Hey, everyone, for those who don’t know me yet, my name is Noah Long and I’m from Toronto, Canada. I’m twenty-four and I am a professional ballet dancer with the National Ballet of Canada. I never thought ballet and Magic could be ever combined â€” but here I am!
I gotta give a big shout-out to my boss, who gave me the time off to come out for this trip, regardless of our busy Nutcracker season. Thanks again!
Anyway, on with the show.
My Worlds trip started before Chiba, in Vancouver, where I tested with good friends Aeo Paquette and Sebastian Denno. I mainly tested Scars of Mirrodin draft, which was the format I was lacking the most skill in. After three solid days of being a total degenerate, I was ready to draft on the big stage.
Sebastian saw me off on Monday morning and I got on my flight, ready for the long trip ahead. Thank goodness for being a degenerate; I slept nine hours of the ten-hour flight! I was completely out cold. I got up to eat my “dinner” â€” which was more like a snack â€” and landed in no time.
After I landed in Tokyo, I had a decision to make:
a) Go out to downtown Tokyo and party and shop, or:
b) Get some rest in a cheap hotel close to the airport, so I can adjust to the time change, rest, and wash up?
I chose b, as this is mainly a fun but businessy trip. If I was going to win Worlds, I’d need all the mental rest I can get â€” especially after that crazy weekend in Vancouver!
The next morning I went back to the airport and met up with the rest of the Canadian crew: Jay Elarar, Vincent Thibault, Pascal Maynard, and Jon Smithers. They were surprised, but happy to see me, as they had no idea as to where the hell I was going to be. (I kinda went AFK the week before Worlds.)
We all hopped on the train and started our way to the event site. I gotta say, the train system in Japan is off the chain! It’s so intricate it puts even New York to shame. I can’t wait to ride it again soon â€” Nagoya, here I come!
After we all registered, we made our trek to our hotel, which was a bit outside of where the event was being held. It wasn’t too long â€” maybe a twenty-minute ride plus a ten-minute walk. It was well worth it though. The neighborhood was really cool. The sheets were super-clean, the streets were lively, and our hotel was right by a very large pond that we could look out over through our hotel windows. Good choice, Vincent!
Later that night, after we’d finished tweaking our decks, we all passed out. I don’t know about the others, but I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in forever! Something in the air? Or food, maybe? I don’t know, but I was very impressed with everything Japan had to offer!
In the morning, we all took a cab just so we weren’t rushed getting there, eliminating unnecessary potential stresses. When I got there I ate breakfast at that amazing on-site cafeteria… And
! I can’t say it enough: Japanese food from, Japan is the bomb. I ended up eating there almost every morning and for most lunches. Sooo good!
Here’s what I played in the Standard portion:
I added the red because I anticipated a bunch of Vampires and Quest decks, which were performing well on Magic Online the week before Worlds. If I’d known I’d be playing against two U/W decks, three Valakuts, and one Vampires, I would have made another deck choice. Oh well; I was happy with it overall, as I did win four out of six matches with it.
Round 1 pairings went up, and I ended up playing against Ken Yukuhiro, who was piloting U/W control.
Game 1: I got a fairly good draw and resolved a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which I rode to victory.
Game 3: I was on the play and eventually decided to keep the one-land Preordain hand with two Luminarch Ascensions. The first two cards I looked at were a white source and another U/W source… FIST BUMP!!!
I mised so hard and got there off the back of my 4/4 tokens.
Round 2 had me paired against another Japanese player (whose name I unfortunately forgot to write down), playing Valakut.
Game 1: I won off the back of my planeswalkers and land destruction.
Game 2: This one went to him thanks to Gaea’s Revenge.
Game 3 was pretty crazy, though. It had a lot of countermagic involved, as well as a couple of big green creatures resolving. Thanks to Elspeth Tirel, I got out of a couple jams with mana still open for my multiple Flashfreezes drawn that game. Good games all ’round.
Round 3 finally saw me playing against an aggro deck: Hajime Nakamura, playing Mono-Black Vampires.
