The Magic Invitational: The Tale of Last Place

If you’re looking for Ravnica Block Limited or Constructed strategy, then scroll up to Quentin’s article or check our extensive back catalog. If, however, you’d prefer a piece that’s light on the tech but heavy on the good times, then Terry Soh’s Invitational report is the article for you!

Here I am, back in my beloved Kuala Lumpur after the Invitational. It’s been two weeks since I left here, and loads of assignments and exams are waiting for me. I hardly have any free time to play Magic right now, not to mention the time needed to write an article. But I feel compelled: this year’s Invitational was really fun compared to last year (excluding the fact that I won last year, and was tied for last place this year). Today, if you’re looking for strategy and information about the latest draft techniques, I deeply apologize… you won’t find any here. But if you’re looking for something amusing and entertaining from the Malaysian Kid’s perspective, you’re in the right place.

The Flight

We were scheduled to fly to Los Angeles the day after PT Prague, so things were a little rushed and exhausting. I asked Scott Larabee if I was lucky enough to be flying with any of the other 15 Invitational players, but unfortunately, I found I wasn’t. I mean, how could you arrange for me to fly alone all the way from Prague to LA while there are fifteen other players making the same trip? It sounds strange to me, but I don’t have a choice. My flight was at 7am, so I woke up 4.30 in the morning, cleaned up and headed to the airport. It wasn’t a direct flight to LA – it stops over in the UK – so as I waited in the Prague airport, I saw Kenji Tsumura. I greeted him with a hello and a how-are-you. He replied with, “Samishi,” which means lonely. We were both glad to be on the same flight.

Our conversation was all about the Japanese Magic player, and their personas outside the Magic arena. For your information, tall and handsome Katsuhiro Mori is quite the Ladies’ Man in his country, and he never tired of moving from one girlfriend to the next.

After landing in the UK, we headed to Gate 3. As we approach, I double check Tsumura’s ticket… and his flight departs from Gate 1! He leaves in a great hurry. I have no idea why we’re taking two different flights when we’re flying to the same place, but luckily Kenji managed to make his way to the gate in time. Must be nice! (This was taken from Osyp… we’ll get to him later.)

The Arrival

After 14 hours of flight, I finally reached LA. I checked in at the reception desk of my hotel, and I was told that my roommate was changed from Jose Barbero to Pierre Canali. For you who don’t know the reason, here’s a small conversation I had with Jose in Prague:

Terry: Hi, Jose! [handshake]
Jose: Hi, Terry, We’re gonna be rooming together at the Invitational, yeah?
Terry: Yeah.
Jose: Are you a noisy person, Terry?
Terry: [confused] Erm… no, not really. Why?
Jose: Well… I party a lot. Let’s make a deal. If I bring a girl back to the room, you go find another player’s room to sleep in, okay?
Terry: Excuse me?!
Jose: Why not? It’s only fair! If you bring a girl back, I’ll go. I mean, I would definitely do it for a friend.
Terry: … … … I don’t think so, Jose.
Jose: Okay, fine. We’ll talk about this later. Maybe I’ll just change rooms instead…

On the second day of the trip, PTR (yes, that PTR. You’ve probably not heard about him for a while) came to the hotel with his special edition Hummer, equipped with 35-inch rims (you don’t get to see that in Malaysia, believe me). His car was totally awesome… I am a car enthusiast when I’m not playing Magic. Just to show you a small picture of my life, this is the machine that I’m always in when I’m not beating down with the Magical cards…

Terry's Car

Anyway, back to Invitational.

I was eager to visit Universal Studios, since everyone back home told me that it is a must if you are in LA. However, the locals contradict this view…

“Universal Studios sucks! There are few sets, and you’ll be happy for an hour or so, but then there’s nothing left to see.”

Instead, PTR took us to Magic Mountain. Osyp, Jeff, Siron, Nassif, and Jose came along. It took us forever to get there, as the traffic was appalling, but when we finally arrive it’s well worth the trip. We rode almost all of the roller coasters in there, and it was really cool to see the normally-quiet ffeJ shouting but still trying to remain polite, even though the coaster took him to the brink of death. Jeff and PTR took a cowboy picture together, showing such a strong bond between these two masculine men… I immediately thought of Brokeback Mountain. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of the picture, so you readers will have to imagine it for yourselves.

