Pro Tour: LA, The Report for Everybody Else.
By Scott Lemenager on November 2nd, 2005 · Filed in Extended (Type 1.x) · Comments not available just now
So here I find myself waking up at 3:00AM Friday morning to make a six hour long drive down to Los Angeles to attend Pro Tour: LA. "What on Earth am I doing?" I ask myself as I drive to pick up my good buddy and teammate Tony about twenty minutes down the road, fortunately on the LA side. When I first learned that there would be a big event not too terribly far from me many many months ago I had some high hopes for a decent weekend of Magic, the weekend however completely destroyed all of my expectations and totally blew me away, much like the Japanese did to most of the field, but I will get to that part later.
This report is for all the little people. What I mean is that for those of us not really looking for all the latest tech in Extended we need to have something come out of LA. In this report I will give the run-down of what a somewhat regular guy does throughout a Pro Tour event, what you can expect and maybe even where to find the best deals. So read on people, for fun more than for anything else.
So here we are, four hundred miles South of home at an event we aren't even really in. We did have very high hopes however for some good side games and pretty amazing trading. We walk into a random entrance and while searching for a restroom just happen to find the event at the gigantic LA convention center. First priority for us was to get some cards signed from the three artists in attendance, Baxa, Neilson, and Venters, and after waiting through several decently short lines we end up with a pretty decent sized stack of signed, altered, and dedicated cards. So now of course we immediatly begin to look for trade, since neither of us were planning on playing any side events until at least 4:00PM we found plenty of time to get in some of the most spectacular trades i've ever done or seen. Priorities for me in the trading department were getting either some more Power Nine cards for my deck and finishing my playset of Bazaar of Baghdads of which I needed three of going into the weekend. On top of this I had hopes of getting at least a few high quality pimped out cards for my Cerebral Assasin deck. When my first trade of the day consisted of me obtaining one Bazaar of Baghdad, four foil Squee, Goblin Nabob, one Foil Chinese Worldgorger Dragon, one Foil Tinker, and one French Black Bordered Balance I realized just how much I might be able to obtain this weekend. The guy I traded with, named Aaron, is a pretty well known collector on the eastern side of the US from what I hear and I wanted to toss out his name here since I missed adding him to my list of players with amazing pimped out cards in my "Pimpin Ain't Easy" article. He was a decent trader and was nice enough to allow me and Tony to pull out some really amazing cards such as a playset of Foil Japanese MM Brainstorms, one of which is signed and altered among other such cards.
Once we finished trading with Erin, we started running into players we knew from back up North or from previous events. After saying hello to many people we hung out with this kid named Tyler who lives in Reno, Nevada and who happens to be a certified genius. For an explanation I will say that he is a 6th generation descendant of Charles Darwin, and he also happens to be fourteen years old and is already accepted into Georgetown to study Physics. Tyler is a really cool kid that we have played in several tournaments with and of course gets an extra nod since he plays Vintage on a regular basis. After chatting with friends and watching a feature match or two and then enjoying some really good fries at the cafeteria it was pretty close to time for the first Legacy format side event.
I had tested my deck exactly twice before the event, losing first 2-1 to Flame/Vault combo and then 2-0 to a Pro Tour Player running Vial Goblins. So I knew I was off to a really rough start. For clarification here is the awful decklist I ended up being forced to run due to unloading much of the deck to dealers earlier in the day.
This was unfortunatly not quite 100% what I would have liked to run. Most specifically I couldn't get any Null Rods or Damping Matrices to deal with Time Vault and the number one change would definitely be NEVER running Goblin Grenade.
The tournament was not very big, but it wasnt too bad on deck quality from what I could see. Round one I am matched up against a very very very weenieish aggro-Survival deck. I really think the guy would have been better off running RG Beatz instead since A: He never saw Survival and B: Didnt need it for his deck with the creatures he was running. He wins game one barely by just getting one too many guys out that I couldnt out race. Game two I play really broken Legacy with Kiki-Jiki. 3 or 4 Piledrivers end the game on turn 3. Game 4 He just saw so many creatures so fast that even though I wasted 3 lands and had double Factories and burned a creature I couldn't do anything about it. Round 2 I am up against Landstill and I just never get anything going any of the games. This one ends up 1-2 as well as Goblin Grenades just pile up in my hand and are completely worthless.
