Down And Dirty – How Do You Win A PTQ?

Read Kyle Sanchez every Monday... at StarCityGames.com!
How to win a PTQ… a conundrum that’s plagued some of the best Magic minds since Organized Play began. Strategy, mental focus, deck choice and construction… it all goes into creating that perfect formula of success. Today’s Down And Dirty sees Kyle interview a host of top-level pros (and me) and ask them that most pertinent of questions. Just hoe DO you win a PTQ?

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Zizek! This guy is amazing, check him out!

Here’s another Zizek Video. And another, for those interested.

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I wanted to write an article about how to win a PTQ, but I’ve never actually won one.


“Won one.”

So instead of babbling on about how to win a PTQ, I’ve searched out some of the best players in our current age and asked them three simple questions. Before you complain about how I didn’t do any writing this article… suck it! It was actually much harder to assemble this elite class and get them to do this than it has ever been for me to write an article. Usually it takes between 2-4 hours to finish an article, depending on how much I want to include. In this case I had to spend a good three and a half days of searching to get all these exotic names on one page.

So… yeah!

First off, how many PTQ wins / Top 8s have you had?

Adam Yurchick: Seven wins, twenty Top 8s.

Billy Moreno: Four wins, five Top 8s.

Chris McDaniel (StrWrs): One win, four Top 8s.

Paulo Vitor Damn Da Rosa: Four wins, seven Top 8s. Wait, no! six wins, twelve Top 8s!

Gadiel Szleifier: One win, eight Top 8s, gave away two slots in the finals.

Ken Krouner: Three wins, eighteen Top 8s. I haven’t played in one in at least three years though.

Gerard Fabiano: Seven wins, twenty-five Top 8s.

Steven Sadin: Three wins, twenty one Top 8s, and sold one slot.

J Evan Dean: Nine wins, thirty-four Top 8s.

Ervin Tormos: Four wins, twenty three Top 8s, gave away three slots in the finals.

Rogier Maaten: One win, Twenty-five Top 8s.

Tim Aten: Four wins, ten Top 8s, one dump.

Paul Cheon: Four wins, twelve or so Top 8s.

Luis Scott Vargas: Five wins, ten Top 8s.

Eugene Levin: Three wins, seven Top 8s.

Thomas Lapille: Four wins, seventeen Top 8s.

Kenji: Six wins, eighteen Top 8s.

SmarterChild: How should I know?

Rich Hoaen: No clue…twelve wins, twenty Top 8s?

Brian David Marshall: Two wins, ten or so Top 8s.

Tiago Chan: Twenty wins, thirty Top 8s.

Craig Stevenson: Six or seven wins, fifteen to twenty Top 8s.

Gerry Thompsen: Twelve wins, thirty or so Top 8s. Sold a bunch of slots also.

Cedric Phillips: Five wins, nine Top 8s.

Frank Karsten: One win, twelve Top 8s. (It was a team event… I’ve actually never won a singles event in my life!)

Rasmus Sibast (Oots!): Six wins, fourteen Top 8s, sold the slot in two or three of those.

How do you win a PTQ?

Adam Yurchick: Play a good deck, go in knowing your going to win, and just play better than everyone you play against. That’s what I always do.

Billy Moreno: I don’t have any secret tech. You’ve just got to feel like you’re the best player in the room.

StrWrs: I didn’t lose a game in the only PTQ I won, so that certainly helps. I’m not a big PTQ’er, I gravy trained really quickly.

Paul Vitor Damo Da Rosa: I don’t any more, but you really have to be prepared for anything.

Gadiel Szleifier: By proving mental, physical, and moral superiority in comparison with other top mages in your area.

Ken Krouner: You just have to play very well and get very lucky, its a pretty simple formula.

Gerard Fabiano: Easy… play well. If you lost, you made a mistake.

Steve Sadin: Winning a PTQ is very, very difficult. There are a bunch of different obstacles that you have to overcome in order to walk away with an invite.

No matter how good you are, you can’t reliably win a PTQ. You have to catch so many breaks to actually win a tournament. But, if you are good, you can win a PTQ, just so long as you let yourself.

For Constructed it’s really, really important to have a deck that is good enough to take home an invite. This probably sounds pretty dumb. “Jeeze Steve, so what you are telling me is that I have to be able to win a PTQ to win a PTQ? Thanks a lot!” But it’s actually a really useful thing to keep in mind. I’ve played in a nauseating amount of PTQs that I didn’t properly prepare for, but despite my lack of preparation I was still able to make Top 8. During a lot of these PTQs, usually while IDing into the Top 8, I would realize that my deck was actually incapable of winning the tournament because it wasn’t capable of beating the best, most prepared player(s) in the room.

