If you weren’t able to attend GP Pittsburgh but kept up with the event via social media, everything terrible you heard was true. Yes, the TO commandeered several of the women’s bathrooms and turned them into men’s rooms. Yes, one of the designated women’s rooms was a converted family bathroom with a broken lock. Yes, the wait between round times was in the realm of 30 minutes. Yes, the side events didn’t run for most of Saturday and when they finally did fire, did so at a glacial pace. The prize wall sucked, there were two water fountains for 3,000 people, and tight quarters made it hellish to check the pairings board or really do much of anything.

Despite PES doing everything they could to ruin my weekend, I still had a good time. I got to travel down with my best friends, saw an insane fireworks display over the Allegheny River Friday night, won a hotel room team draft, saw a good friend make Top Eight with a rogue list, and managed to day two despite immediately losing my first two rounds after my round one bye. Despite top eight-ing my fare share of PPTQs and Modern States, this was my first Modern GP day two and I was ecstatic to run hot after such an abysmal start to the event.

Anyway, let’s get to it. To no one’s surprise I played Bloom Titan at the GP:

Bloom Titan GP Pittsburgh

Lands (27)
Simic Growth Chamber
Gemstone Mine
Gruul Turf
Tolaria West
Temple of Mystery
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Slayers' Stronghold
Selesnya Sanctuary
Radiant Fountain
Mana Confluence
Boros Garrison
Cavern of Souls
Golgari Rot Farm
Khalni Garden

Creatures (6)
Primeval Titan
Azusa, Lost but Seeking

Spells (27)
Serum Visions
Summer Bloom
Summoner's Pact
Sleight of Hand
Ancient Stirrings
Pact of Negation
Slaughter Pact
Amulet of Vigor
Hive Mind
Sideboard (15)
Seal of Primordium
Leyline of Sanctity
Hornet Queen
Ghost Quarter
Engineered Explosives
Bojuka Bog
Swan Song

This is the list I’ve been on for the past few weeks. I chose to give up the third Hive Mind, the fourth Ancient Stirrings, and the creature flex slot to play three Sleight of Hands. While Sleight of Hand is certainly no Serum Visions, having the ability to dig just a little bit deeper, for one blue mana, is worthwhile in a deck that needs to find a few crucial pieces to go off. The only thing I would change about this list is to replace the basic Island with a second Vesuva and to replace the two Pyroclasms in the side with Firespouts. The second Vesuva is something my friend Ben Feingersh has been trying to sell me on for a while now. The idea behind it is that when you’re attacking with titan, having a second Vesuva gives you a ton of additional options. Sometimes you need to play a Slayer’s Stronghold earlier in the game and tap it for mana, having two Vesuvas would allow you to fetch up another copy of Stronghold, give the Titan haste, and then allow you to use the second Vesuva to copy Boros Garrison in order to use Sunhome to give the Titan double strike. Vesuva does an excellent impression of a karoo land if you need one for Summer Bloom, and lets you double up on utility lands like Khalni Garden and Radiant Fountain if you need to. While I stubbornly held on to the basic island in the list, as a means of casting my additional blue spells (Sleight of Hand) and to search up when the opponent Ghost Quarters a land or Path to Exiles a Titan, I think the Vesuva is probably better. Also, with the rise of Zoo and Wild Nacatl, Pyroclasm becomes less optimal, and having a red sweeper deal three damage is important. Pyroclasm is still better against Affinity but Firespout is still more than reasonable against the robotic menace.

ROUND TWO—Joey with UR Twin (1-2)

I started off game one on a mull to five, not exactly where I wanted to be against an actively bad match-up. I still managed to win as my opponent had no counter spell for my Primeval Titan and no Splinter Twin for his Deceiver Exarch. If you can resolve a Titan against twin, the game becomes favorable for the Bloom player. Not only does UR Twin not have a good way to get rid of the jolly green giant, every turn you attack you can search up Tolaria West, bounce it, and transmute it for Slaughter Pact or Pact of Negation to disrupt their combo. Unfortunately, I mulled to five game two with a much less explosive hand and fell victim to Vendilion Clique and Snapcaster Mage. Game three, I had to use my Seal of Primordium to blow up a Splinter Twin and then my opponent cast Blood Moon. I never found another Seal and couldn’t survive on all mountains.

