Swinging With Dead Girls, the Finale – PT: Columbus *T8*

StarCityGames.com’s own precocious fifteen-year-old takes you through all of his Day 2 and Top 8 action. If Worlds and Pro Tour Columbus are any indicators, the kids are starting to take over the game, and Gadiel is one of the best of them.

When I left off last time, I was about to begin day two play. If you missed part 1, you should check it out.

The decklists for the players with records of 7-1 or better were on the Sideboard, and my possible matchups were as follows:

Pierre Canali – Affinity

Masashi OisoMind’s Desire

Semion Bezrukov – Red Deck Wins

Nicholas West – Scepter Chant

Ryuichi Arita – Life

Claudio Salemi – Pattern of Rebirth

Geoffrey Siron – U/G

Now this isn’t exactly the ideal set of possible matchups. Affinity and U/G are about 50-50, and I assume Pattern is about the same, although I obviously don’t have a single game of experience against it. Red Deck Wins is my only good matchup in the bunch, while Life, Scepter Chant, and Desire are all wrist-slicers. This ended up being basically irrelevant; since I got paired against all of these eventually except for my only good matchup amongst them in Red Deck Wins. I also missed out on playing the Pattern deck, which I couldn’t really complain about.

Round 9 vs. Pierre Canali w/ Affinity

Game 1 I played first. Prior to sideboarding, his deck’s only chance to handle my animals is to race them, which is possible but quite hard. My turn 2 Akroma proved to have the faster footspeed, and was not outraced.

Game 2 left me pretty incredulous. He started with a seemingly innocuous Aether Vial. I played Swamp and passed. He played Ravager and I Tutored. If I had just gotten Smother, I would have probably won the game, but to be fair, I couldn’t know that since it was only because of what his hand happened to be. Instead, I went for the obvious Energy Flux. I played Chrome Mox and cast the Flux on turn 2. During my end step, he Vialed out a Disciple of the Vault. On his upkeep, he Vialed out an Arcbound Worker with Flux on the stack, then sacked it along with the Vial and an artifact land (after using it for mana) to make Ravager 5/5 and deal me three Disciple points. Then with his other land, a Nexus, he paid to keep the Ravager alive. After drawing for the turn, he played a City of Brass and another Worker. The Akroma that followed was not even close to fast enough to keep up with the 7/7 Ravager. I still think not knowing his hand, it is right to go for Flux, because if you get Smother and he has another Ravager or a Seal of Removal for Akroma, I cannot win the game.

Game 3 I just got a turn 1 Rorix and won. Ironically, if I had removed Show and Tell to Chrome Mox, I would have followed with a turn 2 Akroma, due to the two cards I drew off of the Study. The blog says that:

“Canali was a whisker away from pulling out game 3 through a turn 1 Rorix, but was one point short of killing Gadiel. The next card on the top of his library? Seal of Removal.”

Actually, no. I won the game at 11 life, and that was only after he jokingly sacrificed all his stuff to deal me as much as possible. I actually have no idea what he meant by “only one more life.” It could not have referred to his life either, since he just went from 20 to 14 to 8 to 2 to dead. Besides, Seal of Removal wasn’t the top card of his library. When he flipped the top cards of his deck, the first was a Thoughtcast that would have led him to the Seal, but he only had one Blue available and could not have cast it. In addition, with only two Seals in his deck, I think he is about a three to one dog to see a Seal in his first ten cards like he would have had to do to have a chance in that game.

8-1, 17-5

Round 10 v. Nicholas West w/ Scepter Chant

Yep, not winning.

Game 1 I even got to play first and got Rorix on turn 3 I think through some countermagic. It was for naught though, as he proved that he was the more adept wizard by having the Isochron Scepter and Orim’s Chant naturally on turn 4.

Game 2 I had a turn 2 Akroma that was possibly going to go all the way. Before his fourth turn, he said “I’ve got the Scepter Chant, but I need a Mox or another Chant.” Sure enough, he got the Mox. I think he thought he had it, but it really only bought one turn thanks to my Echoing Truth. He did not catch runners, and I was able to steal a game.

