Going into Day 2 of the World Championships at 7-1 is not the worst position to be in, but I knew it would not be easy. I was in Pod 1 with some of the best players in the world. Gabe Walls was to my left, and Kazuya Mitamura was to my right. The rest of the table was filled out with Sebastian Thaler, Katsuhiro Mori, Sam Stein, Yoshitaka Nakano, and Christoph Huber. Talk about a rough pod! To follow my draft, go to the draftviewer here.
I opened Dreamspoiler Witches, a card I am particularly fond of, usually first picking. The only commons in the set I take over it first pick first pack are Nameless Inversion, Mulldrifter, and Silvergill Douser. A second pick Vigor is the signal I am looking for, and I make my move into Green. A common is missing, so Mitamura is probably in Black or Blue.
A third pick Eyeblight’s Ending tells me Mitamura is Blue, most likely U/W. I am totally fine with B/G and must keep an eye open regarding deciding on Elves or Treefolk as my primary tribe.
I pick up a few cards for each tribe, but upon opening Immaculate Magistrate know it is time to focus on Elves. I wasn’t thrilled to pass Thundercloud Shaman or Guile, but I had made my bed and now must lie in it. Gabe Walls argued that I had blundered by not playing U/w Merfolk, as I passed a fair amount of cards for the deck throughout the draft. However, by the third pick of the draft, I had a clear signal that Mitamura was U/w, so I think it worked out for the best anyway.
This is what I ended up playing:
- 1 Dreamspoiler Witches
- 1 Gilt-Leaf Seer
- 1 Immaculate Magistrate
- 3 Lys Alana Huntmaster
- 2 Lys Alana Scarblade
- 1 Moonglove Winnower
- 1 Nath of the Gilt-Leaf
- 2 Nath's Elite
- 1 Skeletal Changeling
- 1 Thieving Sprite
- 1 Vigor
- 1 Woodland Changeling
The most interesting cards in my sideboard were Seedguide Ash (a card I usually never sideboard), Mournwhelk, Hoarder’s Greed, Kithkin Daggerdare, Woodland Guidance (which is very underrated), and Warren-Scourge Elf.
My first opponent of the day was a guy that many people don’t realize is one of the very best players in America – Gabe Walls. I knew going in that this feature match would be tough.
Gabe turned out to be playing Mono-Red, which is a favorable match-up for me on account of my large amount of spot removal to slow him down and deal with his key creatures (like Incandescent Soulstoke and Caterwauling Boggart), as well as my Huntmasters and Vigor. Scarblades also proved crucial, as his team was primarily one and two toughness.
He had a lot of cheap burn, but my sideboard plan of bringing in every cheap creature I had, including the Warren-Scourge Elves, helped buy me the time I needed to get my Elf engine rolling. He mulliganed in one game, which particularly hurt him as we were trading one-for-ones all game. I took it in three.
Next, I would have to face Mitamura, equipped with the sick U/w Merfolk deck that I had not stopped. I would like to say I put up more of a fight, but he just had me at every turn. He came out blazing fast with his army of Silvergill Adepts and other ultra-efficient Merfolk. He gained huge tempo with Whirlpool Whelms and Oblivion Ring. He had tons of permission, which complimented his two copies of Guile (yes, different stamps…).
I played to try to get myself out of the jam he put me in, but his play was exceptionally tight. I was very impressed with his discipline, as I dropped my second.
The final round of Limited saw me against Sam Stein, armed with a U/w Merfolk deck of his own, with an unusual twist. Sam had 4 Ethereal Whiskergill, as well as countless ways to give me Islands. He also had an Austere Command as his Ace in the Hole.
Fortunately, my deck comes out all cylinders firing, with a combination of Scarblade and Huntmaster winning one game, and Vigor plus Nath’s Elite winning the other.
After completing the draft portion, I knew that I needed a solid record of 3-1-1 to lock up a Top 8 spot. I had spent far more time on Legacy than Standard and was confident in my choice of deck, as well as my proficiency.
I had begun testing this format by starting with a U/g/b/w Threshold deck that used all my favorite cards (a.k.a. the good ones). I had great success with it, but quickly reached the ceiling of where I thought the deck could go.
