Results from Chiba: Worlds Report

Wednesday, December 22nd – Our newest Hall of Famer and two time Pro Tour Champion Gabriel “YellowHat” Nassif, was inducted at Worlds in Chiba and shares his experiences and his updated lists for U/B Control and Extended Valakut in this amazing report.

My preparation for Worlds in Chiba started when Scars of Mirrodin was released on Magic Online. I decided to playtest with Paul Rietzl and Matt Sperling as well as Jay Elarar and his Canadian fellows, and we eventually joined the Channel Fireball guys.

I was on U/B Control right away for Standard and never really considered anything else.

My first list had Grave Titan and Wurmcoil Engine as my six-drops, but the Engine quickly became another Grave Titan. He just seemed superior to Frost Titan in a deck without Abyssal Persecutor to complement him. I later tried a mix of Frost and Grave Titan to give me more options and help especially against Valakut, but with the rise of Vampires and the popularity of RUG, all Grave Titans seemed like the right choice. Against most decks, your goal is just to resolve him, which is usually enough to win the game.

I also tried Mimic Vat early on, and they caught up in popularity. However, as I played with them more, they seemed to always be underwhelming. I was surprised whenever I’d see decklists from Top 8s that still included Mimic Vat.

The one card that I had trouble figuring out during testing was Abyssal Persecutor. He seemed really good on its own, as he does something pretty unique for the deck, but I felt like he just had too little synergy with the rest of the cards. The whole deck is designed to grind your opponent down and set up a Jace and eventually a Grave Titan.

The Persecutor kind of does his own thing.

After a while, I just went with results, as I was losing a ton ever since I added him to the deck. Maybe I just didn’t find the right mix of spells to go with the powerful 6/6 flier, or maybe he just doesn’t belong.

I also noticed that in the mirror match, I’d often win despite my opponent resolving a Persecutor and attacking me down below zero life. I talked with Brian Kibler, and he had come to the same conclusion — which made me feel better — but Rich Hoaen goofed around with the deck a bit on MODO and said the Persecutors were the only reason he won any games. He joked that was probably because he was just too bad to win any other way. I still think there might be a build in which he fits.

I tried Spell Pierce and other forms of countermagic besides Mana Leak in the maindeck, but they eventually became discard spells: first Duress then Inquisition of Kozilek after Michael Jacob suggested them. I was quite pleased with the Inquisitions, especially since Vampires was on the rise. I had a mix of Duresses and Inquisitions for a while, but most of our testing group ended up playing all Inquisitions in the maindeck. I decided to run all four as well, along with one maindeck Duress instead of something like a Stoic Rebuttal.

I upped the number of Jaces during testing too, starting with just four of the Mind Sculptor and later adding a couple Jace Belerens. I went down on the number of Sea Gate Oracles to fit those and added Spreading Seas late in testing, as they are very good against Valakut and help against Vampires and the other blue decks, since you can win some games by stripping them of their second color with the help of your four Tectonic Edges.

I wanted Consume the Meek over Ratchet Bomb, as I think it’s a better card as a one or two-of. I also felt like I wanted at least four cheap spot removal spells, but I’m still not sure what the right mix is.

The core of the sideboard was the rest of the Disfigures, three or four Doom Blades, and at least two Ratchet Bombs. The Ratchet Bombs were mostly there for the WW and the Mono-Red Artifact matchups, but they also help against U/W. I also wanted some combination of cards against Valakut.

I felt like U/B had no bad matchups and some very good ones, excluding maybe some Vengevine decks and U/G Ramp, but I didn’t expect to play against many of those decks.

That’s why I decided to play:

The Hall of Fame ceremony was just before the Standard portion of Worlds on Thursday morning, and I was looking forward to it. My girlfriend and my mother came along for the trip, as neither of them had ever been to Japan, and this was a good occasion. The introduction video was very moving, and the pictures were pretty sweet, too, but Brian Kibler definitely had the best shots — just so many classic Kibler facial expressions.

