Historically I’ve done well at Twenty Sided Store tournaments featuring a top 8. Every GPT I’ve participated in I’ve top 8’d here. Those days usually involve evening plans with my girlfriend being canceled much to her dismay and my stating that “I didn’t expect to do this well and seeing as I am I’d like to stay and finish it out” or “but babe, I think I can win this thing!”. Then I lose round one of top 8 or lose the semis. Never made it to a final.

If you’ve read my last report you noticed I’ve been down on MTG lately – frustrated with Standard, behind the curve on limited. I want Twenty Sided Season 1 participation points at the very least and a day with my buds playing MTG, even if I’m insanely frustrated, is pretty damn good. The pros outweigh the cons and I’m at the store around 11 for a sealed tournament with the exceptionally under printed Commander’s Arsenal as the top prize. I sit down across from my number one bro Kadar Brock and await instructions. Luis makes general announcements and talks about our need to fill out registration sheets. We open and log six packs worth of cards. It takes a while. There’s lots of “do I have to alphabetize, really?” questioning and one dude (who would later knock me out of contention for top 8) is on his phone the whole time talking to someone about getting the heat working in a building I assume his company manages. The person I’ve opened packs for will get two Mercurial Chemisters (one foil) and not much else. I didn’t spend heaps of time thinking on their build and sort of hoped they’d get to a good place with it because having two Chemisters is probably super fun if the Chemisters are drawing most of your library for you. A problem with this pool was the lack of blue or red cards worth digging for. It ended up going to Hunter O’Kelley Rodriguez (best name ever) and he seemed extremely excited about it. He later 2-3 dropped or something like that.

We handed in the registered pool and received the pool we end up playing with all day. Grant, the logger of my pool, had everything in alphabetical order except the gold cards and I spent a few minutes fixing this so I could check the registration sheet for errors. I see a Hypersonic Dragon, Nivix Guildmage, Goblin Electromancer, and an Essence Backlash. The next twenty-five minutes I tried to get UR to work. Do I splash white? Does it count as splashing if I play two Sunspire Griffins (1WW)? I kept going over the cards and stared at an Aquus Steet for way too long. What’s the plan with this deck? I realized it was stall out and win with … shit, what was I gonna win with? Isperia’s Skywatch? Hypersonic Dragon? How many times will I need to cast Downsize to prevent my death? Ugh. I had zero win conditions.

With five minutes left I put together a Jund deck that wasn’t aggro but could be with the right draws. It wasn’t control but had enough removal (Auger Spree, Ultimate Price, Launch Party, Street Spasm), Sluiceway Scorpions, Gatecreeper Vine, and Axebane Guardian backed up by first strikers and other stuff to be sort of mid-range.

When asked how my pool was I replied “I look forward to going home and getting some work done after I 0-2 drop,” which was met with jeers – people are clearly sick of me complaining about Magic.

Round one I faced a guy I’ve seen around the store for weeks but have never played. He’s British or Australian (sometimes it’s hard for me to figure that out). I overpowered his creatures with my creatures and removal game one. Game two is almost exactly the same. He forgets to regenerate his Grim Roustabout and having no opposition I smashed.

2-0 games. 1-0 matches.

Round two is against future tournament top 8 competitor (and recent GP Worcester day two’er) Johnny Cheng. He’s an awesome guy and playing against him is always fun. This time it wasn’t as much fun as it had been in the past. I mulliganed to five or six game one and got stomped by a better and more aggressive version of the deck I played. Game two is better for me but the results are the same.

2-2 games. 1-1 matches.

Round three I faced Hunter O’Kelley Rodriguez (remember him?). I don’t remember what happened game one and if there were two or three games in the match, probably three as I think he played a Chemister game two and I won game one. I do remember this turn of events in the final game:

Hunter’s at seven life. He attacks me with his board. He sees that I have a Sluiceway Scorpion in play and five lands. I don’t block. He seems sort of shocked. He passes the turn, tapped out I think. I untap and attack with my Scorpion. He has no effects. I cast Giant Growth targeting Scorpion. Damage resolves leaving Hunter at two. Launch Party targeting any of his dudes and my Scorpion does the final two damage and Hunter said it’s what he gets for obliterating me the Friday before with an insane BR deck. I took game two of that Friday’s match with a 7/7 Dredge Beetle after he stalled out – a small victory that day (later I 0-2 dropped FNM Standard).

