Hi! My name is Tiago Chan, I’m from Portugal and recently I finished 9th at Pro Tour: Nagoya. Despite the difference in money from 8th to 9th being quite small, on all other subjects, the difference is huge. I didn’t get a title shot, and no one ever remembers Top 16 finishes. I continued with my life and the memories from Nagoya were fading away, until one day the queues in Magic Online were disabled for 6 hours and I decided I could write a tournament report, share some stories and drafts. During the weekend, I managed to draft all the 5 colors, never drafting the same combinations, which should provide you a lot of variety in archetypes, including a mono-Blue that 3-0ed the pod.
My expectations for this event were not very high. I’ve already played in the Pro Tour many times, and at the beginning I was younger, naÃ¯ve, and thought I could perform well at the PT level. After a lot of disappointing finishes, I realized I was good for the PTQ level, but not good enough for high finishes at the Pro Tour. But for as long as the PTQ’s award the plane ticket, I planned to continue playing and give it a try, and that was the case of Nagoya.
For PT: Nagoya I did a total of one Rochester Draft, and it was the Top 8 of the PTQ. No one ever plays Rochester outside the Rochester Pro Tour or some Grand Prix Day 2s. It is fun, but it takes so much time! I remember one time, my friends started a Rochester. They laid the first booster on the table, and around pick number 5 I said, “Stop this! Let’s switch to Booster Draft while we’re still on the first pack.”
I was lucky to have friends who love to game. Every Saturday after dinner we gather up in someone’s place for an all night of games. It always starts with one team Booster Draft 4×4, followed by another draft or some other stuff like videogames or poker. If, by any chance there happens to be a Magic tournament Sunday morning, everyone stays awake and plays it. Good times! I would have quit Magic if not for this friendship.
I did some drafts on MTGO, but where I learned most of what I know about the format was in these live drafts with my friends. They are the best drafters in Portugal, and that’s no coincidence. Since we draft more then the other players, we have more practice. A little while ago some players whose draft level was low started joining us for these all night sessions, and they are now some of the best drafters we have here.
With this mix between live and online drafts, I managed to play enough Limited, though not a single Rochester. Strangely, Rochester is my favorite format, and where I got my best results at the PT. It is very skill intensive in the first 1/3 of the draft, but then it’s almost auto pilot for the rest. Nevertheless, I will be one of those who will miss the Rochester Pro Tour.
About draft strategy, I don’t think Blue is the weakest color. Personally, I consider Green the least attractive color, because when you’re Green you usually don’t want to go Green/White or Green/Blue, so your options are rather limited. Another problem with Green is related to the casting costs. The mana costs for Green are concentrated in the four mana slot, therefore the importance of Sakura-Tribe Elder or Orochi Sustainer goes way up, and you really need to get those guys in your opening hand. Anyway, I was willing to draft any combinations, and I did drafted the 5 colors during the Pro Tour, since I think is very important to get a good position in the draft.
Draft 1: W/B random stuff
In this pod I recognize Bram Snepvangers and Mark Zajdner. It is possible that there were some really good Asian players, but I’m European and don’t know the Asian players except for the big names.
I’m in Seat 2 and the First booster has the following playable cards: Teller of Tales, Kodama’s Might and Rend Flesh. Seat 1 picks Teller, and I pick Rend Flesh, leaving the Kodama’s Might to Bram in Seat 3. In the next booster, I first pick the best card, Kitsune Blademaster (note: had I picked the Kodama’s Might, that would’ve made me G/W, or forced me to lose my first pick). Later, Seat 1 is forced to go to U/B, but since I’m already established in W/B, with Bram in my left U/G, I was still in good position. At that time, it was the second set of packs, and I would be picking before the Seat 1. The draft then settled everyone on their colors. Mark got 2 Uyos, Bram cut a Nagao from me (probably splashed it). In my Second booster, the 15th of the 24, I opened Keiga, but didn’t counter it. I considered, but then picked Ashen-Skin Zubera, the only Black or White card playable there. In the final pack, I got a Nagao of my own. Seat 8 was W/R and opened Kabuto Moth and Nagao – I was happy picking the one he didn’t want, but he picked Brutal Deceiver instead and left me with an unexpected choice with only a few seconds. By now, I think I should have picked the Moth, but there is not a clear choice among the people I ask.