I was hoping to start my post-HOF Magic career by playing better than I had been for the past year and a half or so, but it wasn’t to be.

Round 1: Kampanar Wiriyaampon from Thailand playing U/B

The tournament actually started really well for me, as Kampanar had me dead on board twice in the first game but managed to mess it up both times. At one point, all he had to do was blow up Grave Titan tokens with his Ratchet Bomb, activate his Creeping Tar Pit, and attack with everybody to kill me, but he decided to put a counter on his Bomb at the end of my turn for no reason. He then untapped, tanked for a while, and shook his head, probably noticing his mistake. He then chump blocked my Grave Titan with a token when he was still at eleven instead of taking it and alpha striking me back. He had managed to put me on the ropes thanks to Grave Titan backed up by a Frost Titan, but I had been Jacing most of the game and eventually resolved my third Grave Titan and finally took over.

I got game one with eleven minutes left but made a mistake in the second game without which I might’ve been able to win or at least drag the game long enough to win 1-0. On Kampanar’s sixth turn, he played Memoricide with two cards left in hand and two mana up, but I was pretty sure he didn’t have Mana Leak the way the game had been playing out. I had five lands on the battlefield including an Edge, and I had a Leak, a big Jace, and lands in hand. I should have let the Memoricide resolve, since he might’ve named Grave Titan (I had played all three in game one), and even if he named Jace, the Mind Sculptor, it meant I still had my Mana Leak for his first six-drop, which might buy me enough time to not lose. I didn’t really take my time to think about it, since I didn’t want to give away my hand and countered it, figuring I could drop the planeswalker on my next turn and strip one of his lands, and he needed to have an untapped land as well a six-drop to take advantage of the situation, and even then I still had a couple Brainstorm activations at the least. I got punished, as I just bricked on Jace, and he had a sixth mana source for his Grave Titan, which he followed with a Frost Titan on the next turn.

I was pretty bummed to have punted that match, and my draw meant I was probably going to play against U/B and U/W all day — which are probably two of my worst matchups. I feel U/W is fairly tough, as they have a lot of threats, and Grave Titan isn’t very effective against them, and I feel like the mirror match isn’t very skill intensive at all because of the power of the cards and the access to all the discard spells, which give perfect information.

Round 2: Vijay Chand from Austria playing U/W

I lost a pretty frustrating match in which I made at least a couple of small, but probably not game changing, mistakes. I got mana screwed game one and flooded game two while Vijay got there with his one-land hand after I made him discard a Preordain. Late in the game, I put a third charge counter on my Ratchet Bomb, holding Volition Reins, as I hadn’t seen Luminarch Ascension yet, and I wanted to have the artifact ready to blow up a five-cost planeswalker. He dropped the Ascension a turn after, but I managed to steal a Jace and dug into a Creeping Tar Pit, but Vijay drew his third Condemn of the match to protect his game-winning enchantment.

Round 3: Eugene Gontaev from Ukraine playing U/W

I won a pretty close game one despite Eugene resolving a Luminarch Ascension and running it up to four counters. I managed to strip all his white sources and kill him with a Grave Titan after killing a couple of Angel tokens with Doom Blades. I think Eugene messed up when he played a fourth land, which didn’t produce white and enabled my Edge, as I was able to strip his only white mana source, a Glacial Fortress. I felt like he messed up in game two as well, tapping out a bit too aggressively, but I’m not sure he had the tools in either of the games to win anyways.

Round 4: Jan Ang from the Philippines playing RUG

We split the first two games after we each drew badly, even though I probably should’ve mulliganed my hand in game two — then I won game three pretty easily because Jan made the wrong line of play given my hand; even though it might’ve been the right play otherwise.

