Innovations – Pro Tour: Hollywood Tournament Report (293rd Place)

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Monday, June 2nd – As we’re all aware, Patrick “The Innovator” Chapin performed badly at Pro Tour: Hollywood. While he believes he had the correct call on the format in a general sense, it appears he was let down by the specifics. In this entertaining report, he shares a few of his bad beats and spins some excellent tales of fun and frivolity. While it may not help you qualify for Nationals, it may just remind you what you’re battling for…

So much sugar!

Man, there are sparks going off in my head right now. The fact that I just slammed a Big Rig of Mt. Dew Amp and am halfway through my second is nothing out of the ordinary. Besides, I assure you, Mt. Dew Amp is pretty much the Nectar of the Gods. You should try it (assuming you like energy drinks, energy, or drinks).

No, I am pretty sure the problem is the king size bag of Reese’s Pieces I just inhaled. I wasn’t even hungry, so I am not sure what my malfunction is, but there is a hole in my soul that no amount of fried chicken seems to fill. Maybe chocolate is the answer…

Please forgive me if I am a little loopy. If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is that I definitely don’t need to consume too much sugar. Like here.

Where to begin? How about at the beginning?


How about round 4?

I am down a game in the 0-3 bracket against my second worst match-up, Merfolk. I look at my opener. One land. On the play.

Did I mention I was playing this deck?

It was at this moment that my consciousness rejoined with the collective and I realized that we are all one. This was it. It was going to have to be now. Here. For this reason.

I keep, obviously, draw the land like the Master I am, and proceed to work my way back into the game. Eventually, we reach a state where I am getting bashed by fishes (which I love, because they are so…)

I Teachings on my opponent’s endstep. He opts not to Cursecatcher it, despite the ability to counter it. I get Pact of Negation.

I untap with a Reveillark in my hand and a Body Double in my yard. Yeah, no Gargadon and I only have five mana anyway. Also, I have a Bonded Fetch. I draw…

Grove of the Burnwillows… Doing it!

I realized that it was all down to this. In my hand is the Pact of Negation, the Reveillark, and some chaff. My opponent has four mana open and obviously has Cryptic Command (or even Sage’s Dousing). He didn’t attack with Mutavault last turn. Also, he has me dead on board next turn. I am down a game in the 0-3 bracket, as I said. This is literally the end of the road.

I tap my Bonded Fetch

I pause and visualize Greater Gargadon, which I can see so clearly in my mind’s eye. “If there is any justice in the world, any justice at all, please just this one time, let the top card be Greater Gargadon. Please. Please.”

I draw…

Greater Gargadon!

Is this real? Am I dreaming? Is this the beginning of the greatest comeback of all time? I can do this!

Of course, I am dead on board, since he has a counter, which I will Pact, which he can Cursecatch, which can leave me a mana short, but…

I know what I need to do. I play my land, adding 5 to my pool, with a Grove of the Burnwillows clearly set aside. I announce that I am playing Reveillark with a land untapped.

He Cryptic Commands, I Pact. He says okay…

“Midnight Basketball?”

Yeah, Nassif, that is just how we roll in America.

Monday night, before the Pro Tour, Nassif and I had been testing with Herberholz, LSV, Cheon, and company all day and were now at a random park in LA shooting hoops. At midnight. With no lights.

It was advertised that there would be lights at this court, but it was not to be. Let’s just say that shot percentages were not high, though injuries abounded, ranging from Dan Burdick’s ankle to several people getting just about KO’ed from balls in their face.

Of course, this was only warm up to the bigger games that the PT would eventually foster. Saturday evening involved some hopping in a local gym that we shared with a dozen nine-year-old girls. It was a good time, and Mitch Tamblyn and Pat Sullivan lit it up, but it was not until Sunday that things finally hit 9000.

Sunday, 13 of us, including Mark “Dr. Hoops” Herberholz, Mike Hron, Kyle Sanchez, PTR, Pat Sullivan, Tamblyn, Cole (the Phenom from New Zealand), and many more ran five-on-five full court, then later a three-man team tournament.

Being in shape is insane… (Then again, so is being 6’4…)

Round 1 of the Pro Tour. This is it. I have prepared for this Pro Tour more than any Pro Tour previous. I have a Reveillark deck that hits from a bit of a different angle than most, and am pretty sure Lark is the best strategy for this tournament.

