On The Way To Nationals

Wednesday, April 27 – Chris VanMeter is a rising star in the MTG world and has just qualified for both his first Pro Tour and his first Nationals. This tournament report captures his Nats Qualifer experience!

Hello! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Chris VanMeter, and this is my report for the Nationals Qualifier in Kansas City. A little
background about myself: I’m originally from the Seattle area, and that’s where my Magic roots are. I’ve played for quite a while and have always been
one of those “local grinders” everyone knows about at all the PTQs. You know, the ones who are always at the top tables, in the Top 8s and doing well,
but who just cannot seem to grasp the blue envelope.

I’ve been in Wichita, Kansas, now for almost three years, and at the end of last year, I made a decision to step my game up. I wanted to do better. I
wanted to actually Q for the Pro Tour, and the StarCityGames.com Open events paved a way for players to make a name for themselves while honing their
skills and making some money. The efforts I’ve been putting in are already paying off, as I have placed in the Top 8 and the Top 4 in Opens, as well as
a few Top 16s, a near miss at 9th in LA, and a Draft Open Win. I also won the Kansas City PTQ the following weekend after the Kansas City Open.

After GP Dallas, I made the decision to stop reducing my chance of doing well in tournaments by wanting to “beat the best deck” rather than just
playing the best deck. I sleeved up Caw-Blade and battled and battled. I spoke with AJ Sacher a bit about sideboarding and bounced a list off some of
the Glub Clubbers. I had an idea of what my list would be when I went up to KC Friday night to stay in the Aquarium with Ryan O'Connor, Adam Boyd, and
Landon Doty.

Ryan and Adam were pretty set on basically the same list I was, and after laying it out and discussing some of the numbers, we were set on playing the

After playing the deck in the tournament, the only card I was unhappy with was the third Mana Leak. Adam and I feel like it should be a fourth Spell
Pierce, a Sun Titan, or a second Inkmoth Nexus.

There were 140 people, so we got ready for eight rounds of battling.

Sideboarding with this deck is actually pretty easy. Hawks come out against Valakut. Mana Leaks come out on the draw against most decks (except for
Valakut and RUG). And Sun Titans come in against most decks.

Round 1 – Adam I with U/W Blade

In game one, we both had turn 2 Stoneforge Mystics; however he was on the play. I had the miser’s Journey and was able to get ahead. He was stuck on
lands, and I was able to get Jace online eventually and overwhelm him with the card advantage.

In game 2, we went back and forth killing each other’s Gideons and Jaces. Eventually, he tapped out to play a bunch of Hawks, and I dropped Sun Titan.
My being able to recur Tec Edges and Jace Beleren was just too much for him. At one point, I used Divine Offering on one of my empty Tumble Magnets to
rebuy it with the Sun Titan.

Round 2 – Cory with Boros

Cory beat me in Dallas and was thinking that I was still on the Elves deck. When I played a Seachrome Coast on turn 1, he knew the jig was up. I had
firm control on this game the entire time. I Journeyed his turn 2 Geopede and played some Hawks to make him overextend his board into my Wrath.

In game 2, he played out multiple Sparkmages and casually drew the Collar. I didn’t see a single Mystic, Journey, Day, or Condemn. Luckily, he killed
me pretty quickly, and we were on to game 3. I knew he played a little slowly, as our match in Dallas went to time, so I tried to keep the pace going.
This game went back and forth; however, I had an early Mortarpod and controlled his creatures. I mistakenly used a Divine Offering early on an
Adventuring Gear, and his Bonehoard started taking over the game. Eventually, I use Gideon’s +2 ability a couple times when we were in extra turns, and
we drew.

Round 3 – Wes S. with RUG

I knew Wes as he was a local in Wichita. I had him on either RUG or Blade and knew what I was up against when he played Halimar Depths on turn 1. I had
the turn 2 Mystic (on the play), and when he didn’t play anything on turn 2, I was pretty happy. He Bolted my Mystic when I went to equip it with a
Sword, but fortunately I had naturally drawn the Mortarpod and had a Germ to suit up. Later in the game, he couldn’t play the Inferno Titans in his
hand, since he had fetched an Island with one of his Tarns early in the game, and my Tectonic Edges kept him off the second red.

