Sammy Talk: Super Sunday Series Montreal – 1st!
It’s been a long time since I spiked a tournament. Unfortunately, as great as winning the Super Sunday Series is, if you told me at the start of the weekend that I was going to win an event, this would not have been the one that I was hoping it would be. I’m probably getting ahead of myself, so let me introduce myself. My name is Sammy T, and I’m a gold Pro from Toronto, Canada. It’s been my biggest goal since I started playing magic competitively to win a Grand Prix. I will be writing a column for MTG Canada every Friday, and I hope that together we can become better magic players.
So back to the last weekend: This was going to be the first limited Grand Prix that I would get to play in since I refocused myself on Limited. I had already seen great results from my preparation at the Pro Tour stage, culminating in a top 4 birth in the Draft Master competition. Better yet, 2nd (Christian Calcano) and 3rd (Marcio Carvalho) in the rankings had received one of their three losses from me during the Pro Tour season. Due to the Visa problems surrounding Pro Tour Sydney I decided to skip it, as three pro points were promised to all players who were qualified, but didn’t show and this would lock up Gold for me. This was a tough decision since I was in contention for Draft Master, but I would need Jon Finkel to have a complete meltdown to win the slot, and that was something I would not bet on. Also, my entire team bailed on the Pro Tour since they were allowed to defer their invites to Hawaii so I figured I wasn’t going to do the 23 hour flight there and back alone.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, this bode really well for my potential at Grand Prix Montreal. All the best players in the world would be competing in Grand Prix Sydney, and I had practiced limited as if I was going to the Pro Tour. I knew from practice sealeds and drafts that I had done leading up to the event that it was evident that most players didn’t have a clue about this format. I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, and promptly got my heart broken since my pool had Harmless Offering, Harness the Storm, Sigarda’s Aid and Deploy the Gatewatch. I looked hastily through the uncommons and commons and they were no better, and I quickly exited the tournament at a paltry 3-4 drop. Although, I have to thank Charles Mandeville for only playing one land in each game which allowed me to get a win on the board.
Only Michael Hennick from my car made day two so I was stuck in Montreal for another day. After a late night conversation with Kris Kavanagh, my other buddy who has recently started playing competitive magic again, we decided to check out the Super Sunday Series the next day as the payouts looked insane. Now, I have never played this event before as it is usually jam packed with 300+ players, but somehow only around 110 players showed up to battle. I figured this would be a great event to utilize all of my preparation for the Grand Prix.
Luckily, I opened a pool that was a 7/10, it included a few great removal spells (Lightning Axe, Alchemist’s Greeting and a Galvanic Bombardment, Murder, Boon of Emrakul), a few bombs (Flameblade Angel, Assembled Alpha) and some great role players (two Weaver of Lightning, one Midnight Scavenger). Unfortunately, the curve for the Black-Red deck wasn’t quite there. I did have some great white cards that looked great in the early and the long-game (Subjugator Angel, Lone Rider, Spectral Reserves, Nearheath Chaplain). After nearly timing out, I registered a red-white deck but kept the red-black grindy deck in mind if my opponent was playing a very hyper aggressive deck. I made the transformational switch twice, as the red-black deck had a plethora of spells to abuse the Weaver of Lightnings and my opponents had shown a lot of X/1 creatures. I ended up winning the first five rounds, despite some mana issues and mana flooding in about half of games before drawing twice into the top 8.
I was asked why I didn’t try to knock my last round opponent out of the top 8 so that I would be the highest seed after the Swiss. The issue with doing this is that it creates bad blood and Magic players remember the people who do that to other players. If you have ever been in the position where you are hoping your last round opponent who got paired down to you will draw with you, you should not be hypocritical and try to maximize percentages by not returning the favour to other players. This is, of course my opinion and I’m sure many of you will disagree as it does lower your chances of winning the tournament.
The top 8 draft included only one player that I recognized, the player that I had drawn into the top 8 in the last round with, and he would be passing to me in pack one and three. The draft was called and the cards were not sleeved so you could see when someone picked a flip card. The draft had gone really well for me. I had first picked a Shrill Howler before getting passed a Tangleclaw Werewolf, an Ulvenwald Captive, a Kessig Prowler and another Tangleclaw Werewolf. If you’re keeping up, that means that the first five cards that I picked that were visible to all players, were five green werewolves. I would go on to open a Murder in pack two, get some more awesome werewolves and dabble in a few splashes before settling in on Green Black. In pack three, I opened Duskwatch Recruiter and I was over the moon.
1 Duskwatch Recruiter
1 Gnarlwood Dryad
1 Graf Rats
1 Hinterland Logger
1 It of the Horrid Swarm
1 Kessig Prowler
1 Midnight Scavenger
1 Shrill Howler
1 Swift Spinner
2 Tangleclaw Werewolf
3 Ulvenwald Captive
1 Watcher in the Web
Relevant Sideboard Cards:
You’re probably wondering why Watcher in the Web and Swift Spinner made it into my deck despite the high power level of my sideboard. Since this was a single elimination tournament and I felt like I was much better than the competition and my deck was way better, the only way I felt I could lose is to a fast aggressive start backed up with fliers. If this was a Pro Tour, I probably would have not started both of those cards as records hold much more weight.
I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that this deck was very strong relative to the competition’s decks. I’ll just talk about the games that I remember. In my quarter-finals (I was on the draw due to seed), I won game 1 when my opponent blocked my Shrill Howler with his Woodland Patrol on my turn four. One Waxing Moon later and his creature died, he took one damage due to trample and I made an Eldrazi 3/2 token. My semi-finals opponent (on the draw again, maybe I should have played it out!) had a great blue-red tempo deck but made some awkward plays that made it very difficult for him to stay in the game.
My finals opponent (the same guy I drew with in Round 7, so I was finally on the play) and I decided to re-arrange the prizes so that winner got 3000 tickets and the invite (good for 300 packs) and loser got 6000 tickets (600 packs). Both of us wanted the win, but I came out on top in the end. He did make a game losing blunder in game 1 where he could have moved his Bound by Moonsilver onto my Tangleclaw Werewolf that could block two creatures. This would have made me take lethal damage exactly but since he did not my Murder blew him out and he lost his entire board. Game two, my deck overpowered him and the rest as they say is history.
It’s been about two years since I’ve last won a tournament (a 300 player PTQ), and this just put the fire back in me to play more events. Until next time!