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September 25, 2016

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9th Place at the Kentucky Derby, I mean GP Louisville: Part 2

If you read my last article, we left off when our team was 5-1. If you haven’t had a chance to read that masterpiece yet, click here. After our round 6 victory we had very little time before the pairings went up for the next round. While team magic is especially more draining than other formats, we could definitely appreciate a fast moving tournament. These organizers were on the ball and kept the tournament moving at a fast pace which is more than I can say for some of the events I have attended in the past few years.

Round 7 paired us against a team of “unknown” but very nice players. I played against the GW player of the team whose deck had no real way of interacting with my UR deck an it was over in two games. Ochoa faced one of the worst cards for his deck in Emrakul, the Promised End, and he would end up losing as it was nearly impossible to beat. Unfortunately, Doug’s matchup was also terrible seeing that he played against a deck of all BR rares and an opponent who cast Liliana, the Last Hope on turn 3 every game to nuke one of his many 2 drop X/1 creatures. This entire round was a blur and we lost it 1-2 in rather quick fashion. With different deck pairings, this round could have easily been a win. Great, so now we were on the bubble!

Round 8 was a one sided affair and we quickly rallied back to end up at 6-2. We still had our sights on finishing the day at 7-2 to keep our dreams of a Top 4 alive. In Round 9, David once again faced down the one card that his slow grindy control deck cannot beat (Emrakul) so we knew the matchup would be rough. He was even able to cast Distended Mindbender seeing that his opponent had an Emrakul, the Promised End and Ever After in their hand. David made the right call and made him discard Emrakul but obviously the next turn the opponent drew a Grapple with the Past and was still able to cast Emrakul. Doug was able to crush his opponent pretty fast in their match and I won a quick game 1 against an opponent who chump attacked with his 2/2 into my 2/3 that I had no attachment to. He represented Clear Shot with his attack so I wanted him to use it prior to deploying Niblis of Frost on the next turn.

In team sealed because the card pools are so deep there are very few tricks available. It is usually worth wasting the opponent’s turn if they do have the trick and most times you will just get a free creature out of the deal. This ended up putting the player on tilt since I blocked and he made a couple more misplays which cost his team the match. He even refused to shake my hand at the end of the match which was surprising, since we did not have a single bad interaction during the match. Oh well, it didn’t matter…we were 7-2!

Since David was a well-known “foodie”, we had many people come up to him over the course of Saturday to introduce themselves and ask for suggestions for places to eat. We even heard of a great “game” restaurant that we chose to visit for the night. I’m more of a McDonald’s kind of guy so I ended up getting an Angus burger while Kangaroos and other game animals were eaten. It was very packed and after that dinner we were ready to call it a night so that we could be well rested and refreshed for Sunday.

Sunday:
After having breakfast at the hotel with my team and Andrew Brown’s team (which included Jiachen Tao and Eugene Hwang), we took an Uber to the event site. When covered pools were handed out on tables, I had to choose between Pool 72 and 73 which were placed in between myself and another team. I’ve always liked even numbers so I chose 72 and couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened up the pool. Here in front of us, lay some of the most busted rares and mythics that I’ve ever seen in this sealed deck format.

Wu Bombs (Doug Potter):

David's Deck

Yes, that’s right…Selfless Spirit, Spell Queller, Gisela, the Broken Blade, Archangel Avacyn and even Bruna, the Fading Light to complete the Mythic Meld combination. After we finished building all of the decks, Doug looked at us slyly and asked if he could play the white aggro deck since it did complement his strengths. Ochoa and I laughed as this was the most insane deck that we’d seen but agreed that it would probably be best to give it to Doug. The white was very good and it would be foolish to split it into two decks. The blue cards were a great supplement and were not being used by the other two decks.

BR Vampires (David Ochoa):

Doug's Deck

This was a great aggressive deck with a lot of reach and late game. We were both indifferent on which of the two remaining decks we would play. Since I got to have fun in the previous day I figured that I would let Ochoa have the opportunity to play the aggro deck and I would take on the slow grindy control deck. Which takes us to……

GBu Emerge (me):

Sammy's Deck 72

This deck was the weakest of the three, with a few bombs (Cryptbreaker, Dark Petition, and Distended Mindbender) and some great removal (Murder, Ruthless Disposal). Unfortunately, there were only four real emerge enabler cards (three Primal Druid and a Byway Courier) to go with the four Emerge creatures. We were all very happy with the outcome of deck building and really thought it was possible to go 5-0 or 4-1 at the very least.

