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My Grand Prix Gothenburg 2010

September 3, 2010

Okay guys, here is the more lengthy report from the recent Grand Prix that I promised that I would compose.

Starting off on Saturday morning, the tournament started pretty much on time if I recall correctly. At least it was no form of lengthy delay (in fact the whole tournament ran very smoothly). So without any major hassle we all sit down for deck registration/construction. For some reason I didn’t think about saving my card pool or write down a list of the card pool at least (again…) so I will have recall as much as I can from my memory.

Red was the first color that I dismissed. There was an Ancient Hellkite, a Chandra’s Outrage and a Ember Hauler in red but was pretty much it. Then I saw that I would most likely be playing blue. Blue had pretty much everything I ask for when playing sealed deck. There was some bombs (Stormtide Leviathan and Conundrum Sphinx), some solid guys with evasion, card advantage plays and good tricks. After that I dismissed green. Green had some really respectable cards in 2 Cultivate, Cudgel Troll, Acidic Slime and Obstinate Baloth. But after that there was literary nothing. If I would have played green I would more or less play green for manafixing and 3 cards which is not typically a very good idea.

Yours truly featuring a "sick" poker face

So that left me with blue as my main color and the decision of pairing it with either black or white. White had a ridiculous bomb in form of Vengeful Archon, a couple of fliers but beside an Excommunicate and a Mighty Leap there was no form of quality tricks or removal. So if i went with blue-white my strategy would be either a) curve out and play the tempo game or b) rely on my bombs to get my there. While I do like playing aggressive and proactive decks in limited, that build would have been so all-in in the early game (beside the two bombs) and would fall apart easily if I either had any form of mana problems or if my opponent did some “unfair” things.

So I turned to black. Black looked much better than white overall. There was nothing as good as a Vengeful Archon but the color was overall much stronger than what white had to offer. So I settled for black and I ended up with this list:

10x Island
8x Swamp

1x Child of Night
1x Barony Vampire
2x Cloud Elemental
1x AEther Adept
1x Conundrum Sphinx
1x Azure Drake
1x Gravedigger
1x Howling Banshee
1x Nightwing Shade
1x Stone Golem
1x Stormtide Leviathan

1x Preordain
1x Deathmark
1x Doom Blade
1x Mana Leak
1x Ice Cage
1x Crystal Ball
1x Assassinate
1x Cancel
1x Forsee
1x Rise from the Grave

Notable sideboard cards:
1x Flashfreeze
1x Mind Rot
1x Maritime Guard
1x Viscera Seer
1x Stabbing Pain
1x Aluring Siren

I was feeling quite good about the deck. It felt consistent, it had card advantage, removal and a small touch of bombs in it. There were some flaws off course, it had a little slow curve and it didn’t have anything really absurd like a Mind Control or a Grave Titan but what ever. You can’t have everything…

I also liked the fact I could change-up the deck a little depending on the matchup. While Stormtide Leviathan is a huge beating against green based-decks, it’s time-to-time a little to slow and doesn’t do enough most of the time against other blue-based decks. So if I would play against blue-white or blue-black I sideboarded out the Leviathan along with an Island for a combination of Mind Rot, Maritime Guard, Viscera Seer (good at combating opponents Mind Control aswell as getting extra value from creature you control that is either Ice Caged or Pacified), Stabbing Pain and Aluring Siren. All and all, I felt that if played my cards alright I thought I had a good change of making it to day 2.

Onto gameplay:

Round 1-3: vs. Bye

3-0

Round 4: vs. Goddik, Hans Jacob [DNK] w/ UW

Game 1 started out with us trading back and forth on the board, with him taking an early advantage with a Mind Control on my Conundrum Sphinx which I a turn later negated with AEther Adept. He showed me a barrage of counter magic, including 2x Cancel, a Negate and a Mana Leak. I did have a slight advantage on the board and since he was just sitting on a bunch of counters he never caught up with my on the board and eventually my Nightwing Shade finished him off.

I sideboarded out like I mentioned above and brought in a Mind Rot and a Viscera Seer.

Game 2 started out similar as the first one but this time instead of having a bunch of counter magic he unleashed a barrage of card draw-spells in form of a Jace’s Ingenuity, 2 copies of Forsee and a Sorcerer’s Strongbox. I couldn’t finish him off quickly enough so when he started to take advantage of all the cards he had drawn he stabilised and took control of the game from there.

