Experience the intense excitement of Professional Magic from the perspective of accomplished pro player Craig Jones as he plays and writes his way to the Top 8.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 12:44 pm - Introduction
- 1:08 pm - Deck Choice: Red Deck
- 3:03 pm - Round 4: Me vs. Nicholas Neary
- 5:22 pm - Round 5: Myself vs. David Cleveland
- 7:01 pm - Round 6: The Professor vs. Jean-Charles Salvin
- 8:23 pm - Round 7: Yours Truly vs. Chikara Nakajima
- 9:41 pm - Round 8: Craig Jones vs. Guillaume Cardin
- 10:33 pm - Round 9: The Desperado vs. Gerry Thompson
Saturday, June 23: 11:44 p.m. - Introduction
Welcome to Grand Prix: Montreal and as ever I, Craig Jones, will be giving you a player's eye view of proceedings. The attendance, just under 750 players, has taken everyone by surprise. During the player's meeting there weren't actually enough tables for all the players. It should probably be okay for the actual tournament though, as enough players with 0-2 or 0-3 records will probably drop before the players with three byes come in.
As for the players with three byes, there are a lot of pros here. With Pro Tour San Diego next weekend, many are choosing to make the weekend a double header. It's certainly the reason why I'm here. I was fortunate enough to win a PTQ for San Diego and was able (for a small extra cost) to arrange my flight to take a slight detour here.
Grand Prix Montreal feels like it will be a fairly cosmopolitan Grand Prix. As well as the Canadians and US players we have the usual Japanese and Brazilian raiding parties that have become frequent at all GP's nowadays. The French have brought a strong contingent over as have the Dutchies.
There are even four Brits here including myself. Who says we don't travel.
Despite the large attendance the tournament seems to be running fairly smoothly so far. There was a slight delay to correct mistakes in byes, but the first round kicked off at 11:30. I ran off for breakfast and caffeine. It's going to be a long day as we're playing nine rounds with the top 64 advancing to tomorrow. That means I'm going to need 4-2 at least to continue the fun and games tomorrow.
Saturday, June 23: 1:08 p.m. - Deck Choice: Red Deck
At the last few constructed events I've been fairly coy with my deck choice. This time I don't care. That kind of subterfuge is reserved for when playing sneaky blue decks.
Today I'm a gonna be burnin' peoples faces.
Ah, red deck. Small guys, then burn them to a crisp. Or rather it used to be. Now red decks also get to play Greater Gargadon, and he is most definitely not small.
Red deck was a staple in the old Time Spiral block format. Tomoharu Saito even took it all the way to the trophy at the last major Time Spiral block constructed tournament, Grand Prix Strasbourg. Now Future Sight has arrived it gets even better with cards like Keldon Megaliths and Gathan Raiders.
Billy Moreno has a very innovative take on the red deck. I was sorely tempted to switch at the last minute but instead stuck with the original plan and brought this:
Future Sight looks like it's had a fairly strong impact. During round two I roamed around the tables and saw cards like Tarmogoyf, Tomb Stalker and Korlash making their debut alongside the new dual lands.
A popular new archetype is the green-white Tarmogoyf deck. I've seen plenty of them around; bad news for me as the few times I've run into it online have been a horribly one-sided bloodbath in favour of 'goyf and pals.
It's why the Stuffy Doll and Fortune Thief are in the board. They might help me steal the odd game, but if I run into more than two green-white decks I suspect I'll probably be sitting it out on the sidelines tomorrow.
The other new decks I've seen include discard heavy black decks that top out with Korlash and Tombstalker. There's also a blue-green control deck with Take Possession that appears to be popular with the travelling pros.
Saturday, June 23: 3:03 p.m. - Round 4: Me vs. Nicholas Neary
And we're off.
I sat down and, as I'm going to be doing for most of day, the thing I'm thinking on turn one is:
"Don't lay a forest, don't lay a forest."
There are a lot of green-white Tarmogoyf decks here today and they eat me for breakfast.
Neary mulliganned and then opened with Mountain, Gargadon.
Ah the mirror. This is all about Big Gargs and although I don't have one in my opening hand my deck obligingly coughs one up to mirror his first turn. The mulligan must have hurt as Neary deviated slightly from the mono-red game plan with Graven Cairns. His draw was very substandard as was forced to hard cast some Bridge from Below (afterwards he explained he thought he could sac them to the Gargadon).
I was a little mana screwed but seemed to draw infinite weenie drops. I battered him down with a motley collection of goblins, Blood Knight and Magi.
The Graven Cairns and Bridge from Below confused me, but I still had him as red deck and sideboarded accordingly. This seemed correct when we both opened with Mogg War Marshal. Then he made an Island and Magus of the Bazaar.
Uh oh, what's going on here?
I shot it down and after the goblins mutually murdered each other in the red zone I came back with two Gathan Raiders.
Oh dear, this was not the matchup I thought it was. My sideboard plans (Stuffy Doll amongst others) were now looking rather foolish.
