PTQ: Checked

Wednesday, Dec 5. I got home at two a.m. on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning after playing way too much Magic at CMU. Stupidly, I logged on to check my mail… and found sixty-three messages. Oh man. I did write that damned "respond to email with haste, chief" diatribe, didn’t I? At about 4:20 a.m., I hit…

Wednesday, Dec 5.

I got home at two a.m. on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning after playing way too much Magic at CMU. Stupidly, I logged on to check my mail… and found sixty-three messages. Oh man. I did write that damned "respond to email with haste, chief" diatribe, didn’t I? At about 4:20 a.m., I hit the pillow. If you received a reply from me that looked like this:

"thainx four riting. u won the comtest. sent me ur adress and ill sent you won playible rare.

jonh frigign riozz"

It might be because I was a little, um…drained.

Note to self: Don’t sign on when you get home from CMU. Ever.

Note to all y’all: If you write me mail after 4 PM EST on a Tuesday, give a brother some latitude in the response time, K? Like Wednesday morning (8 to 10 a.m.) or something.

FrigginRizzo: <—Asks for latitude with attitude.

Needless to say, I was not ready to tackle the day when I woke up at six. It sure was ready to tackle me, though.

Do you smell foreshadowing?

I get to work and smell fire… or was that foreshadowing? Casually traipsing around the twenty-thousand square foot building (which I used to think was cool to own) while wading through a thick mist of Fog (you should really use this card) is not enjoyable at 7:30, really.

Then I hear the whooshing of grand rapids and whatnot. Okay, so I guess that means there is a water main break outside that blew out a power line. Sure. I turn on the basement light, and Behold! I see three feet of water… and it’s rising. The basement is 5,000 square feet, multiplied by three feet, times Pi to the Nth power=a lot of friggin’ water.

Oh, yeah, I have some personal stuff down there that just might, and this is a stretch, be completely and utterly destroyed. Nothing much though — just a $2,500 set of drums, a $1,000 amp, a $500 guitar, maybe $10,000 dollars worth of recording equipment, one or two random porn tapes, and every master recording of every song me and my boys have ever done. Scrap it all. Thank you. Very much.

It appears that the basement boiler/hot water tank/whatever that huge ass thing is blew up and/or caught fire. Oh, that’s what I smelled. Hot water is overrated anyway.

And the building insurance is past due, due of course, to my extreme laziness and/or apathy.

And how was your Wednesday morning?

For those who threw their hands up in disgust, here are the riddle thingy contest answers:

Q. How far can a dog run into the woods?

A. Halfway.

If you don’t understand why this is the only valid answer, I cannot help you. At all. There were SEVEN correct answers. And I thought this was the EASY one.

Q. A man is walking in the woods. He’s walked the same path every day for twenty years. He comes across a cabin, which was not there yesterday; inside are three dead people.

1) How did they die?

A. They died in a plane crash.

2) Who are the people?

A. Pilot, Copilot, Navigator (although, many of you insisted that "Flight Engineer" was the correct title).

Since FOURTEEN people got this one at least semi-correct, I don’t think an explanation is necessary. And I thought this was the HARD one.

Identify all of these quotes (who said it and movie) and you win fifty playable rares:

1) "…I ain’t looking at the movie ’cause I already seen it seven years ago."

2) "It’s not the odds, it’s the wait."

3) "The next time you fellas strike it rich, holler at me first."

4) "Get them to sign on the line which is dotted."

5) "I’ve got this fella working for me – do you know what a hacker is?"

The movie quotes contest is going to go on until someone gets them all correct. One person got three of the five — but ya know, this isn’t horseshoes, now, is it? Someone get them right. Soon. Dammit.

Now, for something poignant. I’m just not sure what the point is.

{From Neutral Ground:

Paul Jordan, An Open Apology: "I am guilty of using terms like gay, girl, woman, and homosexual in a derogatory sense… To anyone who has seen this side of me, I am sorry."


