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December 16, 2016

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Going for the Gold: Grand Prix Milwaukee Recap

If you missed my Kaladesh limited format re-review last week, please click here.

Our trip to Milwaukee started on Friday when we all met in Kitchener, Ontario and traveled for a “short” 8 hour trip. I got to sleep in later than my friends on Saturday morning, oh the joy of three byes! On these magic trips, I take a bunch of protein shakes and bars with me to have for breakfast. After devouring those, I showed up earlier to the site than expected and put together the following sealed deck based on the tips I gave last week:

sealeddeckmilwaukee

The deck was good, it had some great cards in Smuggler’s Copter (which showed up once in 6 rounds) but it didn’t really have any late game bombs or the ability to turn around games. Also I was short on removal. I started off the tournament 6-1 losing to Evan Petre and his insane UW deck, before losing my last two rounds to some pretty bad luck and good topdecks from my opponents. So I went from running to limping into day 2. Somehow, I was the only person from my room to make Day Two as Joel got 2 unintentional draws on his way to a 5-2-2 record.

I’m a very superstitious person and I’ve built somewhat of a dinner tradition at most Magic events. And that tradition includes eating Dominos after Day 1 of the event. Weird right? Somehow, my best finishes have resulted from enjoying their delicious but very unhealthy pizza, and I was hoping that it wouldn’t fail me in Milwaukee. We had decided that since I was the only one still in contention and the pro points mattered to me, that we would leave if I lost my first round of the draft or 1-2d it, since there was a potential blizzard on the horizon. One of the great things about eating a lot of pizza is that it puts me asleep right away!

Sunday morning was pretty anti-climactic. The boys were still asleep when I was eating my breakfast and I left my carry-on in the room so that they could put it in the car when they checked out. Once I got to the event site, I compared my draft pod to the one that I would have been in had I won my last round. The perceived difficulty between the two was ridiculous and to give you an idea of how my first draft pod went, half of the table put their hands up to complain that the cards were facing both ways!

I ended up opening up one of the best cards in the format in Smuggler’s Copter and it was an easy slam dunk pick. Later on in the pack I was passed Ovalchase Daredevil and some other strong black cards. In pack two, I realized that white was open and I settled into my favorite archetype. Suffice to say, once the draft was over, I was excited to register my deck and see if I’d be headed home early. After a few minutes of contemplation I finally settled on my 40 cards and thought that I was a favourite to 3-0:

My First Draft Deck on Day 2

Maindeck: (40)
Swamp
Plains
Aerial Responder
Aetherborn Marauder
Ambitious Aetherborn
Aviary Mechanic
Eager Construct
Foundry Screecher
Fretwork Colony
Glint-Sleeve Artisan
Lawless Broker
Ovalchase Daredevil
Prakhata Club Security
Prakhata Pillar-Bug
Propeller Pioneer
Thriving Rats
Inventor’s Goggles
Renegade Freighter
Rush of Vitality
Smuggler’s Copter
Tidy Conclusion
Relevant Sideboard: (9)
Acrobatic Maneuver
Ballista Charger
Cogworker’s Puzzleknot
Demolition Stomper
Fortuitous Find
Inventor’s Goggles
Mind Rot
Thriving Ibex

The first match of the draft was pretty academic and my opponent was playing an Esper control deck. Things got interesting when he tanked on my Eager Construct on turn 2, when he had U and B up. I figured that he probably didn’t play a lot of Limited and thought that Revolutionary Rebuff could counter it. He eventually let the Construct resolve, and left up UUB on turn 3, so I cast my Pillar Bug rather than my Glint-Sleeve Artisan and he tried to use the Rebuff. I let him know that he couldn’t cast the card on the artifact and ensured that a judge prevented him from making a similar mistake in the future. I ended up running him over in this game and the next.

I ended up playing against a RW aggro deck in the second match, and I lost the one game when I never played a 4th land, but the quality of his cards was pretty low and he made some mistakes which further compounded his issues. The finals was against a UW control deck where my bigger creatures outclassed his defensive Aether Theorists, Thriving Turtles and Experimental Aviators. I ended up boarding in my copy of Acrobatic Maneuver to counter his Malfunction and a third Inventor’s Goggles to help fight through his high toughness creatures.