1 Isamaru, Hound of Konda
1 Lantern Kami
1 Kami of Ancient Law
2 Ashen Skin Zubera
1 Kami of Waning Moon
1 Kitsune Blademaster
1 Masako, the Humorless
1 Villainous Ogre
2 Nezumi Ronin
1 Nagao, Bound by honor
1 Kitsune Healer
1 Kami of Old Stone
1 Gibbering Kami
1 Painwrecker Oni
1 He Who Hungers
1 Kami of Palace Fields
1 Waking Nightmare
1 Rend Spirit
1 Devouring Greed
1 Pull Under
1 Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang
It does lack some combat tricks or more removal, so the Moth would certainly help. However at the time I remembered having lots of three-mana spells and few four-mana spells. This deck is okay, a bit creature heavy, lacking tricks, but still capable of stealing some games with Devouring Greed (10 spirits), Tatsumasa, or an unanswered fourth-turn Nagao or Painwrecker Oni.
Round 1: Yuuji Kikuchi U/B
He chooses to play, and my hand is good but with only 1 land. I considered it for a while, and kept it. In my experience, I do believe that to perform well at Pro Tour, you have to be on a “good day”, as opposed to a “bad day”. And that is often decided in the early rounds.
In PT: Houston ’02, I was playing Sligh and in Round 1 my opponent went Entomb, Exhume Verdant Force and Contamination in both games. Then in Round 2, I played Mountain and Pup, and my opponent played second-turn Aluren and won. That was clearly a “bad day”. I ended 3-4.
In PT: Chicago ’03, Rochester, I was in a 7-man Pod, and got a first round bye. Then in game 3 of second round I was facing imminent death until I threw Erratic Explosion at my opponent with him at 6 life, to reveal Crowd Favorites. That was a “good day” and I finished just outside Top 32.
I wanted to test if I was in a good or bad day, and kept. On turn 6, I played Pull Under. I even got mana flood, but drew Nagao, which he didn’t kill and was too big for any of his guys to block.
In the second game he mulligans and misses his third land drop. My start was really fast with Isamaru and Kitsune Blademaster, and he fell behind and spent the game trying not to lose.
Round 2: Mark Zajdner U/R
Mark had one of the best decks of the table. I won game one because he stalled on 3 lands, and I forced him to discard his hand with double Ashen-Skin Zubera plus He Who Hungers. He would never have lost that game with lands… the cards he discarded were all good.
In game 2 we both stop on three lands, but my deck has lots of drops that cost exactly that. We start drawing lands at the same time, he was to deal with what’s in the table, and has no solution for the Painwrecker Oni I was holding. He had to spend his Mystic Restraints on other creatures.
I was lucky to win this round. I can only imagine the frustration Mark felt, but he was really nice during the round and after losing this way.
Round 3: Pablo Anzorena W/R
Pablo was the other good deck at the table. I figured he should be the other undefeated player by now. The problem with his deck was he had multiple copies of really good cards like Glacial Ray, Yamabushi’s Flame, and possibly Cage of Hands, plus Moth, Eight-and-a-half-Tails, but he also ran some unspectacular stuff. The quality of his draws would decide this round.
Game 1 was kind of ironic when he played third turn Brutal Deceiver, which he picked over Nagao that got to me, and I matched with turn four Nagao. Nagao proves to be very troublesome to him, and when he finally stabilizes the board, he’s within range of a Devouring Greed.
Game 2 he stalls with two Mountains and a Plains, only playing spells like Kitsune Diviner, No-Dachi and Brutal Deceiver. They say, “when the mana screw draws lands, he beats the mana flood.” Well I had lots of lands to his three, but I played Tatsumasa, which is kind of difficult to play around with only 3 lands. Afterwards, he showed me he risk a hand with those 3 lands, plus 8.5 and other good stuff and never drew what he needed.