ROUND THREE—Matt with Jund (1-2)

Game one I kept this on the play:

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Any green bounce land allows me to play a turn two titan, 9/53 cards, roughly a 17% chance. However, if I draw an untapped land that can add blue, there are six of them in my deck, I can dig for the karoo land with Serum Visions then play a turn three Titan. That is an 11% chance of drawing an untapped blue source. If I draw a comes into play tapped land that adds blue, I can play Serum Visions on turn two (thanks to Amulet of Vigor), and also have a turn three Titan. 7%. Add the percentages together we’re at a 35% of drawing live on the first turn. If we miss for a turn, there is still a good chance we can win with a turn four Titan. I missed for 3 turns and lost the game. Game two, I had a double Leyline hand that stopped his discard and Lilianas while I ground him out with Titan, Thragtusk, and Hornet Queen. Game three, I kept a reasonable hand on the draw and was dismantled by two discard spells, Fulminator Mage, and Tarmogoyf.

It was at this point that I considered dropping. With a 1-2 start I would have to win six matches in a row. While I believe Bloom Titan is an incredible deck, and I like to think that I’m a competent pilot, the fact that just one bad match-up would abruptly end my day made me want to jam side events. However, since the side events weren’t firing anyway, I stayed in the main event. It was at this point that I remember having a conversation with Thien Nguyen, a friend from Boston who ended up making the Top Eight with RG Scapeshift, who said, “Well now that you’re in the X-2 bracket, going 6-0 should be easy. You’ll crush it.” I wasn’t sure if I believed him but appreciated the sentiment all the same.

ROUND FOUR—Sam with Burn (2-0)

My opponent announced that he was really tilted at the beginning of the game and apologized in advance if he was a dick to me. This struck me as absurd as if you realize you’re tilted and likely to be an asshole, you could maybe, I don’t know, devote some energy into not being an asshole. I beat him in two not particularly close games and he yelled at the dude sitting next to me for asking if I won the match.

ROUND FIVE—Adam with Combo Elves (2-1)

Adam was playing the elves deck that tries to go infinite with Cloudstone Curio. The first game he did just that, gaining a million life and taking infinite turns with Emrakul. The next two games I Pyroclasm‘ed his board and beat down with Titan.

ROUND SIX—Josh with Jund (2-0)

I won game one with a T3 Hive Mind. Game two, I managed to beat Ghost Quarter and two Fulminator Mage when he had no additional pressure and I built up a board of Thragtusk into Primeval Titan.

ROUND SEVEN—Chris with UWR Control (2-1)

The one thing that sticks out to me about this match is that in game two my opponent conceded when I attacked with a 10-6 Primeval Titan thanks to two Amulet of Vigors, Boros Garrison, and Slayer’s Stronghold. My opponent deduced that I could kill him by fetching up Vesuva and Sunhome. This would be true if Sunhome wasn’t in my hand. While I think that I still probably win that game, if you’re playing against Bloom Titan, don’t concede until they show you lethal.

ROUND EIGHT—Devin with Burn (2-1)

If your meta is full of Burn decks, I would certainly recommend playing Bloom Titan. You are often faster than them, can gain a bunch of life thanks to Radiant Fountain and Vesuva, and have an excellent sideboard plan with Leylines and Thragtusk.

ROUND NINE—Pete with BR Tempo (2-0)

Pete was playing an innovative BR Tempo deck with Bloodghast, Young Pyromancer, Gurmag Angler, hand disruption, removal, and some graveyard synergies. Game one, I killed him on Turn two with Hive Mind. Game two, he was stuck on one land and a bunch of discard spells while I had Leyline of Sanctity and a turn three Titan.

Just like that, I had rattled off six wins in a row to clinch my first constructed GP day two. While I know that day two-ing isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things, especially in comparison to the consistent finishes of pro players and talented friends alike, it felt good. I think a lot about Modern, spend a lot of time playing it, and of course I write an article every week and it felt like I was vindicated on some small level for the time and effort I put into the format. Though I’ve been playing for nearly half my life at this point, I’m glad that I can still experience new milestones in the game I love.

I’ll be back next week with the second part of my GP Pittsburgh tournament report. Spoiler alert, it’s not pretty.

In terms of Magic, Shawn Massak is a Modern enthusiast, with a penchant for tier two decks, counterspells, and pre Eighth Edition frames. In terms of life, Shawn lives in Brighton, MA where he works as an employment coordinator for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and spends his free time reading comics, complaining about pro-wrestling, and wishing his apartment allowed dogs as pets.

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