Last year I got a most unexpected and lovely gift here at Brazil Nationals. Here's Andre Pijamar holding up the five...Things that his mother had sewn for me, five lovingly-crafted little mana symbols.
I was touched, but didn't really know what to do with them. You couldn't eat them, couldn't use them as a lethal weapon (at least, I couldn't think of a way to do it), they were too big to use as tokens on a card...I was really struggling.
Then a brainwave hit, and a thoroughly boring piece of real estate became an official Thing Shelf:
Ever since, my trusty Things have been travelling with me. Here's what they've seen since leaving Brazil last year:
Toronto, Canada: At the Grand Prix in Toronto, Jon Smithers may have won the event, but the Things were most excited that I managed to finish on 12-4 in 33rd place out of more than 1400. Go me!
Bochum, Germany: In Germany, the Things saw Martin Juza draft poison all day long on day two to lift the title.
Florence, Italy: The Things stayed in Europe for the next Grand Prix in Florence, and it was a home-team Italian, Pierluigi Aceto, who claimed victory to huge cheers.
Chiba, Japan: Then it was off to the World Championship, and the dramatic top 8 featuring the two Guillaumes, Matignon and Wafo-Tapa, and Brazil's own Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. Then, the highlight of the year for the Things - Carlos Romão winning the Magic Online title. Awesome!
Paris, France: Into 2011, and it was off to Paris for the Things, to see Ben Stark take the first Pro Tour of the year, defeating the unbelievable Paul Rietzl, who almost managed to reach the top 8 in both the Pro Tour and the concurrent Grand Prix. Unreal.
Barcelona, Spain: March, and in Standard, the Blue-Black Control deck of Martin Scheinin held sway.
London, England: The theme of home-team triumphant continued, with Daniel Royde taking down the Grand Prix in London. It was going to be a very big year for Royde. The Things were very excited to see Andre Franco, who'd come from Brazil to play in the two Euro GPs in London and...
Prague, Caech Republic: Prague, in the Czech Republic. Would it be a Czech winner? It would, veteran Ondrej Baudys claiming victory. Most solid Czech players reckon he might be the best ever from that country. Big praise.
Nagoya, Japan: Back to the Pro Tour. On the way to the venue, the Things heard David Sharfman tell me before round one that he was here to win the whole thing. He did, although how Luis Scott-Vargas' top 8 draft deck didn't win is a mystery. Well, not that much of a mystery I suppose - it was an awesome deck, and it lost anyway. That's Magic.
Osaka, Japan: One month later, and the Things were back in Japan, this time for the National Champs. Shouta Yasooka came up just short, making the top 8, but not making the team in the top 4, although 2006 World Champion Makihito Mihara will be there.
Indianapolis, USA: To the States, and the U.S. National Championships held at Gen Con, Indianapolis. Ali Aintrazi used Blue-Black control to dominate the top 8, with Luis Scott-Vargas and Owen Turtenwald both Player of the Year contenders who reached the top 8, but not the top 4, just like Yasooka.
Sheffield, England: After all that travel, what could be more exciting than a trip less than an hour away to glorious Sheffield in the UK? Daniel Royde was the hero once again, after a three and a half hour final during which several wars were fought, new international boundaries declared, and cures for numerous diseases were found. Seriously, it was that long.
Philadelphia, USA: Back to the U.S. for the penultimate Pro Tour of the year, and the first look at the amazing format that was Modern. Unbelievable excitement in the semi final between Sam Black and Josh Utter-Leyton, before Samuele Estratti claimed the title for Italy amidst joyous scenes. No weeping from the Italian contingent. Disappointing, really.
Sao Paulo, Brazil: And now here we are, me and the Things, still happily sitting on their Thing Shelf on my laptop. Type the game, see the world...