Luck Doesn’t Exist

August 8, 2015

Luck, is a core concept in Magic, which is why so many articles have been, are being and will be written about it.


22 Year old French player.
Winner PT Valencia 2007
2nd Place GP Birmingham 2008

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Luck, is a core concept in Magic, which is why so many articles have been, are being and will be written about it. So you’ll wonder why am I writing about it as well when it’s already covered so much.
We are in presence of a very serious entity, as Einstein said “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” That’s why I fear truth about the matter won’t be obtained but also hope that adding up all of our writings and our experiences might, if we’re lucky, lead us to a little something.

Magic is a game of infinite complexity and to play it constantly perfect seems to be an unreachable goal.
Here are two stories :
Pro Tour Amsterdam 2004, Feature Match between Farid Meraghni and Luis Van Riet in a round playing for top 8
“[…] Farid took four and fell to seven. He untapped and lapsed into thought for what seemed like eternity. Finally, he played a second Vulshok Gauntlets, equipped both on Clockwork Vorrac, making a 13/9 with trample and confidently attacked with the team. Luis scooped in the face of the incoming lethal damage.
Farid Meraghni 2 – Luis Van Riet 1
But wait…was it lethal?
If he put both the Viridian Joiner and the Tel-Jilad Archers in front of the Vorrac, he would take seven points of trample, plus three from the Skyhunter Cub with Lightning Greaves, and two from the Skyhunter Patrol. Adding that up gives the number twelve, which was one less than his life total. Meaning, that he could have lived through the attack, and certainly could have attacked back for lethal damage.”
Can we say Farid played perfectly? Does perfection subsume the confidence with which you tap your creatures?

Now, Yuuya Watanabe (playing Delver) is battling Louis Deltour (playing RUG pod), Yuuya is resolving a Preordain and very quickly slams a Dismember from the top of his deck onto one of Louis’ creatures; whom, being a frenchman, concludes that his opponent doesn’t have another Dismember in hand – which is neatly observed – but Yuuya, being japanese, obviously had another one in hand.
We can always argue that doing this or that is useless, that leaving a Steam Vents rather than an Island untapped is useless since we don’t have the Lightning Bolt in hand and but that’s forgetting that it’s a two-player game and manipulating our opponent’s thoughts also counts for perfection. Perfection is strict, it does not tolerate idleness, it entails everything. Attaining perfection is as much about not playing that 3rd vital land -which you have just drawn – too fast so that your opponent won’t deduce your hand is full of spells as it is about intentionally missing a land drop to let them over-extend into the Wrath of God waiting in our hand. Since we can win games simply thanks to the blink of an eye, why would there be any other reason for our losses than our own mediocrity?

As simple DCI numbers, what’s our relation to perfection? The wise man would wonder what’s the point of seeking it as it cannot be obtained and this wise man would be wise to have this wisdom, but is the conciousness of this wisdom a motivating factor? Isn’t not being concious of the fact what pushes us to try and sometimes suceed, or even reach hights we weren’t aware of? As Shakespeare put it :”Thus conscience does make cowards of us all”, and we would indeed be cowards not to utopically try and reach perfection, it is it’s Frantic Search that will get us there someday, being bad and acknowledging it would already be spectacular; to the eyes of perfection, we are far beyond bad.
Now that we know we play this game so poorly, so poorly that the entire point of a match is not to be better than our opponent but to commit less mistakes, then why complain about luck? Can we ever be sure we couldn’t have done better?
What if being unlucky was the pivotal key of Magic?
Even when you win a tournament, you mulligan hands, you miss land drops, you draw too many lands but the same goes for your opponent’s and in exactly similar proportions, and if you fight, then, sometimes you win those games. The difference is made by winning the games where you mulliganned into oblivion. Would Yann Massicard have won Grand Prix Seattle 2009 had he given up at the first obstacle?
Do you know the story of Kai Budde at Grand Prix Madrid 2004? At 0-2 after his 3 byes he wanted to drop, but was convinced by his friends to stay in the tournament he then proceeded to win the tournament, what was there to lose ? The same goes for Shuuhei Nakamura at GP Philly 2012 or Amiel Tenenbaum at GP Krakow 2007. What I’m trying to say is that if after a mulligan to 4 or an 0-2 start, if us, the most concerned, do not believe in our come-back, how could it even happen ?

A lot of people choose to complain, complaining is a way of fighting too, but with words, when you feel hopeless and feel it’s already over. Jund was whined about all over the world back in it’s debut in standard, french people were nicknaming it “casca-luck” while Gabriel Nassif and Patrick Chapin were building the U/W tap out for PT San Diego which soon became it’s natural predator. They fought to find a decent contestant and Chapin was rewarded with a Top 16.
Complaining is commenting about luck, but can you both be a spectator and the winner of a match? The main problem of complaints is that it extracts the player from it’s full immersion with the game, your frustration may it be verbal, by body language, or even only mental, but it cuts you off from the flow of the game and lessens your odds for victory.
If to be allowed to consider luck we have to attain perfection – which can’t be attained – then luck doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s all horsefeather’s, so would be my article, but it’s an illusion which fights and do not complain, which makes you progress; and i’d rather believe in a story tale which makes me a better person than in a truth devoid of this virtue.
And so will I put an end to this article with this Japanese proverb : “Luck helps sometimes, work always.”

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