UW Flash (Standard) At The Dice Cup PPTQ In Nottingham – The Grind, with Jack Copestake
Hello! Please let me introduce myself.
I’m Jack Copestake. I work full time in the British Army as a corporal in 1 Mercian. I’m married and have two wonderful kids and Magic: the Gathering is only my real hobby when I’m not changing nappies or working hard, which I hope to turn into something more. When I’m not away with the army I’m spending as much time as possible with my family or playing Magic. This blog is going to be about my journey in trying to achieve some of my MTG goals with my main aim being able to play at the Pro Tour amongst the best.
I’ve been playing Magic since January 2015 when Fate Reforged set was released, and decided that this year I was going use the season rotation to really go for it. After all the research, listening to countless podcasts, and testing, I took the step to see if I could achieve Magic success. I’ve taken it upon myself to log this journey once a month to help other upcoming or current players take that step. I’m also more than happy to hear any advice you might have to offer in respect to my play as well as any sources through which I could enhance my knowledge in Magic.
The intent of this blog is to offer reflection on my experiences at various Magic: the Gathering events, with an eye to self-improvement, through the medium of tournament reports and introspective writing. I feel by sharing my thoughts and ideas with you the reader I can give something to a community that has already given me so much.
In these blogs I will be sharing my thoughts and feelings on different MTG events I attend, how I progressed, and also anything useful I found to help me out previous to the event and during the event. I will also be putting in a tournament report as such for example what I sideboard in and how it felt and any difficult plays I had.
I’m going to start the blog firstly by explaining what made me takes these steps to try for the Pro Tour and what I did along the way.
First off and most importantly I had a chat with my wife of what I actually wanted to do with Magic as it was no good committing to something I didn’t have the backing of my family, as when I’m away my wife still works and looks after the family. It is very important to me that my wife was not only happy with this but also comfortable with it too, however she should be as she is coming to Barcelona with me in March so as the saying going “happy wife happy life”.
Next important element of confidently taking the step was having the knowledge of understanding the rules and elements of the mechanics of the game as there are plays that are not quite clear to a newer player coming into the game. This element is vital to success in Magic as the game is quite complicated in terms of choosing when to cast certain cards to activate abilities in a sequence to best benefit you or disrupt an opponent. The way around this was to simply play Magic and watch as much footage as possible. I found this quite informative and you do learn formats very quickly just by watching video footage of the big tournaments.
Also another key element I have and one of the most important is my friends, along the way so far I have made some amazing friends just by simply playing against them or knowing of them and having the minerals to approach them at a large event. Some known players can be really helpful and approachable while some may not: this is fine because they must have a million other messages or spoken to by strangers all the time and it’s important not to neither pester nor feel discouraged by those, essentially the majority have been very friendly. Friends in Magic are important as you then have more people to help brainstorm a format or deck and test with.
Finally the last piece of the puzzle is simply reading and listening to other Magic player’s content even if it is just about their emotions in a game and nothing about actual play. There are golden nuggets of information all over the internet especially in player’s podcasts.
Okay so enough babble I hope I have got your attention and I look forward to any comments or criticism that you have to offer me, good or bad. Lets start with my first PPTQ of the year and my journey to hopefully playing at a Pro Tour.
January 2017: PPTQ Nottingham
Welcome to my blog, first event of the year for myself was a PPTQ at The Dice Cup in Nottingham. I’m going to start off by saying how fantastic a venue it was and how spacious and clean the place was. I was greeted and spoke to kindly by the people working there, and instantly felt comfortable. Okay so first things first; preparation for any big Magic event is vital to your overall experience and success. As anyone in the British army will tell you, “failure to prepare is preparing to fail”.
The night previous was spent playing MTGO league to test U/W flash (which I will put at the end) as I felt comfortable and confident with the deck. Throughout the night I played a number of games against Delirium and Marvel and on the odd occasion energy. I wrote down key notes in-between games and rounds of what kind of plays made me lose, what I found helpful to sideboard in, what worked, and what didn’t. In the end my mind was set on U/W flash and I eventually got some sleep at around 2330hrs. I woke up at 0730 hrs and got big crunchy nut breakfast and nice coffee to perk up and start functioning, which I believe is always very important for a long days work. I then drove to the event parked up and made my way to the venue.
The event entry fee was £20 and started at 1030hrs. There were two judges at the event who were fantastic; you wouldn’t even know that they were there unless they were needed, and when a judge was needed they would be by you in an instant. This is very important as new players can find being around a judge at events very intimidating.
Here is the deck that I played.
Standard: White/Blue Flash
4 Port Town
4 Prairie Stream
1 Westvale Abbey
4 Archangel Avacyn
3 Reflector Mage
4 Selfless Spirit
4 Spell Queller
4 Thraben Inspector
1 Thaila, Heretic cathar
1 Collective effort
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
4 Smugglers Copter
2 Stasis Snare
2 Declaration in stone
1 Skysovereign, consul flagship
2 Collective effort
1 Linvala preserver of life
2 Thalia, Heretic cathar
2 Spell Shivel
1 Gisela, the broken blade
1 Bruna, the fading light
1 Ceremonious rejection
Round 1: Jeskai Control
So my first round was against red, white and blue control deck known as Jeskai. In this matchup I knew that getting my creatures down quickly before his mana had developed and disrupting his card drawing spells would put me in a good position. I also knew that his deck’s end game was flashing Torrential Gearhulk, and having an answer for it was key to winning.