I think the single most important skill for winning Limited PTQs is to be good at creature combat. If you are really good at the attack phase you will always be able to win your fair share of qualifiers.

It’s very, very important not to go on tilt at any tournament, but it’s especially important to stay level headed in PTQs. It’s very rare that you will be able to lose more than a match in any given qualifier and remain in contention for an invite. That means that if you lose a match, then proceed to go on tilt for even a single match, your tournament can be essentially over before you even get a chance to run into a massive, unreal, bad beat.

J Evan Dean: You just have to play to your strengths. If you’re an aggro player, play an aggressive deck. If you’re a combo or control player, play those decks. You just have to find your niche.

Ervin Brake Pedal: I’m just a lot better than the competition. So many random donks at PTQs.

Rogier Maaten: Just by being better than the other players, I guess. If not, just to keep trying until you win.

Tim Aten: Basically, there are two ways to win a PTQ:

1) It’s just “your day”… you’re an at least reasonable player and you just happen to bring you’re A-Game that day, little bit of luck, etc.

2) You just outpower the field by so much between your playskill and deck choice that it’d be hard for you to lose.

Neon Cheon: Ask Luis, he’s better than I am.

Luis Scott Vargas: I generally just play one round at a time, and don’t really worry about how many I have to win. Playing control decks in a PTQ field also seems to be pretty important.

Eugene Levin: Bribe your opponent in the finals… it’s the easiest way to get it done (at least, it was when it used to be legit). Nowadays, you’ve just gotta be lucky. It’s so much harder when you can’t buy your way to the PT.

Kenji: Practice a lot.

Thomas Lapille: Show up with the best deck, and get a little lucky. How you get the best deck is a completely different matter.

SmarterChild: I don’t know.

Rich Hoaen: Play better than everyone else?

Brian David Marshall: You have to be in a good state of mind, and you need to be in a position to get a few breaks. If you go into a PTQ all tight and stressed about getting qualified, or getting a good deck, or whatever things people get stressed about going into tournaments, you find yourself – or at least I find myself, and many of my friends have had similar experiences – dwelling on the bad beats and not staying in the game.

Tiago Chan: Back then it was a lot easier, as all of the Portugal PTQs were two-slots, so you just needed to 2-0, or sometimes even 1-0 once in the Top 8 to get a slot at the Pro Tour because some people didn’t even want to go. Nowadays it is a lot harder to win one, mainly because of MTGO, and everyone is much better. I was always a PTQ fanatic, and I never missed a PTQ for a PT I wasn’t qualified for. It just takes persistence.

Craig Stevenson: Beat everyone there? Pick a deck that is strong against the perceived metagame, but one that doesn’t fold to randomness in the early rounds. Get lucky with pairings in the Top 8, and outlast everyone. Make sure you’re focused on the games in the Top 8, and have self-belief. Play as if it doesn’t matter, but prepare as if it does. Stick to what you know in Constructed, value power over consistency in Limited if there are loads of players, and open bombs in sealed deck. And if you’re losing, get your cock out and start tapping your lands with it. Above all, never give up. [Don’t really use your penis as a gameplay tool, especially if your deck isn’t sleeved — Craig, who suspects he’s on this “best players in the current age” list because he’s easy to contact.]

GerryT: Don’t lose to idiots (a.k.a. everyone), and just try to screw up less than your opponents.

Cedric Phillips: I would say that getting through the swiss is the hardest part. Once you get to the Top 8, you just have to change your mind-frame to one of self-belief: you are the best player in this Top 8, and no one can stop you from winning. The one time I doubted my chances of winning was in Detroit, trying to qualify for PT: Kobe. I knew I was going to have to play Brian Ziegler to win the PTQ, and that shook me a little (for whatever reason). I knew his deck was great. My deck was great, but I had the fear that I could possibly lose. I played poorly and lost. Don’t let mistakes get to you, because you can do nothing about them after they happen. Just try to minimize the amount that you make. That’s my best advice.

Frank Karsten: Pick some good team-mates! May I reiterate that I have never won a singles event in my life?

Oots!: First of all you need to be lucky, but also if it’s Constructed you really need to know your deck, unless you’re just a master. If it’s Limited, it really depends how good the cards you get are, unless it’s a 5 or 6 round PTQ. And it’s really important to believe in yourself.

