I didn’t really want to go to Barcelona about a week before the GP because I didn’t really feel like playing much magic and paying a few hundred Euros to play in a tournament when your hearts not in it isn’t the best idea. Unfortunately for me I had already booked the £40 flight about a month before and Marco had already booked a place to stay so I’d have to pay for that anyways. After deciding to go and then not to go, I just thought f*** it and told Marco I’d be going on the Thursday before the GP.
My flight on the Friday was stupidly early so I had to leave about 3am to drive to Stansted and pick up Marco on the way. We arrived in Gerona airport and were welcomed by the one and only Rich ‘DB’ Bland before getting a coach for an hour to arrive in Barca. We stopped for lunch about 5 minutes from the coach station and I saw that they had the drink ‘Aquarius‘ which was the winning formula for Randle’s top 8 at worlds so I thought maybe this trip was a good idea after all. We finished the food with Marco finding two strands of hair in his salad so he got to run the ‘I’m not paying’ line which he was famous for after San Juan and we headed to the venue.
I didn’t have any cards because I left everything last minute so I needed to find someone with a deck while Marco only had 1 bye so he decided to play the GPT. I don’t really like the standard format at the moment and I really don’t like Cawblade because it has some really awkward draws and is just not the real U/W control that I usually play. I looked at some decks online and couldn’t find any control decks that I liked the look of so I thought maybe I should play aggro for once seeing as I never do. I also thought it might help me improve my limited game if I play aggro instead of control because I might learn more about combat interactions and attrition wars.
Marco and Seb ‘specky’ Parker both scrubbed from their GPTs so we decided to head to our apartment and stop off for Chinski dinner along the way. I managed to mise a free wifi connection at our apartment so was looking for decks online that I would be happy playing. The lack of cards meant that I had a choice of Boros and maybe UB infect or Valakut. I’m not a big fan of Valakut because it’s not very interactive; I had no idea whether UB infect was any good and Boros was the kind of aggro deck which I didn’t mind it can just have really sick draws. A few hours later and talking about some choices with Marco I had this 75 ready for the next day:
This deck is very similar to Rietzl’s deck from Worlds. I think the main deck is pretty tight; the only card I wasn’t happy with was the Sword of Feast & Famine because all the Valakut decks have Baloth and it’s so bad for you when they discard it off a Sword hit. The sideboard is always going to depend on what matchups you face but I think this was ok for a GP as you’re likely to face every deck at least once. Changes I’d make to this 75 are -1 Sword of Feast & Famine +1 Mirran Crusader in the main and + 1 Divine Offering -1 Koth from the sideboard. The Sword of Feast & Famine was never really good and Crusader is decent versus Valakut, Vampires and U/B control as for the sideboard, Divine Offering is always live versus the control decks where they have Tumble Magnets, Swords and Precursor Golems whereas Koth just dies to 1/1 fliers and is pretty mana intensive.
Our apartment turned out to be pretty big but had one major flaw. The shower kept getting clogged up. Our shower room was basically flooded by the time I wanted to use it and there was no hot water either, great way to start the day!
DB and Specky were in a mad rush to get to the venue early because for some reason they actually thought the GP would start on time whereas me and Marco being pretty laid back stopped off at the sickest bakery ever and by the time we arrived we had like half an hour spare before the player meeting started.
During my three byes I played about 30 matches versus my Italian friend Samuele who was playing Valakut with main deck Obstinate Baloths and our games were pretty evenly split down the line.
Pairings went up and having to spend about 5 minutes scrolling down the names of ‘Garcia’ I was eventually able to find my name.
Round 4: Italian playing Valakut.
I didn’t know this guy but I think he was watching me playing Samuele earlier which meant he knew my deck. I was pretty confident that he was Valakut because he was Italian.
Game 1 I got a pretty fast start and he slowed me down with 2 Baloths but he never had the Titans when he had the mana so I just beat him up with beefy Hawks.
Game 3 was really close and I stalled on lands again but managed to get him to low life. I needed him not to have a Titan and for me to draw a land so I could Sword up my Firewalker and win. He didn’t have it and I drew a land, weeeeeeee!
Game 1 he just drew Bloodghasts which are basically dead versus Boros and I was able to take the game easily.
The next 2 games were really frustrating and very similar. He basically just drew all the 2 for 1s like Arc Trail and Gatekeeper whilst playing badly, (bolting my guy before I’d even cracked a fetch land). It didn’t matter though as I drew like dog dirt and lost.
Surprised to get a feature match at x-1 but they were running 4 feature matches every round so I guess they had to fill the slots. 2 random Spanish guys thought they had a feature match because they thought table 16 meant table 60 and it was quite funny to see them shuffling up looking all excited to be then told that they should go back to table 60.
Game 1 he mulliganed to 5 but it was a sick 5 and he ramped into an Inferno Titan buy turn 5 after destroying my Sword with a main deck Viridian Corrupter. Then there was an interesting spotted where I had Mystic with an Adventuring Gear on it and a fetch. I tapped my mana and untapped it representing Lightning Bolt and passed. If he attacks with Titan here I just lose the game because I just had a land in hand and no board with him at 10. Instead he just tanks for about a minute and then passes I manage to rip the bolt I repped the turn before and when he eventually attacks I kill his Titan and then put a Sword on a Hawk and eventually kill him.
