Grand Prix London 2011 by Baljeet Samra

Grand Prix London 2011 by Baljeet Samra


I guess it all started at Pro Tour Amsterdam in September 2010. I played an M11 sealed Generic Grand Prix Trial (GPT) and there was a top 8 draft with 2 sets of 3 byes and a booster box for the top 2 players due to the number of entrants. I rate these events very highly, I enjoy sealed and you can win a load of cards off it and the ability to use the award at any Grand Prix (GP) is great. I subsequently won a GPT for Paris at Manaleak, but always intended to use the generic award for London. You can find my GPT report here.

I figured there was going be a lot less players and the chances of making day 2 should be quite good. Now that there is going to be more GPs I think the generic awards has increased in value, but with the Pro Tour being private it decreases my ability to take part in these sort of Generic GPTs tournaments. Overall I’m still undecided on WOTC’s announcement on major tournaments and I’d like to see how it pans out.


So anyway, GP London… My bro (Manveer) and I took the train down, I booked months in advance we stayed in a hostel approx 15 mins walk from the venue. We got to Euston on the Friday and immediately parted company. Manveer went to the hostel and venue to play some GPTs. I meanwhile took the train over to Harrow to meet some Uni friends and spend the day drinking. We got to the venue in the evening and did some more drinking. I woke up the next day with less of a hangover than I expected and had consumed tea, coffee, coca-cola and water prior to starting the GP in attempt to recharge. I ended up receiving a really sick pool with double Bonehoard, which is a card I am a big fan of, that coupled with the 3 byes meant I probably would have been disappointed not to make day 2 despite me and Manveer not having made day 2 before. I built a red/green deck and felt I built the right deck even though I felt pretty rough during deck building so that was a relief, my sealed deck was this:

1 x Iron Myr
1 x Copper Myr
1 x Hoard-Smelter Dragon
1 x Kuldotha Flamfiend
1 x Viridian Emissary
1 x Viridian Corrupter
1 x Bloodshot Trainee
1 x Slice in Twain
1 x Blisterstick Shaman
1 x Blightwidow
1 x Chrome Steed
1 x Ogre Resister
1 x Myr Sire
1 x Training Drone
1 x Fangren Marauder
1 x Green Sun’s Zenith
1 x Liquimetal Coating
1 x Contagion Engine
1 x Turn To Slag
1 x Trigon Of Rage
1 x Piston Sledge
1 x Mortarpod
2 x Bonehoard

+ 9 Mountains and 7 Forests

I had a Virulent Wound, Go for the Throat and Spread the Sickness making black look ok, and in white I had double Divine Offering, Sunspear Shikari and Glimmer Point Stag that looked appealing. I also had a Venser which I hated having to leave out as it would combo great with Bonehoards but there was very little playable blue. The Drone is debatable as is the Coating, I found myself siding out the Drone against anyone with a reasonable amount of removal but when I managed to follow it up with Piston Sledge it was pretty devasting but still pretty risky.

I had a couple of matches the first few rounds with Tom Castle and Michael Maxwell who also had 3 byes and my deck won them so I was feeling quite pleased with it. By the time round 4 came I felt recovered and ready for Magic.


Round 4 – Sebastian Westerlund.

Sebastian played a Decimater Web game 1 which was pretty devastating but I think I destroyed it before it milled me out I think I sided in crush game 2 and won 2-0.


Round 5 – Louis Deltour.

Looking at my notes Louis had such delights as double Blightwidow, double Grasp of Darkness, Black Sun’s Zenith, Viridian Corrupter, Turn to Slag, Spread the Sickness, Go for the throat, the Sword of Body and Mind which turned up game 3 and crushed me and a Hoard-Smelter Dragon I was told about later in the day. Its not hard to see why he went 10-0 on day 1. I felt his pool was sicker than mine and he also played very well. Louis was a sound guy too and I’m glad he had such a great weekend. I think it was after round 6, me, Manveer and Jon Hagan all had something like 5-1 records and all 3 of our losses were down to Louis who had proved our undoing.

Louis had a couple of consultations with judges both before and after round 1 but I didn’t really think it was anything to do with our games. He did say after round one that he had asked what would happen if we both only had a Black Sun’s Zenith as the only card in our decks and was told that the players would have to accept a draw or be accused of stalling for time. I thought it was interesting but incredibly unlikely. I did somehow manage to win game 2 but in game 3 the Sword just took me apart. I lost 2-1 and I’m chuffed I managed to take a game off him.


Round 6 – James Foster.

James asked me if my pool was good at the start I said yes, I didn’t wanted to seem arrogant but I answered quite quickly. I think I gained a fair amount of life in both games in this match and probably sided in my second Fangren. I think I just had too many 2 for 1’s for him my deck did seem to be full of them.


Round 7 – Nikolaj Kim.