Seven days later…

Paul Jordan, PTQ Tokyo at Pro Tour Chicago: "Brian is a savage cheater…I guess it is harder for him to win when he can’t cheat… Slops: Brian Desimone- savage cheater."


My father once told me that there are only two words someone can throw at you that you can never let them get away with:

1.) Liar.

2.) Cheater.

I don’t know either of the above parties. It’s none of my business. But there are some words that are much stronger than "gay," "fag," "whore," or any random ethnic slur you can think of.

I’m not sure if I should applaud Paul’s words (if he is indeed correct), or denounce them. Nevertheless, I find the situation to be very compelling in a sick, voyeuristic manner, with a touch of altruism and a dollop of the macabre thrown in for good measure. What about you?]


Thursday, Dec 7.

The cleanup is rolling right along. It turns out that the insurance did not lapse, which is very cool for my $23,500 claim and me. Booya.

Aaron Forsythe sends me an email that floats yet another idea into the pool of what might become of Mono Green Hatred. Apparently, this is tech straight from the mouth of one Bad Player Flores.

Survival of the Fittest.

I was already tweaking the deck to support a Survival strategy after reading Jon Chabot’s mind-blowing article on Extended; this new tech just pushed me further along while reaffirming my belief that Chabot is one friggin’ bad ass fella.

Adding Survival means the deck no longer seeks to drop a turn two Verdant or other evil fatty. What it does mean, however, is that the deck WILL need utility dudes, and plenty of ’em. Oh, and a Squee. I added an Uktabi Orangutan, a Stampeding Wildebeests (blame Chabot for convincing me), one Sliver Queen who spent too much time in my sideboard, and, as serious friggin’ sideboard tech, Eladamri, Lord of Leaves. These fit in nicely with the version 5.0 utility Spike Feeders, Spike Weaver, Lyrists, Quirion Ranger, and the biggest collection of fat in Extended.

It sure plays differently (really, Mr. Obvious?). In changing from a "dedicated to getting the turn two or three fatty" motif to the "dedicated to getting whatever the hell I need whenever the hell I need" school, the deck becomes slower, but answers abound. Oh, how they abound. Answers are good. Real good.

It used to be:

"I’ll smash you in the face, chief."

Now it’s:

"I’ll smash you in the face, chief, but with style."

While version 6.0 is more of a challenge to play, there are so many insane synergies going on that it is difficult to truly mess up enough to actually snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (something I am the undisputed king of, by the way). And that bodes well for me.


Friday, Dec 8.

The guy from disaster restoration took a look at my "loss estimate" and said, "Isn’t this a little low?" Yes, he did one of those knowing glance things.

Why, yes, you disaster-restorin’ dude, now that I think about it, my estimate does sound a little "low." Just a little.

Should I send out a ton of invoices or playtest? Hmm, lemme think. If you were standing outside of my office today, I bet if you listened closely, you could hear "tweak, tweak, tweak."

Squallmonger moved from the main to the side, a fourth Wall of Roots was added, and a Wall of Insane Card drawing was also added main. Tweak, tweak, tweak. I tweaked until I couldn’t tweak anymore; I tweaked until the cows came home to roost.

Scott Teamann isn’t going. Nate Heiss chickened out as well. Mike Turian, however, said "booya," and figured he’d head on down and win a lot of stuff in the "little" events. If they let him play.

The secret token tech of Fleer Baseball Stickers is all set.

It’s ready. I’m ready. Jeez, Columbus is far away.


Saturday, Dec 9.

PTQ – Tokyo, Columbus

Like the super sucker provider that I am, I brought along "Pronat0g Sligh" for Beho to play. I know what you’re thinking: "Doesn’t that friggin’ kid have any of his own cards?" Well, yeah, I think he does, as I sent him about twelve hundred cards last year. For free. Yet I still gotta build my boy decks; but his Mom was nice to me when I met her last month. Alas, I’m a pushover for nice moms.

FrigginRizzo: <—Bonds really well with parents and stuff.