Game 2 he just nut drawed me like Valakut does sometimes and I was never really in it by turn 5.
Game 3 I had a really aggro start and decided to go all in on dealing as much damage in one turn and not play around Pyroclasm because I had Koth in hand and if I draw a 4th land he’s basically dead. He had the Pyroclasm and I untapped and drew Steppe Lynx, so demoralising. I didn’t see a 4th land for about 3 turns and by then it was too late and he won.
This match reminded me how much I hated aggro and loved control. It’s the worst feeling to just be drawing dead past turn 4 like that and you have to really run good to win all the time with aggro in my opinion.
This match was a pretty good game of magic where both players never got mana screwed and there were a lot of interactions.
Game 1 I turn 1 Goblin Guide to see Arc Trail on top of his deck after he played Evolving Wilds. Apparently he had Arc Trails and Sparkmages main deck but somehow I managed to win the game with beefed up Hawks and timely removal spells on his Sparkmages.
Game 2 went really long and we got into a top deck war where he drew a both a Baneslayer and a Gideon (I guess he really wanted to beat the mirror). He had to block with Baneslayer versus my 7/8 Steppe Lynx and I just teamed the Gideon and then eventually grinded out the win with some timely removal spells and good 2 for 1 spots.
This time I got a feature match at x-2 versus a former GP champion. His deck was mono red with Kuldotha Phoenix, Inferno Titans, Tumble Magnets and some 2 mana signets.
Game 1 he slagstormed my team and beat me down with Phoenix before I could kill him with Hero of Oxid Ridges.
Game 2 was pretty long but he had trouble with Kor Firewalker and my own Koth and I eventually punched through his recurring Phoenix to win.
He had been playing pretty slow in the first 2 games and we had about 8 minutes left on the clock for game 3.
I got off to a fast start and got him to low life before he was stopping my attacks with Tumble Magnets and Contagion Clasps. I eventually drew Khemba which mean I would get ahead on board because he was using his mana every turn to either proliferate his Tumble Magnets or returnPhoenix. He eventually managed to kill my Khemba with about 3 burn spells and we were back to square one when time was called. Nothing really changed and extra turns were up where we would both be knocked out. He looked at the top 3 to 4 cards and kept going on about how he was going to win because he had a bunch of Titans coming and Tumble Magnet. It wasn’t the case because in my top 3 or 4 cards I had a Firewalker and Divine Offering which would have killed his last Tumble Magnet with counters on it so basically you couldn’t see who would have won. He then kept saying he was going to win and I should concede even though it wasn’t clear. I then asked him if he was chasing pro points this year or if he is qualified for any Pro Tours and he simply ignored my question and kept going on and on about how he was going to win. The judges kept prompting me to make a decision which I thought was pretty unfair that they kept asking me and never asked him. I knew he wasn’t going to back down, I was also pretty tilted because of how the match ended due to his slow play and I knew he wasn’t going to make day 2 with that pile of a deck so I just decided to be the bigger man and conceded and stormed off refusing his hand shake in the process.
I hung around the venue just thinking over my games and then met up with Lucas Florent one of my French pals who was also out due to running bad. We sat outside and just had general banter with Matignon and it cheered me up a bunch after a disappointing Grand Prix. I went back inside to see DB had 9-0d, Marco had squeaked into Day 2 and Specky lost the last 3 rounds to not make it.
We headed back to our apartment and again stopped off at the Chinski where I tried some shark fin soup for the first time because I wanted to see what all the hype Gordon Ramsey was on about (it was actually quite nice). For some reason I decided that I wanted to play Legacy on the Sunday and not the PTQ and borrowed a Dredge deck from Specky. I did a modo draft for the 2nd night in a row which I won and then sorted out my Legacy deck for the next day. I ended up 0-1-1 in the legacy and dropped after the draw because I was bored, running bad and the Dredge deck was just horrible. I found Sam Black who also dropped from the Legacy and we just team drafted throughout the day and ended up being 4-0 in drafts with Specky being our first team mate and Marco being our team mate for the 3 remaining drafts. We had Chinski for the final time that evening and I won yet another Modo draft when we were back in the apartment.
On the Monday our flight was in the evening so we walked around a sunny Barcelona for the day and nearly managed to miss the last coach for the airport at around 6pm. In the airport, Me, Marco, DB and Karim an Italian living in London, played Chinese poker until we landed in Stansted. Marco was down 20 Euros with everyone else being up and then I drove home around 3am after dropping Marco off at Cambridge to end a fun but disappointing weekend.
- Winning every draft I played at the weekend (8 drafts in total).
- Winning battle for once in my life and getting a Tezzeret out of it.
- The funny stories the Frenchies told me.
- Having decent weather for at least one day.
- Never to play aggro in constructed ever again.
- Never play Legacy again.
Special thanks to Manaleak.com for helping me out for this GP.
Thanks for reading,