After failing to get any TOGIT teammates this year and after attempting but failing with another team, there was only one PTQ left that I could conceivably play in. I didn’t have a team or many good prospects until the Monday before the PTQ… the end result is the following:
Me: (6:53:44 PM): and when we win
Me: (6:53:47 PM): will you go to Seattle?
Chris: (6:53:49 PM): yes
Round 6 of the PTQ, we were paired down against Mike Flores, Brian David-Marshall and Tom Kelleher. Despite any number of Skullclamps (yes, multiple) and other very good or better cards, they were not in position to make the final four. With that knowledge in tow, they decided to send us on instead of crushing our dreams.
In the top four we beat inferior players with better decks. My opponent reminded me he was holding Fireball at one point by asking”What are you at?” so at the right time, I was able to Echoing Decay his two Gold Myr in combat and win the game as a result. Thanks.
In the finals, we ran the no splits and played for it. The draft started off rather eventfully, as Igor misread my signal, taking the wrong card with his first pick. I thought this was pretty bad until our opponent who was wearing a Blue Mana Symbol shirt (which is a Mise for us, in and of itself…) said,”Wait, what seat is this?” we had to start the draft over after that. I got crushed, Igor won and Chris defeated the mulligan to four in game 3. So we won the PTQ, which in spite of my superior record in Team Limited, was my first.
The testing process for this Pro Tour was not as intense for me as it usually is. My teammates live in New York City, while most of the testing took place in southern New Jersey. As such, it wasn’t really feasible for them to commute, even when all of the Germans, Dutch, and Canadians were in town, unfortunately. They practiced one on one, doing sealed decks and Rochester drafts, even more than I was able to — I got to do about four practice drafts at TOGIT and about four more with my team at Neutral Ground NY the Monday and Tuesday leading up to the Pro Tour against Jon, Brian, and Eric (The 13th Step,) and after that, we were off to the Pro Tour.
I met Tim Aten at the airport as per our planning, and we headed over to the event site. He told me”if there was any justice in the world, you’d win the Pro Tour.” Our cabbie was”kind” enough to tell us $30 for the $28.60 meter fare and so we gave him $30 and left. He also managed to leave us (unintentionally I’m sure…) on the side of the building where all the doors were conveniently locked. Actually, the entire building was locked. We buffooned around a bit until we saw a lady let us in, after saying the”magic word.” I borrowed someone’s cell phone, called Antonino, made my way to the hotel, and got about six and a half hours of sleep before morning.
Our first card pool was probably simply average. The White equipment deck had its fair share of equipment and equipment guys, including a Spikeshot Goblin. The affinity deck had a Vedalken Archmage and a few sunburst cards including Etched Oracle. The Green was put with the remainder of the Red, and it looked okay to me, but in the end it was probably too slow and clunky despite it having all of our cheap Red removal. I got to play the affinity deck this time.
R1. Dude (Ferreal and the Echoing Truth)
My opponent started off by telling me that he not only definitely knew me, him (and his parents, surprise, surprise) also lived near me and went to the same local shop as I once did. (Obviously, I didn’t know him at all.) While this conversation was going on, I heard from Igor’s opponent the words”have you played in any Pro Tours before” and then”has anyone on your team ever made day 2 before?”
The games were uneventful – he curved me out with Ensouled Scimitar and Nim Shrieker on turns 3 and 4 respectively, I played a Myr Enforcer and some other sufficiently outclassing spells and it wasn’t close. Game 2 he Terrored my Engineer and obviously lost to my Archmage along with some random 4/4s. This round Igor lost and Chris won, so we were 1-0.
R2. Neil Reeves (Bottom Set)
I feel like I threw this one away, since on turn 3 I could have played Archmage or a three-power Suntouched Myr, playing around a Condescend. Needless to say, he Condescended my Archmage, found the land he needed, played out a pair of Myr Enforcers and bashed me with a timely Scale of Chiss-Goria plus an Irradiate in combat. Game 2 was nice for about three turns until on turn 4 he tapped his Engineer and lands to play Triskelion, wrathing my team. From that point on it wasn’t close. We played more games… I think I won one. Chris lost to Bob’s Grab the Reins in three and Igor lost to Dave’s topdecked Blinding Beam and Loxodon Warhammer in consecutive turns.
