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My Grand Prix Prague 2013

September 10, 2013

The other weekend I was in Prague for the Grand Prix and I felt like doing a little recap from my trip there even though (SPOILER ALERT) I didn’t do too well at the main event.

If we go back to earlier in August, it looked for the longest time that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the GP due to a combination of work and a recent move to a new apartment had been soaking up a lot of my time recently as well as a lack of traveling companions. I was pretty bummed over this prospect as I had already missed the GP in Warsaw earlier in the month due to the first two mentioned reasons. I hadn’t played in a paper tournament with bigger stakes since GP Gothenburg in early June, so my fingers were aching over slinging some serious cardboard. But fortunately for me, it all came together in the end. A traveling companion materialized, I got the necessary days off work and the prices for flight and hotel were still within reasonable limits so I found myself booked roughly a week prior to the GP.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle

We arrived around noon on the Friday prior to the main event, and because we arrived so relatively early we decided to use the afternoon to do some sightseeing in the old part of Prague. While I had been in Prague once before, 2 years earlier for the last GP Prague, I hadn’t actually seen much of the city due to time constrictions during my last trip there, so I truly enjoyed myself working around the Jewish quarters, the old town square, the Charles bridge and seeing Prague Castle. The old parts of Prague remains virtually intact architecture-wise from the late 16th and 17th century, which is for someone like me who is bit of a history geek incredible to see. After walking around for most of the afternoon and having a delicious lunch/dinner of the local cuisine, we headed back to the site to get ourselves registered before spending the rest of the evening chilling out at our nearby hotel.

So, Saturday and time for Magic. The tournament got off fairly quickly without much delay (although Saturday morning went pretty smoothly this time around, I’m so glad that moving forward Wizards have decided to remove registration on Saturday morning and replacing it with online registration…should make all GP Saturdays start earlier and thus end earlier as well) and soon enough me along with rest of the 1504 players participating in this GP were seated and beginning to register our pools. After registering and shipping away in a traditional bad beats fashion a better than average pool consisting of among other things double Air Servant and 16 other playable blue cards, I ended up with what I would say a bit below average pool. Unfortunately I don’t have the pool left to list here, but I can say this; Lifebane Zombie was head and shoulder the best card individual card in my pool. Now, Lifebane Zombie is certainly no slouch, but there are certainly bigger fish in the format if you know what I’m saying.

On top of this, the pool was fairly tricky to build. I decided fairly quickly though that I had to play black as I had the Lifebane Zombie and 2 Corrupts along with enough black playables to be solidly in black and thus consistently making the Corrupts powerful enough to write home about. Then what to play with the black was really a close call. Every other color felt about as powerful in a vacuum as one another and there were no real standout card in any of the colors. After repeatedly laying out all the different pairs in front of me to try to determine what to play for much of the deck building period, I went with red as black’s partner in crime in the end. The final call of going with the red was partly due to how well Act of Treason works with the black sacrifice-outlets but more so that the red cards were mostly single color cards and thus would allow me to be have a decent amount of Swamps in the deck to fuel the Corrupts without risking having a bunch of uncastable cards in my hand all the time. These cards ended up being the 40 cards I registered to be my maindeck:

My deck for the main event.

My deck for the main event.

As I picked up my cards after handing in the registration sheet, I remember feeling like while I certainly didn’t have a top-notch pool or deck, the end product might still be good enough for going 7-2 and carrying me to the draft portion. During the bye rounds I spent some time with fellow Swedish veteran Oskar Sköld, in Sweden perhaps better known as Bitzi, battling a couple games and discussing our pools. The deck felt pretty okay during the games we played and Oskar gave me some valuable advice; he recommended that I should always draw first if I had the choice and that the Dark Prophecy I had left in the sideboard should be boarded in against pretty much everybody. After listening to his reasoning, I agreed to both his point. While constructing my deck I though I would win most games during the day by being aggressive and then using Gnawing Zombie and the Corrupts to deal the final points of damage, but the Act of Treason part of my deck and drawing enough Swamps to make the Corrupts impactful certainly speaks for drawing as many cards as possible. Then regarding the Dark Prophecy, my initial reluctance to put in in my maindeck was simply due to inexperience with the card. Due to it being a rare and a very hard play for most decks due to the BBB casting cost, it’s not a card that’s easy to get a lot of experience with. But Oskar swore by it and I trusted him, simply as that. I ended up boarding out Goblin Shortcutter and a Mountain for it and a Swamp for every round, for the most part to my delight.

With some playtesting done, a sideboarding plan in my head and at least some amount of confidence in my deck and my chance I sat down to play for round 3 to kick off my tournament. I then proceeded to lose that round. And then the next one. And the one after that.

Yeah… By round 5 I was as they say dead as a rock. My round 3 RG opponent had turn 4 Chandra, Pyromaster in both game 2 and 3. If you take another look at my deck you will notice an awful lot of X/1s and thus Chandra just completely destroyed me. In the following round I faced an opponent who had what looked like a very sold UB deck to me. I saw the early defenses you want, the Divinations, the counterspells and the big fliers to seal the deal with, among them Air Servant and Jace’s Mindseeker. Although I felt fairly outclassed on card quality, the games weren’t complete stompovers but my opponent got there in the end. To be brutally honest, I did in hindsight prematurely concede the second game. I could theoretically have drawn Corrupt into Shock for my opponent’s fliers and if my opponent  literally had nothing for the next 3 turns I could have stabilized. Of course a very far-fetched series of draws but nevertheless, I should have let that possibility be a thing and it was pretty bad of me to not think of this line of play. Then in round 5 my opponent had a fast Kalonian Hydra with Ranger’s Guile backup in both games 1 and 3, a 2 card combo to which I basically couldn’t do anything about. I made a minor misplay in game 1 with me doing a poor block in the midgame due to me overseeing that my opponent had 2 copies of Predatory Sliver and not just 1. Thankfully it didn’t end up mattering due to the hydra but still not the tightest of plays from my part.

Well, I DID order a tall one...

Well, I DID order a tall one…

Although I certainly didn’t play optimally in these matches and despite my round 3 and 5 opponents had literally the perfect series of draws to beat me in the deciding games, I wasn’t really on tilt or whatever after losing these 3 straight matches. I don’t know why really, but I didn’t feel like I was finished mentally so I kept on playing. After beating my next 4 opponents in a fairly convincing fashion I could leave the tournament hall with some pride recouped with a 6-3 result. No day 2 for me, but with the pool that I had it wasn’t completely unexpected either. I’m still glad though I could end the day on a winning streak.

I spent the next day running well in the 8-man drafts, watching GP Gothenburg finalist Mats Törnros making a run for top8 which unfortunately ended in the final round of the swiss against Kai Mokrusch and drinking a respectable amount of cheap Czech beer (sooo good). All in all, not a bad day although I of course wish I had been continuing playing in the main event.

Come Monday it was time to head home to Sweden, and the return trip was uneventful but smooth so no complaints there. GP Prague 2013 will certainly not go down in my history as the best GP ever result-wise but I had a good time regardless. Big kudos to my traveling companion Felix and everybody else I interacted with down there in Prague for making it so! Prague is a lovely city, much to see and the prices on food and hotels and whatnot are cheap. I will definitely make another visit sometime in the future and I would highly urge you to pay Prague a visit if you haven’t!

Until next time!


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