It has been a while since my last article and what a better opportunity than to share my winning at Grand Prix Warsaw 2014.
I just came back home from Atlanta after basically a double trip to the GP and the PT.
It has been a lot of Magic for me the last couple of weeks and I am completely demolished.
GP Warsaw: Getting there
Last year, for the GP at this same location, I had the brilliant idea of taking a flight early on Saturday. I was going to land around 10 am and was getting to the venue around 11.30-12, the perfect time when you have some byes and you are playing a constructed GP.
What I didn’t think about is that for getting to the airport on time for my flight, I had to wake up at 3am that Saturday, basically 6 hours before the start of the tournament. That was clearly a terrible idea, playing the tournament with 4-5 hours of sleep.
This time I took the wise option of flying on Friday evening. Getting to the venue around 6pm, meeting some friends, getting some food and going to the hotel for some proper sleep.
Saturday: Theros Sealed Deck
Having three byes, I only needed to 4-2 on Saturday to guarantee myself a slot on Sunday’s main event. My pool was not very impressed, but at least white was the strongest color. The easiest conclusion I got in this format is that white decks are by far the best placed, even mediocre white decks do most of the time better and stronger decks of other colors.
Red was the best companion in my pool for white, with some awkward double color spells. So I registered the 40 cards I wanted to start with in each of my rounds and walked around finding some friends to discuss pools, cards choices and to just relax for the next few hours.
Most of the people disagree with some of my card choice, recommending me to change my [card]Pinnacle of Rage[/card] and my Starfall for the two copies of [card]Oppressive Rays[/card] in my sideboard.
This GP was somehow my limited preparation for the PT the week after, so I decided to follow the advice and make the changes; this way I was going to get a better idea of [card]Oppressive Rays[/card], one of the most discussed cards in Journey into Nyx.
Round 4 started and I was playing against a GW deck from a local Polish player. We split the first two games and for the last one I found myself playing around all the combat tricks I saw in the previous games, making some terrible blocking turn after turn.
When he finally emptied his hand and the path was clear, I resolved my [card]Celestial Archon[/card], low in life both holding [card]Hopeful Eidolon[/card] as my last card in hand.
I passed, he drew, played [card]Revoke Existence[/card] in my Archon and attacked for the win. It was then when I realized how terrible I played just to avoid his combat tricks. A newer player would have won that game easily just by making the obvious blocks, but I wanted to play the pro and ended up with a terrible played game.
For the next round I was called to the feature match area, I was playing Swedish Hall of Famer: Olle Rade. The match was covered by Tobi Henke and you can find the report following this link – Round 5 Feature Match – Olle Råde vs. Fabrizio Anteri
After that win came a second and for round 7 I found myself again playing around non-existent tricks that cost me game one and a mulligan to five that cost me the second game and the match.
At this point, on a 5-2 record, I needed to win the last two rounds to make day2. I was feeling disappointed with my gaming so far, I knew I was not playing my best, nor being as lucky as usual to get some free wins.
I was even joking with some friends that I was finally playing Magic as a human being. I somehow accepted that this was not going to be one of those weekends when I am playing very well and even getting rewards with very nice draws.
I decided to just focus in my last two rounds, hoping to be back the next day and at least have a couple of draft of experience for the PT.
Both my playing and my luck improved for those two rounds and I was walking back to the hotel knowing that I would play the next day. My Venezuelan fellow and friend Daniel Fior did very well himself ending the day with a 8-1 record.
Day 2: The Drafts
I’ve always considered myself a very good Limited player, but recently the feedback I’ve got from good players is that my Limited choices differ way too often from what is known as good or right.
I’ve been trying to use this feedback to change my style of playing and I’ve got some mix feelings and results from that. Sometimes I do very well playing the recommended Ben Stark limited style, other times I get rewarded for following my own style of drafting or building decks.
I also top8ed the two PTQs I played this season, but fell in the draft portion; Magic online drafting results were horrible as well. So I showed up on Sunday with very few or no confidence at all of getting the 6-0 result I needed to top8 the GP. Probably my goal was to 4-2 or 4-1-1 and get into the top64.
The first draft started, I didn’t open anything exciting and I was following signals to get into the right colours. Black and white were the most open colours and the ones I was picking.
Packs didn’t offer much, I didn’t have any bomb (not even one rare between my 23 spells), no explosive heroic cards, nor even good creatures as an overall. In fact I even had to quit in the middle of the draft the idea of drafting a nice aggressive deck and start prioritising some defensive creatures and removals, giving my deck the chance to control the game and bore my opponents to death.
When the deck construction started, I knew my chances of top8 had ended. This was the deck I drafted, what do you think? Sorry for the poor picture quality.
As you can see, the deck is far behind from impressive in even hard to categorize as decent.
To my surprise, the introduction of Journey into Nyx to the Theros block, slowed down the draft format, allowing decks with a defensive strategy to do better than what they were doing in Theros x3 or Theros + Born of the Gods. Also, the power level of the cards in the table was very low.
Round after round my deck was feeling better and better when I compared it to the decks I was facing.
And so I ended up winning my draft pod (3-0) and getting an overall record of 10-2, still alive for top8 and in very good shape for a cash finish.
My second draft went much better, I got to open a nice bomb ([card]Prophetic Flamespeaker[/card]), got clear signals with powerful cards and kept getting cards in my colours.
This time I felt all the other way around: I was getting good cards for my deck, but I was passing very good cards also in the other colours. So I deck was looking all-right, but I was afraid other decks had nice looks also.
I didn’t even wanted to think about how close I was getting to win the draft pot and top8 the Grand Prix. Three more rounds became two and two became one.
I had a quick view to confirm what I already knew; I was not going anywhere with my tie breaks and needed to play and win for getting there; the cards were by my side in the last match, my opponent mulligan and flooded and probably 20 minutes after the round began, I had the win. 13-2 to locked me in top8.
I was waiting then for the match of Daniel Fior to finish, who was also playing for win and in. He did win indeed and so Warsaw became the third Grand Prix where only two Venezuelans show up and two Venezuelans put their names in the top8.
I am not going to cover the matches of the top8 since those were already covered in the main article of the GP in the Wizards website here – Anteri Completes his 3 2 1 in Warsaw!
Make a career out of it?
Magic has always been a hobby for me, regardless of how competitive I am and how competitive I take the game. My incredible lucky and good results so far are nothing more than a bonus for me. I was not planning or expecting to get to this point.
I know what I’ve done so far is not even a shadow of what many Pro players have done in their Magic career, but I am very happy with it and now I am really considering my chances of getting into their world; that fantasy many of us have of travelling around the world, playing the game we love and making money from it.
I am some good results short of giving myself this opportunity and put my whole time in the game and, hopefully get even better results from there due to the extra time I’ll put in the preparing and playing.
Till the next time,