Game 3 was quite anticlimactic as he just got his combo before I played a land. As surprised as you may be, I was unable to come back from this one and took my first loss of the day. I talked to him later and he turned out to be pretty cool, although he definitely said “Cheers” way too often.

8-2, 18-7

At this point Jonathan Becker asked me to do a little video interview about Reanimator so I could show all the PT hopefuls how to properly smash face with it. They told me to set up a first turn Akroma hand and explain, step-by-step, how to do it. Now I think this can really help people, but not in the way it was intended. Everyone knows that when you get your nut draw, you just play land Mox Putrid Imp/Careful Study/Cabal Therapy on yourself, then discard Akroma and Reanimate it. However, the part that most need to learn is how to draw the first turn Akroma hands in the first place. It’s not easy, but if you set it up and then just draw the hand enough times, you become better at it and draw it more often. I practiced for hours on end before the Pro Tour, and still only managed three turn 1 creatures. However, I’m sure that it is more than I would have had without the practice. For that reason, if you watch my video interview, you may learn how to draw turn 1 Akroma hands more frequently than you currently are. Good luck with it!

Round 11 vs. Javier Dominguez w/ Cephalid Breakfast

This was a feature match, which I cannot win. In addition, I didn’t like my matchup despite having beaten it the day before.

Game 1 I draw first and keep only one Swamp but with the full load in the grip. Since I had Putrid Imp, Akroma, Reanimate, and Vampiric Tutor, it definitely warranted keeping. On turn 1, he played Birds and I failed to draw a land. I just played my Swamp and said go. He then Therapied me, to which I responded with Vampiric Tutor for Underground River. He named Reanimate blind and hit, and then flashed it on my Exhume, assuming correctly I had gone for a land. Maybe I should have just gotten another Reanimate, but since he had main deck Gilded Drake to go along with eight Tutors for it, I thought it better to try to establish some kind of board position as well. In the turns that followed, I was able to keep him from his combo with discard off the top, but land evaded me. When he finally got the combo, he ran it and main phase Reclamationed only an Exhume back, since he was too low to Reanimate due to beatings from Forbidden Orchard Tokens. On my turn I just discarded Akroma and passed with six Orchard Tokens up and at 17 life. I had exactly enough blockers to stay at one and deck him if he forgot to sacrifice his creatures to Therapies to have enough to remove to Sutured Ghoul, but he didn’t and he had exactly enough damage to take me out.

Game 2 was another close one. I mulliganed and early barrages of discard from both sides emptied both of our hands. I was left with a Putrid Imp, while he had nothing. I drew Akroma, so all I needed was a Vampiric Tutor or Reanimate, since his Gilded Drake had been previously discarded. He drew, shrugged, and sheepishly morphed a Krosan Cloudscraper. After a few more blank draws on both sides, my life was getting depleted to the point where soon I wouldn’t be able to Reanimate my Akroma, since the loss of life would be fatal. The key turn of the game was when I drew Vampiric Tutor at fifteen life. On his turn he attacked me down to thirteen and after combat smiled again and played Dragon Breath on his creature. Had he done this precombat, it would have added a point of power to the “mystery” face-down creature and I would have lost the game. Instead I Tutored at the end of his turn going to ten, since I only had Underground Rivers. On my turn, I took a point from my land, going to nine, and cast Reanimate on Akroma, going to one. Without drawing a Reanimate of his own the next turn, I pulled this one out when I shouldn’t have.

Game 3 I start once again with a mulligan and a Putrid Imp and he leads with Birds and Mox. I Therapy him, and he casts Worldly Tutor in response for Gilded Drake. I name Cephalid Illusionist and hit, also seeing two more Wordly Tutors. I play second Putrid Imp and sacrifice it to get rid of the remaining Worldly Tutors. He draws and does nothing. I follow suit. At the end of his turn, all I have is Vampiric Tutor. I think for a long time about going for Brainstorm just to see a lot of new cards. I decide not to, and surprisingly and luckily, I draw a Brainstorm naturally. I cast it main phase, finding some random cards, then dug deeper with Careful Study.