I don’t think this was a 3-0 deck, but I guess I was on a “good day” grabbing random wins with Devouring Greed and Tatsumasa, and opponents missing land drops. I was obviously quite happy with this result
Draft 2: Mono Blue
In this table I recognize the names of Bernardo da Costa Cabral, Frank Karsten and Osyp Lebedowicz. It was here that Osyp tore the Cage of Hands when the U/W player before him picked the Blind with Anger. There was a celebration when the draft started because one player was missing, and that meant everyone was guaranteed Day 2. The pack was opened, but the player, Michael Cannistraro, managed to sit down in time, unlike Alex Shvartsman.
For this draft I was Seat 6. I start picking some playable, but unspectacular Blue cards, establishing my position in Blue. On my right, Ming Chi Wang (I think) was W/B and to my left Frank Karsten was R/B, so I was going to fight one of them for a color or draft Blue/Green. I never had the possibility to jump into Green, there was always a pick in Blue, which meant I also never had the opportunity to commit to a second color. At some point I had Kitsune Blademaster and Kami of the Painted Road, and a White Myojin was opened near me that I picked, but White wasn’t coming. I decided in case I saw any Glacial Rays (read: opened them or the W/B player before me opened and passed) I would go into Red fighting Frank for it. My deck screamed for Glacial Rays.
In the end, I got no Red nor White cards and stuck to Mono-Blue. The quality of the decks at this Pod wasn’t very high, except for everyone (except Osyp) having either a Blind with Anger or Hideous Laughter or both. But there wasn’t a clear best deck, and there were some mediocre ones. As for the mine, I wasn’t sure what to think… I showed it to everyone and even today I don’t know how good it is, but I’ll let you see for yourself.
1 Floating-Dream Zubera
1 Soratami Rainshaper
1 Kami of Twisted Reflection
1 Callous Deceiver
2 River Kaijin
1 Soratami Savant
1 Soratami Mirror-Mage
2 Soratami Mirror-Guard
2 Soratami Seer
2 Teller of Tales
2 Reach Through Mists
1 Hisoka’s Defiance
1 Consuming Vortex
2 Eye of Nowhere
1 Counsel of Soratami
1 Mystic Restrains
1 Petal of Insights
This is a tempo deck. With 9 fliers, the plan is the fly over the opponent’s defenses. The only way to deal with creatures is Mystic Restrains, but when you’re attacking for 5 in the air, the bounce spells will gain you a lot of tempo. The deck forces its way through, with double Teller of Tales, plus Soratami Mirror-Mage, and in last resort, the Mirror-Guard.
Eye of Nowhere is a card I consider playable. When I draft Blue, I almost always run one copy of it as the 23rd card, and I feel very happy when I don’t have to, as it means I have a great deck. Most people here dislike this card unless they have Glacial Ray. The commons from Champions of Kamigawa on MTGO I own the most are River Kaijin and Eye of Nowhere. The Eye most of the time will be card disadvantage – being sorcery doesn’t allow it to be a combat trick – but it is a true tempo card.
Round 4: Michael Cannistraro G/W
At this point I wasn’t very confident in my deck, and assumed I would lose miserably to his multiple Kabuto Moths.
The first game was strange. It was a true race of my fliers against his ground creatures – there wasn’t a single block in the entire game. I won thanks to my Soratami Mirror-Mage (the one that bounces creatures).
In the second game, he has a very slow start. After I untap with Soratami Savant (the one that Mana Leak), he only has a small creature, and he didn’t draw threats that could pass through the Savant.
Round 5: Frank Karsten B/G/R
Game one was really close and could’ve gone for either side. He started with an early Red Honden, which wrecks the Soratami guys. My deck only had four creatures with toughness of one, so it’s not as bad as it could’ve been. My start of double River Kaijin helps me hold the ground, while I had Teller of Tales and Soratami Seer in the air. Our life totals are both low, and he is forced to play Hideous Laughter to kill one of my fliers (with 1 damage from Honden) and some other random guys including some of his side. I replay another big flyer, and the card advantage from Soratami Seer allowed me to continue in the game.
There was one turn that went particularly well for me and bad for Frank. I attacked with Teller and Seer, and he plays Blind with Anger. That meant, the Seer would die in combat to Teller of Tales. Frank has to choose whether he wants to steal the Seer and chumpblock the Teller, or steal the Teller and block and kill the Seer. The last option, would allow me to regain the Teller untapped at end of turn, and capable of blocking in Frank’s turn (our life totals were low), so Frank goes for the first option. He steals the Seer to chumpblock, but I had Reach Through Mists to tap the Seer, so Frank takes 3, and I didn’t lose any of the creatures.