Do you have a good PTQ Story?

A Damn Yurchick: I won a PTQ for Charleston with my team, but we split in finals. They got the plane tickets, we got the slot. A few weeks later, Stoddard (who already had a team), Lapille (who couldn’t go), and I teamed up and played in a PTQ for fun. We actually won the whole thing, dream-crushing our opponents in the finals out off a slot. The funny part is the only thing we got from the PTQ was product, and a plane ticket for me. We named our team “See Ya In Charleston!” But we actually didn’t see them there.

Billy Moreno: At each PTQ I won, I wasn’t wearing any underwear. Does that count?

StrWrs: Nope. Are we finished?

Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa: Haala Pumba! I’m Brazilian!

Gadiel Szleifer: Hmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. My PTQ experience is from before I started remembering stuff long term.

Ken Krouner: In one of the PTQs I won, I built a deck while going through my trade binder the night before, picking out all my favorite Blue cards to throw a deck together. It had three Ophidian, two Man-o-War, two Giant Tortoise, a random amount of Force of Will and Counterspell, a Morphling or two, a couple of Control Magic, and a singleton Dissipate to round the deck out. Just a random stack of really good Blue cards. I dunno how, but I stole game 1 against my opponent in the finals playing High Tide, then game 2 he takes foooooorever to go off, and I actually fall asleep at the table. The judge woke me up and we started shuffling for game 3, and I completely destroyed him with a heavy Ophidian had, and won off a bunch of permission to win a slot to New York for my first PT. The funny part is that at the PTQ the weekend after, everyone was playing my random pile of Blue cards!

Gerard Fabiano: I’m playing in the finals of a PTQ in Columbus after a GP, and the guy beats me 2-1. I shake his hand and say congrats. Then the head judge walks over and says “Sorry sir, but we play best out of five here in Columbus.” He got bad draws the next two games, and I Meddling Mage’d him out. I’ve never heard of best 3/5 in a PTQ finals since then.

Steven Sadin: About four years ago I had my heart dead set on playing in an Onslaught Block Constructed PTQ in Maryland. I live in New York, and I made plans to meet my friend Mike “Chunks” Ricciardi at his house in New Jersey the day before, from which we would drive over and stay in a motel the night before.

I figured my plans were pretty solid, and the trip would only set me back a few dozen bucks. Instead, there was a blackout in NYC the Friday before the PTQ, so all of the trains were out of service.

I was then faced with a decision. I could either:

A: Stay at home in the dark. Or,
B: Take a $100 cab into NJ to meet up with Chunks to go to the PTQ.

My choice was pretty easy one. I had just sold a bunch of cards on eBay and immediately spent the money on the cab ride. Once in NJ I found out that there weren’t any motels near the site, so we instead wound up staying at a hotel, something that was clearly way out of my intended expenses.

So between my cab ride, hotel, and tournament entry fee, I was out a solid $200, which is no small sum to play in a PTQ.

I was fortunate enough to make the finals of this PTQ, where I was paired up against Eric Froelich in a nigh unwinnable matchup. After some intense negotiating, he got the slot and I was able to (almost) break even on the trip.

J Evan Bean: I’m Canadian.

Ervin Tormos: It was the typical situation at a PTQ in Kentucky, except they were timing the Top 8 for some reason. I was playing in the finals and my opponent had Loxodon Warhammer out, and bashed me easily first game. On the next we go to time, and I manage to kill him on turn 5 of time. So the judges say that first blood will win next game. After many objections they find the real rules somewhere, and it says there are supposed to be ninety-minute rounds. So we go to game 3, and he gets Warhammer again. I finally manage to stabilize and start winning, but he’s at infinite life from the Warhammer. Then out of nowhere a judge comes over and says that’s time, highest life total wins.

Rogier Maaten: I had PT: Amsterdam 2004 in my sights, and I wanted to play in it very badly. Mainly because it is my home country, and how foolish would it look if I showed up to a PT an hour away from my house and I wasn’t qualified? I made long journeys to play in PTQs all over Europe to ensure that I would get to PT Amsterdam, and I had five total that I could attend. My first two I got mana screwed in the Top 8 in both of my games, which was very frustrating, but I still had three more attempts at making it, and I felt like I had a pretty good handle on the format. The next PTQ I made the Top 8 again, this time just barely on tiebreakers, and guess what? I got mana screwed again both games, having three lands in my opener and failing to draw another one in ten turns each time. No biggie, I’m a pretty level-headed guy, and I didn’t let it get me down. The next PTQ I finish at the top of the standings! So I’m thinking for sure I’m gonna win a slot this time. Nope… but instead of getting mana screwed, I get mana flooded! I felt like Europe was out to get me, and I had the entire continent breathing down my neck! My fifth and final attempt at the PT was the LCQ, and man was I nervous. I wanted it so badly. After all, I figured I was due, considering I made Top 8 at my previous four. I managed to make Top 8 yet again… and for the fifth time in a row I just got destroyed by my bad draws. Five PTQ Top 8s in a row, in the same season, for the PT an hour away from my house, and I still didn’t get to play!

