Two Guidos, an Asian, and $1500 Big Ones

Judging by the title, you’d probably guess that the two Guidos held someone up for $1500 bucks using an Asian as a hostage. This is what happened (more or less), when John Fiorillo, Dave Chung, and I took the amateur prize at Grand Prix: DC this past weekend as “The Chicken Sandwiches.”

So, judging by the title, you’d probably guess that the two Guidos held someone up for $1500 bucks using an Asian as a hostage. This is what happened (more or less), when John Fiorillo, Dave Chung, and I took the amateur prize at Grand Prix: DC this past weekend as "The Chicken Sandwiches." (Don’t ask.) I’m sure Fiorillo will be writing an article in which he’ll cover all the technical stuff, like the builds of our decks and how to approach sub-par looking women in a bar, so I’ll focus on the more random stuff: our preparation, the car ride down, and how the GP went in general.

As one would expect, the three of us decided to team together to have amateur status, else I doubt either Chung or Fiorillo would ever team with a stain like me. Watching me play Limited is like eating a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Sometimes I play ridiculously tight – this is usually when no one is watching. As soon as another set of eyeballs are on my match, I embark upon a journey of complete and utter buffoonery that can only be described as painful to watch.

Nonetheless, the three of us played together at a trial in King’s Games about three weeks ago and won due to some expert blocking by GFabs, Krempels, and Sonne. In case you didn’t know, Jon Sonne is a silent, comedic assassin. He rarely talks or makes jokes, but when he does, they are pure knockouts. On the ride to Columbus, it came up in one of our boisterous conversations that I could tell that Sonne played basketball just by looking at him. So he thinks for a while, with that stupid grin on his face, and responds, "Well Phil, just by looking at you, I can tell that you are a stupid Guinea that screams at the top of his lungs when he talks and never shuts the hell up." Not exactly the response you would expect from someone as quiet as Jon, and thus, all the more hysterical.

Speaking of funny people, I heard Ted Knutson passed some comment about how similar my brother Chris and I are, with the exception of obvious "physical characteristics" a.k.a. my big, fat, Greek (er…Italian), ass. According to Ted, "It’s like the little one stuck his thumb in his mouth and inflated himself to turn into Phil." Truer words have never been spoken. [Unlike Osyp’s quote from Friday, this quote is exactly correct. Needless to say, I’m a huge Napoli fan. – Knut]

So, Osyp and Sonne show up at Fiorillo’s house at about 6:00 p.m. to pick us up and head down to D.C. The problem is that Chung is like an hour and fifteen late and thus the target of Osyp’s constant ridicule on the car ride down. I left the job of getting a room etc. to Fiorillo, who was confident that we would be able to get one when we got down there. End result: I spent the weekend sleeping on the floor of Osyp’s room, freezing my ass off. I wake up in the middle of the night on Friday to find my teeth chattering and everyone else sound asleep. I wanted to put my sweatshirt on, but the room had those motion sensor lights and I didn’t want to wake anyone up with an untimely light show. To make a long story short ("too late" – Clue), I slithered along the floor, commando style, and rescued my sweatshirt from its suitcase prison. Upon returning to my post, I suddenly realized my friggen’ feet were cold too, and ran a post-op back to the suitcase to get some socks and jeans. Now warm and toasty, I slept for all of two hours before we got our 7:30 a.m. wake up call and were off to the site.

Our first card pool was pretty strong, including Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author], Fireball, and a bevy of Red removal the like of which you have never seen. We quickly built a very solid W/G deck, piloted by yours truly, and then settled down to discuss the remaining cards. Our original build was B/R and U/R affinity, which I thought looked pretty good. It was suggested we put U/B affinity together and run a mono-Red deck since it was so strong. The second configuration looked nice, but we knew it was wrong, since the affinity deck now had no removal (bad in general, even worse considering cards like Leonine Bola). Obviously, this is how we decided to run it – yes, we are that bad. Lesson: a deck with no removal is crap, no matter how good it looks. End result, W/G: 2-0, Mono-Red: 2-0, U/B: 0-2. The U/B deck basically scooped to these little things called "permanents," since it had no way to deal with them. The other two decks pulled it out, even after Fiorillo and I each got a game loss in round three for sitting in the wrong seats – how embarrassing can it get?

Sitting at 4-0, the card pool we got was infinitely worse than the one we had received previously. There was nothing going on here folks, nothing. We scrounged together a U/B affinity deck with a few pieces of removal including Betrayal of Flesh and Essence Drain, a W/R deck with little-to-no power, and a R/G deck that looked like it would have a hard time winning. Round 5 we play Tim Aten team. Tim is W/G, which is no easy task for the U/B "affinity or lack thereof" deck I was playing. We split the first two, and the third came down to me boarding into a more aggro build and casting a sideboarded Echoing Truth to bounce an Arrest off my Grimclaw Bats EOT for the win. Surprisingly, given the card quality, Chung and Fiorillo also won their matches and we were 5-0.