By the way, if you don’t know who Pronat0g (Justin something) is, you are not a complete human being. He is the sickest deckbuilder I have ever come across, ever; take your definition of "Rogue" and erase it-Justin redefines the term. He currently holds a 63-23 record against me in Apprentice. Jeez. His Sligh deck kills very reliably on turn four. Very reliably. Alas, life is fair.

I’ll be putting my stellar 5-17 Ohio match record on the line. How’s that for ballsy? No resting on my rating here, chief. I’m also planning on meeting Walter Huber in the finals. If you don’t know who Walter is, click this:


When we meet in the finals, Walter suggested we Intentional Draw. Think about that for a moment. While that would friggin’ rock, I don’t think WoTC’s database can handle it. But that would be the ultimate in coolness. Ever.

Here’s the decklist:

Secret Survival For Lack of a Better Name.dec

4x Llanowar Elves
4x Fyndhorn Elves
4x Wall of Roots
4x Elvish Lyrist
4x Survival of the Fittest
4x Natural Order
1x Sliver Queen
1x Stampeding Wildebeests
1x Squee, Goblin whore
1x Uktabi Orangutan
1x Quirion Ranger
1x Spike Weaver
3x Spike Feeder
1x Blastoderm
1x Best fatty ever printed
2x Deranged Hermit
2x Masticore
1x Wall of Blossoms

13x Forest
4x Wasteland
3x Gaea’s Cradle


4x Powder Keg
4x Emerald Charm
3x Choke
1x Spike Weaver
1x Masticore
1x Eladamri, Lord of Needing two Firestorms to win
1x Squallmonger

Not quite Mono Green Hatred, now is it?

"Fun, baby, fun."
-Grandmaster Melle Mel and The Furious Five, White Lines

This is one of the few decklists I have posted that I didn’t ask the readers to not laugh at. Because it’s pretty good, chief. Although I have been playing it for only two and a half days or so, I am strangely comfortable with it. Sort of. A few mysteries remain about exactly when and exactly what to get in a few situations, but I’ll fly by the seat of someone’s pants when I cross that bridge.

It turns out that Ron Kotwica, yet another 1980 + rated CMUite is in the house. I think he’s playing Trix, which is odd, as he seems to rather enjoy beating the piss out of me with fat animals and vegetables when we (invariably) end up facing off in the Tuesday draft.

So, that means me, Mike, and Ron bothered to come to l’il ol’ Ohio to play some friggin’ cards. Aaron, Andy J, Andrew Cuneo, and Mike Patnik, all fresh from PT: Chicago, along with Scotty T and Natester Heisster, apparently have better things to do than represent. That leaves Ron and I to place some Pittsburgh booyas all up in this joint.

Getting to the skinny.

Round 1: James Spears – Survival

Game 1: James starts by dropping Birds of Paradise and Wall of Roots, while I put down an elf and try to answer with a turn two Survival — he Forces it. On turn three, he throws down a Tradewind and life starts to look glum. Glum until I drop a second elf and a Wall of Roots. James starts searching for stuff with his freshly-cast Survival and beats me with the Rider. Coolness begins to unwind on my side when I drop a Hermit, drop a Cradle, float ten mana, drop Masticore and kill everything but the Rider. Needless to say, this puts James on the defensive, and with the quickness.

He recovers by putting a Bird and Wall into play on his turn and, running out of options in a hurry, puts Masticore back in my hand. I pass on the Hermit’s echo, move to my main phase, tap for a friggin’ million, Wasteland the Cradle and drop another Cradle, floating another million mana. Masticore comes back and blows up his world, and I begin to serve. Repeat above scene until James runs out of creatures, I blow up his Rider, drop another Hermit and serve for oh so many with the Fleer Baseball Stickers.

Game 2: My opening hand is Wasteland, Wasteland, Forest, Forest, Elf, Survival, Natural Order. He plays first and drops a Tropical Island but doesn’t cast a bird. I now have a decision: do I Waste his land and risk falling behind? If I do, and he is mana shy, I’ll have one heck of a head start, while he will be too busy searching for land. If I play it safe by playing Forest/Elf, he can start throwing down birds and walls, and make my life just a little more unpleasant than it might have to be.