The first game was a lost and a very frustrating one at that. I felt that the player I was against was playing very slowly and it didn’t help that control is already known to be slow unless you’re Shota Yasooka. Before round two started we had ten minutes left of play and I mentioned to my opposite that I would appreciate it if he could play quicker as we would run out of time and he was playing very slowly, I said this with the up-most respect as I think it’s important to not come across salty or unpleasant. Doing this worked to my advantage in a way as he went for the win before time ran out and he made a few mistakes which I was able to capitalised on and subsequently won both remaining games with 3 minutes to spare. I put my hand out and wished him luck for future games and for the tournament.
The main play of this game was when he had two Torrential Gearhulk in play which I answered with a Declaration in Stone; I found that planeswalkers in this matchup also helped out as he never really had an answer to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar once he found his footing. The only work on point for me was to remember my triggers for my Thalia Heretic Cathar which was useful against him flashing in Torrential Gearhulks.
A point on my opponent, he was very nervous and explained it was his first time playing this deck. I offered some advice I thought may help and explained maybe playing more games before a big event with such a deck would help him relax as well as speed up his play.
Round 2: Home brew
Second round was against a home brew which I never really got to see much of due to the power of my Spell Quellers and the fact that I hit my opponent with 3 of them on the trot, in both games. The main play of this game was casting Spell Queller 3 times on the trot and shutting my opponent out completely before taking the win.
One point about my opponent is that he is quite experienced in the tournament scene and very friendly, and we had a good laugh about the game afterwards. I found this very enlightening and I did apologise profusely for playing said 3 x Spell Queller against him on the bounce, twice, which wasn’t fun for him, and thus I gained the name, “Queller King”.
Round 3: Flash
Third round and probably the most daunting game, was against a quite well known player of a Magic team who also grinds. This matchup was Flash and although I did felt confident about this matchup I was also very nervous. I kept trying to tell myself to keep calm and read the battlefield before committing to a play.
I went on to win the game 2-1. I did miss a game-winning trigger on my Avacyn and Selfless Spirit combo, but luckily it didn’t matter. In this matchup I think Collective Effort is strong as giving all my creatures +1 counters and having the ability to destroy enchantments such as Always Watching is a massive bonus, it can also destroy creatures with power 4 or greater.
After the matchup I was pondering whether Rattlechains would be a good card to sideboard in as a lot of the removals used by my opponents needed to target creatures. The main play of this game was using flash abilities and counter spells to great effect consequently rendering his plays ineffective.
A point about my opponent was that even though he is a known player he was also very gracious in defeat and I respect that in any competitive scenario.
Round 4: R/G Energy
The fourth round was against R/G Energy and another known player, but I felt really confident in this matchup and managed to find a 2-0 victory.
Before the game we were both the only players on 9 points, and he told me that according to his maths we could ID both this round and the next to get into top 8. I wasn’t so sure about this, decided not to take the risk and just play it out. My opponent never really got going as once my Reflector Mage and Spell Queller hit there was no real comeback for him.
The main play of the game was trying to capitalise on the fact that he had no creatures with reach and all my creatures had flying. An important stage in the game was casting my Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and using his ultimate ability to get the final bit of damage in.
A point on my opponent was that even though I said I didn’t want to ID he was still as friendly and wished me all the best for the future. I would also like to point out the fact that some of his cards were in a different language but offered to read what these cards did if needed. Which is always a very considerate and kind gesture.
At this point I was into the top 8, so before round 5 started I knew all I needed was a draw from my opponent. My opponent was in the same position, so onto the top 8 we went!
Quarter Finals: Panharmonicon
In the quarter finals I was still focused and relaxed, and I played yet another known player. He was playing a Panharmonicon deck which I had never tested or played against, and I was left feeling quite nervous. Fortunately throughout the tournament I was keeping an eye on this interesting deck play and decided that the best way to beat it was to shut down the card Panharmonicon and any cards with enter the battlefield (ETB) effects with my counter spells.
Semi-Finals: B/R Aggro
Its the semi-finals and I tried to keep focus, but having been in this very same spot in my last PPTQ I knew I had to switch on and just get through it. The deck I played against was a B/R aggro deck and it absolutely crushed me. Any answer or stabiliser I had was dealt with and the speed of the deck was too much.
My opponent was a lad I knew from a while back, which was good, but that didn’t make it any easier losing in the semi-final. As always, I extended my hand, congratulated him on his win and wished him all the best in the finals.
Overall I felt I did well, and I achieved the goals that I’d set for the day, which was to top 8. I was happy with how I played and my thought process throughout. My points to work on for the future are to slow down slightly, keep focus, and of course win a PPTQ.
And finally, MTGO is a fantastic tool for improving but I feel not having the choice of what deck to test against is a real pain unless you have a friend or team to help you test with. Hope you have enjoyed my blog about my first PPTQ of the year, next up is a PPTQ in Bournemouth. See you on the other side!