Pro Tour Prague: Play the Game, See the World!

RGD Lessons from Pro Tour: Prague!

The Cak travelled to Pro Tour Prague with high hopes. Unfortunately for him, those hopes proved fruitless, as he failed to make Day 2 play. Of course, this didn’t stop him from enjoying the Pro Tour Experience… And he has the pictures to prove it. His report is packed with fun stories and match runthroughs.

Wizard’s of the Coast’s new motto… “Play the Game, See the World!”

How about just “See the World?”

Who needs to play the game? As long as you attend every single possible event, you can easily make it on the “gravy train” like me. I am a little disappointed with another 2-3 performance at a Pro Tour, but it’s not like I haven’t experienced this before.

This article is more of a “what happened in Prague besides Magic,” so if you’re ready for the sightseeing tour, hop in. If not, there are still some deck lists you can scroll down to and look at (one of which was ridiculous, mind you… and don’t look at the other one if you want to have any respect for me).

The trip started with me frantically writing four papers for my classes at the U of M. I started two days before I left for Prague, because that is how I roll. High School taught me procrastination works, so that’s what I do. After getting those out of the way and packing, I headed off for Chicago where I would meet up with my parental supervisor, Gadiel Szliefer. Not before waiting at the airport for three-and-a-half hours.

This was then followed by a ten-hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany, where we waited an additional four hours before departing to Prague. Gadiel also had to sit next to a two-year-old kid that was kicking and screaming the entire flight. He did manage to sabotage the child’s puzzle, though. Thanks B.

Total Travel Time without Shower: 20 hours

Our plan was originally to sleep on the floor of Rich Hoaen room on Wednesday night, who was staying at the Corinthia Towers. However, the front desk could not find the room they were in, so we gave them our bags and went out to town. Here are some pictures of the main city where we went Wednesday night.

Sometimes you're the statue, sometimes you're the pigeon

Shawshank Revisited

Prague in the twilight

After a little sightseeing, we head back to the Corinthia Towers to wait for Hoaen. We end up eating in the hotel’s basement, where there was one of many “beer and bowling alleys” that we came across on the trip. After waiting in the hotel lobby for another hour or so, I yell out J Evan Dean for the win! He’s Canadian, and supposedly staying in the same room we are… he will know what to do for sure. He asks the front desk, but still nothing. We are stuck in a hotel lobby with no room, and the hotel is booked for the night. We decide to take the train back, close to the site, and try to get a room in a hotel there. We find a cab by the site, but the driver decides to take us thirty minutes in the wrong direction. We end up at some random hotel, and they are all full too. He gets directions to the real hotel that was 5 minutes away, but they have no rooms either. So we chill in the hotel lobby all night, getting practically no sleep. We did manage to crash the hotel’s computer by downloading Magic Online, which was the most exciting part of the night. At around 6:00am, we decide to get something to eat and walk around the city.

Total Travel Time without Shower or Sleep: 34 Hours

Here are some more pictures. Weeeeeeeee!

After going 2-3 at the PT, the bridge looked rather inviting

European buildings! omfg!

After a day out in town, we decide to go meet up with people at the site. However, everyone at the site was either in a draft or doing something else, so we head back out. We eventually make it back to the site, and then travel to the Player’s Dinner, which was a couple of train stops away. The music sucked and nobody at our table was in the mood to drink, not even for free. As much as I love old, loud, brass music, I just wasn’t feeling it. The food was good, and I crushed a draft we did at our table with the free set we got.

The Ablution Clock

Total Travel Time without Shower or Sleep: 52 Hours

After the Player’s Dinner, we head back to the hotel to wait for Matt Westfall to get in our room for the first time, and to take a shower for the first time since we left three days ago. Man, that felt good. I also managed to get about two hours of sleep, because of one Cedric Phillips. “Well” rested, we headed to the site and sit down to draft. Here was my first draft pod:

Tormod Pauli
Lucas Hammerer
Radek Kaczmarczyk
Marco Pancini
Chris Fennell
Maurice Schepp
Quentin Martin

I recognize Quentin and Chris from this pod, but that’s it, so I was feeling pretty confidant I was going to at least 2-1 or hopefully 3-0. Quentin was feeding me, which was kind of scary. I open a Selesnya Guildmage and not much else, so my first pick was easy. At this point, I want to try to force Green Blue Red, splashing a 4th color, which is exactly what happened. My next couple of picks are: Galvanic Arc, Vedalken Dismisser, Civic Wayfinder, and an Auratouched Mage. I also pick up a Selesnya Evangel and a really late Sandsower, so my deck was pretty much set from the get go. The rest of the draft goes very well for me, as I pick up some important Izzet cards and an Experiment Kraj second pick in the last set. Here’s what I registered to play for the first pod:

The deck turned out to be pretty insane, and I was confidant I could at least 2-1.