There is no question I am under pressure, as most of the people I worked with didn’t have faith in my deck and didn’t want to spend much time working on it. Was it up to me to prove them wrong?

We shuffle to play. I lose the die roll. My opponent keeps, I mulligan, but have a solid hand.

Turn 1, Secluded Glen, reveal Bitterblossom, suspend Ancestral Vision. I smile…

“It’s Sunday night. Where are we gonna go party? Maybe we should just test for the Pro Tour.”

“We are going to the Griffin.”

“The Griffin?”

“Yeah, we are on some straight up first strike and flying time. Wait, no… banding and flying. Actually, to tell you the truth, if you just pay a White and return this bar to your hand during your upkeep, you can get one from your graveyard back to your hand…”

We enter the establishment, which looks like a medieval den of some sort. We approach the bar and order drinks.

Let’s just say mine had pineapple juice, cranberry juice, grenadine, a lime, an orange, and a cherry (among other things).

This attracted the interest of a few young ladies at the bar who were drinking tall glasses of dark colored beer. And by attracted the interest of, I mean gave them an excuse to make fun of me while they flirted with me.

While all three were certainly cute, there was one in particular that caught my fancy. She is a personal assistant for some Hollywood actor and insisted that her and I photograph each other a fair amount that night in front of a brick wall. Oh, we photographed others (you should see Nassif and Herberholz) but honestly, that brick wall was all about us.

As the night progressed, we joked, we conversed, we discussed music, and we made plans to go to a concert the following weekend. Eventually Herberholz decided to join us.

And when I say join us, I mean he “rhino’ed” the girl. This is not quite as dirty as you may be thinking, as it just means he made a faux rhino horn out of his arm and hand, but the fact that he was straight up ramming her with it in her chest… that was a little much.

Matt Sperling, wing-man extraordinaire, gently pulled Heezy back a little and tried to give me an opening. Heezy seized this opening to grab her behind and speak in an absurd valley accent about how he is a smooth operator and that the women he was talking to left, so he would settle for her.

I stepped in at this point and sort of inserted my body between Mark and the young lady, as she was giving me a look of obvious visible distress. I apologized for my friend’s actions, and Matt broke the ice with some classic wit. A good laugh was had by all, and Matt escorted Heezy to the men’s room to freshen up.

It turned out that Mark was just trying to communicate that he wanted to go to the Spearmint Rhino, a strip club. Unfortunately he was out of luck, as apparently that is not a 24-hour operation.

“Scott! Scott Larabee! You have got to make me a feature match this round. I am probably not going to make the cut to Day 2 and it is the last round. I make for great feature matches! You would be doing the game a service.”

“I’ll see what I can do, but no promises…”

Twenty minutes go by which mostly involves singing “If you like Pina Coladas” and breakdancing in the feature match area.

Pairings are up!

The BYE?! What is this? Some kind of a sick joke? I am 1-6, what the First Strike am I going to do with a Flanking Bye?!

“It’s Tuesday night… Dave Williams should be here anytime now.”

“Where is Nassif?”

“He went running (yes, in LA).”

“He’s been gone a while…”

“Chapin, how’d you do?”

“I lost. I can’t believe it. It was not supposed to end this way. I mulliganed three times in two games and just couldn’t cast any spells. That is not the way to get your 4th loss. I am gonna go get a drink (of water, from the French Alps…)”

The Saturday before the PT was a good time. I got to meet up with my sister Bethany, the one that does webpage design for Rappers and Rockstars. As always we have a blast, although this time we chose an interesting way to spend the day.

We walked for over 5 hours in 95 degree heat to and from a KFC.

Her car is broken so we decided to go out for food. I asked her what is nearby, and knowing my affinity for KFC, she suggested it. I was all about it and we set out.

Little did I realize that in the LA, the term “walking distance” is used loosely.

One last note on the evening with my sister, we rented Memento, as people suggested it in the forums a few weeks ago and I remember loving that movie, though I have not seen it in some time. It was as good as I remember, and I recommend it to everyone.