I moved on to combo decks, focusing on Time Vault plus Rings of Brighthearth. I built all matter of Time Vault decks ranging from U/w/r NoStick variants to U/w ultra-fast combo to U/w Slaver control with combo kill.
Meanwhile, I also developed what I believed to be the evolution of Homebrew decks. Here is a deck I liked, but knew I would not play, as it does not contain Brainstorm.
2 Doran, the Siege Tower
4 Dark Confidant
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Swords to Plowshares
2 Cursed Scroll
2 Sensei’s Divining Top
4 Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrublands[/author]
4 Polluted Delta
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Going into the final stretch, Nassif, Herberholz, and I knew we were money in Standard, but were still not totally happy with our Legacy position. In the end, Gabriel and Mark decided to go with a Landstill variant they brewed up the night before, as per their usual MO. I decided to stick to my guns and run my four-color Counterbalance deck, as I had more experience with it then anything else, knew it was a good deck that won the mirror, and that I would enjoy it (and play it well).
This is what I ended up playing in the Legacy portion of Worlds:
The deck revolves around ultra-efficient cheap spells to disrupt my opponent and manipulate my library, all the while fueling Tarmogoyf and Mongoose. I win the mirror on the strength of such hits as Counterbalance-Top and Swords to Plowshares. I beat Goblins with all the usual tools including Goyf, Plague, Stifle, and efficient spells. I beat random decks on the strength of a deck that is just far more efficient than anything they could throw at me. I knew my weaknesses were 42ish Land, Landstill, and Stax (basically decks that can recurse Wasteland repeatedly).
My first opponent was Nicolay Potovin, who brought a R/b/g aggro deck based on Kird Ape, Skyshroud Elite, Grim Lavamancer, Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, Rancor, Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Price of Progress, etc.
Our first game came down to me stabilizing at one life, but eventually locking him out of the game with Counterbalance-Top (yes, his entire deck is kold to this combination). I did have to counter a couple of spells with the blind Counterbalance, but hey, why not just get there? He made it close when he snuck a Price of Progress in to remove almost all my life, but he was unable to manage to fight through Counterbalance a second time.
Game 2, he leads with Kird Ape. I play a Top. He plays a Skyshroud Elite and a Grim Lavamancer. I drop Counterbalance and it is clear that the name of the game is “Will I survive this initial onslaught?”
He plays a Rancor to force me to use Top to Counterbalance it, slowing me down. I play a Threads on his Kird Ape to begin to turn the tables. I follow this with an Engineered Plague to kill his Lavamancer and end up winning on account of Chain Lightning being a sorcery. See, eventually I was on two with a Force of Will and a Blue card, as well as Counterbalance-Top, but he had three Chain Lightnings.
If they had been Lightning Bolts, he could have responded to my tapping the Top by Bolting me over and over. As it was, he was unable to play another spell and never drew the Krosan Grip he needed.
10-2 (Go Go Nova Chaser!)
Round 13 I played Christoph Huber. Christoph had decided to run Mono-White Stax, which certainly didn’t thrill me.
Game 1, he locked up rather quickly. My draw was solid all the way around, but I couldn’t deal with the combination of Trinisphere, Crucible of Worlds, and Wasteland.
Game 2 promised to be a bit better, as I had +2 Stifle, +2 Grip, and +1 Engineered Explosives. Out went three Counterbalances, and two Daze. After mulliganing into a one-land hand, Christoph never got there and we went to game 3.
This time he had a solid start that included forcing through a Defense Grid that made my life much tougher. He played a Powder Keg, a Ghostly Prison, a Trinisphere, and more to disrupt me, but I was able to make a game of it by acting as though I had made a terrible mistake by playing my Dark Confidant and would die to it in a matter of turns. In reality, my hand was weak and I needed Bob to draw me enough action to mount a comeback.
Finally, I played an Engineered Explosives for three and began to make my move. Christoph dropped more disruption on his side of the table with a Keg at two counters that he planned to use during my attack phase to destroy my two Confidants and one Goyf. However, I knew that he was trying to get me with every point of Confidant damage he could, so I had set myself up to wreck him with Krosan Grip on his Keg, leaving him defenseless.