I debate for a full minute and decide to Waste his Tropical Island. James looks extremely nonplussed as he taps for mana and Brainstorms in response. Not good for me, chief. On his turn he draws a card and is done. Woo hoo! He IS mana shy!

I start to play solo, dropping walls, elves, Survival, and a Hermit. He drops cards into his graveyard. With no lands, I just run over him with Fleer Sticker Tech.

Conclusion: With Survival, it’s all about the ‘Core.

(James and I had a psychic connection, evidenced by he fact that we made the exact same faces.)

Match: 1-0 Games: 2-0

Round two: Adam McCune – Stasis

Game one: He plays five turns of Islands, while I cast two elves and a Feeder. I see Adam drop a Claws of Gix and put him on Stasis, until he drops an Iron Maiden. (I have a multiplayer flashback when Andy and Sean both played their Vice/Viceling/Prosperity deck while I was with a mono black deck. It was ugly.) Okay, I’m lost now, but I’ll just play it safe and beat with the Feeder, while Survivaling for three Lyrists. It turns out I never needed them, as Adam’s life went from twenty to zero in ten turns.

Game two: He drops a few Islands, while I open with Elf, Wall, Elf, Wall. He plays the Stasis that I thought just might be in there. I soon drop a Survival and get a Ranger. I tease out the counters with Lyrists and when his hand is diminished, I drop the Ranger. He scooped at thirteen.

When I asked him why he had Maidens in his deck, Adam said "they’re cheaper than Morphling." He is correct. But he had Morphling, too.

Conclusion: With Stasis, it’s all about Lyrist and Ranger.

(James is staring at the camera, while I’m staring at some girl’s butt.)

Match: 2-0 Games: 4-0

Round three: Beho – Pronat0g Sligh

Fair. One hundred thirty-three players, and I get to play Beho, using MY cards for a second straight tournament. Alas. I do talk a lot of "I can’t win this match," and "How fair is it that you get to beat me, again, with my own cards?" kind of trashtalk, although I know that I have to love the hell out of this matchup. I think it helped, as Beho seemed to keep a couple of iffy opening hands.

Game one: Beho drops two Fanatics, while I’m content to drop two VERY fat walls. He can only sit there watching as I turn my walls into Feeders, drop Survival, get more walls, another Feeder, gain a whole bunch of life, THEN turn a dying wall into Verdant Force. If it wasn’t so damn pretty, it would have looked ugly.

Game two: My turn three Verdant is met with Incinerate/ACC Fireblast.

Dear Sligh players,

We really love when we get a four for one.


Green mages everywhere.

After saccing two Mountains, Beho is seriously hurting for mana. But I’m not. Wildebeest/Feeder/Hermit finish him off in one very fat attack for at least eighteen, maybe more. Fleer Sticker Tech is sprawled out from here to infinity (and beyond).

We play two more games for fun, and Beho never even comes close. Verdant Force/Feeder/Hermit/Wildebeest/Walls/Survival = bad times for Beho.

Conclusion: With Sligh, it’s all about the walls and Feeders.

(Beho has the attitude, but I am even more photogenically apathetic.)

Match: 3-0 Games: 6-0

Huh? FrigginRizzo is 3-0? What the…

Round four: Mike Burton – Stasis (My first Feature Match)

Mike and I had been shooting the breeze pretty much all day, and I have learned that not ALL Stasis players are evil. Just most of them.

Game one: I explode with mana producers and a Survival, while Mike calmly lays Islands and counters a few things here and there. But, he can’t counter FOUR Elvish Lyrists AND a Quirion Ranger — which I load into my hand in preparation for his Stasis, which needs to be dropped soon before I simply overwhelm him. He drops it and I go into "safe mode" by playing many "not worth countering" guys like walls, elves, and Feeders. Some make it to the board, some don’t, but when I start to tease him by dropping Lyrists left and right, he runs out of counters.

