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General Musings

Enter The Battlefield: Life on the Magic The Gathering Pro Tour (2016)


The Snooty Ushers take a look at another documentary which might just pass you byAfter my excellent experience watching The Barkley Marathons, I decided to give some more documentaries a watch.

Narrated by Will Wheaton this is a documentary based on the popular collectible card game Magic The Gathering directed by Nathan Holt and Shawn Kornhauser.

Now this is not really a subject or game I’ve ever been interested in but thought i’d give it a go. Enter the Battlefield is a documentary that follows seven Magic players. While their goal for every game is to defeat their opponent, their life on the Pro Tour is about personal goals. It follows a very diverse set of people with very different practice strategies and goals.

The film makers have done a fantastic job on this, the camera work is nice and sound design is excellent, all said its professionally and technically brilliant. I wasn’t expecting to be glued to my screen whilst watching this but as the film progressed I felt the competitive nature of all the players and the sacrifices some have made to compete at the highest level. each player has his and her own story line and how they came about in the community. Its not always sunshine and rainbows though, there’s an underdog story, a newcomer, a family feud and a veteran all of whom have there ups and downs.

The most interesting character in the documentary for me was Chris Pikula, an old-school Magic pro who narrowly missed out on joining the hall of fame earlier in his career and now hes back to fight for his chance to be accepted, only now he presented with juggling family life, a career and responsibilities. His story line is cut together with another. Sharhar Shenhar, a relative newcomer to the Magic scene but already with two tour wins to his name. The dynamic of old vs new is a compelling watch and seeing the two characters at completely different points in their careers. I feel its the best story the documentary has even if its tried and true narrative archetype. Other story-lines include Melissa DeTora attempting to make it big in the scene which is an interesting watch as Magic seems to be known primarily as a ‘men’s only club’ so its great hearing and seeing her work all the way up into competing at the highest level. The there is Patrick Chapin, another old-school player who never really took a break but continued to build new and innovative decks and consistently get high finishes in pro tours and grand prix.

Image result for Magic the gathering

 

I went into this expecting spells wizards and monsters flying across my screen, which probably would have sufficed but what I got was a look into the lives of others. I would have loved the documentary to delve a little bit further into the lives of these people but I guess trying to juggle seven story-lines can put a little pressure on time. What we get is enough to understand the time and effort that goes into the game and juts how much its means to them.

Its a real eye opener to a world I never really knew existed. Some of these tournaments are huge with a massive prize pool and world renown in the Magic The Gathering community. Afterwards I found myself searching out each player and seeing where they all ended up and how many tours they had won in the past. I’ve even caught the odd live stream of events that have been streamed and although I don’t really know the rules of the game, I’m so intrigued about the subject now I cant help but watch.

Enter the Battlefield is available on Netflix (in select markets), Amazon Video, Google Play, and YouTube. Get involved!

I’ve done my part, and you’ve done your’s. Thanks for reading.

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