After the Grand Prix Trial last week in Louisville Kentucky, I looked to carry forward with my hot playing streak, and attempt yet again to break into the coveted top eight for the first time ever in my playing career. Momentum was my friend, and I was very confident in my choice of deck and my knowledge of the Invasion Block Constructed Format. I was still playing Counter Trenches, and my voyage started the Friday before the qualifier, as I was searching high and low for someone to cover my shift at the Drive-In Movie theater here in Radcliff, Kentucky. I found someone; my little brother, and Paul, Tawnya, Laura, and myself were off to Nashville.
ASIDE: Besides college and working on his 58 Chevy Bel Air, the most important thing to my little brother is cigarettes, since he has no job, I offered him packages of cigarettes to cover for me. Ahh, big thanks to the addictive power of nicotine, and the big moneymaking corporations that mass-market the cancer inducing product. I love my smokes!
My party got to the hotel we were staying at around 10 p.m. Central standard time. We sat around, watched some Sportscenter, and got settled in with our chosen decks. Paul would be playing something similar to Mexican Lobotomy, Laura, my fiancée, was with Green/Red splash blue, and I still had my heart set on playing Counter Trenches. Tawnya, Paul’s girlfriend, and pretty hip chick (Pretty hip chick, copyright belonging to X
Enterprises, to receive more information on the Pretty Hip Chick program, please feel free to email me) is still learning how to play that game, and she was there just to take pictures of all of us. Lastly, the previously unmentioned Ray was not with us in Nashville. He instead went out with his new female, and dissed us for that.
A full time job is not the death of a Magic player’s career: A female is.
Anyhoo, we played Magic for about two hours, and near the end of our testing, I grow weary of my deck’s performance. The newly-added Opts were clogging up my deck for some reason, and proved to be useless. After I lose to Laura and her Green/Red/Blue deck, I gather my cards, put them in a nice little pile, and chuck them sunsabitches clear across our hotel room. They slapped the wall with a dull thud, and rested nicely on the floor for a little while. I get myself ready for much-needed rest, and I try to go to Happy Happy Nap-Nap land. It was to no avail, as pictures of failure instead of sugarplums danced in my head.
Damn sugarplums, always getting a brotha’s hopes up.
I stay in bed for all of thirty minutes, and finally get up to change my deck. I took out the Opts, added two more Urza’s Rage, and one more Goblin Trenches to take their place. I modified my sideboard a bit, and then, I was finally able to go to sleep.
White space to think about what I dreamt of.
I awake a full hour before the wake up call was delivered to the room. I went outside, breathing in the toxic Nashville air, and took a shower. Showers are good. After everyone was cleaned up, I went to go retrieve our free breakfast, and boy oh boy, did the staff at that Days Inn surprise us. Spread before us in a beautiful layout were all kinds of breakfast foods, eggs, bacon, toast, and a little”make your own omelet” bar.
Sigh, actually our breakfast consisted of four different kinds of Danishes and watered-down orange juice. Paul and Tawnya went off to Denny’s, and Laura went back to the room, while I hung around and watched as the assorted dorks and nerds walked into the hotel for the tournament. I learned that 8:30 a.m. DCI time actually means 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard time, and am quite pissed; we all could have gotten a little more sleep.
I talked to a guy who slept outside in his van; he had driven up from Atlanta GA, and I had been laughing at his sad state. Little did I know that this very player would end up playing the part of Dreamcrusher to my Pro Tour hopes and me.
Registration finally begins and players start to pour in. My friends Ricky and Justin Atwood brought Elizabethtown’s favorite jackass in Lenny Vowels, and Jarod Burt rolled in later with his brother in tow. Mason Greene, Jason Dooley, Aaron Clark, Barry Hyden, Terry West and Clay Baker all showed up to make a very good showing in the volunteer state.
Before I get to my report here is the Master T-approved information that all you need to know.
Tournament site: Nashville TN, in a crappy Days Inn.
Tournament organizer: Fly By Nite Events.
Tournament format: Invasion Block Constructed.