In restrospect I would drop all 4 Grenades and run probably 2 Fireblast and 2 Incinerate MD. All in all I didnt really like the deck as it just didnt have enough guts as is to finish the game. With Fireblast and Incinerate and possibly some other minor changes it could be much better at finishing the game and could be a good deck in the long run. Null Rod out of the SB would be a gigantic help against Flame/Vault however. Oh and For those who read the last article I wrote...Lotus Petal is really good, it was actually one of the few highlights I had going for my build.
Once I dropped from the Legacy event I kind of wandered around aimlessly waiting for Stephane Tichadou (Tee-sha-doo) to call me up. Since most of you I am sure are not familiar with this name, Stephane is one of the best Vintage Magic players in Europe. Among his major event finishes is the French Vintage Champion title from this past year, where he won through a field of 396 players with UG Dragon. For those not too into Vintage, a 396 person, 9 rounds of Swiss event is really really big time. His winnings for 1st included a complete set of Beta Power 9 cards as about 1/2 of the total prize package just to give you an idea of how important the event was. In the meantime I met back up with Tyler for some T1 games and I ended up beating his UbaStax deck 2-1 and then we spent some time looking through some pretty exciting misprint cards in a dealers binder. (I will get into Vintage later in the review so hang tight for my full T1 Decklist and report) Stephane finally gets ahold of me and we also play some pretty exciting games of T1 while my buddy tony enters the T2 IPod side event at 6:00PM. Stephane has some pretty exciting cards that he graciously offers to trade to me to upgrade some of my deck and I thank him for that. We end up testing about eleven games that night and I end up beating him 5-3 (2-3 after SB though) with my Cerebral Assasin deck and then I beat him 2-1 (no SB) with Tony's Gifts deck. I will take a moment to say just how nice Stephane's deck is though. He is running a UG Bazaar Madness deck that is really pretty brutal, and if I can get ahold of him I will add his decklist in a post later on since I liked it so much and he does end up winning the Vintage event the next day with it, but the full story of that is STILL soon to come.
Among all of this is the dozens of random people running around asking for Onslaught cycle lands and Katakis for their decks for the PTQ the next day. Let me just say that the Japanese decks were out in force and the players meant business. Beautifully constructed Extended decks, and I dont even really like Extended. For those of you not into the Pro Tour and stuff, or even if you are interested but have never gone, let me tell you, these guys are extremely intimidating. While the US and even European players are walling around joking about things and talking to whoever, the Japanese are busy studying decks and play styles. They are impressive to see in action in person to say the least. For somebody like me who has always had at least a small interest in seeing the best play, things like these Pro Tour events are pretty sweet. Getting to stand next to Osyp and Masashi while a Japanese player and an American are playing and listening to the commentary from the pros themselves is pretty enlightening.
After Stephane has to leave I go over and watch Tony play some T2, he is running WR aggro/burn and he is doing well at 3-1 with only one win needed to draw into the top 8. Unfortunatly in his last matchup he ran into one too many Meloku which he cannot deal with after already Charring all 3 of the opponents other Meloku(s). So he goes 3-2 and he drops so we can go get some much much needed sleep. Before I go onto day two however I really want to mention that by far the pimpest player of the day was the kid who won the IPod T2 event. Utilizing Dragon Shield Pink sleeves to go along with his pink set of dice and pink deck box, he also was nicely blinged out with a nice chain and the nice "playa" look. Did I mention he is like 14 years old? He also happens to be the Nevada State champ. Major props kid!
So we leave the convention center around 12:30AM and begin searching through some questionable neighborhoods for a place to eat before we go to our hotel, and finally find a 24 hour Jack in the Box to grab some food. We check into the hotel and eat our food while looking over some of our new cards and while I look at my deck to see if I think I can swing running Cerebral Assasin tomarrow for the Vintage event even if I only have 3 pieces of power and 3 Bazaars. I decide that even half powered Cerebral Assasin will be substantially better than Food Chain Goblins and decide to go with it, and goldfishing proved to be hopeful. Soon however sleep consumes me and I shortly find myself being awoken by light through the windows and morning.