This eventually led Frank to cast a less powerful Devouring Greed just for the life gain. I knew Frank had one in his deck, and if he gathered enough spirits on the table before I killed him, the Greed would’ve been game, so I was kind of relieved at this point, since I didn’t remember any more big threats he could have.
Game 2 I played Soratami Savant, and Frank stalled on 4 or 5 lands, which is not good against the Mana Leaks. He also didn’t have a cheap way to kill the Savant, so his plan was to bait some spell at the end of my turn and then drop a threat on his. But eventually I have around 8 lands and Savant on the table, plus Hisoka’s Defiance and Thoughtbind in hand, which made me confident I could counter both the bait and the spell, as well as any spell that could slip through the Savant.
A difficult round, where I won because things went my way.
I checked with Bernardo da Costa Cabral, to see if he was 5-0 as well. Unsurprisingly he wasn’t. His deck was awfully bad, running stuff like Kashi-Tribe Warriors (the ones that together with Unearthly Blizzard, Waking Nightmare and Harsh Deceiver makes one of the worst print runs you can find in a booster), and Cranial Extraction. He won against Osyp in the first round, but then lost to Hirotaka Hana, who I would be playing next. Bernardo tells me Hirotaka’s deck is slow, and that makes me confident.
Round 6: Hirotaka Hana U/R
I start by returning his only land to his hand on my second turn with Eye of Nowhere. That gave me a huge tempo advantage to his not so fast deck. However, his deck didn’t play so slowly, and had fliers to block mine, but I am able to deal the final damage with the help of a Teller tapping his guys.
The second game was an early battle for Soratami Savant control. He played his, I played mine, and we spent a couple of turns bouncing the opposing Savant. During the windows where Savant wasn’t on table, I played better creatures and won.
6 -0 and a curiosity: 12-0 on games
Draft 3: U/R Spirits and Arcane
There were only 4 players with 18 points, so my opponent for Round 7, and to see who’s undefeated on Day 1 was one of these 3: Anton Jonsson, Ryouma Shiozu or Murray Evans. We were seated in a row. Murray was seat 1, Ryouma seat 2, I was seat 3, and Anton the 4. I don’t remember my picks of this draft. The picks were all solid. I had no bombs, but lots of playables. I remember opening my first booster (3rd of 24) and Anton was already Black and I was already signaling Blue/Red, so I took something and passed Nezumi Shortfang. Despite my 2 neighbors being two of my possible opponents for the immediate next round, we cooperated perfectly. Ryouma was Green/Black, I was Blue/Red, and Anton was Black/White. I Drafted 43 Blue or Red cards, always staying in my colors, the exceptions being Night Dealings and Hold the Line. To me, this was the best deck I drafted so far (I left Eye of Nowhere in the sideboard), and I thought for sure, this was a solid 2-1 deck, which is awesome when you’re 6-0.
1 Floating-Dream Zubera
1 Hearth Kami
2 Callous Deceiver
1 Brutal Deceiver
1 Ronin Houndmaster
1 Kami of Twisted Reflection
1 Kami of Fire’s Roar
3 Soratami Mirror-Guard
1 Soul of Magma
1 Soratami Seer
1 Teller of Tales
1 Reach Through Mists
3 Consuming Vortex
1 Glacial Ray
1 Honden of Infinite Rage
2 Counsel of Soratami
Round 7: Ryouma Shiozu G/B snakes
Here is a conversation I had with my friend MÃ¡rcio when he asked me how I lost to Ryouma.
Me- He had lots of snakes. Except for one Kami of Hunt, I only saw snakes in all three games. He played like, 10 different Snakes.
MÃ¡rcio- Snake deck huh? You’re always exaggerating. He probably had like 5, and you’re making it 10 snakes.
Me- So let me count it for you.
– Orochi Leafcaller
– Orochi Ranger
– Matsu-Tribe Decoy
– Orochi Eggwatcher
– Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
– Orochi Sustainer
– Sakura Tribe Elder
– Seshiro, the Anointed
MÃ¡rcio- That makes 8.