My next match looked to be a nightmare. I had a feature match against my teammate, Nassif. Aside from being one of the three best players of all time, his playtesting for this format basically revolved around testing against my actual deck over and over, tuning his list to beat mine.
I offered Nassif the draw, as we both needed a record of 1-1-1 to secure our spots, but he came to play, apparently. I certainly can’t blame him.
Nassif: I have to get my wins where I can…
Nassif’s U/g/b/w Landstill deck featured Standstill, Daze, Force of Will, Goyf, Deed, Crucible, Mishra’s Factory, Counterspell, Fact or Fiction, Swords to Plowshares, and more.
Our games were surprisingly close, but Hat’s deck is resilient to Counterbalance, and Crucible plus Wastelands is very strong against me. He seemed to think his draws were very fortunate, but I suspect he would win a healthy majority of matches we play.
Now my back was against the wall. Two rounds left, but this one was the one that mattered. A win here would mean I could draw into Top 8. A loss meant I was playing for 11th (story of my life).
When I sat down across from Masami Kaneko, I knew I was in a good spot. I had sat next to him earlier and knew that he was playing U/g/r Threshold, one of my best match-ups.
Game 1 was a classic battle of the same cards canceling each other out until we eventually reached a point where I had Top and Counterbalance, whereas he had Lightning Bolt and Fire/Ice.
Game 2 was very exciting. I had 3 Counterbalances in my opening draw, the key to this match-up. I waited until turn 3 to play the first, to play around Daze. He had a Spell Snare, but it was no matter, I knew I would stick one eventually.
Turn 4 I played another, and a huge battle ensued. By the end of it, we were both totally out of cards, with the difference between us being a Wasteland on his side of the table and a Counterbalance on mine.
On his turn, he drew and played Nimble Mongoose. I flipped….
Nimble Mongoose. Nice.
On my turn, I played the Goose and passed the turn, sitting on 2 Tropicals and a Strand, so that he couldn’t Wasteland me and that in the event that I revealed a weak card with Counterbalance, I could shuffle.
On Masami’s next turn, he drew and cast Brainstorm. I knocked on my library and flipped up…
We all had a good laugh, and the crowd that was watching our match started cheering.
On my turn I attack with the Goose and passed the turn, planning to use the Brainstorm as a counter for his next spell.
He drew and played Tarmogoyf. Obviously I Brainstormed in response, missing on two-drops, but hitting a Plow. I put the other two back and fetch up a Tundra to shuffle my Library (as well as have mana to Plow the Goyf).
After Masami shuffles my library, I knock once more on my library, point to the Counterbalance, then windmill the top card into play on top of his Tarmogoyf. It’s…
At this point, everyone was going bananas. Can you imagine if that game had been televised in the Top 8? Needless to say, at this point it was academic.
After reviewing the standings, I was pretty sure I would be paired with someone who could draw, but it was not a done deal until pairings went up and I was matched up with Uri Peleg. Uri was playing Nassif’s Landstill deck, but was certainly happy to just draw into the Top 8. (Thanks Uri!)
Overall, I think that my Legacy deck was a solid choice and would play it again. I didn’t have great match-ups at all and still pulled out a respectable 3-1-1. Also, I enjoy Counterbalance-Top more than most.
The Top 8 was announced and a disturbing theme seemed to run in the Standard decks.
Roel van Heeswijk- G/B Midrange
Katsuhiro Mori- G/B Elves
Nakano Yoshitaka- G/B Elves
Christoph Huber- G/B Midrange
Kotaro Otsuka- U/B Mannequin
Gabriel Nassif– Mono-Red Dragonstorm
Patrick Chapin– Mono-Red Dragonstorm
Uri Peleg– G/B/w Doran
Talk about a rough Top 8 for Dragonstorm players! That evening, I went out to dinner with The two best American Magic players, Gabriel Nassif and Mark Herberholz, as well as Michael J Flores and some of our friends. Eventually, my cousin and close friend Madonna showed up at the Plataforma (yeah, I actually went to Plataforma so many times last week, I was starting to get sick of it by the end). She had flown up to NY to show support and to see some of NY with me.
