The Daily Shot: Meet The Players

I don’t get many chances to play at high-level events while rubbing elbows with many of Magic’s elite, and missing a massive player gathering that was a mere four hours away would be just crazy. Apparently a few people in the area agreed with me, because we ended up taking eight people down past Toledo and into lion’s den. Let me give you a quick rundown of the Sarnia contingent.

I’ve got my mind on my money. And my money on my mind.

Welcome back to the Daily Shot, which might end up semi-daily this week, what with Grand Prix Cleveland taking a round out of me. Not only will I be starting my GP Cleveland report today, but it’s also”Editor Day” here at the TDS offices.

I decided to have”Editor Day” because I spent an hour or so last night writing some unfunny articles to send in to Mike Bregoli, editor of MiseTings. After writing them, sending them, and rereading them, I realized that Mike probably has to wade through mountains of similar unfunny, shoddily-done tripe every week as he tries to pan the front-page gold out of the grime. That’s an editor’s job. Most of them get paid… Well… Almost zilch. The next time you see The Ferrett, MB, Chedy, or one of the other site editors, tell them that you appreciate all the hard work.

It’s true. Editors, especially those who accept unsolicited submissions from any Tom, Dick, or Harry, have it pretty rough. I had a vision of Mike checking his mailbox, reading my two submissions, saying to himself,”Does Tait actually think this is funny?” and then erasing the submissions, his head heavy with the sad knowledge that he would never have those few minutes of his life back.

Anyhow, it may be small consolation, but we here at the Daily Shot would like to extend our well-wishes to editors across the web.

So…. Cleveland. Where do begin? I don’t think I need to explain to you guys how much I like the game of Magic, and how much I like writing. That’s pretty common knowledge. For me, then, the best Magic event is a big ol’ event that is well worth writing about. Grand Prix are perfect for this… Plenty of fuel for the furnace, plenty of good games of Magic. Good times.

As such, as soon as I heard there was a GP in Cleveland, I knew I’d have to go to it, bad format or no bad format. I don’t get many chances to play at high-level events while rubbing elbows with many of Magic’s elite, and missing a massive player gathering that was a mere four hours away would be just crazy. Apparently a few people in the area agreed with me, because we ended up taking eight people down past Toledo and into lion’s den. Let me give you a quick rundown of the Sarnia contingent that we had in the van:

Geordie Tait, internet hack. Curator of the white Astro-Van that made the trip, playing a U/G Threshold deck only a few cards different from the version that Slemr used to win GP London. I don’t need to give you any more details about this goofball. His best achievements in Magic include a 35th place finish at GP Detroit, a second-place finish at a Judgment Prerelease (say it together now…woo hoo!) an 11th-place finish at Ontario Regionals one year, grinding into Canadian Nationals in 2002 – and now, a first-place finish at a Grand Prix Trial for Cleveland on the evening before the event.

Jean-Marc Babin, who finished first in the Swiss at Ontario Regionals one year, only to lose in the Top 8. He also recently finished second in a one-slot PTQ for Houston (doh!). Though he’s played rogue decks in a couple of high-level events, this time he decided to go with something proven in MBC – a deck with which he was quite comfortable. Jean-Marc is a medium-sized guy with brown hair and glasses, and he chose to skip the GPT in favor of the T1 event, where he got his ass handed to him playing a homemade Survival of the Fittest/Madness deck. Jean-Marc is a beating, though I have to question his decision to play T1 instead of the Trial- he definitely has the tools to win a Trial. Sadly, the T1 event had only thirteen participants, so maybe it was good that he threw his hat in the ring to keep a dying format alive.

Andy Kornet. Attending his first Grand Prix, Andy probably had more fun at the dealer’s tables than at the actual event, and his trading record was a lot more impressive than his Magic record when all was said and done. During a good portion of the trip, he earned his keep by doing what Andy Kornet does best- spouting a constant stream of Austin Powers-related movie quotes and catchphrases. Amusing sometimes, tiresome sometimes, things aren’t quite the same without Andy on a trip. If nothing else he is well-behaved when compared to some of the other van occupants. I might also mention that Andy was able to efficiently remove all appetites in his vicinity by talking about or displaying his massive ingrown toenail, complete with soon-to-be-removed tumor.

