Gather ‘round children!
Kyt Has prodded me to write a report about the PTQ that took place this past weekend in Montreal and that’s what I’m here to do, but to be blatantly honest, I’ve kind of gotten bored of reading tournament reports. They’re all mostly the same; just someone talking about how awesome they are and very vague details of the actual games themselves, which are really the only interesting points worth touching on. In an effort to switch things up and make things interesting, I’m going to talk more about the quirky things that happened during the event more than the actual match details themselves. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
7:00 pm Thursday, January 12th, 2012:
My preparation for Modern begins, it involves looking through a box, taking 24 Merfolk, 16 Spells and 20 lands and getting Ben Moir to shuffle it up and play it. The results seemed alright, but the deck suffered from a poor Jund matchup, so it quickly rejoined the mix of assorted, random cards in my bag. I don’t think it’s a bad deck by any means; I just wouldn’t endorse it at the moment. There are too many Jund and Affinity decks running around for me to want to play it, and the event would just be an uphill battle as a result.
11:00 pm Thursday, January 12th, 2012:
Lucas Siow brags about how awesome he is at playing Splinter Twin.
9:30 am Friday, January 13th, 2012:
I wake up and realise I want to be like Lucas Siow. I pull all the Splinter Twin cards out of my binder and put together an impressively bad looking deck.
6:00 pm Friday, January 13th, 2012:
I sign up to play in FNM because apparently I don’t feel the need to prepare for Modern. Besides, I much prefer Standard at the moment. I’m kind of a sucker for Fish decks and the Delver decks are irresistible, if only Invisible Stalker didn’t exist, it would be fun for everyone else too.
8:30 pm Friday, January 13th, 2012:
I make Phil Samms try his first ever Cinnamon Melt from McDonalds. He looks unimpressed. I die a little inside. Last time I will ever do anyone this service…
10:00 pm Friday, January 13th, 2012:
Phil Samms and I take down FNM! Clearly the work of champions. (What does this have to do with the ptq? Absolutely nothing, just thought it was worth noting that I was capable of such things.)
10:30 pm Friday, January 13th, 2012:
While leafing through the comic book bin at the store I stumble upon possibly the greatest gag comic known to man… well, the greatest gag comic known to me at the very least. The adventures of
Shaloman, the Kosher Crusader. I quickly rush to the counter to buy it. The price tag of $1.00 feels like a victory. This comic will play an important role to the weekend’s events.
10:45 pm Friday, January 13th, 2012:
Jeff St. Pierre tells me to win the PTQ tomorrow in his absence. I take a note and move along.
12:00 am Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
Lucas Siow calls me to tell me some of his secrets. Mainly to include Academy Ruins in my maindeck a Sword of Feast and Famine in the sideboard (because he says Jund is a really bad matchup) and replace Firespouts with Engineered Explosives, which I agree is a good choice. I take a Remand out of the maindeck and add a Repeal just for kicks and I go to bed happy.
6:30 am Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
I wake up and realise Lucas Siow must be trying to sabotage me, and take Sword of Feast and Famine out of the deck. I tell everyone I know of his attempts to thwart my success. Needless to say, they all think less of him now.
9:00 am Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
I introduce Jay to The Adventures of Shaloman. He excitedly snaps it up and reads it cover to cover. The story of a lifetime he claims, certainly worth more than a dollar. Demands are made that we play for ownership of the comic, to which I instantly decline because I thought I saw Craig Wescoe upon entering the room.
9:30 am Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
I register this…
Splintering Jikis by Daniel Lanthier
10:00 am Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
The tournament starts and I’m paired against Merfolk (pretty sure this is not a good matchup). He fails to apply sufficient amounts of pressure both games, and my deck does what it’s supposed to do. Nothing overly interesting happened in the match, though it became obvious after playing a few games that this matchup is not as bad as advertised. Aside from the random Vapor Snag or Mana Leak, the deck has no way of permanently removing an Exarch from the board. If a fast clock is not applied, Splinter Twin will win by inevitability.