I thought our next card pool was lacking big time. We had next to no Blue creatures save an Engineer and a Spire Golem, and absolutely no Red cards (6 total playables, 3 of which were Gray Ogres.) We ended up with a nearly Mono-Black deck, a Green deck with the few Red cards, and a White/Blue affinity deck… I was playing Black this time.
R3. German Dude (Funf gegen Willi)
He was also playing Black and we gamed a bit until I cast Barter in Blood and he dropped a Mirror Golem. With the life totals tied at eight a piece, he tapped out for Triskelion. My board was a Goblin Replica and a Moriok Scavenger, a bunch of lands (only five of which were Swamp), and Nightmare Lash. I figure there is only one way to win this game and attempt to attach my Lash to my Replica. He shoots my Replica twice in response, to which respond by using Replica on his Triskelion, so he shoots me with the last counter, putting me at four. I play the swamp I just drew, equip my Scavenger and attack him to zero.
Game 2 I think he was complaining about me drawing Nightmare Lash again, but whatever… he couldn’t beat one and the turn I played Sculpting Steel forcing him to kill his own Triskelion and my random guy still netting me a second Lash certainly didn’t help him. I won.
Igor lost to a G/U deck in game 3 who curved him out with Tel-Jilad Chosen, Bottle Gnomes, Drill-Skimmer, and a Blinkmoth Nexus. Igor’s first play of Tel-Jilad Outrider (which died to a Predator’s Strike) didn’t exactly cut it.
On my other side, Chris was playing an un-winnable game for no apparent reason other than to hope his opponent screwed up enough to give him the game. Sadly he did not, even more sadly, it took them all but ten minutes to finish this game, so with ten minutes left game 3 started. Some early beats occurred, Chris had an Aether Spellbomb in play that he never wanted to cycle… then as time was called, I thought it would be impossible for Chris to win especially given the way he was playing. His deck had other ideas.
As I was trying to figure out a way to win, I thought of the Fireshrieker I had insisted he play with and looked at the Skyhunter Cub that was in play along with the Auriok Bladewarden that his opponent never killed with his Pyrite Spellbomb – then I looked away. On the following turn, Chris drew that Fireshrieker, there was only one problem though… the Cub had died last turn in combat somehow, so now instead of needing to draw only Fireshrieker, he needed to draw his other Aether spellbomb, and hope his opponent messes up some more.
Chris equipped his Spire Golem, pumped it and sent, getting a few points past a prevention shield from Healer’s Headdress. I thought this was certainly the end, as his opponent still had Pyrite Spellbomb and would have a 2/2 flyer to block… but his opponent didn’t kill the Bladewarden again and Chris drew his other Aether spellbomb and won a game he made impossible for himself to win. Mise.
RD4. Dirk Hein (The Unusual Suspects)
He started off the game with Stalking Stones. Then a Swamp. Then he missed his land drop. I won this one – it involved a tight Wail of the Nim on my part, once he drew out of it. The next game he led with Stalking Stones. Oh well. I won with Barter, Essence Drain, Echoing Decay, and Skeleton Shard in my hand. It was a little closer than I’m giving credit for, since he actually did assemble the domain both games and played spells… but it wasn’t that close.
Pikula’s opponent, Reinhard Blech, complained about every single thing Chris did. First it was that he kept seven cards, then he made a second land drop… eventually there was a second Myr Enforcer. I think there was a tear in his eye when his Acquire netted only a Battered Golem. Game 2 he lost to a Condescend Chris boarded in that he did not see. After Chris won game 2, Reinhard was thumbing through his deck showing his good cards and Chris was just nodding along until Reinhard pulled out a Leonin Sun Standard.
