Hey there saltines how goes? I know I know, been too long since my last post, but what can I say, life happens. GP HYPE!
This is going to be a long one, so strap yourselves in!
The Day Before
So I arose Friday morning and gathered my belongings. I hopped in the car and traveled with my friends Ed and Keith to the big city to prepare for the wondrous weekend that is a ‘grand prix weekend’. Upon arriving at the venue we met up with a mutual friend to the three of us, let’s call him Andrew, and he rounded out our gaggle of guys.
I was solely interested in playing modern events this weekend. As energy decks are still festering in standard like an open infectious wound, I went far clear of any standard based events. I went to battle with my B/W Eldrazi Homebrew. Sporting two fresh new copies of Liliana of the Veil, I was confident in my list and swore to play to the best of my ability.
The four of us decided it was a good idea to enter the Early Bird Last Chance Trial. This four round event boasted a substantial prize for going undefeated, two byes for the main event occurring on the following day. Having two free wins is a great way to get ahead of the game for the main event so we went to battle! 58 people participated in this Early Bird Last Chance Trial, and here’s how it went.
LCT Round 1; Win in 3 vs Esper Gifts
I usually have a good match-up when it comes to playing against decks that enjoy interacting with their graveyard thanks to Relic of Progenitus. Game one was an all out slug fest, trading my opponent’s kill spells for my army of Lingering Souls. The game was really sealed when I managed to hard cast Kozilek, the Great Distortion. My opponent attempted to Path to Exile my big eldrazi boi, but Kozi has this cute little ability that allows me to discard a card with converted mana cost (cmc) of X, and I get to counter a spell with cmc X. So I discarded a copy of Fatal Push to counter the Path, and we proceeded to game two. Now here is a cute interaction for you, what happens when one player has Leyline of Sanctity and the other attempts to cast Gifts Ungiven? Well it technically can’t be cast because Gifts needs a target opponent. However this was not relevant until game three as during game two I got chunked out. Game three I started with a Leyline. I cast Inquisition of Kozilek and my opponent revealed two copies of Gifts, which he couldn’t cast because I had hexproof.
LCT Round 2; Win in 2 vs Boggles
So I wait for the pairings to be posted and I find my table number. I make my way to my seat and whom do I see sitting across from me? My very own car ride buddy Keith.
So we both crack our decks out and begin setting up when the topic of food comes up. Mr. Keith then does the clutchest thing I have ever witnessed in a magic game. He reached over, grabbed the slip, signed it 2-0 in favour of myself and said ‘let’s get some food’. This young man right here, he is the real MVP. It was Keith’s first GP and he handled himself exceptionally well in a competitive rules enforcement level event, to many more GP’s in your future!
As an aside, we played some for fun games later in the day and he crushed me. Guy runs mainboard Leyline of Sanctity….WHO DOES THAT?
LCT Round 3; Win in 2 vs Mono-G Tron
This match-up can go one of two ways for me, either really good or really bad. Game one my opponent decided to mulligan to four. He played a land for his turn and passed. I used Inquisition to take a peak at what he was working with; one copy of Chromatic Star, and two copies of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, if memory serves he scooped on turn three. Game two saw my opponent have more land troubles, this time he had the Tron pieces, but only green cards in his hand. He finally managed to stick a copy of Wurmcoil Engine which I promptly dealt with by getting rid of it with Path.
LCT Round 4; Win in 3 vs Dredge
I typically have a decent match-up when it comes to dredge decks. Having four mainboard Relics and three copies of Surgical Extraction in the side usually makes for tough post board games for my opponent. Game one I got dredged out super hard, I didn’t find a single of my four Relics and I just got ran over. Game two was a different story. My opponent began to do his nasty dredge business when I noticed the lynchpin, the one card that holds all of dredge together. I threw a Surgical at his Life from the Loam and my opponent scooped. Game three my opponent got off to a slow start, however I did not. With the help of Eldrazi Temple I managed to drop a Reality Smasher on turn three. Sometimes my deck likes to be grindy and take forever to find a threat, but other times it just says ‘here, have a 5/5 hastey dude on turn three’ and you just have to accept that.
With the final round going in my favour, I swept the Early Bird LCT with a 4-0 record, securing my two byes for the main event. I felt as though I was in a really good spot and that I played some really tight magic. I proceeded towards side events and played in some modern side events before turning in for the night and prepping for the big day.
