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My GP Gothenburg 2013

June 18, 2013

Two weekends ago I was in the Gothenburg playing in the Grand Prix, and those who follow me on Twitter know that I had a pretty good weekend:

Therefore I thought I would do a little recap of my Grand Prix Gothenburg 2013 experience.

The GP weekend started for me with me jolting from work in Kista (just northwest out of Stockholm City) at 15:45 to catch my train to Gothenburg that would leave Stockholm Central Station at 16:14. It was a bit too stressful for my taste but I got there at least. The rest of the trip to the famous backside of Sweden was uneventful but pleasant, and once I arrived at the venue of the Grand Prix I got myself registered to the main event and met up with my roommates for the weekends. Once all of us were registered and content at the venue, we went for a evening snack before heading to the hotel to call it a night.

Gothia Towers/Svenska Mässan, the venue for GP Gothenburg 2013.

Gothia Towers/Svenska Mässan, the venue for GP Gothenburg 2013.

After getting almost 8 hours of sleep (which is quite a lot for me these days, as I normally work on 6½ – 7 hours worth of sleep on workdays), I woke up energized and soon was devouring a delightful breakfast buffet. When our stomachs were content we headed to the site and soon without much delay I was in my seat with a pen in my hand ready to fill out deck registration sheets. Once I had opened up my received product, registered it and noting its bland nature, I was ready to receive the tools I would have to work with for the day. And I have to say that I was fairly pleased with the pool of cards that was eventually passed to me:

My day 1 Sealed Deck @ GP Gothenburg 2013.

My day 1 Sealed Deck @ GP Gothenburg 2013.

With the trio of Chaos Imps, Domri Rade and Savageborn Hydra staring back at me it wasn’t hard to conclude that playing red and green was something I probably wanted to do. Shortly enough I had laid out the green and red playables and found I had about 16 to 18 of them, and the curve looked alright to boot. Then the question was to figure out what to round out the deck with. The white cards in this pool were just not spectacular at all with a One Thousand Lashes as the clear best card. Since that card in particular need not only white mana but also black, I quickly set the white cards aside and was left looking at the blue and the black cards.

The biggest selling point of the latter was the available manafixing for black. Beside the trio of black guildgates you can see above, there was another 2 copies of Rakdos Guildgate in the pool. The sheer number of black guildgates would make casting any black card very effortless to do. However, in comparison to the available blue cards in the pool the black ones were almost laughable in comparison. The best black card I had (considering I’m splashing black, that is) was a Ubal Sar Gatekeepers, which just doesn’t stack up versus double Voidwielder, Urban Evolution or Soulsworn Spirit. In this choice between consistency and power, I went for power and let a couple of blue cards finish up my deck.

Some notable cards that didn’t end up making the main deck were Frilled Oculus, Wind Drake, Miming Slime, Ruination Wurm and Simic Cluestone. I came very close to maindeck either Frilled Oculus and Wind Drake but I choose Elusive Krasis for that slot in the end. In hindsight I’m not sure I like that call as Elusive Krasis, while certainly more powerful overall compared to the former mentioned cards, usually not as good of a card when played in the later turns of a game, which is something you need to consider for cards you are essentially splashing for. Elusive Krasis worked out fine for me but I’m quite sure either Frilled Oculus or Wind Drake would have worked out just fine if not better. Besides that I thought briefly about playing a Simic Cluestone over Viashino Racketeer but decided on the little viashino rouge as I wanted more early plays against any aggressive deck I might face plus I wanted more bodies for Domri Rade’s +1 ability.

I won’t go too in-depth into the games and matches, but I started out fairly strong with winning 3 straight matches (after my first round bye) in which I felt like I only dropped a game because of sever flooding. After that strong start my faith faltered a bit as I got defeated by Mizzium Mortars in two games straight in round 5 and then I lost 2 very disappointing games in the 6th round. In game one I was facing down a turn 4 Obzedat, Ghost Council on the draw but despite that I was about to win on my 7th turn with the aid of a fused Armed//Dangerous. On the opponents 6th turn he was a tapping a bit of mana and I was thinking “go head, play any guy or even multiple guys, I got you”, until my opponent revealed his play of Sin Collector. Frowntown. After that I died slowly out of Obzedat flipping in and out, unable to penetrate my opponents defenses. In the second game I kept a juicy one the play with Dimir Guildgate, Transguild Promenade, Frilled Oculus (boarded in), Domri Rade, Thrashing Mossdog and 2 5-drops. Granted I needed to draw a red or green source in the first 2-3 drawsteps to make that hand really good but the oppertune of having a turn 3 Domri Rade against his relatively slow deck just seemed too good to pass up on so I quickly kept. As it played out, I missed my 3rd land drop for 4 turns and once I started to get to 4 and 5 mana, I was just too far behind and died to evasive beats in the form of Dimir Keyrune and Mindeye Drake with +1/+1 counters on it.

I did recoup after that bitter defeat though with a quite decisive win the the 7th round and then got there in 2 games in the 8th after my opponent probably tossed away the 2nd game by undervaluing his Gideon, Champion of Justice and not defending it properly. The 9th round was intense, not just because I was playing for day 2 but my opponent also had a quite aggressive deck, certainly the most aggressive deck I had faced all day. I was a bit bottlenecked on mana in game 1 and were for a couple of turn in grave danger of just dying to a Annihilating Fire or something to the dome but I eventually ripped Saruli Gatekeepers, got an additional 7 life which let me afford spending the entire following turn to just cast Urban Evolution. After I had resolved the might card draw spell I had both the cards and mana resources to take over and close the game out. In game 2 my deck was just chugging and after I went turn 5 and 6 kill your flier with Punish the Enemy and then had Runner’s Bane for his Boros Reckoner, I had the game on a plate.

