Anything Semi-Pro: How I Top 8ed Dallas

Monday, April 18 – Austin Bursavich, or sneakyhomunculous as he’s famously known on Magic Online, Top 8ed GP Dallas/Fort Worth with Caw-Blade. Read his tale here.

Most of you probably have no clue who I am, and that would make perfect sense as I rarely go to big events and never actually win. However, I play a
lot of Magic Online (sneakyhomunculous), and the hours I put in make me very confident whenever I do occasionally attend an event.

I go on little spurts with Magic where I play nonstop for weeks or months, trying to break down a format in order to win a PTQ or the MOCS. Then I go
through a stage where I won’t play for months at a time, due to school, work, or just boredom with the current format.

At the beginning of this year, I had the fire, and I played a lot. I was in the top 5 in the Player of the Year race (Online of course) after
two months, and I had finished ninth and sixteenth in the two MOCS Championships respectively (daggers). But I began playing less and less as school
was picking up and found myself only playing the PTQs and not even qualifying for the MOCS. Then my day came, and I spiked one of the PTQs with
Faeries… But with PT Nagoya being months away and the fact that the new set will be out well before the PT, I was left with zero motivation to continue

However, I had planned on attending Dallas months ago whenever it was announced as it is only a seven-hour drive from where I live. When I found out
that my brother knew some girls (who happen to love partying) who lived in Dallas and would provide us a free place to stay, I knew it was going to be
a good weekend.

A few weeks before the GP, I won a Grand Prix Trial with U/W Caw-Blade, and going into the event, I was as confident as ever, but I went in with a
different mindset than usual. I didn’t actually care about winning. I hadn’t played much at all in the past month, and I was just looking forward to
having a good time and seeing all of my


I thought about playing U/B Control because I had all the cards and knew it seemed pretty good, but then after playing some games, I realized that if
you aren’t French, Japanese, or Adam Yurchick, you’re just at a disadvantage when playing that deck. I then settled in on U/W Caw-Blade with Emeria
Angel because it’s easily the best deck, every matchup has a lot of play, and I was very comfortable playing it.

I stopped by the local shop to pick up the cards I needed, and we were off to Dallas. The car ride flew by as we blazed through Michael Jackson’s
greatest hits CD and some Rodney Carrington stand up.

We arrived at the girls’ upscale apartment right in the heart of Uptown Dallas to a fully stocked fridge and pantry, music blaring, and three beautiful
girls ready to party (how lucky, run better, etc). We decided to just hang out at the apartment for the first night, and it ended up being a blast.
Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep at all, but it wouldn’t matter too much since I planned on just taking it easy Friday.

At around noon, Tannon and I decided to head to the site, which was actually in downtown Fort Worth about 25 miles away. The drive wasn’t bad at all
and obviously well worth it. When we arrived, we both needed to get a few cards to finish our decks, but the site was mostly pretty dead, and without
dropping some cash at the dealers, we would just have to wait until more people showed up. I only needed a few Celestial Colonnades and Day of
Judgments, and I was really itching to play a grinder, so Tannon lent me the cards, and I casually signed up as the 32nd person. Thank God the run
goods didn’t stop there.

The first match of the trial was the only interesting one. It was against some guy from Iowa playing Eldrazi Green, and he seemed to be playing pretty
well. We traded the first two long games and only had about fifteen minutes left for game 3. I remember his having two Joraga Treespeakers and my using
Tumble Magnet to try and slow him down, but the turn I used my last counter in his upkeep, he Summoning Trapped into a Wurmcoil Engine. The turn after
that, he played Terastodon and killed my sword, one of my lands, and one of his lands.

The game was looking pretty rough, but I had a Jace and some options between Into the Roil, Oust, and another Jace. I realized we were low on time and
felt like I needed to just play really fast, as going to time would result in sudden death, and after taking some Wurmcoil hits, I’d surely lose. I
honestly don’t remember exactly what happened, but I do know that I Into the Roiled my Tumble Magnet, bounced his Wurmcoil like five times, Ousted his
Terastodon, and somehow won right as time was called. I feel like I played very tight for having to rush, and it made my confidence level rise even
higher going into the rest of the grinder.