In game 3, he had the standard turn 2 Cobra, turn 3 Explore into double fetch into Inferno Titan. I played Mystic on two for the Mortarpod and was able
to kill his Cobra on turn 3. After taking a shot from the Titan, I was able to Oust it and Tec Edge his second red, putting him back to four mana.
After he missed a land drop, I played a Hawk and a Mystic. He was able to get a Jace in play, but my Tumble Magnets and Colonnade (with Sword) outraced
his Double Titan. This was another game where fetching the wrong land early cost Wes. Having double red in the late game against Blade is pretty
important for RUG, and you can’t rely on your nonbasics.

Round 4 – Nathaniel with G/W Vengevine (with Gideon)

Sadly, I don’t remember much about the first game, except that I Condemned his Vengevine on turn 5 when I played my Jace (after Wrathing on turn 4) and
just +2ed him out of the game.

In game 2, he had Fauna Shaman on turn 2 and was able to only get two activations out of it (fetching a Vengevine and pitching that one for a second).
I was able to get a five-for-one on my Wrath and start the Hawk grind. Once I drew a Mystic, it was all downhill from there. After the game, he asked
me if I had the Condemn. I didn’t, but he kept a Vengevine in his hand the entire game not wanting it to get Condemned. Sometimes “The Fear” just gets

Round 5 – Donnie P with U/W Venser

Unfortunately neither of these games was very interactive. In game 1, he had to mulligan on the draw, kept a three-lander, and drew a land for every
draw step afterwards, while I played Mystic on turn 2 and multiple spells each turn after it connected with the Sword. In game 2, he was also mana
flooded, and my Jace +2 every turn didn’t help.

Round 6 – Rodney B with Valakut

I know Rodney from KC and have traveled with him to a couple events. He’s a good kid, and I wish him well, but I really wanted to Q for Nationals.

In game one, he played out a couple Battlements for no reason when I had an active sword (going down to two cards in hand) and let me connect to get
rid of his Zenith, putting him 100% on a Titan. I Journeyed one of his Battlements to put him at eight mana so I could Leak his Titan. He drew a land,
but thankfully it was a Forest (he had two Valakuts and three Mountains in play) and cast his Titan. I had to let it resolve, and he got two more
Mountains. On my turn, I could Jace, Wrath, and double Tec Edge his Valakuts. Nice. Deck.

In game 2, we wound up in a weird board state, where we both had Tumble Magnets; he had Precursor Golem, and I had a Germ with two Mystics. I drew a
third and was able to cast it for my second Sword—which allowed me to attack with two Sworded Mystics and kill two of his Golems. He drew a blank, and
I Journeyed his last Golem and started attacking with double Swords while +2ing him with Jace.

Round 7 – Adam Boyd with the same 75

We discussed our options here since I was X-0-1, and he was X-1. Eventually we decided to just draw, since if we played and I beat him, he’d be out.
Later on in the round, I realized that I should have just scooped to him to guarantee one of us made it, since I would have to win the next round
anyway. Unfortunately we were too late, and we both had to battle! You always choose to battle right!?

Round 8 – Matt with Blade

Matt is a local player who informed me that he was not able to go to Nationals and agreed to scoop to me. What a friend! Luckily I was sitting right
next to Adam’s match and watched him deliver some Justice to some guy playing B/R Vampires.

So there you have it. Qualified for my first Nationals. So far, this year is going very well for me. Qualified for my first Pro Tour, qualified for my
first Nationals, and now Level 4 in the StarCityGames.com Player’s Club and on the verge of Level 5. Keep your eye out, as this year isn’t even halfway
over, and I’m planning on doing a lot more!

Thanks for reading! I appreciate any and all feedback; you can reach me at [email protected].