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July 28, 2017

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Going for the Gold – Onward to Kyoto? (Part 1)

Welcome back to Going for the Gold, your new favourite weekly column on Magic the Gathering.

The last two weekends have been extremely busy for me as I had Grand Prix Toronto, and Pro Tour Kyoto. At the end of Pro Tour Kyoto, the professional magic year comes to a close and all the Pro Levels, National Captaincies, and World Slots (including teams) are decided for the coming year.

Luckily for me, with my finish at Grand Prix Vegas I was locked for Gold once I attend Pro Tour Kyoto and had a six point lead in the UK captaincy rate.

But, I recently took on a new job as a sales representative within my current company, which has proven to be quite the adjustment. With everything going on in my life right now, I decided that I would avoid attending the Pro Tour if I could, and that required me to gain three points somewhere else.

Oh what’s that you say? A Grand Prix in my backyard?

There was another pesky thing in my way, the nefarious Grand Prix cap which uses the pro points from your six best Grand Prix finishes of the year. My slots looked something like this:

4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1

So in order to +3 net points, I would need to Top 8 the Grand Prix.

GP Toronto was a Limited Grand Prix, which is a mixed bag for me. I hate Sealed, since I always open garbage and have to slog through fields of bombs. It’s always a sinking feeling when you get asked to win with a pile that’s as effective as a ham sandwich in a surgery.

On the contrary, I love Drafting as that’s where you can show your 40 card chops. So I watched Twitch for weeks and learned from Michael Jacob, one of the best Sealed players on the planet. I’ve typically agreed with most of his decisions, and I ran approximately 20 Sealed leagues on Magic Online to great success.

The premise of Sealed is that you want to play your best cards while minimizing playing your worst ones. In your average Sealed format, that means playing all your best removal and avoiding cards that are only good in the first few turns. I’m looking at you, Defiant Khenra.

On Magic Online, my average pool was a 6.5/10, which is a few removal spells, a bomb or two and a mix of decent creatures and tricks. My friend Mark Dizon informed me that there were a couple high value sealed tournaments happening on the Friday before, $30 entry and a 3-0 got you 2 boxes.

Game on! My first pool was a 6.5/10, and here’s a pic of it:

pool1

I was able to 3-0 the pod (and picked up two boxes of Amonkhet) since the players I faced broke most of the rules in my article from last week, and also had sloppy mechanics which just punished them further.

My only complaint about the first event was we started at 10 am, and when I finished playing round three, it was 5:30 pm! Kelly, always a good sport, gave everyone who was still in the event an extra three packs as an apology for the logistical issues they were having.

The second one of these events launched at 6:30 pm and my pool was a 4/10. The same quality of players with the same potential for mistakes kept my hopes from being totally dashed. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of this pool. But trust me, it was bad. A four colour monstrosity with no fixing splashing red for a Struggle // Survive .

This time I lost a close game three after being 2-0 when my opponent, who was dead on board, ended up topdecking the white trial to exactly lethal me. So I walked away with 24 packs. Yes, you got prizes even if you didn’t get the 3-0.

My friends Kai Burnett and Nick Cummings were staying with me for the weekend, so we called it an early night despite Sam Rolph beckoning us to go to a midnight rave with him.

Every morning in Vegas, Kai would wake me up with a breakfast crepe, so I was excited to show him this amazing breakfast place near my condo. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open nearly as early as we needed it to be on a Saturday so we settled on Cora’s. I was the only one of the three playing in the main event so once my byes were about to expire, I sat down to deckbuild and was horrified as I snuck a peak at the deck reg sheet that was wrapped around my pool.

Zero copies of most of the top commons and uncommons in the set was a bad start, and when I unwrapped the pool I saw this staring right back at me on top of all the cards.

Pretty ominous right?

I was able to take this trainwreck of a pool and build a mediocre control deck that let me beat players who broke the rules of Sealed I mentioned above. After my mishap with multiple Drake Havens at Grand Prix Richmond, I was hesitant to play with the card again to say the least. Here’s what I played in the main event:

mainevent

Beggars can’t be choosers, and thankfully my three byes allowed me to limp into Day Two with a 6-3 finish. For those of you keeping track, that means that I actually won as much as I lost with this pool, which is typically a bad record for a Grand Prix.

In rounds four and five, my opponents both had no byes and two gods each, but somehow I was able to sneak away with the win. So when I sat down at 5-0 for my feature match against Dustin Knox and he let me know that he had zero byes as well, I laughed and said that my last two opponents had no byes and played two gods each.

He laughed and said it would be different this time. He then cast the following in successive turns:

 

There went my undefeated record.

I would end up losing round eight and nine to decks that just had too much removal, plus a bunch of late game bombs, and recursive threats. At 6-3, I would now have to Top 8 the Grand Prix in order to not go to Pro Tour Kyoto. Typically this would be impossible, but a bunch of recent Canadian GPs had an X-3 make it to the elimination rounds, so I wasn’t out of hope yet.

Tune in next week to see what happened in Toronto and how Pro Tour Kyoto went, if I ended up going…

Also, how did your Grand Prix weekend go? Post it in the comments below or tweet at me (@SammyTMTG). And, if you want to keep up with my articles and happenings, please make sure you hit the follow button on Twitter.

Sammy T