The only other interesting thing that happened was getting a game loss for “tardiness.” I was signing up for the main event with my bffs had_it,
Not__Close, and Mini_Gnarls whenever my round was apparently announced. I’d been running back and forth between the booth and the column where the
pairings had been posted the previous rounds, and they were still not up, so I just went back to the booth to continue my hustle for a free entry.
Whenever I got it all settled, I walked over to the tables where our matches were being played, and I realized the round had started, as everyone was
seated and shuffling up. I just casually sat across from my opponent and began shuffling.

As we were presenting, a judge finally arrived and informed me and the guy next to me that we would be receiving game losses for tardiness. I asked him
questions about why the pairings weren’t posted in the same place and how two people out of the eight somehow didn’t show up in time, and he
just wouldn’t answer me. I asked him multiple questions over and over again, and he answered none of them.
After my ten minutes of pleading, he said, “Okay, so game loss.” I then asked if he was the head judge for our event, and he said yes. I then asked for
a ten-minute time extension due to arguing, and he responded, “You do not get time extension for game loss tardiness.”

Justice was obviously served, as I quickly 2-0ed my opponent and proceeded to win the next round, moving me on to the finals, where we split the prize.

I spent the next few hours desperately searching out 3v3 opponents, but finding three people insane enough to draft against me, Not__Close, and had_it
was clearly not happening. Tannon and I decided it would be best to just drive back to the apartment and get some sleep.

We stopped in Arlington to get some food, and after a little searching, we decided on some Buffalo Wild Wings sports bar equivalent. Of course, the
food was mediocre at best, and nothing really interesting happened. We were in and out in around thirty minutes and headed towards the apartment. I
then called my brother only to realize they had all gone out, and getting into the apartment would be impossible. This left us with only one option…
meet them out.

After multiple phone calls and much haggling, I finally squeezed an address out of him, and luckily we found the little bar without much trouble. All I
could think about was how I was going to phrase my question asking my brother for the keys to the apartment, when Tannon came out of nowhere and just
told him straight up that we wanted to go back and sleep. No more than fifteen minutes later, we were in the apartment, and after showering, I passed
out instantly.

I woke up around 8 am to five or six drunken people yelling, and after sneaking in a shower before it was “my turn,” Tannon and I headed off to the
site again. Except this time, we packed our bags, hoping to find a closer, calmer place to crash for the night.

Day One:

The first three rounds flew by with a trip to Subway, some birding of the ChannelFireball crew, and watching Gerard play his round 3 match. You might
not believe it, but I actually saw him mulligan (seven lands)… and before I knew it, pairings were up for round four.

I had brought my headphones with me, and I decided to take a page out of Kibler’s book by picking a song and listening to it before every round. I was
really glad I did it, and I’m going to continue to do it at every tournament I play in, as it really did get me in the zone.

I honestly think that almost all of the mistakes I make in games are due to pure lack of concentration. People write all these articles about punting,
and how to get better, and tilting, etc… If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to just make sure you’re in the zone and fully concentrating
on each game, one game at a time.

Every time I mess up—whether I realize it instantly, or someone tells me later what I should’ve done—I almost always realize that the play I made was
incorrect. I know I’m good enough to make the correct play—not only because I understand that it is in fact correct, but also because I always
understand exactly why it is correct. The only explanation I have for making the wrong play is pure lack of concentration. I can never pinpoint the
exact reason I broke my concentration, but I’m sure it’s usually a combination of things: all the excess noise, the pressure of time, or maybe feeling
as if I’m supposed to win because my opponent is playing badly or because it’s a great matchup. There are so many little things that can cause it, and
boom, I punt. Just make sure that you realize every single game in these big tournaments is important.

If you play every single game as if it is game three to Top 8 the Pro Tour, the single most important game of your life, you’ll surely begin to make
less and less mistakes.

Okay, now on to the actual tournament!

