In desperate times, there are many promises you make that eventually you don’t keep. For me, “never go back to Scandinavia” was one of them. It started with Grand Prix: Copenhagen 2002. I was chilled to the bone even though I was wearing all my winter clothes. Funny thing was, old people were walking on the street wearing only short-sleeved shirts, and young people were riding bikes while wearing only t-shirts. This time however, the GP was taking place in the summer, and as the season is coming to an end, I wanted to get that Pro Point as soon as possible. So I ignored my promise, and off to Malmo I went.
I was given this card pool to play with:
Chant of Vitu-Ghazi
Votary of the Conclave
Leave no Trace
Leyline of the Meek
Muddle the Mixture
Drift of Phantasms
2 Train of Thought
Strands of Underneath
Enemy of the Guildpact
8 other crap cards
Gold / Split / Hybrid:
Gaze of the Gorgon
Consult the Necrosages
Trial / Error
Artifacts and Lands:
Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree
Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
If you’re not looking at a card pool but reading a card list, they all look the same. This time I wrote down all the cards, as I’m not sure if I had the best build. None of them were very good – they clearly lacked power – so I built the configuration that seemed more solid with the best manabase and curve: Blue and Green splashing Black for Putrefy, Demon’s Jester and the regeneration of Tattered Drake. I ran only 1 Swamp, 1 Terrarion and 1 Dimir Signet as fixers, so I left more Black playables in the sideboard like Clinging Darkness and Consult the Necrosages.
Drift of Phantasms
2 Train of Thought
Gaze of the Gorgon
It’s safe to say that any other configuration would play the White cards, since the Red ones are crap, but I tried with White and the curve didn’t seem too balanced, as you clearly want to play with the Blue. Almost all the games that I won were either with Stratozeppelid or transmuted Drift of Phantasms for Infiltrator’s Magemark. I’m running some sub-optimal cards, such as Silhana Ledgewalker. Usually I hate it, unless I have Ghor-Clan Savages (more than one), but it was a good target for Ocular Halo.
I lost to everyone I played against during my bye period, so I just shrugged and did a Coldsnap Draft until it was time to play. My record at the GP was Win-Lose-Win-Lose-Win. I won against three Scandinavian players, and lost to Arnost Zidek and Craig Jones. All of my wins were close 2-1s, and all of my losses were savage beatings 0-2. I could’ve made Day 2, as I expected my tiebreakers to be good with 3 byes (and losing only to Craig and Arnost, who both made Day 2), but unfortunately I finished 69th.
While I was shuffling for my first round against a Scandinavian Player, we had the following conversation:
P1: How many byes did you have?
P1: Where are you from?
P1: Wow! That’s pretty far. Did you come here just for the GP?
Me: Because I need the points.
He just kept looking at me thinking: Whaaaaaatt? Look at this idiot! He flew from the other side of the Europe just to play in this tournament! Later, I was playing against another player who asked me the same questions, to which I gave the same answers and received the same reactions. When another one of my opponents started with the exact same innocent question, I was prepared.
P3: Where are you from?
P3: That’s really far. Did you fly over here just for the GP?
Me: No, it was a summer vacation.
(Lie#1: I don’t study or work, so I’m in permanent vacation)
Me: I took the chance to play in the GP, and to visit Scandinavia. I’ve been to Copenhagen before and I’ve loved it.
(Lie#2: No, I didn’t. I froze there, and promised to never return.)
Me: I came with my friends and we’re having a hell of a time.
(Lie#3: No, I came alone. Actually, I’ve been travelling alone during the past month)
Me: I plan to visit that big building that appears in all postcards from Malmo.
(Okay, stop it. That’s enough. You’re better than that, Tiago Chan… no more lies.)
Me: I went to a casting where I applied for the role of Fez in “That 70’s Show.”
(Fine, I didn’t say that… but if I had, Julien would’ve been proud)
Sometimes I wonder if they’re right. Am I an idiot travelling all the way from Portugal to Sweden just for a GP? Could it be just for the point? I still have to make Day 2, and post a decent record. And what does it mean to Level Up? The difference between Levels 3 and 4 isn’t that great.