Soon after, he’s staring at way too many walls, elves, and Lyrists, with a few random Feeders being bounced with the Beests. I still play it safe, as Mike has demonstrated that he has Boomerangs and knows how to use them. He is, however, slowly being whittle to death, and four thousand creatures in play is four thousand creatures in play, after all.

Game two: After the usual early game walls and elves, Mike drops Stasis, forcing me to play it safe. Eventually, after building up tons o’ mana and quite a few little dudes, I drop Cradle with another in hand and two untapped Wastelands in play. I have at least fifteen available mana, he’s down to three cards, so I decide to go for it.

One Lyrist gets countered, as does another. But the third Lyrist sticks, and a Ranger does too. I now have carte blanche to go nuts. I do. I drop a Hermit: okay. I drop a Wildebeest: okay. I drop another Hermit: okay, but you’re getting annoying now. I think that one card in his hand just might be Morphling. Turns out it is, as he drops it next turn. He’s at eighteen with Morphling and seven untapped Islands, while I have to make do with two or three thousand green guys. I untap, echo the Hermits, and burn for seven or so, serve, and wait for him to do the math.

Too many guys + too many guys + Feeders, Weavers, and a bunch of free mana = Mike is at zero. Whew.

Even though Stasis is evil, Mike was a hella cool opponent, unlike the prototypical Evil Stasis Minion. But he did play Stasis, and by default, he MUST have a little bit of evil in him. I think.

(While I am proud of my gang affiliation, and throw my signs with pride, Mike is not yet a full-fledged member of The Crips, as such, he is not yet permitted to throw the full sign.)

Conclusion: It’s still all about the Lyrist and Ranger.

Match: 4-0 Games: 8-0

8-0? What the hell is going on?

Round five: Charles Horn – Trix

If there is a more meticulous Trix player than Charles, I have yet to meet him.

Game one: I’m playing first, so naturally, I draw a card. Duh? "That’s a mulligan, chief," is the judge’s fine imposed upon my dumb ass. I’ve played hundreds of matches and have never done that. Nice. I force mulligan to six, then to five, then die with an elf and a Forest.

Game two: This would’ve been a great game if I didn’t suck so bad. Or maybe if I knew the tricks of this deck a little better. The situation:

Charles is at twenty-three, with Necro and Illusions on the board. He has two cards in hand, one of which is a Force, and the other, I’ll bet, is blue. I have an active Lyrist and Uktabi in play, along with a Survival and three open mana. It’s the beginning of my turn. How do I win?

(Strangely, I feel like Mark Rosewater right now.)

Well, I don’t. I blow up the Illusions and serve for two, putting him at one. He recovers and drills me in the grill. According to Mike Turian, who is a decent player (I have heard), here is how I win:

I main phase Survival for a Quirion Ranger and cast it. If he Forces,

he’s at twenty-two, with no cards in hand. I serve with Uktabi and blow up the Illusions = win. Or:

I cast Ranger and he doesn’t force, I attack with Lyrist and Uktabi, use the Ranger to untap Lyrist, THEN blow up the Illusions = WIN.

That’s why Mike is insanely good and I’m not.

(One of these fellows thinks Trix is a fun deck; one does not.)

Conclusion: With Trix, it’s all about the friggin’ Firestorm, although it

should be all about slapping Eladamri down at all costs.

Match: 4-1 Games: 8-2

Here’s comes the demise of Rizzo… maybe.

Round six: Peter Cottrell – Survival

Game one: He gets out three dudes by turn three, with one being a Tradewind. I get out two mana dudes, drop a Cradle, and blow up his dudes with Masticore. Repeat until opponent is dead.

Peter had a hand held tape recorder, and took his match notes by clicking that bad boy on and bustin’ rhymes. I think he said, "My mana gets messed up and Masticore beats me" after this game. He said he’s going to write a report and send it somewhere.

"Where, chief?" says I.

"I’m not sure," says Peter.

