The Black Perspective: Mistakes, Mistakes, and more Mistakes

Being the subject of a recent documentary for G4 TV hasn’t gone entirely to Joe Black’s head, in fact he seems downright humble discussing his recent mistakes at Grand Prix: Seattle and Pro Tour: Atlanta. In addition to those tasty tidbits, Osyp riffs on “The Falling Star Ballot” for the Magic Invitational, shows you what card he plans to propose, and much, much more.

“What’s wrong with the fatties?” – Jelger Wiegersman

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Did you ever have one of those feelings like you were going to have a really bad tournament? I mean, it’s not so much a premonition, but more of a feeling in the back of your head telling you this simply isn’t your weekend. That’s the feeling I had two weeks ago going into Grand Prix: Seattle. First of all, I didn’t even really want to go. The Team Pro Tour was the following week and a lot of people were coming to New Jersey to test. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the format, so I thought it was probably a bad idea. My excess frequent flyer miles and friends I hadn’t seen in a while helped make the decision a little easier.

I hadn’t tested for this GP, at least not as much as I had for GP: Boston. The main problem was that the Team PT required so much effort so I couldn’t really concentrate on a GP. I decided to just play what I knew, U/W Desire. Had I known how bad of a choice it was, I would’ve fallen back on my old stand by, Tog.

Here’s the Tog list I would’ve played for anyone interested:

4 Force Spike

4 Brainstorm

4 Accumulated Knowledge

4 Counterspells

4 Smother

3 Mana Leak

3 Fact of Fiction

3 Cunning Wish

2 Cranial Extraction

2 Intuition

4 Psychatog

4 Polluted Delta

6 Swamps

13 Islands


3 Mutilate

4 Engineered Plague

1 Ghastly Demise

1 Meloku the Clouded Mirror

1 Fact or Fiction

1 Echoing Truth

1 Cranial Extraction

1 Mana Short

1 Corpse Dance

1 Ensnare

Anyway, I ended up going 5-3 on Day 1, which did not qualify me to play on Day 2. Now I hear a lot of people say that they got real unlucky to not win a match, but I have to say that I don’t think luck plays as big a factor in whether you win or lose as people think. Although it appears that you might have simply hit a bad beat or were unlucky in getting a bad matchup, I still believe that mistakes are the number one way people lose matches, whether they see them or not. Take my GP experience for example – I lost three times, and two of the three times were due to mistakes on my part.

Mistake #1 – Misunderstanding

Round four I’m paired against a Cephalid Life deck. I hate this deck, especially since I lost to it in the Top 8 of GP: Boston, where it really became famous. On the ride home from Boston I remember thinking that if I only had a cheaper card drawing spell in my sideboard I would’ve won the match easily. That’s when the idea of Words of Wisdom was born. With multiple copies of that card in my sideboard, I could easily kill my opponent when they milled themselves and tried to go off. I was so happy with the idea that I didn’t bother to test it. The second I boarded the card in though, I realized the error in my ways. A skilled player would simply mill every card in their deck except for the last three. This meant that I would need a Brain Freeze in addition to the Words to actually kill them. In the end, I realized that the matchup was still really bad for me and I hadn’t actually done much to improve things for me. Had I tested more, or at least had a better understanding of the match up, I might’ve been able to win the match.

Mistake #2 – Buffonish Blunders

I was served my third loss in round 7 versus a RDW player. This time around, my mistake wasn’t a mistake in judgment or deck construction, but rather a good old fashion blunder. I tried to go off and simply didn’t realize I was one mana off until it was too late.

Now I could blame it on exhaustion or being hung over, but the truth is sometimes this stuff just happens. The best you can do is minimize your mistakes and play your best. So the next time you lose a close match because you “stalled” out or your opponent “mized”, try and think if there’s something you could’ve done differently.

End public service announcement

Despite my terrible performance at the GP, I did have a wonderful time. Seattle is a great place and it was made only better by my good friends Phil and Rhonda (wink, wink). It was there that I also discovered a new drink I call the “Sotto”. You basically mix vodka, preferably Ketel One, and Gatorade, any flavor will do. It’s great because it gets you very drunk while replenishing your electrolytes, so you don’t wake up hung over. I do recommend however staying somewhat active while your drinking a “Sotto”, as sitting around drinking one will make you quite bloated.

I get back home on Monday and resume team practice for the PT with my team, Togit, along with Von Dutch, Sam Gomersall, Richie Hoaen, Mark Herberholz and Kai Budde.

On Wednesday night I went out drinking with Ruud, Jelger, Sam Gomersall, Mark Herberholz and Gerard. We went to this bar near my house called the Golden Rail. The second we walk into the place I see a cute girl walk straight up to Jelger and get all up on him. The rest of us see this and are a little surprised at how into Jelger this girl is. This leads to the following conversation.

Mark: $10 says Jelger hits that tonight

Gerard: no way, look how wrinkled his shirt is.

The rest of us (with confused looks on our face): Huh?