Tim Aten*: I can’t think of a PTQ story. Earlier this year at GP: Montreal I saw this Japanese dude with long hair, and I was thinking “Hmm, never seen this guy before… he’s clearly going to Top 8.” And then he did.

Paul Cheon: There I was, a much younger Cheon than I am today, playing in my second PTQ ever. If I won this round I could draw next round to lock myself in the Top 8, so I was really nervous and excited at the same time. It’s game 3, he’s at five, I’m at four, and he just tapped out and slammed down Kamahl, so I’m dead on the next turn. Luckily I had 2/2 flier in play, and a Patron of the Wild in my hand. I got really excited since I was about to Top 8 my first PTQ ever. I draw for my turn, play my card face down, and attack with my 2/2, then morph up my Patron of the Wild to kill him. Turns out I morphed the Plains that I drew for my turn, and the Patron of the Wild was still in my hand! Game loss, and no Top 8 for me.

Luis Scooter Vargas: I was playing a U/W Mind’s Desire deck from Extended a couple of years ago in the quarters of a PTQ Top 8, and I was at four life, facing a reanimated Akroma. I thought forever, but finally had to play Cloud of Fairies a few times then Brain Freeze myself with five copies to have enough Blue cards to Flash of Insight for my whole deck. From there I found a Snapback, bounced the Akroma, and bought myself enough time to combo him out over the next few turns. Definitely one of the strangest plays I’ve made over the years.

Eugene Levin: I played in a team PTQ in Las Vegas once, and it was held in the middle of popular mall. So there we were in Vegas, hot girls in bikinis and tons of midriff everywhere you look. People walking by looking at what we are doing, usually laughing and continue walking… but a few actually stayed and watched the entire thing. One of them was a homeless person, I think. My team makes it to the finals, and it’s running late. The mall actually kicks us out, and we had to play out the finals on the diner table of the head judge’s girlfriend’s parent’s house. Really awkward, but at least we won!

Kenji: Yeah, yeah, I gots a story for yah! One time I was playing in dis PTQ dawg, and I was like man, I actually think I’m gonna win dis thing. So I looked over to my homies Shuhei and Saitou, and I was like: “Yo dawgs, I’m gonna win this thing!”

And they were all like: “No way Kenji, for realz?”

And I was all like: “Yeah dawgs, I’m gonna win this thing!”

Then Fujita came up to me, and he was all like: “Yo Kenji, I heard you wuz gonna win this thing?”

Then I was all like: “Yeah Broskie! I’m gonna win this thing!”

Then Oosawa came up to me, and was all like: “Yo Kenji, I don’t think your gonna win this thing man, that G over there has a pretty sick lookin’ deck yo!”

Then I slapped Oosawa in the face, and I was all like: “Oosawa! I’m gonna win this motherf***ing thing!”

And I ended up winning that thing! The rest is history, bee.

Represent J to the A to the PAN… one island, one love…

Peace owt**.

Thomas Lapille: I have a mat with all my PTQ top 8 pins that I use to intimidate my weaker opponents.

SmarterChild: Which movie do you mean? 1) The Philadelphia Story 2) A Cinderella Story 3) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story? [Erm… – Craig.]

Rich Hoaen: I once had two Exalted Angels in an Onslaught Sealed PTQ, and actually played Spy Network over Wirewood Savage. I just wanted to look at my opponents’ morphs, I had no idea how bad the card was because it was my first time playing with it.

