Things were a lot different a year ago. Around this time last year, Grand Prix Toronto was about to take place. At that Grand Prix, after scrubbing out of the main event I meekly approached KYT with a drawing of what would become the illustration for the Eh Team.
Between then and now, I wrote some articles, and I started a comic. Has it really been that long?
Well, I’m still bad at Magic, so I guess not!
Last week I traveled to Montreal for my second Grand Prix ever, which would undoubtedly be the Most Epic Grand Prix Evar TM.
But I derp’d before I even herp’d, because I forgot to charge my camera. I was rendered ill-equipped to adequately illustrate the awesomeness of Grand Prix Montreal with my photographic prowess. And even if I had photographic evidence of Owen Turtenwald kicking me out of my sixth-round seat, capturing said evidence would have been quite awkward.
You want to know more about that, huh? I’ll get there. I’m a tease that way.
I hope my paltry iPhone camera offerings, combined with my spicy palette of words, will paint a picture of my grand journey to Montreal and back.
Early in the morning, I boarded a VIA train from downtown Toronto with Mat, a buddy from the local store. Since five hours is a long time to be durdling around (har har), we each picked up three M12 sealed sets to practice with. I built UW control, BGw (Call to the Grave, Pentavus, Cemetery Reaper and spiders) and RB with Inferno Titan, the last of each was easily the strongest deck.
I otherwise opened crap rares so the actual return value was the nut low. And all along the way, we were constantly picking up dropped dice and cards because of the bumps in the train ride. The comically tiny fold-out tables didn’t help either.
The long, bumpy train ride was worth it, though, as we finally stepped out into the fresh Montreal air – where I was brutally assaulted by culture shock. Why was everything in French? Why did people greet me with “Bonjour?” For the rest of the trip, I felt like a neanderthal every time I opened my mouth to blurt out a request or question in English. For a brief moment, I regretted not keeping up with my French, since the last time I spoke the language was roughly 10 years ago.
I met up with KYT, who as you all know, is the Man (I am contractually prohibited from saying otherwise). After the obligatory bro-hug, we boarded the Metro and checked in at the apartment we would be sharing with Seattle’s Kenji “Num Num Nummy” Egashira and Montreal’s Jake “Formerly-the-Professor slash I-Love-Red-Bull” Meszaros. For the remainder of the weekend, the apartment was affectionately known as “Chez Baller.”
The lodging lived up to its name. It was stacked with multiple beds, appliances and amenities. Certified baller Frankie Richard later gave Chez Baller his seal of approval. Our neighbours were awesome, too: we shared a patio with none other than Kyle “Creepy Kerrydan” Mathers, audio editor extraordinaire, and his wonderful family. So, to sum up: Mise!
After checking in, KYT, Kerrydan and I hitched a subway ride to the venue, the Palais de Congress. I was unaccustomed to the advanced technology employed by the Montreal subway system, and so a ticket booth agent spent a good fifteen seconds yelling at me while I struggled to figure out how their chip card system worked. Bad beats already!
We eventually congregated with some of the Montreal players and went out en masse for dinner at Frite Alors!, a Belgian-style beer-and-burger spot where I gorged myself on one of the most indulgent bowls of poutine I have ever consumed. Think regular poutine, except covered in bacon, mushrooms and green peppers. Frankie contended that I would be “choking on” the large-size portion – understandable, considering I am a tiny ninja of an Asian. But, after cleaning the bowl and distending my stomach, I got the last laugh. We also got to see Kenji’s Limited skills in action:
The rest of the night was spent drafting and attempting to tame the hurricane that was Jake Meszaros.
The Chez Baller crew hit up the Palais de Congress early in the morning. I made the rounds through the convention hall to catch up with players I knew, including some Toronto locals who had made the trip to Montreal. It was also here that I broke out my fresh batch of Durdling Around stickers to hand out to people. Shameless promotion time!
These things went like hotcakes. Because the Jace sticker was my first attempt to actually produce a sticker, I only ordered a small batch of about 90. By the end of the weekend, I had none left and there were people who still wanted them. Everywhere I went, I saw people I didn’t know wearing the stickers, and it was a very cool feeling.
As for the main event…long story short, I went 3-2-1 in the main event and dropped, making the same record I made last year. After a year, I’m still bad at Magic, it appears! For posterity, my registered deck:
”Derf’s X-2-1 Drop Special”
I showed my pool to Num-Num after round 2 and he agreed I had taken the right approach, which was heartening. Because, you know, four Stampeding Rhinos was tempting but obviously a trap…even if one of them was foil.
My matches weren’t too noteworthy: I won games when I drew my bombs, and I lost games I deserved to lose. You probably wouldn’t learn much from any reports I could give, other than that Pentavus is (still) good. Most of the games were close. My opponents were all cool people and good sports, and I didn’t feel bad at all about getting knocked out.
About getting knocked out…my Owen Turtenwald story.
In round 6 I am 3-1-1 and paired against a Max P. We shuffle up and roll for first when two judges come up to us and say, “When the round starts, do not start playing. You will be getting re-paired.” Wut?