After grabbing a bagel and orange juice for breakfast we make our way back to the convention center where we find a room at least twice as packed (but probably even more so) than the day before. It takes about two minutes to find a seat and in no time it is three hours later and I need a break from trading. I could not believe that time went by so quickly, and the trading was intense with some major high level deals being swung. Once I quit trading around 1:00 I ran back into Staphane Tichadou and helped him get signed up for a Sealed event. Afterwards I grabbed some lunch, then I hung out with some Vintage people I had met in various locations and we all chatted about various cards and life until the need came for finding at least one more Bazaar of Baghdad came and I quickly come accross one without too much effort. During this time I meet Mike-a-tog who is a vintage adept on TMD and also happens to be a dealer at the Pro Tour event. After letting go of a few decent rares and a stack of commons and uncommons I end up with a decent looking Foil German Goblin Welder and I cannot be happier, well at least until I get three more foil German ones. For anybody who doesnt know Mike I would definitely say that this is the guy you want to deal with at the major events. His buy and trade prices are second to none and he also happens to be a pretty good guy. So next time you are at an event, rather than getting gouged by an online store or dealer there, talk to Mikeatog first and see what he will give you for your stuff.
The day is literally flying by but I meet back up with Tony, who I find out has aquired a Pro Tour player's pass and has been hanging out in the Pro Tour lounge and playing games with Billy Moreno and has met a new buddy named Pip (Phillip really, but goes by Pip) who is a pro player from Austrailia. Aftewards we walk around for a bit and get some updates on how various pros we know and have met are doing, and I eventually get a couple of games of T1 in along the road so I can confirm that my dumbed down version of Cerebral Assasin is still at least playable. After I win some games fairly easily against Uba Stax I go check up on how Staphane is doing in his Sealed event. "Not so good," is the reply I receive from Staphane and he proceeds to explain that he is a terrible Limited player. We talk about various Limited format blunders we have each made. Stephane says he loves Limited though, and not doing so hot overall isnt a big deal when you have players like Julien Nuitjen in your pod and stuff. Its now getting very close to the time for our Vintage side event to begin, so we go sign up and begin filling out our deck lists. After a temporary three way trade of Ray of Revelation and Gorilla Shaman, for two Pithing Needles, for a Mox Pearl, me and Stephane and Tony get our deck lists finished for T1. Here is what I end up with.
So the deck is a little off of full power, the exchanges I made from the proxied deck I brought with me were:
-1 Black Lotus +1 Lotus Petal
-1 Mox Jet +1 Mana Vault
-1 Mox Sapphire +1 Ancient Tomb
-1 Ancestral Recall +1 Deep Analysis
-1 Bazaar of Baghdad +1 Vampiric Tutor
Unfortunatly I cannot find another Bazaar until after the first round so I am forced to run only three.
Only twelve players sign up for the event unfortunately, due to a number of factors: GPT Philly which was a Legacy event began one hour before the Vintage tourney, and the PTQ for Extended had not yet ended. Couple this with the fact that the Pro event ended at approx. 6:07 meant that at least one pro player (Rich Shay, the atog lord on TMD for those that may know him) still in the event but interested in playing the Vintage side didnt get to play as well. I know for sure that we lost a minimum of ten players to the poor timing of the Vintage side, but oh well. So Twelve players show up, and I must say, that for the small event we had a pretty solid groupd of players, including Myself, Staphane Tichadou the French Vintage Chapion, two or three Pro Tour Players, Stan Gin who is a very solid player here on the West Coast, and two of his friends from up in the SF Bay Area, along with my teammate Tony and Tyler from Reno NV, who placed top 8 at the PSA vintage event in Chicago this past summer. So even for only twelve players I am excited to see how things go.
Round 1: Food Chain Goblins...
