High Fidelity part 2

Posted in Feature on May 30, 2006

By Olivier Ruel

Some more Top 5's

Top 5 favourite cards

1-Survival of the Fittest
Maybe the card that turned me into a good player. I was trying to enter the gravy train back in 2001 when I first played Survival in extended. It was so nice, but so difficult to play. When every single game you play is skill intensive, you improve a lot. I spent whole weeks playtesting with my brother Antoine and Frédéric Courtois, both playing Stasis. On our first PTQ, I conceded my semi to Antoine who had never played a PT before, while Fred took the other spot. I then won my next qualifier, and Top 8d in GP Madrid, still playing the same deck. It also allowed me to qualify for the very first Masters, that I would not even have played if I didn't concede to Antoine, as it allowed me to play another PTQ and grab another 100 Extended points to qualify on ratings.

2- Dragon Whelp
Sooo cute !!!!

3-Bear Cub
Sooo cute !!!!

4-Life from the Loam
I didn't want to play any of the Psychatog decks in the last extended format, for they were not much fun to me. But I ended playing Life from the Loam when I discovered Mihara's CAL deck. I changed a few cards and took it to GP Bilbao, GP Beijing and Worlds in Yokohama. One of the best, regular, and skill intensive decks I've played lately. Out of these tournaments, I lost only 5 matches, including one that I conceded to Mori in Beijing and one that I threw away against Oiso in the same GP. I’ve then tried very hard to play it in constructed, building some Wildfire/Life from the Loam/Trade Routes decks, but I didn't find anything good enough in standard yet.

The most humiliating card I can think of.


Top 5 Worst memories at Magic

1-Worlds 2005
After having taken 10 points at the last two GPs of the season, I was leading the Pro Player Race when Worlds started, 3 points above Tsumura. My 1-5 in draft (starting 0-5) literally depressed me, as I could see my first place fading away. After I went 4-2-0 in extended, I thought I would be tied with Tsumura if he lost and if two other results turned into my favour. All the results went right, which made me incredibly happy, but I had totally forgotten in my maths all the players behind Tsumura who would ID into top 32 to qualify for Honolulu. I needed Tsumura to be 25th, but four draws made him 21st. All the efforts I made, all the time I spent testing, travelling, being jetlagged most of the year, to finish one point from first place, has really been hard to stand.

2-PT New York 2001
If I can draw my last round, I will be Top 32, which I need to qualify for next PT and get closer from the gravy train. I'm playing against Zvi:
me: ID?
Zvi: No, all I care about is money
me: Would you concede if I give you the difference between my winnings and yours?
Zvi: Nope
me: Ok let's play

I didn't know exactly how bad bribery was. Alan Comer, which we would play on a Team Challenge in the same evening, heard the conversation and denounced me to Judges. I got disqualified without prizes just after I had defeated Zvi. It took me much time to realize that even if I had not insisted, I did try to bribe him and that I’ve been actually lucky no suspension followed the disqualification. But trust me, being disqualified is not funny at all.

3-PT Honolulu 2006
You've probably heard about this match VS Craig Jones. He wins the decisive game of our semi-final if and only if:
1) he draws Char and Helix in two draws
2) I don't draw Ghost Council, Mortify, Slay, Jitte nor Orzhov Pontiff in two turns, nor any non Dark Confidant creature in the first turn.

I would also have had a pretty good match up in the finals and probably have won $40k instead of 14, but guess what? I lost.
This memory would definitely have been number one, hadn’t I been too shocked at the time to actually realize his winning odds were below 1%.

4-PT Nagoya 2006
After starting 1-2, I manage to win my draft table winning the final VS Oiso. With only 80 players day two, it was hard to make money. I went 1-6 day two and finished 80th and last. I then understood I had been lucky to make day two for I had to be wrong about something, as both my plays and my drafting had to be bad for I did so badly.

5-GP Munich 2003
After missing money once more, I'm almost out of the train, despite playing every single GP. I can even play a PTQ before PT Amsterdam. On the PTQ, I go 1-2 drop. The day before the PT, as I'm unable to win a game, I actually decide to quit Magic after the tournament, as I don't take any pleasure and lose a lot of money travelling and doing badly all the time.
I then made Top 8 in Amsterdam (my only limited Top 8 so far), being very lucky and my skills coming back gradually. But the months before have been very difficult.


The Top 5 players I would concede to if they need a win more than I do:

What if I'm playing for money, but my opponent is playing for Top8. 99,9% of the time, I'll play, even against someone I know well, but there are still very few players I would make an exception for.

1)Antoine Ruel

2)Alexandre Peset
A flatmate, a friend, and someone who would definitely deserve getting a little more success.

3)Masashiro Kuroda
I know Masashiro since he won PT Kobe. First time I met him, his wife was pregnant. The second time, he invited me to his place before GP Osaka '06 and he was a father already. I spent a week with him, his wife Chicaco and their daughter Yuka, before coming back few months later when I stayed at their place again before travelling with Masashiro to GP Matsuyama. We became good friends, both with him and all his family.
Eventually, Masashiro and I played for the first time in Worlds, on day three. He beat me and conceded to me to help me becoming PPY. I feel really gratefull, and guilty also, for I didn't think about the fact Kuroda can only play PTs in Japan because of his work and family he can't let behind.
I should not have accepted his concession, and next time we play, I'll concede whatever the situation is. Not only is he a great man, but also a fantastic player, and I'm convinced he would be a Level 5 or 6 mage if he had more time to play.
A second kid is now coming by the way. Maybe I'll see him at PT Kobe!

These three are the only I could nearly concede to in any situations, the other two are a little more difficult to define.


4th and 5th are two out of Raphaël Lévy, Florent Jeudon, Maxime Hermes, Carlos Romao and José Barbero. If there was a Top 8 of the players I feel the closest from, you would have the eight names now. They are the players I like the most to see on a PT. I just wish Flo, Max and Carlos would attend the PT a little more often.


Top 5 favorite records, no, wait, 5 is not enough, let's say Top 10

2-Belle and Sebastian/Dear Catastrophe Waitress
3-Godspeed you Black Emperor/Lift your skinny fists like antennas to heaven
4-The Strokes/Is this it
5-Elliott Smith/From a basement on the Hill
7-Mercury Rev/All is dream
8-Massive Attack/Mezzanine
9-The Arcade Fire/Funeral
10-Grandaddy/The software slump


Not enough slots to put Ok Computer by Radiohead or Who will cut our hair when we're gone by The Unicorns, plus all the ones I don't even think off, such a shame! I'm not good at describing with words why I love music. They are just the records which have struck me the most. If you like rock, or ambient-post rock, just go for it!

Written listening to Death from above 1979/Romance Bloody Romance and Alex Peset and Angelina/Sara perché ti amo.

Next article: Thursday, June 1st

Olivier's Corner will soon fade away - instead, a new column 'Ask the Pro' will be created on the Tournament Center. You'll have the opportunity to ask me any question you have through this column and you'll find there my answers on a regular basis

You can already send your questions at olivierscorner@hotmail.fr

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