Pioneer

Qualifying for Worlds: A Tournament Report

Pre-Tournament Prep

I didn’t originally want to play the RC in Edmonton, but I found a cheap enough flight (400$ non-Flair [never again!]). MVP Dan MacDonald hooked me up with a place to stay with another MVP, Marcel Zafra.  I only had the one Q, but figured I could LCQ in Toronto and Edmonton if needed. My good run started in Toronto 2 weeks ago, where I started the Super (16 invites) LCQ 2-2 with Mike Sigirist’s Two-Wurm Creativity. I made it to 4-2 with breakers that couldn’t make top 16, then EVENTLINK CRASHED and reset the breakers so they gave the invites to everyone with the same record as 16th. Seb Lachance nicely scooped to me in round seven, as he didn’t need the invite, and I finished 18th, which normally wouldn’t have been good enough – thanks EventLink!

The main event went well. I was x-3 going into the final round (again with Creativity) but with my terrible breakers I scooped Jack Potter into a well deserved top 8. I was unsure as to why 8th was paired vs 20th in the final round.

Marcel was amazing for giving me and Dmac a place to stay, knowing great restaurants, driving us around, and passing on his vast knowledge of F1 and WWE. He also ‘doesn’t really play magic’’ but had playsets of basically every playable card in Modern and Legacy in the pimpest foil possible.

I tried asking various people if I should run back Creativity or audible to Izzet Phoenix. Phoenix is a deck that I love to play but requires the right time to rise again from the ashes. Mike Sigirist told me to play whatever I’m comfortable with. Creativity’s winrate also was poor in the previous weekend, though it’s a bit misleading because two Wurm, one Wurm + one Xenagos, Gearhulk + Divide, and Gearhulk no Divide are four very different decks. I think only two of the four are remotely playable, so the other two drive the winrate percentage down.

I’ve never been to Alberta, and regulars here told me it’s “Spirits central.” I wasn’t super thrilled to go against Spirits with Creativity, so I ultimately landed on playing Phoenix. I had a lot of experience with the deck and had good advice from @Gul_Dukat and Andy Peters (@AndyAWKWARD). Spoiler: I played Spirits once, in the finals. I was also not thrilled with the Rakdos matchup, but it’s on the downswing, right?

@d00mwake summed out my thought process perfectly:

RC Edmonton

On Friday morning I wasn’t sure what to do with my day so I joined the Last Chance Qualifier to get some reps in. I ended up scooping to my friend and boss Bosu who needed the Q (and eventually got it) playing a tight match vs UW. I played vs RB Midrange and lost to a lot of Kroxas. I prayed there wouldn’t be that many Rakdos Mid players in the main.

I made zero prize wall tickets. Marcel also got his queue thanks to a generous scoop by Patrick Wu, which indebted Marcel to drive Patrick and zoomer superstar Noe Offman around for the weekend. Patrick still made top 8 despite the scoop and won the most tickets out of anyone I know over the weekend. We went to my nephew’s house, whom I learned lives in Edmonton 10 mins from the site, and he just happened to have infinite burgers and hot dogs for a BBQ for the 5 of us, thanks Corey and Erin! 

Main Event

Although Rakdos was the most played archetype, it only made 12% of the field since the meta was so diverse.

Here’s what I ended up registering:

Round 1 – NowWithBacon – Greasefang

Sideboard Strategy:

+1 Abrade, +2 Brotherhood’s End, +1 Negate

-2 Galvanic Iteration, -2 Temporal Trespass

I lost game one when I had my Axe and Impulse discarded, then shot off a Pieces of the Puzzle and a Cruise with red open. Opponent jammed a Greasefang and I had no removal in my 7 cards. I thought this would be “one of those tournaments.” Alas, the other two games went more normal and we got the W.

Round 2 – Dustin Schmitz – Patrick UwU Field

Sideboard Strategy:

+5 Counterspells, +1 Saheeli, +3

-4 Impulse, -2 LIghtning Axe, -2 Chart a Course, -1 Spikefield Hazard

Game one he got the draw you want with this deck, turn three Proctor Field, but since this deck doesn’t kill particularly fast I had time to set up the combo when he had his Discontinuity shields down. Game two he didn’t draw Lotus Field which makes the deck a lot easier to fight with countermagic.

Round 3 – Ian Hancock – Rakdos Sacrifice

Sideboard Strategy:

+1 Abrade, +2 Brotherhood’s End, +1 Treasure Cruise

-2 Galvanic Iteration, -2 Temporal Trespass

Opponent made some minor misplays but as Andy Peters told me, back when cat sack played 4 Leylines sb the matchup was even, so with less hate it becomes very favored. I got it in three games.