Later that night, we started the bidding for our Auction decks. Last year I went 3-0 with a five-card, twenty-two life deck. This year I tried to stick to my strategy of grabbing the good decks with low cards. I got a pretty decent deck at six cards, thirteen life: Cuneo’s Mono-Black Control deck that gains two life every time you play a spell. Sadly, I ended up 0-3 with the deck because I’m such a bad player.

The funniest part of the evening came near the end of the auction. Osyp, Nassif, and Antonio remained, yet to grab a deck. There were five decks available: two were totally unplayable, two were pretty decent, and one was definitely passable… but the two decent decks stood out as the main attractions. Osyp concocted a deal: the three remaining players should not fight amongst themselves, as they’ll all end up as losers. He “generously” offered to accept either one of the two decent decks. Of course, neither Nassif nor Antonio want Osyp to get one of the best decks remaining with his cunning strategy. At the same time, Dave Williams seized the opportunity to heat things up. He kept whispering to Nassif, goading his good friend Osyp, trying his best to prevent Osyp gaining an advantage. The war began. Nassif started bidding against Osyp, and suddenly Antonio entered the bidding war too, much to Oysp’s annoyance.

Nassif ended up winning that bid, but that didn’t make Osyp a happy man. He was angry, and Antonio tried hard to win back his trust. Osyp wasn’t buying it.

“No, you started the war first! I’m not talking it out with you!”

They bid a little on Jamie Wakefield deck, eventually won by Osyp, and then finally settled it in peace.

On the third day, on which the Invitational actually started, everyone was high spirits. Everyone was ready to take it to the next level and be immortalized on a card. I went 1-5 on the first day, which is really disappointing. Fortunately, I still have a situation back home that keeps me smiling…

Before I left for Prague, I met this girl called C. She is a part-time catwalk model and student. She is an attractive young lady with an astonishing personality. She’s like a bomb rare that everyone would be happy to first-pick… but the bad news is, everyone would happy to have her be their first-pick, so don’t expect to see her get passed from your neighbor.

My trip to Prague, followed by LA for two weeks, really hurt my chance to get to know her, but we kept messaging each other and I tried my very best to flirt with her while I was away. I know, I know… Look, at times, when you can’t draw a particular card, you can only do so much to summon it to your hand. Hopefully, you topdeck.

Fortunately, things went pretty well, and she was looking forward to my return. This gave me a slight hope to for the draft, although she may well be in my neighbor’s opening pack.

I’ve talked a little about it with Oliver Ruel. In his words…

“So you put damage on the stack, and then you left for 2 weeks?”
“Yeah, damage on the stack,” I replied. “Hopefully it’ll resolve when I get back!”

At times, it’s funny how Magic terminology can been applied to our life. To be honest, I’m just far more confident when it comes to Magic than in anything else in the World.

Later that same night, Jose, Osyp, and Pierre Canali went to the bar, trying to pick up girls, while I was too tired and headed to bed. In the middle of the night, I heard Canali open the door. He started talking to me, since he was rather inebriated.

“Terry, all the girls come to me… but I don’t want them. I kept pushing them to Jose and Osyp, since they couldn’t get any.”

The next day, we headed to the E3. An advertisement announces that Paris Hilton will be showing up at 2pm! Meeting Paris Hilton… how awesome would that be! Osyp and I, both failures at the Invitational, decided that we must go and check this out regardless. We formulated a evil plan to meet her…

Osyp was set to approach Paris and say, “ Hi, Paris. This is my adopted brother, Terry, from Malaysia. He can’t speak any English and he’s suffering from some kind of weird illness. Can we take a photo or two with you?”

Hearing our hatching plans, Julien quickly turned his attention to us…

“What are you guys talking about? Terry doesn’t looks like a sick guy at all!”

To be frank, I think we all knew how much Julien wanted to be in my shoes at that moment…

The Brain


Evil Masterminds?

However, the place was crowded an hour before 2pm, and we had no chance to implement our scheme, or even catch a passing glance of the socialite. Osyp and I were foiled this time, but we have a great time nonetheless.

