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From Backpacker to Pack your Bags at #1 in Masters – Kevor's LoR Journey

Kevor goes on a small introspective journey, and how he went from leaving MtG competition to being one of LoR's best players.

Hey guys! Me again, with a rant… 

… is how this article would have begun had I finished it back in February, which is when I actually started it. For those keeping track, it was about the time where Riot released their “Competitive Roadmap” (here's the link, if you're unfamiliar with it.)

Back in February, I had written a good 3000 words before realizing this was getting just too negative for my liking and it wasn’t even that bad of a Roadmap.

Let me give you a short summary of those 3K words: 

  • I felt like using exactly the previous year model was lazy,
  • They actually told us they were looking at doing some improvements, which never came,
  • Obviously I didn’t like them getting rid of Seasonals Broadcast, and that made me scared for the future of competitive LoR,
  • I was also scared of LoR devoting all its remaining resources into single player modes like Path of Champion, which would just mean me quitting the game I like.

And, yes, I was still salty about getting unjustly kicked out of Worlds last year. 

Just petty stuff really. So I scraped it…

… but what I really liked about that article, though, was the introspective journey I went on to try and explain my feelings about the Roadmap, which is what I'd like to share with you now.

Let’s start at the beginning

This is the story of how I started playing LoR, a bit of my card-slinging background and how I got into the MaRu pro team. 

This might get weird.

This is me in 2019. At this point I’m on a six-months-long solo-trip through South-East Asia. It’s been years since I’ve played pro MTG. I was still playing competitive Hearthstone a bit at this point, qualifying to most of their Player’s Tour, but I put it on the backburner that year and was more interested in traveling. 

The traveling part was always the most fun to me when going to a tournament. At the end of 2018 I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be doing in life, I felt like I was stagnating, and so I went: “Screw it, I’m traveling until I can’t anymore!”

Sold most of my stuff, broke my lease, and booked a one-way trip to Viet Nam. 

Best decision I’ve ever made. 

I was not planning on playing any cards outside of the occasional Hearthstone 200k, but sometimes life doesn’t always go as you plan.

I made a lot of my closest friends through playing serious competitive Magic from around 2010 to 2016. I was not competing anymore when I started my trip, but I always kept tabs with them if they were. 

On some random evening about 5 months into my SEA trip, with no plan to come back home anytime soon, I was scrolling through Facebook in a small Malaysian hostel. I was hit with a heavy dose of nostalgia.

I saw that a lot of my friends had qualified for the upcoming MTG Pro Tour – now called Mythic Championship – and I realized I still had some kind of competitive itch, and… wouldn’t it be cool if I joined my friends to this random tournament? 

So I looked around, saw there was some kind of qualifier in about two weeks in Bangkok, and booked my ticket that night. 

I guess you could say I’m a bit impulsive.

Shoestring Budget

I had no cards, hadn't played the game seriously in years, and I was not up to speed with the metagame. I was also on a backpacker’s budget so I didn’t want to be spending much. But I still knew one thing: a mono-colored aggro deck is probably cheap and playable. 

I arrived in Bangkok a week after. Went to a couple different card shops that were all in the basement of huge malls, and bought an optimal-ish mono red deck for like 50$.

There were about 160 people in the tournament.

I didn’t win it.

I lost in one of the last rounds to make the top 8. The guy I lost to actually recognized me because he was one of the shop owners I contacted on Facebook to buy mono-red, but he didn’t have the cards. 

We chatted a bit, and he invited me to join him next week to go to a Magic Fest I didn’t know was happening in Taipei, Taiwan. He was also willing to lend me whatever cards he wasn’t using…

… so, of course, I booked my ticket for Taipei that evening.

Looking back at this paragraph, isn’t this completely insane?

Card game communities are great like that. Everybody just wants to help each other. I think it’s awesome and looking back at all the time I invested into those games and communities, I regret none of it and would do it all over again. 

I mean really, who else can say: “I met a guy in a random mall tournament in Bangkok Thailand, became friends, then traveled to another country with him where I won an invite for a tournament happening 6 months later in Richmond, USA”? 

Thank you Lom. 

That picture at the top is from the Pro Tour Qualifier on Friday of Magic Fest Taipei. I won that one. 

And I was hooked on competition once again.

From Pro to LoR

Fast-forwards to the actual Pro Tour. I did fine, lost the last round playing for top 25, made a couple hundred bucks and had a lot of fun. 

But it is in this tournament that I got the Legends of Runeterra seed planted in my brain. 

