Raymond native gets a shot at the big time

Usually when we hear about someone “going pro” we automatically think of a sports star. At the same time, when we think about someone making it big as a card player we usually think of a poker player in Vegas or Atlantic City.

Well, what if I told you that there’s an up and coming twenty year old card player from Raymond, Maine with a chance at cracking the lineup for a pro tour who’s top players pull in earnings well into six figures?

Meet Alex O’Neill, recent winner of the Pro Tour Qualifier for the Magic the Gathering circuit held at Crossroad Games in Standish.

Alex O'Neill of Raymond wins the Pro Tour Qualifier for the 'Magic the Gathering' circuit. Photo credit- Brenden Hill, Crossroad Games.

Alex O’Neill of Raymond wins the Pro Tour Qualifier for the ‘Magic the Gathering’ circuit. Photo credit- Brenden Hill, Crossroad Games.

“I’m wicked stoked,” O’Neill said in an interview on Tuesday, “I’ve been playing since I was in fourth grade. It’s surreal that I’ve finally qualified.”

According to Brenden Hill, owner of Crossroad Games, the Pro Tour for Magic the Gathering (also known as “magic” or “MTG”) is the real deal.

“The Pro Tour is like the NFL of Magic. It is the best players from around the world competing for large amounts of money,” Hill said on Tuesday.

MGT is owned by a gaming company named Wizards of the Coast, which is a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. Because O’Neill won the Pro Tour Qualifier (or PTQ), he’ll be heading to Oregon in August to compete against the best in the world for a shot at his dream.

If he’s able to place in the top 25 at the Oregon tournament he’ll be an official member of the worldwide Pro Tour.

Alex O'Neill reacts to winning the Magic the Gathering Pro Tour Qualifier. Photo credit- Brenden Hill, Crossroad Games.

Alex O’Neill reacts to winning the Magic the Gathering Pro Tour Qualifier in March. Photo credit- Brenden Hill, Crossroad Games.

“Alex has been playing Magic for a while now and has been at Crossroad Games for many years,” said Hill.

“It’s great to have a local win one of our Pro Tour Qualifiers where people travel from over 500 miles to compete.”

O’Neil said he’s sure there will be “a lot of pressure” at the tournament in Oregon, but he’s keeping a positive outlook, “I’m just looking forward to the tournament and the experience. I’m gonna have to put in a lot of practice to get ready, but I’ve got a good group of guys at Crossroads in Standish to help me prepare.”

Hill likes O’Neill’s chances, “The northeast is one of the most prolific areas for competitive Magic. We have had two other Crossroad Games locals win an invite (in the past).

Last year a judge that works for me won a PTQ and came in the top eight at the Pro Tour itself. That was very exciting. I hope that Alex will have a similar showing.”

Says O’Neill, “I need to place in the top 25 of the pro tour to continue being a pro. It would be insane if I did.”

Regardless of how he does in Oregon, the smart money says that with so much early success, O’Neill figures to be a force to be reckoned with in the gaming world for a long time.

Alex O'Neill competes in the Magic the Gathering Pro Tour Qualifier in March.

Alex O’Neill competes in a ‘Magic’ tournament at Crossroad Games in Standish. Photo credit- Brenden Hill, Crossroad Games.

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a lifelong Portlander who works on a lobster boat, advocates for the marginalized and downtrodden, and occasionally ruffles feathers in City Hall and Augusta.