It had come to the final round of the day, and Fujita, Tsumura and I had finished our games. We went to the E3 South Tower, which had plenty of demo games for us to try. There were tons of cool games for the PSP, Nintendo, and there were many female booth-babes promoting the stands. I took a few pictures with them, using Fujita’s mobile phone as I didn’t have a camera with me. Tsumura is a really shy Japanese young man, and I decided that someone had to give him the push to overcome his fear of the ladies. I asked a female model over to take a picture with Tsumura, but he was very shy. He kept walking backwards, as if someone was trying to take his life away. I managed to grab him, and we happily took a photo of Tsumura and the girl.

After that, he and Fujita kept talking in Japanese… “Terry chi kak, chi kak”. This confused me… what the hell does that mean? Fujita took out his phone and used the dictionary section to find the translation…

Terry, chi kak…

Terry, sexual molester.

I guess Tsumura was really unhappy about me pushing him on the ladies… but I mean, he has to grow up and become a man someday, right? I’m pretty sure he will thank me one day…

Later that night, PTR came to collect Jeff and I for dinner, along with Ben Rubin and the Shears brothers. We went to an awesome restaurant where they served salad on a spinning bowl. Back in the hotel lobby, Pierre Canali taught both Osyp and I some basic salsa dance moves.

Canali: You go 1, 2, 3 (moving towards the front) and 5, 6, 7 (moving backwards). Repeat after me: 1, 2, 3, and 5, 6, 7.
Osyp: Okay, that’s cool… but where’s the 4? You missed it.
Canali: We don’t use 4 in salsa.
Osyp: … … …

Next day, I was paired against Osyp in the 22-booster sealed deck portion. I was playing an U/B 187 deck with Man-o’-War, Nekrataal, and more, while Osyp was playing R/B aggro. To my surprise, he was playing with cards like Reckless Charge and Scorching Missile, and a bunch of other crap. Every time he cast a crap spell and got in some damage, he would shout out loud in the room:

“Must be nice!”

I was defeated 0-2, and Osyp eventually 3-0ed the event with his “must be nice” cards.

The highlight of the day saw Fujita paired against Antoine Ruel. Fujita mulliganed his opening grip. He found no land, and mulliganed again. Another bad hand? No problem, take a trip to Paris. Eventually, Fujita mulliganed down to zero and clicked the Concede button.

Now, Frank Karsten has no idea why Fujita did so.

Frank: Fujita, why did you mulligan down to zero? You can always keep the four- or three-card hand, and you’ll still have a fighting chance to win.

Fujita: [amused by Frank’s “intelligence”] Oh yeah! Why didn’t I think of that?

Tsumura: [with one hand on his head and the other one pointing directly at Frank, as though he saw something surprising] GENIUS!

The final was really exciting, and congratulations to Antoine Ruel for winning the event. The Ruels have been around forever, and they definitely deserve to win a card of their own. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too sad to be in the last place, because I knew there was only one actual winner in this event and fifteen losers… it’s actually irrelevant if you are in second place or sixteenth.

The Invitational is a great deal of fun. This was an opportunity of a lifetime. I probably won’t be making it to the Invitational anymore, because I can never win the Best Deck Builder, Road Warrior, or Writers slot… but I’m happy to be blessed with what I have. I headed to dinner with the Dutchies to a local pizza restaurant, and the manager in store was also a Malaysian, so he decided to give us a 20% discount. Must be nice!

My flight home was late at night. I don’t get a chance to rest. Back in Malaysia, I feel the need to take a break from Magic for a while, as I played a full 2 weeks… 336 hours of Magic, and nothing else.

Remember C, the lady I mentioned earlier in the article? We went out for a couple of dates when I got back. We watched a movie or two, and things went pretty good. Unfortunately, as a control player – as I always am in Magic – I decided to try and prolong the game. There were times where I could’ve seized my opportunity, but I never did. Because of that, C went out with another guy for a date the next day, and things started to turn sour. Now she’s been turning down my dates for his.

Actually, my intention here is to share my experience with you readers. Remember, life is always about taking action and not stalling… it is not like Magic. You can always control the game and win the late-game in Magic, but in life, if you do so, others take a step further ahead. I hope none of you end up like me… “Samishi.”

Magic is a huge part of my life. If it weren’t for our beautiful game, I’d be nobody significant… and I’m sure I’m no-one significant because of it. Magic is a great game, but don’t let it take control of your life. It’s just cardboard.

So, faithful readers, take my advice and don’t miss opportunities.

Until next time, good luck with the cardboard and chicks.

Terry Soh