I was hanging out with a couple old-school pros on Sunday morning when LoR came up. @Wrapter himself praised the game to me, and I was very curious. I even knew a few people that did consulting for the game, and they were all putting in good words for Riot.

Alas… at this point, I didn’t want to spend the time learning a new hobby. I still had Hearthstone if I wanted to, and Runeterra didn’t seem to have any real competitive support. So I watched the game from afar. A couple of months later, that changed.

This is where Runeterra started for me. This small article in October 2020.

I had just recently decided to quit competing in Hearthstone for various reasons, and Wizard of the Coast literally killed competitive MtG. But I still had that pesky itch. Also, it was 2020, so I had a lot of free time on my hands *cough cough*. 

This was perfect timing for me.

Runeterra became my main hobby. I spent the next couple of weeks learning the mechanics and earning the cards. Fell in love with the intricacies of the game.

I started streaming a little bit and became somewhat known in the community for reaching rank 1 with Lee Sin in an arguably hostile meta for it.

Hey! That’s Wrapter again.

Ahead of that upcoming Seasonal tournament, Jason Fleurant hit me up because he was trying to make a competitive playtest group. This is how I got invited to the MasteringRuneterra Pro Team. 

Right place, right time.

Mastering Runeterra

Me and MajiinBae both made the top cut of that Seasonal, and Majiin even ended up winning (!!) it. 

We were both playing the exact same lineup, and I even convinced him to join me in playing a modified Aphelios Bilgewater list with Tahm Kench in it. 

That first competitive LoR experience was really good. I loved playtesting, and it really brought me back to my past MtG days, trying to figure out a format with a group of like-minded people.  

I just made the top 32 of the Seasonal while also finishing the season at rank 1. We knew Worlds was coming up, but didn’t have any more details at that point.

I was pretty excited.

I was hooked on competition once again. 

The next couple of months I didn’t play ladder as much, and COVID became less and less relevant, meaning I had less time for my hobby and had to skip playing some seasonals for work. 

I was fine with that, but I tried to stay involved in Runeterra: I played the new decks, brewed with the new cards, and mostly just hung out in streams and with the MaRu Pro guys. 

Then, the Worlds Championship was announced.

Now, as a quick aside, I have never really been considered World Championship material in other card games. So it always felt a little bit too out of my reach, and I never committed to it full-time. I came close to actually going Pro a few times, both in MTG and Hearthstone, but I was just some random grinder from Canada who was friends with Pascal Maynard.  

But I knew that in Runeterra I had a chance. I felt my understanding of the game was good, so I decided to commit to the grind. 

And I made it.

I Top32’d the last Seasonals before Worlds, and also qualified with Ladder points. I was pretty happy, but I knew this was only the start – now I need to win it.

Sadly… it wasn’t meant to be.

In fact, I got kicked out of the tournament before even getting a chance to play in it. You probably know the story at this point.

But that whole two weeks where I tested night after night with WhatAmI, Majiinbae, Ja3 and company… that was amazing.

I really felt like I was one of the best players in that field, but everybody says that about themselves. Turns out, we had a pretty good read on the metagame: both Jordan and Majiin made it to the Top 6 of the Americas, which is a pretty crazy conversion rate when you think about it. 

But then, for the next couple of months we really had no competitive things to look forward to. Everything was up in limbo. We got some kind of article from Riot referencing some of the controversies from Worlds, and that’s about it. 

So I took a pause, didn’t play much Ladder, and only really immersed myself in Runeterra 1-2 weeks before a Seasonal. Why the MaRu guys kept me around during this period is baffling – I thought I would just get kicked, and maybe become a Wombat, like everyone else.

(I just had to tease, my bad!) 

I’ve been fully back in Runeterra for maybe four months now. I managed to finish rank 1 again last season, when it absolutely didn’t matter, and I’m keeping up with the community again. Streaming whenever I have time for it or feel like it.

God I love card game communities, man! 

I still have the competitive itch, it's never really gonna leave me. Maybe it's enough to try and make it to Worlds again and actually play it this time, maybe it's not. I really don’t know. 

At first I wanted to write this article criticizing Riot and the competitive Roadmap, but I know now it’s not that bad. Maybe that’s the only system Runeterra will ever have, and I’m fine with it. 

I know the Devs are passionate about the game and, really, that’s all I can hope for. Not every game has to be competitive.

The community is what I’m here for, and the competition is my excuse to stay. 

Maybe the real World Championship was the friends we made along the way. 

Kevor out.

Catch y’all on the Leaderboard 😉


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