Number of Danishes I consumed: One.
(Theron would object; the type of danishes you consume is very important to the metagame – The Ferrett)
Here’s what I played:
Played by and inspiration pulled from The Ben Seck.
I open up my Pro Tour Qualifier drawing Matt Frazier, a competitor in the Atlanta top eight held a few weeks prior. Matt is running a very good Black/Red deck, and it showed that he knew it quite well. I went in with a false sense of security, though; I had been pantsing Black/Red all morning long.
Sigh. That is what I get for pantsing stuff, right?
I lost, and boy did he ever pound me into the ground.
Game one started off with me parising into a six-card hand; it had a few counterspells, a bit of land, and a bit of not much else. He has two Shivan Zombies in play by turn four, and I began to have vicious beatings applied to my forehead, dome, melon, or whatever else you may want to call it. He ends game one with me dealing four points a damage via a Prophetic Bolt.
Game two, Matt mulligans, and I get off to a great start. I am able to counter the serious threats, and Repulse stuff to help me cycle through my deck. I get down a midgame Trench and attack with an amazing horde of three goblin tokens each attack phase. I end the game out of rage range and in a comfortable eleven life.
Game three, however, was not to be in my favor. I had dealt with all his threats until turn seven. He has no cards in hand, and I am holding at least a Repulse and a Jilt. He draws into a Skizzik, kicks it up a bit, and I Repulse it. I draw into land. He goes, draws, and plays the Skizzik, kicked again. I Jilt it, and draw yet another land. He draws, looks at his hand, and plays the Skizzik yet again. I have to take the damage. I draw into a Rout, and now he is holding one card, and I am holding nothing. He draws, plays the card that was in his hand, a land, and then proceeded to kick up the freshly-topdecked Skizzik. That play sends me packing straight into the loser’s bracket.
Round two: Jason Westerfield Jr. Rocket Shoes.
Untuned and untied. I win.
I felt really bad for playing this matchup. Jason, while a sweet little boy, had not been playing for a long time. It really showed. He would never play around my counters, often times tapping out to aim Ghitu fires to my melon. I never really doubted my chances of victory, and I was able to sweep him out. Not much to report anyway, I swung with seven goblins first game, and second game, I got out a fifth-turn Teferi’s Moat. I, of course, named green and stopped his offense cold.
Whee! After this round is over, I proceed to the judge’s table and ask if they will be having judge certifications during the day. They tell me no, and suggest that I should come to the prerelease and get my cert done there. I will not be able to make it, as I have to prepare for Grand Prix: Minnesota the week after the prerelease.
Round three: Jeff Baker: 1970’s style Domain.
About the only new thing that Jeff has in this Domain deck is Legacy Weapon. He casts it during game one, and to save time, I decided to scoop before the weapon goes online. I sideboard all of my burn spells (Read, Breath of Darigaaz.) and bring in the Hot Chicks mage.
I also bring in Rakavolver and Lightning Angels, and forgo the standard sideboarding of Aura Blast as well for some reason. Jeff never gets off the ground, as I start some savage beatings with a third turn Rakavolver. A sixth turn Lightning Angel shows up uncountered, and the party really begins at that point. Jeff is able to cast a Collective Restraint, but it was too little too late. My duo of Urza’s Rage and Breath of Darigaaz finish him off.
Game three was quite anticlimactic. I get a second-turn Meddling Mage, and name with him, Dromar’s Charm. I am able to bring the beatdown with Pikula; I counter three key Harrows, which keeps him land hosed, and away from the Domain. He gets a Legacy Weapon into play, but alas, it would do him no good; he never got an untap phase in which to use it. My Mage knocks him down to six life, and during my second main phase, while he was still tapped out, the Rage of Urza ends this match.
I enter the lunch break at a solid 2-1. I am still having dreams of making the top eight, but I realize that I must win the final four rounds to have a chance.
Lunch Break, and what I did.
