Day 1 of GP Oakland has come to an end. Out of 1,118 players who began 217 advance to fight in Day 2.
Day 1 Undefeated Players
Congratulations to our undefeated players: Sam Black, Johnny Daniels, and Matt Nass!
With two copies of KCI in the hands of undefeated players Day 1, it is the deck to keep an eye on for the home stretch of the tournament. Matt Nass, who derives so much pure joy out of the deck it could light a city, and Sam Black might be onto something here. Our final undefeated from Day 1 is Johnny Daniel on Burn. While it is the deck he always plays, he thinks it's actually very well positioned in the current metagame as people have gravitated to slower gameplans.
An honorable mention to technically undefeated Eli Kassis, who finished 8-0-1. Because as everyone knows, technically correct is the best kind of correct.
Blast from the Past
"When I think of the early writers of Magic, I think of Mike Flores, Adrian Sullivan, and Chris Cade," says Brian David-Marshall, who came of age with the message boards of Usenet and The Dojo as the go-to places for online Magic content. "Ever hear the phrase ‘better lucky than good'? That's Cade, he coined it."
Cade was known for his in-depth tournament reports and Magic articles back in the days when you were lucky if someone posted a decklist online. He began playing as part of a nexus of talent that developed in the Bay Area around the local game store Match Play, which eventually became Neutral Ground San Francisco.
"Back in those days, if you were good, you generally came from the Bay Area or Neutral Ground over on the East Coast," Cade says. "But, there were so few tournaments and Qualifiers back then that'd you'd go wherever to play. I remember once my friends and I scrubbed out of a Qualifier in Silicon Valley and drove overnight to San Diego to play in another one there the next day."
Through the late 90s and early 2000s Cade would drift in and out of the game as life allowed. Most notable as a limited player, his specialty was returning to the game, playing the limited format for a few weeks, and winning a Qualifier for a Pro Tour (sometimes while reading his cards), before going on another hiatus.
Reflecting on the game, Cade says that players are much better now. "The game has evolved," he says, " from R&D to Organized Play, there's just such a better understanding of it." Add to this there is 20 years of knowledge to build on and so much more information out there. Finally, having Magic available to play online is such a game changer.
"Arena is great," Cade said, " there's finally a way to teach the masses the best and most complex game in the world. I mean, it has more pieces than Chess and more randomness than Poker. Arena is bringing the players in and teaching them. Then, as they evolve Arena with Organized Play, that's how you elevate the players you've brought in."
Five years ago Cade brought his son Quan into the game and now they play together. Yes, Magic does teach math and vocabulary, but Cade says that the best thing his son can learn from the game is losing gracefully, "because when you play Magic you lose. A lot!"
Quan has made fast friends with Dana Fischer and the two can usually be seen playing the nearest 2HG tournament together.
Quan, who turned 12 on the Friday of GP Oakland, celebrated his birthday with a 2HG tournament with Dana; the pair went 2-0 before needing to draw the last round because it was their bedtime.
The friendship has also brought together two friends (and competitors) of yesteryear, Chris Cade and Adam Fischer, who now say they're close to being taught by their kids. These days the pair follow a gang of up-and-comer planeswalkers including Quan, Dana, and Liam.
A Frenzy of Affinity
Let it not be said that Jarvis Yu is faint of heart. Indeed, as those who regularly watch his stream on twitch.tv/jarvisyu know, he is one to experiment. Especially with Experimental Frenzy.
"Well, it started when I couldn't win a Phoenix mirror match," Jarvis reminisced. "Thing in the Ice is so important in the mirror and I just wasn't getting it." That was when he saw a 5-0 list from MTGO with Experimental Frenzy in it and jumped in headfirst. It's a natural fit in an Affinity shell, especially with 0 casting cost creatures like Ornithopter. "I played six spells in a turn AFTER playing my land! Six!"
One of the important innovations of the deck is the use of Alpine Moon over Blood Moon, because it doesn't shut off your own Blinkmoth Nexus. "It's not meant to totally shut someone out like Blood Moon, just buy time while you beat them down," Jarvis explained. "I think I have a fairly good matchup against Burn and UW Control, well, if I can resolve Frenzy." What decks does he want to avoid? KCI and other fast combo.
When asked what his favorite part of the deck was, Jarvis snapped off "the flavor text of Experimental Frenzy. Haven't you read it?"
Breaking Hunted Phantasm
David Yovino, a Bay Area local, began playing Magic in High School, but returned to the game about six months ago. This was around the time that he met the card Hunted Phantasm. He spent six months mulling over this card, thinking that there must be a way to make it great. Over the Holidays is when he found its other half: Avatar of Might.
Never one to use someone else's decklist, Yovino plays Magic to create something new, something that hasn't ever been done. His deck (5 color Avatar of Might) functions by flooding his opponent's board with 1/1 tokens, which it then shrinks with Amulet of Safekeeping. He says that the most common thing he's been told today by opponents is "I don't know what to board!" followed closely by "What does your deck do?"
Yovino sees Modern as a mix of graveyard decks and creature decks. His deck is tuned to beat those strategies. "Rakdos Charm is the only card that is graveyard interaction with upside," he told me, and it has won him several games off the backs of the many tokens he foists upon his opponents.
The worst matchup for the deck? Spirits of course. You know, that deck we put him on camera playing against in Round 7. Did you know that Forbidden Orchard puts a Spirit into play for the opponent? Well, Yovino sure does. "Not only that, but their Spirit lords pump their whole team, which negates my Amulet. But I managed to win a game!" And what a game it was, if you missed the broadcast you should check it out!