Game 3 I let him start since his deck looked quite slow and very mana hungry. That strategy paid off since he stalled on 4 mana for 2 or 3 turns and then when he got to 5 mana he lacked double white until the end of the game. That meant I could without much struggle beat him down with Cloud Elementals and what nod.

4-0

Round 5: vs. Carlsson, Simon [SWE] w/ BW

Game 1 he mulled down to 6 and was quite flooded. I played a Howling Banshee and a Nightwing Shade brought the buisness without much resistance from his side.

I took out the Deathmark since his deck looked black based from what I had seen in game 1. A Stabbing Pain was brought-in in it’s place.

Game 2 he had a better draw, he started out quickly with a Steel Overseer, a Bloodthrone Vampire and a Whispersilk Cloak. I had my AEther Adept to reset his overseer before it got equipped to the cloak and at that point I swinged the game over from being on the back foot to being the aggressor. The game ended when he opted to kill my last creature, a lethal Cloud Elemental, with a Doom Blade so he could also play a Gravedigger on the same turn instead of using his Corrupt. In doing so he was cold when I windmilled a Stormtide Leviathan on the following turn.

5-0

Round 6: vs. Saito, Tomoharu [JPN] w/ GUr

This was a very exciting match, both on how the games played out and considering the competition sitting on the other side of the board.

Game 1 started out well for me, I got down an early Cloud Elemental and a Howling Banshee that started to work on his lifetotals. He eventually stabilised with the help of a Plummet and a Giant Spider and after that he plopped down a Primeval Titan that got the icer in form of Mystifing Maze. If I recall correctly, I was out of real answers to his Titan at that point and with racing out of question thanks to his Mystifing Maze I eventually succumbed.

I took out Preordain and Mana Leak in favour for Flashfreeze and Mind Rot.

I don’t remember much from game 2 except I eventually stuck a Stormtide Leviathan that he couldn’t answer.

Game 3 became an epic decider. I did some early damage with a Cloud Elemental while he Cultivated and tried to stabilise. Around on my turn 6 I have a Crystal Ball in play while Saito has stopped the bleeding. During a Crystal Ball activation I see between my hand and the top of my deck that my game plan for this game at that point was trying to stick my Stormtide Leviathan and ride that to victory. He taps out on turn 7 which gives me the window I needed to stick the Leviathan. He answers with an Ancient Hellkite, threatening to kill me on the following turn. I use Crystal Ball on my upkeep, sees a Doom Blade which I puts on top with a sigh of relief. I dispatches his dragon and attacks for 8 with Stormtide Leviathan. He then rips Primeval Titan and gets his Mystifing Maze. At that point we are stalled out.

I don’t think he couldn’t actually with the game anymore, since from what I have seen between the 3 games I don’t think he had an actual answer to a resolved Stormtide Leviathan. He was also thanks to Primeval Titan and 2 Cultivate the first one to get decked. But the match has taken a lot of time to play out which means I don’t have the time to deck him. Therefore I worked my Crystal Ball and played as many fliers as I could and on my final extra turn, I saw my AEther Adept on top of my library which is gave me exactly enough to strike him down for the win. Phew!

6-0

Round 7: vs. Black, Samuel H [USA] w/ UB

In game 1 I was a little stalled on my mana which led into that Sam took the lead. I had to use both my Assassinate and my Doom Blade to not fell to far behind. That left me venerable to his Air Servant that he stuck after that. With no answer to his Air Servant I died quickly.

I took out my Deathmark, Stormtide Leviathan and an Island for a Viscera Seer, in fear of Mind Control and what nod, Mind Rot and Stabbing Pain.

Game 2 didn’t start out optimally. I went down to 4 cards, which was a pretty good hand (Island, Swamp, Mana Leak and Cancel on the draw) but in the end it was still a 4 card hand. I stopped a Cloud Elemental and an Azure Drake from coming into play but after that I couldn’t resist anymore.

6-1

Round 8: vs. Jonsson, Anton [SWE] w/ UW

I don’t remember much of this match honestly, as it started to get late and exhaustion started to kick in. His deck looked quite good, an aggressive blue-white deck with a lot of card draw.

Game 1 he was just faster than my, using Excommunicate and AEther Adept to ensure he was in the lead for the whole game.

I sideboarded out an Island and the Leviathan for a Stabbing Pain and a Viscera Seer.