"Star City," says I.

"Perhaps," says Peter.

So there, Ferrett. (For those not in the know, or simply not on the receiving end of one of John’s ninety million pro-Star City emails a week, I hereby knight John Friggin’ Rizzo the Official Friggin’ Evangelist of Star City – The Ferrett)

Game two: It’s Peter’s turn to own the board with ‘Core. He capitalizes on my slow mana development by blowing up any elf that he even thinks I might cast. "Masticore goes all the way," he says into his recorder, or something to that effect.

Game three: Peter mulligans and I instantly, but with no malice, start to pump my fist and blurt out, "anyone who doesn’t pump the fist at a mulligan is being dishonest!" Yeah, that’s a paraphrase of Chris Pikula. I thought it was funny, as we had been having pretty fun, friendly games.

But I have an odd sense of humor, I guess.

Peter’s life total, according to my scoresheet:

20, 18, 13, 17 (Feeder, ya think?), die. Draw your own conclusion about the number of Fleer Stickers that served the beatdown up in here.

I don’t remember what he said into his recorder. It might have been something like: "Fleer Sticker Tech is broken."

(While the cards Peter is holding are undoubtedly powerful, they are no match for Fleer Sticker Tech.)

Conclusion: It’s still all about the Core, but tons o’ Sticker Tokens help. A lot.

Match: 5-1 Games: 10-3

Cut it out, you friggin’ damn Rizzo!

Round 7: Ken Moser – Sligh

Should I do the requisite Internet Tournament Report thingy here?

my dek just ownz sligh i win relly goodly. props to larry and steve.

Game one: Ken drops the standard Sligh playbook:

Fanatic, Pup, Pup, Fanatic.

I drop the standard anti-Sligh playbook:

Wall, Wall, Feeder, Feeder, Wildebeest.

His burn isn’t enough to overcome the Feeders, and his guys just sit there staring at walls until I drop a ‘Core and smash them all. Sadly, no Fleer Sticker tokens made an appearance.

Game two: Ken keeps an iffy hand, laying only a turn one Scroll, turn three Fanatic. I, however, bust out the turn two wall, turn three Feeder, turn four Verdant (met with Incinerate/ACC Fireblast), and turn five Hermit, Hermit, Beests. Ken’s life total: 20, 18, scoop. Walls are good. Feeders are good. Green is good. Fleer Sticker Tech is good.

(L to R, Ken Moser, Dolph Lundgren, John Friggin’ Rizzo.)

Conclusion: Watch for Phyrexian Furnace removing your Squee. That is annoying.

Match: 6-1 Games: 12-3 (12-1 vs. Non-Trix, by the way)

Mike Turian: "You should really ID."

Beho: "Dude, you should just ID."

Mark Globus: "No 6-2’s will make it to Top Eight."

Old school ID tech from my big ol’ mouth:

Aug 2, 2000:

"Just remember that, if we meet at table one, seat one in the seventh or eighth round, roll that die, chief — ’cause we gon’ play some cards."

-The Most Broken Tournament Mechanic, Ever.

Nov 16, 2000:

"I’ll never understand just what it is that makes someone Intentional Draw into the Top Eight."

Purge Mode: On.

Well, I talk the talk. That’s easy to do when you are not faced with walking the walk. ID and I’m in. Lose and I’m out. It’s that simple.

Or is it? My opponent is the number one seed at 7-0. He has nothing to gain by IDing, in fact, he has no reason to ID with me. At all.

What would be so bad about an ID? Surely you could understand if I

did it just this once — my first chance at a meaningful Top Eight, right? I mean, if ever there was a situation where I could justify an ID, this would be it; it’s letter perfect, without me losing any face. I think I’m starting to understand that ID’s don’t always suck, especially in this case where I’m the only one with anything to lose.

Antonio Powell, playing Trix would be my round 8 opponent.

Antonio gets to the table, glances at me and says, "Wanna draw?"

(The following white space represents the one second it took for me

to decide whether to play it out or ID.)