If you tried to tell Andy that he sucked, and that his 1-6 record was a disgrace, he’d just smile and show you all the Unlimited cards he managed to buy for his set. That was his real victory.

I like that.

Jay Vanderwielen, also attending his first Grand Prix, was along for the ride. Though growing slightly more reserved as his life gives him greater and greater responsibility, Jay didn’t disappoint those expecting him to behave in his usual manner when he saw fit to moon a truck driver halfway to Toledo. He actually didn’t play much Magic on the weekend (dropping after the first three rounds of the Grand Prix and declining to play in any side events or in the Trial) but he did get to spend a lot of quality time with our official Sarnia Magic-Babe-Mascot, Ashley.

While some might question Jay as to why he’d make a trip to Cleveland just to play three rounds of fruitless (but fun) Magic, he’d probably just shrug and say that he had a good time regardless, which I don’t doubt. All-in-all, I think he might have had the best weekend of any of us.

Here’s a telling stat column:

  • Amount of cash won by Geordie Tait: $0

  • Amount of cash won by Jay Vanderwielen: $0

  • How many more rounds it took Tait to accomplish exactly as much as Vanderwielen: 14

  • Number of fewer hours Geordie had to flirt shamelessly with Magic-babe: 14

Sad. Is Jay a genius who is totally unappreciated in his time?

Mark Weymouth, Sarnia’s only lactose-intolerant Magic player (to my knowledge). Going for the gold with a self-designed Upheaval-Infestation deck in hand that was also played by Nick Martiniuk, Mark didn’t finish the weekend with the record he was hoping for. (Of course, I don’t think any of us did.) Mark is a wirey guy who wears a fitted baseball cap pretty much 100% of the time. He even has it on in his driver’s license, which I didn’t think was legal. Though Mark has made Top 8 at a couple of smaller events, he is still waiting for his breakout tournament.

Sigh. Story of my life.

Nick Martiniuk, Sarnia’s resident big-guy-outta-control Magic player. Nick did half of the driving and had plenty of opportunities to display his greatest talent – an uncanny ability to say ridiculous, nonsensical, and obscene things at seemingly random moments. Nick is notorious in Sarnia as the guy you don’t want to be watching your match, for fear of a constant stream of backseat-driver style advice, annoying play suggestions, and useless comments. He also is the second-worst snorer in the history of Sarnia magic road trips.

Still, I’m making Nick sound much worse than he is. First, he is geniunely a nice guy. Second, a lot of the things he says are quite funny. Third, whenever I am hungry, he seems to magically appear with food, which he is always willing to share. What’s not to like? I’d give you an example of some of the random funny things Nick says, but every single one of them, without exception, is totally unprintable. You’ll just have to meet him in person.

Kevin Phelan. 120 pounds soaking wet, this guy makes up for his lack of size with what is arguably the most solid Magic game of any Sarnia player. Kevin probably had the most successful weekend out of all of us, though he didn’t finish in the money. His 6-2 finish left him in 69th place, and he might have made Day 2 had it not been for an ill-timed trip to Wendy’s. He managed this finish despite precious little playtesting, which leaves one to wonder what he’d be capable of if he had more time to test and the inclination to do so. He was playing U/G Grizzly Fate.

And last, but certainly not least, there was Ashley. The rare girl who doesn’t mind spending time with a group of gaming dorks, Ashley was interested in coming to the GP just to experience the event, spend some time with her new friends and cheer us on from the sidelines. Considering the reception she received (which I’m sure she considered very flattering) (Good Lord what a babe – The Ferrett), I think she may have been Team Sarnia’s greatest contribution to the Grand Prix. Actually, her involvement brought nothing but good things to the event.

I didn’t know her, as this young lady as some of the others in our playgroup prior to the event, and I was pleasently surprised with the way things turned out. She didn’t complain about the boredom or the ridiculous amount of time that some matches take. When she needed to, she managed to amuse herself and pass the time without driving us nuts. She did a great job cheering everyone on. She was even nice enough to take pity and flirt with me a little, which boosted my fragile ego to new and previously unexplored heights. It’s nice to feel like less of an ugly, balding jabroni, even if it is only for a precious few moments.

