Power and Toughness—#GPPITT

This thing could easily stretch to 10,000 words so I’m gonna let photographs do a significant portion of the talking.

Some of the Hipsters had a testing group going for a couple of weeks leading up to Grand Prix Pittsburgh. Hunter writes brilliantly about it here. I bought a box of Gatecrash, fucking up my finances for the next two weeks (artists sometimes live on a pretty shitty budget, made shittier by their maniacal addiction to various substances and games) to slam some deck building practice as I’m not particularly good at it. This was incredibly helpful. I’d rip open six packs, build a deck, call Zach, Dana, Li, and Kadar over to talk to me about my build, suggest other builds, and then do it a few more times. They see things I don’t see and I learned a ton from these sessions. We did another sealed practice at Fat Cat, a bar in the West Village that has tons of games and tables, and while learning occurred during play the bulk of helpful information accumulated during deck construction and related discussions.

It all looked pretty cool because piles of Magic: The Gathering cards look pretty cool. Here’s a bunch of photos of them and zero discussion on our decision making processes.

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Hunter picked Kadar, Connor, and me up at Kellogg’s Diner in Williamsburg around 6am. We then drive a super quick six hours, laughing most of the way. There was a brief hour or two of dismay as Connor and Kadar both broke proper road trip etiquette and took naps, putting all the responsibility of driver entertainment on me. They were both scolded throughout the weekend.

We checked into our hotel upon arriving in Pittsburgh, ate about one fish each (freshly caught from the Allegheny River earlier in the morning) and headed to the Convention Center, checked in and played a combination of grinders, drafts, and three of us played in the 3:30 pm Standard win an uncut sheet of foils event, which our friend Josh won. He split in the finals (and won when they played), making a deal to get a quarter of his opponent’s prize packs in exchange for the uncut sheet he didn’t want. His opponent sold the sheet to a ginger-judge five minutes after the match for $100 and a Snapcaster. Nice one, Josh.

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I played Junk Reanimator in the tournament and went 3-3. Round four and six my opponents didn’t show so really I went 1-3. Yikes. Kadar played his crazy Elf Wave deck and did pretty well before hunger overwhelmed his ability to mulligan properly and he just missed Top 4. He was able to beat Jackie Lee with an 18/18 Soul of the Harvest and game two hit her with 1000 elves and top decked Craterhoof Behemoth. It was a proud moment for all.

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We all turn in and wake up way too early because Josh left the light on in the room when he headed in for his 9 am start time. Kadar, with one bye, and me, with three byes, chose the sleep in special, and couldn’t sleep past 9 am. We headed to Subway, the only place we could find to eat breakfast on a Saturday in downtown Pittsburgh, plowed through some breakfast sandwiches (including weird pre-made egg patty things), and walked a block to the venue.

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Kadar and I walked around a bunch looking at people, farting around (in Kadar’s case literally farting), looking at card pools, etc., etc. Eventually he had to to get his cards and build his deck. They wouldn’t let me do so until 12:30 for whatever reason.

I wandered around more, checked out the artists’s booths, and bought two sweet deck boxes.

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I see Mikey Scovatz for the first time in months, Birdlaw shows up, Dana, Jess, Josh, and Hunter are all there. Later in the day I see Orlando and some dudes I know through him. Lowry is milling about, too.

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Pros were everywhere. The vibe was good. I went to the three byes deck building area and waited an hour so the judges could quickly register pools to match the number of people with three byes waiting in the queue. How they didn’t have enough pools registered already is beyond me. The judges and PES (the event organizer) have a list of everyone with three byes so one would assume it’s a no brainer. Eventually we get our pools and start building.

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My black, blue, and green are incredibly weak so I steer clear of them, for the most part. The Boros cards I had were missing a few early drops. I don’t have my deck on me (for reasons I’ll discuss later) and thought I took a photo of it but I only took one of my Ziplocked pool.

My list looked something like this:

Bombs:
Wrecking Ogre Foundry Champion

Good cards:

Ripscale Predator Urbis Protector Legion Loyalist Skyknight Legionnaire Mugging Syndic of Tithes Daring Skyjek

I had good two drops but not enough to be super aggressive Boros. I had some OK three drops and Scorchwalker at four, but really I wasn’t that excited about the deck. It wasn’t quite smashy enough for me. I didn’t include the two Martial Glory I had in my deck because I figured I needed to ramp into Ogre, Predator, Protector, and Champion to win any games. Because of this I thought I needed ramp and splashed Verdant Haven. This was obviously a mistake and I sided it and Ground Assault out every game two.

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Something of note: I get a disparaging text from Hunter after he loses his second round (after zero byes) and text him back: “All you’ve got to do is win out!!!” He won his next 12 matches in a row.

Entering a tournament 3-0 is awesome.

