The World Cup!…Qualifier (Part 2)
Well well well.
It turns out I’m writing another report after all!
I figured since my last article was more of a standard cookie cutter tournament report I’d do something different this time. Despite the fact that three separate times I topdecked a Sword of War and Peace for lethal in game three last weekend (kind of like my Strangleroot Geist topdecks from the week previous), I’m not going to recount the individual matches. Let’s make this a bit more interesting, shall we?
Reasonably pleased with my 3rd place, I returned all the cards I borrowed and got back to work on Monday. On Tuesday, however, at some point during the day I saw a surprising post from Hayne.
“Taking donations to send players to the Calgary WMCQ. Please Message me with the amount of your pledge, and who you would be willing to sponsor. Thank You!”
Well that sure seemed like a long shot, but after reading some of the posts, it turned out people were actually willing to sponsor some of us to go! I got some very generous donations, and started to seriously consider if it might be possible to make the trip. I looked in to flights? They looked good. I looked in to cards? Chris Seifert was willing to lend me everything again plus some. I looked in to accommodations? Doug Potter and Marcel Zafra were staying at Matt Mercier’s parents’ house, who were gone for the weekend. I was going to Calgary!
After work on Friday I got dropped off at the airport and made the first flight to Calgary. Matt picked me up at the airport (thanks Matt!) and took me over to the fnm where the others were. I had been goldfishing with Zombies on the flight over but the deck didn’t seem as consistent as Naya. After playing a dozen games against Dan Lanthier’s Delver list with Zombies, I decided to stick to Naya and just replace the cards that underperformed in Toronto. The list I settled on was:
The only changes I made from Toronto were to remove the second Silverheart from the main and into the board, and adding the fourth pilgrim. In the board the third Silverheart was added along with a Garruk Relentless, replacing the Stingerfling Spider and the second Ancient Grudge.
A few people after asked why I made the changes I did, and why my board looked so unfocused. The reason I have no more than 2 of any card is because with so many decks being viable, you need to be flexible. On top of that, in any given matchup the number of cards you want to bring in is variable. Sure, if I have 4 removal slots for Zombies it might be better to use 4 Pillar, but if instead I use 2 Pillar one Purge and one Garruk, it gives me two advantages. First of all, if I draw multiples of them, I can play at least one of them even if I’m missing a colour, but more importantly it means I also have an extra slot for Ramp (the purge) and for the mirror (the Garruk). The other thing to note is that you cannot dilute your deck with too many answer cards. The naya deck is at its core an aggressive strategy, and this is why I removed one of the Ancient Grudges. Drawing one can be great, dealing with swords, Inkmoths, Birthing Pods and Wurmcoil Engines, but whenever you draw a second grudge it almost never helps. Apart from Tempered Steel, which is off the radar right now, and the Architect deck, which is not very well positioned, there is no deck where I’d like to have more than one grudge. The numbers seem weird but give it a try before you make any widespread changes. I was very happy with how it played out.
The deck performed very well, with my only loss in the swiss being to Mani Davoudi, a friend I met in Hawaii who lived in Vancouver. With there only being about 60 players in the tournament, it was 5 rounds of swiss and after starting 3-0 before my loss to Mani, I got paired up and was lucky enough to be able to draw in to top 8 (every other 3-1 had to play it out). I ended in 7th place and looked up to see who I would face in the quarterfinals.
Doug Potter. Awkward.
Not only was I staying with him, he was also one of the people who paid for me to go over to Calgary! I debated scooping, but since a) it was only the quarterfinals and b) I really did go to win I decided to play it out after agreeing to a prize split. I managed to beat him and he was very courteous. What a guy.
My semifinals pairing was against Marcel. Jeez, I was going to have to earn this one! Following that, the finals were against Mani again, with him still undefeated in the tournament and my third delver pairing in a row. He won game one but I came back games two and three and took down the tournament to reclaim my spot on the team! Getting to play with Lucas and Alex (as well as Jamie whom I have never met) should be a ton of fun and I can’t wait for August. I guess the trip was worth it after all!
After the finals we decided to head out for dinner, and drove to Nick’s Steakhouse. The group ended up being about 18 people, including Billy Moreno who had come up from the States. It turns out Billy now works for Wizards R&D, which I didn’t know, and he was sent to monitor how things turned out, and what people thought of the game and the tournament system for the WMCQ.
I paid for Doug’s steak dinner since it seemed only fair that after sponsoring me and then knocking him out, I should really give something back. The food was delicious and afterwards we managed to drag Billy, our four housemates and 3 others out to Mercier’s place for a draft. That’s right, what do most magic players do after a full day of 9 rounds of grueling Magic? More Magic. We did an 8 man AVR draft and randomly assigned teams after picks were completed. One of my teammates, Jordan, had an interesting take on the draft format, boasting an Archangel, a Gisela, an Avacyn and a Tyrant of Discord. He went 3-0 (though I did convince him to cut the Tyrant and run 19 lands). I had a pretty decent RG deck, but managed to 0-3, having used up all my luck/skill already. I did have some sweet games against Billy however, where he had extreme difficulty dealing with a pair of Diregraf Escorts, a card he helped design. Having him around was pure value, and multiple times during the draft people would yell out “who designed this piece of crap?” or other similar jabs. Luckily my team carried me and we gamed the winnings, continuing my sudden bad luck streak winning only one flip that included some crap and an Angel of Jubilation.
The next morning was the PTQ and I was not planning on playing. I needed to leave early to get back in time for work, and playing 7 rounds+ would have me done at about 6pm, on a flight at 8, landing at midnight (which is 2am once I land due to time zone) and home at 2:30. Instead I sat around, filled out some WMC papers, watched some matches and left as soon as I could find someone I knew with a car who was knocked out.
It was a great trip and it’s really nice to be able to turn up my level of play after some poor performances. It also helps me appreciate the World Magic Cup more, since although I was very much looking forward to it during the year, now not only did I have to work harder for it, we also have a great team. The team event at Worlds was fantastic, so I hope we can do even better this time around!