In case you were not aware, dinner with Michael J never fails to turn out as a highlight of any trip. If you ever have an opportunity to do so, consider yourself lucky as it always turns into an adventure. The food will surely be top notch, the chats good, and you will learn a thing or two. Plus, he is so dreamy.
I didn’t end up doing much testing that night, and instead decided to finally get some sleep. Having the entire next day off would provide a much needed opportunity to rest. I did not envy the participants in the team portion.
The next day, Bob Maher, Jon Finkel, and Dave Williams helped me test my first round match-up, Nakano with G/B Elves. At first it was looking great for me, until three hours into testing we received a phone call that my opponent was playing Wren’s Run Vanquishers, not Wren’s Run Packmasters.
It was pretty annoying to have spent so much time testing against the wrong deck, but it did make a lot more sense for him to have Vanquishers. Besides, what can you really do?
We tested more and eventually I settled on a sideboard plan. The most apparent thing was that the match-up appeared to be about 80% who won the die roll, but I did think I had a small edge.
After I was satisfied with my round 1 testing, I decided I needed a break to clear my head. Madonna and I went and saw Les Miserables on Broadway. I had never been to Broadway, nor had I seen this particular musical. To anyone that can, I strongly suggest doing so. It was absolutely unreal good. I am pretty sure I have a new interest (musicals) and am glad that I had a chance to see it before the show’s run ended in January.
I returned to Finkel’s place and resumed testing when Nassif showed up. He had been struggling with his match all day, so we focused on his. His sideboard was certainly not as well equipped due to a lack of Empty the Warrens and Sulfurous Blast, but we eventually worked out his best plan and just practiced for hours.
We took a look at the other decks and knew that the worst for us were probably Uri’s Doran deck and Kotaro’s U/B Mannequin deck with Cryptic Commands, Thoughtseize, and Pithing Needle. Still, we had tested enough and would have to play the mirror round 2, before either of them was an issue, so we decided to get some sleep.
I woke up with a pep in my step and was eager to start the day. My match was fairly exciting, with swings back and forth, including a game 4 where I Dragonstormed for 2, only to be met with a Slaughter Pact and an Eyeblight’s Ending. In the end, though, I had won the die roll.
Game 1 went to me. Game 2 to Elves. Game 3 to me. Game 4 to Elves. The final game was fairly anticlimactic, as my opponent was forced to mulligan into a subpar hand. I had done it. I advanced to the semi-finals. I was told that Nassif was in a commanding position in his match, so I immediately set to playtesting the Dragonstorm mirror.
This turned out fairly helpful. First of all, I knew that I wanted to bring in Ignite Memories and Ancient Grudges, but it was not until one of the local RIW guys suggested that I board out Incinerate that I came to the correct plan. It had not occurred to me to board out Incinerate, as it is so obviously better than Shock most of the time, but in this match-up, the ability to build storm for cheap was more important than 1 extra damage.
After testing the Dragonstorm mirror, I proxied up Uri’s Doran deck and my new friend Spencer and I tested the match-up, as I knew how to play against Mannequin but needed more experience with the G/B/w archetype. At first I thought the match-up was miserable, but after playing some, I saw two key weaknesses in Uri’s deck. First of all, I was a pretty big favorite pre-board as Riftsweeper was his best card. Second of all, his manabase is so painful and unreliable that as long as I kill his mana creatures, he is going to do a lot of damage to himself and make it easier for me to burn him out.
Finally the semi-finals began, and Nassif did not disappoint. To watch one of the greatest matches in Pro Tour History, go here.
I won the die roll, which I knew was very important to our match-up. Game 1 was fairly straightforward. I hid away a Dragonstorm and after drawing a Lotus Bloom turn 2, looked to kill turn 5. The only problem was that Nassif had a turn 1 Bloom, so if he had a turn 4 kill, there was nothing I could do.
On my fourth turn I suspended Rift Bolt and crossed my fingers. I passed the turn. I lived through it. On my turn a flurry on burn lead to a Spinerocked Dragonstorm for the game.