10:15 am Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
11:00 am Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
I get paired against Jund, which I am not happy about, because my quick talk on the phone with Lucas the night before has led me to believe that it must be unwinnable (spoiler alert: Blood Moon is a card). I win game 1 because my opponent forced himself to discard a Doom Blade to his Liliana of the Veil. A cool situation game up in game 2, my board consisted of a Spellskite and a Deceiver Exarch, while my opponent has a Dark Confidant, a Liliana at 3 counters, and a Tarmogoyf. He uses his Lilana to take out my Spellskite and passes the turn; I put an Engineered Explosives on top of my deck thanks to Academy Ruins (+1 point for Lucas), cast it for 2, to kill the Confidant and the Tarmogoyf, and attack in and kill Liliana. I spend the next two turns bringing back Spellskites from my graveyard to play defence for my Exarch and eventually draw the Splinter Twin.
12:00 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
It was about this time in the tournament when I got run over by Geist of Saint Traft. The match only went to 2 games, and both games were nearly identical. I kept pretty reasonable hands, but never drew into any counter magic or Spellskites. He deployed an early Geist, and I was forced to combo into a Path to Exile each time.
It’s always unfortunate taking an early(ish) loss at a ptq, but on the bright side… The way I was starting to look at it, I was one step closer to playing EDH…errr… Commander.
12:45 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
Is it just me or was the guy behind the counter at Subway flirting with me? I’m just glad he didn’t put the sauce on my sub…
1:30 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
Oh goodie, another Jund matchup. Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize, Liliana, Blightning… Game 1 ends within 5 minutes, and I started thinking about those sweet EDH games, but then I boarded in Blood Moons and things started to feel juuuuust righhhht!
2:00 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
The EDH began without me. Francis Cormier and Jay both found themselves out of the tournament, but stuck around for some gaming and Shaloman.
2:30 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
Pairings go up for the next round, and I have to go play. Sure wish I could have kept watching some sweet EDH games. I faced Jund again, and I drew Blood Moon. That card makes games a joke.
3:00 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
Jay claims ownership of Shaloman and steals it from me, I’m probably never getting it back… at least he’s with his people now.
3:30 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
I get paired against Jund again. I make a critical mistake game 1 that should have cost me the tournament, but I’m the luckiest person alive by this point and escape unscathed. The error I made was that I figured the chances of him having a second Terminate were low, so instead of returning my Spellskite with Academy Ruins and waiting a turn to set up my win, I went for it right away. I knew better at the time, but I really just wanted to play EDH and tried to end the match as quickly as possible I guess. Anyways, I got lucky in game 2 when I peeled the combo off the top 2 turns in a row under Liliana lockdown, and game 3 went as planned thanks to Blood Moon.
4:00 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
My sources on the floor inform me that Super Friend Zack Spence has decided that he’s sick of Magic for the day and has gone home to play League of Legends. Feeling upset that my bestest friend has abandoned me, I seek out Jake Meszaros (the Montreal Zack Spence) to be his replacement.
4:13:45 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
At this point the times are probably way off, but I’m going to keep this going for the sake of continuity.
4:30 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
At first look it looked like I was going to be able to draw into top 8, but as it turned out, there were 6 of us stuck in the position of having to play it out. The round started and the people to my left and right each started playing their matches, I knew this meant that a draw would be safe for my opponent and I, so I let him know that we could both make it in. He was more than happy to hear that we were both locks and graciously accepted.
5:00 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012:
Jay forces me to play a game of EDH while waiting for the top 8 to start which doesn’t take much convincing. I don’t remember what the stakes were if I were to lose the game, but the prize for winning was that I would win the PTQ (Yes, he has the power to do that). Obviously I won, so I entered the top 8 knowing full well how it would end. As a side note, I would like to add how funny I think it is that Jay has become such an EDH addict (Guru, as he would like to be called, but he’s only saying that because he knows he has a problem). I don’t think a round goes by at an event where he doesn’t want to play a game or two during the break. A year or two ago you had to beg this guy into playing in an event let alone even talk about Magic cards. Things have really changed… Addictions are powerful things.
The top 8 got underway without much delay. The archetypes that made it in were Affinty, Splinter Twin x2, RUG tempo, Jund x3, and Geist Zoo.
