Montreal was my first big tournament after a tumultuous B&R update cycle. The initial announcement on April 24 revealed some major shakeups to eternal formats. But even the long anticipated ban of Sensei’s Divining Top was somewhat overshadowed by the lack of bans in a standard dominated by Mardu Vehicles and Copycat combo. To many this felt like a lack of willingness for WotC to admit they had made a mistake by printing the Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian combo. After a lot of buzz on Twitter a B&R addendum was published announcing the ban of Felidar Guardian.
In the days following the shakeup it didn’t take long for a new broken deck to emerge: An energy deck built around Aetherworks Marvel. The deck was so good that I knew I should be playing it. However, the deck looked miserable to play with and against so I didn’t want to put the time into practicing with it. I really only went to GP Montreal because it was in driving distance and I had already committed to doing so.
Instead of testing for the event I just played Mardu Vehicles. It’s a deck I knew well and had a lot of success with before the changes to the format. I didn’t think it was that well positioned but it was still powerful and aggressive so I decided it would give me my best chance to do well without much practice.
GP Decklist – Mardu Vehicles
GP Day 1
R3, 2-1 – Temur Marvel (L, 1-2)
R4, 2-2 – UR Control (L, 1-2)
R5, 3-2 – GB Energy (W, 2-1)
R6, 4-2 – Temur Marvel (W, 2-1)
R7, 5-2 – Temur Energy (W, 2-0)
I started the tournament off with a loss to the boogieman, Temur Marvel. It felt like a fitting way to get punished for showing up to the tournament without the best deck. I dropped the next round before battling back to a 5-2 record (beating two Temur decks along the way).
Unfortunately, I had started feeling sick around round 5. I had some mystery smoothie drink from Starbucks in the morning which is the only thing I can point to as a possible cause. I played through it for rounds 6 and 7 but I was only feeling worse as the day went on.
I really hate giving up on anything – I know that quitting eats away at me way more losing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to recognize that sometimes it’s ok to stop being stubborn and not force myself to do something that may be unproductive or unhealthy. In this case, I was already unenthusiastic about the tournament and I just didn’t have the motivation to stay in and try to keep battling so I dropped from the tournament at a respectable 5-2 record and went back to the Airbnb to sleep.
PTQ – Amonkhet Sealed
In the morning I was feeling better and decided to try my first PTQ on-site at a GP. I was much happier about playing limited anyway and this event was a big part of the reason I was willing to drop from the main event early.
We were separated into 8 pods with the winners set to meet for a top 8 draft. The event came just short of capping and I was in one of the pods that wasn’t a full 32 players. This made the 5 rounds of swiss interesting since it wasn’t a clean-cut single elimination.
My pool was pretty disappointing based on the low quality of the rares. I ended up building what was essentially a RW combo deck looking to get chip damage in and then win with a big Onward/Victory turn.
The deck played out really well and it was a lot of fun. I had a lot of close games and won with Onward to Victory a number of times. Being able to go in on a menace threat with Mighty Leap, protect with Djeru’s Resolve and end games with Fling meant that this combo actually had a lot of interesting play.
I beat Ray Perez Jr. in round 4 in some crazy games. Ray had me outclassed on power level with Archfiend of Ifnir, Glorybringer and Insult/Injury. In game 3 I was able to cycle into an answer for a Glorybringer. I was building up my hand for a surprise combo turn and trying to survive on board. On the final turn I made some chump blocks and was able to crack back for 20 damage with a pumped up Ahn-Crop Crasher.
I finished the swiss at 4-1, beating the final undefeated opponent in the last round. The tiebreaker lottery didn’t break my way and that round 5 opponent ended up winning the pod anyway. Still, the event was a lot of fun and I thought this was an excellent example of taking an underwhelming pool and coming up with an innovative build that had a game plan to win.
As I write this, over six months later, part of me still feels guilty for ‘giving up’ on the main event and wishes I had gutted it out and kept playing. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not; either it’s a competitive tenacity that is an asset, or it’s reckless.
[Note: GP Montreal was 05/20/17. Tournament report written as part of an end of year catch up on overdue reports, published 12/31/17 and backdated.]