4-3 games. 2-1 matches.

Round four was against Jess. We’re pretty even in matches in my lifetime Twenty Sided Store experience. She’s a better and more experienced player. Maybe she has an edge. Who knows? Our games were pretty beats intensive. I think she won one of the three but they were all close (‘cept the one she was seriously mana screwed on – the final one). I made several misplays in a game where I had two scavengable Scorpions laying in the yard and instead of using this ability I blew through a Giant Growth and a Street Spasm (I think). It turned out to not matter as Jess was drawing dead. I don’t advise giving your opponents extra turns if possible.

6-3 games. 3-1 matches.

Round five I play a guy with long hair who doesn’t listen to metal of any kind. We talk about this intermittently through our match. My pro-metal stance didn’t seem to affect him at all. Embarrassingly I forget his name. We have a close game one – his deck is similar to mine. I blow him out on his two land mulligan to four game two.

8-3 games. 4-1 matches

Prior to round six there’s a lot of talk about drawing in to top 8. If I did I probably would’ve made top 8 but my opponent wouldn’t have (or maybe it was the other way around). We decide to play. He’s got bombs (more than one I hear but I only saw Armada Wurm). Game one he casts Shielded Penis and I attempt to Ultimate Price the token (the token is a green creature) on his turn after he untaps which allows him to Trostoni’s Judgement my guy and make another Wurm token. Great. I scoop and curse my idiocy. I actually said “oh fuck that’s just awesome” as I scooped. I didn’t even fake a sideboard check as I’d done a few times in the tournament as I knew I had no answers to Armada Wurm I hadn’t side boarded a single card all day anyway. It’s really the only bomb I had played against. Not facing bombs when you don’t have significant large creature removal and absolutely no bombs of your own is a good route to the top 8, I figured this out early on.
Game two I kept a hand that had two mountains and a swamp. I never drew a forest the entire game and drew a ton of green spells. My opponent is stalled out on lands or spells or something – he’s certainly not doing anything interesting or scary on his turns. I’m in “draw go” mode because I can’t cast anything. Eventually he droped an Axebane Guardian which I Traitorous Instinct’d on my turn (after saying “ok watch how awesome this is going to be”), tap it for green mana, cast Gatecreeper Vine, and fetch a forest. We both laughed pretty hard at this chain of events. I was now able to cast all of my green spells one per turn until my opponent decided it was time for him to play more than land. He crushes me.

8-5 games. 4-2 matches.

Even at 4-2 I’m not out. If Dustin beats Zach I have a shot. He does this and puts himself into the last slot of the top 8. I missed by a tiny percentage point. Hugh was pissed because he was looking forward to me setting the Commander’s Arsenal on fire in the street, after winning it, to express my hatred for EDH. It was not meant to be. Zach ripped up all his cards (he told us both Trostani’s but he didn’t rip those up) and tossed them. I desleeved forgetting it’d be helpful to have my deck in hand when writing this article, and I hungout for the top 8 while playtesting Standard and Modern decks with Nick Heppdig. The top 8 was made up of Kadar, Johnny (round two opponent), Jason Chan, Hugh, Dana, the guy that beat me round six, Dustin, and Dylan Heister. Dana won the whole thing with some crazy Lobber Crew deck. She slaughtered everyone. Way to go Dana!

The event sold out as almost all of these big prize sealed events at Twenty Sided do. It was tons of fun and I continue to hold the opinion that the randomness and difficulty of Sealed makes it my preferred limited format. Switching decks with five minutes left in deck construction was the best decision I made all day. You can’t polish a turd, my friends.

I’ll be reporting my FNM experience from Rochester this week. I’ll RTR draft at Millennium Games. It’s always crazy to draft somewhere other than Twenty Sided because the play level, styles, and attitudes of other stores and players is so different. It’s super interesting and weird – I look forward to my twice per year FNMs in Rochester.

Later dudes and dudettes,

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