Rounds 4, 6, 8, 9 – Dawson Courson, Wilson Mok, Derek Pite, Jennifer Crotts – Rakdos Midrange

Sideboard Strategy:

+3

+1 Blue Sun’s Twilight, +1 Treasure Cruise, +2 Brotherhood’s End (depending on list)

-2 Temporal Trespass, -4 Ledger Shredder, -1 Fiery Impulse

You can keep some number of Spell Pierces or even bring in Negate if you expect your opponent to have Go Blank, especially in open decklist. Post-board games go long so hit those land drops and overwhelm with spells in the longer game! You can also trim Chart a Course, Galvanic Iteration, Fiery Impulse, and Spikefield Hazard.

This matchup becomes favorable when there is low graveyard hate. The stock (Ginger) lists of the week were very low on graveyard hate. This likely won me the tournament (sub to @misplacedginger for all your RB or how to attack RB needs). I unfortunately don’t remember much about all of these matches. I got very lucky vs Dawson, twice being quite dead to a Sheoldred and then immediately drawing an Axe. Dawson was also the best prepared for me, having Go Blanks in his sideboard, but alas he never drew them. RB doesn’t churn for what you need quite as hard as the birbs. Jennifer was a pleasure to play against, she had some mana issues game two.

In my match versus Ginger, I thought I was about 90% to win by turn five, but my Pieces of the Puzzle and Treasure Cruise both hit air. I remember all three games were close and Ginger played very well. I ended up closing out game three with a giant Crackling Drake.

Rounds 5, 7 – Chris Carlile, Travis Benedict – Mono Green

Sideboard Strategy

+5 Counter spells, +1 Aether Gust

-2 Lightning Axe, -2 Chart a Course, -1 Arclight Phoenix, -1 Treasure Cruise

I don’t remember round five at all. It says I won 2-0 so it must not have been eventful. Round seven was my one loss in the tournament. I think the matchup in general is slightly favored for Phoenix, but it’s very important that you be able to interact with elves (bonus if you can Spell Pierce Wolfwillow Haven). Don’t be afraid to Axe the mana dorks. I don’t remember much, but if you have lost to Green you know it likely involved my opponent tanking on a Storm and slamming the nuts or Karning me into oblivion.

Round 10 – Edgar Magalhaes – Rakdos Sacrifice

Edgar is a real master. I’m super happy he got the Q he was looking for, as his Sunday RC success would always be in the Open. He quickly expressed disgust at his matchup luck, as he cut all his graveyard hate and wanted to dodge me and Kevin Anctil (Neoform Atraxa) who he had just played the round before, and somehow won despite being close to 0% in that matchup. 

I kept a one-lander on the play with two Opts, cast both, bottomed twice, didn’t hit land two.

It happens, but it was still a great game!

Edgar played masterfully, floating Fable copies over multiple turns (using his own end step) to set up for a Mayhem Devil + alpha strike + a bunch of EOT Fable sacrifice triggers that dealt me the exact 17 damage he needed. I was seriously impressed. Without graveyard hate though, game two and game three felt more one-sided, with Edgar being stuck on two lands for most of game two and succumbing to a giant Crackling Drake in game three.

Round 11 – David Booker – Mono-White Humans

Sideboard Strategy:

+2 Brotherhood’s End, +1 Abrade, +3

+1 Blue Sun’s Twilight (probably wrong?)

-2 Temporal Trespass, -2 Galvanic Iteration, -2 Spell Pierce, -1 Treasure Cruise

This matchup can be tough, as the one-drop into Thalia into Adeline start on the play is basically unbeatable for any deck. I was regretting not having any Volleys, as they help a ton in this matchup and his list was solid against Phoenix. Ossification is the best answer to my threats, as well as Hearses. Wedding Announcement is annoying to deal with as well.

David was on a tear starting 9-0, but unfortunately the wheels fell off for him the rest of day two. Our match wasn’t very exciting, he won game one on the draw but game two and game three he ended the games with around eight lands in play. Unlucky, really. 

I hadn’t met him before but Dave plays in a band and is part of team Hairy Tarantula, which is run by David Rood. Dave’s another great boomer and longtime friend who I’ve been playing with for 20 years, he’s always great to hang out with.