I do have to ask… what made this article like that movie? The notes written on myself in conjuction with amnesia? That is the story of my life! What about the hallucinations? The insanity?

“Is that Nassif banging on the window?”

“Yeah, he must be back from his run.”

After opening the window, we saw that Nassif was with Williams in his rented Escalade. Turns out that Williams was cruising around LA, lost, trying to get a signal on his phone to call us. The directions he had been given were messed up and he didn’t know how to find us.

All of a sudden he sees somebody running who looks like Gabriel Nassif. No couldn’t be… Could it?

Nassif runs up to the vehicle, hops in, and directs him to where we are staying. This may not seem that wild, but keep in mind, Dave didn’t know we were with Nassif, so from his perspective, he is just lost in LA when all of a sudden Gabriel Nassif comes running down the street in a track suit and just hops in his car.

It was Tuesday afternoon. I had some time to kill, as Mark was in San Diego at a job interview, Nassif was in a poker tournament, and Cheon and LSV were across town. I decided to walk to UCLA and get a haircut. I had actually not had one in two months, ever since a certain girl had gushed about how she liked boys with hair. (Yeah, I am that lame.)

I found Campus Cuts and walked in, explaining that I would like my hair taken to a five on top and a three on the sides. The woman starts cutting my hair. We get to talking…

She finishes, but I have not had my fill. It would be so awkward to ask her for her phone number at this point. I know… why don’t I have her cut it a little more?

“How about a three on top and a one on the sides?”

She quickly completes the task and goes to help me up.

“Wait! Umm…”

I look around…

“I know! Bleach it!”

“Are you serious?” She asks me, “Why didn’t you have me bleach it before I cut it? Now we are going to burn your scalp.”

“Who is this guy performing? He is incredible. It is like Dave Mathews Band meets Barenaked Ladies, but with a strong hip hop influence.”

“Kelley James.”

It is obviously Saturday night at this point, and I am at the Kelley James concert with the girl from the Griffin. She turns out to be very cool, and has excellent taste in music. You guys should check this guy out.

His MySpace page only has original work, which includes some really great tracks, but live he also performed several fantastic covers ranging from Gin and Juice to Stronger to My Love.

Seriously, check this guy out. He is really good.

The concert was a blast, though it was a little tricky as most of the time it was just me and the six beautiful women in our group. Where are my fellow mages when I need them?

After the show, I go over to Busby’s nearby, accompanied by two of the lovely ladies from earlier. Busby’s is okay, but there is a club upstairs – The Mile High Club – that is just fantastic. The music is great, and the energy is even better.

I meet up with a dozen Magic players and a few ladies we have sort of assimilated throughout the week, including the terrific April of “Hey there Olivier” fame (YouTube it).

Talk about an intensely good time. We dance, we socialize, we cause a ruckus. These guys really know how to party! Johan, Jelger, Ruud, Burdick, Nassif, Heezy, the waitress that Heezy picked up, the other waitress that Heezy picked up when he got so drunk he forgot which waitress he had picked up…

Eventually the club kicked us out a little after two. Was it time to call it a night? Hardly! To Korea town! It is obviously time to Karaoke.

The first Karaoke bar announces that they have no room for us, though while they are explaining this to us, a party of five behind us is let in…

The second place we go to lets us in, but despite Burdick’s best efforts will not serve alcohol at 3am. Still, the food was fantastic, as was the bottled water and the countless songs from artists ranging between House of Pain and Journey.

Did I mention that Pro Tours are among the most fun times possible?


Mt Dew – thanks for being so freaking good
Pam Willoughby of RIW – thanks for always having my back
Mike Jacob – thanks for being such a great playtest partner
Dan Burdick – thanks for having hot friends and being a good one
Evan Erwin – thanks, you rock
Matt Sperling – thanks for letting me stay at your place
Everyone who bought me a drink
People who play Shivan Dragon in Pro Tours
People who produce TV shows…


People who play Bitterblossom
Old time Pros who live in SoCal, but don’t show up to PT Hollywood
Scott Larabee for giving me a Bye instead of a feature match
Cab driver who robbed Johan and me of $40 on a $17 fair.
The judge who made me put my clothes back on in the Pro Tour main room.
LA Traffic
Michael J Flores for not showing up

See you next week!

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”