Round 4 vs. Pittsburgh local John Dorohovich, a chef who doesn’t eat fried food

Game one I mull to six on the draw, stumble on mana, missing my third land drop, but John and I are mirror-battling with Skinbrand Goblins and doing nothing else, so eventually I catch up on lands. I Mug a Griffin and swing with my own flier. I Bloodrush a Scorchwalker onto it and win. G2 He puts Holy Mantle on a Truefire Paladin and kicks my ass. G3 He stumbles on three mana and has a fist full of four and five drops at the end of the game. My turns play out like this: T1 Loyalist. T2 Skyjek. T3 Skyknight Legionnaire, swing with all three. T4 Swing Skyknight and Skyjek, trade Skyknights. T5 Play Wrecking Ogre. T6 Attack all in, blocks Ogre with Paladin. T7 Top-deck and cast Foundry Champion killing something and swing for seven. T8 John shakes my hand and we wish each other good luck. 4-0

Round 5 vs. Lloyd Kurth

Lloyd is Boros splashing green. G1 I falter, miss extort triggers, and he Firemane Avenger’s me to death. G2 I have the nut draw, curve out, smash, and win. G3 I mull to five, keep the following: Forest, Mountain, Mugging, Skyjek, Smite. I draw Plains, Skyjek, and curve out. Lloyd has Gift of Orzhova on a Skyjek T3 and I Mug it. He says something like “Oh shit, don’t do that!” and I realize his hand is probably all lands and he was all in on Skyjek + Gift. I keep smashing into an empty board and Lloyd keeps playing lands. On his final turn he casts Act of Treason and takes my Legion Loyalist, swings, and shakes my hand. I love Magic jokes like that. “I’m gonna lose but I’ll steal your goblin and smash you with it before I quit.” Ha-ha! 5-0

Round 6 vs. Brandon Pascal

Brandon is 16 and has a sick Borzhov deck. G1 his deck just outclasses mine. G2 I mull to five and he extorts me three times per turn for a million turns. Brandon makes day two of the GP and then goes X-4 or X-5. 5-1

Round 7 vs. Greg Parker, a Southern Gentleman

G1 I win with a Wrecking Ogre-Bloodrushed Griffin. G2 I lose to Aurelia, the Warleader and Aurelia’s Fury. G3 I keep a land heavy seven cards and draw lands and Greg curves out. DO NOT KEEP LAND HEAVY HANDS. IF YOU DO YOU WILL ONLY DRAW LANDS. Greg said this was his first or second GP and he wanted to be the guy that does OK at FNM but day two’d a Grand Prix. I like that attitude and was happy for him. I wonder if he day two’d. 5-2

Round 8 vs. Ken Yukuhiro

Ken’s on the Simic + Dimir plan (which is probably not a very good plan). G1 he mulls to six and didn’t play many cards. I ran him over with battalion an a Wrecking Ogre and eventually defeated him by dropping Foundry Champion and enter the battlefielding him to the face for three. G2 he again casts next to nothing. He Psychic Strikes me, the only counterspell I faced all day. I win with Skyjek, Bombardier, Warwind Infantry, and Syndic of Tithes in play, with Foundry Champion in hand. Ken scooped after his draw on turn eight or nine when he was at 17 life. When signing the slip he dropped from the tournament. 6-2

Round 9 vs. David Averell

We’re both pretty stressed due to the match being a win-and-in to day two for both of us. I dunno if my hands were shaking as badly as David’s. It was nerve-wracking. G1 I cast Homing Lightning on his two Ember Beasts and blow him out. ONE MORE WIN AND I DAY TWO. G2 I flood out. G3 I flood out, again, and he has Assemble the Legion in play. There are 300 lands in play on my side of the board when I draw my final card: Prophetic Prism. I play it and draw another card, hoping I have some kind of answer that I can’t think of, and it’s a mother fucking Mountain. In one motion I stand up, let out an enormous groan-yell, and force crush my entire deck. Dana later said “The only thing that would’ve been more impressive would be if you tore and entire phone book in half.” Hunter laughed about my force crushing powers for the remainder of the weekend. Fucking mana flood. Of all the times it could’ve happened. My hand wasn’t even particularly mana heavy. It was incredibly frustrating. I shook David’s hand, wished him luck, and apologized for temporarily using the dark side of the force. I walked over to the closest garbage can and threw my deck away (after giving Jess my Legion Loyalist that somehow escaped the trash compactors on the detention level). 6-3, no day two for me.

All of us went and ate what was perhaps the spiciest Thai food I’ve ever had and we laughed for a few hours before wandering back to our hotels for sleep.

That night I had the most insane dreams and woke up dead tired.

Josh played in the Super Series Sealed on Sunday and got another box of Gatecrash, this time for a seventh place finish. Kadar and I both scrubbed out of the Super Sunday Series Standard tournament. At some point I got some photos with famous Magic: The Gathering pros (LSV and Zvi).

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The whole weekend was a super blast. I didn’t interview any artists for Arting Around because DAMN I just didn’t have the time  as I was playing so much Magic! Hunter did an amazing job day two’ing (I’ll let him tell his story on Friday). I can’t think of a time when I’ve had more fun in my adult life. Going to Grand Prix tournaments is the total best. We Tweeted several quotes from Hunter’s alter ego, Rolex, as we drove the six hours home to Brooklyn from Pittsburgh. I’ll leave you with a tremendous accomplishment. When I checked the final standings for #GPPITT on the Wizards site I noticed our Tweet in the stream under the pairings bracket. I took a screenshot so we’d have it forever.

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I can’t wait for the next Grand Prix and traveling with my awesome teammates!! Congratulations to all and a huge shout out to my man Hunter “Rolex” Slaton for his insane win streak, and 56th place finish!!!

Lots of love,
Matt
The_Obliterator

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Comments
4 Responses to “Power and Toughness—#GPPITT”
  1. David McCoy says:

    Nice hair!

    (Really, I mean it!)

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  1. […] Hunter in Pittsburgh, Matt Jones came this close to his own Day Two glory but ended up force-crushing his deck, instead, and Jess […]

  2. […] stories and getting an amazing “horse truck” tweet on Wizards’ GP Pittsburgh update page. (See Matt Jones for more.) In the end, Brock won the whole thing, with his BW “Zairichi control” special. He deserved to […]



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