Round 4 (Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa with Boros)

Normally, I’d be a little flustered having to play the best player in the world right out of the gate, and I would probably lose my concentration. But
the combination of blaring my song (“I Hate College Remix,” Sam Adams) and the fact that I knew Paulo’s list and actually his exact plans for
sideboarding, I was right in the zone and ready to battle. I’d just been sitting at a table next to him ten minutes before as he discussed his plans
against Caw-Blade with Luis and Martin. He talked about how much he didn’t like Stoneforge Mystic in the matchup because it was always too slow if he
didn’t have it on turn 2, and he also asked if taking Bolts out seemed right. LSV said that he would keep them for game two, but if he noticed that his
opponent was tentative to equip into open mana, he would just take them out for game three.

Game one I had a really good opening hand with my one maindeck Condemn, a Squadron Hawk, and a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. He played a T1 Steppe Lynx, as
I just played a turn 2 Hawk; on turn 3, he played a Goblin Guide and an Arid Mesa. In response to his cracking the Mesa, I Condemned the Steppe Lynx
and felt like I was in control of the game. However, I don’t think I ever hit my fourth land and eventually died to a Koth I couldn’t keep under

For game two I knew that he would be “Going Big” with Inferno Titans and Gideon Juras, so I made sure not to cut all of my counterspells, as he’d
probably expect me to. I actually boarded in two Flashfreeze along with all of the other obvious cards. I knew he’d be boarding in some number of
Crushes and probably keep in his Bolts, so my plan was to actually cut all four of my Mystics, both Swords, both Tumble Magnets, and just turn into U/W

He ended up mulliganing to five, and his first play was turn 4 Koth of the Hammer. Again, my opener was very strong, but it only had two lands. This
game would’ve been a breeze if I’d just made my land drops, but despite his mulligans and slow start, he actually made a game out of it. I know I had a
Celestial Purge, 2 Ousts, and multiple counterspells, and I just played the game in a way where he never had a chance to resolve a Titan or a Gideon. I
eventually drew the lands I needed and killed him with a Baneslayer Angel.

For game three, I wasn’t sure if he even noticed that I’d cut my Mystics, as I easily could’ve just not drawn one, so I didn’t change anything. Now I
remember this game very well. He had turn-one Goblin Guide, and I hit a land off of the trigger. I Ousted it. On turn 2 he played a Plated Geopede, and
I played a Squadron Hawk. At this point, my hand was Jace Beleren, Baneslayer Angel, Flashfreeze, another Hawk, and lands. Turn 3 he replayed his
Goblin Guide and played a fetchland. I decided to block his Geopede with my Hawk, and he still fetched, playing a Spikeshot Elder after combat. On my
turn, I decided playing Jace and drawing a card would be better than just throwing a Hawk in the way of Spikeshot, as Jace would get me an extra card
and at least gain me two life.

He untapped and played another Goblin Guide, but he missed his fourth land drop. He swung two at Jace and the rest at me. I continued my streak of
never missing a Goblin Guide trigger and put two more free lands into my hand. I drew an Emeria Angel and knew I had no choice. I played my fourth
land, played Emeria Angel, and said a prayer. Not really… I just said go.

At this point, I was at twelve, and if he had basically anything, I was probably dead. I did have a Baneslayer, but if my Emeria Angel died, or he
played a Koth, I think Baneslayer would’ve been too little too late. Fortunately, he missed his land drop and was forced to jam his team in. I blocked
the Spikeshot Elder and fell to seven. He just replaced his Elder with a new one. I drew a Gideon and decided playing it over Baneslayer would be
slightly safer. He again missed his land drop and lost his Elder to my Angel after using it to off my token. On my turn 6, I drew a Squadron Hawk, and
that basically locked up the game, as I could just play two Hawks this turn and leave up Flashfreeze; next turn, I could play Baneslayer with
Flashfreeze backup while making tokens and slowly eating all of his guys. By turn 8, he still hadn’t made his fourth land drop and was forced to
concede to my team of Angels and Gideon.

2-1 4-0

Round 5 (Dave Shiels with U/W Caw)

Now this is getting a little out of hand. I know it’s a Grand Prix, and I’m going to get paired against some good players, but right out of the gate?
Back-to-back rounds I sit down across from my ringer opponent and can’t help but notice all of the durdles around me I could be playing against.

All of these mirrors blend together, but I do remember a few important things from this match. I know that game one he was on the play and mulliganed,
and I kept a pretty loose seven without a two-drop. I think I had Jace, Gideon, Pierce, and four lands.

