It took about 3 years back but I finally Day 2’d a Grand Prix. It’s worth celebrating, sure. But this post is less a pat on the back and more of a what’s different about making Day 2 than other previous Grand Prixs where I did not make it as far. Philadelphia, Lisbon, Atlantic City, Las Vegas,Washington DC, Richmond, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Orlando… and Atlantic City is 10 total Grand Prixs in the last 3 years since my return to Magic.

What was different about this time?

I think the main differences were how I felt about three things: My play level, How I felt about my opponents, and how often I ate and hydrated.

Your play level?

Not only have I tried very hard to get in reps with this sealed format (say what you will about MTGO but Phantom Sealed is a cheap way to get in reps), but I was careful to make sure I played smart. I took the time to think about each play and to remember triggers. At the start of each game I’m shuffling my opponent’d decks and making sure to count them as well with a quick pile shuffle. I’m watching out for obvious tricks and being greedy. So yea, I was happy with my play level for the most part. There were some greedy keeps and I got punished when I got greedy, but that just drives home the point: PLAY SMART, WIN GAMES.

How you felt about your opponents?

Previously, I used to gauge my opponents as I sat down with them. I’d know more or less what they were like after we exchanged names and rolled for Play/Draw. I could tell you whether I was winning or losing this game right away. I was often wrong, but I had a gut feeling. I’ve taken great pains to eradicate that sort of thinking from my mental repertoire. I wait til after Game 2-3… til the match is over to decide how I feel about my opponent.

You ate and hydrated regularly?

I made sure to have a drink between each round and every 3 rounds I had a snack (Thank you 98 cent Clif bars at Trader Joe’s) or a Meal. I don’t just drink water or soda or energy drinks. I drink a little bit of everything. I’m a sugar fiend and I’m trying hard to change that, but in the mean time when my brain is working hard I like to give it what it’s used to and that’s a little bit of everything.

Anything Else?

Previously, when I talk about GPs, I talk about what it’s like to be on the bubble at X-2. It’s psychically very draining. Wishing you opponent well and trying to move on to the next round when I’m in dream killer mode is tough. Each time I knock a person out of the tourney there’s a bit of therapy I feel like I have to do. We talk about our decks and plays and stuff, I wish them well and they me, but the underlying sentiment is that they lost and I won and they’re not happy about it. Nor should they be. I mean we can’t all win. That’s what Magic is, one person walks away happy and one person… hopefully learns something.

I was X-1 after round 5 until round 9. I was never on the bubble all day. That made it easier to move on through each round. No pressure to do or die all day. It was perfect. I just played Magic and didn’t worry about anything else.

I met up with friends between rounds thought about my games and then I hid for a bit, focused myself, and then calmed down and centered myself. Grand Prixs are a lot of social engagement. If you aren’t careful you can wear yourself out mentally and physically. That said, I’m here primarily to hang out with friends so I want to see them. It’s a balance.

In Closing.

I want to give a hearty congrats to Hugh Kramer for hitting 14th place, that’s pretty amazing. Thank you to my Casino Crew Erik, Tim, Tony and Paul for hanging out while I made my money back on Craps. Congrats to Paul for making his first top anything! He took my advice in Standard and played “the best deck”. SUPER HUGE shout out to my buddy Stefano Black’s little brother Alessandro, he’s 12 this is his first Day 2 after only 3 Grand Prix! Dude even smoked Craig Wescoe, his favorite pro. I hope one day that I get to beat… Mike Long doesn’t really play anymore… I guess I’ll settle for LSV. Seriously, though It was a great weekend, and I hit the ground running back in New York after skipping a day of Legacy at 20ss and 3-0-1ing the Tuesday night Modern show. It’s May and I’m still killing it, if your reading this it’s my 35th Birthday, so hopefully this run just keeps up indefinitely.


Zac Clark

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