We interrupt this white space moment to bring you a particularly random photograph.

(Mike Turian shooting a pic of Mike Guptil shooting a pic of Mike Turian shooting a pic of Mike Guptil. Or something.)

We now return you to your white space moment, already in progress.






Game one: He has Necro and Illusions to my Lyrist, Wall of Roots, Hermit, and Cradle. I have another Hermit and Lyrist in hand. Even if he Donates this turn, I can upkeep for quite a while and serve him to death. Alas, he sets aside sixteen, enters his discard step and Firestorms my guys. All my guys. Every friggin’ one. How wack is that?

After game one, Antonio asked me where The Universal Net Deck was. That Bastard! I hate when people pretend they don’t know who I am and let me go on believing that I might be mysterious and crap!

Game two: I wish I could tell you that I fought the good fight, stayed true to my convictions, dug down deep within my guts and came out with a victory. I really wish I could tell you that walking the walk paid off for me.

I really wish I could.

(I asked Antonio to name a better band than Pantera. He couldn’t.)

Conclusion: If you are ever in the same situation, you should probably draw (but don’t), or risk ending up like me.

Match: 6-2 Games: 12-5 (12-1 vs. Non-Trix)

Alas. Even though I didn’t come out with the victory, I was not as depressed as I might have been. I stood my ground, even thoughAntonio was 7-0 and would have been giving ME a gift by ID’ing, I can’t regret it.

Many well-wishers offered consolation and "atta boys" and stuff, but I still felt pretty good; walking the walk feels pretty damned good, even if it does seem pretty friggin’ stupid!

I walked out to have a smoke and shoot the breeze with Antonio and his boys; it was outside that I dropped the guilt trip:

"If you were gonna make Top Eight Anyway, why didn’t you just concede to me, knowing full well who I am and what I stand for?"

(or something to that effect)

While I was just kidding, I think he felt a little guilty or something, as he said he reads all my columns — and likes them, too! Heh. Suffer in agony, you evil Trixite! Actually, Antonio tells me that when he saw he was paired against me he knew he was going to have to play, so how could I disappoint him?

About five minutes later, I’m talking to Turian again, and while he sort of understands why I stuck to my guns, he can’t help but remind me that I was IN THE TOP EIGHT IF I JUST FRIGGIN’ ID’d! He asks if I’m ready to head home, but I want to check the final standings to see if I at least made Top Ten. He thinks I’ll be lucky to end up in the Top Twelve. Alas, again. Friggin’ pessimist!

Hell, even ninth place would sound real good right about now.

I’m waiting for the standings to go up and talking with two younger kids, just basically rehashing some common tourneys/oppponents that we shared, namely Kevin Cron, who had the absolute Roguest Oath/Stasis/Replenish/Howling Mine deck you could ever hope to see. I still have nightmares about that deck… nightmares that are strangely erotic. Weird, huh?

Eventually, Turian starts to walk towards me with the biggest smile you have ever seen. And the biggest one I have ever seen too.

And I don’t know why. But I’m about to find out.

Mike Guptil is announcing the Top Eight…blah, blah, blah, and in the eighth seed, with the best tiebreaks among the ten (?) players at 6-2 is….



John Rizzo!

<insert many people erupting into applause or general disgust>

Mark Globus looks really confused.

Oh, there is more to the story boys and girls. I made Top Eight. I did what I thought was right, and still made Top Eight. Does it pay to stand by what you believe? Yes, this time, it did pay. Although, I’m not sure what the hell it means in the grand scheme of things.

While we are getting deckchecked, I’m chatting with Antonio and his boys again. I mention that it must be fate; I must be my destiny to win this tournament, and sorry in advance for beating you, chief. I tell him it’s not too late to just concede to me. Well, he doesn’t. But, I won’t hold that against him, as Antonio seems the scrappy type, while I am more of the "I think I’ll run away before you beat me over the head with many things that will probably hurt me" type.