The Big Day
In the words of Jeff Goldblum’s character in Thor; Ragnarok, ‘It’s main event time!’. 1680 people showed up to duke it out in the Enercare Centre for a $10,000 first place prize.
Having secured two byes for the main event, I was able to float around the tournament floor spectating my colleagues and potential threats. Having two byes is good and all, but I was itching to play. Everyone else was playing and having a grand time and I’m sitting on the sidelines waiting for my turn to bat. The nerves were going on my stomach had wee little eldrazi-esque butterflies floating around in it. Round two came to an end and it was game time.
Round 3; Win in 2 vs Living End
Could I have asked for a better first round match-up? My opponent and I exchange pleasantries and we get down to the nitty gritty of it. My opponent won the dice roll and he decided he would go first. His turn one consisted of the following; cycle Street Wraith, cycle Street Wraith, play and crack a fetch, cycle Desert Cerodon, exile Simian Spirit Guide, cycle Desert Cerodon, and finished by cycling a third Street Wraith. Just in case you weren’t counting, that is 21 power worth of creatures in my opponent graveyard. I proceed to draw, play a land for turn, and Thoughtseize my opponent. That’s when I knew what I was up against. My opponent’s hand consisted of another Spirit Guide, two copies of Demonic Dread, a second land, and the deck’s namesake card; Living End. From the information I had I was getting rekt by a cascade on turn two, unless I took the Spirit Guide, which I did, and banked on my opponent not drawing another copy. I passed my turn and my opponent drew, played a second land and passed back. I proceeded to draw my card, and oh what a glorious card it was. I windmill slammed a copy of Relic of Progenitus and the look on my opponent’s face, priceless. He picked up his cards and we moved to game two, as he realized that I would just crack the Relic in response to the cascade trigger from Demonic Dread and he would get no creatures back. Game two was heavily favoured for me as I bring in three copies of Surgical Extraction and get to pick whatever I want out of his bin. It began with back to back Inquisitions making him discard Demonic Dread and the second cascade card Violent Outburst. I took a solid chunk of my own life to smack them both with Surgical Extractions as my opponent had no copies of Living End in their hand. I ramped out an early Blight Herder, processing two of the Demonic Dreads, and spawned some 1/1s. My opponent suspended a couple copies of Living End and cycled a bunch. I beat my opponent down with the lone Herder until it was time for Living End to resolve. I responded to the cast of Living End by casting Dismember on my own creature, retaining priority, and popping a Relic. Thus exiling his graveyard, killing my Blight Herder, then permitting Living End to resolve, returning my Blight Herder to the battlefield. It was pretty much game after that.
Round 4; Loss in 2 vs Amulet Titan
Man, unfun decks are unfun. How’d you like getting turn three killed twice? I’m just going to tell you what happened both games at the same time because they are basically identical. My opponent started both games with an Amulet of Vigor. His second turn was Azusa, Lost but Seeking, because thanks to Amulet, it allows him to play bounce lands, stack the triggers, and ramp very very hard. Turn three was Primeval Titan, fetching Slayers’ Stronghold, and another bounce land. He used the Stronghold to give Primetime haste, and with the attack trigger got Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion, and ANOTHER bounce land, to give it double strike and I was dead. Game two I found a path for the Titan, but was met with a Pact of Negation. These games were just silly. Non-interactive cheatey decks just feel bad all the time.
Round 5; Win in 2 vs G/B Elves
Not going to lie, I was not expecting as many elf decks as there were at the GP, let alone the variation in the lists. Game one I used Inquisition to take a peek at my opponent’s hand and I saw three copies of Ezuri, Renegade Leader, which is something an elf player never wants to see. I also used Fatal Push and Dismember on all of his mana dorks so he couldn’t ramp out a Chord of Calling for Craterhoof Behemoth. Game two saw pretty much the same thing, except I brought in two copies of Yahenni’s Expertise, which allowed me to keep a steady handle on my opponent’s board state. Thought-Knot Seer (TKS) played clutch position in both games, picking Collected Company out of my opponent’s hand both games.