On his turn, he got a Cabal Therapy off the top and tore my hand apart. It was obvious that I had the Tutor, due to how much I thought during his end step. I think I should have probably just passed with Brainstorm and Tutor in hand. However, I knew the whole contents of his hand, and I can’t really assume he’s going to draw a Therapy, so I’m still unsure. After a few more draws I’ve picked up a Therapy and an Akroma. He’s drawn some lands and eventually a Brainstorm. He casts it looking for action, and it shows on his face very clearly that he got nothing. I found out after the fact that it was three copies of Forbidden Orchard. At this point he was at six and my Threshold-powered Imp would have gone all the way, I drew Reanimate the next turn though to seal the deal even quicker. The two closest matches of the tournament were definitely against both Cephalid Breakfast players, thanks for some good games. I hope on the losing end they can feel the same way. More importantly, I had broken my feature match streak!

9-2, 20-9

Round 12 vs. Masashi Oiso w/Mind’s Desire

I was unhappy to see this pairing, but at least I had dodged the Life deck that was even worse.

Game 1 he goes first and leads with Mox and Nightscape Familiar. I Duress him and am extremely happy to take his only remaining spell-Cunning Wish. He simply plays a land and says go. On my turn I discard Akroma to Careful Study and Reanimate, because it’s the cool thing to do. I think I’m in good shape, but almost throw up when he Intuitions at the end of my turn. Once again, he says go after playing a land. I attack him down to six and Cabal Therapy him. He Brainstorms in response. I still name Snap and miss. He apparently hid one, and says go after drawing it. At the end of his turn I tutor for Rorix. I discard it to Imp and Exhume it to finish him off despite his Snap on my Akroma. Despite this being a terrible matchup, things get markedly better in game 2. I was somewhat confident that I could get one of the next two after stealing the first. Scouting was very helpful here, since we knew he boarded into Tog against Reanimator. To be honest, that doesn’t seem right, but it probably is, since I’m sure he knows his deck better than I do. Anyway, knowing this, I brought in my Smothers to go with the Phyrexian Negators and Cranial Extraction that would come in anyway.

Game 2 nothing happens until my turn 1 Negator gets Mana Leaked. Turn 4 I cast a second one and it sticks. The following turn I Therapy him and he thinks for a while before letting it resolve. I don’t know if he meant to trick me, but he sure did and I named Cunning Wish. I missed seeing Deep Analysis, two Snaps, Echoing Truth, and Sapphire Medallion. On his turn he plays the Medallion and taps out to Deep twice. I attack with Negator, then sacrifice it to flashback Therapy on Snap, then Exhume it back into play. On his turn he plays Psychatog. He seems disgusted when I go to Smother it. After some thought, he Echoing Truths it back to his hand. Seeing my opening, I Tutor for Cranial Extraction during my upkeep. I attack him down to four with Negator and Extract his Togs. Not only does he have to peel to stay alive, but his only way to win the game now is to chain Cunning Wishes and Freeze me. He slowrolls his draw step before flipping a blank and conceding the game.

10-2, 22-9

Round 13 vs. Ryuchi Arita w/ Life

Another feature match, albeit a fake one without coverage, and I asked why we were featured, since I’d just lose in five minutes. Little did I know that I’d get the best draws of the tournament when I needed them most.

Game 1 I’m on the draw and we both mulligan. I hit the nuts though and my turn 1 Akroma is barely fast enough. The barely is not a sarcastic one – he actually would have gone infinite the next turn. As with the Desire matchup, this one improves greatly after board. That is because if he goes off with Worthy Cause, I can Smother his infinite toughness creature in response. This would force him to sacrifice his En-Kor to gain an irrelevant one or two life. He then would have to set up his combo all over again. On the downside, if he goes off with Starlit Sanctum, there’s nothing I can do about it. I assume he is aware of this, so I honestly still think I am behind and an underdog in the matchup. I voice to my friends that I still think I will lose and Ryuchi gets kind of mad asking that I don’t talk to them since he didn’t know what we were saying. I got the bilingual judge to explain that I told them I thought he would smash and that I just got lucky, and no hard feelings were had.

