Blessed! Part 2 – Team Rochester at GP: Chicago *Winner*

Pelcak, Aten, and Szleifer win Magic: the Gathering Grand Prix Chicago!The final account of :B’s awesome finish at Grand Prix: Chicago.

[I apologize that this took so long. I literally thought I posted it on 01/06/2005, but then John asked me about it and it wasn’t up on the site… whoops. – Knut]

If you missed part 1 of this two-part article, you can read it here

– Day 2

Unfortunately, I didn’t save any of my decks from rounds 9-12. I drafted R/B six times that day, so it was hard for me to remember deck lists and I don’t want to bore you with six of the same kind of deck. You’ll probably notice that there are 18 lands in most of my decks. I usually play 17 lands in all of my decks except for the R/B spirit deck, which tends to have a high-end curve. All of my decks were very solid and I think I had the better deck than my opponent in all of my matches.

Our strategy for the day was to have me in seat C draft the R/B spirit deck. It seems like it is the most powerful archetype right now. I also noticed that most teams think drafting Befoul early is not smart, which is not true at all. In one draft I took a second-pick Befoul after Gadiel took a White card. The other team then put their Black drafter against me only because I had the Befoul. While the Befoul was probably not going to be as powerful in the matchup, Gadiel now does not have to play against Black, which is what we wanted to happen. Little things like this seem irrelevent, but they are very important.

Gadiel drafted U/W in the B seat all day and even ended up drafting a pretty insane U/W Dampen Thought deck in the semifinals. Normally drafting the Dampen Thought deck is almost impossible because it’s too easily hated out, but they didn’t hate any cards, from us so it turned out to be pretty good. Tim drafted G/x where x usually ended up being Black. I’ve never seen anyone with an ability to win with this deck like Tim can. It felt like either Gadiel or I had to win and we would win the match, which is very comforting. Some teams ended up not drafting Green at all, which is probably a mistake, and when they did it, Tim’s deck ended up being even better than normal. All in all, I think that our draft strategy was very good and was confident throughout the day.

Round 9: Captain Jacks Buried Treasure

My Opponent: William Postlethwait

For the first Rochester draft, we got paired against Captain Jacks Buried Treasure featuring Antonino De Rosa, William Postlethwait and Alex Lieberman. The draft goes very well for us as the R/B plan works out. Tim ends up with a strong Green/Black deck and Gadiel gets a nice White/Blue deck. Our matchups all seem good, so we have confidence in winning this round. William seems like a nice guy, we wish each other luck and start game 1. He ends up with a very poor Black/White deck that was low on creatures. Game 1 I get a very bad draw and he wins with Jade Idol, some Harsh Deceivers and eventually Devouring Greed. Games 2 and 3 are very different than game 1, as I get fast draws and mow him down. Gadiel and Tim both win their matches so we sweep and move to 8-1.

Record 8-1

Round 10: RIW Redux (again)

My Opponent: Peter Jesuale

The Rochester draft was covered here. I think it’s safe to say that we “out-opened” them with our three dragons and double Nagao. It seemed like whoever kicked off the draft got the better cards the entire day. Having one Kokusho is good, but having two is even better. Since I was playing the R/B mirror, his only outs were either Distress or Rend Spirit and Rend Spirit is not an optimal out against a Kokusho. The draft coverage says that “Pelcak opened Hikari but initially figured had to take Ember-Fist Zubera for his spirit deck. NONONO! signaled Aten and Szleifer and in the end Hikari was hated away from Breider’s deck, keeping the near :B monopoly on legendary bombs in tact.” There wasn’t a thought in my mind taking the Ember-fist Zubera.

I like to signal taking other cards because it can sometimes throw the other team off of their plan and makes them panic. Giving Hikari to the other team would have been terrible and cards like that always need to be hated. We already lost to this team the day before, so we knew it was going to be a tough battle. After the draft though, I think my team knew we had far superior decks and our chances at winning were very good. Game 1 was looking fine for him until I rip a Kokusho and play it turn 6. He takes ten from the dragon, then has to chump it the rest of the game and loses in short order. Game 2 I get a very fast draw and his draw of Blood Rites, Waking Nightmare and one creature doesn’t seem very good. I get him down to six and force him to sac a guy to kill a Devouring Raged Ashen-skin Zubera and discard a Rend Spirit. He dies the next turn, putting our team up a match. Gadiel wins a close match giving us the win and putting at the top of the standings at 9-1.

Record 9-1

Round 11: Doombot

My Opponent: Craig Kremples

This was probably the weirdest draft that we did all day. Four Blind with Angers were opened and three of them ended up in Tim’s deck. They were splashed, too. Once again, I get a solid R/B spirit deck and I think I have an advantage in my matchup. Both Gadiel and Tim’s matchups seem to be 50/50 though. After presenting my deck to Craig, he piles… and counts 42. He asks me how many cards I was playing and I said 40. He piles again and calls a judge, and I already know what I did. There were two bent lands that I thought I replaced, but all I did was add two lands, so I get a game loss and we move to game 2. Game 2 I come out of the gates very fast and his three-color awesomeness succumbs to the beats soon after. Game 3 takes about one minute, as he plays one spell, drawing all Plains and concedes on turn 5. Thanks, karma!

I wasn’t mad or anything about him calling a judge – I probably would have tried to get a free win also if I was playing against my deck. I come back to see Tim Blind with Anger Kate’s Kami of Ancient Law, destroying a Mystic Restraints that was on his Jugan, the Rising Star. Tim then Yamabushi’s Storms away a flyer and wins shortly after with another Blind. With that win, we automatically earn a spot in Top 4 even with a loss in the next round.

