Gamers Helping Gamers awards scholarships to struggling students “smart in Magic.”

Recently, Magic master Jon Finkel (whom Wizards of the Coast describes as “one of the all-time greatest players the game has ever seen”) decided to leave pseudo-retirement and jump back into the MTG pro circuit. Unlike his last run, however, Finkel is now donating a hefty chuck of any proceeds he wins to a charity by the name of Gamers Helping Gamers, an organization he, alongside players Tim McKenna, Bob Maher, and Chris Pikula, founded that grants need-based scholarships to young Magic up-and-comers.

Magic players as a group weren’t usually challenged in school – we may be projecting a bit,” said McKenna, president of Gamers Helping Gamers. “Often when we see grades or a resume, we may be looking at somebody who might not be doing as well because they weren’t engaged in the material and may even be struggling in school somewhat. That certainly fits the profile of all of us.”

So far, the charity has named two recipients: Dylan Fay, a 21-year-old undergraduate English and history student at the University of Florida, and Douglas Johnson, a 17-year-old high schooler who wants to attend State University for psychology. Both have been awarded approximately $5,000 per year to pursue an education that may not have been possible without the help of Gamers Helping Gamers and the Magic community that supports it.

“From meeting a variety of people over the last decade,” McKenna continued, “I know that they should be going to school based on talking to them about this game that is intellectually challenging and difficult, and doing analysis of things with them that are reasonably complicated and they are clearly good at it. And yet they were not going to college, or going part time, or were struggling along with it.”

If you’re interested in meeting Finkel, or supporting Gamers Helping Gamers, The Escapist‘s own Expo this September will give you the chance to do both. We’ll be hosting weekend-long series of DCI-sanctioned tournaments and drafts from the 14th-16th, with a standard constructed tournament on Saturday. All proceeds of Saturday’s competition will be donated to Gamers Helping Gamers, but if you can’t make it (or just want to get a head start on being that first type of “Gamer” in the charity’s title), you can donate directly to the cause on the organization’s website,


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