Game 2 he starts with a Windswept Heath and an En-Kor. I just have Careful Study putting Akroma in the graveyard. On his turn he plays a second Heath and Living Wishes for Daru Spiritualist. I draw Rorix and Exhume Akroma. The attack that follows takes him to twelve. If he had had a Plains, Brushland, or third Heath, he would have comboed on the spot and I would have lost, since I can’t beat the infinite life. He only had a Forest though, so he played the Spiritualist and said go, ready to go off the next turn. My turn 2 Akroma was going to be one turn short, but since I had Rorix and Reanimate in hand, I had many outs. I could draw Sickening Dreams, Cabal Therapy, Careful Study, or Putrid Imp to just discard it and attack him for 12. I could also draw Smother to slow his combo and give Akroma enough time. I could even draw Brainstorm and hit any of these cards. Like when I peeled a Blue source in round eight, I felt this one on top as well. I ripped the Study off the top and couldn’t believe it myself as I won the unwinnable match against the Life deck.

11-2, 24-9

After this round, I got some eats at the food court. Apparently everyone knew before I did that at this point I could 1-2 in, and during the down time between the rounds I got mixed messages of “Congrats you are gonna top 8!” and “OMG, if you f*** this up you are the biggest donkey on earth and I will never talk to you again.” Unfortunately, going into the next round I was still kind of on a high from lucking out Arita’s Life deck, and I proceeded to throw away my only game of the tournament. At least, I think so, since it’s entirely likely that I threw away additional games that I’m unaware of.

Round 14 vs. Geoffrey Siron w/ U/G

Game 1 I was on the draw but still got a turn two Rorix with Therapy backup for possible Waterfront Bouncers, which he turned out not to have main deck. A few turns later came the situation where I messed up. I knew that his hand contained both Circular Logic and Roar of the Wurm. He was at seven after my attack with Rorix, and I had Putrid Imp in my hand. However he could kill me in two attacks with the Rootwalla and Aquamoeba he had in play, since for the second attack he would have a Roar of the Wurm token as well. I just had it in my mind that I had to play the Imp and try to force through seven damage. I knew he had the Logic, but my train of thought was that the only chance to win was for him to think there’s no reason to counter a lowly Putrid Imp and just let me kill him the next turn. He almost didn’t counter it, but finally he did and while he was thinking about it I realized what I should have done.

To me it was obvious immediately, but people watching the match could not understand why I was mad at myself. They thought he had just gotten lucky, while he actually was just lucky that I screwed up. In case you haven’t realized it yet, I should have just said go. On his turn he’d tap out to play Roar of the Wurm out of his graveyard. I could play the Imp on my turn and attack him down to one. The Imp would chump block one of his creatures and Rorix would kill him as long as he didn’t topdeck Wonder or an Intuition to find one. I was really upset that I had thrown away a game at such a crucial point in the tournament, but regained my composure for game two. I thought I was going to lose, though, since U/G normally brings in Waterfront Bouncers and Gilded Drakes. giving me a tough matchup after board despite being a favorite in game one. Geoffrey’s list only brought in two Bouncers, so I actually had a good shot, but I didn’t know that.

Game 2 I kept a turn 2 Akroma draw with Smother but he got turn 1 Waterfront Bouncer. I Smothered it and he laid another one. I probably would have continued if I would have known his total was two, but I just assumed he had four. I just sat there and did nothing until I died.

11-3, 24-11

At this point I was in a bad mood to find out that the only other 11-3 I had not yet played was Kyle Goodman with Aluren. Not only was he a friend playing what I think is a bad matchup (he thinks it’s in my favor, so who knows), but he had also just rattled off nine wins in a row! Many would say he is just suited, and who wants to play against those people? Instead, I was paired down to Rasmus Sibast. When I saw the pairing I was like “huh?” since I hadn’t seen his name at or near the top of the standings the whole weekend. Because of this, I didn’t even have his deck on my list of what people were playing.

