Levelling Up – Lorwyn Limited in Bangkok

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After eight rounds on Day 1 of Grand Prix: Bangkok, Tiago Chan stood proud and undefeated at the top of the ladder. Perhaps this Grand Prix would bring him that elusive Top 8 he’s been hunting for so long… Sadly, Day 2 was an outright disaster, seeing poor Tiago drop from the top of his game to the depths of despair. He shares his decks – Sealed and Draft – today, bringing us fine advice on what to do – and what to avoid – at our next PTQ…

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Only a few hours after the Magic Invitational, there I was on my way to Thailand, the third stop since I had left home for Pro Tour: Valencia… and not the last. To refresh things a little, this time the format was not Constructed – requiring countless hours of playtesting – but Limited. It was the exact same format we’re using for the Kuala Lumpur PTQs: Sealed Deck, followed by Lorwyn Booster Draft.

So far, my trips to Asia had only took in Japan and China, so I was really looking forward to Thailand. The fact that the Grand Prix took place in between the Invitational and GP: Krakow did not allow me to stay more than a couple of extra days. I hope to return to Thailand one day… I’ll try to attend the next Grand Prix there even if I’m no longer a Pro Player. An upset stomach prevented me from sightseeing as much as I had planned, but fortunately I recovered on the day the tournament started.

Eight rounds on Day 1 meant I had only to go 3-2 to advance to the Day 2, but that can be deceiving as a lot depends on the card pool you receive. Some Sealed decks won’t get you a single win.

I received the following card pool.

The Twinning Glass was foil, therefore my sixth rare.

It’s one of those card pools with a few similar print runs in the boosters, which can be really good or really bad depending on which print runs you get. Those card pools with repeated print runs also give a lot of pointers in the direction you have to take, so it was quite easy to build the following deck:

I used pretty much every playable card in my chosen colors. I left Captivating Glance in the board, a card that Raph Levy thinks is really good, but it’s one of those cards you will rarely play so it’s hard to testify to its efficiency. I also left out a pair of Merrow Reejerey, as I only had two Merfolk. Overall, I felt it was just a bunch of solid quality cards in two colors, which is nice, but I was afraid I could be missing two things: bombs and tribal synergy. However, having access to quality stuff like two Mulldrifter and two Warren Pilferers is a luxury.

Day 1 was really weird, as I was presented with really tough pairings against Pro Players only, but I was in a really lucky frame of mind.

Round 4: Shuhei Nakamura, Win 2-1
Round 5: Cynic Kim, Win 2-0
Round 6: Yuuta Hirosawa, Win 2-0
Round 7: Genki Taru, Win 2-0
Round 8: Itaru Ishida, Win 2-0

The deck is probably better than I give credit for, but mostly I was in one of those days where you are destined to win. Over eleven games I made zero mulligans, when I believe you mulligan on average once every round (or every two/three games). I always had perfect mana, never missing the second color or the second colored symbol in order to cast something. I also had some very solid draws. Even though my deck was two colors only with few color requirements, and it had a balanced mana curve, it doesn’t explain all my good fortune. I’m almost embarrassed about how lucky I was, mostly because I made some play mistakes and still won.

It was not the first time I finished Day 1 undefeated at a Grand Prix. In fact it’s probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve managed this, despite having never made a Top 8. I started Day 2 drafting at a strong Pod 1 featuring:

Chan, Tiago
da Rosa, Paulo Vitor D
Iyanaga, Junya
Lin, Milton Jian Xiong
Jaro, Ogie
Kim, Cynic
Morita, Masahiko
Levy, Raphael

I was receiving from Ogie Jaro and passing to Cynic Kim. My first pack contained Wren’s Run Vanquisher, Elvish Branchbender, and Immaculate Magistrate. The best card is the Magistrate, but all the other playables were Green, and even worse they were Elves. I decided to avoid the Green tribe and picked Moonglove Extract, but looking back I should have picked the Magistrate, even if it paid off to not pick it. I say that because I received a second pick Cryptic Command, which I think it’s a bomb in Limited and a sign to go Blue, which I took.

I ended the draft in the right colors, as Ogie Jaro to my right was Black/Red and Cynic Kim to my left was Green, but unfortunately, I did not end in the right tribes. My deck was a mix of an offensive Kithkin component and a defensive Blue squad with some Countermagic. Here is the deck:

In this draft I played against:

Round 9: Ogie Jaro, Loss 0-2
Round 10: Paulo Vitor da Rosa, Loss 0-2
Round 11: Raphael Levy, Loss 0-2

I started the day mulliganing to five cards, keeping a playable but unspectacular small hand. I took my opponent down to seven life, and it looked close… but actually, he always had the situation under control. Game 2 I mulliganed again to five cards and he played Axegrinder Giant on turn 4, thans to Stinkdrinker Daredevil.

At this point, I realized I was in for a long day.

You can’t fight fate.

In fact, I proceded to have an awful day, the exact opposite of the Day 1. I mulliganed on average once each game, playing more often than not with only one color or too few lands, and getting nothing but weak draws from below-average decks.

Even after going 0-3 in the first draft, there was still a chance I could make Top 8 if I could 3-0 my second pod. This time I was set on a plan: I’d force a draft archetype that a friend of mine, Sérgio Preto, had recommended. He doesn’t play much internationally… he’s attended some Pro Tours, and he’s known for having posted a 6-0 the draft portion of Portuguese Nationals two years in a row, so call him a Limited specialist if you want. His plan was to force Green/Red Giants, where you can have an opening like turn 1 Elvish Handservant, turn 2 Woodland Changeling, turn 3 Blind-Spot Giant. Both the Giant and the Handservant are low picks in other strategies, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get them.

The draft was covered on the official coverage by fellow Pro Player André Coimbra, another Limited specialist. I think I spent too much time going back and forth between Green, Red, and Black, until I finally settled on Black/Red thanks to some strong signals from Tomoharu to my right (who ended Green/White). I wasn’t too happy with the final result, but André Coimbra kept me motivated, stating my deck was a lot better than I thought. This was true, and André reminded me I still had a Top 8 chance. I had to go for it.

Any chances I had were soon reduced to nothing..

Round 12: Itaru Ishida, Loss 0-2
Round 13: Ernest Lim, Loss, 0-2
Round 14: Tomoharu Saito, Loss

I felt the deck underperformed in the first two rounds. If Itaru Ishida crushed me with his Faerie Army, led by Wydwen, the Biting Gale, Ernest Lim only needed a Bog-Strider Ash to make life too difficult.

In the last round I got paired up against Tomoharu Saito. He still had a chance to make Top 16, while I had no chance to place in the Top 32 with a win, so I conceded to my friend.

After a very disappointing Sunday, I went for dinner, took a shower, packed my stuff, and headed to the airport to catch my flight at dawn. From Bangkok to Dubai, from Dubai to Dusseldorf, from Dusseldorf to Valencia… until I finally landed in Lisbon, where I stayed for an all-too-brief 36 hours. Then I headed to Poland, completely clueless about the new Standard format. But that’s a topic for next week… join me then for another Grand Prix, and some thoughts on the new Lorwyn Standard.

Thank you for reading,


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