I work part time as a manager at the Gerard Fabiano Mental Institution for Mulliganers, and so mulliganing that hand never crossed my mind, but I guess
I wouldn’t fault you for having a different opinion.

He proceeded to land turn 2 and 3 Stoneforge Mystics, and I was never in the game. However, he played very deliberately; okay, there’s no need to beat
around the bush… the kid ended the tournament X-0-4… he played really, really slowly.

Game two was more drawn out, and I beat him with around twelve minutes left on the clock. We sped things up a little bit for game three, but when I
realized that I was losing my grip on the game, I stopped pushing him to hurry up. So he went back to playing really slowly; however, I think he
realized just in time that he had a hold on the game, and he sped up right when he needed to. He beat me while time was being called.

1-2 4-1

Round 6 (Chris Murphy with Boros)

I have to admit I was a little tilted having to play two tough matches in a row, especially since I lost one of them and felt as though I could have
easily won. Not even my song could get me in the zone for this match, as I played very, very poorly game one. I could have killed a Steppe Lynx
with a Mortarpod, but he missed a land drop, so for some reason, I just decided I would wait. He then drew a fetchland and got in four free damage… I
felt like I was winning at every point of the game, but somehow I just lost.

As I was trying to figure out my last few decisions in sideboarding, a judge came over and told us we were getting deck-checked. Long story short, my
opponent was using a Hero of Oxid Ridge that was painted over as his “Divider” between his deck and sideboard, and since this card is very playable in
his Boros deck, he would be getting a game loss for some sort of mis-registering infraction. Mise!

Game three was a breeze as he was stuck on three Plains after a mulligan, and I had a great hand anyway. I was at around 46 life after killing three
Koths with my Baneslayer Angel. Whenever he finally got his second red source, he quickly Arc Trailed, two to Baneslayer and one to me. He then Bolted
my Baneslayer, which happened to have a Mortarpod equipped to it. “Okay, uhh, um, it’s a 5/6″… instead of scooping or looking embarrassed, he just
confidently said, “Your go.”

2-1 5-1

Round 7 (Matt Breckon with U/W Caw)

Again, all of these mirror matches blend together, and I actually don’t remember much about this one. I do know that Emeria Angel made a lot of tokens
this match because after every round, my friends would ask me if it was good for me, and it always was. Another thing I remember was that I won a long
game one and that game two was going to turns, and I was just playing to not lose but ended up winning on turn 3 anyway.

2-0 6-1

Round 8 (Evan Coffey with U/W/b Caw)

I know Evan because he is from the South, so I naturally see him at our PTQs, and he’s one of the better players, so again I naturally notice him. On
top of that, he recently moved to Biloxi where my brother was living, and they apparently became pretty good friends.

In game one, he played a turn 3 Jace Beleren, and the game started to get out of control. However, it seemed as if he was holding back, as he could
have played an extra Hawk for multiple turns and just didn’t. With all of my Hawks and Emeria Angels, I began to overwhelm him. I was pretty sure he
didn’t have any Day of Judgments in his list, and he definitely didn’t cast one this game.

In game two, I remember playing Jace, the Mind Sculptor right into his one open U. Knowing the little things, like the fact that the U/W/b versions of
Caw-Blade don’t have room for Spell Pierce, is obviously very important. Despite resolving the Jace, I lost a very long, drawn-out game where I was
always behind. I thought maybe I should have scooped earlier, but I felt as though I had a chance to get back into it.

As we started game three, we only had five minutes left, and Evan asked me if I would agree that if someone had a dominating board position or clearly
was going to win, then the other person would scoop. I happily agreed, as I knew a draw would be bad for both of us, and we would have to still win the
next round in order to even make Day 2.

We both had solid draws, and it probably would’ve been a pretty excellent game if we weren’t playing so fast. Time was called, and a couple of judges
came over to watch us. In their eyes, neither of us could win before turns were up, so it didn’t make sense that we were both spending so much time
thinking. On the fourth of the five extra turns, Evan struggled with what to do with the Gideon in his hand when one of the judges said, “I’m going to
need you to make a decision.” So, he played Gideon, +2ed it, and passed the turn, and as soon as I entered my attack step, he knew he was about to be
very far behind, as I could safely kill his Gideon without losing my army except for a lone Hawk. He was super uncomfortable with the situation because
the judges were rushing us to sign the match slip.

