Day Two I woke up at 7am, took a shower and got ready. Woke up the rest of my friends and started durdling on facebook while I wait for them. I told myself if I did well at this GP, I’d consider going to the foreign GPs to try and chase Level 6. I had just been payed few days ago, so I went online and start looking at flight prices. Five minutes later, I was down one pay check and up one flight to Milan. I guess I knew this whole time that regardless of how I did I was going to go anyway. But now with it being official, the pressure was definitely on to do well on Day 2. Having drafted m12 over that past couple of months, I came to the conclusion that red, white, and green were the three best colors to draft. This format is very aggressive and those colors provide the most aggressive cards. Regardless of this I’m not one to really force a color going into a draft; I like to be open and just read the table signals.
I sat down for draft 1 and the only people I recognized were Jake Gagnon (up and coming player from Connecticut) and Tim Sussino (one of my favorite people to hang out with at tournaments and someone who has posted some solid finishes over the years). Oh yeah, and hall of famer Brian Kibler. I was 7-2, so I knew I couldn’t afford to drop a match all day so it was going to be a grind for sure. I opened my 1st pack and waving at me with a smiley face is Inferno Titan. Can’t start a draft much better than that. I then got passed a 2nd pick Chandra’s Outrage– so things are going well. The 3rd pick was a tough one between Gravedigger and Garruk’s Companion. As I mentioned before, I feel that green is one of the best colors, whereas I don’t value black as highly. But Gravedigger is definitely the better card, and it looked like a clear signal that black was open. My 4th pick was between Goblin Fireslinger and Lurking Crocodile. I’m a huge fan of the Croc, and was very upset that I hadn’t taken the Companion. But I couldn’t jump ship for just a Crocodile so I took the Fireslinger, who works well in a BR bloodthirst deck. The 5th pick is where everything changed as I got passed a pack with Garruk’s Companion, Lurking Crocodile, AND Cudgel Troll. I slam down the Troll and never look back. When my 12th pick of the pack ended up being my 2nd Lurking Crocodile, I knew I was good to go for Red/Green. Pack 2 was good as I got an Incinerate, a 3rd pick Primordial Hydra and a 5th pick Blood Ogre. In pack 3, Jade Mage, Gorehorn Minotaurs, and a couple of Companions joined the party, and we were off to building. This is what I ended up playing:
I felt really confident with the deck and with the lack of blue I saw in the whole draft I was definitely excited to have 3 Lurking Crocodiles. Round 1 I’m paired against the guy that was to my right so I knew he was white. Turns out he was on UW and had multiple Pacifisms, Mind Control, and Serra Angel. The first two games ended up being grinds but the third game he stumbled on mana and I curved out and burned him out. Round 2 I played against Brian Kibler and having caught a glimpse of his deck from watching his rd 1 match, I knew it was really good. He won the roll but opted to let me play first (I felt my deck was better on the play so I was happy with that). In the first game I managed to hold down his Child of Night with an un-thirsty Blood Ogre while beating in with a couple of Lurking Crocodiles. He slowed me down a bit with two Aether Adepts and even ran 1 into my Blood Ogre so he could Gravedigger it back and replay it. But he couldn’t find an answer to either Crocodile and I took the first game. Game 2 I keep a bad and get mana screwed while he hit me 5 times with a Child of Night. I stabilized for about a turn before he killed me with a Sengir Vampire. Game 3 I kept a hand with all forests, Cudgel Troll, Lurking Crocodile, and Swiftfoot Boots. He couldn’t find double blue for most of the game and my mono green draw plus Boots was enough to take it down.
Round 3 was the fastest match of the weekend by far. My opponent won the roll and played first and to my surprise he was green. His first three turns he played 3 forests, a Llanowar Elves, and a Lurking Crocodile. It appeared he was mono-green, so I chose to play a Primordial Hydra on turn 3. For the rest of the game we just clot the board with guys until my Hydra becomes a 16/16. I attacked. He opted not to block, and I casted Fling on the Hydra post combat. Game 2 was pretty unreal as I only played 4 spells and it was more than enough to win the game. The game went like this: Turn 4 I played Giant Spider which got destroyed by Chandra’s Outrage. On turn 7 I played Primordial Hydra, this time for 5. Turn 8 he became a 10/10, and I attacked. Again the opponent opted not to block. Before damage I played Hunter’s Insight my Hydra [Editor’s note: lol]. I began to draw my 10 cards, stopping halfway to show him the Fling I just drew. With that I 3-0’d my first pod, and still had a shot at making top 8.