Mark: I’m telling you, she went up to him, there’s no way he’s not in.

At the time the bet was made I had to agree with Mark. The fact that the girl approached Jelger first and struck up the conversation with him made it seem like she was into him. As long as Jelger didn’t do anything to stupid, he should be fine. However we quickly realized what was actually going on the second the attractive girls fat friend came by and started talking to Ruud, who was standing next to Jelger at the time. Suddenly it became apparent that the attractive girl was simply a wingman for her friend who appeared to be interested in Ruud. Sure enough, a half-hour later, Ruud was all up in her Lane Bryant’s while Jelger was drinking a Sam Adams all alone in the corner.

My team for Seattle consisted of Gerard Fabiano and John Fiorillo. We called our team “No Fat Chicks” in honor of Ruud’s night out. Sadly, since G4 TV was doing a short documentary on us, Wizards requested that we change our name to the more politically correct “NFC”. A lot of people know who Gerard is, but Fiorillo had only two Pro Tour points going into the event, which he had only attained a couple of weeks ago at GP: Boston. John was a good friend of ours who we all thought was really good so we decided to bring him aboard.

Side note: The decline of American Magic.

Recently here on StarCity, Ben Bleiweiss wrote an article claiming that there was some sort of decline in American Magic due to an intense negativity among Americans. Frankly, I just don’t see it. Let’s take a look at this comparison.

Top 10 American Magic Players 1999

Top 10 American Magic Players 2005

1. Jon Finkel

1. Adam Chambers

2. Bob Maher

2. Gadiel Szliefer

3. William Jensen

3. Andrew Pacifico

4. Neil Reeves

4. Don Smith

5. Mike Turian

5. Gerald “Jim Bob” Sixkiller

6. Eric Froehlich

6. Eric Froehlich

7. Eugene Harvey

7. Jeff Garza

8. Brian Kibler

8. Jim Finstrom

9. Trevor Blackwell

9. John Pelcack

10. Chris Benafel

10. Tim Aten

Sure, some of the names have changed a bit, but I don’t see much of a decline. Perhaps my Invitational card will help balance the scales some.

Thankfully, this card has no protection from Playmates.

Lets hope I win, for America’s sake.

End Side Note

I arrive in Atlanta pretty early and wait for my teammates to show up. Sadly, my teammates are idiots and decide to save $20 on their flight by flying out of Newark and connect in Chicago on their way to Atlanta. Obviously it snows in Chicago and their flight is cancelled. I was unsure as to their fate until 9 p.m. when they finally called me and told me they got a connecting flight out of Midway and would be arriving a little past midnight.

The pro players lounge this time around was slightly worse than in Nagoya. I don’t play pool, so I wasn’t too impressed with the pool tables, I would’ve preferred having more televisions and couches. Also, the lack of Japanese women running around was a significant drop off. Overall though I must say I’m very happy with the way Wizards is trying to improve the Pro Tour, it’s great to see cool changes being made after such a long time of things remaining the same.

I do some practice drafts with Gabe Walls and Cedric Phillips versus the Japanese and we get annihilated. It was at this point that I realized Masashi Oiso is not the best Japanese player in the World. I believe that title rest squarely on the shoulders of Masahiko Morita. Morita is a true master and I think that one day people will realize it.

The Tournament

My team ends up going 4-2 and squeaking into Day 2. We start Day 2 2-0 before collapsing and ending with a 6-5 record, just out of the money.

I’m not a huge fan of the team format, mostly because it’s the one Pro Tour stop where you can test non-stop for it and still fail to make Day 2. No other Pro Tour can boast that claim. Because of this, I won’t go into the details as to what happened to us match by match. Instead, I’ll go over some highlights of the weekend.

1) Recently, Wizards has been adding small perks to the PT to help make the experience better for the players. This time around, in addition to the pro players lounge, Wizards also handed out free draft sets to all the teams as they registered so they could practice the night before the PT. Randy Buehler informed me that this trend will continue throughout the year. At PT Philly this year, players can look forward to a special appearance from a well-known celebrity to greet them as they register. I’m not at liberty to tell you who that person is, but lets just say it would be a SIN to miss out on the beautiful CITY of Philadelphia that weekend.

2) Frank Karsten got a weird European virus that caused his feet to swell up to the size of his head. [He got a blood infection and was hospitalized upon his return from the Pro Tour because he could no longer move. He’s doing fine now though. – Knut]

3) StarCityGames.com writer and hunting enthusiast Ruud Wuderhoven used what may have been one of the best worst lines on a woman I’ve even heard. On Saturday night, we all decided to meet up with some girls Fiorillo knew in the area at a bar in Buckhead. The place was pretty awesome, with great music and beautiful women. I’m tearing the dance floor up and causing quite the scene when I look over at Ruud. Now Ruud had been dancing with one of the girls we met up with for the majority of the night. As I look over, I see him whisper something into her ear, she got a disgusted look on her face, and Ruud walked away with his head hung low. Later on that night, Ruud explains to me what happened.

