First of all, let me tell you all I didn’t play a single game of Constructed with my deck before Nationals. Why? Well for one reason no one else besides Gerry and Tbulge were qualified from Minnesota and Tbulge decided not to go, so I didn’t really have anyone to test with. Second, our testing group TBS was going in too many directions with the decks we all wanted to play. Once I had my mind set on a certain deck, someone would shoot it down with something else that intrigued me and that basically went on for about two months before the tournament. Another problem with testing for Type Two was that nobody had any cards for Type Two on Magic Online that I could borrow. This proved to be a huge problem because this is where I always test for tournaments. I wanted to make sure I was prepared for the portion of the tournament because I had been slacking from Magic a little bit. Let’s just say I got my rating to hover around 1920 for a while so I was confident in my ability to draft still. I talked to Tim Aten and Adam Chambers a couple days before Nationals and they decided both to play Tooth and Nail because they both didn’t really like anything else and Tooth and Nail is obviously a good deck because it wins every tournament ever. Gerry said he had an extra copy of the deck for me to play, so that’s what made me decide on the deck because I didn’t want to be scrounging for a deck the night before Nationals.
I qualified for U.S. Nationals this year from the Pro Players Club. I got my first taste of the Pro Tour a long time ago when Tim Bulger (Tbulge), Nate Siftar, and myself won a team PTQ for Pro Tour: Boston. We didn’t win a single match there, but it was a good experience to know what the next level was like. A year after that I was going to team with Gerry Thompson and Tim Aten for Grand Prix D.C., but Gerry decided on not to go, so I pulled some strings and recruited Gadiel Szielfer to the team. I didn’t know him all that well, I just knew him from Magic Online. We ended up getting 8th, which qualified all 3 of us for Pro Tour: Seattle, the next Pro Tour. We then got 7th at that Pro Tour, qualifying Gadiel and I for Pro Tour: Columbus, while also picking up 8 pro points in the process, which turned out to be very important. After that, we won Grand Prix: Chicago as team :B and ever since then I’ve been to every Pro Tour, but haven’t had a decent finish yet. I always seem to be picking up 3 pro points, but they add up. So that’s where I stand today with 23 Pro Points and at level 3 in the pro players club. It’s a lot easier to make it on the “train” than some people think, as you can tell from how I’ve made it there. My advice to some of you that want to make it to this level is to never give up and don’t skip any pro tour you are qualified for. You never know when you’re going to get lucky and have a breakout performance, which I haven’t had the luck to do yet it seems. Anyway, here’s the story of my first U.S. Nationals experience.
I was traveling with a kid named Nick7575 on Magic Online because he was qualified for the JSS and he lives near me. I called him the night before the tournament because I hadn’t heard from him in a while and he tells me, “I can’t wait for next weekend!” I tell him he’s stupid and that it is really tomorrow. I don’t see how you can possibly get that wrong. Anyway, we leave the next morning and after a short connection in Memphis, we make it to Baltimore. I find Gerry, Mike Krum and Gabe Walls gaming some Type Two, so I bust out the Affinity deck that I wanted to play and proceed to lose 19 games straight to Gwalls’s Mono-Blue deck and decide to just play Tooth and Nail. Here’s the list I decided to play.
Bearl and Nail
4 Tooth and Nail
4 Vine Trellis
4 Sakura Tribe-Elder
4 Sylvan Scrying
4 Plow Under
4 Sensei’s Diving Top
4 Reap and Sow
3 Eternal Witness
2 Viridian Shaman
1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
1 Mephidross Vampire
1 Sundering Titan
2 Chrome Mox
1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers
Yeah, that’s right. There’s a Jitte in the board and it won me sooooo many games. Going up to 4 Viridian Shaman is so key in aggro matchups and Mono-Red can’t even deal with the Jitte if they are not prepared for it. The Troll Ascetics turned out to be very disappointing because I didn’t cast it once and it seemed like I never really wanted to draw it. The Creeping Molds turned out to be insane because they are good against almost everything except Red. They are especially good against White Weenie because they kill all of your problem cards including Glorious Anthem. After scrambling for some cards before the tournament I finally get all that I need and get ready to play.
Round 1: Jeremy Moore
I actually had no idea what to expect from my first round of Type Two. He was playing Aggro Red with Arc-Sloggers, Seething Songs, Sorcerers, Sliths, and Chokers. Game 1 he starts out with a mulligan. He gets out a early Slith, but I have Trellis to stop that Banonsense. He plays a Zo-Zu and I get low on life, not being able to find a Tooth and Nail. I get a lot of mana out and I even burn for two down to five with Top in play from a Tower. I mean, I know I’m bad at Type Two because I’ve never played a game with it in my life, but that’s just uncalled for. It ends up not mattering because I Tooth the next turn and eventually win with Titan and Kiki-Jiki. I board out 4 Plow Unders, 1 Reap and Sow, 4 Tooth and Nail, 1 Mephidross and 1 Kiki-Jiki for 2 Viridian Shaman, 2 Jitte, 4 Troll Ascetic, and 3 Iwamori. I figure he is going to board in like Sowing Salts and more land destruction so I take out the tooth combo for the creature package, which doesn’t even seem that good.