Sarnia players Missing In Action: Chris”Christ” Borek, a talented Sarnia player who couldn’t attend. “Evil” Matt Fox, who was too busy with University. My teammate and friend John Labute, too busy with work. And, of course, Trent Rogers, who couldn’t come for unspecified reasons. It’s too bad Matt didn’t make it, because without him we couldn’t have fascinating conversations about rectal diseases, ass-cancer, Tesla coils, making homemade railguns, and why cows that live under live wires are, in his words,”f***ed”.

So that’s the roster. I found out I’d be driving about one day before we had to leave, which wasn’t much fun, but there was no way I was going to bail out on people.

The one potential problem is that my vehicle has seen better days. You know your van interior is a little the worse for wear when you have to actually chisel the loose change off of your dashboard. The old girl had already had one engine breakdown and I wasn’t eager to shoot for more. She guzzles oil like Evian water, the paint is peeling off the hood, rust is starting to show around the doorframes. The tint on the windows is warped and scratched. Did she have one more trip left in her?

I went through the motions the night before… Check fluids, add oil, clean out the interior (and believe me when I say that I found stuff in the cup-holders that would baffle modern science – I think some of the drinks I spilled were actually starting to achieve sentience) and I still didn’t really feel prepared for the trip when I picked everyone up on Friday morning. Jean-Marc Babin and Kevin Phelan had been nice enough to make the hotel arrangements and grab MaqQuest directions, so we were reasonably well-prepared. Jean-Marc also printed out a hardcopy of the GP Cleveland itinerary and info-sheet, which came in handy at the border when we had to explain just where the hell it was we were going.

Remember, never use the word “Magic.” Ever. Say “card tournament.”

So we set out, jammed into the van like sardines, and I kicked things off by missing the I-94 switchover to I-75 South towards Toledo.

(roll eyes)


I took the next exit and we promptly got lost, then turned left on a red light while we were trundling around the Detroit area. By now, of course, people in the van were getting a little antsy with regard to my driving, so I calmed them down by making a couple of lane changes that nearly caused us to get nudged and T-Boned.

Eventually, we found an alternate way to get to I-75, and it turned out to be closed, a discovery that resulted in a lot of swearing by all concerned. About thirty minutes later, we got back on track, still in one piece. Things were uneventful for a while, but when we decided to stop for food I buggered it up and took us into the middle of nowhere, eventually rolling to a stop in a mall parking lot about forty light years from the McDonalds we were trying to find. Nick, undaunted, picked up a White Castle sack o’ ten cheeseburgers and went to work on them. Unfortunately for him but fortunately for me, he found them to be below his standards, and the sack was meted out amongst the other ravenous occupants.

Eventually we hit the turnpike, got on, got off, and reached the I-X Centre (after yet another wrong turn almost led us to a NASA research centre), which is where our directions had taken us. We paid $7 to park, then checked the directions to get to the hotel. At this point, we didn’t know that we’d have to pay another $7 to get back in – and it’s probably just as well, because we were all grumpy already from the long drive. After consulting the directions, it wasn’t long before we reached the Radisson and made our way to the rooms.

Jay, Mark and Andy got to room with Ashley, while I got to bunk with a penny-pinching engineer, a porn-afficianado telephone solicitor, and Nick Martiniuk.

There is no God.

Anyhow, the Grand Prix Trial was at 6:00 and it was 4:30, so we had little time. I still managed to grab a fifteen minute rest for my weary bones before I went about the business of getting organized for the trip back to the I-X Centre. A few minutes before leaving, I jammed a visor on my head and put “Operation: Andy Roddick Hair” into effect, and the results weren’t bad.

I herded everyone together just in time, and we went out to the van, piled in, headed off to the I-X Centre…and I turned on to I-480 W instead of East and wasted a bunch of time once again.



Anyhow, we eventually made it to the venue, and the inside was a sight to behold. It was massive. I’ll save my thoughts about the actual venue and so forth for tomorrow, however – for now, I’ve got to go. The next installment of The Daily Shot will deal with what was probably the best day of Magic I have ever played – my 8-1 run at the GPT.

See you soon,

Geordie Tait

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