Me- Yeah, but he had some in multiple copies. He had 2 Seshiros.
MÃ¡rcio- At least lie to me with something I can possibly believe.
Me- No, really, double Seshiro.
MÃ¡rcio- And in 2 minutes, you’ll be adding a Kashi-Tribe Reaver to his deck too.
Me- Oh yeah, I forgot that, he played that against me too.
MÃ¡rcio- You’re such a liar!
So, he played 4 snakes, then a turn 5 Seshiro. That was game 1 for him. I made an entertaining moment for the Japanese crowd in the Feature Match area (the match was covered in Japanese) when I blocked his Orochi Ranger with my Zubera the turn he played Sachi, the Daughter. Fortunately, it was irrelevant for the outcome.
I won the second game because he kind of mana flooded and played no Seshiro. Ronin Houndmaster was preventing his snakes from attacking, while my own mana flood helped me deal four each turn with double Callous Deceiver.
The third game starts with Commune with Nature from his side, revealing Seshiro. My only chance was to race the snakes with Soratami Mirror-Guard, and chumpblock after Seshiro was played. He Befouled my flier, and I had very few outs. Consuming Vortex granted some few more draws, but I didn’t have decent blockers to decimate the Snake army the turns I bounced Seshiro. If you look at the Japanese Coverage, you’ll see that the most common word in English in this match was Seshiro.
I was really happy to make Day 2, which just shows how bad I am. I hate Extended, and was so relieved I didn’t have to pick someone’s deck to play the Extended PTQ’s. And since I didn’t had high expectations coming into Nagoya, my goal in Day 2 was just to make money, the more the better, and with some luck I could snag a Top 32 that qualified me to Philadelphia, and allowed me to skip the Extended season. There were 80 players in Day 2, which meant that only 16 would miss the money. After starting 6-0, it would be frustrating to be one of them, but every time we end up listening to stories about the X-0 who ended X–X.
Round 8: Shu Komuro G/R
Shu played turn 2 Orochi Sustainer, turn three Sosuke, and turn four Matsu-Tribe Decoy. And he also had a Seshiro in his deck. Strangely, my friend MÃ¡rcio didn’t believed this either.
For the second game, I got the insane start – turn 2 Hearth Kami, turn 3 Ronin Houndmaster, turn 4 Soratami Mirror-Guard. I still had more gas in my hand, but Shu’s first spell was on turn 4, and he was too far behind.
For the decisive game, I mulligan and I am forced to keep a heavy land hand, something like 4 lands and 1 Red Honden plus a random card. The Honden turns out to be quite irrelevant, and my only plan was to race with a Sokenzan Bruiser. Shu kills it with Yamabushi’s Flame. I drew only lands for a while until suddenly, I drew Soratami Seer, the best card I could possibly draw in this situation, since I had so many lands, but Shu kills me next turn with Strength of Cedars.
6 – 2
And what I thought it was a solid 2-1 deck, was now close to make 0-3. Maybe different pairings, against the non-snake decks could’ve make it different, but we’ll never know.
Round 9: Joshua Ravitz U/W splash Red
He was splashing for Mindblaze and Godo, and since the draft was the day before, I didn’t recall if he had Blind with Anger or other cards.
Game one I play Red Honden, that killed most of his team. His Kitsune Blademasters survived, but then I played Frostwielder. He drew lots of lands, and no creature with toughness 3 or higher. Still, his aggressive start dropped me really low on life.
For Game 2, my hand is insane, and he took a mulligan. I have the opportunity to splice Glacial Ray 2 or 3 times, but not that many lands. I killed almost everything he had, and was holding like 6 cards, since I didn’t have many lands to drop my hand on the table. He played Godo, searched for Tatsumasa, and despite me having lots of good cards in hand, I had less life than him, there were some huge threats on the other side of the table, and I still didn’t have enough mana to play more than 1 spell each turn. A great comeback for Joshua. He was losing 0-1, mulliganed and saw all his creatures killed by a spliced Glacial Ray, but still, he believed until the end that was possible to win that game.
I don’t remember the third game, but since I won the round, it’s obvious I won. This deck was so close to make 0-3, with all rounds ending 1-2. I guess that means, the deck could’ve done much better.
