, he took the money. Maynard lost in the semi-finals.
Rare drafting, or money drafting, is a common occurrence in Magic. With the high value of some cards in the secondary market, opening the right card can be worth much more than potential prizes on offer. High level players look down on this practice as they consider the benefits of winning far greater than the value of an individual card. This is particularly true for players like Pascal Maynard who earn Pro Points for placing highly in tournaments. Players that accumulate enough Pro Points can earn appearance fees up to $US3,000 and be invited to tournaments where their travel and accommodation will be paid for by Wizards of the Coast.
Fellow pro players were quick to state their opinions.
I just lost all respect for Pascal Maynard.
— William Jensen (@HueyJensen) June 1, 2015
— Owen Turtenwald (@OwenTweetenwald) June 1, 2015
I've devoted my life to Magic. It's very disappointing to see that one of my peers would sell out for so little.
— Reid Duke (@ReidDuke) June 1, 2015
Several days later, in response to the criticism, Maynard posted his thoughts on Facebook:
I had under 1 minute to take into account everything and I believe Martin Jůza had the best way to resume my quick thought process. He said, “Would you pay $US500 to have Burst Lightning in your draft deck.”
Jensen, Turtenwald and Duke have all publicly apologised for their comments.
The Tarmogoyf has been listed on eBay with half of the proceeds going to the Gamers Helping Gamers charity.
In the secondary market of Magic cards, $US12,000 could buy you the infamously expensive Black Lotus. At the time of writing, however, the current bid for the Tarmogoyf is over an astonishing $US19,000.