Game 2 he starts with a turn 2 Slith and turn 3 Zo-Zu, which proves to be good this time. He plays a Furnace Whelp as well, which wrecks me. Pat Sullivan posted in our list online saying how good Whelp was in Seething Song Red against Green and it showed this game. He even played a Jitte of his own this game. After the game I figure to beat Whelp I need to Tooth or draw my Jitte so I board back in the Tooths and Kiki-Jiki and I don’t remember what I took out for them.
Game 3 he has to mulligan again and I keep a good opener. I get Top, a lot of Sylvan Scryings and some Vine Trellis’s but not a lot of Gas. I eventually Top into Jitte and Viridian Shaman a Chrome Mox of his. He keeps my guys off the board though and prevents me from getting Jitte counters. He also has to trade 3 guys for Iwamori and I Tooth after that and win with another Iwamori, Triskelion and Sundering Titan after time is called. I apologize to him for my terrible play, which I figure I’m going to be doing a lot of on the weekend with this deck.
After the round I brag to a bunch of people about how genius I am for having Jitte sideboard in Tooth and Nail and start kicking myself for not having more. It seems like the best card ever sideboard because they never see it coming.
Round 2: Joel Negron
We are playing the Tooth mirror match. Game 1 he plays first, which seems like the biggest advantage ever in this match up because he plows me on turn 4 and Tooths the next turn and I concede. I board in 3 Creeps for 1 Vine Trellis and 2 Viridian Shaman and he mulligans into 1 land and Top, while I keep a good hand. I Creep him and get Tron and then Tooth then we head to game 3. I keep the sideboard the same for this game and I keep an insane opener this time, which includes 2 Green mana sources, 2 Tron pieces, Tooth and Nail and Sylvan Scrying. I am going to turn 4 Tooth, but he one-ups me with a turn 3 Tooth and Nail lkasjlka. BunZ. I didn’t even know that was possible, but he did it and I lost bad. He even had a Creeping Mold in his hand afterwards. He apologizes to me even though I didn’t really expect to win the Tooth mirror, even though my hand was insane. Record 1-1
After some bad beat stories round 3 pairings are posted and this seems like it’s the most important round of the tournament for me. Going 2-1 into the draft would make me very happy because I know I can at least 3-1.
Round 3: Chris Fennell
I don’t know what he is playing, but I figure out that it is WW. I don’t think the matchup is too bad because I can basically goldfish against him as long as his draws aren’t retarded. Game 1 my hand is 2 Green sources, Tron, and Tooth. Seems like a keeper. I cast a turn 4 Sundering Titan putting him low on lands, Viridian Shaman a Choker, then Tooth for Triskelion and another Shaman and I win. I board in 2 Shaman, 3 Creeping Mold, and 2 Umezawa’s Jitte for 2 Witness, 4 Plow Under and 1 Reap and Sow. Game 2 wasn’t even close because he drew a lot of lands and I drew 2 Shamans and a Jitte. That just was right there. Without Matrix to stop the Jitte, it goes all the way.
I was very happy going into draft # 1 at 2-1 and not 1-2. My only loss was to a turn 3 Tooth and Nail also so I could even be 3-0. There really isn’t anything to this Constructed stuff at all. I expect some pod of 1 or 2 people I know and the rest all donks. Instead I know almost everyone at my pod or have heard their name before.
Postlethwait, William (Billy
Looking around, I see Eugene Levin at a table next to me with literally no one I have ever seen before. Geddes is on my right passing to me and the two people I’m not too familiar with are on my left. I open a pack of Frostwielder and well the rest doesn’t matter because Frostwielder is the best card ever printed, so I take it and ship the rest. I then get passes a pack of Blademaster and Houndmaster. To me this pick isn’t even close because White/Red is just BunZ and Houndmaster secures me in what I think is the best color. I then proceed to get passed a Mystic Restraints followed by a Consuming Vortex, putting me right where I want to be which is Blue/Red, by far my favorite color combination at this point. I also pick up an Ember-fist Zubera, Soul of Magma and Brutal Deceiver late in the pack confirming me into red. Second pack I open a Torrent of Stone, but don’t get a whole lot after that besides a Mistblade Shinobi, Frostling, and random creatures like Frost Ogre. Pack 3 just goes insane for me. My first 3 picks are Spiraling Embers and 2 Barrel-Down Sokenzans. I also pick up 2 Akki Underlings, a Moonbow Illusionist and a Murmurs from Beyond, which is one of my favorite cards to get in the last set in Blue. This is what I ended up with:
1 Blademane Baku
2 Akki Underling
1 Ember-fist Zubera
1 Oboro Breezecaller
1 Moonbow Illusionist
1 Shinen of Fury’s Fire
1 Brutal Deceiver
1 Mistblade Shinobi
1 Ronin Houndmaster
1 Soul of Magma
1 Frost Ogre
1 Ronin Cavekeeper
1 First Volley
1 Consuming Vortex
2 Barrel Down Sokenzan
1 Murmurs from Beyond
1 Torrent of Stone
1 Spiraling Embers
1 Mystic Restraints
Now that’s what I’m talking about. A good curve, solid removal, and in my 2 favorite colors. A problem with this deck is that I didn’t get any River Kaijins or Callous Deceiver’s so I don’t really have any defense at all, but I should be fine because of all the removal I got. Also notice that every single card in the deck is a common. Jesse River pointed this out to me after the draft and I couldn’t believe it. Apparently I don’t like playing with uncommons or rares. It’s just not in my style to open them.