I went back to my hotel room, slammed down a Slim Fast, laid down with my fiancée, and tried to rest my tired mind for the upcoming rounds. Yeah, I did say Slim Fast. Yeah, I have lost close to seventy pounds in the past three months, so I am now at a petite 270. Jesus, when you can not swallow solid foods, you start to lose weight.
Round four: Aaron Clark, Red/Green, Splash Blue. I win.
I have dealt with Aaron a couple of times, and I know he is a good player. He won the last constructed Pro Tour Qualifier in Nashville, but failed to go to Tokyo. He is running the same deck that his friend, Ryan Nunn used to win St. Louis with a few weeks ago, and I feel like this is one of my better matchups.
The lunch break caused me to lose some of my momentum, and it showed in my play for the first game of our round. I kept what I realize now is a horrible hand, and Aaron just beats me. Ghitu Fire for six earns him the first game.
I side in my creatures and keep in my Trenches for the second game, I knew that I needed an answer to Blurred Mongoose and still be able to keep up with him. I blazed out of the starting gates with a second-turn Ice, third turn
Trench, and fourth turn Lightning Angel. These cards knock him down to two life rather quickly, and before he has the chance to draw something and beat me, I rage him out.
Urza’s Rage is quite the solid beating.
Game three was a battle. We each had our trump cards, and every turn we were trying to land the fatal knockout blow. Aaron led off with the Mongoose, while I fired back with the Trenches. Over the course of three turns we both sat at five life. Bruised and battered, Aaron tried unsuccessfully to Fire me out of the game. He untaps, draws his card, then starts to cycle though his deck, looking now for a way to deal with my ten goblin tokens. He tries, fails, and extends the hand in defeat.
Round five. Joe Iforgothislastnameandiamsorry.
Counter Trench, I draw.
Joe entered this round undefeated and I sighed as I thought I was paired up. Actually, by undefeated, he meant that he was 2-0-2. That made me relax a little bit. He was playing a deck similar to mine, and I figured that I was going to be in for a long game. It was, in my opinion, a suboptimal design, as he was maindecking Captain’s Maneuver.
Game one was our longest game by far. We both tried to set up our board position and I was the first to draw blood. I got my Trenches out first, made four goblin tokens, and protected them from all the burn, Repulses, and other removal that he could bring at me. He played a kicked Urza’s Rage, which brought me down to six life, and close to death. When he failed to draw into a business card during his last draw phase, my tokens made quick work of him.
Game two things worked out much better for him. He got a double-kicked Rakavolver, and it was active for one attack phase. I am able to Repulse and Exclude it, and soon we both had dueling Lightning Angels on the board. I attack, put damage on the stack and Rage his angel in hopes that I could have a clear attacking position. He Maneuvered the Rage to my own Angel, and I was forced to Rage his angel again. Instead of board superiority, we had reached parity. Game two ends in two kicked Rages to my dome.
Darn, Urza’s Rage is a solid beating.
During game two it looked like we would have to accept a draw, but we decided to try and play it out. I get out a quick Meddling Mage and name Urza’s Rage. I proceed to attack and Pikula is joined in the air by the ANGEL DEER BLITZ! Time is called, and I am unable to kill him from seven life.
Round Six. Yancy Hale. Red/Green, Splash Blue.
For the second round against R/G/u, I get land hosed during the first game. I only cast one spell this game: Fire/Ice. I packed it in, did my standard sideboarding, and went to the second game.
This was a much better game. Turn three, I am able to Breath away two Blurred Mongeese. His offense stalled while I went into overtime with Lightning Angel and tokens. He Flametongues the Angel, but it was replaced by another. Looking at the sexy angel and four tokens, he enters his scoop phase.
Game three was not fair. He started off with the standard second turn Mongoose, only to see it Breathed away during my turn. I cast Angel, he takes one more draw, and scoops his cards away.
I enter the final round with high hopes. A win puts me in a good spot for the top 8, while anything less knocks me out. I get paired against Kentucky supa playa Barry Hyden. I get to play a friend for a spot on the top eight. I love this game – it’s fantastic!
Barry Hyden. MY BEST MATCHUP EVER!
