Last updated on May 13, 2022
Learn from the Past | Illustration by Chase Stone
One of the fastest ways to grow your skill in traditional sports is to work with coaches and trainers who understand the sport and how to transfer their vast knowledge to newer players. In Magic there are coaches who work with players 1-on-1 (for a fee), plenty of educational video, audio, and written content, and more avenues to learn from skilled players.
Esporter works to expand this from a 1-on-1 experience into a group learning style more like a college seminar. But can the program live up to the price tag? Let’s find out.
Note: I was provided with a free entry into an Esporter split in order to write this review.
What is Esporter?
Teachings of the Archaics | Illustration by Lius Lasahido
Self-dubbed a “combination of recreational leagues, masterclasses, and tournaments,” Esporter teaches players about Limited and then puts those lessons into practice through weekly scrimmages and an end-of-split cash tournament.
Each split has a different celebrity or professional coach that brings their own style to the program. These splits often coincide with Arena Opens, MIQs, and other Limited-centric events where players seek to improve their skills to win prizes or qualification to the latest Set Championship.
While the coach changes each split, the main team working behind the scenes, Cuente and Tbone, is the thread that ties the program together. The coaches act as the primary source of info and instruction, but these two often help with discussion, set up scrimmages among participants, and round up questions and concerns for the coach to answer in class. This allows the program to improve with each split despite a rotating lecturer.
I love the idea of a program working to improve players’ skills, especially by connecting skilled coaches with players what want to learn. And I think that limits the number of players who want to join a program like this since players looking for some entertainment are quickly priced out.
I think there’s something of value here for those with the goal to improve. Just maybe a few more splits down the line.
What You Get
Dissenter’s Deliverance | Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme
Each split includes:
- 4 1-hour-long coaching sessions with your coach and other members of the split
- 4 office hour sessions to discuss draft logs and other topics from that weeks’ coaching session
- 1 or 2 BO3 scrimmages each week against other players in your split through in-pod drafts
- Entry into a final tournament with cash prizes
You also get access to recordings of the coaching sessions and office hours in case you’re not able to make a lecture or want to brush up on the topics discussed that week. These recordings can help solidify the complicated lessons with repeated viewings, especially for more complex lessons like the deep dive into using data to improve your Limited game.
Outside of educational materials you get access to a Discord server to discuss games, drafts, and communicate with others in your split and the team running it.
Sign Up and Onboarding Experience
Esporter streamlined their signup and onboarding process. After registering for a split and paying the $149 fee to join the program, you’ll receive email confirmation that you registered as well as a prep email detailing what you’ll get from the program in the coming weeks.
You’ll get an email survey asking about your experiences with Limited, your availability for lecture and office hours, and instructions for how to log into the Google Meet platform as the date of the split gets closer.
Honestly, there isn’t much to say about this process other than some people might have a difficult time attending all the sessions since there are eight people and the coach’s schedules to work around. They try their best to accommodate the most students, but I had people from multiple countries and time zones in my session and it definitely caused some issues with attendance. Especially for the in-pod drafts that happened after lecture each week. They record the sessions, but these lose a bit of value without the ability to interact with your coach.
The team at Esporter did their best to work with people by pinging class time reminders and posting recordings the next day to ensure maximum time with the material for those that couldn’t attend.
That said, people with rigid schedules might find it difficult to get the most out of the Esporter experience.
Week 1 kicked off with orientation. This is a 30-minute-long session with the team from Esporter detailing who the coach for the split is, who the team at Esporter is, what to expect, and finally asking each of us what we need or want to work on during the split.
The orientation helped set the expectations for the split to come and allowed everyone to test their Google Meet before the coaching sessions. While most of the info was a rehashing from the onboarding email, it allowed for some back and forth between the Esporter team and the students in the split.
Class with Our Coach
Next up I had my first class with Mythic-level drafter and MTG Streamer Chord_O_Calls. A PowerPoint-like presentation led the discussion with members of the split free to ask questions or have Alex delve deeper on any individual topic.
The presentation served as a guideline but each session had plenty of questions that allowed the content to be tailored the people in the session. As I mentioned before this makes attending the classes invaluable since the topic can quickly move from something you might need individually into a topic more focused on those in attendance.
Alex using our very own draft simulator!
Without delving too deeply into what each week covered, the general flow of lecture involved a combination of evergreen discussion on Limited philosophy, a format-specific breakdown of the same ideas and how they applied to the current Limited environment, and what resources exist to further those ideas after this format changes. These tools were often external, like 17Lands, Arena Tutor, and other third-party data aggregators.