Round 6; Loss in 3 vs U/W Control
Man I screwed the pooch game one. Allow me to set the stage for you; I play a TKS and the enter the battlefield trigger goes on the stack. It resolves and my opponent reveals a copy of Negate, and Snapcaster Mage. I think to myself, if I make him ditch Negate, then he gets to flash it back with Snappy, so he also gets a 2/1 blocker, or I can make him ditch Snappy and just have the Negate. I had a Liliana of the Veil in my hand that I want to resolve. So I pick the Snappy and that’s when it hits me. TKS MAKES THE CARD GO TO EXILE, SO HE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SNAP NEGATE BACK! I’M SUCH AN IDIOT!!!! My opponent takes game one after controlling the board with Celestial Colonnade. This single mistake cost me the game, because once Liliana stuck, my opponent has no way of dealing with it. Game two I proceed to steam roll my opponent with back to back copies of Reality Smasher. Game three was just unfortunate slug fest. My opponent stuck an early Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, and just overwhelmed me with 1/1 soldier tokens. Our game three went to time, and something interesting happened. My opponent had a copy of Elspeth, and Jace, Architect of Thought. He proceeded to ultimate Jace and began looking through my library to find something to cast. At this point my only out is him not seeing Ulamog and me drawing it on my turn. Unfortunately that did not happen and he picked out Ulamog but said he was going to cast his spell first. He went through his deck and grabbed another copy of Jace. He then proceeded to plus up the new Jace, played a land, and then said he wanted to cast Ulamog. It was at this point I called a judge, as the cast on Jace is a ‘may’ and I believe he missed the window. The judge informed my opponent that he had indeed missed his opportunity to cast my Ulamog. At this point all I need is Reality Smasher and I finish my opponent as he is at four life. I drew nothing but land and I died on the third turn of OT. If I had just not dropped the ball on the TKS trigger I think I would have won the series as we never would have gone to game three. You live and you learn I guess…
Round 7; Win in 2 vs G/B Elves
This was basically just a rehash of round five. I killed all of my opponent’s mana dorks and Inquisitioned/Thoughseized what ever sort of shenanigans he had in his hand. I’m not kidding my notes from both games look basically identical. I like the idea of elves and it’s a nice modern tribal deck that aggros a wee bit harder than merfolk thanks to things like Ezure with his overrun and Craterhoof, but at the same time doesn’t have the protection that things like Cursecatcher, Kira, and counterspells provide. Game two I got whiddled down pretty far, but TKS is such a strong card that can come out super early thanks to Eldrazi Temple, he is a great blocker, great attacker, and a prime disruption tool.
Round 8; Loss in 2 vs Through the Breach
I don’t want to talk about this one…I really don’t…but alas I must. So as a little bit of backstory I always play with two copies of Lost Legacy in my sideboard. The card is super good for picking win conditions out of combo decks. Now on Friday night I was going through sideboard tech with the squad and I brought up the fact that artifacts would be running rampant at the GP, as shown by the spike of affinity players at recent GPs and the past weekend’s Pro Tour, not to mention the Lantern Control players…ew. So I decided to drop the LLs in favour of Kataki, War’s Wage to help better handle artifacts. Fast forward to round eight, here I am, staring down Emrakul, the Aeons Torn on turn five with haste, and zero cards in my sideboard to help me deal with it. I was so spicy after the game. The fact that not even twenty-four hours prior, I literally talked myself out of possibly winning this game. I was kicking myself so hard, regretting life decisions like you wouldn’t believe. It felt really bad as he had TTB and Emrakul on turn five in both of my games. Game two I took a direct hit and since I was on the play I had five lands, a Relic, and a Liliana. I sacrificed the Relic, and the five lands to the annihilator trigger. In earlier turns I had cracked a fetch and used Thoughtseize to try and hit either combo piece but my opponent didn’t have either on turn three. So the fetch, the Thoughseize dealt me three, Emma did fifteen, and my opponent untapped and just bolted me for the kill. Man did these games feel bad.
Finishing with a record of 5-3 I was unable to make day two as the cut off was 6-2. I strongly believe if I had not made that mistake in game one against the control player that I would have won that match and I would have made day two.
Regardless of my less than stellar performance, I got a to crack a bunch of packs, and got some pretty cool stuff. It was a fantastic weekend spent with some fantastic people, now we begin practice for GP Toronto in May!!!
I hope y’all enjoyed the post, and remember, stay salty my friends.