Nikolaj had a very fast Boros like deck and we managed to have some good games. After the match he said he hoped I made day 2 as he considered me (or my deck) worthy opposition. We did both make day 2 and he did say it was his first day 2.

I think I managed to win one game by gaining a load of life with double Fangren down but it was his Hero of Bladehold that I struggled with. In game 3 I managed to top deck Zenith as one of only 3 outs to be able to play Corrupter to kill Hero using the Coating, but then he played a Golem Artisan and killed me. I think the Artisan and Hero were the only cards that scared me that round. I think I ended up losing 2-1. Now at a 5-2 record I needed to win both the final rounds to make day 2.


Round 8 – Albert Masclans.

This match was pretty tense my opponent had a very good pool including Wurmcoil Engine, Flamefiend and Thopter Assembly, Steel Helkite, Massacre Wurm and Morbid Plunder. I think game 1 he played Massacre Wurm and Wurmcoil Engine which I struggled with, and he got creatures back with Plunder to beat me.

Game 2 I won. Game 3 went quite long Mark Knight said he had looked at his hand and thought I was screwed until he saw what my deck was capable of. He played the Helkite and Thopter Assembly which I killed with the Slice in Twain and a Zenithed Corrupter but if he had seen Wurmcoil I really would have struggled. I think I won 2-1 and was really relieved.


Round 9 – Joshua Chisnall.

Joshua did not come across as that experienced a player so I think he must have been having a great day. I think I beat his Boros deck quite quickly. Although I was scared when he flashed in an Argentum Armour with a Shimmer Myr and killed the Myr straight off to stop him pulling similar shennanigans, that card can do some quite crazy things. I went over to watch Mark Knight win his last round by overcoming Consecrated Sphinx for the 3-4 time that day in a close looking game where both players stalled to mana screw.

It turned out me, Manveer and Mark all made day 2 and we went to Pizza Express to celebrate.


Day 2 we were told to arrive before 8am. We ended up arriving around 35 minutes to 8 and were surprised to be the first ones there. We then had to wait 35 minutes for the doors to open which did not impress me in the slightest but maybe its just down to my not having made day 2 before, still, I like to try to be early for tournaments.

Draft One.

I sat down in my pod to see I also had Olivier Ruel, Shuuhei Nakamura and one or two other Pro’s in my pod so I guess I had drawn the short straw. I opened the pack and first picked a Flamefiend. I think this is usually the right choice where there is no Corrupter or Go for the Throat and the rare is not worth taking. However I nearly always draft Infect since Beseiged so I tend to get a bit lost when I have to try to draft something else.

I opened pack 2 and saw Skithiryx staring back at me. There was no way I was passing that so I took it and reverted from Boros to my more natural instinct and pick good black Infect orientated cards. I had taken quite a few good white cards pack one so ended up as black-white Infect.

Pack 3 I opened and saw a Myr Battlesphere staring at me so my deck was a bit half and half but it was enough infect to make it a viable Infect deck. Besides the Battlesphere and Dragon should win games on their own.


Round 10 – Andreas Ganz.

I had not heard of Andreas before and when he said he was worried by our pod I thought he might be an amateur player like myself… I later found this was not the case. But still Andreas impressed me more than any other player over the weekend and it felt a privlege to play against him. Game one I think he crushed me with Scudder, Serum Raker and Sky-Eel School. I don’t like being beaten by these sort of cards as they aren’t my play style, but flyers are flyers and they have had an impact over the weekend. I think I need to pick flyers more highly or possibly Bladed Pinions as well.

Game 2 I was taken apart by Blistergrub and Scrapdiver Serpent, once again not my style. I wasn’t sure if they were sideboard cards but you can not deny their effectiveness, Serpent in particular seems to go quite late in drafts. I did have the chance to kill the Serpent as soon as he played it but waited… only for my removal spell to be Stoic Rebuttaled. It didn’t matter though because I wouldn’t have been in the game even without the Serpent so my mistake didn’t matter. I lost 2-0


Round 11 – Sveinung Bjornerud.

Sveinung mulliganned to 6 and missed his second land drop game one and struggled to get into the game. I’m assuming it was one land a Myr or Sphere cos that sort of hand I will generally keep if on the draw and mulling to 6. But its something you don’t see happen to people very often at all in my experience.

Game 2 he played Bellowing Tanglewurm, Cystbearers, Corrupter and Keepers and poisoned me very effectively as I only had black creatures.

Game 3 he missed his fifth land and didn’t do much despite holding a lot of cards which worried me, I won and he showed me a hand full of powerful 5 drops which felt like a lucky escape. He seemed devasted to lose to double screw and I feel really bad for him. I won 2-1.


Round 12 – Shuuhei Nakamura.