I am playing an easy matchup for me and I already know what he is playing from watching him test before the event. I open up game one with a first turn Goblin Welder. He plays out a Lackey on his turn and I hope I can get a better creature out to block on my turn. I flip over Demonic Tutor which allows me to fetch Entomb to get Triskelion into play to basically seal the game already. After wiping out several Goblins with Trike my opponent scoops. I only sideboard in my extra Dragon pieces and two Ray of Revelations for game two. Editor's Note: this attachment's
number is 12666
Game two my opponent only opens with Taiga-go. I drop down land, Mox, Petal-go. Turn two my opponent plays out Taiga then Goblin Recruiter and proceeds to stack a lot of Goblins on top of his Library. Apparently he never read any of my stuff on FCG and doesnt know that he really shouldnt stack that many Goblins with only two non-basics in play. During his end of turn I cast Intuition for 2xSundering Titan and Triskelion. He gives me Trike. I draw for turn and play a land, then obviously play Animate Dead on my Sundering Titan which nukes both his lands and makes his 1/1 attacker useless. After a turn and me playing Bazaar and Goblin Welder he scoops.
Round 2 is Pip from Australia playing Oath...
Pip is a really nice guy and I have a blast losing to him this round. Not only is he fun to talk with, but his girlfriend was leaning over him most of the time flashing a very impressive amount of cleavage (heh, sorry for looking Pip...wait, no im not :tongue2: ). I keep two decent/good hands while both of his hands end up being utterly broken. But hey, it happens.
Game 1 Pip opens with Sapphire, Brainstorm, which leads to Black Lotus, Forbidden Orchard, Oath of Druids, Go....he tells me after this game that he Brainstormed into all of these....I am able to play out a first turn Welder, but I never find anything to stop Razia and Akroma in time. I side in 3x Ray of Revelation and 2x Red Elemental Blast.
Game 2 I open with Welder which meets the usual Force of Will. Pips turn starts and its a familiar situation. Black Lotus-->Forbidden Orchard--> Oath of Druids go. I attempt to Intuition but that gets Forced as well...sheesh. Pip's hand is pretty depleted and on my turn I am able to get a Platinum Angel into my graveyard with Animate Dead in hand. Pip oaths out Akroma on his turn and attacks and says go. I attempt to play Animate Dead but it gets Dazed!!! "Never saw it coming" would be the understatement of the day. Razia comes to play on his next turn and I'm at lethal damage. Oh well, it was a fun match anyways.
Since the event is very small I have to win out just to get third or fourth and I already cannot win.
Round 3 Asian Pro guy with UW Fish...
This is usually an easy matchup for my deck, but sometimes odd choices in Fish can be difficult to get around. Fortunately for me he is running a pretty standard UW Fish build. Game 1 he plays first turn Flying Men. I open up with a Goblin Welder and a Mox on my turn. Turn 2 he makes that Flyer turn into a Ninja and beats for 2 and draws, then plays out Aether Vial and Flying Men. I'm a little worried, but not too bad off yet. On my turn I play Bazaar of Baghdad and choose to Duress, which takes a Force of Will. I activate Bazaar and am able to dump a Sundering Titan and Shivan Hellkite. Animate Dead gets the Kite to come play and Titan is promptly Welded in to destroy the opponent's mana base which causes my opponent to enter the scoop phase. I SB in 2x Gorilla Shaman and 3x Red Elemental Blast.
Game 2 was over in similar fashion after a first turn Tinker for Triskelion to stop his Flying Men, and then a second turn Animate Dead finds the Titan in my graveyard. For good measure I play out a Goblin Welder and the opponent is left hurting. He tries for a turn or two and then scoops up his cards.
Round 4 US Pro guy...with Control Slaver...
I have to win this to get third or fourth place.
Game 1 my opponent is basically in control the whole time. My mana base is not happening after a mulligan and I never really recover. Then my opponent makes a few big mistakes that get me into the game. Rather than Mindslavering me for a second turn and then Demonic Tutoring for Bazaar, which could completely destroy me if he activated it and threw away the really good stuff, he decides to just go to the discard phase and pitch Bazaar. Then on his turn he decides to Tinker for a Darksteel Collosus rather than just Slavering me again. This lets me attempt to Animate Duplicant, which gets Forced, allowing me to Echoing Truth the big guy back to his hand. In response he welds in Sol Ring!!! Why he didnt Weld in Mindslaver I dont think I will ever know. He is able to Recoup Tinker and gets DSC back into play again. This however is letting me draw into another Animate Dead which resolves for Duplicant. Once again he is forced to weld out the DSC for Sol Ring!!!! again...wtf dude. Finally after two turns of nothing happening he finds Yawgmoth's Will and is able to do more than enough damage to end the game. Losing games like this is not fun, people. SB in 2x Gorilla Shaman 2x Tormod's Crypt.