Round 15 vs. Rasmus Sibast w/ Tog

Game 1 I draw first and he lays an Island. I am unsure of what to do, but Therapy myself for Akroma revealing a pair of Reanimates and lands. When he sees both Reanimates, he is upset, so I know I am against Tog. The first Reanimate gets countered, but the second obviously resolves. Akroma takes him to two before his Wished-for Edict can remove it, but by then I have Duress and Exhume to bring it back for the KO.

Game 2 I play a turn 1 Putrid Imp and Exhume Akroma on turn 2, since I have nothing else to do. He has Edict, but it only takes out the Imp. He also has Cunning Wish but my Negator that follows ensures my spot in the Top 8.

12-3, 26-11

Many people congratulated me and stuff. I picked up some unwanted barns. What else is new?

Round 16 I just ID with Shuhei Nakamura into the Top 8. I would have been in with a loss though. After the final standing go up and the Top 8 is announced, I have to pose for some pictures in which I look like I’m about to die, and then I receive the decklists. I am playing Nakamura with Red Deck Wins, my best matchup in the top 8. In top 4 though, I would have to play the winner of Scepter Chant and Life, so the assumption was I’d easily take the first match, but get skulled in the second. I didn’t really test a lot, since I was really tired and it was pretty clear-cut what I was going to do.


Top 8 vs. Shuhei Nakamura w/ Red Deck Wins

Game 1 not only do I lose the die roll, but they won’t allow me to switch sides of the table. Normally, you get the deck on your right hand side if you lose the die roll at the feature match table, but since we were already strapped with mikes and stuff, I got owned. The small amount of commentary for my match is sadly very inaccurate. They say that game one I Exhumed Akroma on turn 2 and still lost, and was probably very demoralized. In other words, they just said “Hee Haw”, because if they took a second to look at Nakamura’s deck list they could see that there is Literally No Draw In His Deck That Can Beat Akroma Exhumed On Turn Two! I guess I could have forgotten to attack, maybe they thought that…

Here is what actually happened: I kept a borderline hand, consisting of a pair of Duresses, Swamp, Underground River, two Exhumes, and Akroma. I could draw any of my thirteen ways to discard or a Vampiric Tutor to get a quick Akroma, so I kept. I didn’t do anything for a few turns, but when I drew a Cabal Therapy on like turn 5, the situation was that he had a Lavamancer and Seal on the board with me at like sixteen life. My hand had the Exhumes, one Duress, two Akromas, and the Therapy. My board was just the two lands. I Duressed him again and took his last spell, an irrelevant Pillage. He had only lands left in his hand, and I Therapied myself for Akromas. Unfortunately, he masterfully selected a Blistering Firecat on the top of his deck to put me down to eight. If it had been on any turn after that, it would have done nothing, since my Angel could first strike it away. Any other burn spell, and he wouldn’t have had enough. But with that Firecat, he drew two more burn spells in the turns that followed and had enough damage to put me at exactly zero the turn before he died.

Game 2 I mulliganed twice and was sad. I think, however, that I should have mulliganed a third time, because I kept something like Putrid Imp, Mox, Therapy, Brainstorm, Study. I just didn’t even consider going to four. I think it was wrong, but even though it’s no excuse I would have almost certainly lost anyway. As it was, I obviously did nothing the whole game and conceded on turn 3 to some guys on his side.

Game 3 I mulliganed again and he did too. I had turn 2 Rorix and with an Echoing Truth on his Ensnaring Bridge, and I was able to take a game.

Game 4 was a very sad affair. I mulliganed again and my hand had two lands, a Vampiric Tutor, Cabal Therapy, Brainstorm, and Akroma. I tutor for Exhume and Therapy my Akroma. I draw another Therapy, Exhume Akroma and he plays Bridge. During my upkeep, I Tutor for Echoing Truth. Meanwhile he is burning me with his Cursed Scroll and Lavamancer. On my next turn, if I had drawn a land, I could have bounced his Bridge and Therapied it. This would have given me enough attacks to kill him before he killed me. Since I didn’t, I just said “Go” and Truthed the Bridge at the end of his turn. I Therapied the Bridge and attacked. This put him at six, and he could only bring me to one next turn. That was including him tapping out for Cursed Scroll, so any old burn spell would not be enough. A land to Lavamancer me wouldn’t be enough either, since he only had one card in his graveyard. If you’re smart, like I am, you would have known that the only cards he could draw to win were a sac land or another Bridge. I sure knew it, and when he flipped a sac land and started doing math, I slumped in my chair and knew it was over. He figured it out, and proceeded to kill me.

