Birthday Wishes Do Come True: GP Miami *6th*

Peter Ingram got his birthday wish of making Top 8 of Grand Prix Miami. He tells you about his Naya deck and the changes he’s making for #SCGMA this weekend.

I’d decided that I was going to go to Grand Prix Miami earlier this month when my dad said he would buy my flight as a birthday present. I came to Miami with the goal of making Top 8 to accomplish two things: to get a Grand Prix Top 8 under my belt and to qualify for Pro Tour Theros.

The day before my flight was my birthday, June 27th. I received one of the most awesome presents from a friend in the form of Donatello ear buds (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). I even got a Donatello cake!!! 

I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Donatello is clearly the superior turtle.

After I got home from dinner at an awesome Indian restaurant, we had cake, and as I blew out the candles, I wished that I made Top 8 of Grand Prix Miami.

I didn’t wish to win; I wished to Top 8. (I thought wishing to win would be too greedy.)

It was only after making Top 8 that I realized just how badly I wanted the trophy. I reached my goal, but I’m still hungry for more. 

I guess I should introduce myself before getting into the heart of it all. 

My name is Peter Ingram, and I am 23 years old. I live on Long Island in New York. I am currently attending school and will be graduating with my Masters in Accounting in a year. 

My first Pro Tour was in Kyoto after I won a PTQ for it. After that, I managed to stay on the Pro Tour for a year and came back for Amsterdam and Paris. I was happy with my Magic accomplishments, and I pretty much decided to leave the game on my own terms; aside from a PTQ here and there I went to with friends, I pretty much stopped playing Magic altogether.

Then a few sickos who I’m sure everyone knows by the names of Reid Duke and Matt Costa had to go and start tearing it up in Magic. It made me want to be on the Pro Tour again, so I started attending more events and going to more PTQs.

After one or two failed PTQ seasons, I felt very discouraged. I spoke to my good friends Jim Davis and Max Tietze, who have both had success playing Magic, to see what I could do to improve my game and mentality. 

I think that my biggest issue was that I felt this sense of entitlement, which is a very poor outlook to have when playing Magic. I’ve done my best to overcome this and play to the best of my ability. 

The Trip

Going into GP Miami, I was unsure what to play. I’d played in the StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Philadelphia with Naya and went 7-3, losing to Esper Control, the mirror, and Jund Midrange. 

I bugged all of my friends to test Standard with me in the weeks leading up to the tournament, specifically Alec Nezin and Myles Housman.

Rather than playing in the Legacy portion of the Open Series on Sunday, I decided to drive to a PTQ since qualifying for the Pro Tour is extremely important to me. I played in a gift of an 87-player PTQ with Jund Midrange, courtesy of Max Tietze lending me his deck, and lost playing for Top 8 to R/G Aggro, which I lost to twice throughout the tournament. Gruul War Chant is quite the card…

The next night I went to my local store to play in a "Monday Night Magic," which is something I don’t do often, but I wanted to practice. I decided to play Bant Control, figuring it would be very good against the aggro decks.

Yet again, in Top 8 I lost to R/G Aggro.

I was now reluctant to play pretty much any control deck and Jund because of my thoughts on how R/G Aggro can be just so resilient and punishing.

When I arrived at the tournament hall in Miami, a lot of my friends were playing Esper. At this point, I wanted to play Jund Aggro, Esper Control, or Naya Midrange.

I felt that Jund Aggro was playing the best cards in Standard: Bonfire of the Damned, Falkenrath Aristocrat, Thundermaw Hellkite, and Domri Rade.

I thought that Esper was the best control deck because Far // Away is a huge beating on aggressive strategies. I also really like Terminus right now. 

Although I went 7-3 with Naya in Philadelphia, it was the deck I liked the most out of the decks I’d played in the past week or so. It gets to play a majority of the best cards, and Boros Reckoner is very good against the aggressive decks, especially alongside Domri Rade.

The list I played in Philly was based on Willy Edel’s deck:

After that tournament, I realized some things that I did not like about the deck. Experiment One was pretty bad, and I was much happier with a turn 1 mana accelerant. Restoration Angel has very little synergy in this deck, and I was very unimpressed with her.

I made the following changes:

-2 Restoration Angel
– 2 Experiment One
+1 Arbor Elf
+1 Flinthoof Boar
+2 Ghor-Clan Rampager

I played a bunch of games with Naya against Marius Cholewa piloting Esper. I dropped one game out of five. Then I played against U/W/R in a ten-game set and didn’t drop a game. 

I was pretty happy with my results, so I decided to test my luck in a Grand Prix Trial since I only had two byes and wanted to test the deck.

My sideboard was:

1 Assemble the Legion
2 Boros Charm
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Oblivion Ring
3 Pillar of Flame
3 Rest in Peace
2 Triumph of Ferocity
2 Unflinching Courage

I found myself undefeated at the end of the Grand Prix Trial and now for the first time ever had three byes for a Grand Prix. I’d always had two byes from either Planeswalker Points or Pro Level in the past.

