Seahawks Linebacker Cassius Marsh Competes In Magic Tournament, Gets Wrecked

Credit: Wizards of the Coast
Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Cassius Marsh is known for tackling ball carriers as an NFL linebacker, but the Seattle Seahawk had an unlucky go last weekend playing another game he loves, Magic: the Gathering.

Marsh was invited as a special guest to last weekend’s Grand Prix Las Vegas, a five-day Magic fest featuring Magic artists, vendors, cosplay, and three competitive tournaments. Marsh talked up his game, saying he is used to playing against “tier-one type guys,” but Saturday’s tournament sent him straight back to training camp.

Marsh picked up the game in his middle school years, and though he’s played casually for over a decade, GP Vegas was his first large-scale tournament. Marsh was chosen to play his second round on camera in a feature match streamed live on Twitch to thousands of viewers. True to his football position, the linebacker piloted a controlling, defensive deck called Blue Moon; its strategy is to neutralize early plays and buy time until a superior endgame can be unleashed. Unluckily for him, he was paired against a player using Affinity, one of the fastest decks in the format, which quickly assembles an army of tiny robots that can synergize Voltron-like and grow out of hand. Though he had fifty minutes allotted to complete a best-of-three match, Marsh took a pair of L’s in under twenty.


Here’s Marsh dying a speedy death in Game 1:

Marsh replaces his card sleeves:


...and here’s the concession and handshake for Game 2.


Marsh’s final standings show a finish of 3,150th place out of 3,400 players, notching just one win over the course of the tournament. He didn’t seem to take his losses too hard— he described his weekend as “a blast”, and dropped a couple thousand dollars on new cards for his collection.

Marsh is already a minor celebrity in the Magic world, and made waves in the community a couple times in the past year. In November, his $20,000 collection of cards was stolen from his car and never returned, though Magic’s Seattle-based publisher Wizards of the Coast gifted him a care package in consolation. When the holiday season rolled around, Marsh decided to give back, and along with Seahawks teammate Doug Baldwin played in a charity Magic tournament to benefit the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program of Puget Sound.


In other Las Vegas sports news, Golden Knights center Reid Duke is still 16 times less popular than the Magic pro who shares his name.


Editor’s note - June 25, 11:45am: Some readers of this article have complained about its tone, inferring that the intent was to mock Marsh’s performance. That was not our aim. Marsh’s unabashed enjoyment of Magic is admirable, and we’re fans of any blurring of the lines of so-called jock and nerd pursuits. Nevertheless, we now realize that whatever our intent, the piece comes off in places as mean-spirited. As such, we’ve tweaked the intro and another line meant simply to note the contrast between the two types of sports Marsh plays here. You can blame the story’s editors, not its author. 

Rafael is a 6th grade math teacher in Boston, and a competitive Magic enthusiast specializing in Modern. You can follow him on Twitter @shloopu.

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“Cassius Marsh is known for tackling ball carriers as a professional linebacker, but the Seattle Seahawk’s 6’4”, 245-pound frame recently proved entirely useless in the mental athletics of Magic: the Gathering.”

Oh my god, shut the fuck up. Affinity is one of the strongest deck-types in the game and he went up against it with a Control deck. That’s not proving entirely useless; that’s literally the same as if the Seahawks went to a high-school football game and decided they’d be the opposing team.

I’m not sure how someone who actually seems like they know something about magic—you even use the terminology right! Good on you!—can have the gall to throw so much unnecessary shade at someone who lost, and almost predictably so, against such a bad match-up. What the hell, man?

Edit: Here, some real fucking knowledge about how godawfully powerful Affinity was and why WoTC hasn’t re-used the mechanic in over a decade.

“All tournament-legal cards with affinity were printed during the Mirrodin block, and contributed heavily to the Second Combo Winter. The mechanic was considered for a return in the Scars of Mirrodin block, but rejected because it had been so destructive for the metagame in its first appearance.” (from MTGWiki, citing Mark Rosewater.)

And, furthermore:

“The metagame after the release of Mirrodin is now sometimes referred to as the second Combo Winter. First, the Extended format of Pro Tour New Orleans was overrun by fast paced combo decks using many of the new cards, which was handled by banning a total of six cards the following December. However, when Darksteel, the second expansion of the Mirrodin block, was released, the popular Affinity archetype succeeded in overpowering most decks in Standard, particularly with the use of Skullclamp and Arcbound Ravager. Although Skullclamp was banned from all formats except for Vintage in June 2004, the metagame remained Affinity-oriented, yet no more bannings took place until March 2005, in which 8 cards (Arcbound Ravager, Disciple of the Vault and all 6 artifact lands) were banned from Standard, amounting to a total of 9 cards banned in Standard in less than a year.”