Evan told me he just didn’t feel comfortable scooping here, and I hastily responded with, “Well I don’t feel comfortable being your friend anymore.”
This was a little uncalled for, but he was the one who suggested the idea of scooping to the person who was clearly winning, and I was clearly winning.
The judge actually gave me a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct and told me she needed me to sign the slip. I ignored her and pleaded my case with
Evan a little further, asking to check his top two cards just to make sure he wasn’t getting out of it. Sure enough, a land and a Mana Leak.

However, he told me that his problem was that the judges made him rush, and he felt as though he would’ve attacked before he played the Gideon, and the
game would’ve been different if the judges had not been there. I totally understand where he is coming from now, and at the time, I didn’t think about
his point of view. But again, the judges pushed me to sign the slip, so I just pushed it towards Evan and let him fill it out. He filled it out 2-1 in
my favor.

2-1 7-1

Round 9 (David Gomez with U/W Caw)

This was probably my most well played match of the tournament. I was on the draw for game one, and I mulliganed to five into Spell Pierce, two Emeria
Angels, Gideon, and a Glacial Fortress; he kept seven, and I was not going to four, so we were off. I naturally drew land and Preordain as my first two
draws, and I Preordained into a Squadron Hawk and Celestial Colonnade, both of which I kept.

We actually both got stuck on four lands for a long time, and he basically copied my play every single turn. I would play a Hawk and leave two open,
and so would he. Whenever we started playing real spells, I just came out ahead on every street. He tried to play a Jace and got it Pierced; I landed
my own Jace and brainstormed. He then legend ruled me, but then I started the Emeria Angel train. Whenever he finally conceded, there were only
thirteen minutes left in the round.

I mulliganed into another bad hand, but I just refused to go to five again. However, he kept another hand with no two-drop, so all hope was not lost.
The game was a very big grind, but I got pretty lucky and ended up having complete control of the game when time was called. I had turn 5, and I was at
like seventeen life, and for some reason, he hadn’t conceded. There were a few judges watching, and I was trying to figure out the funniest thing I
could do on my turn, but nothing seemed to come to me. So I just played a second Jace and said fateseal you twice, and the judges all made these faces,
and two of them went to say something at once when I just scooped them up into my yard and said “Go.” A good way to end Day 1.

1-0-1  8-1

After playing Paulo and Shiels right out of the gate, on top of the nail-biter with Evan, ending 8-1 was definitely satisfying. Luckily, Tannon had
worked on getting us a place to stay, and John and Brian were nice enough to let us crash on their floor in the Sheraton only a few blocks from the
convention center. Tannon, Mark, and I got dinner at the nice bar inside of the Omni hotel, and then we did a commons-only cube draft before going to
bed. I really wanted to just get the draft over with, so I could go swimming, and after 3-0ing Tannon, I quickly ran to the door of the pool only to
realize it was locked and now closed for the night. Dejected, I went up to the room to pass out.

Day 2

The event started back up at 9 am, so naturally we had to get up pretty early. After showering and grabbing a blueberry muffin from Starbucks on the
way, I was ready to battle.

Round 10 (Jesse Hampton with U/W Caw)

Blah blah blah more mirrors. But no seriously, if you’re going to be playing in the upcoming Standard PTQ season, you should definitely play this deck
and have a very good plan and sense for the mirror. This is about the time where I really started to realize how to play the mirror and which cards I
wished I had in my deck and also the ones I wished I didn’t have.

Jesse played an Inkmoth Nexus in game one, and the sheer threat of it made me realize that I was dumb for not playing at least one. I had free
reins to Jace and bounce his Mystic, but the fact that he had a Nexus along with a Sword made this play impossible and easily could have won him the
game singlehandedly just by being there.