Ruud: I don’t get American girls, in Europe, if I was grinding with a girl all night, we would definitely be making out by now.

Me: What happened?

Ruud: I used my best line on her and it got me nothing.

Me: Your best line?

Ruud: I was like, “Have you ever made out with a guy with a tongue ring before? Would you like to?” And she actually turned me down

4) Judge Sheldon Menery finally broke his cherry and was allowed to head judge an event. No one takes care of business like Sheldon, he works hard and he parties hard. I must say that he ran an excellent PT and in fact all of the judges there did a splendid job.

5) Dave Williams made us watch him on the ESPN show “Tilt” Sunday night. Worst . . . acting . . . ever!

The Finkel Invitational Category

For this year’s Magic Invitational, Wizards decided to change the invitation criteria somewhat. They felt that in keeping with the theme of the Invitational, they would allow the public to have more involvement in who actually was able to go. They broke the invitations into several different categories, one of which I managed to win by a large margin (thanks to everyone who voted for me). Categories such as Resident Genius, Road Warrior and the category in which I will be talking about today, the Falling Star. I, along with several other prominent writers, have been given the honor of voting for the individuals we feel best represent this category. It was a tough decision, but I managed to rank the top five people who best fit the category of a Falling Star.

5.) Gary Wise – This man truly deserves to be on this list. Not only has he been falling from stardom for about two years now, but he left the game altogether to report on Marvel, the card gaming world’s red-headed step child. Gary has been to many Magic Invitational tournaments and I know he would love to attend this one.

4.) Zvi MowshowitzRandy Buehler once called Zvi Mowshowitz the world’s greatest deck builder. While that may have been true then, Zvi has fallen off his game lately. Since Worlds, Zvi has left competitive Magic to raise Dobermans in Colorado. Although he no longer plays, he continues to write about Magic and contributes to the culture on a whole.

3.) Brian KiblerBrian Kibler once called Brian Kibler the world’s greatest deck builder. No one is more surprised to see Brian on this list than yours truly. I really like Brian and loved talking to him about him at each Pro Tour stop. Sadly, Brian hasn’t been winning as much on the Pro Tour recently, and since claiming Efro as a dependent back in 2001, he was forced to take a real job with Upper Deck so he could keep the big man stocked in Big Dog apparel and mustache combs.

2.) YMG – Once America’s greatest team, YMG has fallen off the radar recently. Back in the day, nothing could stop YMG (with the exception of forty-card decks). Sadly, these days, most of YMG has moved on to other endeavors. There are some YMG players still running around, but they are nowhere near the powerhouse they used to be.

1.) Jon Finkel – Yeah, I’m sure we all knew it was coming. When I first started playing Magic, there’s was only one man who totally exemplified the Pro Player. Jon not only won more than anyone else, but when you watched him play, you actually felt yourself get better. Who else would be number one on this list, I mean really?

Thanks to everyone who voted for me, I promise to deliver a report for the ages. I will be bringing my video camera and plan on documenting everything that happens. Hopefully I’ll be able to upload some juicy clips for all of you.

Invitational Plea: The Fan Ballot

If you go to magicthegathering.com, you’ll notice that they’ve posted the voting criteria and ballots for the Fan Vote for this year’s invitational. There are a lot of people on that list, but there are two that I strongly feel stand out from the rest.

Gerard Fabiano and Antonio DeRosa

Are these two the most accomplished players on the list . . . no, of course not. In fact, watching them play sometimes can bring tears to your eyes. However that shouldn’t stop you from voting for them this year. In the past, the Invitational represented the best the game had to offer, and although the same can be said this year, it’s not quite the same. The best players in the game all aren’t being invited, but rather those players who contribute something special to the Magic the Gathering community. Everyone has their own niche, and these two fit that category in spades. They may not be the most celebrated or well-known Magic players, but among the pros, they are two of the most beloved “Pros” on the tour. Here are some testimonials.

Paul Reitzel: Gerard is by far the nicest guy on the Pro Tour

Bram Snapplebangers: I love Antonio, he’s always down for a good game of “Puerto Rico”

Kai Budde: Of all the players on the PT, Gerard is by far my biggest challenge

Jeff Cunningham: I wish I could write half as well as Antonio

Farid Maraghini: Genardi talks good like English and like.

Masahiko Morita:

Nicolai Herzog: I wish I was half the man Antonio is

I know that some of you might not be familiar with these two, and maybe you can’t imagine a good reason to vote for them. To those people, I can only say that a vote for them will result in one of the best Invitational you’ve ever seen, and that’s a promise. Aren’t you tired of all those boring Invitational events where nothing cool ever happens. It’s time for a change, vote for Gerard Fabiano and Antonio DeRosa, and put the fun back in the Magic Invitational. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Next time on . . . The Black Perspective

An interview with Japanese all star Masashi Oiso

Some exclusive looks at 9th Edition

Cool new standard decks

The PTQ Hall of fame

And much, much more

Osyp “Joe Black” Lebedowicz