The high point of game 2 came when Gabriel Dragonstormed for three, but only hit two Dragons. See, he already had one in his hand and had foolishly put a second under a Spinerock for no good reason. He kicked himself when he realized what he had done, but I was unable to stop both Dragons and fell a few turns later.
Game 3 was just a classic battle of two turn 5 kill draws, with me on the play. This one ended with Swath. Nassif was really getting down on himself for not mulliganing, although let it never be said that Gabriel Nassif does not learn from his mistakes.
Game 4 was one of the five greatest games in Pro Tour history. No question a part of me cheered when Gabriel mulliganed. Actually, I guess that part of me was my mouth, as I jokingly began chanting “USA! USA! USA!” After Nassif grumbled, I asked if he would prefer if I was chanting “Five, Five, Five?”
Nassif: Why are you cheering for me mulliganing?
Chapin: Because that is what Americans do!
Sidenote: Nassif is my good friend. We have a history of joking with each other and I assure you, the chanting was not mean spirited.
Nassif thought long and hard over this one and decided he had to shuffle it back. At this point I grew silent, determined to not let my mind wander. Nassif looked at his five and had to throw it back again.
At this point, we were both joking around, as four cards on the play has got to be something like a 1000 to 1 dog, but there is always the possibility of some crazy Lotus Bloom or Rite of Flame draw. We joked about a buyout, but the game was far from over.
Finally he had four that were keepable. The crowd was cheering as he drew his hand, so I jokingly asked them to cheer if he had a good hand. I expected a lively response, but there is no question I was a little surprised by the wild roaring that followed my statement.
Gabe played a Lotus Bloom and a storage land. He built up and prepared to go off. I had a solid draw, and Tarfired him early. Finally, I suspended a Rift Bolt the turn before I needed to try to go off. It came in, knocking Nassif to fifteen. I played Rite of Flame and Shock, putting him at thirteen. Grapeshot reduced his life to nine. With three cards in hand and surely no land, I knew the odds were heavily in favor of my Ignite for five being lethal.
Ignite you for five…
Grapeshot. Okay, no big deal. We are on pace to get there.
Grapeshot. Doing it!
Third card… Nassif peaks and asks me again how many copies? Two more after this. The third card is…
Grapeshot! Cheering is growing louder. Nassif is now down to three with two copies of Ignite Memories left on the stack. He shuffles his hand. He has a 1 in 9 chance of living at this point. We roll the die to see which card will be revealed. He picks it up and just slams it.
RITE OF FLAME!
The crowd is getting rowdy at this point. Could it be? Will Gabriel Nassif live through the turn? He shuffles his hand. We roll the die after agreeing that he is to windmill it, no peeking.
RITE OF FLAME!!!
The score stood 20-1. I passed the turn. Nassif began the motions of going off. He Rift Bolted me, played four copies of Grapeshot, and Ignited me for five.
I revealed my hand. Two Hellkites and a Dragonstorm.
Nassif: A million to one, story of my life.
Chapin: Must be absolutely unreal…
Nassif: You are just making it exciting, you get to go first next game.
Game 5 proved to be almost as exciting as the previous. Nassif dropped triple Lotus on turn 1 and I knew I was in trouble. I had a Grudge and mana to flash it back, but if he had Swath plus Grapeshot or Ignite, I would lose outright. I asked Gab if he had Dragonstorm and he said he did. Finally, on the fourth turn, I decided to go for it. I Ignited Gab for four.
Suddenly, Gab realized what he had done. He had played out a land and a Rift Bolt that he didn’t need to. Three Blooms would be enough to kill me with Dragonstorm. In retrospect, it was right to suspend the Bolt, as he needed it to kill me straight up. However, the land was only right if he wanted to play a Hellkite on his upkeep in response to Grudge. This was the wrong play, because if I actually have the Grudge, a Hellkite is not going to be enough to stop me. His better play was to play the Rift Bolt, hold the land, and look so threatening that I would try to go off and hope to survive again.
Shock! No. It couldn’t be. Gab wasn’t gonna do it to me twice in a row… was he?