Game 2 started out quite well for me, I got down a my Conundrum Sphinx and started to getting in there. He eventually Excommunicated it and then used a Cancel on it on the way down. After that I was out of threats and started to peel a couple of lands while Anton used Jace’s Ingenuity, a Preordain and later a Call to Mind on his Jace’s Ingenuity to draw a bunch off gas. I couldn’t keep up with him at that point and died to a Serra Angel backed up with double Blinding Mage.

6-2

At this point I was a little pissed. Yes my opponents in the last two rounds were good. Very good in fact but I felt I didn’t really get to play “fair” versus both of them. Particular against Sam. So I was a little tilted going into my last round (which proved to be fatal…).

Round 9: vs. Nielsen, Brian E [DNK] w/ UW

Game 1 I just got smashed. He had a very quick draw with me on the draw I just couldn’t keep up. I thought I was going to stabilise at one point, but he had the obligatory Mind Control to put me out of my misery.

I sideboarded as I had whole day, I took out an Island and the Leviathan for Viscera Seer and a Stabbing Pain.

I took a mulligan for game 2 but my hand draw was quite good. He once again had a fast start with Infantry Veteran, White Knight and Ajani’s Pridemate. But this time I had the tools to fight back. But off course I had to screw up… twice. First screw up was on turn 4 when I studied my hand. I had my Conundrum Sphinx which was at that point by far the most important card in my hand. I could run it off there, which would stop his beats but it would look really bad if he had his Mind Control. My other option was to start off with a Preordain in order to look for my Viscera Seer. I contemplated my options briefly before I opted to run out my Conundrum Sphinx.

Off course it got Mind Controlled immediately and off course the Viscera Seer of on the top of my library. Instead of playing it smart I now had to blow my Doom Blade on the Conundrum Sphinx. Even after that blow out I was still in it since my opponent apparently had drawn lands for a couple of turns. Then I screwed up again. The board was like this: I’m at 3 facing White Knight and Infantry Veteran. I don’t have any creature on my board that can block his knight but I have him on a two turn clock. I have the option of either playing Azure Drake in order to block his White Knight and ensure lethal damage on the following turn but I’m stone cold if he has any form of removal. The other option I have is to play Rise from the Grave on my AEther Adept in order to bounce his White Knight. That will not kill him on the following turn but I will force him to chump with his Infantry Veteran, buying me another turn.

Playing Rise from the Grave looks a little better right? The problem is that it’s an illegal play. You see, the creature that is brought back into play with Rise from the Grave becomes black which means I can’t bounce his White Knight and instead have to bounce his Infantry Veteran instead (I didn’t have 8 mana in order to bounce itself and then replay it from hand). I wasn’t dead but things could have been better you know.

He then start to draw some action and I’m dead two turns later after he rips a Unsummon to stay alive and then finally a Ajani Goldmane to kill me.

6-3 😦

So my Grand Prix Gothenburg experience ended like that. I was pretty depressed since I felt had a really good shot in the last round, if I played tighter. Sure I was a little tilted coming into the round and tired, but that is not real excuse. Thinking about that last game now a couple of days later with a relaxed mindset, I realise that the Rise from the Grave play actually didn’t matter (except that I looked like a donkey by trying to target a White Knight with a black effect). So I’m not too sour about that play, but letting my Conundrum Sphinx get Mind Controlled was just horrible. Another hard lesson to learn I guess…

Now a couple of days later when the worst bitterness has disappeared I think it was really cool to play against such top-notch players and a good practice for the challenges that lies ahead for me later this year. I’m really impressed by Anton Jonsson. Playing against him and seeing him play all weekend made big impression on my. I really like his demeanor when he play. He always looks in control and every action is crisp and it looks like every play he does is directly game changing. I hate myself that I couldn’t stay around to watch the finals versus him and Kenny. I imagine that it was nothing but epic.

I talked a little in my last entry about doing a review about the card pool I received in the PTQ the day after but I have decided against it. I don’t really have neither the time and energy for that right now and with the M11 season almost over at this point it lacks relevance. While M11 is a quite good limited format for being a core set, it’s not that good that I would write more about it just for funnsies. 🙂

Now we are in September which is beside Pro Tour Amsterdam and the Scars of Mirrodin prerelease later on, a fairly calm month in the magic world. It give me a little breathing room so I can get School started properly. Because of that there might be a little less activity on the blog for the next 2-3 weeks, just so you know. I do look forward at following the coverage from Pro Tour Amsterdam this weekend. It should be a fun one to follow.

Other than that, see you later!

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