Thursday, December 23, 2010


First, a rant explaining this article's brief history. Here's what I was told by the editor of SCG when I submitted this.

"Hi Matt,

Unfortunately I can not consider this article for publication because it does not meet the minimum length requirements. Even if I could consider it, I would unfortunately have to reject it as it lack the strategic content and/or storytelling that is required of Premium articles.


I would be happy to post this as a bonus section in a real article, but I would not be able to post a slightly longer version of this. 

All the best,



I foolishly thought when I signed up with SCG that they understood that I sometimes write in the niche of stupid bullshit that goes viral and people love and doesn't include strategy. How fucking stupid do you have to be to pay someone to bring eyeballs to the website and then reject something that likely goes viral, gets linked to on people's facebooks and twitters, AND generates a discussion and possibly outcry to bring back team formats. Drafting With Mongoloids: Scars Draft #452 is fun and all, but guess what, you can post that link AND MY LINK. Added value.


Stepping back into the general policy… A minimum length requirement means you don't trust your editor or your writers. I can make a quality article that's under 3000 words, I'm sure of it. If not, the editor can just say this needs to be longer or just reject it if it's clear the author mailed it in and is just trying to collect a check. "But Matt, a bright-line rule is just better, it saves everyone time and the writers know what is required of them." Ask a 7th grade English teacher if minimum length requirements will keep people from blowing off the assignment and/or save anyone any time. The teacher will probably say yes because 7th grade English teachers couldn't find a Dixie coonskin with an Ohio hooker holding their prick and showing 'em the way, but you get the idea.


"But Matt, SCG wants the premium content and the website in general to be about strategy and storytelling, not humor that generates laughs and hits." Fine. Keep catering to the 2% of premium subscribers who press hard in every forum for "one size fits all" articles that no one loves and no one hates. God forbid you post something that gets 85 Facebook "Likes" (which links on FB) and 15 comments saying "this isn't premium content herp derp."




Saying I "want" or "would like" a team limited (trios) PT or GP is kind of like saying Ken Krouner "likes" survivor.

My first success on the PT was 17th at a Team PT in 2002. I had a chance to knock out Kai Budde (and with him Phoenix Foundation and their streak) in a feature match on day 2 and set my team up to win-and-in and make top 8, but I folded under the bright lights like a cheap chair meeting Marco for the first time.

But it's not just my own sentimental desire to relive that punt. So many people would love to play team limited trios again. When I asked Luis Scott Vargas if he'd like the format to return, for example, he said " I would be more excited to play in a Team Trios (Limited or Constructed) Grand Prix than in any tournament they could possibly announce, regardless of location or timing. I mean a Pro Tour would be even better, but I'd take a GP."

Something as minor as one U.S. team limited Trios Grand Prix would go a long way, and would be a great barometer for the interest in and health of the format. If a PT was added as a bonus to 2012, a fifth pro tour in celebration of some milestone worth celebrating (is that the 15th PT season?), that would be ideal. If it had to be half constructed, fine. Team Limited with day 1 team sealed day 2 team draft is too great to pass up though.

Is it a logistical nightmare? Maybe at the GP level, but so is every GP, and I doubt the added burden on the TO is that tremendous.

The upside is huge. These events were fun and in a way that normal Magic can't really capture. If you're lucky enough to make a national team, you can kind of play teams, but you don't get to pick your team. Picking who to go to battle with and then seeing if you can work together is what Teams is all about.

IF YOU WANT WOTC TO BRING BACK TEAM LIMITED (TRIOS), SAY SO IN THE FORUMS. Say why, and say how badly you want it. Maybe someone is listening, who knows.

Now for the fun part. For what follows, I've assumed that WotC brought back the Team Limited Trios Pro Tour. I take a guess at some teams that might show up, suggest a team name for each, and predict where they would finish.

Matt Sperling, Gabriel Nassif, Paul Rietzl

Name: 3rd Nut and 2 Annoying Americans

Let's start with the prohibitive favorites - barring a Phoenix Foundation or Huey Brock and Linde reunion. Nassif is Nassif, he's won a team PT, and he captains the ship. Rietzl and I are very fundamentally sound despite his underconfidence and my overconfidence, and we both have Team PT experience as well. Money drafting and testing together a lot doesn't hurt. Is it possible we lose? Sure, anything's possible.

Prediction: 1st.

David Williams, Eric Froehlich, Conley Woods

Name: Team Barnage-a-trois

DW and Efro barn Conley for his fun decks, Conley barns them back cuz they're DW and Efro, hence the 3-way barnacle relationship. Just three barnacles adrift at sea attached to each other instead of to a ship, whale, or rock.

Prediction: Efro and DW and any third is a very powerful limited team, if they somehow wrestled me from Rietzl's bosom we'd prob win the whole thing. With Conley, they finish top 32.

Guilaume Matignon, Guilaume Wafo Tapa, [French dude]

Name: Team Gui are the Champions

Prediction: miss day 2. Strong challengers in a constructed team PT, and perhaps here as well (Wafo has a limited PT top 8, they've both done well at mixed PTs) but I'm not feeling it.

Tomaharu Saito, Katsuhiro Mori, Marcio Carvahlo

Name: '19 White Sox

Prediction: DNP (suspension)

Tom Martell, Owen Turtenwald, Cedric Phillips

Name: Team We Each Thought We'd Be Able to Find a Better Team

Good players, nice guys.