This match was just yet another grind, and I just seemed to always have the Pierce/Leak for Jace/Gideon while my opponents didn’t. We went to time in
game two after I had won game one, and I think I won on turn 2 of extra turns. Something interesting came up in the game when I was a little behind and
used Jace to brainstorm three turns in a row despite his being able to just kill it off with Mortarpod. It was at two loyalty, and he had a Mystic and
some Hawks he could throw at it. However, he just never did it and allowed me to get two “extra” brainstorms out of it. I asked him about it after, and
he just said he obviously couldn’t do it because I played the game as if I had a second Jace, and if I played a second, he would just be dead. It makes
sense, but I didn’t have another Jace, so I guess I just got lucky…

2-0 9-1

Round 11 (Guillaume Wafo-Tapa with U/B Control “obv”)

At this point, I was a little relieved that I’d finally be playing something other than a mirror, but there are obviously many other opponents I would
rather have. Guillaume won the die roll, but luckily he is a nice guy, or maybe he just felt bad because he knows he is so much better than everyone
is… at any rate, he let me go first.

I opened on a turn 2 Mystic, and he went for its Throat immediately; luckily I had a Hawk and won from there. He never had a discard spell, so he
couldn’t get rid of the sword, and if he tried to play anything, he knew it would just get countered and then he would get sworded. By the time he was
at about ten, he went for something, got it countered, and just quit when I sworded him.

Game two he politely let me go first again, and I had a pretty solid hand with Mystic, Leak, Divine Offering, Jace, and two lands. However, I didn’t
draw my third land until about turn 6, and by this time, he had drawn five extra cards with Jace Beleren and played three discard spells. A Precursor
Golem sealed it, and we were off to game three.

I started off with a mulligan into Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Day of Judgment, Mystic, and three lands. He thought for a long time about his hand, so I
knew something about it must be sketchy. He played an Island on turn 1; I played Mystic on 2. He played Scalding Tarn on turn 2, so I just played my
land and passed, planning on flashing in Sword. At this point, I realize he probably kept a hand with no black mana, but he untapped and played a Tar
Pit (how lucky). I flashed in Sword and untapped. At this point, I had another land, the Wrath, the Jace, a Leak, and a freshly drawn Mystic. I cast
the Mystic before I played my land, and he thought for a while and finally Leaked it. At this point, the game was over, as I played a land, equipped,
swung, untapped, Jaced, and brainstormed. He untapped and played a Swamp that he drew and attacked my Jace. But it was too little too late, as I just
untapped and ripped a Hawk, played two Hawks, attacked him, untapped, and Tectonic Edged his Tar Pit, and passed. He played a land and went for Jace;
when, I showed him the Leak, he extended the hand.

2-1 10-1

Round 12 (Mark Wallace with Eldrazi Green)

Neither of these games was very close, as he was plagued by mulligans and stumbled on mana. I remember game two I Ousted his Treespeaker and bounced it
with Jace a few times while he was stuck on four lands. Eventually, I started fatesealing him and never even had to put anything on the bottom.

2-0 11-1

Round 13 (Owen Turtenwald with RUG)

This was a very quick match, as none of the three games were very close at all. He turn 2ed Cobra into Jace one game, and I had Hawks and counterspells
vs. his do-nothing hands the other two games.

2-1 12-1

After this round, I found myself listening in on a nice heart-to-heart conversation between Jason Ford and Korey McDuffie about how much they had
learned about life in the past few years. I can definitely relate to a lot of the stuff they were talking about, especially since we probably play
about the same amount of Magic, are the same age, and have the same general lifestyle. It was only fitting that I’d get paired down against Korey and
could ultimately scoop him in to the Top 8. (I wasn’t positive about that at the time though.)

Round 14 (Korey McDuffie with U/W Caw)

He didn’t really ask about scooping or if I was a lock or anything, so I just began shuffling up. I had sort of decided in my head that if I beat him,
I would just sign the slip 1-1-1 because I knew I’d get in with a draw, as my breakers were the nuts. However I was scared that if I ended up losing, I
might get paired against someone who couldn’t draw or someone who would want to dreamcrush.

My heart wasn’t fully in this match, and I kept two one-landers, and he crushed me. I actually won one of the games where I kept a one-lander on the
play, but this match didn’t matter for me, and he was playing for his life. He played better than I did, and he deserved to win. I’m just glad he beat
me, and it all worked out because if I beat him and signed it as a draw, everything would have been different, and I would’ve felt bad for not scooping
when we would have both been locks for Top 8.