I would have to battle it out against local zombie Justin Richardson for this round. He was playing affinity and although my sideboard was packed full of removal, I still wasn’t happy about facing the robots. Game 1 he mulled to 6 and played out 5 cards on the first turn. Both of his next two draws were Signal Pests and I was quickly dead. I was about 1 turn behind this whole game, and had I been on the play I think I would have won. But that’s just the game we play… For the second game I open up on the play with the combo in hand, an Ancient grudge and an Engineered Explosives. It wasn’t very hard to put together a win and we were off to game 3. Justin told me before the game that he wanted me to win, so he mulled down to 4 cards in order to give me a chance. His plan worked, and I was one step closer to winning the event.
Semi finals got under way about an hour or so after my previous match ended, not because we had to wait for another match but because I was more interested in walking around the room talking to friends rather than playing more games of Magic.
I got paired against a friend, Ben Moir, he was playing Jund (yep, the 6th time I faced it in the ptq). Much like most of my matches earlier against Jund, this one wasn’t very interesting. I had a pretty good draw game 1. But he managed to stick a Dark Confidant and get ahead on cards. Combined with the Liliana he had in play and a timely Inquisition off the top of his deck on the second last turn, I lost a game that I thought was a sure thing for me. Game 2 yielded a similar draw to the first one, he didn’t have the cards he needed to interact in this game and he soon met his fate at the hands of thousands and thousands of flying sprites. In game 3, I killed his Dark Confidant on 2 and landed a Blood Moon on 3. His only offense was a Bloodbraid Elf and he soon after died to an Exarch that he couldn’t interact with.
The finals got underway almost immediately, unfortunately for both myself and my opponent, it was a mirror match. In hindsight, his version seemed a lot better positioned for the mirror, his deck included maindeck Snapback, and Disrupting Shoal, but lacked Spellskites (which I soon found out were not as good in the mirror as they were when this deck was legal in Standard).
Game 1 I got stuck on 4 lands, and he quickly capitalized, killing me on turn 5. The loss left a bad taste in my mouth as it really reminded me how stupid the mirror match is. I played this deck a lot when it was Standard legal, and it was more of the same. This time, cards (like Spellskite) that are normally good at preventing your opponent from killing you, don’t actually do anything if they have a Kiki-Jiki and a Deceiver Exarch.
Game 2 I cast an Exarch on his end step, which he let resolve and then just ran out a Kiki-Jiki. He Remanded the goblin, and then cast his own… If I drew a land for my turn I could Flame Slash his Jiki and replay mine and combo off, But I drew a Splinter Twin instead and just won like that.
For the decider, I mulled to 6 to start things off, and kept a one land hand with literally everything I needed except the land. I draw land number 2 and cast a Spellskite, which he used a Shoal to counter, removing a Snapback, I spent the next couple turns just casting Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand trying to dig myself to some more land. On turn 5 I cast an Exarch on his end step, tapping down one of his lands, and was left with the decision to go for the win or wait it out. He had 3 cards in hand, and 4 mana open. He would need to have Exarch, Twin/Jiki, and a Remand as his 3 cards in hand in order to kill me, so I figured the odds were with me. I tapped out to cast Kiki-Jiki and he extended the hand. I had won the tournament.
It’s a couple days later at this point and it still hasn’t really sunk in that I won the PTQ. I feel like I got really lucky all day, and rode Blood Moon to a lot of victories. I played well enough, but a lot of things went well for me over the course of the day, so I got a lot of pretty big breaks. I guess that’s how it’s got to go sometimes for you to win.
I had a lot of bad beats closer to the end of last year, I needed to win one more round in each of the 3 last events I played in in order to make level 3 and I failed to do so on all accounts so it’s nice to get a little something back to make up for it.
Props, Slops and Notes:
* Alex Hayne, for not being in Canada
* Andrew Noworaj for lending me Blood Moons
* Justin for mulliganing
* Chris McGuire for driving
* Jay for using his powers to predict the win
* Dave Thomas for founding Wendy’s
* Lucas for trying to get me to play Sword of Feast and Famine (because Jund is unwinnable)
* Zack Spence for abandoning me… You used to be cool, now I’ve got Jake
* Serum Visions for being Serum Visions
* KYT for being absent when we needed him
* At one point in the event I was asked if it felt nice to ‘always have everything’… and yes, yes it is!