Prediction: T-dead last.

Anthony Eason, Christian Calcano, Ashanti

Name: Twinz (

My theory about Eason and Calcano is that long ago there was a really big version with deathtouch and lifelink, and someone killed it, and out sprang Eason (deathtouch) and Calcano (lifelink).

Prediction: Eason somehow makes the US National Team even though that isn't an available prize. 2-5

Mark Herberholz, Dirk Baberowski, Jelger Wiegersma

Name: Wedge Antilles

Prediction: DNP (coach's decision)

Paolo Vitor Nacho Doritos, Brad Nelson, Luis Scott Vargas

Name: Paper Tiger

On paper, a devastatingly awesome team. An easy parallel is the 2010 Miami Heat, and the "decision" interview with Tristan Humphrey or whatever his name is would be just as awkward.

Prediction: This team would have less chemistry than Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Pullman did in this classic: Still, talent is talent, so they make day 2 but only min cash.

Josh Utter Leyton, David Ochoa, Martin Juza

Name: Rich Hagon's Wet Dream

Prediction: a web and wrapter team makes the third man the default captain since they could pull a good pro and would both shrug lock that person into the captain seat. I like their chances though, as two great role players is a natural setup. Lack of experience with team limited keeps them from the top 4. They finish 5-8th.

Ben Stark, Luis Scott Vargas, David Ochoa

Wait, just in case this ever actually happens, forget I suggested this team and hope along with me that they go with PV LSV Fffreak and Wrapter Web Juza.

Gerry Thomson, Michael Jacob, Patrick Chapin

Name: Thank God this is Limited

If it was Team Standard, a format we once had, this team ranks among the elite teams. It isn't.

Prediction: 3-3.

Matt Nass, Gerard Fabiano, Tom Ross

Name: If I didn't call your name….

Prediction: DNP (not qualified).

Olivier Ruel, Antoine Ruel, Raphael Levy

Name: [French term meaning Has-Been]

Prediction: 2-4

Shuuhei Nakamura, Yuuya Watanabe, Yuuta Takahashi

Name: Extra U for Value

Prediction: a lot of pointing to yourself to indicate no blocks and play first after the die roll, then a quiet top 4, losing in the semi's.

Sam Black, Gaudenis Vidiguris, Brial Kowal

Name: Team Yawn

Prediction: unknown, nobody checks the standings to find out where they ended up.

Ben Swartz, Noah Swartz, Michael Flores

Name: PTQ Winners Edison NJ

Prediction: DNP (family emergency).

Zvi Mowshowitz, [Someone who would let Zvi run the show], [another person who would let Zvi run the show]

Name: Wikileaks couldn't access my draft strategy

Interesting issue comes up here, what does it take to qualify a team? How many combined pro club levels? If it's 5, the Hall of Famers can pick their squad and play. If its 6+, they might not be able to play if no one will team with them (Comer) or they want the sole share of the glory so badly that they pull two people off the street to play (Zvi). I think 7 combined levels sounds reasonable but I'm open to other suggestions. A nice bonus here is that it makes levels one and two relevant and makes level 3 a little juicier as well.

Prediction: T-dead last.

Bram Snepvangers, Randy Buehler, Alan Comer

Name: Hall of Shame

Prediction: even if voting is incorportated into the PT and their friend's votes count for double, they still miss day 2.

Tim Aten, Tommy Ashton, Stephen King

Name: Aten needed a team and couldn't locate a time machine

Prediction: T-dead last.

Chris Pikula, Jon Finkel, Bob Maher

Name: Too Big Time To Actually Show Up

Prediction: DNP (Big timing) - if they actually showed up, they t32 - if they practiced a lot then showed up, hell freezes over, then top 4.

Mike Turian, Aaron Forsythe, Dave Humphries

Name: Champions Challenge!

Prediction: 23-1-1 (in gunslinging matches).


  1. sperling grove is so reckless and so funny

  2. Some of your assessments at the beginning are a little unfair but you bring up some interesting points.

    The teams section was just complete and utter gas.

  3. I'd rather watch drafting with mongoloids and their pet cat than the chapin and wet towel show, just sayin...

    but +1 on team GP/PT/anything, but then that would be a decision that 95+% of players would appreciate, and so not one they're going to make any time soon

  4. The teams section was amazing. Wish you wrote more of these.

  5. Bring back Momir gold queues

  6. Make it Rochester with old-timey Blocks!

  7. WTFROLF!!!! good times

  8. They can't bring back teams, at risk of alienating their target consumer. If you are wondering who their target consumer is, they don't have friends.

    Obviously I would love nothing more than another team format. I wasn't even playing Magic during teams and I had a great experience. I often think about what decks you would play in team standard right now.

  9. It's true; minimum-word requirements punish good writers, who are able to say more with less, and reward flatulent writers.

    I like Matt Sperling and I also like his writing.

  10. Calcano's team was probably the best thing that has ever been written.

  11. I've never had as much fun playing Magic as I have in Team Sealed and Team Constructed. Two-Headed Giant isn't even close.

  12. Also, fun article to read. It's SCG's loss.

  13. -1 for no team extra u for valuue...otherwise the nuts

  14. Twinz! LOL spit all over my monitor! -jcvd