Our Rd 6 opponents were "The Amazing O." In yet another folly, Fiorillo gets a game loss for failing to register lands in his deck, hahahah, good timing. He played it out and lost anyway; the R/G deck was stains, as previously mentioned. Chung lost his match, and I too lost in a very close game 3 to the W/G deck in their A seat. My opponent had no cards in hand for the final two turns and was off the top with two Tel-Jilad Wolves in play. This prompted me to consider if I had considered Tel-Jilad Wolf lately. Have you? On the first turn, he ripped One Dozen Eyes for five 1/1’s. I Essence Drain him for three to get up to eight life, and held back three blockers with a lethal Consume Spirit in my hand. Obviously, he proceeds to draw Roar of the Kha for the win. It was ten times as frustrating, since I had boarded in double Echoing Truth to prevent this from happening… guess that’s Magic.

At 5-1 we were paired against the Italian Stallion Antonio DeRosa, and his teammates Ben Stark and Rich Hoaen. Needless to say, we weren’t too thrilled to play such high quality opponents immediately after our first loss. I won a close game one vs. Ben, got miserably land flooded game two, and took game three with one or two decent blocks and a key Betrayal of Flesh for the win. Honestly though, when is Betrayal not key? Chung was helpless against Antonio’s Molder Slug, but Fiorillo’s R/G deck held up against Hoaen’s B/R. Obviously we hated playing against a friend like Antonio – but "que sera sera." Antonio may indeed be one of the funniest guys I have ever met. I hear Knutson wants to run a "facial expressions" contest between Antonio and me to see who makes the funniest faces in response to outlandish comments. I’m game bro – bring it.

So, at this point we were a lock for day two, and took Turian and Osyp’s advice to play it out in the final sealed round. We had some inhibitions, since our decks weren’t so great, but we had nothing to lose and hoped to mise a win. Our opponents, "369 a pack," had pretty insane decks, highlighted by a mono-Blue Ravager affinity deck in the B seat. My opponent smashed me in two quick ones hitting dubs Tangle Golem by turn 4 both games. Even though I got ’em both with an Echoing Truth in game 2, I couldn’t apply any pressure and failed to get him below eighteen in either game. According to Sideboard.com, Chung won his match, though I certainly don’t remember that, and John was overpowered by a bomb laden B/R deck in the C seat. Needless to say, we were pretty discouraged, but were happy to have the chance to draft on day 2. Only four "amateur" teams made it to the top twenty, and we were in third at the moment. {N.B. quotation marks around the word amateur}. We discussed strategy with the Togit crew over late-night Wendy’s and I actually got some sleep buried beneath excess pillow cases the hotel so graciously gave us after a request for "blankets."

Draft one we played Tim Aten team :B for the second time on the weekend. It was made clear that I would have little-to-no role in running the draft, as I am quite inexperienced in Team Rochester. The lead would be left for Chung with complimentary input from Fiorillo. I was in the A seat, so the strategy was for B/R in the A, Affinity in the B, and G/W in the C seat in order to have favorable matchups against the standard strategy.

Unfortunately, Chung must have forgotten the plan and proceeded to draft the standard strategy, leaving us to face three "technically" unfavorable matchups. My B/R deck wasn’t so great in the abstract, but it was a wrecking ball against the W/G deck Tim drafted. My double Wail of the Nim and Krark Clan Shaman blanked about 2/3 of Tim’s creature base. I don’t think W/G likes Reiver Demon or Greater Harvester much either… what a four-year-old I am sometimes. Anyway, I drew the Harvester game one and although he had solid blocks, Wail prevented them from coming to fruition, and it was over two turns later. Game two only required two men and one Wail to take the match vs. Tim. Chung got crushed against the B seat’s trips Chittering Rats, trips Somber Hoverguard affinity deck, and Fiorillo lost to their W/R deck with seemingly infinite artifact removal. We were pretty pissed about losing, as odds are we would take no better than second in the amateur payout if we won out. In a "Fabiano-like" twist of good fortune (you have no idea how blessed this kid is), it turns out the other three amateur teams were imposters, leaving us assured the top amateur prize as the only true amateur-status team in day 2. Yuuuuuuuuus!

The next round we are paired against Morgan Douglass, Phil Freneau and Kyle Rose, the Aristocrats. We executed the proper strategy in this round, but their experience proved king, as they reacted perfectly to our drafting and set themselves up with two favorable matchups. I dropped the ball against Morgan’s mono-White deck, failing to see the kill on the board in game one (apparently Nim Lasher starts out as a 1/1 unlike his vastly superior compatriot the Nim Shrieker – I seriously need to read the cards sometimes). Disheartened at my idiocy, I struggled for revenge, but was mauled in game two by the speed of his draw. Chung was crushed by Rose’s R/G "every piece of artifact destruction in the format" deck and Fiorillo’s W/G was overwhelmed by Phil’s affinity draws. We were pretty bummed, but figured we’d take our depression with us all the way to the bank – nice.

In the last round we got paired against Antonio’s team again and were able to even the score by scooping to them in hopes of their getting the pro points they desperately needed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and they ended up in thirteenth place. All in all, the weekend was pretty sick. I was initially skeptical about missing my own birthday party up in Albany this weekend, but going to the GP definitely turned out to be the better option of the two. In retrospect, with the way my friends and I party, it probably would have cost me a little under $500 for the weekend, so in terms of opportunity costs I’m up just under a”G” this weekend. If only life mirrored economic theory. Anyway, congrats to all the CMU/Togit guys for a great job this weekend, especially to Osyp for the never-ending stream of advice. I owe you some home-made Tollhouse cookies for sure – Hahaha. Gross.