Game 1 was a bit of a blow-out due to me drawing not only multiple Lightning Bolts, but also well as two Elspeths and a Gideon.
Game 2 was another crazy game, though. I got him down to one thanks to a few Lightning Bolts and Colonnade swings. Now he has a couple of options: First of all, he has a Dark Tutelage on the table, but has a Viscera Seer in play with a few guys to get rid of so he doesn’t die. After about seven, activations he finally finds a land to draw, then he activates it again about four more times and finds a Kalastria Highborn… He eventually gets there off the back of that thing and we went to game 3. So crazy!
Game 3: He started strong, but I got a couple of Wall of Omens down early. I eventually got an Elspeth down at around nine life, then got her up to six counters to deal with his Dark Tutelage and his army. I untapped with Elspeth and cracked her to stabilize, and eventually got there as he was out of cards. Lucky me, I guess.
Round 4, I played another Valakut, as well as my fourth Japanese opponent in a row: Shintarow Ishimura.
Game 1: He drew more threats then I had counters, and I lost pretty easily.
Game 2: He resolved a sideboarded Lotus Cobra on turn 2 which eventually gets bounced on my turn 4 by Jace, the Mind Sculptor. He then untapped and played the Cobra again, then played a fetchland to ramp up to seven mana… uh oh…
Luckily for me, it was a Summoning Trap, which found a Gaea’s Revenge. The next turn I cast an Elspeth, which fends off his Revenge (as well as another Revenge) until Jace fateseals him out of the game. Hurray for white people… only love players, lots of love all around!
Game 3 saw Shintarow short of green mana, and I won with Jace fatesealing him out.
Round 5 featured probably the closest games I had the whole tournament. I wound up playing against Akio Chiba, who was playing U/W control.
Game 1 was really back and forth. I had to admit we both drew well, but in the end I stuck an Elspeth and got there.
Game 2 saw me losing pretty quickly to a Luminarch Ascension.
Game 3 was another epic game, with us battling over mana bases between multiple Spreading Seas and Tectonic Edges. At the end of it all, he eventually got me down to only one white source, and now I had no way in my deck to cast my WW casting cost spells… Although, I stuck in it and we have this last amazing counter war which puts me in the drivers seats with a resolved Luminarch Ascension and him down to only two cards in hand.
He untapped and cast Sun Titan… damn, didn’t see that one comin’. He brought back his little Jace and controls the game from there. Well played, sir â€” it was a pleasure playing those games! 4-1
Round 6 brought me to my first game-losing mistake of day 1. I played against Tomek Pedrakowski, playing Valakut.
Game 1 basically came down to me not drawing a seventh land by turn 7, which stopped me from casting my Elspeth with Mana Leak backup to stop one of his big guys. Eventually, he just got there with his one-of Raging Ravine.
Game 2 was when I didn’t play my Jace, the Mind Sculptor on turn 4 after he didn’t represent having green mana. Maybe some form of testing would have been beneficial before this tournament, as I didn’t do anything until he eventually found green mana and killed me with Gaea’s Revenge.
Oh, well; this mistake helped me out later on in the tournament, since it led me to winning a match in Extended… But I’ll explain later.
Other than that sixth-round game misplay, I ended up 4-2, with a good feeling going into day 2. All in all, I was very happy with how I played, considering I hadn’t played since Nationals and did very little testing for this event.
Jon Smithers and I went to get a bite to eat, and came back just in time to watch Canada go 1-1 in their first couple rounds of the team event. We all went back to a restaurant near our hotel afterwards, which was so good we went back a second time the next night!
After the great food and fun times, we went go to bed kinda early. I meditated, thinking about what card I want to open in the first round of draft the next morning.
The five of us got up and headed on down to the site via public transit. We got off the train and realized we were kinda short on time, so we all started gunning it down the streets of Chiba. We got to the site right at 9:45 a.m. and found our seats.