Round 5: Samuele Estratti from Italy playing Valakut

I drew all four Mana Leaks as well as two Spreading Seas in game one — but Samuele just got to ten mana naturally without any ramp spells. I didn’t draw a discard spell early in the game and played around Harrow the whole time. I drew an Inquisition when I hit seven mana and saw a hand of Summoning Trap, double Titan, Avenger of Zendikar, Pyroclasm, and lands. He had nine mana up and Trapped at the end of my turn, which I had to let resolve and hope he missed as he would be able to resolve a Titan if I double Leaked. He missed, but I didn’t draw anything relevant and died to his monsters.

Game two was equally frustrating as I drew my one Mindbreak Trap and my one Memoricide off-tempo, and my draw just matched his very poorly. I realized after the match that I messed up my sideboard, relying too much on Spreading Seas. In testing, Valakut only became a good matchup when I was boarding up to six or seven discard spells including three or four Duresses as well as multiple Memoricides. Paulo wrote in his report that he thought the card and Lobotomy effects in general were bad, and I’d tend to agree, but I think Memoricide is really good and needed in this matchup; although I must say I haven’t tried boarding in a million counterspells. Memoricide is probably decent in the mirror match, especially if everyone just copies the Top 8 lists, as getting rid of all your opponent’s Grave Titans seems good. Mindbreak Trap is a bit more questionable, and I don’t think you can really afford to have it in your sideboard anymore.

Round 6: Per Nystrom from Sweden playing W/G Quest

I was fairly defeated at this point, and tilt kept a terrible hand on the draw despite knowing what Per was playing. I didn’t get rewarded for my poor choice, and we moved onto game two.

My opening seven was Inquisition of Kozilek, Grave Titan, and five “good” lands. I think it’s pretty close, but I have roughly twenty cards I can peel on turns 2 and 3 to make my draw decent. I kept and made him discard one of his two Fauna Shamans. I drew three straight lands and then a Ratchet Bomb on turn 5 and a Memoricide on turn 6 after he got back two Vengevines the turn before. He tutored for a couple of Devout Lightcasters to lock me out of the game.

I ended up Day 1 with a lowly seven points, but I can only blame myself. It was especially disappointing, as I had spent so much time playtesting Standard, but I think the fact that I only played on Magic Online hurt me. I’ve had trouble playing tight Magic lately, and I’m not sure why. I have the feeling not playing enough live Magic might be the main reason. Before the tournament, I hadn’t played a single game in real life with U/B. The next Pro Tour is in Paris, which I’m pretty excited about, and it will be a good occasion to playtest live more, as I won’t be traveling at all before the event. I noticed while reading the Top 8 player profiles that none of them really spent that much time on Magic Online, and it makes me wonder if you can be successful on the Pro Tour without playing some amount of paper Magic.

Given the results in Chiba, that is what I would play in Standard right now:

I think U/B is the best deck right now, but things could change. G/W Quest seems to be emerging on MODO, and I think people can tweak their decks to make their control matchups better. Squadron Hawk is really good, and cards like Koth of the Hammer and Acidic Slime could definitely help. Anyhow, I hope Mirrodin Besieged shakes things up a bit, or else testing for PT Paris might be pretty dull. I also think Wizards should change things, so that the Pro Tours feature more brand new, unexplored formats. It used to be that the Pro Tour was always the first major tournament in its format, and as much as I like having the new sets out fast on Magic Online, it kind of ruins the fun. I’m not sure if it’s possible anymore, but it sure would be sweet to be able to brew for Pro Tours without a million results available.

Despite my poor start, I managed to get back into the right state of mind, and I was feeling pretty good about the draft portion. I usually have a pretty open strategy in Draft, and this format was no different, as I feel like you can go in pretty much any direction if you know what you’re doing. I was happy to not recognize any faces besides Antti Malin at my first draft pod, and I first-picked Grasp of Darkness over Acid Web Spider out of an otherwise fairly weak pack. I second-picked Ichorclaw Myr over Wall of Tanglecord and Copper Myr, then drafted a few non-poison black and green cards, as the infect cards weren’t coming. I ended up with a solid B/G deck splashing white for an Arrest and red for a Galvanic Blast off of two Horizon Spellbombs and a Razorverge Thicket even though the third pack was pretty disappointing, considering the fact that I could’ve grabbed pretty much any removal spell and didn’t see any.