Fortunately the only sideboard card I'd drawn was an additional land. I Molten Disastered away the small guys to get in with the two Raiders and although he had the Dread Return for Akroma I was able to Word of Seizing the Tomb Stalker and come in for enough damage to kill him.
Saturday, June 23: 5:22 p.m. - Round 5: Myself vs. David Cleveland
Don't lay a forest, Don't lay a forest.
Damn, he laid a forest.
This was the Fiery Justice version of the green-white-red Tarmogoyf deck. Fortunately he didn't draw Tarmogoyfs in both games. In fact his draws were pretty slow. I was able to get a Gargadon in to beat him up in Game 1 and in Game 2 I hit the fifth land after a wait and killed him with his own Mystic Enforcer.
Saturday, June 23: 7:01 p.m. - Round 6: The Professor vs. Jean-Charles Salvin
There was a scary moment at the start of the round when I counted 59 cards. Somehow I had managed to lose a Mogg War Marshal somewhere, which was kind of scary as I now had an illegal deck. A quick run to the trade stands managed to rectify the situation even if the filthy, gouging $%£$%'s charged me a buck for it. Oh well, at least I get to continue. It could have potentially been a lot worse.
1$ for a Mogg War Marshall, sigh. You better be damn good goblin scum.
Don't lay a forest…
That's not going to work this time as I already know Salvin is running green-white Tarmogoyf.
This is not a good matchup. To explain why it's not a good matchup I made this play in Game 1:
I stole his Saffi with Word of Seizing. This left me with no cards in hand, so I was able to block and kill his 4/5 Tarmogoyf with Gathan Raiders. I was also able to throw the Treacherous Saffi, a goblin and Magus of the Scroll in the way of a 4/4 Elephant (thanks to the green graft land). The net result of this play was I killed his entire team apart from a Riftsweeper for the cost of a Word of Seizing and a goblin token. Oh and Saffi rescued my dying Magus of the Scroll (thanks love).
I still lost.
He made Mystic Enforcer with threshold and smacked me around for a bit.
Game 2 and low down cowardly tactics won the day as I hid behind a Fortune Thief in the face of about a squillion flying damage. Salvin Honorable Passage'd the lethal Disintegrate and I had to plink away with Magus of the Scroll.
We didn't have long for Game 3. He went straight for the jugular with a Griffin Guided Saffi. I might have bought enough time to see out a draw had I drawn a fifth land for Word of Seizing, but sadly it wasn't there and Salvin took the game with four quick hits.
Saturday, June 23: 8:23 p.m. - Round 7: Yours Truly vs. Chikara Nakajima
Nakajima has already scalped a Brit this tournament, by them not paying for Slaughter Pact. But don't worry, we're not that bad at Magic. Poor Martin Dingler didn't exactly have a chance to do it when the creature he was trying to kill revealed itself to be a Brine Elemental to prevent him from untapping his lands. Oof!
I'm not sure how good of a matchup mono-blue is for me. I have powerful split second spells, but the mono-blue deck can come at you quickly with morphs and mess my storage lands around with bounce.
Game 1 was fairly straightforward. He didn't make a third land.
Games two and three were much tougher. Delay makes a big difference to this deck as it's a much faster counterspell. Both games I never really got fast starts. In Game 2 he stopped me from clocking up the counters on storage lands with Riftskates and in Game 3 a pair of Brine Elementals were enough as a Willbender malfunctioned my removal.
Back to the wall time again as I need to win out.
Time to channel the spirit of red spells.
Saturday, June 23: 9:41 p.m. - Round 8: Craig Jones vs. Guillaume Cardin
No lives left and I'm really hoping I don't get a Tarmogoyf matchup.
No forests, no forests…
Yippee, or maybe not. Mono-blue might be pretty bad actually.
Fortunately Cardin is running the blue-black teachings deck. Game 1 I keep a risky hand but it pays off as I draw enough land to get it going. The deck tried to make it harder than it could have been as I can't quite keep hellbent to ping him to death with Megaliths and he gains some life with Tendrils, but not enough.
Game 2 he Pull from Eternity'ed a Gargadon and then gained too much life off of Tendrils.
Saturday, June 23: 10:33 p.m. - Round 9: The Desperado vs. Gerry Thompson
And it's on the bubble….
Unfortunately my deck decided to pretty much crap out. My draw was too slow in Game 1 and once he dealt with Gargadon with Pull from Eternity he was able to Tendrils up to about thirty life. Kher Keep held off Korlash for a while, but it was always pretty obvious where this one was going.
Game 2 and the dangers of negative synergy surfaced to bite them. Molten Disaster and Megaliths don't really belong in the same deck but are a necessary evil. Ideally I want the Disasters to hide in my deck and then appear when I've beaten up my opponent up a bit. Unfortunately I drew two of them early when I wanted to get Megaliths active and was facing an uphill struggle against multiple Aven Riftwatchers anyway.
Oh well, this probably isn't the right metagame for red deck. I can't really complain about my matchups either. Sometimes things just don't work out.
0-2, 6(3)-3 and sadly out.