Round 1: Radek Kaczmarczyk

He doesn’t look very friendly, and I offer the “good luck” after cutting his deck, but it was met with no response. Time to put my game face on. (Looks like this :B)

Game 1 we both get solid draws, and the game eventually gets to a stall. He is playing very slowly at this point, but I still don’t call a judge. He kills my Selesnya Guildmage after I tap out, with Cackling Flames, and after I start drawing lands, his Drooling Groodion finishes me off.

Game 2 starts and there are about 25 minutes left on the clock. However, I end up crushing him this game with Experiment Kraj.

You Make The Play!

Game 3 might be the most nerve-racking game of Magic I have ever played. The game gets to a stall, and we go to time. He goes “all-in” and I need a lot of time to decide how to block. By this point, everyone is finished except for us, and a crowd gathers around our match, which I hate. I also get a warning from the judge that was watching our game for “slow play,” because I couldn’t decide how to block. I finally make up my mind and my Wildsize, Gather Courage, and Cackling Flames keep me in the game. Coiling Oracle nets me an Experiment Kraj the following turn, which was my only out. He still had Seal of Doom on the table however. The board is now Experiment Kraj, Minister of Impediments, Simic Ragwurm, and a 2/3 Ghor-Clan Savage for me; and Seal of Doom, Drooling Groodion with Shielding Plax on it, and two other creatures for him. On turn 3 of extra turns, I attack him down to 13 with the Ragwurm and pass the turn. He plays another creature and passes the turn. As a last ditch effort, I attempt to put a counter on Simic Ragwurm with the Kraj. All he has to do is kill the Kraj with Seal of Doom in response, and the game is a draw. He doesn’t do anything in response.

By now it has at least been 20 minutes past time, and the “head” judge comes over to speed things up. I put a counter on my Minister and he doesn’t respond. I tap the two guys I can with Kraj, and put counters on my guys. After I tap all my Blue mana, he uses his Seal of Doom to kill my Minister, which basically did nothing because on the next turn I make all three of my guys five power, attack with all three, he takes 10 and I finish him with Galvanic Arc. He played well the rest of the games, but Seal of Doom is apparently too complicated to use.

Record: 1-0

After feeling like that round was going to be a loss, I was ecstatic with the outcome. As long as I could avoid mana problems (yea right), rounds 2 and 3 should be easy.

Round 2: Marco Pancini

This guy is a lot friendlier than my last round opponent, so the games were a lot more relaxed, which might not have been a good thing.

Game 1 I mulligan to a decent five-card hand, but I lose to too much card advantage through a Bottled Cloister on his side of the board. He also had Windreaver and Selesnya Guildmage that game.

Game 2 the board, stalls and I need to draw one White source to win with Selesnya Guildmage, but I can only get him down to two because of a Gristleback. I don’t draw the White source, and lose next turn to the lack of flyers in my deck.

Record: 1-1

The next 2 rounds were going to determine if I was going to day 2 or not. It’s so much easier to get four wins from 3-1 than it is at 2-2. It’s not like I would know, though…

Round 3: Lucas Hammerer

This round wasn’t even close. I’m still not sure if his draws were just bad, but game 2 I mulled to five, missed two land drops, and I still won easily. He just laughed at how good my deck was the entire time, so he wasn’t too upset with losing. I had also just witnessed Gerry T beat the double Lyzolda deck. I could already see another story coming, a story that started with “my opponent had 2 Lyzoldas” and ended with “then I won”.