Chris said”that’s a good one…” Reinhard said”not if you don’t draw it.” Chris said”you did draw it” and to that Reinhard responded with more complaints in German. For a man with the last name of Blech, he sure did complain a lot. Igor also won, 2-0 against Brucker, so we were 3-1 heading into the last sealed decks.
This card pool was pretty sick. We had endless affinity cards and pretty solid White cards, but it didn’t look like there would be much left for a third deck no matter what we did. The affinity deck we built had Crystal Shard, Vedalken Archmage, Vedalken Mastermind, Duplicant, Viridian Shaman, Looming Hoverguard, two Spire Golems, two Myr Enforcers, and more. The Green/White deck we built had a ton of equipment including a Viridian Longbow, an Empyrial Plate, a Leonin Bola. The Black/Red deck had a Savage Beating and a Darksteel Gargoyle, plus a few artifact removal spells. After watching Chris play earlier in the day and knowing that if the affinity deck lost we would likely also lose, it was decided that I’d play the affinity deck and Igor could play the Black/Red”deck,” leaving Chris the White/Green deck.
R5. Joe. (Pocket Rockets)
When we sat down, this dude was missing but I was already feeling relieved we weren’t playing anyone good. Joe eventually ambled over to the table before time was started, so everything was fine. We gamed a bit, but it wasn’t really close… he had a Longbow that did most of his damage to me, his Myr Enforcer traded for my Aether Spellbomb, and I guess he was maybe a little flooded. Game 2 he conceded to Looming Hoverguard and Crystal Shard lock.
After our match, I went to get a soda from the vending machine and when I came back Pikula was up a game and had some dudes out, and his opponent had a Nim Devourer and a Slith Bloodletter. Chris ripped Viridian Longbow with an empty hand, played it and got a concession out of his opponent, good for the match and the knowledge we would be playing on day 2. Igor lost.
R6. Raphael Levy (Something Cool)
I got game 1 due to his never hitting his fourth land drop, although after the match I was told I got lucky. Game 2 he played Neurok Spy and Trinket Maged for Skullclamp and played Grafted Wargear. I ended up losing this one while holding Unforge and Viridian Shaman, with only Islands in play. Game 3 I probably threw away by Thirsting incorrectly on turn 3. I discarded a Sun Droplet that I didn’t think I’d have time to play, but which would have been backbreaking against his fast Blue/White Aether Spellbomb/Leonin Squire-fueled start.
The comeback I started to mount was thwarted by his Trinket Maging for Skullclamp and then later for Bola, to again go with his Grafted Wargear and Neurok Spy. I eventually played Duplicant and drew a card off of Archmage while killing his Spy, but unfortunately I was not provided with an answer to his Skyhunter Cub. Chris lost to Tommi Hovi’s Icy Manipulator, Oblivion Stone, Fangren Firstborn, and Troll Ascetic while Igor lost to Mattias Jorstedt. So heading into day 2 we were 4-2.
R7. Patrick Sullivan (Shenanigans)
A”featured” match. We weren’t covered, though. I knew this would be a tough match no matter what, since if nothing else, these guys pioneered the strategy my team would be using throughout the day, and as a result were much more experienced with it (and perhaps knew how to beat it). The draft itself was a little bumpy, but I don’t think we got smashed too badly in it. A few packs probably should have gone better and the Darksteel pack opened in Osyp’s seat netted their team five first picks and my team only three… go figure. Luckily we opened Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], putting Chris’s deck a little ahead in the matchup and obviously Razormane Masticore, giving Igor a way to win.
I ended up playing a Betrayal of Flesh, an Unforge and a Pyrite Spellbomb in my W/G deck in an attempt to mise and prepared for the worst. Saying I was pretty far behind in the matchup would be an understatement.