Brian David Marshall: The best involves a van of people from NY including Ben Bleiweiss, Adam Katz, Jon Finkel, Hogan Long, myself, and about six more people who don’t jump to mind, heading to Atlanta for a four-slot PTQ for the second PT: LA. We took off the night before – of course, later than we intended to get started – and people were driving in shifts. Adam Katz took over a late night leg while everyone went to sleep. We all jolted awake as the van shuddered across the rumble strips on the side of the road. With Adam flailing at the wheel trying to steady the van. It turns out that while Adam did have a driver’s license, he had never really driven before as he lived in NYC where you don’t really need to drive, much less drive a van full of people on a trucker’s route late at night through the south. When we finally realized what had happened, and had talked Adam onto the shoulder of the road, we noticed that the sides of the road were lined with truckers for miles ahead, who had CB’d ahead to stay to the side of the road until the van full of lunatics either crashed or passed.

Anyway… Hogan took over the wheel at around 8am. We looked for a sign to see how far we were from Atlanta, and we saw “Atlanta 240 miles” with only two hours before the PTQ started! Fortunately we had Finkel with us, and he went in the tank to do some quick calculations, and determined that we could make it if Hogan drove 120 MPH for two straight hours. Hogan shrugged, took one last drag on his ever-present cigarette, flicked it out the window, and gunned the gas and got us there with five minutes to spare.

That was the first time I qualified for the Pro Tour. I made the Top 8, then assembled a new Sealed deck and only needed to win one round since it was a 4-slot PTQ. There was a first place playoff but I lost in the semifinals to Randy Ellis. But I still consider just getting there alive to be the equivalent of winning the PTQ, getting to go to the PT was just bonus. The kicker to the whole thing is that when we got back to NYC and Ben dropped everyone off, he turned the corner onto the block where we were supposed to return the van, and smashed into a parked car on the corner. Costing at least as much as one and half Dianas!

Tiago Chan: Sorry, I don’t really have one.

Craig Stevenson: Most of my PTQ stories are actually up on this site. There’s the time my semi-final opponent made Rorix and said go, when I sat on six life with no cards in hand and no blockers, and allowed me the turn to topdeck a winning burn spell. There’s the time that my opponent had the win on the table in game 3 of the semi-final, and forgot to pay his Slaughter Pact trigger to hand me the final (after missing a Slaughter Pact trigger against me to hand me Round 3). There’s the PTQ from Hell, in which there were 50-odd players in a venue capable of accommodating 24 maximum… tables 6 through 10 were standing at the shop counter, dodging staff as they tried to serve customers, and the bottom table was literally on the floor in front of the toilet.

But as usual, the best PTQ stories don’t involve the Magic at all. It’s about the people, the trip, the laughs. Leaving decks on the top of cars as you speed through the Edinburgh night, talking about the perfect type of hat. Crashing on the floor of random Magic players for far-off PTQs, watching football into the wee small hours. Stopping at motorway services, and peppering the interior of the driver’s car with random Fog Frogs while he’s inside buying porn. That stuff.

But my favorite non-Magical PTQ memory was at some random event in Bradford. It was not long after the Invitational last year, and my good friend Craig Smith had designed himself an Invitational card should he ever get to play (unlikely). He’d spent the past few years ferrying me around to PTQs across the country, and to thank him in part I commissioned Yawgatog to knock up the card in his inimitable and expert style. I printed it out on photo paper and turned it into a near-perfect Magic card, intending to surprise my friend. Craig Smith was (is) an avid trader, so I placed the card in my trade folder. Sure enough, Craig asked to leaf through my trades, and a few guys in the know gathered round to see his inevitable delighted reaction.

Of course, he skimmed right past it. But he was overjoyed when he finally found the card, and he keeps it in his trade binder to this day.

I tried to make him trade a fetchland for it… he agreed, before I relented.

I love this game.

GerryT: I have plenty, but the most recent one involves Adam Yurchick (a.k.a. Shirley). He’s in a PTQ in Detroit and is in a tense game 3. An Ohio acquaintance of his, Rick, comes up and starts bemoaning his bad luck to Adam. Yurchick doesn’t want to hear it, since he’s playing and is in a really tight game. He needs to focus, so he is trying to get Rick to go away. But Rick is having none of it, and actually dumps his can of Pepsi on Shirley’s head. Shirley gets up and starts screaming to have Rick kicked out of the building, which they naturally do. Later on, after he wins the PTQ, Shirley is so paranoid of Rick that he asks a judge to escort him out, because he is scared Rick will jump him!