These discussions on the general Limited philosophies and resources available were the most valuable for me. While immediate tips help with climbing or achieving a specific Arena Open goal, these parts of class became less valuable as new sets loom on the horizon.
Drafts and Scrimmages
After class there’s an online 8-player pod draft using a web drafting site. These scrimmages took place on Arena and were best-of-three. After the draft concluded one of the players would send the draft link to the Esporter team to discuss with everyone during the next week’s office hours.
Along with getting pod-draft experience we were each assigned scrimmage partners to practice with using our in-pod decks. These scrimmages allowed for quality practice in the format while also preparing us for the end-of-split tournament, which was also an in-pod draft.
While I enjoyed getting to play matches with other players looking to improve, the lack of meaningful rewards or purpose felt like the scrimmages were sometimes more daunting to arrange, schedule, and play than they was worth. I imagine players would be more eager to make sure these matches happened each week with some tangible effect on the results of the split or prizes.
This process repeated itself each week, with office hours replacing orientation to discuss the previous week’s draft logs and any other topics people wanted to bring to the table. Class with Alex would be followed by a new in-pod draft along with scrimmage partners being assigned.
There wasn’t any variation week-to-week except for who you played and what the general topic for that week’s lesson was. Given the short nature of the split it became an easy to keep routine and avoid monotony, but I’d suspect the routine would feel uninspired before the split’s conclusion if they increased in duration.
After four weeks of classes, office hours, drafts, and scrimmages, there’s an end-of-split cash tournament. Like the after-class drafts, this is a pod draft done online where you play in a double elimination bracket with some matches streamed to the Esporter Twitch channel.
This was a fun event but it takes a long time because of the nature of double elimination, draft, and streaming, especially if you make a deep run. But there’s a good return on investment for your time with half the tournament cashing.
The Esporter Discord is a growing community, but the community needs more time to develop into something that adds active value. While it was fun to see players’ MIQ and Arena Open decks, the Discord was mostly silent except for members of the Esporter team pinging or messaging. While I imagine the community will continue to grow over time, the Discord is more of a messenger platform for practical purposes.
I think that the largest contributing factor to the quality of each element of the split comes down to the coach and those in the split with you since the structure is unchanging. The motivation level and attentiveness of your class will drive the quality of the split along with your coach’s ability to articulate ideas. The inherent variance with these two elements can make it difficult to guarantee what sort of experience the Esporter program will deliver and the value each person will take from it.
Gone Missing | Illustration by James Paick
A lack of consistency with the recordings was my main complaint. About half the class and office hour sessions weren’t recorded and sent out. As I mentioned above, having these lessons to refer to and use in the future was a major selling point to the program. And some lessons not being recorded was frustrating, especially the session on data.
Professionalism and Polish
While everyone on the Esporter team was kind and enjoyable to work with, there was a feel of early adoption throughout the split. I suspect that there will be more iterations and the process will refine as the program grows over time. There are still some areas where the program’s vision extends beyond its current setup and capabilities.
The program feels very much like a few nice people doing their best to help grow players’ Limited skills, but it needs some more time to reach a level of polish and professionalism that matches the price tag.
The value you get out of any classroom-style experience varies wildly depending on several factors. I found some elements of the program helpful and beneficial to my Limited game moving forward. But do those lessons (along with the other elements offered by Esporter) measure up to the $149 price tag?
Right now, I’d say no. The environment of a small classroom interacting with a streamer or Mythic-level drafter feels like what you could learn by watching the coach’s stream and donating far less money to ask specific questions.
The office hours feel like discussing a draft at your local game store after the draft, which definitely has value, but they don’t add a lot of value to the package for those trying to improve their abilities. The scrimmages feel tacked on since they don’t add a lot of value and aren’t meaningful to the results of the split.
I’d suspect that the EV is worthwhile with the end-of-split tournament paying out to half of the field, but you only cover your costs if you finish first. While recouping any amount is great value given you keep the knowledge, the half that fails to recoup slides further into the costs of the class vs. the value.
Esporter definitely provides worth and I suspect it’ll catch up to the current cost as they continue to develop the program. But I don’t think the program is quite there for the cost today.
Mystical Teachings | Illustration by Ron Spears
I love the idea of a program like Esporter. I look forward to trying their program again after the team has more time to grow their infrastructure and add in more flexibility and value. The potential for this style of teaching and coaching is limitless and feels unexplored by the community at large. But for now I can’t say that the value lives up to the expectations set by the price.
Would you pay to improve at Magic through a program or general coaching? Let us know what you think of programs working to elevate player skill like Esporter in the comments down below or over on Twitter. Have a good one!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: