2013 is almost at an end, and it has been quite a whirlwind for me. I started the year living in North Carolina, barely playing any Magic and working a late-night job unloading trucks for FedEx. Now, as I end the year, it feels like a dream. I get to work with Magic basically 24/7 with my jobs at StarCityGames.com, and I couldn't be happier. I am also making an effort to change to a healthier lifestyle and feel better than I have in a long time.
2013 has been quite memorable for me, and I'd like to go through some of these memories with everyone!
Winning #SCGNJ With Junk Reanimator
The first Open Series event following the release of Dragon's Maze earlier this year was in Somerset, New Jersey. There was no Legacy Open on Sunday since there was a Team Sealed Open, so Brian Braun-Duin and I spent the majority of our time tweaking our Junk Reanimator list for the tournament. BBD and I had been having success with the archetype leading up to the event, and we felt like it was still well positioned and that a couple Dragon's Maze cards could help steer the deck in the right direction.
Sin Collector and Voice of Resurgence played a big part in my success in the event, particularly the interaction between Sin Collector and Restoration Angel. It didn't hurt that Voice of Resurgence was powerful against both fast aggro and control decks either. The tournament went very well for me, and there were quite a few memorable moments from the event.
During an early feature match, I was able to use Sin Collector to take multiple cards from my Esper opponent's hand with a second copy and multiple Restoration Angels in his draw step. It definitely showcased the power of the card.
In my Top 4 match, I was able to overcome a mulligan to four against Max Tietze and his Jund deck. Fortunately, he kept a hand without access to red mana and missed for several turns, but my solid four-card hand of two lands, Mulch, and Grisly Savage definitely helped get me into a spot where I could win. In this match and a few more times during the day, my opponent was able to get a Sire of Insanity onto the battlefield and allow me to discard both Angel of Serenity and Unburial Rites. Sometimes you just run well!
In the finals, I got to play against Owen Turtenwald. Yep, that Owen Turtenwald. He was on Jund, which was a fairly even matchup, though I could steal games with Acidic Slime if I got lucky. I would be lying if I didn't say I was a little intimidated. Owen is one of the best players in the game, and I have always looked up to him. I was able to steal the match in three games with a good draw and being fortunate enough for him to draw some blanks in the last game. This marked the first time I got to play against Owen in 2013, but it certainly was not the last.
When I won the Standard Open, it was a great feeling. In 2011 when I was traveling the Open Series circuit, I was able to amass multiple Legacy Top 8s and some wins and even a Draft Open win, but I still only had one lonely Standard Open Top 8 (Kansas City with U/G Genesis Wave) and really wanted to prove to myself that not playing for a year hadn't set me too far back.
The win in New Jersey helped light a fire that I was able to continue to fuel throughout all of 2013, traveling around the East Coast with BBD and hitting as many tournaments as we could.
Sealed Open In Charlotte
StarCityGames.com held their first and so far only Sealed Open this year in Charlotte, North Carolina. BBD and I had put little practice into full Return to Ravnica block Sealed since the Team Sealed Open in New Jersey, so I was prepared to have to be creative while building my deck.
My Sealed deck was awesome, with a million removal spells; in fact, I often won by attacking with some lowly creature like Gutter Skulk for close to ten turns while I killed every creature my opponent played. You can check out my deck tech here:
Full Return to Ravnica block Sealed was quite unique and led to an interesting deckbuilding process that I talked about in the above deck tech. Laying out playables and good cards rather than trying to sort everything by guild was a unique process for me since I was used to color sorting and then looking for playables.
In the end, I was able to make it into the Top 8 with my Sealed deck, but so did BBD and Anthony Kando, both of which were in my car on the trip there. The way the brackets lined up, I could actually meet BBD in the finals and try to snatch the trophy from him. I did win my Top 8 match, but I lost in the Top 4 to the eventual winner Josh Snyder with his bonkers Bant deck. I had a pretty mediocre W/R/U Aggro deck, with some questionable picks coming back to bite me. There were a couple Viashino Firstblades that I could have taken but didn't, and they would have been completely awesome in my deck.
It was pretty cool to see three of us from the same car place in the Top 4, and I was definitely rooting for BBD to win. Nothing against Josh since I know him from when I was in North Carolina, but BBD really deserved a trophy. With the three of us from the same car in the Top 4, I wanted to see at least one of us take it down!
BBD vs. CVM
When I was first hired at StarCityGames.com, I immediately talked with Lauren Lee, who was the Online Content Coordinator at the time, about wanting to write and possibly fill in for any of the Versus videos now that I was there in town. Not only did I desperately want to do these things to get back into the Magic scene, but I had only accepted a part-time position with SCG to get my foot in the door and try to prove that I had what they needed in someone more permanent.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be in the position that I am now.
As much as it saddened me that I wasn't going to be battling against any of the other Versus cast, being able to build a partnership with BBD week in and week out with the series has been awesome. From the Basic Land Game to Lobster, Tiger, Lizard, we have continued to try to entertain everyone as well as take the time to explain our thought processes for our different lines of play.