Round 7: Csaba Szenasi from Hungary

Csaba was playing B/G/U Poison and despite being three colors still had a lot of subpar cards in his deck, like Vector Asp or Dross Hopper. I managed to win the first game despite being stuck with a bunch of double-black spells for most of the game, and in game two, he didn’t draw any green mana sources until too late.

Round 8: Bas Melis from the Netherlands

I made a judgment call early in game one that blew up in my face. Bas was playing B/G Poison, and he had a Fume Spitter out. I decided not to play my Wall of Tanglecord to pump my Painsmith pre-combat, as I didn’t have another good target for his Spitter in hand. I was trying to squeak two points of damage in, and I didn’t want him to trade his 1/1 with my Painsmith right away. He didn’t block, and his Fume Spitter ended up being key, since he used it to shrink the Engulfing Slagwurm I cast after he resolved a Contagion Engine. I also could’ve attacked him down to one life at some point. It might’ve been too fancy of a play, but I don’t really regret it.

I got a sick draw in game two, and it seemed like I was going to be able to win the match, as he was stuck on lands in game three, and I was curving out with fatties and removal spells, but he had a Grasp for my Bellowed Tanglewurm and an Arrest for my Slagwurm. I flooded out while he drew out of his mana-screw and sealed the game with Contagion Engine again.

This gave me my fourth loss of the tournament, and I had to win out if I wanted to Top 8.

Round 9: Antti “all-in” Malin from Finland

Antti was playing mono-white. The first game went for a while, but I was never really in danger. He didn’t play anything very impressive and got pretty flooded, and eventually my green fatties were able to start swinging in, backed up by removal and multiple Tel-Jilad Defiances to make his blocks unprofitable.

He sideboarded in blue cards for game two and dropped Elspeth Tirel with a good board position, and I never was able to recover.

I scooped with less than ten minutes left for game three but managed to curve out like a madman with cheap, efficient beaters, including a Necrogen Scudder and multiple removal spells for his relevant guys.

The dream was still alive going into the second draft, and I opened a pack with Grand Architect in it. The second-best card was Razor Hippogriff, but I took the rare and never looked back. I ended up with a very solid U/W deck with the tools to fight any kind of strategy. I agonized over the last couple cards as I always do and submitted my deck with no time left on the clock.

Round 10: Wai Lok Chan from Switzerland

He was playing a very aggressive R/B deck and put some pressure on with cheap beaters, but I managed to stabilize. I had a bad feeling given the way he played his fifth land with only one card in hand, and I thought Geth might’ve been the last card in his hand. It was actually worse, as he quickly cast Hoard-Smelter Dragon on his next turn with which he was able to swing in for the last ten points of damage on his following turn.

I won game two, and game three was really close. I had to proceed with caution, but time was running out, as we were both playing fairly slowly, and I had taken a decent amount of time to sideboard. A judge was hovering around our match for most of the third game, and it didn’t help me play faster. He eventually sat down at our table as judges usually do when there aren’t many matches left going on. With one minute left on the clock, I attacked Wai, putting him in a bad spot, and he took a while to decide if he was going to chump block or not. I was hoping he’d block before time was called, since I’d instantly pass the turn, and I’d have three extra turns instead of only two, but he tanked the full minute and announced his block the second time was called. I believe he might have not done it on purpose though, given the way he announced his block.

I think that if he were trying to stall, he’d at least wait a bit more to announce his block as to not make it too obvious. It was still really frustrating, but I thought I might be able to pull it off with two attack phases left. I ended up being one point of damage short, as he was able to chump block with all his guys on the last turn.

