If you didn't read the article from last week you can find it here.
When we last left our hero...
I was 7-1-1 after Day 1 of Grand Prix: D.C. the largest North American tournament in quite some time. With over 200 people making the cut for Day 2 there was sure to be plenty of competition and I was ready for it. I woke up rather early to get to the event site by shuttle due to the poor weather conditions. I remembered I had left my bag o' cards in my friend's car the previous night and I was promised the night before by JT Hendricks (furthermore known as The End Boss) that he would bring me my stuff so I would actually have a deck with which to battle. I was not feeling particularly comfortable seeing as The End Boss failed to answer his phone for about thirty minutes and followed that with a phone call about their car having a flat tire. After freaking out for about 2 minutes he informed me I had just been pranked and they were on the way. Some friends. After they arrived I got my bag of cards and deck where I found several photos of dubious men in rather odd positions...
Here is the decklist from last week:
After sitting down and filling out some paperwork before the first round of Day 2 started we were informed that today would be 8 rounds of play followed by Top 8. I have never played in a Grand Prix before where the second day was more than 6 rounds so this was going to be a doozy. After getting to my seat I was ready to battle.
Round 10 against Ryan McKinney playing Super Friends
Game 1 was fairly one-sided. I won the die roll and played a Turn 3 Jace via Everflowing Chalice. The flow of cards allows me to stick a few Planeswalkers to take the game while he flounders to stay afloat against the onslaught of Brainstorms.
Game 2 he removed a few of my Baneslayer Angels via Path to Exile but that ramped me into being able to attack with Colonnade and play spells simultaneously. I used Oblivion Ring to shut down his Ajani Vengeant and Negate to stop a few other key spells but took the game rather quickly for a mirror match.
Round 11 against Martin Bonneville playing Polymorph
This game played out rather oddly. I opened up the game by casting an Oblivion Ring on his plant token simply due to the fact that I wanted to bait him into an early Polymorph that ran into my Jace in hand. He let that resolve as well as an Elspeth on the next turn but lost his Emrakul to my Jace when he decided he couldn't wait any longer. He tried for another Polymorph after killing my Jace via his Jace but I had Path to Exile for his creature when he was tapped out.
Game 2 started with him playing an early Awakening Zone. I used a Kor Sanctifier to kill it and started bashing. He eventually got to the point where he had 8 mana where he cast Polymorph targeting a Plant token. I tried to Path to Exile it in response but he had a Negate. This left him with only 2 mana for my turn. I played Jace and used my own Negate to stop his Negate allowing me to bounce his Emrakul. He had nothing really going on after that and eventually lost to Baneslayer and Celestial Colonnade beatdown.
Round 12 against Tommy Ashton playing Naya Vengevine
This match was pretty awkward seeing as I played cantrips and virtually nothing else. I had two Spreading Seas early as well as two Wall of Omens. However with a Negate stuck in my hand I drew all lands for the rest of the game and died to multiple Vengevines and Bloodbraid Elves.
Game 2 was a similar beating. He drew pretty much perfect having two Oblivion Rings for my two Baneslayer Angels as well as a Vengevine that just kept on bashing me. I had an Oblivion Ring of my own for it but he had Qasali Pridemage bring it back and continue the beats pumping all the while with double Noble Hierarch.
Round 13 against Sebastian Thaler playing UW
He actually doesn't show up for Game 1 receiving a game loss but sits down promptly with 40:15 left on the clock almost losing the match. With the play he plays a Jace on the third turn via Chalice and using an Oblivion Ring of his own to rid the world of mine when I remove his Jace. The game isn't close and he uses Spreading Seas to lock down all of my Celestial Colonnades. Eventually he uses Martial Coup to kill my Baneslayer but it wasn't really necessary.
Game 2 he mulligans but I kept a hand full of Spreading Seas and Oblivion Rings. He plays a Turn 3 Elspeth via Knight of the White Orchid and a Borderpost as well as a Jace on the 4th turn. I only had Oblivion Ring for Elspeth and never drew any answer for the Jace. He shut off all my white mana with triple Spreading Seas keeping my Baneslayer Angels and Celestial Colonnades turned off. It was a depressing loss.
At this point I have to win out in order to make Top 16. Winning four in a row isn't impossible but the level of play here is pretty high so it definitely won't be easy.
Round 14 against Dale Gamez playing Jund
Game 2 I use a few Spreading Seas to shut off his red mana. I stick a Baneslayer Angel and he dies quickly after that never drawing a Maelstrom Pulse.
Round 15 against Peter Csampai playing UW
This match was pretty odd but I won Game 1 on the back of an early Jace. He used many Paths to Exile to rid the world of my Baneslayer Angels but I drew pretty perfectly otherwise. Brainstorm after Brainstorm pushed me farther and farther ahead allowing me to Spreading Seas his Colonnades as well as kill him with my own.
Game 2 was pretty horrific. He played a Sphinx of Jwar Isle forcing me to Wrath it away. Later he played a Baneslayer Angel as well as Gideon Jura. I used Oblivion Rings to kill those but he had the blade trump spell in All is Dust killing my Spreading Seas as well. The Dust came pretty late in the game after I had used my Jace a few times letting me power out to 10 mana. I had Ulamog in hand which was a fine answer to his board presence. I drew a land allowing me to cast Ulamog the Infinite Jager Bomb killing his Celestial Colonnade and stifling his Gideon from attacking me to death. A few attacks with Ulamog later and he's into permanents numbering less than 5 and life points totaling zero.
