Mike Long

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For other people of the same name, see Michael Long (disambiguation).
Mike Long
Nationality United States American
Pro Tour debut 1996 Pro Tour New York
Winnings US$ 102,669[1]
Pro Tour wins (Top 8) 1 (4)[2]
Grand Prix wins (Top 8) 1 (4)[3]
Lifetime Pro Points 191[4]
Planeswalker Level 43 (Archmage)

Michael Long is a former professional Magic: The Gathering card game player. He was a highly influential and controversial Pro Tour mainstay for a number of years in the late 1990s. Despite making four Pro Tour top eights and winning Pro Tour Paris in 1997, Long's legacy is the subject of much controversy due to allegations of cheating and unsportsmanlike behavior.[5] In 2003, he began selling "MTG Secrets", a book and DVD guide on how to play Magic. More recently, Long founded Area51Marketing.com, Area51Lifestyle.com and OMGMachines.com.

Contributions to the game[edit]

Mike Long's Prosperous Bloom (or Pros-Bloom) deck, which he piloted to a Pro Tour championship at Paris in 1997, is widely recognized as the first successful combo deck in tournament-level play. The deck was centered around a card-drawing and tutoring strategy (Prosperity, Infernal Contract, Vampiric Tutor) contributing to a mana engine (Cadaverous Bloom, Squandered Resources) that eventually led to a 20-plus damage Drain Life spell for the victory. Prior to this, no combo deck was consistent or powerful enough to earn any major tournament success.

By winning the 1998 Magic Invitational, Long became the second pro player to create a card for inclusion in a future Magic expansion and have himself drawn into the card's art.[6] The card, Rootwater Thief, was printed in the Nemesis set. It is the first Invitational card that does not depict its creator as the card's subject creature, instead depicting Long as a rower being ambushed by a humanoid sea creature.

In 2005, the possibility that Long could be inducted into the Pro Tour Hall of Fame reignited debates over whether Long's overall impact on the game was positive or negative. Head Magic Designer and former Pro Tour organizer Mark Rosewater, who is allowed to submit a Hall of Fame ballot, voted for Long in his first two years of eligibility. Explaining his decision, Rosewater wrote, "Mike made the Pro Tour exciting. He made it tense. He made it more interesting than any other player on the list [of inaugural Pro Tour Hall of Fame candidates]."[7] In another article, Rosewater wrote that Long was "the best" at star building and that his reputation as the Pro Tour's greatest villain consistently evoked passion and emotion among tournament followers, which often brought large turnouts to normally low-profile games and events. Rosewater wrote that while few people counted themselves as fans of Long, many came to watch him.

Long began writing strategy articles in 1998. Through his M:TG Insider website, Long built a community of players who use and discuss his decks and concepts. In 2005 professional poker player David Williams played several of Long's decks at major tournaments.

Long is also responsible for designing a Vintage format combo deck that used the storm mechanic. The deck used Burning Wish to fetch Yawgmoth's Will out of the sideboard and set up a kill with Tendrils of Agony. The deck, called Long.dec, resulted in the restriction of both Burning Wish and Lion's Eye Diamond, which was a key mana engine in the deck. Subsequent Vintage combo decks that use tutoring to set up a Tendrils kill have retained the "Long" name, although the original deck was rendered unplayable by restriction. A version that used Death Wish was called Death Long, and a more current version with Grim Tutor is called Grim Long. Another storm combo deck was called Pitch Long because it used a high number of spells with the alternate casting cost of losing (or "pitching") a card in the caster's hand.

Playing style and controversy[edit]

Long's detractors do not generally dispute that he was a talented Magic player. However, he is a controversial figure because he used a great deal of mind games and psychological tricks, was frequently accused of cheating, and has been disqualified and suspended from sanctioned play for cheating on the Pro Tour.

Mind games and psychology[edit]

  • In the finals of Pro Tour Paris 1997, Long was playing Mark Justice. In one game, Long, piloting his Prosperous Bloom combo deck, faced a situation where he would lose unless he could win on his current turn. According to Gavin Verhey, in order to get his combo to go off, he needed to discard his sole copy of Drain Life, the only card in his deck capable of dealing damage and thus killing his opponent. After doing so, he promptly lost that game, as he had no way to win. However, what Long hoped to achieve here was to convince his opponent that he had more than one copy of Drain Life in his deck, and that he was simply unable to draw it. In game five, Mark Justice cast Coercion and saw Long's sole copy of Drain Life. However, due to Long's crafty play in game one, Justice believed that Long had more than one copy of Drain Life, and operating under these false pretenses, Justice had Long discard a different card, allowing Long to win the game. Long ended up winning the game after drawing his entire deck and showing Justice that he only had one Drain Life.[8]

Controversy[edit]