Round 4: William Postelwait
Not the person I wanted to see round 1 because I saw him kind of slam down a card in his first pack, which got me scared a bit. He is also a good player and probably one of the best at the table. Game 1 I get a nice curve and he is getting beat down with a Moonbow Illusionist and a Frostwielder for a while until he plays Kokusho, the Evening Star. He has to sit back on it though because he is already at a low life total. He then plays a Seshiro, the Anointed, which he got 4th pick. I precede to Frostwielder his Leafcaller and get embarrassed, but I still eventually win the game though with Breezecaller and Akki Underlings to his slow draw. Breezecaller was actually the nuts this game because it always made Underling a threat if he decided to block it. Game 2 goes very similar to game 1. He gets another very slow draw and I curve out with my deck again and kill 2 guys with Barrel and that was basically.
Round 5: Omid Najppor
This is one of the kids to my left I was passing to. I recognized his name from somewhere but couldn’t remember where though. He tells me he got very lucky to win round 1 of the draft and says I am going to bash him. I don’t really believe him until he plays 2 Tribe-Scouts and 2 Fiddlehead Kamis game 1. I play a flyer and win with Frostwielder and that. He boards in like 30 cards, which confuses me for a while, until I see a Sokenzan Bruiser and more fat. I guess he just boarded in all of his big cards, which ended up actually being good against me because I didn’t really have any defense in my deck and I eventually get overrun by his 3/3’s for 5. Game 3 is probably the closest game I played on the weekend. I get a fast draw, but it is trumped by him playing a fat guy every turn after turn 5. We both draw lands for a while and a key turn comes when he attacks me with a Lifespinner. He leaves back 3 guys, 2 of which are Sakura Tribe-Scouts and 1 is a Fiddlehead. The Fiddlehead blocks my Frost Ogre, my Brutal Deceiver gets through, but my Underlings have to trade with his Tribe-Scouts. I Mistblade his Lifespinner and leave him at a low life total with me having 3 guys to his 1 Lifespinner in hand. The game ends shortly after that.
Round 6: David Irvine
I am told that his deck is nuts and I wouldn’t doubt it with all the insane White I was passing, which apparently got to him. Both games were actually not close. Game 1 he gets a fine draw but floods out and losing straight up to a Frostwielder. He tries to race me with a Jetting Glasskite but has to block a Frost Ogre with it and that was basically game. Game 2 I go Ember-fist, Houndmaster, Frostwielder with 2 Barrels in my hand and I make sure he doesn’t have Hail of Arrows with my Moonbow Illusionist before combat. He didn’t really draw anything though and I win easily.
Round 7: Geddes Cooper
He is in awe that I beat Irvine because his deck was apparently the best thing he had ever seen. I didn’t really see much out of it, so I guess I was just lucky. Geddes didn’t want to play against me because he knew that I had the actual nuts because he was passing to me pack 1 and 3. He also regretted not taking the Ronin Houndmaster in pack 2, which basically set me up for the entire draft.
Game 1 he gets my entire hand by turn 5 with Waking Nightmare and Three Tragedies, but then he draws like 5 land in a row and I draw some flyers and he loses shortly after that. Game 2 he doesn’t draw much besides a Skull Collector, which gets bounced every turn. My flyers get him again though and I move to a cool 4-0 in the draft and 6-1 on the day.
At this point I see that I have terrible tiebreakers, but I am kind of happy about not being in pod one because literally everyone was good in it and I didn’t want the match loss of Adam Chambers in my pod. Instead I get in a pod with Eugene Levin, Jon Sonne, and five other people I have never heard of. I played against Joel Negron and his turn 3 Tooth and Nail, but the others are a mystery to me. I’m feeling pretty good about my 5-0 run after losing round 2, but I expected to at least 3-1 the draft. I had so much confidence in my drafting ability that I didn’t really worry about winning the draft matches at all. It was like the Constructed and Limited portions of Nationals were 2 different tournaments. I felt so uncomfortable playing Type Two because I haven’t really played it all that much. Let me just say that I never want to have that feeling again and always make sure you are prepared for whatever you are playing in.
After we look at the standings we go hit up a local Hooters for some wings and cakers. The food wasn’t too great, but the service was pretty fine. I get a good two hours of sleep, which is always nice. We wake up and the hotel lobby is full of JSSers and their parents. Wow, what a nightmare that was. We cram about sixty 12-15 year olds (including Gadiel) on a bus and head to the site for Day 2.