1-2 12-2

Round 15 (Josh Utter-Leyton)



The Top 8 was mostly locked up, and it was a sick one, full of MTGO ringers. I filled out my absurd player profile and was ready to battle MJ. The
games honestly weren’t very close, but you can read about them here.

The semifinal against Orrin was a good match, and it was covered pretty well here also.

I lost game one, and while I was shuffling up, I decided I really needed to take a walk and listen to my song to get back in the zone, so I lied and
said I really had to pee. I took a walk out of the hall and up some stairs, and when I got back, I was super focused for game two.

But after winning game two, I actually ended up punting game three and should have won. He played Preordain, then brainstormed with Jace (two loyalty),
then cast Cobra with RG open. He had five lands at this point, and they were all basics. On my turn, I flashed in my sword with Mystic, equipped it to
my Germ, and swung at him; he tried to bolt my Germ, but I had Pierce for it. He then had two cards in hand and discarded a Jace.

At this point, his card had to be either a Titan or another Jace. There was a slight chance it could be a Precursor or Avenger, but I think he’d keep
Jace over Precursor, and there was only one Avenger in his deck, so it was most likely Titan. So after combat, I decided I needed to kill Jace and just
hope his card was not another one, as his getting another brainstorm would surely be enough to win. My hand was Oust, another Mystic, Tectonic Edge,
and a fetchland, and I had five lands in play now also. So I threw my Germ at Jace, then moved Mortarpod to my Mystic, and finished his Jace; then I
played my other Mystic, getting my second Sword.

Now I could have Ousted his Cobra, but I was thinking if his one card was Precursor, he didn’t need Cobra to cast it, and saving Oust could buy me two
turns. But this was stupid because I had two Swords and a Sworded Mystic could hold off the Golems anyway. My further reasoning was that if he had
Titan, he still didn’t actually need the Cobra because he was on five mana, and he only needed one more for Titan. Again, I thought saving Oust would
buy me two turns if he did land Titan. What I failed to think about was that ten of his lands come into play tapped, and it was actually very likely he
had a tapland and a Titan (which he ended up having), and Ousting Cobra was correct.

If I had Ousted the Cobra, I obviously would’ve won, as he would’ve drawn the Raging Ravine and had Ravine and Inferno Titan and five lands vs. my two
Swords and Mystic… no matter what he did, he had to discard one of them this turn, and next turn, he would draw Cobra and then be facing both Swords
equipped and have no chance to get that Titan in play—not to mention I drew a Jace two turns later just to add insult to injury.

Oh well, just a $1400 and ~3 pro point punt, no big deal.

For those of you who are going to PTQ with this deck, I would definitely cut the two Tumble Magnets, one of the Swords (move it to the sideboard), one
basic, and one Spell Pierce. I would add two Ousts, two Inkmoth Nexuses, and a Jace Beleren. I’d probably change the sideboard a little bit also, but
that just depends on your local metagame.

I like four Flashfreeze a lot; the Volition Reins was solid; the Into the Roil was usually pretty good; and again the Emeria Angels were awesome. I
could write another entire article about the mirror, but this one is already getting really long. Just realize that Preordain and Squadron Hawk can be
just as important as Mystic and Jace. If your opponent plays Preordain on turn 3 before he plays a land, don’t just say okay. You should almost always
Pierce it. The same goes for Hawk on turn 2; you should almost always Leak it if you have it. And the most important thing is not getting behind. If
you’re on the draw, you’ll obviously be fighting an uphill battle, but it’s very important not to fall too far behind, as coming back is really tough.

Props: The girls for giving us a place to stay, John and Ed for letting me borrow cards, Mark Mehochko for the Emeria Angel tech, everyone for cheering
me on, all my degenerate Magic

fish for making the event fun, mtgmom.com for letting me know about the event, and finally Gerard and 3thingstoknow.com for being pro.

Slops: $6 personal pan pizzas that are actually just one slice. The judge that gave me a game loss for “tardiness.” And all of the losers at
Constructed GPs who don’t want to 3v3!

Now that I’m Qed for Nagoya and Philly, and I have some pro points, I think I am going to start going to more GPs this year and try and level up to at
least level 4.

Okay peace out,
See all you fish in Japan!