Dragonstorm! I pumped my fist, and this time the crowd was cheering for my good fortune (although I am pretty sure they would have cheered either way).
Bogardan Hellkite!! The crowd went nuts, and Nassif and I shook hands. I had won one of the most unbelievable matches in Pro Tour history.
Gab wished me luck in the round to come. I went to rejoin friends and relax for a few, awaiting the results of the Doran-Mannequin match. When it was announced that Uri had won, I returned to the play area and shuffled up to play.
Game 1 I led out strong. Things began to come to a head when I played Bogardan Hellkite in response to Garruk’s ultimate, destroying two Elves and Ohran Viper, with Garruk still in play, with 2 counters.
My Hellkite ate a Profane Command, but on my turn I drew a Dragonstorm. My Lotus Bloom had come into play, so I was able to get two Dragons. I also had a Spinerock Knoll, so I decided to point one damage to Uri’s Birds of Paradise, nine to Uri, and three (from the Incinerate) to Garruk, leaving Uri at eleven.
The commentators questioned this play, wondering why I would leave my opponent at eleven, rather than eight (lethal in one hit). I did not want to give Uri the opportunity to draw Profane Command and use Garruk to untap land, and decided that was better to give him the extra turn.
The bizarre thing about this part of the game was that the commentary had gotten so loud, I could actually hear a little of what was being said. It was hard to make out words, but I could tell tone of voice and a few specific things, like when they questioned my play of Incinerating Garruk. I wasn’t really sure how to deal with this, so I went ahead and just started talking to the commentators letting them know I could hear them. The commentary got much quieter after this, so I assume they must have turned down the volume of the PA system.
Uri untapped and drew a land, conceding and moving on to game 2. I had won the easy one, now things would get tricky.
Game 2 started out poorly, as I just kept missing with Spinerock Knolls and eventually I had to play a Dodecapod to trade with a Treetop Village. I only boarded in one, as I didn’t really want them (Uri only had two Stupor) but I was willing to play one, hoping that he would not board in his discard or play out of fear. Drawing one Dodecapod isn’t the worst, although drawing two is terrible.
I passed the turn with Dodecapod in play versus Treetop, Doran, and two Elves. Uri attacked with his team and I traded with the Treetop, dropping to two. This was the blunder that cost me. I did not realize it until after I went back to watch the tapes, but I should have Shocked an Elf at this point. That would leave me at three and able to Hellkite Doran if I draw an untapped land or a Rite, without dying to a removal spell. As it was, I dropped to two and now if I Hellkite the Doran, I am kold to removal.
I had the read on Uri, which turned out to be correct. He had the removal, so I couldn’t Hellkite. My play of not Shocking the Elf would turn out better if I drew any burn spell, but there was a higher percentage of mana than burn spells left in my library, plus if I draw a mana it is very important to have killed the Elf, where as if I had drew burn, it was important to have not Shocked the Elf, but it would only mean two more goblin tokens.
On my turn, I drew a Rite of Flame, but had not set myself up to win. I was forced to Empty the Warrens, as I knew he had removal. This was the game he outplayed me. This game is why Uri Peleg is the World Champion. Congratulations Uri, you certainly deserve it. You played like a champion and gave yourself the best possible chance to win, and it paid off. Much respect.
Game 3 was a heartbreaker. I had the turn 1 Lotus to win turn 4, but Uri had a Riftsweeper. I had a Spinerock Knoll to win the game turn 5, but was forced to go for it with Rift Bolt. Uri had another Riftsweeper. If I’d had a Tarfire, I would have won easily, as I had a Dragonstorm hidden away.
Some people have questioned why my list has two Tarfires and Nassif’s list has none. The answer is that Nassif was running the old list before a week of testing and tuning. I eventually came to the conclusion that I wanted a better mix of burn to more consistently set off Spinerock.