When I get to the table, Antonio and his boys (Referring to his buddies as "his boys" is sort of making them sound like a mini-Mafia, isn’t it?) are awaiting the slaughter that they know will take place. I spy my Top Eight pin and make some crack about how shiny it is. One of the Antonian Boys asks how many of those I already have. My response:

"You don’t get to be a 1475 Constructed by collecting Top Eight pins."

Ice: Broken. Let the good times roll.

Quarterfinals: Antonio Powell (again) – Trix

Game one: A double mulligan after five full minutes of shuffling is par for the course, I guess. Deck checks wreck some serious havoc on the randomness of your deck. I die with a Forest and an elf.

Bad times for FrigginRizzo, Beho, and Becky.

Game two: This one is much closer. Antonio lets me get two whole walls before he Firestorms my hopes, dreams, and aspirations. (More guilt for ya’, chief.)

Worse times for FrigginRizzo, Beho, and Becky.

Conclusion: I have no conclusion, except that I did like real bad against Trix.

Match: 6-3 Games: 12-7 (12-1 vs. Non-Trix)

I don’t know what the hell any of this means. Stick to your guns and be rewarded? Well, we know it isn’t always that way. Perhaps it means something. Or nothing. But I got a box, a pin, and a newfound dedication to our game. Re-booya. And stuff.

The Top Eight:

1 Antonio Powell – Trix
2 Adam Minniear – Sligh
3 Jason Means – Trix
4 Kenny Hsiung – Trix
5 Charles Horn – Trix
6 Timothy Ross – Counter Sliver
7 Prakash Madhav – Karl Horn.dec ( I have no idea either. Click here for the decklists and pics:


8 John Rizzo (Me) <—Requisite Net report thingy in case you forgot who’s friggin’ article you were reading.

Jason Means wins. Kudos and booyas and soul kisses galore.

Hmm, the only guys I lost to made Top Eight. Neato.

I don’t normally do props, but there was so much cool stuff that happened, hardly any of which I can remember (let alone the names of the guilty parties). Let’s just call it "cool stuff that happened."

I signed Joshua Claytor playmat when he was 0-2. He won the next round. He finished 1-3-1 or so, but I was assured that he had fun. Booya. I take full credit for his victory, the losses are on his own head.

A guy who reads my columns gave me a foil Flame Rift. For free. I gave him two bucks for it. Because that was a hell of a cool thing for him to do. How the hell can I NOT remember his name?

Walter Huber bought a Crusade from me for six bucks. And beat me with his Rogue white weenie before the tourney. He left after round five or so; he missed a hell of a finale. But I bet he’s grinning as he reads this. Or not.

Beho went 4-4 with Pronat0g Sligh. And signed all the cards I lent him. I have about one hundred cards signed by Beho. Heh. And Beho’s Mom was cool for the second time in a row.

Ron Kotwica spent way too much time at the top tables; I think he finished 6-2 or so, but I’m not sure. Although he did seem to enjoy beating faces with multiple Negators. Who wouldn’t?

Way too many guys with facial piercings offered way too many compliments. If I wasn’t thirty-one, I’d get a facial piercing. Really. Dude with the pierced chin/lip: be careful eating…anything. And write that article you were going to, The Ferrett loves submissions (actually, he does) <Ferrett, insert your "actually, I do" comment here, because I know you will.>

Charles Ball and Chad Hardy, both of whom trounced The UND into oblivion, ended up with decent records and had a lot of fun. They are the new blood. Watch out for them.

Mike Turian, while not allowed to play in the Grand Prix trial (how fair is the life of a Pro?), was still a good sport, supportive, and bought me dinner at Damon’s. AND gave me wisdom. For free. But, his lazy ass slept most of the way down, and through all of Pennsylvania on the way home. Nerd.

I wish I could remember the names of all the people that gave me a high-five or a handshake, but just about everything after round 8 is a blur, understandably, I hope. I’ll take names next week, I promise.

Oh, and kick ass too. That, I can guarantee. Okay, I can’t.

John Friggin’ Rizzo