Round 16 against Jiayi Chen playing Jund
Game 1 he plays no Green sources but not a lot of spells either. He Terminates a Baneslayer Angel allowing me to figure out he is playing Jund and not BR. I win with a second Baneslayer Angel when he draws no more answers.
Game 2 goes pretty long but the turning point was when I drew a Mind Spring for 5 after getting my hand systematically torn apart. I land a few Planeswalkers and Wall of Omens to stabilize the board while he draws a few blanks and falls too far behind to catch up. A few Celestial Colonnade attacks kill him.
After this round I can make Top 16 with a win. Most (if not all) of the players with 4 losses will not make it into the Top 16 since most of the top tables didn't have to play the last round and simply drew in.
Round 17 against Brian Kibler
While Brian is a very high level mage I am not even qualified for Amsterdam. I ask Brian to scoop since I don't think he can make Top 16 and I can definitely make it with a win qualifying me for the next Pro Tour. He opts to battle it out because he needs the Pro Points and he thinks he still has a shot at Top 16. I can't blame him and we do battle.
Game 1 is a pretty large blowout with him playing an early Jace following by a second Jace when I legend his. This puts him really far ahead and a few Rangers of Eos later have me packing it in.
After a very disappointing finish at 45th I'm left wondering what went wrong. I started off strong but failed to get the last win necessary to break through to the Top 16. I knew my decklist was off by a few cards but that was simply due to hindsight. I didn't expect as much Naya Vengevine as there was at this tournament simply due to the fact that it was a newer deck and not that many people had played with it. However when GerryT comes up with a new deck people tend to play it. I should have known better and just maindecked more Path to Exiles. It would have definitely helped me in a lot of those closer matchups. My only real losses came at the hands of Vengevine decks and one mirror match but none of the other matches were really even close. Seeing as Vengevine is such a problem it should be easy to up the Path to Exile count to at least three and possibly even four in the future. It is pretty mediocre in the mirror but it does have targets in Celestial Colonnade and Baneslayer Angel.
After the tournament _ShipItHolla Kenny and myself all went back to the room to watch the series finale of Lost which was pretty good but definitely not how I expected it to end. We ordered pizza and hung out in the room for the rest of the night and got a decent amount of sleeping before heading to the airport very early the next morning. I arrived home to see Kali for a few days before jetting off to San Juan for the Pro Tour. I didn't do so well but I also don't feel like I really got to play a ton of Magic over the weekend. For San Juan we had a pretty small playtest group which didn't really help us at all. The decks we were battling with most were Red Deck Wins UW Control and Mono Green Ramp. The metagame seemed pretty much like Rock-Paper-Scissors with RDW being the only deck without an unwinnable matchup so I played that.
Here was my list for the PT where I went 3-2 in the Constructed portion.
For what it’s worth we had Hellkite Charger and Dread Statuary for the mirror giving us a huge bomb to wreak havoc on the attrition war. However I never played the mirror so it was irrelevant. I rolled every Green deck I played against in testing which came true in the tournament as well and lost to Blue decks which we were having problems with. I gambled a little on this tournament because I didn't know what to play but I probably would have done much better just playing the Green Ramp deck I'd been battling with for the last few weeks on MTGO.
Round 1 win against Green Ramp
Round 2 loss against UB Control
Round 3 win against Mono Green Eldrazi Monument
Round 4 loss against UW Control
Round 5 win against Boros
In the draft I failed miserably. I drafted what I thought was a solid ramp deck splashing Red and Blue but I didn't have anything sweet to ramp into. I went 1-2 losing a grinder to Wafo-Tapa and some other guy playing a BW Leveler deck due to Time of Heroes. My win in the last round almost gave me Top 200 at 4-4 but I ended up at 216th (I think) which was just shy of getting another Pro Point.
I did end up making Top 4 of the PTQ on Saturday with a revamped version of UW including a better sideboard plan than Infinite Jager Bombs:
The Jace Belerens in the sideboard were inspired by Carlos Romao from the Grand Prix since they are pretty absurd in UW mirrors. Preemptively killing a Jace the Mind Sculptor while drawing a card is fantastic and just gives you an edge because it costs one less mana. There is no doubt I would recommend this list for anyone attempting to qualify with UW Control since this list is pretty geared to beat the current format. Jund is a cake walk if you know what you are doing but they can always nut draw you so be careful. Use Path to Exile sparingly since ramping them out of Spreading Seas lock as well as into more dangerous threats like Siege-Gang Commander and Sarkhan the Mad can be pretty painful. One of the worst mistakes I see people make is using Path to Exile prematurely and they usually end up being on the losing end to a late-game bomb.
Your sideboard is focused mainly on the mirror with 7 dedicated cards. However those cards are good in other matchups like Polymorph or Time Sieve so they aren't dead in a field full of random decks. The extra sweepers are fine against a lot of strategies and Martial Coup often comes in against the mirror since most people side out most of their Wrath effects. It also does wonders against a Baneslayer or Sphinx of Jwar Isle which is what you need sometimes.
After a very long week I am happy to be back home and back to work. I need to make some money since I've spent the last 10 days hopping around and making very few dollars. Selling cards and winning a box here and there can only take you so far. There are a lot of PTQs for Standard coming up and I'm thinking about switching decks for a few of the tournaments. Hopefully I'll get there and write you an epic tale of victory in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading.
strong sad on MTGO