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December 26, 2011

Hi everyone, I hope that the Christmas season is treating you well.

It’s the 26th of December and that means that this blog has made it another year. The 3rd in the order to be precise. Today I’m going to continue the tradition I have honored every 26th December in the past by reflecting on the year that has passed on how the year has gone for me playing Magic as well as activities conjunct with the gaming. I also try to give some hints about what to expect from me in the upcoming year.

Looking back

The year started with the feelings and sensation from Worlds in Chiba still very much alive. It was my first Pro Tour and I was very excited about getting the opportunity to play with the fat cats in this game. The expectation I had for Worlds was primarily having a blast and enjoy the moment in this awesome country which I surely had. The next step was trying to grind at least 7 Pro Points from the event so that I would have been level 3 in the Pro Player Club for the year to come. That would have meant that I would get to play at least another Pro Tour in 2011.

That didn’t pan out and I missed out by a not so big margin. Another win in the individual portion along with another win in the team portion would probably done the trick but it wasn’t meant to be. So Worlds last year was a little bittersweet experience in that regard.

It took the hunger that Worlds had left me to the Magic Weekend in Paris where I was participating in the Grand Prix. I opened up a not too shabby pool of cards (hello Hoard-Smelter Dragon, Thopter Assembly, True Conviction and Myr Turbine) and played some good Magic and ended day 1 with a 8-2 score. I followed that up with 2-1-ing both draft in day 2, leaving my with a final score of 12-4. Now, going 12-4 wasn’t a bad performance at all. If someone had told me the day before the GP that I would have ended up with that score I wouldn’t be particularly disappointed about that. I ended up feeling a little bad about it anyways because the massive size of the GP meant that my 36 points were only good enough for a 71st place, just outside the money.

The trip to Paris was nevertheless awesome. A lot of Swedes had made the trip and I managed to schedule the day before the GP to go sightseeing in the city of light. In a very intense day I managed to run around and see most of the historic buildings and monuments that are in Paris; the Arc of Triumph, the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower (which I walked up). Good times.

After Paris I became a little dormant when it came to Magic. School was intensifying and several events I intended to go to (like GP Barcelona and GP London) ended up being to close to exams and important hand-ins to justify myself to go to them. And as a reaction to that I ended up playing less Magic than I liked to because as I wan’t going to these events there wasn’t too much of point testing them.

I did go to GothCon though under this period, where I became the a 2HG Champion as well as bombing out of a PTQ with Valakut.

With my courses of the semester done I finally managed to get away and went to GP Prague in May. The tournament itself didn’t go too well. I opened a lackluster pool and ended up dropping at 5-3 after losing aa appropriate lackluster match. I had a good time regardless as my traveling company was amazing and Prague is a very cool (and cheap) city to visit.

Next in line of events was Swedish Nationals in June. The previous year went as you might recall really well for me and lead to my qualification for Worlds that year. I wanted to repeat my performance and due to the high bar set up by myself I tested a lot for the event. Actually I want to say that I even practiced more than I had the previous year.

I felt really good about the Limited portion (Scars Block Draft) and while the testing for the Constructed portion (pre-JTMS/SFM bannings) was hectic and I didn’t decide on what deck to play until two days left before the event, the deck I settled (Pyromancer Ascension w/ Splinter Twin transformational sideboard) for felt awesome. Nationals itself didn’t go to well, I dropped out at 6-4.

The thing that really went wrong in my mind was the first draft, which I barely 1-2. The sad part was that my deck was alright if not good. The problem was that my draft had a high density of  good rares in it and a Myr Turbine was the best I got. That draft had for sure gone very differently if I had sat one seat to my left or my right. I lost the two other  matches in the Constructed portion but both matches I recognize to mainly be blamed on variance but I digress.

Before I headed down to Gothenburg and Nationals I had decided that I wanted to try to “level” up my writing and not just settle for the blog format any more. I wanted to try to spread out my figuratively wings. I sent a couple of strategy sites my resume and see if anyone was interested. When I came back from Nationals there was an email in my inbox from Blackborder.com editor Andreas Ganz (also recently of PWP grinding fame). After an interview and a try out article, my monthly column “Daily Grind” was born in July.

Later that summer I made a vacation/PTQ trip down to Gothenburg where I hanged with friends before heading over to Aalborg for the PTQ. I played Splinter Twin which I had much success with online and in local tournaments the weeks prior but deck just didn’t behave at all at the PTQ and I was quickly eliminated. Oh well. The trip was once again a blast and I got to hang out quite a bit with Hall of Famer Olle Råde which was cool. He had fairly recently got the fire back for Magic and I think it’s really cool that he is playing again in events and such.