Game 1 I Glaivemaster him down to ten and then he locked it up and eventually a Malachite Golem and a Fangren Pathcutter take me down. Game 2 I am a little more successful in my early bashings, getting him down to five. Then he played out his deck, and I can’t do any damage to him without putting myself very far behind on the board. At one point though, he attacks with the team (Malachite Golem and Pathcutter) taking me down to eleven, and my hand of Pyrite Spellbomb and Predator’s Strike become lethal, as a few of my dudes manage to get through his two Mystics, a Pearl Shard, and a Loxodon Anchorite.
Game 3 I don’t draw a Plains, but keep a hand of a five artifacts and two lands… he gets Wirefly Hive and crushes me with it. I never drew a Plains, but it never mattered. Of course Igor managed to win with Reiver Demon against a deck full of two-mana 3/3s and three-power three-drops, and Pikula won against a flooded Horvath with Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] and a timely Vulshok Berserker.
We were 1-0 on the day and feeling better.
R8. Dude. (Outta Left Field)
This was a nice pairing after playing arguably our toughest possible opponents last round. Everything about this match was a joke, the draft involved Igor’s opponent literally first picking Krark-Clan Ogre, but not before Chris’s opponent was instructed to first pick Trolls of Tel-Jilad. We thought that if their drafting was any indication of their playskill, this would be close to a bye, and we were right. Game 1 my opponent assembled Coretapper, Vedalken Mastermind, Infused Arrows, and it didn’t take long for him to win. The next two went significantly better for me, and his”combo” never came together. My deck outclassed his and the match went accordingly. Igor and Chris also won, so we were 2-0.
R9. Neil Reeves. (Bottom Set)
This draft went smoothly; although I think there was a second Unforge Chris should have taken at one point to combat Bob’s two Masks of Memory. I was pretty sure that Bob’s deck wasn’t too hot aside from about nine cards, and Chris was probably pretty far ahead in the matchup barring an unchecked Mask on an unchecked flyer (both of which Chris had plentiful answers to). Dave and Igor’s match was a lot closer and Dave probably had a slightly better deck. Neil absolutely demolished me though.
In game 1 we did nothing for a while and when he played a Trolls of Tel-Jilad, my deck coughed up a Retaliate. Cool. Game 2 I even drew my good elephant clerics, but couldn’t cast them because of my Mirrodin’s Core. It didn’t take long for him to beat me, as he literally had me beat on every avenue with a Tangle Spider or a Raise the Alarm or a Giant Growth. Igor lost game 1, game 2 Dave took a bunch of mulligans, played no lands, and conceded to a Chittering Rats. Igor won game 3 with a Greater Harvester that prevented Dave from mounting any sort of comeback. 3-0.
R10. Gadiel Szleifer (:B) To justice, then?
We probably got outdrafted here. We were forced to audible this time, since there were no early Blue cards for Chris to take and an abundance of Black. Obviously we then opened 1,000 Qumuloxes in pack 3, and had to hate away most of them. My opponent still got one though. I thought Tim’s matchup with Igor was at least close if Igor didn’t have the advantage, due to having a lot of very powerful rare cards and one good uncommon card of similar or greater power. My matchup for once didn’t seem hopeless, since I had a good amount of artifact removal against my affinity opponent and some not-horrible creatures to go along with them. Chris’s opponent was in the same boat as me more or less, except his deck was probably better against Chris’s than mine was against Gadiel’s.
Game 1 I took some mulligans and got crushed stuck on three lands without a Forest or something stupid like that. Game 2 we were racing, and I took five minutes to think about the best way to win the game, but in the end it was a Fireball for four split amongst his team which looked a lot like I was slowrolling (sorry).
Game 3 he didn’t mulligan and he spellbombed into a non-land, missed a drop, got his Pentad Prism Stasis Cocooned, and his land Creeping Molded… his icy was too late to the party and was Rebuked, Ceremonially. After that, I got up and walked away because I simply couldn’t watch Igor play after game 2 ended in Tim’s favor despite being Shackles-locked. I heard Igor had Skullclamp and an Oblivion Stone in play in game 3 and I was feeling pretty good, although after he won, Gadiel asked me why I teamed with them and Tim told me Igor gave him a lot of chances… anyway…
R11 Ruud Warmenhoven (toernooicentrum.nl/faal)
In 2001 I played with Paul Jordan and Matt Urban. In the final round, we found ourselves playing for t4 against Car Acrobatic Team, and we lost. In 2002 I again played with the same team, and after 8 rounds we were 7-1, playing against Bob Maher’s team for the likely ability to draw into the t4, and we lost.