Record: 2-1

At this point, both Nicky Nygaard (das hopper on MTGO, omg!) and Rasmus Sibast (sibast on MTGO, omg!) are 3-0, which wasn’t surprising, and everyone else I knew was 2-1. We didn’t have much time to lollygag around, because the next pod pairings were up. Here’s my second pod:

John Pelcak
Julian Jardine
Przemyslaw Wolowiec
Dimitri Reinderman
Taylor Parnell
Yuuta Takahashi
Nico Bohny
Craig Edwards

This pod was pretty interesting. I recognized Craig and Taylor from random Pro Tour Qualifiers and Grand Prixes, but that was about it. I assumed the Japanese player was good, although I have never heard of him. I was being fed by Craig, which I was unsure if that was good or not, but it turned out to be disastrous. I first picked a Compulsive Research over Faith’s Fetters and Last Gasp because of the power that Blue has, but didn’t see any more strong Blue signals. I pick up a Brainspoil, Dimir Aqueduct, Dimir Infiltrator in my next couple of picks, but don’t see much else. Green isn’t being shipped to me at all, besides a late Mossdog (that I took), but nothing else from Green was getting to me. I banked on reaping the rewards of Izzet in the next pack, but only managed to pick up 2 Ogre Savants. The draft went even further downhill from there, as I stayed in Blue, Black, and Red. I picked up a late Exhumer Thrull, which in my mind is a bomb, but that was about it. Dissension didn’t go well either, and I left the table hanging my head. Here it is:

Look at the win conditions… Blue Magemark usually isn’t enough to win with, but I’ve won with worse decks before, I think. The manabase was also very nice. 6/6/6 is sometimes fine with a good deck, but the last thing my deck needed was a bad manabase, and that’s exactly what I gave it.

Round 4: Dimitri Reinderman

He was shaking as he was shuffling. I thought for a while I may have caught a break and gotten a weak player, but boy was I wrong.

Game 1 he played Mindmoil, 2 Spectral Searchlights, Compulsive Research, and Niv-Mizzet. Finkel, who was sitting to my left, also lost to Niv-Mizzet at the exact same time. Must be nice to have rares in your deck.

I actually manage to pull of game 2 with Enemy of the Guildpact because of his slow draw, but game 3 I get slaughtered by his sub-par draw. It wasn’t even close.

Record: 2-2

So I have to win four more games with this deck to advance to my first individual Pro Tour Day 2.

Round 5: Craig Edwards

I don’t know how he managed to lose a game with his deck. Simic Guildmage; Dimir Guildmage; Vedalken Dismisser; Momir Vig, Simic Visionary; Novijen Sages; and lots of good graft cards. At one point my hand was 2 Ogre Savants, Brainspoil, Wrecking Ball, Repeal, and Umezawa’s Jitte, with five lands in play to his nothing in play, and I still lost. Some things never change.

Record: 2-3 drop

Another PT gone by, and another $500 check in my pocket. Not sure how I managed to get to Level 3, but I’ll take it. Das Hopper was 16-0 at this point, and Rasmus had already drawn into the Top 8. Nobody felt like doing anything that night, so we just crash at the hotel.

The following night, after Day 2 of the Pro Tour, Gadiel, myself, Ruud, Wessel, Frank, and a bunch of other Dutchies went to a pizza place where the beer was only $1, which was pretty awesome. After dinner we called for a taxi, but the driver refused to drive us to our destination because we had one too many people for his car. He offered to call another cab for us, but when we said we would rather walk, he flipped his shit. After a barrage of “stupid Americans” and other random Czech profanity, he pushed us aside and went to complain to the hotel front desk where we had just eaten. We then start to walk away, and about two minutes into the walk the cab driver zooms by, and in the process manages to throw a plastic coke bottle at our group, which grazed my shoulder.

Good times in Prague, good times.

Later that night, our same group headed out to a pretty nice nightclub in downtown Prague, where we ran into a bunch of other Magic players including Jon Fiorillo, Osyp, Rich Hoaen, Craig Jones, Craig Krempels, and Justin Gary (sorry if I forgot some people, but I have a good reason). The best part was we got to see all of them dance. I haven’t seen anything quite like Osyp’s robot or Hoaen’s truffle shuffle. Besides the club having literally no girls, and me cutting my head on Ruud Warmenhoven teeth, the night was pretty awesome.

That ended my trip to Prague, which I enjoyed thoroughly. I would like to congratulate Rasmus Sibast for making Top 8, and also Ruud for making money at 2 straight PTs huhuhu. Quentin also deserved this top 8 more than a lot of people, so good job.

My next article should be my adventures at Ken Krouner house, and GP Toronto, so mark your calendars. I hope this was worth your time, because it certainly was worth mine!

Cak, signing out.