It is easy to see that Swath is the type of card that is terrible in multiples. It is also one of the easiest cards to sideboard out, as the plan is vulnerable to many forms of disruption. Rift Bolt is a far less intuitive card to cut. It appears to have such great synergy with your storm and Spinerock, but the fact is, this deck is playing off the top a lot. You need to be able to draw the card that wins it for you and go off that turn. Rift Bolt is exceptionally poor for this, whereas Tarfire is very good. You don’t want all Tarfires, as it is a weaker card and you never want to be stuck with three Shocks/Tarfires.
Game 4 was the one Uri said that almost cost him the match. At one point, he had Doran the Siege Tower, Riftsweeper, and two Birds of Paradise. He was planning on not attacking with the Birds of Paradise so that he could play Cloudthresher if I had a Hellkite.
I ran one of the original bluffs of Magic. He motioned that he was about to attack, so I picked up my pen, subtly suggesting that I was going to be taking damage. Uri said that this convinced him that I did not have the dragon. Turns out, I had the Dragon, killing Doran, and causing the Birds to now be tapped from attacking, but without dealing damage.
Unfortunately, Uri never stopped drawing gas and eventually set me back with the Cloudthresher. At one point, Uri had a Treetop, a Thresher, and a Garruk with four counters. I had a Hellkite and a Sulfurous Blast. I needed to stop Uri from Overrunning me, so I had to Blast, but when? I contemplated the merits of attacking with the Dragon and convincing Uri that he had to block or he would die. The problem with this plan was if he blocked, I would still be trading a Hellkite and a Blast for a Thresher and two Loyalty counters, not the best deal. If he did not block, I was dead on board.
I decided that I should Blast on Uri’s upkeep and convince him that he needed to attack me. I ended up Blasting on his upkeep and he did go ahead and attack me, but a flurry of creatures strengthened Uri’s position. I followed with another Hellkite. It looked like I was going to take it, when Uri dropped a couple more bodies, including the Miser’s Hypnotic Specter.
Uri’s life total at this point was 5 and his only blocker for my Hellkite was the Specter. He clearly had lethal on board. My only outs were Shock, Tarfire, Incinerate, Grapeshot, Rift Bolt, Hellkite, or Rite of Flame….
I just knocked on my deck and windmilled the top card.
One Time, Dealer…
… Snow-covered Mountain.
I extended my hand to Uri Peleg, the 2007 Magic: The Gathering World Champion. I had come as far as I could, this time. I have been torturing myself all week, but I suppose it is hard to tell a bad beat story when you have run as good as I have all week.
Still, I have no one to blame but myself. I misplayed game 2 and it cost me. At least it is reaffirmed for me that with improved play on my part, I will continue to see better results. I have to say, it feels good to see all the hard work I put into this tournament pay off.
After the tournament, I went to Plataforma, yet again, this time with Randy Buehler, Erik Lauer, Aaron Forsythe, and Zvi Moshiwitz. Great times were had, and eventually I met up with Kenji, Rich Hoaen, Billy Moreno, and others to catch up on the partying that I had been missing out on in all of my preparations for Sunday.
Unbelievable. That week was one of the greatest weeks I have had in a very long time. Not only did I do alright in the tournament, I got to see a lot of friends that I hadn’t seen in years. Worlds? In NY? You know the old timers are gonna come out for that!
In honor of this World’s being the throwback tour, here is a classic…
Gabriel Nassif and Mark Herberholz– I found it to be a whole other experience playing on a team where I was the weakest player. I could not have gotten to where I did without the help of the two best Constructed players on Earth.
Paul Nicolo, Josh Wludyka, and DJ Kastner- Team RIW members that were instrumental in my preparation for this event.
Pam and Mitch- Thanks for the cards.
Mom and Dad- Thanks for the ride.
Madonna- Thanks for taking me to my first musical on Broadway.
Finkel- Thanks for the place to stay.
Everyone at the tournament who helped me do last minute testing to prepare for Top 8.
Chris Sutton- I am told you were the player with Spinerocks in Dragonstorm at the car tournament. If you were, thanks!
All the readers who sent me deck ideas via PMs or my forums. I appreciate the help!
Kyle Sanchez– Who doesn’t show up?
The cab driver that took me on a $40 cab ride the wrong way to a location 15 blocks away.
Thanks for reading and for showing support all year! You guys are the best. See you in Philly.