7 – 2
Draft 4: Green, and splash whatever you like
This was Draft Pod 1 after 9 rounds, and the nearby Pods were saying: Anton Jonsson plus 7 Japaneses! Fortunately, Olivier Ruel comes to the rescue and corrects: “No! One Portuguese in there!” And a very nice guy from Malaysia, Terry Soh. Only 5 Japaneses and Anton Jonsson.
I am Seat 3. The first pack is opened and has three “okay” cards in three different colors. Seat 1, Masashiro Kuroda took the Black, Seat 2 Anton took the other, and that left me with the Green one, Kodama’s Reach. I don’t feel very atrracted to Green, and Kodama’s Reach has been dropping in my pick order more and more, but in Rochester, at this stage, I think is a fine pick that allows you to splash off-color bombs opened near me. I followed that with Sakura-Tribe Elder. In the next pack, it’s my turn to first pick, there’s nothing attractive in other colors, so I stick to Green and decide to wait a little more for the table to shape, and pick another Sakura-Tribe Elder. To my left, Nao Atsuta goes to R/B, and to my right, Anton goes to a combination of Blue, Red and White.
I think the packs screwed me a little on this draft. There were 3 Green drafters, me, and 2 others on the other side, sitting next to each other. When they opened their packs, they picked stuff like Strength of Cedars, and the other one picked Kodama’s Might, with nothing left for me. The packs opened near me, had me making a choice between Kami of Hunt, Orochi Sustainer and Elder. This is fine, but it also meant that the other Green players would wheel the other 2 cards I didn’t pick. The strategy of splashing bombs also didn’t work, because the bombs were opened on the other side, stuff like Nagao, 2 Meloku, Kokusho, Kodama of North Tree, and Kodama of South Tree. Meanwhile, I was splashing for Pull Under and Godo to search No-Dachi.
1 Orochi Leafcaller
1 Hana Kami
1 Budoka Gardener
2 Sakura-Tribe Elder
2 Orochi Sustainer
1 Matsu-Tribe Decoy
1 Brothers Yamazaki
1 Kami of the Hunt
1 Burr Grafter
2 Feral Deceiver
1 Venerable Kumo
1 Iname, Life Aspect
1 Godo, Bandit Warlord
1 Kodama’s Might
1 Rend Flesh
1 Kodama’s Reach
1 Uncontrollable Anger
1 Blood Rites
1 Pull Under
This was the worst deck I drafted all the weekend. My goal was to not 0-3, so that I wouldn’t sink in the standings.
Round 10: Ryouma Shiozu U/W possible splash Red
He starts aggressive with Lantern Kami and Soratami Rainshaper, plus Kitsune Diviner and Kabuto Moth. I played some threats such as Matsu-Tribe Decoy with Uncontrollable Anger and Godo with No-Dachi, but they were both neutralized with Mystic Restraints. I tried to kill his Kabuto Moth with Kodama’s Might when he blocked, but his last card was Hisoka’s Defiance. All my threats were answered, and he had the Lantern Kami and the Rainshaper to kill me.
Game 2 I kept with 2 lands and Kodama’s Reach, playing first, never drew the third land or one of the 2 Elders or Orochi Sustainer. I’ve won some games this way in Nagoya, fair enough that I lose some like this.
Round 11: Nao Atsuta R/B
I recognized Nao from MTGO. He’s a Dragonquest (his clan), my friends are also Dragonquests, so I usually finish premier events for them on their accounts. Nao asks if kbol, smuve or filipe were in Nagoya, but hey, we’re Portuguese, we’re not that good, though any of these guys is as good or better than I am.
I lost the first game and don’t remember how. That means, we both had lands and spells, although not anything very spectacular.
In the second game, a No-Dachi on Orochi buys me a lot of time. He plays Nezumi Cutthroat, and starts dealing damage, I play Frostwielder. Nao leaves four mana open, so I guess he has Uncontrollable Anger, so for a while, I keep taking 2 from the Cutthroat, and not activating it on end of turn. This is fine by me, I am developing my board, and he has to keep four mana up each turn. All for the price of taking two damage each attack, and not dealing one at end of turn. When I drew a Pull Under, I started activating the Frostwielder, and he shows me that he did have the Anger. He never drew a removal spell for the frostwielder or the small Orochi with the sword and I win.