Fortunately there are good times during the trips, so I wasn’t completely lying to my opponent. Even though I came to Malmo alone, once there I met with the other Portuguese players and the usual guys from the GPs.
Sunday after dinner, I went for a drink with the Frenchies and some Belgian guys. Canali ran into two attractive Swedish girls that he’d met the previous night. In LA last year, Canali had quite the success among the ladies, so he revealed his trick to us. You just have to speak in French loudly, so when girls pass by they’ll hear it. Once they hear you speaking French, they’ll come to you.
Could this be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard? Probably.
After we left, we were on the street… and the Frenchies started speaking between them – in French, of course. S group of Swedish girls stopped by and said, “Oh my God, you’re speaking French!”
My jaw dropped. It was exactly as Canali said.
Now, I’ve studied French before entering High School, as it’s mandatory in Portugal to study seven years of English and three years (at some point) of a second foreign language, usually French or German. I was probably 14 when I finished those years of French, and besides of being a short period of time, you never have to chance to polish your French because no one really speaks it here. Also, movies, Internet, and Magic are all in English. But I was confident that my basic notions of French were enough to impress the Swedish girls.
I spoke to the one closest to me:
“Je suis le personne qui parle meilleur le Français ici.”
This translates into “I am the best French speaker here.”
Unfortunately, the girl I approached was the only one in the group that actually spoke French, and fluently, so the sentence I just said sounded quite stupid. She started speaking in very good French, and I was getting into a hole as my French is good enough to sound cool to some Swedish girls and for small talks… but not without revealing that I don’t exactly dominate the language.
Luckily for me, Raphael saw his opportunity. He advanced like a tiger, talking about how he’s lived all his life in France, and how he’s just moved into Sweden a couple of months ago (all in French, of course).
I turned my attention to other girl who was talking to Canali and other guys. They were speaking in English, though Canali was clearly putting a strong French accent in his English, which meant that this girl wasn’t a French speaker like the previous lady. As I approached, Canali was trying to explain that he came to Sweden to play a game called Magic.
The rest of the guys immediately turned their faces, embarrassed, and walked away. I said: “Oui, c’est vrai, nous sommes ici pour jouer Magic, qui c’est le nom du jeux,” which translates into: “Yes it’s true, we’re here to play Magic, which is the name of the game.” (I know it’s stupid, but she didn’t speak French. I could’ve just called her terrible names – she wouldn’t understand.)
She finds this a little awkward, and despite Raph’s valiant attempts to go out on the town with them, they asked for us to wait where we were, telling us they’d return in an hour.
We didn’t stay to confirm whether or not this was true.
Accordingly to Canali, the thing that failed was this: when he mentioned Magic, all the guys become really embarrassed and started acting strange. The girls assumed Magic was something uncool, something that makes you embarrassed. You have to act like it’s super-cool. Tell them you travel the world to play, and win money, and then finish by whipping out your Pro Player Card (if you have one, like Canali).
It was late when we arrived at the Hotel, but we still found Julien in the lobby. He asked us what we’d been doing until now. We proceed to tell him that we went for drinks, and about the girls we met, and how to use French for seduction… but he didn’t seemed convinced. He asked which one of us had won the draft. Clearly not the girls: they hadn’t first-picked us.
During this week, I’ve shared some of my perspective on the tournaments I’ve played, and some of the situations I’ve encountered during my journey. With Worlds moved to the end of the year, summer is peaceful. There aren’t many tournaments to attend – the highlight is probably Nationals. Mine, by the way, is in a couple of days… for you readers, that’s tomorrow. I’ll write a report if I perform well, but the chances are that I won’t, as I’m terrible at RGD and have no clue what I’m playing in Standard. Being nearly 200 players, with the cut for Top 8 at an estimated 10-2, doesn’t help either… but who knows?
Thank you for reading my Daily Series.