After everyone arrived, I opened my first pack of draft 1. The card I was visualizing the night before was Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, but I had to settle for Carnifex Demon… Ding!!! At least it was black, as I wanted to be infect â€” and boy, did I ever end up infect. Here’s my final list:
1 Alpha Tyrranax
1 Accorder’s Shield
1 Barbed Battlegear
1 Blackcleave Goblin
1 Copperhorn Scout
1 Dross Hopper
1 Flameborn Hellion
1 Golem’s Heart
1 Kuldotha Forgemaster
1 Moriok Replica
1 Ogre Geargrabber
1 Psychic Miasma
1 Razorfield Thresher
1 Relic Putrescence
1 Stoic Rebuttal
1 Steady Progress
1 Strider Harness
My First picks of each pack were:
I was very happy with my deck afterwards, and I played a few games with Vincent while I was waiting for the round to start. Pairings went up…
Round 7: Francesco Hugony, playing G/B/r Infect
Game 1 wasn’t much of a game. Sadly, he stalled on three lands, and I won fairly easily.
I drew Demon a lot this draft, FYI…
After the match we talked for a bit â€” all in all, he was a cool guy. GGs, player!
Round 8: Marijn Lybaert, playing G/B Infect
Game 1 had us trading a bunch of guys until I got to seven mana and cast my Carnifex Demon, removing a counter so it wouldn’t get Grasped. I managed to untap, and Mr. Demon went all the way.
Game 2 was a repeat of game 3 from the previous round. The Stinger met a Grasp, the Necropede got through a couple times, then Carrion Calls, Tumble Magnet, and Contagion Clasp on turns 4 and 5. The draw was too much for Marijn, as he offered his hand. Nice guy!
Round 9: Sam Black, playing W/R Metalcraft
Game 1 was a very good game despite the fact that Sam stalled at three mana. He curved out well with one mana Myr, a Palladium Myr, two Necrogen Censer s, a Glint Hawk, a Revoke Existence for my Necropede, and a Glimmerpoint Stag on a Necrogen Censer.
I found myself down life pretty quickly, but I had a pair of Tel-Jilads, a Tumble Magnet to keep his Hawk at bay, and a Grasp for his Stag. I wound up winning the race, as my “protection from artifacts” 3/1s get the job done.
Game 2 basically saw Sam resolving Koth of the Hammer on turn 4. Enough said.
Game 3 was quite the grind back and forth. He wound up with two Glint Hawks, which bounced a Wall of Tanglecord several times, removing any -1/-1 counters it may have had. Eventually we ran our hands and permanents low, but he had two Glint Hawks and I had one card in hand.
With seven mana at my disposal, I cast my last card in hand â€” guess who? Carnifex Demon, that’s who! I remove a counter, making his guys into 1/1 fliers. He is a little shocked at what I just played, and eventually loses to it.
3-0ed my pod at Worlds! Hurray!!!
Draft 2 wasn’t as impressive, as the card quality that I saw in the draft kinda sucked…. but my deck was still a consistent U/W Metalcraft/Aggro deck, which I thought would 2-1 at least. My first picks of each pack were:
Here’s my final decklist:
1 Argent Sphinx
1 Auriok Replica
1 Darksteel Sentinel
1 Glint Hawk
1 Golem Artisan
2 Lumengrid Drake
1 Palladium Myr
2 Perilous Myr
1 Sky-Eel School
1 Snapsail Glider
1 Vedalken Certarch
1 Blackcleave Goblin
1 Blight Mamba
1 Bonds of Quicksilver
1 Copperhorn Scout
1 Fulgent Distraction
3 Ichorclaw Myr
1 Razor Thresher
1 Relic Putrescence
1 Salvage Scout
1 Seize the Initiative
2 Steady Progress
1 Screeching Silcaw
1 Tangle Angler
1 Vault Skyward
1 Vigil for the Lost
I decided to play sixteen lands eventually, and played the Horizon Spellbomb as the seventeenth, as it could also add to my Metalcraft and ‘Smiths.