Game 2 On my turn 1 I attempt to play out a Shaman, which gets Force of Willed, then I drop a Tormod's Crypt and pass the turn. He plays out land, Mana Vault go. I am able to resolve an Entomb dumping Worldgorger Dragon on my turn and my second mox monkey. His turn he taps out to Tinker for DSC, which I promptly Echoing Truth back to his hand. He gets a Welder out and passes the turn. On my turn I resolve my own Welder rather than just trying to resolve the Animate Dead in my hand due to not having a Red mana source to win right then with Dragon. On his next turn I Intuition for two Titans and a Deep Analysis. I am able to kill his Welder somehow, can't remember how, but then my Titan gets Welded in (he cannot weld something different due to there not being any other artifacts in my yard) and kills not one, not two, not three, but four lands in one go....yay for people playing bad mana bases. My opponent has to play Swords to Plowshares on it and his last dual lands go with it. This leaves him with only Tolarian Academy and zero artifacts in play. He plays a land and says go with only two cards in hand. On my turn I Duress and then play Animate on the Dragon for the win.
Game 3 I pretty much have my way with things and end up killing off both of his lands on my second turn with an animated Sundering Titan that snuck through after a Welder was forced. This game was never close and he scoops shortly afterwards.
This nets me third place on tie breaks over Pip. Staphane and Ken from Nor Cal end up splitting in their last game, and Pip techincally wins based on tie breaks and due to him winning 2-0 easily in the friendly match they played afterwards.
After the event it's getting somewhat late since we have to drive six hours home that night, so I quickly go meet back up with Mike-a-tog to get my final Bazaar of Baghdad and go run around saying good bye to everybody I had met up with.
We get on the road within the next hour and start heading home. We were still hungry though and we noticed a Hooters on the road and stopped by for some Buffalo Shrimp (among other things) and had a nice chat with out waitress Lia who just chilled with us for like an hour since it was really slow that night. The conversation was mainly about plastic surgery and featured her body as basis for what a good natural body should look like. Let me just tell you all that after three days of Magic having a nice conversation with an amazingly attractive female is a godsend. We wrap up at the restaurant and say goodbye to the ladies that had been helping us and get back on the road. About four hours later we stop to get some gas and some much needed caffeine. This is when we realize that our clocks get set back one hour this weekend and start jumping for joy... we now get a whole extra hour to sleep today.
We arrive at Tony's house and I say good bye until next time, then I proceed back to my girlfriend's warm bed for a nice two hour nap until it was time to go back to work for the day.
All in all this weekend was an amazing experience. It was great to meet a few more artists and get some stuff signed and altered and it was cool meeting a bunch of new people from all over the world and it was amazing watching some of the Pros at work. It was also very nice to get to play against one of the best Vintage players in all of Europe, and doubly so getting to beat him 7-4 overall in games.
I would strongly reccomend attending at least one of these kind of events if you ever get the chance. It is fun and you will learn some things.
Anyways, until next time guys.
Scott aka Lunar
For questions and comments feel free to send me a PM here or leave a comment in the forums. Ciao.
Usual props to all involved in editing and art and stuff of course.
By Scott Lemenager on November 2nd, 2005 · Filed in Extended (Type 1.x) · Comments not available just now
About Scott Lemenager
Scott Lemenager is one of the best up in coming Vintage writers in the United States. Recently voted as "Best Vintage Strategist" on MTGSalvation and published on the front page at Star City Games, Scott continues to write solid articles on the Vintage format. Other recent accomplishments include the startup of www.norcalmagic.tk , a site dedicated to Vintage Magic on the West Coast, and the startup of his own proxied Vintage tournament Series. A shift in career goals also has Scott headed to the California Culinary Acadamy to continue his training as a World Class Chef and one day small business owner.