We saw the pairings for Round 10 and I recognized the names Joe Demestrio and Austin Bursavich. Austin was the captain of their team and my opponent for the round. He’s a great player who missed Gold by a few points a few years ago. Unfortunately, this is one of those rounds where the deck matchup made playing the games a moot point. He was playing BW evasion and spirit tokens which matched up poorly versus my slow control deck with its ground defenders. This was a quick 2-0 for Austin but luckily for me Ochoa and Doug were able to win their matches decisively. Ironically, Doug drew 0 of his bombs against his opponent (Edwards), who kept complaining that Doug would draw his “one” Borrowed Grace. If only he knew….

We were paired against some relatively unknown players in Round 11 and I forget most of the details. We ended up going to a game three in the final match that pitted Doug versus their C seat player. Doug was stuck on 6 lands with a Bruna, the Fading Light in his hand while having a relatively decent board and a Gisela, the Broken Blade on the field. The opponent played a Nahiri’s Wrath killing Doug’s entire board and started to apply pressure to his life total. He was at 19 life and never drew the 7th land before dying. His opponent drew very well and killed him for exactsies before Doug was able to turn the game around. Doug’s last two draws were Archangel Avacyn and Selfless Spirit which allowed him to flip Avacyn and wrath the opponent’s board. However, the opponent had a Devil in play and due to his Thermo-Alchemist was able to finish off Doug. I have never been so disappointed to draw a castable Archangel Avacyn in limited in my life. This put us at 7-3 and out of contention for Top 4.

In Round 12 we played Alex Sittner and his team. This was a great round in that my two teammates had won their match before we finished our game three. It’s always great to rally back like that after a loss. In Round 13, we would get a rematch versus our Round 7 opponents. This time, Doug had the insane deck and got his opponent to exclaim “how it was so unfair to have a deck like that”, until I reminded him about his deck from the day before and we all chuckled. I ended up beating the middle opponent 2-0 again before Ochoa had a chance to finish off his opponent.

Since this was a team Grand Prix, there were only 5 rounds on Day Two instead of the usual 6. This round would make the difference between one pro point and three pro points. Unfortunately, I got ranched in game one as my opponent curb stomped me with what I could only describe as the God draw from BR vampires. David had also lost game one, so this put immense pressure on us to not let it get any worse. Luckily for Doug, their team had given all their best cards to my opponent so he was able to quickly overwhelm an opponent with a subpar deck, even having a flipped Archangel Avacyn and a melded Bruna, the Fading Light in one of their two games.

My opponent started off game two with a Neglected Heirloom and then a Heir of Falkenrath, and then a Weaver of Lightning to match my Kessig Prowler, Gnarlwood Dryad and Sanitarium Skeleton. I drew my fourth land to cast my Solitary Hunter. He cast Savage Alliance to do two damage to the Hunter, one damage to the Skeleton with his Weaver and then one to everyone in my team. I was getting ready to scoop my cards since I had all high costing emerge cards in my hand but since he mistargeted I was very fortunate.

He realized his mistake when I binned the appropriate creatures. He then tried to make me block with my Hunter by attacking with his Weaver. I took the 1 damage and swung back with the Hunter before sacrificing it to cast Distended Mindbender, making him remove his Murder and his Alchemist’s Greeting. He drew a swamp for his turn, equipped the Heirloom onto the Heir of Falkenrath and discarded it to attack for six to put me at thirteen. After combat, he re-equipped the Heirloom onto his Weaver (making it now a 4/6). On my turn I tanked before attacking with my 5/5 into his 4/6, he blocked and post-combat I sacrificed the Distended Mindbender to cast Lashweed Lurker putting the transformed heirloom on top of his deck, effectively also killing the Weaver of Lightning. A few turns later, I was able to outrace him.

In game three, I could tell he kept a sketchy hand and since he wasn’t conceding, he must have had a Nahiri’s Wrath. I played around it and kept a lot of my best creatures back in my hand to ensure that I won the game. He eventually did cast the card but it was far too late by that point since I deployed the rest of my hand then. This match was a big sweat since Ochoa and his opponent were going into game three. We were so happy to have finished 11-3 and celebrated with a team hug and cheer once the round was completed.

We would end up finishing in 9th place which was great for $1800 USD / team plus an additional 3 pro points for each of us. Definitely a great way to start off the Pro Tour season. I’ll be heading to GP Atlanta and then Pro Tour Hawaii very soon. So hopefully I’ll have some more good results to talk about.

Until then,

Sammy T