A draw was basically like a loss for us at this point, and I asked him if he would scoop, since he was dead on board, bringing up the fact that he took a fairly long time to announce his block the turn time was called. I didn’t feel bad asking, as I would definitely scoop to my opponent if the situation were reversed.

It actually came up earlier this year when my opponent and I drew in round 4 or 5 of PT San Juan, as we already had two losses. A draw wouldn’t knock us out but was still pretty bad. He was playing mono-red, and I was playing U/G ramp and felt like there was no way our match should’ve gone to time and that I was mostly responsible for the draw. When time was called, game 3 could’ve still gone either way, but it seemed like he was the favorite, so I just signed the result slip in his favor.

Unfortunately, what goes around didn’t come around this time, and in desperation, I asked the judge if there wasn’t anything that could be done given the situation. I knew that there was very little chance I could make anything happen, as he had been watching our match for a while, and we were both playing slowly. Maybe if I had asked on the final turn of time, I might’ve had a better shot at getting an extra turn, but there was no way he was going to grant me that now. I had respect for that table judge, so I didn’t bother appealing to the head judge, which I’d always do if I thought I was right. I wasn’t pleased with the way I handled things, but I still feel like someone I knew better would’ve definitely scooped to me in that spot.

Round 11: Zdenko Nouzovski from Slovakia

I believe Zdenko was sitting one or two to my left in the draft and was also playing U/W, but Grand Architect and Abuna Acolyte made his life hell, and Scrapdiver Serpent finished him off. He scooped a couple turns early, letting me know he didn’t have anything like Sunblast Angel in his deck.

I drew Architect again in game two, and his draw was no match for mine. Zdenko was really nice and pleasant throughout the match and just said my deck looked way better than his, and that it was logical I won. He was also one of my numerous opponents to congratulate me for my Hall of Fame induction, and even though it didn’t make up for my poor showing that week, I was still touched by everyone who congratulated me.

Round 12: Terry Soh from Malaysia

Terry was 2-0 and had a pretty nutty infect deck. I believe I won game one, and game two was looking good too, but Contagion Engine swung the game in his favor. I got to go first in game three and played a turn 5 Quicksilver Gargantuan copying a Plague Stinger. Abuna Acolyte shined again, and I even drew my sideboard Halt Order to prevent any Contagion Engine shenanigans.

I was disappointed to be out of contention, especially since I could’ve won every match I played. I‘m not the slowest player, but I definitely don’t play as fast as I should. It’s almost impossible to time out on Magic Online, no matter how slowly you play if your connection is running normally and you’re not doing anything else on the side, which doesn’t help, and maybe playing more live Magic well help me in that way too. Despite all of this, I was determined to try and make the best of it, and I could still Top 16 for a decent chunk of money if I 6-0ed.

I went out to dinner with my mother and my girlfriend, then went over to Dave’s, EFro’s, and Noah’s room to try and see what was going on with Extended. People were mostly just chilling, so that didn’t help me, but Conley’s Ooze deck looked sweet, and Dave had gotten an interesting Grixis deck from Flores with maindeck Pestermite and Splinter Twin.

I thought 4CC was solid too, but I still had my doubts about the deck, and I didn’t feel like playing yet another control deck. The people who chose to play it definitely proved me wrong, as most of them put up very good results. I told Dave, who had physical copies of both Ooze and Grixis to bring both in the morning, and that I might play the one he wasn’t playing.

I had mostly been working on R/G Valakut online, and the deck was good but not great. It had a good matchup against Jund as well as against 4CC if their sideboard didn’t include Vendilion Clique, Thoughtseize, and Runed Halo, which turned out to be the norm. Still, game one was almost unlosable if you knew what you were doing, and it was very possible to beat the hate. I went back to my room and got some matches in on MODO in the heads-up queues, and Prismatic Omen seemed underwhelming in the few games I played.