Game one I think he killed my Skitheryx with a Sunblast Angel and I killed him by pumping my Mana Myr and the team into Battlesphere, which I think he had chosen not to block.

Game 2 he killed me with flyers reminding me of my match with Ganz as he had double Kemba’s Skygyard, Sky-Eel School and most importantly DOUBLE Sunblast Angel. I liked his play of using Steel Sabotage to return and recharge Tumble Magnet.

Game 3 he countered the Battlesphere using Sabotage, I played it as soon as I got to 7 mana. I’d figured there was no point in waiting as he would proabably have the Sabotage and had loads of mana so wasn’t going to tap out anyway. He did tap out at one point so I played Skitheryx. He couldn’t counter it and so long as I left black mana open he couldn’t use his Angels to kill it. I figured the game would be mine at this point until he played Corrupted Conscience to take the Dragon and later kill me with it as I had no answer to Conscience. In fact I think the lack of answers to Conscience/Reins is what makes them so strong in this format. I lost 2-1.


Draft Two.

I opened my first pack and saw a Blightwidow, Burn The Impure and a Firefiend. I decided to take the Blightwidow and let the other players fight over the red cards. I think I also had a Myr Turbine that I declined this pack, its a card I’m not quite sure of. Interestingly, David Royde stated it was his best card and I had seen Kai Budde use it quite devastatingly at GP Paris, so maybe I’ve undervalued the card. I picked a fairly solid BG Infect deck – 1 Corpse Cur, 1 Morbid Plunder, 2 Blightwidows, loads of equipment and a Brass Squire as I saw 3 in a row I think. This is more of what I’m used to drafting and I feel taking the Flamefiend might have steered me off course again.


Round 13 – Tomas Vegh.

Game one I won quite easily. I found the combination of Perilous Myr and Mortarpod is pretty devastating (and to think I had been considering to play Virulent Wound over the Myr!). Game 2 I got double Blightwidow and some equipment down which is tough for Boros. He did managed to get some good tempo with a well timed Fulgent Distraction, but I poisoned him after that. He said my deck was better and that he should have picked Infect. I won 2-0.


Round 14 – Robert Darnhofer.

He opened with white spell bomb, Memnite and Master’s Call but I blew him out with Ratchet Bomb for zero and went on to poison him.

Game 2 was the most frustrating game of the whole weekend. He played Tezzeret and made a 5/5 and some Chrome Steeds and double Arrested both my Blightwidows and got me down to 1 life. I stabilised and had enough blockers for his army I slowly started swininging with a Plague Stinger equipped with Strider Harness for 2 poison each turn. I top decked a Mortar Pod with 8 mana down when he was at 4 poison and just swung for 2, taking him to 6. He top decked Golem Artisan and charged in. I immediately used a Sylvok Replica to kill the Golem as I didn’t want to get caught out by a surprise trample activation. He gave a Steed and bladed Sentinal trample and I was one toughness off blocking all his stuff. So just told him it was lethal after thinking for a long time trying to see the way out. He played one of the 2 Seize the Iniatives he had played earlier to ensure it was lethal.

Later I was thinking I had a second Plague Stinger that could have attacked and then I could have thrown 3 creatures at him with mortarpod to kill him. I was worried he might have Dispense Justice or Go for the Throat or the Geyser as the one remaining card in his hand so it seemed safer to hold off for a turn before going for the kill, but maybe that was the wrong decision as Seize the Initiative seemed more likely. What do you guys think?

He told me after he had sided out Hoard-Smelter Dragon as he didn’t think it was good against me and sided in Tezzeret, which was pretty savage– although to be honest, I think the dragon would have been just as bad. He pointed to the clock 2 minutes left no wonder he wasn’t bothered about me thinking for so long and the match ended a 1-1 draw. Its incredibly rare that my games go to massive board stalls like that.


Round 15 – Jakub Toth.

This round I managed to lose in 8 minutes. Both games invlolved him playing turn 1 Darksteel Axe and turn 2 Glint Hawk and me being manascrewed. He played a Sledge game 2 and finished me with a Necrogen Censer.

In game 2, on the play, I’d kept a hand of 2 swamps a load of 4 drops and one or two 3 drops… which was probably wrong, but I felt a bit despondant at that point. Glint Hawk another flyer I don’t tend to play but one that can have very effective decks drafted around it.

I knew I was going to finish just outside the money and was absolutely gutted. So many what ifs… But at least Manveer, Mark Knight and I had made Day 2 and Mark finished in the money after going 3-0 and then 0-3 in the drafts.

Thats my last GP for 2011, I can’t afford Prague as I’d just bought a house, but I am definately looking forward to Nationals and the Philidelphia PTQ season… even though I pretty much dislike standard.

Thanks for reading if you are still with me, and I hope to see you soon at some upcoming events soon.

Baljeet Samra

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