As far as this match goes, the draft is covered here and the matches are covered somewhat here and again here. I felt we started out okay with the normal plan. That didn’t last long though, as they opened a Molder Slug and put it against Chris’s U/R artifacts. Audible time, there was a Fangren Hunter we wouldn’t be able to use otherwise in the pack so we gave it to Chris and put him on GR, while I was looking to go UWR. They opened a Crystal Shard next and put it with the Molder Slug… Chris would have his work cut out for him.
Nothing else of note happened in this draft… except my opponent opened a Pristine Angel. Whatever. No problem. No big deal. It’s not that good anyway (ahem).
I can’t really remember game 1 other than I won, and I think I drew Shackles with one or two Islands. Mise. Game 2 I drew Shackles with two Islands, but I needed a third to steal his Somber Hoverguard and trade it and my Soldier Replica for his Qumulox before it and his Neurok Spy killed me. Well I didn’t draw it and I lost. Game 3 Arcbound Stinger did 20+ damage with Cranial Plating, Leonin Scimitar and a few other random artifacts (Shackles with 0 Islands anyone?). I win.
Igor again failed to mulligan, this time it was a hand of Cranial Plating, Inertia Bubble, Rustspore Ram and a few lands against a B/R Blind Creeper deck. He lost that game and the match 0-2.
Chris was working on a miracle here. We had figured Chris’s matchup to be pretty good because of the Fireball and Rude Awakening he had in his deck. His opponent’s Molder Slug wouldn’t be much other than a super Fangren Hunter, because after the audible, Chris had all of four artifacts in his deck. His opponent apparently never drew Crystal Shard, which was good for us.
Chris lost game 1 to some vicious mana flood and game 2 was looking pretty bad until he Neurok Hoversail/Dark-Ritualled (Krark-Clan Stoker) a Fangren Hunter into play, and once you do that you obviously win, so it was on to game 3. The board clogged up and Chris had a Vulshok Sorcerer and a few dudes. His opponent had a Wall of Blood and had recently started attacking with a 9/9 Skyreach Manta, I think. [Complete with four-counter Opaline Bracers. – Knut]
Chris was holding Rude Awakening and because of a Reap And Sow, he would have to peel a land to cast it, but the land wouldn’t be able to attack (summoning sickness). Keeping all of this in mind, he knew what he had to do, but apparently this play didn’t register until after he had lost: his opponent had a Wall of Blood in play. Chris was also holding Inflame. Had he chosen to shoot the Wall and then cast Inflame, it would have forced his opponent to either allow the Wall to die (losing a blocker), or pay two life (Sorcerer + Inflame is three damage, Wall has two toughness, therefore he must pay two life to keep it alive, taking two”damage”). Either way, had he made this play and peeled the land, his Rude Awakening would have been lethal. Instead, he came up one point short on his attack because he only shot his opponent at the end of the turn. So we miss t4.
The next two days were pretty uneventful. Von Dutch won the Pro Tour, and we pretty much knew they would. Jelger and Jereon, even without Kamiel, were never losing in practice drafts. On Monday, we all went to the airport together and Osyp and I found Pikula sitting there… the first thing he says to me is”great, I was just being depressed.” Then I tell him about the ten or so Inflames I ripped up yesterday when he whips out his wallet and shows me the sleeved inflame. Frown.
That’s it. For now.
- Kerry Pikula for letting Chris out to play (sorry we did so well)
- TOGIT and anyone/everyone I tested with for the strategy and testing including the Dutch (Von Dutch) for virtually X-0ing us in testing and then turning that into a Pro Tour win.
- And of course, Chris and Igor, congratulations.
- Reinhard Blech