Day 3 started at 11 am, as they had the last two rounds of teams first, which was nice, and I showed up at around ten to make sure I had enough time to tweak my deck and get the cards I needed. I didn’t own any of the cards, but LSV told me he would lend me most of them. I sat down with Ben Stark, Martin Juza, and Pat Cox, who were all playing the deck too, and they convinced me Omen was the way to go. They also insisted Harrow was pretty good, so we ran a couple, cutting a Cultivate.

I was hoping Dave would play the Flores deck, as I wanted to play Conley’s deck, but he didn’t, so I settled for Valakut.

Round 13: Wai Lok Chan from Switzerland playing Jund

Awkward. We talked very little throughout the match, and I got game one by topdecking Scapeshift after he stripped my hand with double Thoughtseize and possibly a Blightning.

In game two, I kept the nut one-land hand (Mountain, Bolt, a bunch of cheap ramp spells, and a Scapeshift) but didn’t get there on time. I won game three easily even though he could’ve blown me out if he had something weird like Thought Hemorrhage or Acidic Slime out of the sideboard. I kind of felt bad acting pretty cold, as Wai seems like a nice guy, but I wasn’t over what happened in our previous match.

Round 14: David Ochoa from the USA playing 4CC

Game one went according to plan, as I just sat on my cards in hand and got him low with a Valakut. He “stalled” on nine lands or so, so couldn’t set up anything, and when he decided to make his move, I had Harrow ready to deal the last six damage with Valakut. I almost came up short, as ten Mountains is the bare minimum you can run, and in a few games throughout the day, I would’ve been way more comfortable if I had had an eleventh one in my deck. I think you can get away with ten if you always play very tight, but eleven seems more reasonable.

David got me on the ropes in game two, as I failed to present a valid form of ID on his sixth turn. He followed up with a Wurmcoil Engine. On the last possible turn, with a board of eight lands and a Vexing Shusher, I drew Scapeshift holding a Rampant Growth. I double-checked the math and just cast Scapeshift getting my last five Mountains and two Valakuts, keeping a Mountain. David just used Cryptic Command, bouncing one of my Mountains with the triggers on the stack, and I lost the game, as Valakut checks if you have five other Mountains at resolution, too. All I had to do was Rampant Growth first, getting a Forest, and sac seven lands keeping two Mountains. It was especially embarrassing since during game one, we called for a judge when David Esper Charmed my Prismatic Omen with a Valakut trigger on the stack, leaving me without enough Mountains, so I knew it checked for the number of Mountains at resolution too.

I kept a borderline hand in game three with little action, and he nutted me with Thoughtseize, Vendilion Clique, and Jace.

Round 15: Philip Bau from the USA playing Cobra-Jund

We goldfished game one, as he went Lotus Cobra into Boggart Ram-Gang into two more Boggart Ram-Gangs, but I was one turn faster thanks to Omen + Scapeshift.

Game two wasn’t close, and it turned out his Jund version was even worst against me then regular Jund, since he had a bunch of Fulminator Mages and Goblin Ruinblasters in his maindeck and no Putrid Leech.

Round 16: Bernhard Zander from Sweden playing Elves

He had a double-Thoughtseize draw game one, leaving me with a two-turn window to draw something good, and I drew not only one but two Scapeshifts to take the lead. He put enough pressure on me in game two that I had to Scapeshift with seven lands to kill all his guys, but I wasn’t able to recover fast enough, despite him bricking a couple turns with Vengevines in the graveyard. Game three, he kept a hand that didn’t do enough, and a turn 4 Primeval Titan on the play was good enough to win the match.

Round 17: Korey McDuffie from the USA playing U/W

Korey was playing a U/W no-Lark deck, and in game one, I quickly got to 8-9 lands in play, at which point he couldn’t really do much to stop me. In both games two and three, I got an Omen into play but never drew a Valakut in my top 20 cards or so, and he just killed me with his army of Knights of the White Orchid, Kitchen Finks, and Vendilion Cliques as well as Meddling Mages with which he named Primeval Titan both times.

