by Kim Eikefet
"It's a good feeling," Jay Elarar says after making his first Pro Tour Top 8. The 16-year old player from Vancouver, Canada won the Junior Super Series two years ago, and he has also made a Top 8 in Grand Prix Seattle, but in 2000 Pro Tour Chicago he got his real breakthrough when he took his Blue Skies deck all the way to make the final day.
Elarar hadn't really expected to make the top 8. He had hoped for top 64, but his Blue Skies deck performed really well and after the swiss, Elarar had a 10-2-2 record which was enough to secure him the last slot in the top 8. "The tournament went quite well for me," Jay says. During day one, he lost two times, once against Marc Hernandez and once against Gary Wise. Then he went 5-0-2 the second day, which was exactly what he had hoped for, yet perhaps had not dared to believe in.
"My deck is good against everything except from black/red," Elarar says, and the black/red archetype was effectively non-existent in Chicago. So Elarar's deck, which consisted of flyers and countermagic, had really good matchups throughout the tournament. "It's basically Sligh with counterspells," Jay explains. "I counterspell everything they have to stop me."
Elarar's deck choice was made the night before the tournament. The computer science student had tested a lot of decks, and he had a list containing the ones he thought could beat Fires and rebels. Out of that list, he picked Blue Skies, made by himself and Mike Thompson. "Thompson gave me a list, and I modified it. The key cards are Rising Waters, Troublesome Spirits and Thwarts," Elarar reveals.
Throughout the tournament, another card rose to be the most valuable one though. "Daze!" Jay grins. "I Dazed everything - Blastoderms, Wrath of Gods, Fact of Fictions, Saproling Bursts. It has been amazing. I play Spiketail Hatchling already, people play around them and they don't expect Daze, which is wrecking them."
After he made the Top 8, Elarar was very excited and happy. "This is a feeling I've never had before," he admits. "This is my first Top 8, and since I'm from Canada, the exchange rate is ridiculous, so I'll get a lot more money. And I feel confident," he admits. He is a little nervous before the battle with Kai Budde in the quarterfinals, though, even though he feels that the others seem scared to play against his deck.
"My deck is the only one that isn't 'normal'. It's pretty good against all the matchups in the Top 8. Everybody seems to think that they'll beat everything except for me, so I have a good fear factor. Top 8 has exactly the decks I wanted to see, so if I play well, I may be able to do well," he thinks. Elarar believes that him playing well has been a major factor that contributed to his success. "I played slow and I played well. Usually, I'm nervous and I get easily distracted, and sometimes I make mistakes and play fast. But I've been able to concentrate very well," he says, hoping that his concentration will last throughout the playoff as well.