Game 2: My opponent’s deck does what it’s designed to do and gets his Barrage Ogre, Infiltration Lens, Furnace Celebration, and lots of Shatter effects out in time to prevent him from dying at two life.
I didn’t give up, as I still had a Glint Hawk in my deck for my Necrogen Censer with no counters on it. I eventually drew my Hawk for the win, but Anton Shatters my Censer in response. I eventually die to his combo.
Game 3 had me coming out the gates again, getting him down to two before he stabilized for two turns. I then drew my Necrogen Censer and got there handily. GGs.
Round 11: Adam Witton U/B
Game 1 was rather unfortunate for me, as I flooded pretty hard after starting off very quickly. I got Adam to six life before he managed to stabilize, then eventually took over.
Game 2 was looking good, as I had a couple fliers with him at four â€” until he tapped out for a Platinum Emperion, which I couldn’t find an answer to in time.
Round 12: Piotr Andeys, B/R Proliferate
Game 1: I came out quickly (again) and won before his Lux Cannon could do too much damage.
Game 2: Piotr flooded pretty hard, but managed to resolve a Geth, Lord of the Vault â€” which I Arrested on my following turn. At the end of the day, my fliers managed to get through the last few points and it was time to call it a day.
I gotta say that I was very happy with the 5-1 in Limited, as I had the least prep for it. Thanks again to my Vancouver buddies! All I needed to do now was get a good night’s sleep and X-1 to top 8 the next day.
When we got back to the hotel, we basically just worked out our decks for day 3 and hit the hay. Good thing Jon and I could sleep thanks to the team event starting the next day off â€” I really needed to sleep!
Day 3: Extended
I guess I’ll start off by showing the deck I played:
Overall, I was very happy with the list. I think the mana base could have a used a little more TLC, but the spell numbers made me smile.
Getting back to my day 3 morning, Jon and I slept till about ten and made it (thankfully) to the site based off of memory. We get there to learn that the Canadian team just 2-0ed and are now sitting in the top 8. With a good day 3, they could finish in the top 4 easily.
A little after 11 a.m., the pairings for the Extended portion of the event went up. Time to see what I’m made of…
Round 13: Yong Han Chow, playing G/R Valakut
Game 1 wasn’t much of a game, unfortunately, as he flooded pretty badly, with his only pressure being a Raging Ravine which got Consumed at end of turn. I finally resolved a Jace and the ultimate ability gets there.
Game 2 was more of the same with Jace. He didn’t show any green mana, and Jace brought it home again.
Round 14: Christian Gawrilowice playing G/W Trap
Game 1 was scary, as I’d never played against this deck before and was unaware of how crazy it could be. The game ended with Iona, Shield of Emeria â€” which entered the battlefield via Summoning Trap, naming white. I bounced it a few times, but it still won him the game.
Game 2: I managed to survive a double-Lotus Cobra draw and a whiffed Summoning Trap attempt, eventually Volcanic Fallouting his guys away and resolving a Cruel Ultimatum. He conceded with no cards and five lands in play.
Game 3 was another scary affair, as he came out flying with a multiple Great Sable Stag draw â€” which caught me off-guard, since I boarded my Walls out. After fighting off his team for a couple of turns, time was called. I managed to find three Cryptic Commands to hold off his team, and came out of this scary matchup with a draw.
Overall, I was happy with the one point â€” but wasn’t happy to hear Guillaume Wafo-Tapa‘s match was also a draw. Which put us in the same bracket…
Round 15: … guess who… Guillaume Wafo-Tapa playing 5CC
Game 1 was rather boring, as we both were just playing lands and draw spells until about turn 7. He managed to resolve a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and won easily from there.
Game 2 found Guillaume stuck on four lands until about turn 8. After a couple Thoughtseize attempts, he tried resolving an Elspeth Tirel, which I counter â€” and then I resolved a Grave Titan, which won me the game.
Game 3 was such a close one and could have gone either way until my end of turn on turn 7. This step basically happened like this:
Guillaume had seven mana and three cards; I had eight mana and three cards.
