The Dojo is a now defunct Magic: The Gathering website that featured articles and tournament reports. Started by Frank Kusumoto aka The Sensei, it was one of the earliest Magic websites, active from 1995 to 2001. In the Dojo's heyday most of the best MTG players read and posted on the Dojo. Notable writers included Mike Flores and Eric Taylor.
The real beginnings of the Dojo was a combination of Usenet, which I found almost unusable, and my desire to collect together bits of data and make some intelligible information out it. The articles that pushed me into studying, writing, using Alta Vista and doing research on Usenet, were Rob Hahn's intermittent series "School's of Magic" on the MTG scene at Neutral Ground in NYC and Paul Pantera's article on "The Deck". I loved Rob's precise writing style and I tried out the different decklists that he published (the "Kim" deck, Juzám deck, etc.). That's where I got the idea for the "Decks to Beat" feature and the so called Dojo-deck effect.— Frank Kusumoto
The Dojo was the only website at the time that attempted to aggregate the best of MTG-L and USENET and organize it in an easier to read format. In the course of doing this some writers noticed the website and what the The Dojo was doing and submitted their work directly to the website, reasoning that their work would actually get more exposure on The Dojo rather than get lost in the sea of posts on MTG-L. The first iteration of The Dojo was hosted on Netcom's amazing 1 mb of space each user received with their account and the address was http://www.netcom.com/fkusumot/index.html. The first post on the nascent website was an aggregation of many USENET posts concerning the NECRO deck, with an introduction, observation and conclusion sections written by Frank Kusumoto and posted in October 1995. This was quickly followed by articles on Cade's "The Prison" and Weissman's "The Deck". The Dojo remained a small hobbyist website but started receiving attention by some PT regulars (Adam Maysonett, Rudy Edwards and Chip Hogan in particular) and from some tournament organizers and card dealers, most notably David Doust.
The Dojo's creator designed the website so that anyone with a 300k modem could use it because there was a growing number of foreign players who were following site, notably David Low, an Australian, who at that time kept the most comprehensive list of fansite links, along with links to more serious websites such as The Dojo, Dominaria, Elfs Website, The E-Vault, Destoguardiana, D'Angelo Rulings and the Mox Perl database. At that time, in 1996, many overseas users could not cope with any type of graphic over the size of 20kb in some instances. So in spite of the suggestions to upgrade the site graphically, notably even by WOTC, it was kept almost entirely text based.
Every single post on The Dojo was screened by The Sensei and in many cases edited for spelling, format and readability. Everything was also posted using notepad, which seemed to be the tipping point in time. The Dojo was receiving about as many direct submissions as there were intelligent or useful postings on USENET to scavenge. Many PT players dropped out of USENET almost completely at that time.
Concerns about deck tech
Although some of the better MTG players argued that the release of Deck Tech was detrimental to the game, others embraced it. Some of this relates to 1998, but even in 1996 there was some concern that knowledge was currency to be hoarded. Others, like Brian Hacker and Truc Bui of Team Dickhead wrote The Sensei a letter of encouragement early on (Mar '96) thanking him for, in Hacker's words "taking out all the s**t" and leaving only what was actually interesting or worthwhile to read". In short, it was a time saver. The website was becoming known by the tournament crowd and a growing percentage of the PT players. It gave those people what they needed most, time to play, practice and experiment. A quick perusal of The Dojo every few days was good enough to see what was happening in other areas of the country and The Dojo reposted all official DCI news, rulings from Beth Moursund and Jason Carl which made keeping up with MTG-L irrelevant.
Effects on the meta game
Scott Johns and Mario Robaina of the first professional MTG team were some of the first people to comment on how The Dojo was the affecting the metagame. Robaina and Preston Poulter opinioned that The Dojo had created a type of group-think which would come up with good, competitive decks leading up to each PT qualifier and PT. They reasoned that it made it easier for them to know what to expect and therefore how to play against it and to sideboard correctly.
In the Summer of '96 the Geeba/Sligh deck made quite a splash when it finished in the final four in an Atlanta PT qualifier. The organizer of the event sent The Dojo the deck-listing, which at that time looked about as serious as John Shuler's "Song of Blood" deck. Any deck at that time that had Ironclaw Orcs and more importantly an Orcish Librarian did not sound like a competitive deck. Although it was only being reported sporadically in tournament reports, in particular Arthur Kimes who sent in regular reports and good descriptions of the tournament scene in SoCal (important for PCL and Dickheads). At this time The Dojo was experiencing rapid growth. Kusomoto contributes this to the invention of the Pro Tour, which he considers to be important for the longevity of the game, and to the general growth of the internet.
In something of a comedy of errors, a promising young Jr., Patrick Chapin, did quite well with a sligh at PT5 Dallas. Pat only decided to use the deck the night before and used a decklist from his friend Andrew Wills. Andrew Wills had been following the sligh deck and the decklist he had was from The Dojo. Pat tinkered with it a little but it was the same deck.
- Information for this page provided by the Sensei (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Some Dojo articles have been reprinted on Star City Games.
- One notable exception was Tom Guevin. Tom was a supporter of The Dojo in both words and deeds, but Tom reasoned that even if one person saw his post on USENET then it was worth posting it there. He also did not want to see USENET go away.
- On the reverse side, the DCI and WOTC used The Dojo for press releases and official new and ruling during 1997.
- Frank Kusumoto remembers talking to Pat Chapin after Round Three and asking him about the deck. Patrick had honestly no idea where the decklist came from but one of his comments was that "In this environment it's like it plays itself."
- Classic Dojo (archives 1996-1998)
- Internet Wayback Machine - The Dojo (archives 1998-2001)
- Brian David-Marshall (June 7, 2016). "The Oral History of the Magic Dojo". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.