I hear from people all the time about how much the enjoy watching the videos and that we are helping them get better at Magic, but I want to give a giant thank you to everyone who watches, which allows us to continue to make videos. They are a blast to make and help me become a better Magic player too.
#SCGINVI In New Jersey
The Invitational in Somerset, New Jersey is memorable to me for two reasons. I got to play Owen again, and I went from Top 8 contention to no cash in what felt like an instant.
For this Invitational, I opted to play Junk Aristocrats with the help of an awesome list from Todd Anderson and Brad Nelson. I did very well in Standard, and if I'd had a better Legacy deck, I'm pretty sure I would have made Top 8 of this Invitational.
BBD and I had been working on an Esper Deathblade list that played Dark Confidant and Liliana of the Veil over Geist of Saint Traft, which had become close to the standard by that point. We were working heavily on a Jund list leading up to the event but just kept losing to the top of our Brainstorm opponents' decks.
I did get to play Owen again in a feature match to close out day 1. He was on RUG Delver, a matchup that I was quite familiar with, and I was able to navigate through his Stifles, Dazes, and Spell Pierces to take the match. I remember this match only because after winning Huey came over to console Owen for the loss and mentioned that "we'll get him one day, just not in Jersey." I giggled and was just happy that I had played fairly well and won again against one of the best players.
The end of this Invitational was miserable for me unfortunately. Going into round 13 and the last four rounds of Legacy, I was 10-2 and in great shape to make a run at the Top 8. I then lost four matches in a row to Jund, Lands, Jund, and Shardless BUG in pretty spectacular fashion.
Going from hunting for a Top 8 to placing outside of the money was pretty demoralizing, and I didn't do well in many tournaments after this one, constantly missing on multiple win-and-ins.
I needed to refocus.
#SCGINVI In Indianapolis
I remember the weekend in Indy for the Invitational, not because of the Invitational itself but because of the Legacy Open. At this time I was on the Sneak and Show list that BBD was using to battle in the Top 8 with a few sideboard modifications.
I ended up getting to play against Owen again, and even though we weren't in Jersey, I got quite lucky to come out ahead with an early combo and land a Blood Moon against an empty board. I lost in the Top 4 to Ben Friedman after besting Ben Weinberg with Elves with a lucky turn 1 Show and Tell into Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
The most memorable part of this tournament was in the last round of the Swiss though. There were enough X-1s that we had to play, and I had the pleasure of playing against a gentleman who was armed with Mono-White Soldiers. We're talking Preeminent Captain, Captain of the Watch, and Enlistment Officer! His deck was very similar to Goblins, but he had access to more lords so he could put out a lot of damage. I actually lost game 1 after getting a Griselbrand into play on turn 3!
I also got to watch the final game of BBD's Top 4 match against Brad Nelson, and while I was happy for Brad to go on and win the tournament, it was sad to watch BBD be so far ahead and miss for so many turns. I know that BBD, Brad, and Todd will all continue to crush tournaments as we go into 2014, and I'm proud to be here and help.
The new year is just around the corner, and with it brings us all kinds of possibilities. I'd like to share with everyone my goals for 2014 and encourage you to put your own goals in the comments.
Top 8 a SCG Invitational
I have come close a couple times, but I really want an Invitational Top 8. On the current Open Points Leaderboard, I am the only one in the Top 8 without an Invitational Top 8. I've proven that I can be consistent on the Open Series; now I need to get that Invitational trophy.
Qualify for the SCG Players' Championship
I have proven to myself that 2011 wasn't just a fluke, and I know that I am capable of putting in the work to perform at the level to qualify for the SCG Players' Championship. It's going to be difficult to qualify by having the most points in one of the seasons, but I can definitely be in the Top 8 point earners for the year or win an Invitational.
Become a better writer & continue to make BBD vs. CVM as entertaining & informative as possible
I love writing about Magic and its influence on my life. I've never had any background in writing, and while I think that my grasp on the English language is acceptable at best, I love Kaitlin for being such an awesome copy editor and helping me get my points across to my readers.
To Cedric and Kaitlin, I thank you very much, and I look forward to the awesome things we can do in 2014.
Stay focused with #MTGfitness and grow it into an actual community
With the help of Brad and one of my best friends Joe Stierwalt, I want to continue to be successful with our collaboration for changing to a healthier lifestyle and work toward making it available to more people. A lot of interest has been garnered, and I love that we are able to inspire to change for the better.
Top 8 a Grand Prix
This is kind of a two-part goal combined with my desire to qualify for another Pro Tour. I would like the opportunity to play in another Pro Tour, and making it there through the Top 8 of a Grand Prix definitely seems like a feasible goal for 2014.
There we have it. 2013 went by in a blur, and I'm sure that 2014 will pass us just as fast. I know that I'm going to work hard the entire year to try to accomplish my goals, and I hope that everyone else can stay just as focused as I plan to.
Merry Christmas to everyone and a Happy New Year!