Guillaume tried to draw two cards from an Esper Charm, and I Counter/Draw. He taps out to Counter/Draw, then I tapped out to Counter/Draw, leaving him with one card and me with three.
He untapped and cast his only card in hand â€” Cruel Ultimatum…
If I had given my opponent a little more credit, I probably would have Counter/Bounced a Vivid land instead of drawing with the second Cryptic. All in all, it was a great match and a great learning experience for me for this upcoming Pro Tour season.
After the match Guillaume and I talked about each others’ card choices, and he then informs me that X-4-1 may get there. That keeps my spirits high. Good guy!
“What do you expect? I’m sitting right here.”
Only at Worlds ladies and gents. Only at Worlds. Awesome!
Round 16: Bertil Elfgren, playing G/W/b Elves
Game 1 found me on the draw, which was the main factor in me losing this game. He managed a turn 3 Primal Command, which bounced a Vivid of mine, then got a Regal Force. I conceded.
Game 2 went much better, as I four-for-oned his team with Volcanic Fallout on my turn 3. He then cast a turn 4 Ranger of Eos, which I Mana Leaked â€” but he then cast a Summoning Trap, which caught me off guard. Thankfully, he didn’t get a creature of significance, so I untapped and cast a Grave Titan which won me the game.
Game 3 was a repeat of game 1, unfortunately. He cast a turn 3 Command, and that’s all she wrote.
Round 17: David Ochoa, playing 4CC (I believe)
Game 1 found David stalling on about five lands, as he started discarding. I eventually resolved a Grave Titan, which won me the game.
Game 2 was a crazy ordeal, with both of us doing nothing for a while. He eventually resolved a Jace which he tapped out for due to a counter war â€” so I took advantage and Cruel Ultimatumed on my turn. He then Brainstormed with Jace and Cruels back. I then Crueled again, and he did the same.
I resolved my own Jace, which sent both to the graveyard and then cast a Runed Halo, naming Vendilion Clique. Unfortunately for me, I forgot he had returned his Wurmcoil Engine and not his Clique â€” so I lost to my mistake.
Game 3 eventually came to a draw. He was at eighteen life; my board had two Great Sable Stags and a Creeping Tar Pit, with tons of lands and a full grip. All he needed to do was resolve one Cryptic, which he did â€” and that was all she wrote. If I had one or two more minutes, I would have just let him tap my guys down and be patient until he ran out of Cryptics. Oh well; at least I could still win the last round to top 32.
Last Round: Pascal Maynard, Canadian Team-mate and National Team member, playing the featured Stainless Steel deck list Jon Smithers created.
I conceded to him, as I’d be qualified for Paris on rating, and he needs the win for the Team event and to top 50 for Paris. We played it out anyway to see who would have won, and I eventually got there in three thanks to some early back-to-back Fallouts.
10-6-2 – 77th place
All in all, I was still happy with my deck choice â€” but was a little disappointed with how I didn’t hold my focus together long enough. After the smoke cleared, I remembered how thankful I was to be in Japan, at Worlds, finishing well and helping a friend go to Paris with me so we can have another amazing experience together.
After the last round, the five Canadians went out partying at a bar, got trashed with other random Japanese guys (which was hilarious), then went to do some traditional Japanese karaoke with a couple of random Japanese cuties we met at the bar.
…What happened after, my friends, will have to wait!
– All my opponents, for being very professional with how they handled themselves. I was very impressed; thanks to you all.
– Japan, for being my new favorite country!
– The Worlds event itself, for being quite the epic learning experience
– Lastly, my fellow Canadians, for being so supportive of each other through out the entire weekend. See you in Paris, players!
– Nothing! Ha! I’m so silly.
I guess to finish off I’d like to give one last shout-out to
for supplying all the T-Shirts we Canadians were sporting. KYT, you’re the best!
That’s it for now. Thanks again for readin’, and I’ll see you all in Paris 2011.