  • At the 1998 U.S. Nationals, Long was caught with a key card, Cadaverous Bloom, on his chair during a game.[9] The head judge, Charlie Catino, issued a match loss to Long, who went on to finish second in the tournament.
  • During a crucial round of Pro Tour Los Angeles in 2000, Long was given a warning for improperly shuffling his deck.[10] Long made a comment to his opponent, Darwin Kastle, designed to keep Kastle from shuffling Long's deck before starting the match. Distracted by Long's banter, Kastle only cut Long's deck, despite intending to shuffle because there were rumors before the round that Long's shuffling was suspicious.[10] Many players, including Rob Dougherty, a former Magic judge who attended that event as a player, accused Long of deliberately cheating by not randomizing his deck to keep copies of the card Howling Wolf evenly distributed. Dougherty wrote an article laying out his case against Long. Dougherty contended that Long's pregame actions were not shuffling but instead pretending to shuffle while stacking his deck. The judging staff, Dougherty asserts, was not familiar enough with catching cheaters to understand what Long was doing.[11]
  • During the US Nationals Draft Challenge held at United States Nationals in 2000, Long was disqualified without prize and given a one-month suspension for presenting a deck that was not sufficiently randomized.[12][13]

Top 8 appearances[edit]

Season Event type Location Format Date Rank
Worlds Seattle National team 4–6 August 1995 1
1996 Worlds Seattle National team 1996 1
1996–97 Pro Tour Atlanta Sealed Deck 13–15 September 1996 6
1996–97 Invitational Hong Kong Special 14–16 February 1997 2
1996–97 Pro Tour Paris Block Constructed 11–13 April 1997 1
1996–97 Grand Prix Washington D.C. Limited 26–27 April 1997 1
1997–98 Invitational Rio de Janeiro Special 29 January–2 February 1998 5
1997–98 Worlds Seattle National team 12–16 August 1998 1
1998–99 Invitational Barcelona Special 4–7 February 1999 1
1998–99 Pro Tour Los Angeles Rochester Draft 26–28 February 1999 8
1999–00 Pro Tour Los Angeles Block Constructed 4–6 February 2000 4
1999–00 Invitational Kuala Lumpur Special 2–5 March 2000 7
1999–00 Grand Prix Nagoya Team Limited 22–23 April 2000 3
1999–00 Nationals Orlando, Florida Standard and Booster Draft 8–11 June 2000 5
2001–02 Nationals Kissimmee, Florida Standard and Booster Draft 31 May–2 June 2002 5
2002–03 Grand Prix Pittsburgh Team Limited 31 May–1 June 2003 4

Last updated: 31 July 2009
Source: Event Coverage at Wizards.com

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lifetime Winnings Leaders". Retrieved 2007-02-16. 
  2. ^ "Lifetime Pro Tour Top 8s". Retrieved 2007-02-16. 
  3. ^ "Lifetime Grand Prix Top 8s". Retrieved 2007-02-16. 
  4. ^ "Lifetime Pro Points". Retrieved 2007-02-16. 
  5. ^ Buehler, Randy (2006). "Hall of Fame: One Man's Ballot". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  6. ^ Rosewater, Mark (2005-05-10). "All-Star Studded". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 209-04-21. 
  7. ^ Rosewater, Mark (2005-06-20). "Decking the Hall". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  8. ^ http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/misc/21295_Flow_of_Ideas_Magic_MythBusters_Mike_Long_Mythic_Rares_Mulligans_And_More.html
  9. ^ Burn, Seth. "The Rule of Law". Archived from the original on 2000-11-17. Retrieved 2006-12-05. 
  10. ^ a b Buehler, Randy. "Pro Tour-Los Angeles 2000 Round 14 Feature Match". Retrieved 2006-12-05. 
  11. ^ Dougherty, Robert. "The Anatomy of a Cheating Method". Archived from the original on 2003-02-05. Retrieved 2006-12-05. 
  12. ^ Mindripper OnLine - MAGIC
  13. ^ Eikefet, Kim. "The Long Controversy". Archived from the original on 2001-06-25. Retrieved 2007-02-17. 
Preceded by
N/A
Magic: The Gathering Team World Champion
With:
Mark Justice
Henry Stern
Peter Leiher

1995
Succeeded by
United States United States
Dennis Bentley
George Baxter
Matt Place
Mike Long
Preceded by
United States United States
Mark Justice
Henry Stern
Peter Leiher
Mike Long
Magic: The Gathering Team World Champion
With:
Dennis Bentley
George Baxter
Matt Place

1996
Succeeded by
Canada Canada
Gary Krakower
Michael Donais
Ed Ito
Gabriel Tsang
Preceded by
United States Darwin Kastle
Magic Invitational Champion
1998
Succeeded by
United States Chris Pikula
Preceded by
Canada Canada
Gary Krakower
Michael Donais
Ed Ito
Gabriel Tsang
Magic: The Gathering Team World Champion
With:
Matt Linde
Jon Finkel
Bryce Currence

1998
Succeeded by
United States United States
Kyle Rose
John Hunka
Zvi Mowshowitz
Charles Kornblith