The final game is decided on the fourth turn. Nao attacks me with Villainous Ogre, and I block with Matsu-Tribe Decoy and Orochi Leafcaller. Nao kills the Decoy. I win the game with 6 Forest and 1 Mountain, and the some of the spells I played were Frostwielder, Blood Rites and Pull Under.
Round 12: Kentarou Ino G/W
His double Kitsune Blademaster draw meant that he applied lots of pressure early on, and that he had an almost impenetrable defense later on. I didn’t find a way to pass by the Samurais, and lost to a Vine Kami. Yep, Vine Kami.
I won a very long second game with Blood Rites, sending multiple creatures with soulshift at him. We have 7 minutes or so to shuffle and play the 3rd game, I asked him if he wanted to draw, and he declines saying that he believes X-4 would do it. He keeps, and I mulligan, and I showed him an unplayable hand to assure him I wasn’t stalling. He asked me “Play fast, play fast, please” while I was shuffling the mulligan.
I then realize why. First turn Isamaru, second turn Kami of Ancient Law, third turn Time of Need for Nagao. I had a chance to survive, and it was to draw either a Pull Under or Rend Flesh. I had Kodama’s Reach and Hana Kami, and with removal for Nagao and Isamaru, the board would stabilize. Despite being in a bad position, I played fast enough for us to finish. I congratulated him on winning, and he thanks me for playing fast enough. (We managed to finish in the extra turns, where I simply ran out of blockers for Nagao.)
After a long weekend, I still got into the final draft in a very good position. One win guarantees money, two wins is Top 32 and qualification for Philadelphia, and three wins is a great sum of money. I went to the draft hoping not to repeat the last one.
Draft 5: U/B
This draft went really well for me. Some players were fighting over colors on the table, but I cooperated nicely between my two neighbors. Jonathan Sonne on my right Green/White, and Osyp Lebedowicz to my left Green/Red. That put me in an amazing position for Blue/Black and I think we got the three best decks of the table. There wasn’t a Blue drafter for three seats to my right, and no Black drafter until four seats to my right. I think I made a few mistakes in card evaluation during the draft, because I didn’t follow the rule of, when in doubt, pick the cheaper card, but things just went my way which was the exact opposite of last draft. I ended with 8 removal spells plus a third Pull Under on the sideboard (and Eye of Nowhere, since the deck was good). To me, this was the best deck of the five I drafted that weekend.
1 Wicked Akuba
1 Cruel Deceiver
1 Ashen-Skin Zubera
1 River Kaijin
1 Nezumi Ronin
1 Thief of Hope
4 Gibbering Kami
1 Cursed Ronin
1 Soratami Seer
1 Teller of Tales
2 Reach Through Mists
1 Rend Spirit
1 Rend Flesh
1 Hideous Laughter
1 Mystic Restrains
1 Swallowing Plague
2 Pull Under
Round 13: Tomohide Sasagawa U/W
Tomohide was really nice, like all the Japanese players I’ve played over the years. When he pile shuffled my deck, he noticed one card that had a worn out corner, and instead of screaming for a judge, trying a free win, he handed me the deck back, and told me I should ask a judge for a proxy. I had just came from the land station to the table, so I didn’t notice the mark. And the marked card was one of the 4 Gibbering Kamis, so luckily it wasn’t in a spell one of a kind game breaker like Hideous Laughter.
In both games I played Thief of Hope. His U/W deck had no way to kill it, so I gained a large amount of life over the course of both games, thanks to the Spirit enabler and Swallowing Plague. In both games Tomohide dealt more than 20 damage to me but it wasn’t enough.
I was now guaranteed money, which was a huge relief. Now I was playing each round to double and accumulate my pot.