12-4-1, 27-14

It really sucked to lose to my best matchup. I went over the match in my head and there was really nothing I could have done different other than going to four in game two. Despite being out personally, my tournament wasn’t over just yet. There was still the matter of which position I would end up in. Since Nicholas West had already won, the worst I could finish was in sixth. If Canali won, I’d move up to fifth, but he was down a game to Geoffrey Siron’s Madness deck. It was really pretty stressful to watch someone else play a match worth $1000 to me. Slowly but surely, he tied it at 1-1, then moved ahead to 2-1. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he topdecked what was (for me) a thousand-dollar Ravager to take game four and the match. At least something went right for me on Sunday.

Two other things actually went right as well, but they only took off a bit of the sting from my match with Nakamura. The first thing was the top 8 lunch, which was just total gas. The burgers and hot dogs were solid, and the cheesecake was a nut high of sorts. The other thing was winning a [censored] draft. It is really surprising that after losing a match for about $5000 it can actually cheer you up a little to win a draft for [censored], but it did. After that, we left and I had to a bunch of homework in the car. As Mike Krumb would say, reality hit hard. He actually only said it once, and I’m sure other people have said it too, but he told me he skimmed part one for his name and was devastated not to find it. Since the results of feeling left out again could be suicidal, I thought I’d do my part to help out.

In the week following the Pro Tour, I’ve picked up more barns than anyone could ever want. I can’t imagine what the actual good players have to go through when it comes to dealing with barnacles. However, when people are unaware and show no respect, it can be used to create some pretty funny situation, like this one that happened after I bashed some guy on Magic Online. He called me lucky, and I responded that I was also better than him, but yes, I had also been luckier in that match so it worked out for me quite well.

7:24 all_in: so you’re sjust lucky

7:24 all_in: Gadiel

7:24 all_in: can I call you Gadiel?

7:24 all_in: or maybe just Gad?

7:25 Gadiel: call me whatever

7:25 all_in: jerk

7:26 all_in: ive never seen “Gadiel” on any pt lists

7:26 Gadiel: i actually top 8ed the last one

7:26 all_in: scrubeole

7:26 Gadiel: if u check pt colombus

7:26 all_in: oh did u

7:26 all_in: which one

7:27 all_in: what are you… 32?

7:27 all_in: living in your parents’ basment?

7:27 all_in: yeah

7:27 all_in: thought so

7:27 Gadiel: no im actually 15

7:28 Gadiel: winning 10g

7:28 Gadiel: is pretty good right now

7:28 all_in: don’t lie

7:28 all_in: ill look you up

7:30 all_in: alright, ill give you that

7:30 all_in: but judging from your photos i can say with confidence that I’d own you a.ss in a fight

7:30 all_in: scrawny

7:30 all_in: and who’s the one named Gadiel?

7:30 all_in: LOL

7:30 all_in: not I

I guess he got the last laugh, since he definitely isn’t named Gadiel. I did find out later that he’s actually named Alex Wong. If you ever play him in a PTQ or something, consider yourself the lucky one, since poor Alex just isn’t very good at slinging spells.

I would like to end this report with a request to everyone. That is to please suggest topics that I should write about, because I really don’t know what else to do besides tournament reports. So if you have anything you are interested in or would like to read about, write it in the forums or tell me personally on MTGO.

Gadiel Szleifer

Gadiel on modo

NOT Hoopguy7 on aim (you can barn him for being rated 2031 on modo or for being related to Barry Greenstein, but not for Top 8ing a Pro Tour)

Top Two Youngest Players To Top 8 A PT?