Round 18: Kalle Sundberg from Finland playing White Weenie

I stalled on three lands for a couple turns in game one, but I had an Expedition with two counters on board, so if I could draw an untapped land on my last turn, I would still win by ramping up to six lands, which would be enough to kill him with Scapeshift, since I had Omen out. I failed to do so, and we moved onto game two. I kept a marginal hand and bricked all my draw steps, while Kalle put me on a five-turn clock.

I only managed a 3-3 performance in Extended, but I believe the deck can be improved to be a real contender for the upcoming Extended season. Before I talked to BenS the morning of Day 3, I wanted to fit in a bunch of random cards in the maindeck such as an Obstinate Baloth, a Volcanic Fallout, an Inferno Titan, or an Acidic Slime, but he convinced me that we should just make the deck as combo-ish as possible and cut all the crap. I think he was 100% right; the Omens and the Harrow were very good for me all day, and I think we should’ve actually took that theory one step further and cut the Lightning Bolts for more Omens and ramp spells. That’s where I would start if I wanted to test the deck:

I think your game one is very good against 4CC and Jund and probably against Faeries too, as a resolved Omen is pretty sick against them. Vexing Shusher is killer out of the sideboard, and we should definitely have had four of them instead of the too fancy Guttural Response. I actually don’t think you need Volcanic Fallouts in the sideboard, as they aren’t good against the aggro decks, since people will either have Forge-Tender or play around it, never committing too much to their board. They’ll lose precious time playing around a card that you don’t have in your deck, while you’ll be keeping your deck as fast and consistently as possible. They’re obviously decent against Faeries, but it doesn’t resolve the Mistbind Clique problem most of the time, and they don’t combo well with Shusher. I think a couple copies of Pyroclasm or Burst Lightning might be a better choice if you want removal spells in your sideboard. I haven’t played enough against 4CC when they board in Clique, Thoughtseize, Runed Halo, and Identity Crisis to know how to handle their hate best, but boarding in Obstinate Baloth along with Shusher might be a decent option. On that note, the maindeck Raging Ravines are pretty bad game one, as I believe they might make you lose more games than they make you win, but they really shine in sideboard games against 4CC. The way games two and three go is drastically different from game ones.

The Sunday of the PT was sweet with the two Guillaumes finishing first and second, even though it’s not as dramatic to have two people from the same country, with the same name, playing the same exact deck in the finals, while I was busy crushing in money drafts, going 5-0 in the first two and getting carried by Pierre Canali and Lino Burgold in my last draft of the weekend.

In the second one, Owen Turtenwald, who’s casually becoming one of my favorite people to hang out with on the PT, had to take over for Brad Nelson who was way too tilted by what was happening in the Top 8 to stay focused.

But the day wasn’t over, as the Japanese players had also made plans for dinner with whoever wanted to come. I was pretty impressed to see there was enough room for the fifty or so of us who decided to join the party. We then followed that up with karaoke, always a solid choice, and it didn’t disappoint even though it took forever to get set up. Almost everyone who was at dinner decided to go, so a group of forty people, most of them being already very drunk, showed up, but I guess it played in our favor in the end, as we got a deal of 3,000 yen per person for the rest of the night (until 5 am), with unlimited drinks, as opposed to the 4,000 yen/person for two hours that we were offered at first. We got a solid group together with Tom Martell doing most of the recruiting and had a blast. I also discovered that Paulo might like girly pop songs more than I do.

When my girlfriend and I left at 4 am, almost everyone was gone, except for a few people including Brian Kibler brother, Jeff (aka the better Kibler), who I got to know a bit during the week and who is quite the character as you’d expect, knowing Brian.

Even though I did poorly in the tournament, it was a pretty fun week, and hopefully I can get my act together next year and start winning again. I won’t be in Atlanta, so my first big event will be GP/PT Paris, and I’m really looking forward to a pretty crazy week of gaming.

Thanks for reading and merry Christmas,