Record 10-1

Round 12: Voracious Cobra

My Opponent: Paul Artl

We planned on just rare drafting then offering the draw, but we didn’t want to waste time drafting, so we I.D. before the drafting starts, which puts us in first place going into the Top 4 guaranteeing $700 a piece if we lose in the semifinals.

Top 4: Voracious Cobra

My Opponent: Paul Artl

The Top 4 draft decks were all rather poor, especially my thirteen creature Rag Dealer deck. The Top 4 decks are posted here, but I’ll list mine anyway.

Deck Name: City of Compton

1 Rage Dealer

1 Ashen-skin Zubera

2 Cruel Deceiver

1 Nezumi Graverobber

2 Ember-fist Zubera

1 Hearth Kami

1 Nezumi Ronin

2 Villainous Ogre

1 He Who Hungers

1 Gutwrencher Oni

1 Dance of Shadows

2 Devouring Greed

1 Hideous Laughter

1 Waking Nightmare

1 Bling with Anger

1 Devouring Rage

2 Yamabushi’s Flame

1 Yamabushi’s Storm

10 Swamp

7 Mountain

The spells in the deck seem very good, but the Greeds and Rage lack in strength, as I have only 13 creatures and only eight spirits. On Magic Online I normally have around 14 spirits for the deck. I made one huge mistake during the draft, taking a Yamabushi’s Flame over Hearth Kami late in the draft. Normally this would be correct, but I was short on creatures and the Flame wouldn’t have even been good in Hron’s deck. My only real chance at winning this match was drawing my creatures or Nezumi Graverobber, which he could not deal with. Gadiel’s deck was nice though and was featured in a write-up here. He ended up being the Blue/White Dampen Thought deck. I did not want to go this route, but my teammates thought it was okay. They didn’t even try to stop us making the deck, as Hron could have taken Distresses, and they let us have a couple of Eerie Processions, so it turned out to be a good decision.

Game 1 I draw Graverobber early and he has no answer for it. The game eventually goes to a stalemate with him having have two Soilshapers and tons of other guys. I have Nighteyes the Desecrator out and he’s letting me attack with a Cruel Deceiver every turn without blocking. My hand contains Devouring Greed and 2 Yamabushi’s Flames, so once I get him down to ten, I Greed him for four and then Flame him out for the win. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think he made a mistake by taking all that damage from the Deceiver.

Game 2 goes by a lot faster than game 1 did. He goes nuts with Soilshaper early and I don’t draw Graverobber, so I eventually lose to a Moss Kami and Feral Deceiver. Game 3 I am fortunate enough to draw Graverobber again, although I don’t that it mattered because he drew tons of lands and was overrun by Villainous Ogre and Nezumi Ronin along with Nighteyes. At the end of the first game between Gadiel and Mike Hron, Hron asks to be separated from his opponent for sideboarding, which I thought was very smart on his part. I’m pretty sure Hron was trying to get Gadiel to think that he was adding a lot of cards to his deck, so that he was less likely to lose to a Dampen Thought. I don’t think the idea occurred to Gadiel for him to side in his creatures, but it didn’t end up mattering, because Hron didn’t add any cards to his deck. Gadiel ended up losing the next two games reagrdless, so the pressure was on Tim. I don’t know how he managed to win with his deck, but he did and we moved on to the finals.

Finals: Gindy’s Sister’s Fan Club

My Opponent: Charlie Gindy

Deck Name: City of Compton

1 Ashen-skin Zubera

1 Bloodthirsty Ogre

2 Cruel Deceiver

1 Gutwrencher Oni

1 Scuttling Death

2 Villainous Ogre

1 Wicked Akuba

2 Brutal Deceiver

3 Frostwielder

1 Kami of Fire’s Roar

1 Pain Kami

1 Soul of Magma

1 Devouring Greed

1 Waking Nightmare

1 Blind with Anger

1 Devouring Rage

1 Yamabushi’s Flame

9 Mountain

8 Swamp

1 Lantern-Let Graveyard

My deck ended up the best at the table, and I was paired against the worst deck on their team, so I had high hopes. Normally I don’t play the on-color dual lands, but this deck really needed it. Normally Black has all the double casting cost cards, but I had 3 Frostwielders, so I felt that I needed that Lantern-lit Graveyard and it turned out to be good. By this time in the tournament, my brain was racked and I just wanted it to end. Game 1 I missed a point from Frostwielder, then the next turn I play two spirits triggering Soul of Magma twice targeting his Hundred-talon Kami. I then ping it with Frostwielder, notice that there’s a Long-forgotten Gohei in play, think about cliffing, and I lose shortly after. By this time, Gadiel has won the match already and Tim is up a game. Game 2 we both get solid draws with me going turn 4 Kami of Fire’s Roar turn 5 Scuttling Death. It doesn’t matter though, as both my teammates win and I just concede. It’s nice having both your teammates win for a round, especially in the finals.

So that’s how we did it. It sounds a lot easier than it actually was, but luck was definitely on our side. Tim Aten is in fact the master of winning with awful decks. While we both only lost once, the decks that he was winning with were atrocious, while mine were very good. I think he made up for that draft earlier as well. Hopefully our team can continue our money streak at Pro Tour: Atlanta in March, which should be fun. Being rated number one in the world for Team Limited has to count for something right? See you in Nagoya. :B

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