Not much more in terms of bigger events happened until October when I made the trip down to Milan for the GP. The pool I opened was alright but it was just not my day playing. It was one of those days when you keep 2 lands, Think Twice and X and nevertheless you miss your 3rd land drop. I had run bads like that all weekend which sucked. The saving grace was because of my early exit I got to look at the city a little more than I usually get to do on GP trips, which was nice. In particularly the coffee was divine. I think I would consider going back to Italy some day just for the coffee. It was that good.

Last month I did a PTQ trip to Oslo (Norway), in which I Top8ed but died in the quarterfinals. The fact that I lost one of the games in the quarters to the combo of Markov Patrician + Cobbled Wings + Skeletal Grimace was just a perfect way to end that trip and basically my competitive year.

And with that we have pretty much come to the present day. All in all it was a okay year playing wise. My performance at Paris was great but it was fluctuating for the reminder of the year. I guess I have reached a point in my gaming where not receiving a Pro Tour invite hinders me from feeling to good about my results.

If we look at a non-direct-gaming perspective of my year with this game, the main highlight is off course me getting picked up by Blackborder.com. It has been a great experience so far and I hope that will continue on in 2012. I want to thank Andreas for giving me the opportunity to write for Blackborder.com. I really appreciate it.

As a consequence to me starting to write for Blackborder.com I have had less time to spend on the blog and therefore less material has been put up here. I anticipated as much when I took the offer from Blackborder.com and I still think it’s a worthy sacrifice for the spot I now have on Blackborder.com.

Looking ahead

If I’m to look ahead and set some expectations for 2012, playing wise it still to get qualified again for the Pro Tour and off course try stay on it. Due to the new structure organized play has since last year I’m a little uncertain at this point if it means that I will be playing more Magic next year or less. My goals hasn’t really changes much since I wrote expectation for 2011 a year ago but the means to achieve does goal are far more less certain than last year. I’ll have to get back to you with that one.

As for as my writing goes, my column on Blackborder.com and the blog, I intend to continue on with my column in the same fashion until the beginning of the summer (when I have completed 12 month of writing for Blackborder.com). After I’ll have to see. As of today, I would like to continue with the column but I think it’s too early to say for certain what will happen. Why the hesitation is correlated with the statement regarding my goals for gameplay in 2012 above. It’s possible that I won’t be playing enough Magic to justify the position I have on Blackborder.com, as a “grinder”. I hope it won’t come to that but I can’t safely rule it out either. I’ll have to get back to you with that one as well.

As “The Exploration” goes, the blog has a result of the birth of my column a blog closer to the heart than it was earlier. Now almost everything I have to dish about strategy wise is getting devoted to the column and instead I put most of the stuff closer to my persona here on the blog. Considering my current situation, I don’t have any concrete expectations with the blog for the upcoming year. I intend to keep it alive alright, but don’t expect an increase of the frequency of entries being posted either.

That was pretty how I see my year looking back playing Magic and some thoughts what I plan to do and what I expect of myself in 2012. Thank you for reading and I hope you will continue to in the future.

Have a continued awesome Christmas and I wish you a happy new year.

Bernhard

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 3, 2012 17:37

    Pro Points are mostly how a ratings system *should* work. You pick them up by winning, but you don’t give them up by losing, so you lose nothing by competing in a tournament and you lose nothing by playing on for the sheer joy of it. In fact, in Pro Tours you can usually play on for the 3rd Pro Point (top 200) should you pick up 4 early losses. They don’t let you sit on them forever (take a 5 year break, stroll back into the Pro Tour), but they give you a nice 12 month “buffer” period where you can take a small break and still have a chance to pick up enough to gain a reasonable bonus. Possibly the best thing about Pro Points is that they’re based on fixed thresholds, not on invisible lines that move every week. Basically, you can have 10 people with over 20 Pro Points, or you can have 100 – it really doesn’t matter. None of that stagnant ratings malarkey where 10 of the top 20 in a country haven’t played anything more than 2 FNMs in the last 4 years, and so 10 grinders who play every week don’t qualify for nationals because they got 80th and top 75 qualify, despite on 35 of the 75 being qualified (this is a fairly description of the UK ratings pages). The only trouble, however, is that to 90% of Magic players Pro Points are mostly irrelevant (no idea what this number actually is, but I think 90% is a good estimate).

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