I am not one of the best in the world – far from it. I do not have any credentials beyond a few deep runs on day two of a few Grand Prixs. But what I do have are a particular set of skills, skills that I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for…err, wrong scenario. Perhaps I do have some skills, but they aren’t the kind of skills you would immediately think of when you imagine someone who plays Magic: The Gathering fulltime.
While most professional Magic players spend their time on planes, writing articles, traveling around the globe in search of a trophy or top eight, I sit in the comfort of my home grinding low-stake events via Magic: The Gathering Online. In fact, I’ve probably made the top eight of more online events than almost anyone you can think of. I bet the pros can’t say the same of all the events they play. Furthermore, I’m confident in saying that I play more Magic than just about anyone else. While the amount of Magic I play might not directly correlate to how well I play, I’ve definitely seen myself improve as a result of those numbers. The best part of playing all of this Magic is that I get to share that experience with thousands of people every day.
My name is Kenji Egashira and I am currently a professional Magic: The Gathering streamer on Twitch. If my name doesn’t mean anything to you perhaps my online handle, NumotTheNummy, does. If that doesn’t either, hey! Maybe this article can clear that up too.
For those of you who may not have heard of Twitch, it is a live streaming platform that allows anyone with a computer and internet connection to broadcast their gameplay, live or slightly delayed, to people from across the world. What started out as simply a hobby, something that I wanted to try because I saw others do it and thought “I can do this better”, has turned into my livelihood, my personality, my being. Nearly two years ago I wrote a short piece about streaming while I was nearing the tail-end of my 365 day stream challenge. You can find that piece here. I think it does a fine, but brief, job of detailing my early experience with streaming and what I planned on doing after. I guess this is my attempt at detailing where we’re at since then.
In the two years since I wrote that last article my streaming career has become more successful than I could have ever imagined. While Magic is certainly nowhere near the level it needs to be in terms of popularity on Twitch, it still has room to financially support (a few people) fulltime. There are unquestionably faults with the way Magic Online is received, especially from a viewer standpoint, but I am not one to gripe and moan about the program. There are countless articles and threads detailing the pitfalls and shortcomings of the way Magic Online is run and how it runs so if you’re looking for those you can go elsewhere. I play Magic because I love Magic. A convenient online way to play that also lets me entertain other individuals? Sign me up. (I’m already signed up). Luckily for me, I’ve found my niche as a streamer and have continued to bolster (5 even, like a Sandsteppe Mastodon) my platform to the best of my abilities. Unlike many, I am a one man show. The stream that I currently have is my own, cultivated through time and dedication. That isn’t to say I haven’t had help. I certainly have. Overlays, emoticons, shirts, phrases, the more artistic parts of my stream – many people have influenced the direction of the stream or provided me with materials to make it better for no other reason than they just wanted to help.
When you boil it down to the core, I am the stream. The personality, or at least online facade, is me. If you know me in real life you know that I’m a much more reserved person than my stream would have you believe. Like I’ve said time and time again, my stream is a show. I feel like Jim Carrey in The Mask; I don a ‘streaming’ mask when I go live, exponentially enhancing my already quiet goofiness, but it’s one that I take off as soon as the show is over. Is it mentally draining? Abso-fucking-lutely. Magic is not an easy game. Add that to the fact that I try to interact and maintain a chatroom full of thousands of people over the course of six or more hours, (sometimes 24!), and you have a recipe for exhaustion. Is it physically demanding? Sort of. It isn’t physically demanding in the sense I am pushing my body in any athletic capacity; it is physically demanding in that I’m sitting on my ass for hours upon hours, staring at a computer screen. That all said I wouldn’t change it for the world. Streaming continues to grow and along with it, so do I.
Twitch, and Magic have continued to swell in popularity and I’m glad to say that I have been part of that growth. The opportunities that I have been given make me consider myself one of the most fortunate people out there. Beyond the growth of my Twitch channel and overall popularity as a Magic player, I’ve had opportunities to be part of exclusive events and even be included on some official Magic coverage teams.
The first breakthrough for coverage came at the Magic: The Gathering Online Championships. I was brought on as another personality to the already fantastic coverage team. Being part of the coverage team for the online championships gave me a deeper understanding of the behind-the-scenes of Magic content. (As an aside, I don’t believe people understand just how much work goes into setting everything up and making sure it runs smoothly. It now get frustrated when people are quick to yell about ‘poor production’ or other things they deem bad coverage. Is it perfect? No. But it’s constantly adapting an already hard process). Perhaps surprisingly, I found the most difficult part of my job to be the live interviews. Throw me in the booth for play-by-play or color commentary and I’m set – I have all the experience talking into a camera about Magic gameplay. Throw me in front of a camera with another person who I have to ask questions? Terrifying.
As coverage of the Magic Online Championships continued I felt I became more comfortable with my capabilities. Things became much more streamlined and I even got some experience in ‘the booth’. Apparently Channel Fireball was somewhat impressed with me. It was actually during the online Champs coverage that CFB approached me and asked if I wanted to do coverage for Las Vegas; what was going to be THE LARGEST MAGIC TOURNAMENT OF ALL TIME. I actually first told them that I would think about it, after all I had already planned on playing and was looking forwards to that. Furthermore, I was in a bit of shock to have been given another coverage opportunity while I was still doing my first one! After some deliberation and discussion with the online coverage team, I happily accepted. I wouldn’t say it was the most ideal timing for this opportunity, but it certainly increased my confidence of my capabilities in a more professional setting.
Grand Prix: Las Vegas was absurd. Nearly 10,000 people came to game in what had to be my most thrillingly exhaustive Magic experience to date. The tournament was split in half because of the size, with two separate coverage teams covering the entire event. As I mentioned earlier I was working with Channel Fireball, and I had the pleasure of casting with Matt Sperling and Ben Hayes. Both were phenomenal and I’m extremely grateful to have gotten the opportunity to be part of the coverage team with them. The other half of the tournament was covered by Wizards of the Coast and contained many of the same individuals who I had done the Magic Online Champions coverage with. Each day was a blast. Wake up and start coverage at nine or ten in the morning then stay out until two or three in the AM with friends living the Vegas nightlife. Not only did I perform better because of my added experience but it was also easier because I didn’t have to do any interviews! There isn’t too much more to say about Vegas. You know the common adage – what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I have since gone to do coverage for multiple other Grand Prix events, and even for the TCGPlayer Championship Series. I hope to continue to do more coverage for Magic in the coming seasons, but I’m especially excited to be playing in more events.
While this might not be the most comprehensive of updates as far as my personal life is concerned, I think it has done a fine job of briefly touching upon and catching you up to date on where I’m headed in both a business and Magic sense. If you’re reading this article then that probably means you’re now on the NumotGaming site. This site is simply the beginning. The New Year is sure to bring to an absolute crazy amount of new projects and exciting developments for both me and the people that have helped me to make this possible. I’m hoping to build a greater community for the people that play Magic, and the people that watch it. Gaming as a whole has only continued to become more widespread and accepted among the general population. I’m hoping to help nurture that growth and let it flourish into something wonderfully beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to read this short little article. I hope to make these sort of updates much more frequently to not only keep you folks in the loop, but also as a way for me to coalesce my thoughts and experiences as a full-time Magic streamer. Until the next showing, goodbye friends.