Round 12 – Kevin Anctil – Neoform Atraxa

At this point I was the only 10-1 and 99.99% locked for top 8. I was paired against Quebec good guy Kevin Anctil who I have been making fun of for weeks for playing Neoform, although he ended up crushing this tournament. I have to stress that team Mythic Store went something like 3-12 with this deck in Toronto. They were so convinced that it was the children who were wrong that they STUCK TO THEIR GUNS AND FLEW INTO EDMONTON THE DAY BEFORE FOR BIG $. If that’s not top level ‘deck is good’ copium I don’t know what is. Since Kevin is such a G, I gave him the scoop to lock him in.

R13 – Linden Koot – Rakdos Mid

We intentionally drew this round.

Quaterfinals – Daniel Goresht – Mono Green

I actually played game one pretty badly (Spell Pierced a Wolfwillow that he could pay for, he had Storm the Festival with one mana floating the following turn) – Magic is hard! Lucky for me my deck loved me, so after he stabilized at 6 life with three big reachy bois in play, I had to Pieces of the Puzzle into an Axe to win. Instead, I hit my fourth Phoenix to get the exactsies with a Shredder. Game two was longer and he threw away a Lair of the Hydra that could have been good later. He told me he was somewhat checked out after he made top 8.

Semifinals – Kevin Anctil – Neoform Atraxa

Sideboard Strategy:

+5 Counterspells, +1 Aether Gust

-4 Impulse, -2 Chart a Course, -1 Lightning Axe

This match was sweet, I never won a game casting so few spells. I cast Consider on turn one, hardcast a Phoenix on four, then Otawaraed his Atraxa, and went off afterwards. Game two he nutted me with Duress, Founding, sac outlet + Neofrom on the play, which is close to unbeatable. Game three his draw was less impressive, and as the game went longer I accrued more counters and threats, so I got there.

Finals – Robert Smith – Azorius Spirits

Mileage may vary on Spell Pierce, Negate, and Chart a Courses depending on how many Wedding Announcements and Rest in Peaces, etc. they have
Sideboard Strategy:

+2 Brotherhood’s End, +1 Abrade, +2 Mystical Dispute

-2 Galvanic Iteration, -2 Temporal Trespass, -1 Spell Pierce,

Robert Smith is an Alberta superstar whom I haven’t really interacted with, but I know he has had a lot of success and is the perfect end boss for Edmonton. I made the super lame “I really like The Cure ” joke to him, shooting into the universe all of the cringe I have obtained over the past 22 years of people calling me “Mister Anderson” (Like from the Matrix! LOL) 

Apologies for the cringe, Robert.

Unfortunately for Robert, Spirits is a great matchup – it’s why I played the deck in the first place! He mulled both games, and both my openers had lands, removal, Shredder, and Consider. Game two he played two Wedding Announcements, but I had the Brotherhood’s End to clear the board and put him in an un-winnable spot. Hoisting the trophy with so many friends celebrating my success is the greatest feeling in the world.

Post-Tournament

No more deck stuff here just good vibes!

I was nervous that Dmac would cancel as he had flight issues and Diablo 4 is a hell of a drug, but he bested 401 traffic to get on a flight to Montreal and then Edmonton. Dmac makes every trip about 50 times more hilarious. Patrick Wu and Noe Offman were also great to have around all weekend, and I think Patrick is a great player but needs to explore the other three colors of MTG. It was great to see the Alberta crew on their home turf, Chantelle, Zak, and Michael Zhao (sorry I missed you Brett!) One of the most hilarious messages I got after winning was from Aaron Robinson who couldn’t make it because he’s in the first 1000 to level 100 Hardcore in the Diablo 4 race.

List of real ones and/or great opponents that made the weekend unforgettable:

Dmac
Marcel
Noe
Patrick Wu
Christophe 
Corey, Erin and the whole Fam
Derek
Edgar
Edouardo
Drood
Booker
Kevin Anctil
Pmayme (on les garde en QC!)
All the judge staff, with special props to Kyle Ryc and Max
All the F2F staff, for running a great event, special props to
Sal (is always watching)
Mike Hill
Kelly
Kevin P
Kyle Hooper
Miles
Damon
Scott McMeekin (we literally drafted onslaught, cubed and played all formats together infinity years ago as kids)
Fil

Off-site homies cheering me on
Sammy
Jamie
Kris
Hennick
Seb Lachance (seriously mtgquebec.ca is a lifesaver for figuring out tournaments, thank you for your service!)
Max Doré
Hayne (Doing coverage during my win, so sick! Finally have one trophy you don’t… for now…)
Alberta for being one of the provinces of all time

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