We are less than one week out from the tournament that most competitors have called the “best tournament I’ve ever played in.” The second annual Super Sunday Series Championship was held at the Wizards of the Coast offices last weekend, and a few dozen players had qualified to attend. They were pampered by Wizards, got to hob-knob with members of R&D, and scored some amazing prizes in the process—all the while slinging cardboard.
But for some Magic players, that wasn’t enough. San Jose is only a short trip from Seattle, so a few players recognized a valuable opportunity. Especially for people who took a transcontinental journey to get here, why not get some other travel buddies together and try and run it back in California.
One team even went so far as to compose an entire team of SSS veterans. Jutland native Michael Bonde, and Copenhagen brethren Allan Asmussen and Oscar Christiansen all competed last week and are on a team here today (perhaps you’ve heard of Christiansen, he finished second place at the tournament). Though Denmark is a small country, their Magic prowess is strong, and qualified three countrymen for the tournament. Because San Jose was so close, compared to the distance of their first journey, Bonde reached out to Asmussen and Christiansen and said they should make a trip out of it.
Though their schedules were conflicting—Christiansen is in school and Asmussen is a chef on a cruise ship—they were able to get the time off necessary to make it a Northwestern vacation. In the intervening week between the two tournaments, they all drove down the famous coast highway, weaving their way down through Washington, Oregon, and northern California. After days of sightseeing, taking the long way here, they landed and readied for the bout this weekend.
“The redwoods were amazing!” Christiansen said. None of the travelers had seen these lumbering giants before. “Michael said that there’s no way they’re taller than 80 meters, are they?!” (Spoiler Alert: They are.) Bonde seemed like he was reluctant to the whole trip at first (“I just wanted to game,” he said), but even he was pretty impressed by the awe-inspiring sights. Both Christiansen and Bonde were thankful to Asmussen, as the driving was clearly his bright idea, even if Bonde had to drive because he’s the only one with a valid license. But they weren’t the only ones in their car.
A little earlier I used the term “running back” an event. I admit I used it loosely, as you can’t really run something back if you didn’t win the whole thing. And though Christiansen was close, he didn’t win the event. However, the last passenger in the southbound car did.
Argentine Luis Salvatto, a mere six days ago, took down the entire field at the Super Sunday Series Championship—which if you didn’t infer, means he beat Christiansen in the finals. Salvatto too had the same plan to go from Washington to California before venturing home. In San Jose, he would meet up with two other players from Argentina qualified for Pro Tour Fate Reforged, Sebastian Pozzo and Nicolas De Nicola. “I had planned it, but I did not buy my plane tickets yet,” Salvatto said. But before he could buy the tickets, he found a lift from the Danes for a majestic trip down the coast.
Perhaps it’s “Magi-stic,” instead. “We drove for ten hours on the first day, then we immediately started Rochester drafting.” Gamers gonna game.
Once in San Jose, Salvatto met up with his comrades, and the Danes broke off and their teams started to prepare for a big, unknown format. All six of them are big fans of the format. “It’s really difficult,” both Christiansen and Salvatto said, “and fun,” Asmussen added.
Bonde talked a little bit about how the decks generally break out. “There’s usually an aggro, a control, and a tempo build somewhere in the cards.” He added that thanks to Fate Reforged, basically each color combination can be any of the archetypes. “All of them almost work, you just need to move things around a touch.” Christiansen said, “plus you have all the lands you need.”
Of course, that’s easy for them to say—they got a really nice pool. I’m talking real nice. I won’t say too much, as we’re only in round two, but yesterday, they were walking around the hall chanting a certain card they wanted to pull. Today, they pulled a foil version. It was a omen of good things.
The Argentines’ pool is not quite as ridiculous, but they were happy with it. “We have one really good deck, the others are pretty good,” Pozzo said. The one deck they were referring to was a Blue-Black Control monster that I wouldn’t want to confront in a dark alley, if you catch my drift. Both teams are quite satisfied with their pools, and like their chances of finishing good enough on the day.
But even if neither team converts to success this weekend, the travel buddies had the time of their lives this past week, hanging out with old and new friends alike, and competing in one of the coolest new Magic tournaments and the Wizards of the Coast Headquarters.
“It’s the best tournament I’ve ever played in,” Christiansen said.
“It’s the best tournament ever,” Salvatto said.
These comments are becoming commonplace.
Magic is many things, but above all, Magic is community. And that’s never more apparent then at events like this. The Super Sunday Series Championship offered the camaraderie of a small, cozy venue, while Grand Prix San Jose lets you play with your buddies instead of against them. I can’t think of a better example of that than a Danish team forming based purely on travel plans, and a Argentine joining the fun because there was an extra seat.