Shortly after the round starts, I am instructed to head to Table 534. Owen’s-A-Win was heading for my seat, so I make way for him. I wish I could have seen my would-be opponent’s expression at the switch. In hindsight, I should have told Max, “Good luuuuck!” For the lulz, of course.
But the story isn’t over!
So, I sit down at Table 534, where my opponent introduces himself as Jon. It was only after two soul-crushing games that I conclude this is one Jon Boutin, a longtime player in the Ontario community. He was cool about the match and gave his two cents when I asked him what I could have done better. So, that’s the story of round 6, and how Bad Omen-Owen fed me to Jon Boutin.
In the evening, I went for dinner with my older brother, who had moved to Montreal for work. (Fries with mayonnaise is the nut high, by the way.) I was thrilled to later hear that Mana D members, including Alex Hayne and KYT, had made Day 2. By contrast, I was saddened to learn that Kenji, who went through the grind for three byes on Friday, had lost his win-and-in round.
Apparently Kenji took it a little harder, as he went on a drunken life tilt later that night. I admit that it was somewhat entertaining to watch, as his demeanor completely changed. I never knew an Asian could walk with so much swagger.
At about 2 am, Kenji finally recovered from his life tilt and we all called it a night, except for Jake and KYT, who spent at least an hour watching Talladega Nights from the apartment’s DVD library.
In the morning, Kenji and Jake jumped into the 200+ man PTQ, while KYT continued his GP run. I spent the morning playing Commander and visiting the artist gallery, where I had a great conversation with artist Drew “Tumble Magnet” Baker, a genuinely nice guy. I was also able to get a couple sweet sketches from Drew and rk post for the ol’ playmat.
In between Commander games, some friends and readers of the comic asked me to sketch on and sign their playmats, and I humbly and happily obliged. I remember drawing a couple Li’l Garruks and a few other Li’l Walkers, and I contributed to Amanda Stevens’ Red Site Wins playmat with my rendition of a Blood Knight (one of my favourite red cards). Friends, Commander and drawing: what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?
While I’m on the topic of Commander, Carlos of CommanderCast fame has the filthiest deck I’ve ever had the (dis?)pleasure of playing against. His Child of Alara Lands/control deck is one of the most unique I’ve ever seen and, while I got smashed by it, I didn’t feel bad at all. Watching it in action is a thing of beauty.
Later in the evening, the center feature match table was getting more and more crowded. I check out the commotion and discover Alex Hayne is playing in the top 4! It was intense. After going up a game, he drops the second game. The third game is even more intense. Then, all of a sudden, it was over. Alex had made the all-Canadian finals!
It was Rich Hoaen, however, who would eventually take the trophy. While it would have been even sweeter for Alex to take down the whole thing, it was great for Canada to defend home turf again.
But Alex wasn’t the only one to get rich: Frankie took down the SCG Invitational Qualifier, Kenji cashed in the PTQ, and Luis Acosta (AKA @AuranAlchemist) went on to place 2nd in the PTQ. While he was waiting for the top 8 to shake out, I had the opportunity to sign his face:
Even if I wasn’t one of the players on the team, it felt good to cheer for friends. I will always support the Mana D guys, even if I can’t help them out with any relevant skills.
Our Sunday dinner lineup was at a sweet ramen place and consisted of KYT, his really pretty girlfriend, Carlos and his girlfriend, Andrew, our fearless cameraman; Kenji, Frankie and myself. Good times were had by all.
Afterward at Chez Baller I totally smashed KYT at mini-master with a Gladecover Scout–>Divine Favor–>Combust blocker–>Gorehorn Minotaurs curve, which I relish even today because it will be the only time I beat KYT in Magic. Kenji jumped into a MODO draft and made me choose the picks, which was a pretty cool learning experience.
By this time I’m pretty tired (as with most nights this weekend, as they all went pretty late), and so the Sleep jokes kick in. At the TCGPlayer event in Toronto earlier this year, I infamously dozed off at dinner because of the two pints I drank while watching the UFC event at a pub with Scotty Mac, Jay Boosh, KYT and others. KYT now took the time to bring back the Sleep jokes:
“I’m Dave, my first pick is going to be *zzzzzzz*” or: “What’s Dave’s favourite draft card? Sleep.”
Some things you can’t live down.
Monday morning we all parted ways. The Magical weekend was over, and real life kicked back in. I write this because whenever someone asks me why I continue to play Magic, I will remember this weekend: good games, good eats and good friends.
Thanks for reading.
- – KYT and the Mana D team for making me feel welcome in their city.
- – Alex Hayne for the awesome finish.
- – My local boys (Newby, ChaCha, JJ, Earnshaw, Mat) who offered some familiar faces at the GP.
- – Dani, a wonderful and enthusiastic Mana D supporter who gifted us with this amazing card (Thanks Dani!):
- – Everyone who wore a Durdling Around sticker at the GP. It means the world to me.
- – The following Twitter peeps I met or met up with again:
- – The cold I had been battling all weekend. But because I have the immune system of a little ninja, I was mostly OK.
- – Angry French ticket booth lady.
Okay, now I’m done. I’ll get back to drawing the comic again.