I was very happy to start the day by winning the pod and now every match win would result in at least an additional pro point for my Pro Season. My second pod of the day would also end up being relatively weak compared to the average pod at the Grand Prix and I had my hopes up that I could potentially walk away with $1000 USD and 3 pro points.

Once the draft started I took an Aetherstorm Roc which is a first pick bomb over Arborback Stomper. White was relatively open this draft and the only good cards that I had passed outside the Stomper included one Welding Sparks and 2 Hunt the Weaks. Once again I ended up in BW but that was because those cards were coming along later, and I do have a preference you know! I felt that the quality of cards opened in the pod were very weak and was hoping that I would be able to at least manage a 2-1 or a 3-0 if that was truly the case.

My Second Draft Deck on Day 2

Maindeck: (40)
Plains
Swamp
Aetherstorm Roc
Aviary Mechanic
Consul’s Shieldguard
Dhund Operative
Foundry Inspector
Foundry Screecher
Gearshift Ace
Kambal, Consul of Allocation
Propeller Pioneer
Skyswirl Harrier
Trusty Companion
Weldfast Monitor
Wispweaver Angel
Ballista Charger
Captured by the Consulate
Fragmentize
Fortuitous Find
Impeccable Timing
Inventor’s Goggles
Make Obsolete
Tidy Conclusion
Relevant Sideboard: (8)
Accomplished Automaton
Dukhara Scavenger
Eddytrail Hawk
Live Fast
Make Obsolete
Mind Rot
Ninth Bridge Patrol
Thriving Ibex

My first round opponent was the player who was passing to me and he was playing a RW aggro deck that played Pia Nalaar on turn 3 every game. He missed a few triggers and this would end up costing him each game. At the end of the match, he told me how his deck was terrible and that he hoped that everyone’s deck was as bad as him. So my hopes were up at this point in time.

Since our match took 20 minutes, I went with Jesse to grab some pizza from the venue which was my first big mistake of the day. As Jesse explained to me later, when you eat you end up losing your focus, as your appetite helps keep you alert. This would be the first and the last time that I would eat between matches without a break. My next round would pair me against Eric English who I played at GP Detroit earlier this year. In that match I was a favourite, matchup wise, but mulliganed to five both games and he was able to take the win and later achieve his first Grand Prix top 8. I was hoping this time would be different, but as you can already tell, it wasn’t going to be. He was the player who I was passing to in the draft and I assumed that he would be RG if he had followed the signals that I was sending him.

I lost game one by casting 2 white card and a Weldfast Monitor. Despite this, he assumed I was on BW and informed me that he read my article from last week, so he knew about my preferences and thoughts on the format. Our game 2 was much closer (if you could even say that), but in both games he nut drew me and our match was over very fast. In fact, a judge came by and asked me if my opponent did not show up for the round while I was packing up…that’s how fast it was over! What a dagger! #FEELSBADMAN.  In the final round, I got paired against a ridiculously good UB control deck sporting 2 copies of Essence Extraction, Renegade Freighter, Demon of Dark Schemes, etc. At least I was able to take him to 3 games, where his deck eventually overpowered mine.

It sucked to go from 10-3 to 10-5, but those are the breaks and at least I got to walk away with 1 pro point. The organization of the Grand Prix was pretty lackluster and each round took an extra 20-30 minutes which led to a lot of frustration on the part of the players. This was clearly not Pastimes best event and I may chose not to attend their Grand Prix in the future. Unfortunately, this would not be the worst experience of the weekend.

The ride home to Toronto was only supposed to be 9 hours long. Now that’s a pretty long drive for a reasonable person, but it got extended even further due to a spontaneous blizzard. The roads were littered with mixtures of ice and snow and cars that got into accidents or into ditches. On our way to the event we were going approximately 120 km/h and with all of these distractions and dangers we had to reduce it to a measly 60 km/h. We tried to battle the weather for a long time but finally during the very late hours, we finally gave in and chose to rest for the night in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In the morning we continued our drive home and finally got home another 10 hours later. I have to give a big shout out to Jesse Moulton for tackling that entire drive down, that guy is a true warrior!

Anyways, I hope that you enjoyed the view into my Grand Prix Milwaukee experience. The holidays are coming up and the magic tournaments are winding down, so make sure you get all of your holiday shopping in soon!

Until next time,

Sammy T