Christian Calcano’s GP Montreal Report: Day One

Hey guys, some of you may know me already but for those who don’t, let me introduce myself. My name’s Christian Calcano and I’m a 22 year old pro player from New York City. I’ve been playing Magic competitively since 2004, and hadn’t made it onto the Pro Tour until my breakout season in 2010. With 2011 being my first full year on the PT, I had decided going in that I would make full use of my pro level and go to as many GPs as I can to try and attain a higher level in the Pro Players Club.

I started off 2011 somewhat strong finishing 56th in PT Paris and 10th in GP Denver. But the rest of the year had been rough for me. Failed to cash at 4 GPs and came in 201st at PT Nagoya to miss out on a crucial extra pro point. I managed to post a good finish in the summer with a top 16 at GP KC. But after a subpar top 64 finish at GP Pittsburgh, and my worst showing ever in a PT at PT Philly, I was sitting on 17 pro points and was pretty upset with my results. Knowing GP Montreal was right around the corner, and limited being my best game, I was excited to get back into the grind. I decided to do some sealed DEs and drafts on mtgo to prepare for the GP. I went 1-3 and 2-2 in 2 sealeds and failed to make the finals of any of my drafts. Not what I had hoped for of course, but I felt like I knew the format well and was ready to take down this GP.

Friday came and I was excited to be heading to Montreal. I drove up with some friends and the ride didn’t feel long at all which was sweet. We got to the site at around 4pm and I started looking for familiar faces. I notice Edgar “Prooooo” Flores and Nick Spagnolo grinding it out for some byes and soon enough all the other regulars started to arrive. Once registration started, my roommate Max Tietze and I  debated doing the “Sleep-in Special” that was offered at the GP. If you had 3 byes you could pay an extra $10 and skip the deck swap process in the morning. Come in at 11:45am and build from a pool that was preregistered by judges. We couldn’t come to an agreement, so we decided to flip a coin.  Sure enough it landed on “heads”, which meant opting for the special. It turned out to be the best possible decision, and I hope they do those at future limited GPs. After playing the board game“Dixit” with Sam Black and others, I went to dinner with Brian Kibler, Ben Stark and some other friends. I don’t recall the name of the place but the food was amazing, the waitresses were all very attractive, and their bathroom was beyond insane. There was a radio tuned in to the hockey game and in between two sinks there were a bunch of small towels for you to dry your hands. Then to the right next to the door, was an NBA sized backboard and hoop with a basket underneath. After laughing at how ridiculous this was I took my shot and it was all net, obviously. I got back to my room and got the full 8 hours of sleep thanks to the Sleep-in Special. After showering and grabbing some breakfast I was ready to accept the fate that was my GP Montreal sealed deck. Everyone was taken to the back of the room and our names were called one by one, and everyone got a pool.

This is what I opened:

Non-Basic Lands: 

1 Drowned Catacomb

Artifacts:

1 Greatsword

1 Manalith

1 Kite Shield

1 Solemn Simulacrum

1 Scepter of Empires

White:

2 Alabaster Mage

2 Auramancer

2 Lifelink

1 Pacifism

1 Stonehorn Dignitary

1 Benalish Veteran

1 Arbalest Elite

1 Roc Egg

1 Stave Off

Blue:

2 Amphin Cutthroat

2 Merfolk Looter

2 Skywinder Drake

2 Jace’s Erasure

1 Merfolk Mesmerist

1 Frost Breath

1 Ponder

1 Unsummon

1 Flashfreeze

1 Divination

1 Azure Mage

1 Cancel

1 Master Thief

1 Coral Merfolk

1 Negate

1 Mind Control

Black:

2 Devouring Swarm

2 Taste of Blood

1 Brink of Disaster

1 Mind Rot

1 Doom Blade

1 Child of Night

1 Bloodlord of Vaasgoth

1 Gravedigger

1 Blood Seeker

1 Drifting Shade

1 Zombie Goliath

Red:

3 Slaughter Cry

2 Manic Vandal

2 Combust

1 Scrambleverse

1 Warstorm Surge

1 Fireball

1 Bonebreaker Giant

1 Fling

1 Goblin Fireslinger

1 Goblin Piker

1 Goblin Arsonist

1 Goblin Tunneler

1 Firebreathing

1 Tectonic Rift

1 Lightning Elemental

Green:

2 Garruk’s Companion

1 Greater Basilisk

1 Hunter’s Insight

1 Bountiful Harvest

1 Runeclaw Bear

1 Brindle Boar

1 Rampant Growth

1 Skinshifter

1 Stingerfling Spider

1 Arachnus Web

1 Jade Mage

1 Giant Spider

1 Gladecover Scout

 

I felt like I had good cards in multiple colors and had enough fixing and card draw to make the deck work. This is what I ended up playing:

 Creatures:

2 Merfolk Looter

2 Skywinder Drake

1 Amphin Cutthroat

1 Azure Mage

1 Jade Mage

1 Stingerfling Spider

1 Skinshifter

1 Giant Spider

1 Bloodlord of Vaasgoth

1 Gravedigger

1 Solemn Simulacrum

Spells:

1 Mind Control

1 Divination

1 Cancel

1 Negate

1 Arachnus Web

1 Rampant Growth

1 Warstorm Surge

1 Fireball

1 Doom Blade

1 Manalith

Lands:

1 Drowned Catacomb

7 Island

6 Forest

2 Swamp

1 Mountain

I was a bit concerned about getting awkward draws like drawing lands of a certain color and spells of a different etc. But I felt that the upside of playing all my bombs was too good, and well worth the risk of getting color screwed. Fortunately on Day 1, my deck gave me a lot of action, didn’t mulligan much and didn’t have many mana issues at all.

Round 4 I played against Alexander West.  He chose to draw first despite having an aggressive deck, a decision that I agree with. I think in this format, even if you have an aggressive deck, most people’s decks will be 3 or more colors and those decks always want to draw first. Game 1 I beat him after drawing Warstorm Surge + Azure Mage when I was dead on board to remove his blocker and attack for lethal. Game 2 I had full control with Azure Mage + Jade Mage, and ended up Fireballing him out. After winning my following two rounds I was 6-0 and was paired against Andrew Noworaj. His deck was B/R Bloodthirst and featured Furyborn Hellkite and Bloodlord of Vaasgoth. We went the full 3 games and in the 3rd I just couldn’t find an answer to his not so thirsty 3/3 Bloodlord and I died to it in 4 turns. In round 8 I was quickly destroyed by Jason Liu who, had an extremely aggressive G/R deck featuring Sacred Wolf, Lurking Crocodile, and double Goblin War Paint.

The wheels had fallen off and the tilt was creeping in, so I decided to use the 30+ minutes left in the round to cool off. I ran into Gerard Fabiano (my favorite pro) and Stephanie Mualim (she was a part of the Truth Tour and had come to Montreal to hang out with Gerard). We went downstairs where they basically calmed me down and got me back into a positive mindset, something I really needed and I am thankful to them for helping me out. When the pairings went up for the last round all I was thinking was that there was no way I was losing this round.  I look up and see I’m paired against PT San Juan Top 8-er Noah Swartz. We were both unhappy that one of us would end up not making day 2, but that’s what happens at these GPs sometimes. Unfortunately the games don’t end up being close, as Noah had some poor draws and never got anything going in either game.

So I managed to make day 2 at 7-2 and go out to dinner with Gerard, Stephanie, Matt Boccio, Ben Lundquist, and Orrin Beasley. After deciding on going to a “Poutine” place (poutine is French fries, cheese, and gravy, actually just the stones) we took a cab and arrived to line of people waiting at the door. Apparently poutine is quite popular in Montreal. After 20 minutes, and joking about how many times we “broke the law” in the past week, we were finally seated. There were several kinds of poutine, and Orrin and I opted for poutine with bacon and pepperoni. It was way better than I thought it would be, and I was so happy we went to dinner there. By far the best play of the weekend for sure and if I’m ever in Montreal again, I’ll make sure to have some again. I chose to opt out of the post dinner beverage activities in favor of sleep, since I had a GP to win. Apparently I’ve written way more than I thought I would, but in my next article I’ll go over day 2. Both decks I drafted, who I played, the bad beats, and more. This is my first article and I’m looking to write more in the future so any feedback would be greatly appreciated, see you guys next week!

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