When standings went up I was in 9th place so that’d mean I’d be in pod 2. I looked at the players from 10th-16th place and knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Some of the other players in that pod were David Ochoa, Sam Black, Reid Duke, Tim Landale, and Ben Lundquist. We sit down for pod 2 and I have Reid Duke to my left and Ben Lundquist to my right. Pack 1 I opened Mind Control and nothing else so it was an easy pick. I then get passed a pick 2 Stingerfling Spider and a pick 3 Acidic Slime. At this point it was clear that I was going to be green for sure. Pack 2 I opened Druidic Satchel. I find that card to be a little underrated and although it’s not a bomb, it does some pretty unfair things. I picked up some other quality cards like Divination, Aether Adept, Chasm Drake, and Giant Spider. Then pack 3 I opened Grave Titan and just sighed at the fact that I opened him now and not pack 1. But my deck had a Rampant Growth already and I wasn’t about to pass the 2nd best rare in M12. Having taken the Titan I ended up taking a 3rd pick Manalith and a 5th pick Drowned Catacomb in this pack. I got some other quality cards and overall, so I feel like I had a good draft. I wasn’t all that comfortable with 3 colors, especially in draft, but I knew I had the fixing to make it work. This is what my deck looked like:
The deck was definitely solid and I felt that I had a good shot of going 2-0 and possibly drawing into t8 in the last round. Round 1 I played against Guillaume Daoust who was playing BW aggro. He played Tormented Soul, multiple Warpath Ghouls and Bloodrage Vampire. I managed to stop the Ghouls with Giant Spider and Amphin Cutthroat but the Soul kept getting through bringing me down to 10. I dropped a Chasm Drake and passed. He played Hideous Visage and attacked with everyone. I Turn to Frog on his Vampire and went down to 3. I dropped another Drake and attacked him for 5 putting him on a two turn clock so I’m winning the race. But the very next turn he played Mighty Leap on his Tormented Soul and we were off to Game 2. In Game 2 I chose to draw since I was 3 colors and my opponent kept a 1 land hand without Tormented Soul. He didn’t draw a land for a couple of turns and had to discard but he hit on turn 4 and began dropping 2 drops each turn. Since my deck was kind of controlish I didn’t have any pressure early and he was able to draw his way back into the game. A timely Grave Titan hit my board on turn 6 and I was easily able to win game 2. Game 3 he was on the play and again didn’t have a first turn Tormented Soul. His only action was a couple of Duskhunter Bats, but I easily held down his entire team with a pair of Giant Spiders. He ended up man-flooding and I took the game down with two Chasm Drakes. After the round I found out that Reid, Sam, and David all won so I would be playing one of them next round for a shot at my 1st top 8.
Pairings went up for round 2 and I was up against Reid Duke. Reid has been on fire this year having Top 8’d GP Providence, and is well known for his success on MTGO. We know each other fairly well and both knew it would be a tough match. Reid won the roll and chose to play first. We played draw go for a while as his first 4 land drops were all mountains. He played an Island and passed and I played Acidic Slime destroying his Island. He played a Goblin Piker and passed. I got in with my Slime and he took the 2. I played my 7th land and cast Carnage Wurm as a 9/9. I passed the turn and realized that if he had Act of Treason + Fling he could deal exactly 20 damage to me. So I was a bit nervous when he played his land, but he didn’t have anything and conceded. Games 2 and 3 were very frustrating for me as in each game he managed to play a turn 5 or 6 Jace, Memory Adept with blockers and an empty board on my side. There’s no beating that card in this format. Just like that I found myself falling short yet again. I congratulated Reid and wished him luck in the Top 8.
Even though I was upset about missing out on another Top 8, there was still work to be done. There were still crucial Pro Points (and money) on the line so once again I had to get my head back in the game. Standings went up and I was in 12th place, with the best tiebreaks of all the 11-3s. As it turned out, Reid and Sam, the two 2-0s in our pod, couldn’t draw and had to play it out. There was an outside shot that I could still make it. In round 3 I was paired against my buddy Tim Landale. We were both playing for our own reasons so neither could scoop to the other so we played it out. He was on mono-white splashing green for Jade Mage. In the first game he had Pacifism for my Chasm Drake and my Giant Spider while I had the less exciting Ice Cage for his Peregrine Griffin. He managed to get a couple of attacks in with a Griffin Rider until I drew my Stingerfling Spider to deal with it. The game went on for few more turns until I drew my Acidic Slime to destroy the Pacifism on my Drake and attack for lethal. In Game 2 I was able to establish control, but couldn’t find a way to finish him off. He started to build up and army of creatures that included three soldiers from a Timely Reinforcements without the life gain. I mana-flooded most of the game and once he had enough creatures his alpha strike plus Guardians’ Pledge deals lethal. Game 3 he had a slow draw and my Giant Spider and Amphin Cutthroat held the board down until I drew Grave Titan which sealed the match and gave me a chance at Top 8. I began to scout some of the matches and met up with Brian Kibler who also won this round having been paired against one of the remaining 12-2s. We knew that if a 12-3 would T8 it would come down to me and him. We saw that Lino Burgold, who was 12-2, was being forced to play it out by his opponent who was a lock for T8. If Lino lost then either I or Brian would get in but as it turns out he won in 3 games and when the standings came out for round 15 it was a clean cut and I was in 9th.
It was definitely disappointing to come so close again and fall short, but if you had told me before the weekend that I would have to settle for 9th, I would’ve been happy with that. I won $600 and 4 pro points putting me on a total of 21 Pro Points for the season. It was a relief to officially lock up level 4 for the next season. Now I can only shoot higher. I’ll be in Milan, Italy this weekend for the Innistrad limited GP. I only need 9 more Pro Points to reach Level 6 now and a big finish here will go a long way towards that. Thanks for reading and hopefully I can come back from Milan with some good stories and maybe even a GP trophy 😛
Wish me luck!