Cedric Phillips: The first one that comes to mind is when I completely punted a Top 8 in an Extended PTQ. I was playing Goblins and was paired up against an Aluren player. My opponent naturally had Aluren out, and had an Auriok Champion in play, but he had no way to go off yet. I remember having a Goblin Piledriver (and maybe another random goblin) in play, and I drew Matron and passed the turn since I could play it at instant speed with Aluren out. He flashed back Cabal Therapy, sacrificing his Wall of Roots, so I played Matron in response and went to search my library. I looked through and came across a Goblin Ringleader. I was thinking of all the possibilities… I could hit a bunch of goblins, then play them for free, and kill him on my next turn! So I got the Ringleader, and my opponent says, “Aluren is three mana creatures or less…”


The best part is that I could have just chained out three more Matrons, and found another Piledriver with my last Matron, and killed him on my next turn! I left pretty embarrassed, and very angry.

Frank Karsten: I placed second at a two-slot PTQ once. The way some of the PTQs worked back then was you would play 9-10 rounds, then whoever was first and second in the standings went to the PT. I remember on several occasions that I didn’t even know what PT the qualifier was for, let alone what date the PT was on. The PTQ in which I placed second and still qualified I actually wasn’t able to attend, because I had already booked a week in Barcelona for one of my classes. I guess the moral of the story is to check what PT the PTQ is for, and whether or not you can go to it before you join.

Oots!: I live in Denmark, and the PTQs here are pretty small. I went to one to cheer on a friend once, but didn’t have any money on me. Turns out there was only seven people there to play in it, so they were gonna cancel it since they needed eight. My friends paid for me, and then I ended up winning the 8-man PTQ for free!

There you have it! How to win from the world’s best players (or at least, the ones I could easily contact). I actually have a PTQ of my own this weekend, since I won’t be able to attend GP: San Francisco, so hopefully I’ll have won it already by the time you read this! For whoever cares, here’s the deck I’m playing:

I’ve been doing a lot of testing with this deck, and while it may seem similar to others, I actually made it almost entirely on my own. Gaea’s Blessing is your trump card in the mirror(ish) matches for game 1, where your game plan is to set up a Teferi plus lethal Disintegrate, while you distract them with Triskelavus and Hellkite. One of the best things about this deck is there are so many ways to set up game-breaking cards, and using Teferi to resolve the really important spells like Void, Haunting Hymn, and Disintegrate is the key.

After boarding I decided to go with a creature plan, with Shimian Specter to blow Pickles and the mirror(ish) matches out of the water. This was also one of my reasons for cutting Shadowmage Infiltrator. You give them dead cards game 1, then in game 2 you destroy them with Specter. Against the aggro decks you have seven board sweepers, along with tutorable removal to lock those matchups down. The real challenge in building this deck was deciding what kind of tactics and strategies I wanted to go for the control matchups in game 1, and how to optimize sideboarding against them. Since all of this is irrelevant (I think), I’m just gonna stop here, but each card in the deck was chosen with much deliberation and thought about my PTQ metagame.

Thanks for reading, or skimming, or just ctrl+F’ing for your name, you bastard pros you…


Top 5 Picks

1) The Irony of It All by The Streets
2) Tiny Dancer by Ben Folds
3) Aliveralungakidneyathumb by The Paper Chase
4) Scenic World by Beirut
5) Shoplifters of the World Unit by The Smiths

* I made up a Rochester format to be used for GP: San Fransisco. We go back and forth picking players we think will Top 8, then whoever has the most Top 8s in their group of five wins. If there is a tie, whoever has the person with the highest standing wins. We also each got to pick a sixth man, in the event one of our main five aren’t going. I just found out that Herby wasn’t going, so Paulo is in play for my picks. The GP will be over by the time you read this, but here are the teams:

Synchronous Sanchez Six

Kenji Tsumura, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, Mark Herberholz, Shuhei Nakamura, Tomoharu Saitou – Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa

Aten’s American All Stars (except Oli)

Luis Scott Vargas, Olivier Ruel, Craig Krempels, Gadiel Szliefer, Gerry Thompsen – Paul Cheon

The best part about this is the consequence. You pick a humiliating task to be performed at the next tournament that both players will be attending. In our case, it will be Worlds this year in New York. I don’t wanna give away what the bet was, but just know that whoever loses is going to be in a very awkward position which involves several foreigners who don’t speak English. Hehe.

** Kenji (the real story): One of my most fond memories was at GP: Utsunomiya. I had thirty points going into round 14, and was paired up against Ichiro Shimura, thinking I was playing for Top 8. We both made many mistakes over the course of the match, and then I lost. Sadly, he ended up in 10th place, so our match didn’t matter. Through our games we became good friends, and we teamed together to try and qualify for the Pro Tour. We lost six PTQs, and then on the seventh try, we won!