After shaking final opponent’s hand, signing the slip and letting out an exhale, I rounded up a crew of friends and headed out for a late dinner. After I had filled my belly with some much needed food and a fine pint of beer, it was time to go to bed. Unfortunately playing in day 2 meant going up almost an hour earlier than the day before so I didn’t quite get as much sleep as I would have liked.

Day 2 Draft #1 @ GP Gothenburg 2013.

Day 2 Draft #1 @ GP Gothenburg 2013.

After the usual morning business I found myself sitting down for the first draft of day 2. My opening pack wasn’t very exciting and I ended up somewhat reluctantly first picking Melek, Izzet Paragon out of that. From the previous limited experience I have with Melek prior to this draft, I have found the card to be quite powerful if you can pick him up early enough to mold your entire draft and subsequent deck around maximizing him, but he’s certainly not a card I perceive as a slam pick. After that I blue flowed fairly well in the first pack and in the second pack I was treated by a Assemble the Legion and then got passed a Sunhome Guildmage, fitting well into what looked to be a very controlling deck. The whole last pack was a bit weak for every color except green (hello there 6th pick Collective Blessing, which I snagged away in an otherwise empty pack for me) which left me in the end short of a playable or two down in the lower part of my curve. Despite that I was fairly happy with the end product and compared to what I had seen in the packs I was confident I could 2-1 with this deck and have a shot a going 3-0.

Notable card that were left in my sideboard was a Isperia’s Skywatch, a Towering Thunderfist and a Dynacharge. I was very tempted at fitting in the Dynacharge because of it’s wonderful synergies with Assemble the Legion, Sunhome Guildmage, Goblin Rally and the fact that it was an additional instant/sorcery for Melek, but I deemed my deck too controlling and powerful enough already to squeeze such a relatively small card into my deck.

The rounds started off on the bitter end with me losing round 10 in a overall close match, even though game 2 and 3 were fairly one-sided beatings. Game 1 came down to my opponent finding a removal spell early enough for my Sunhome Guildmage before I could assemble a critical mass of flying, thanks to Maze Glider, Soldier tokens and seal the deal with Massive Raid. After the guildmage was binned I had to start blocking to stay alive and use Massive Raid defensively in hope of draw Assemble the Legion, which didn’t happen. I got game 2 off a turn 4 Goblin Rally into turn 5 Sunhome Guildmage, attack plus pump and in the decider I couldn’t find a card to deal with my opponents early Varolz, the Scar-Striped.

I was a little sour as I felt I could have totally won that match if we were to play again but I shook that off and went off to win my following two rounds, in which 3 of the games I won was on the back off the mighty Assemble the Legion.

Day 2 Draft #2 @ GP Gothenburg 2013.

Day 2 Draft #2 @ GP Gothenburg 2013.

After that it was time for the second and final draft of the tournament, as I was knocked out of top8 contention with my third loss but I was still playing for a finish in the money. To my horror, as well as I thought the first draft had gone, as bad I felt the second draft went. I first picked Scion of Vitu-Ghazi out of the first pack and then got a little too fond of my first pick and couldn’t realize during the draft that I should have abandoned white by the end of the first pack. In the second and third pack both blue and black was flowing more than any of the other colors, and my whole draft would have ended up so much better if I could just have let go of my Scion of Vitu-Ghazi. But alas I kept on fighting for white and was left with a very unspectacular deck. Sure, I could certainly steal a game or two with Armed//Dangerous but overall I wasn’t very happy with my deck and thought I would have a very hard time going 2-1 or better in this draft. Notable card left in the sideboard were a Azorius Guildgate, a Sundering Growth, a Rubbleback Rhino, a Beetleform Mage, a Nimbus Swimmer, a Shambleshark, Mindstatic and a Spell Rupture.

Round 13th became a rematch against my opponent who I had earlier played in round 10, but I couldn’t get this one either. His deck was just a tad better overall than mine and won in the end 2-1 after I had stole game 1 with the aforementioned Armed//Dangerous. I could have had a shot in game 3 but I bricked on red mana all game and was subsequently unable to play the Punish the Enemy in my hand to kill his clutch Skymark Roc.

Another defeat but once again I recouped and went on to end the draft on a high note, winning both round 14 and 15 in the end by simply playing a more conservative manabase than my opponent. I felt pretty lucky to be able to go 2-1 with this deck, but then again this is the kind of format where you will get a couple of free wins every once in a while by simply playing less ambitious manabase than your opponent. And certainly didn’t mind scooping up the free wins then and there.

Just like that, I had gone 11-4 in the Grand Prix which was good enough for 51st place and a top64 prize payout. You might wonder why I didn’t drew in the last round to ensure top64 and the reason for that was that my tiebreakers towards the end of the tournament were horrible. From the limited time I had looking over the standings prior to round 15 I couldn’t make out if a draw would be good enough for me to top64 hence I opted to play. I did work out in the end though so nothing to bang my head against the wall about. Overall I thought I played fairly well over the course of the weekend and didn’t make too many mistakes excluding the tunnelvision in the second draft, which is always a good feeling. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about the format beforehand and playing during the weekends didn’t change my opinion about it all that much. It’s certainly not a bad format, it’s just that I’m not that fond about multicolor sets in Limited. But hey, maybe that’s just me.

Before signing off I want to make a shout-out to long time Magic friend and frequent Stockholm opponent Mats Törnros for his second place finish at the Grand Prix. Too bad you couldn’t go all the way but at least you got the ticket to Dublin! Make the most of it!

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