Result: Win, and a berth in the top eight.
I have lost my notes from this round, but we split the first two games. In the third game we have parity, and begin to fight a counter war over my Teferi’s Moat.
At this point, Barry has two lands in that are untapped. I cast my third Evasive Action, fully expecting him to pay it, but to my surprise, Barry lets it resolve. He was unaware of the last two untapped lands! I become aggro with my Goblin Trenches and soon I have upwards of ten tokens in play. He is unable to find the answer, and I am going to play in my first-ever Top Eight.
I finish in seventh place; one spot higher than I should have. Craig Wescoe, who at the point was 7-0, dropped out after his last match, and that allowed me to move up one spot.
Top Eight, and the best that I remember it.
2. Richie Proffit
4. Karl Allen
7. Joshua X Claytor
Well, I guess I only remember the seeding of three players. Sigh.
Quarterfinals: Richie Proffit. Counter Trenches.
Result: I win.
By the way, from this point on, I have lost all my notes, so expect things to be hazy from me.
Richie although a very very nice guy, and a wonderful player, was the recipient of two unfortunate games. He was lacking blue mana for most of game one, and game two, he was lacking land altogether. I end both games with an obscene amount of Goblin tokens, and I was going on to the top four.
Semifinals: Karl Allen. Green/Red/Black, with main deck Destructive Flows. I win.
Still more of the same, last round, I knock out a StarCity writer, and this round I aim to knock off a 7towers writer. Karl defeated my fiancée, Laura in the swiss rounds, and I knew it was time to take revenge for my soon to be wife. (She is still a better player than I am, though.) All three of these games were close, hard-fought, and whoever parised more won. Game one he went to five, game two I went to five, and in the deciding game he kept his opening hand while I went to six. I kept up, and eventually won the round. He wished me luck, and I advanced to the top two.
*ASIDE* Karl is a great guy, and a great player to boot. However, his wife, Stacey still wears the pants in the family with one Pro Tour under her belt to his none. He will get there soon.
Finals: Ricky. The guy who was sleeping in the van.
MY BEST MATCHUP EVER!
Result: I lose.
I still have no notes to this round. I wish I did, but it went like this:
Game one: I am land screwed and lose to the Mongoose.
Game Two: I win, somehow pulling it out of my rear.
Game three: Play by play.
I start off with a mulligan. Play a land.
He lays land.
I lay another land, pass the turn.
He plays land, Mongoose.
I draw, pass.
Draw, play land.
Draw Breath, pass turn
Draw, pass, End step Urza’s Rage
Me: Scoop phase.
I lost my best chance to the tour due to mana screw. I know that stuff happens, but I wish that it would not have happened in the most important game of my Magic career.
Sigh. So close, yet still such a bad player.
I know prepare for Grand Prix Minnesota. I really like the trench deck, and may stay with it. I am taking a liking to Kai Budde domain deck, but other then that, I am clueless of my deck choice.
When I get on the Pro Tour, you will have to drag my kicking and screaming before I am forced back off of it.
Wish me luck!
Craig Wescoe. For dropping, and making me not have to play you in my first ever top eight. Good Luck in New Orleans.
Ricky. Thanks for the games – good luck in New Orleans.
Tawnya Wimsatt. For taking the pictures of me during my playing. For being the first one out of the tournament hall to congratulate me on my first top eight.
Paul Hollar. For not dissing us. For learning how to draft. For testing with me.
Every player in Kentucky. Thank you for believing in me. I know that I will not disappoint the next time around.
Laura Karem. For being the best thing that has ever happened to me in my Magic career.
None. I did too well, and played ten perfect competitors. What more could I ask for?
Oh wait, I lied – slops to DAYS INN for being the biggest pile of crap hotel ever made.
Updated: I log on to the internet on Wenesday morning, and am checking out ratings and such on the DCI webpage. Gee, after a horrible Barium Swallow to see if my esophagus works, I am giddy to see that I am now ranked tenth in the state of Kentucky. I have gained one hundred and seventeen points in just two weeks!