Playing Like a Girl at GP Van
When we last left off, our heroine (that’s me) was deciding on what tweaks to make to her Naya Titan Breach deck. She had recently top 8ed the Face to Face Edmonton 3k, and was setting her sights on Grand Prix Vancouver. Well, Grand Prix Vancouver was last weekend and those tweaks seemed to have worked!
1549 people gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre to battle for Modern supremacy, and after slogging it through 15 taxing rounds, my scrappy Naya deck emerged at 12-3, locking up 24th place, Play-It-Forward’s Top Finishing Female/Non-Binary Player, and my first three pro points! This was my weapon of choice:
Nayahiri Breach – Chantelle Campbell
In my tournament report for the Face to Face Edmonton 3K I talked about the changes I was considering as Grand Prix Vancouver approached. These updates included adding a Plains to the board and switching my one-of Obstinate Baloth to a Prismatic Omen. In a couple of last-minute decisions I also decided to trim one of the Anger of the Gods in the main for one more Simian Spirit Guide, as well as cutting one of the Crumble to Dust in the board for a one-of Ancient Grudge. My testing partners expected a fair amount of linear combo, and I believed having an extra Simian Spirit Guide to assist in comboing off a turn earlier than my opponents would prove more beneficial than a third Anger. Tron was also proving to be an easier opponent than I had previously anticipated. While I still wanted Crumble to Dust for Tron and the wide variety of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle decks, I felt that a single Ancient Grudge could help shore up far more unfavourable matchups. Personally, I was looking for Ancient Grudge to assist me in slowing down decks such as Affinity, Lantern Control and Ad Nauseum.
After playing through two days of Modern, I can certainly say that the format is not solved. In thirteen rounds (I was lucky enough to win a Grand Prix Trial to start my first day off with two byes), I faced: GW Tron, Naya Zoo, Death’s Shadow Aggro, Blue Moon, GR Tron, Ad Nauseum, RW Humans, Bant Knightfall, Boros Burn, Eldrazi Tron, Skred Red and Affinity. The only deck on that list that I faced twice was Ad Nauseum – one of my worst matchups.
I finished Day One at 6-3, with my losses coming from Ad Nauseum, a spicy Blue Moon deck featuring Madcap Experiment combo, and a Boros Humans tribal deck. The Blue Moon – Madcap Experiment deck was piloted by fellow Albertan James Lloyd, and we met in the sixth round, both undefeated. This was the only match throughout the weekend where I felt that my white splash was detrimental, as he quickly took game one on the play with a turn three Blood Moon, following it up with a turn four Madcap Experiment into Platinum Emperion. In game two I mulliganed to five, not seeing a green source in three hands but deciding to keep a five card hand with a Sacred Foundry and a scry. In hindsight I should definitely have mulliganed to four, as he took game two with a similar turn three Blood Moon into turn four Madcap Experiment while I floundered without green mana. If that Sacred Foundry had been a Stomping Ground, while that game would have still been a challenge, it would not have been unwinnable.
My last opponent of the day was playing RW Humans. It was his birthday, and he was running hot! This was the only match of the weekend that I lamented cutting that third Anger of the Gods, as I didn’t see it once in the three games that we played. Post-board I was able to take game two by chaining Primeval Titan into Primeval Titan, but in game three he cast an unexpected Crumble to Dust on my Valakut the turn before I could run out Titan. In the turn that followed I was forced to fetch and shock to cast the Blessed Alliance that would force him to sacrifice a creature while I gained four life, but that dropped me down to three and he had the Lightning Helix in response.
With that loss I finished the day at a rather disheartening 6-3, and out of top 8 contention. And with the pressure off I came back for Day Two. While I could still cash, I was simply hoping for learning experiences to help me continue to level up my game, while cheering on my fellow Edmontonians at 8-1 and 7-2. Another player entering day two at 7-2 was Calgarian Jennifer Crotts, a talented lady planeswalker who has been putting up impressive results over the last year, including being the top finishing female player at Grand Prix Denver. Jen and I have been challenging each other and cheering each other on as the best female players in Alberta at every opportunity, but Grand Prix Vancouver would take this friendly rivalry to new heights.
Play It Forward is a non-profit organization that was recently founded to encourage women and non-binary persons to become more involved in competitive Magic by offering prizes (and bragging rights) to the top-performing female or non-binary player at North American Grand Prixs. For Grand Prix Vancouver, the prizes included compensation for future GP registrations, booster packs (including a pack of Revised!), a limited-edition Chandra mug and pin, a one-of-a-kind Play It Forward playmat, and a mentorship with Pro Player Jacob Wilson! Jen and I were two of five or six female and non-binary players that made it to Day Two, and we both had our eyes on the prize.
I rattled off five quick wins in Day Two against Bant Knightfall, Boros Burn, Eldrazi Tron, Skred Red and Affinity. Jen in turn went 4-1, only losing to fellow Calgarian and 11th place finisher Michael Penner on 8-Rack. That put us both at 11-3, neck and neck for the prize with only one round to go. As I sat down at table 2019 for the final round of the tournament, with Jen only two tables away, we both knew that this would be the deciding round for both of us.
My opponent played his first land – a Gemstone Mine, using it to cast a Serum Visions, and my heart sank. This could only mean one thing: Ad Nauseum, my worst matchup. I saw the top finishing female/non-binary title slip away. He suspended a Lotus Bloom and followed that up with a turn two Pentad Prism. I ran out a Nahiri, the Harbinger, ticking her up to dig for possible answers, even though I knew my opponent had the potential to go off the following turn as his Lotus Bloom came off suspend. However, instead of comboing off he simply played a second Pentad Prism and shipped it back to me. He didn’t have combo in hand! I had a chance! I ticked up Nahiri, The Harbinger once more and was forced to give him one more chance to combo, although he once again came up empty. After he shipped back the turn, I was able to minus Nahiri to put an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn onto the battlefield, ushering us into game two.
Against Ad Nauseum my game plan was to slow the combo deck down anyway I possibly could. This meant that the Stony Silences, the Reclamation Sage, and the Ancient Grudge all came in (eating a Pentad Prism isn’t a lot, but it’s something). He started off on the play, suspending two Lotus Blooms, but my hand had the perfect answer. I was able to cast a turn two Stony Silence that went unanswered, and followed that up with a turn four Nahiri. The Lotus Blooms came off of suspend and sat idle, and my opponent cast a turn four Leyline of Sanctity as I was about to run out my Primeval Titan next turn. Nahiri’s minus two made quick work of the Leyline, and the Titan was cast to set me up for the win next turn. My opponent drew for his turn, and extended his hand. I had done it! I had gone undefeated on day two!
Jen was still in her final match, a heated game three against Burn (pun intended), which she also eventually won out with a perfectly timed Obstinate Baloth. That meant that we were both 12-3, and at the mercy of tiebreakers. The results came in and I finished at 24 with Jen just a couple spots behind me at 28. We were both overjoyed with our performance and excited to see the other perform so well. And I can say with certainty that the Play It Forward prize pushed me to play harder and tighter than I ever had before. If you’re interested in getting involved, you can check out Play It Forward on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtg_forward. As for me? It’s time to switch to Standard – there’s a daunting RPTQ less than three weeks away.
Did you attend Grand Prix Vancouver? How did it go? Did you eat your weight in Sashimi at Shabusen like I did? Let me know!