After the Trial, I paid a hefty $18 for taxi ride to my hotel. I had trouble finding a room, and luckily my friend Dave Reed had some floor space. When I arrived, the first thing I saw was the tile floor. Tile floor. In a hotel. That I had to sleep on. Needless to say, I was pretty unhappy with the situation. Not only that, but it was a smoking room. But luckily I was staying with some awesome people. 

I got cozy on the floor, went to work on my decklist, and ended up here:

I’d cast Triumph of Ferocity a total of zero times throughout my testing games and the Trial. Although I thought it was an awesome card, I deemed it unnecessary. 

I added Ray of Revelation, Blasphemous Act, a second Oblivion Ring, and a Selesnya Charm to my sideboard. The Ray of Revelation was mainly for Bant Hexproof. The Blasphemous Act was for Bant Hexproof and other aggressive decks, and the second Oblivion Ring and third Selesnya Charm was for Bant Hexproof, Junk Reanimator, and Jund. 

Throughout day 1 of Grand Prix Miami, I played against R/G Aggro, two Junk Reanimator, Domri Naya, Naya Midrange (with Farseek and Aurelia, the Warleader), and Bant Hexproof.

My only loss was to Naya Midrange, and I feel like I played poorly in my match. I basically decided to ignore my gut instinct of keeping my Boros Reckoner in play and didn’t respect my opponent having Bonfire of the Damned. My board was Huntmaster of the Fells, Wolf token, Boros Reckoner, and Avacyn’s Pilgrim, and my opponent had four lands in play and a freshly played Loxodon Smiter. I played a Domri Rade and fought my Reckoner with the Smiter, clearing the way for the rest of my team, and then I got Bonfired for two, killing my board and Domri in the process. I should have either passed the turn and let my Huntmaster flip or played Domri, +1ed it, and passed.

On day 2, I played against Junk Reanimator, U/W/R, and two Bant Hexproof and won all of my matches. I drew with Reid Duke in round 14, who was playing Jund. I also drew with Matt Costa, who was playing U/W/R, after winning game 1.

I was announced in sixth place going into Top 8, and I would be on the draw against Bant Hexproof. I knew that despite being 3-0 in the matchup on the weekend that it was a very swingy one. I ended up losing in game 3, being one point shy with my Unflinching Courage. The good thing about this matchup is that you never have to be afraid of overextending your board; however, a hexproof creature in combination with an opposing Unflinching Courage is deadly. 

Here is a general idea of how I sideboarded in some of these matchups. 

Junk Reanimator

-4 Voice of Resurgence
-1 Flinthoof Boar
+1 Selesnya Charm
+2 Rest in Peace
+2 Oblivion Ring

Bant Hexproof

-2 Huntmaster of the Fells
-1 Voice of Resurgence
-3 Flinthoof Boar
-1 Thundermaw Hellkite
-1 Domri Rade
-1 Arbor Elf
+1 Blasphemous Act
+1 Selesnya Charm
+2 Oblivion Ring
+1 Ray of Revelation
+2 Pillar of Flame
+2 Unflinching Courage


-2 Selesnya Charm
-3 Bonfire of the Damned
+1 Assemble the Legion
+1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
+2 Boros Charm
+1 Oblivion Ring

The Future and M14’s Impact

Going forward with the deck, I think I am going to try cutting Huntmaster of the Fells. I’m going to be playing in StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Worcester, Massachusetts with:

-2 Huntmaster of the Fells
+1 Ghor-Clan Rampager
+1 Selesnya Charm

As for replacing Selesnya Charm in the board, it really depends on the metagame that you are predicting, but right now I’m thinking about a second Ray of Revelation.

I am really excited for the release of M14 and think that this deck will definitely grow with the addition of Scavenging Ooze and possibly Chandra, Pyromaster. I think a deck with Domri Rade and Chandra together could be quite good, although Domri does get worse the fewer creatures you play.

Unfortunately, with the addition of M14 also comes a great removal spell in the form of Doom Blade. This card is extremely good against us since its kills any creature in our deck. I predict that the addition of Doom Blade may very well be enough to push decks like this out of the format, at least until Snapcaster Mage rotates out. 

I’m sure that decks will evolve and cards like Falkenrath Aristocrat and Olivia Voldaren will become even better. It’s hard to predict how Standard will evolve exactly, but Doom Blade and Scavenging Ooze are definitely two cards to keep your eye on.

So now I’m back on the Pro Tour. But with the new system, who knows for how long.

I can tell you a few things though:

I have played in five Pro Tours, making day 2 a total of four times. I took them all for granted with the mentality of "I’ll just qualify for the next one somehow." This time around, I’m not going to take anything for granted; I’m going to put in the work and test hard.

Pete Ingram

@pingram627 on Twitter