Someone from the Sideboard staff asks me if I’m still in contention for Top 8, which I replied negatively, and answer that I’m not even sure if I’m guaranteed in Top 32 and qualification for Philadelphia. (Yeah, I really hate Extended)
Round 14: Werner Cloete G/R
The three games went the same way. I stalled on three lands and try to deal with Werner’s Creatures whatever way I can. Werner draws land after land. He drew 15 lands in each game. However, I lost game one to a mistake. Our life is low, I attacked him with flier and I could kill him next turn. He had a 4/4 and a Burr Grafter, so all I needed to do was survive his attack. On my turn I play Pull Under on the 4/4, and he saves it with Burr Grafter and kills me next turn. Nicely played by me, when playing for thousands of dollars. He did have Hanabi Blast, so he had a 50/50 chance of winning regardless, but because of the timing of my play, I gave him a 100% chance of winning that game.
The other 2 games, were a lot alike, I was mana screwed, but he was more mana flooded, I catch up, and then didn’t screw up.
After this round, for the first time in the weekend, I went checking the Standings board, to find out to my surprise that I’m reasonably high up in the standings. I found Osyp and discovered he’s also 2-0 so we’ll probably play. I asked him what he thought of drawing into Top 16, and he asks a friend of his to calculate if it’s possible. His friend told him, that Osyp had a very small chance of making Top 8. The round is posted, and I was paired down, and not playing Osyp. They call everyone who’s still in contention for Top 8 to the feature matches, including Osyp.
I went to my table and Osyp’s friend who did the math was playing next to me. I asked him what were Osyp’s chances of Top8’ing, and he tells me they’re no more than 20%. Since I was right above Osyp in the standings I figured I also had a shot at Top 8, and that was confirmed when a Judge grabed a chair and sits to watch my match to prevent bribery, since my opponent had no chance.
Round 15: Damien Lacroix
Damien is one of the French who came in our very large group of Portuguese, Spanish and French who won PTQs in Spain, plus friends that share rooms. He’s only got 27 points, and needs a draw to guarantee Top 32. I could draw into Top 16 as well, but I have never reached so high at a Pro Tour, and probably won’t have another chance of getting so close, so I have to decline and play, even if my chances of getting into Top 8 are almost nil.
The round was really short and the games were totally one-sided. We spent more time shuffling and chatting than actually playing. In both games, I set up a devastating Hideous Laughter, killing his side of the board, while my creatures were Ashen-Skin Zubera, River Kaijin, Gibbering Kami, Cursed Ronin. The creatures that followed or the ones that survived the Laughter were handled with my other removal spells, and in Damien’s words, he was quickly crushed. He wished me luck for Top 8, and I wished him the Top 32. (He finished 33rd)
There were still 30 minutes left until end of round, and after that they still slow rolled the Top 8, so it seemed a lot of time to me. During the whole weekend, I wasn’t thinking about Top 8, but now it was a possibility. I check the standings and pairing and realize there are 7 guys fighting for 2 slots.
I was then called to the Staff area, since they wanted to film our reactions when Top 8 was announced. The other Portuguese players took this as a sign I was making it in, but what the staff told me was that Vassilis Fatouros was way ahead of us in the tie-breakers, and the last slot would be for Anton, Osyp or me. So, instead of 7 for 2 slots it was a 3 for 1. (Well, anyone who can read standings could easily figured that, so no extra info was given here).
As you all know, Anton got 8th place, and I think he deserved it. It’s not because he’s the biggest name, or because of the amount of Magic he played. It was all about this tournament and what he showed in Nagoya. He started 9-0, in a dominant way. In theory, he had the best tiebreakers from starting 9-0, and anyone who starts like this, definitely deserves to be in.
As for me, I wasn’t counting on making Top 8 even after the last round, so it was not very frustrating. However, when I returned home, and look back I do feel pity about being so close, knowing I won’t get another chance like this one. I will have another opportunity in case I want to since that Top 8 at least qualified me for Philadelphia, though I have some points to make up if I want to be on the gravy train.
Right now, my goal is just to compete in Pro Tour: London. It’s Limited and it’s in Europe, so double bonus there. I might have to skip Grand Prix: Lisbon to sit on my ranking, but I’ll still be there (I live here), in case you decide to show up and say Hi. Please come! There’s bet going on about the number of players on this GP, and I’m putting it over 1000.
If you made it this far, let me thank you for reading until the end. I was satisfied to be able to share some stories, and I hope you found something useful, or at least entertaining in this report.
Tiago_ on MTGO