Introduction: 4 Weeks in the USA
I am flying back home and I am in complete ecstasy about my last weekend result. For me it means the world to have finally reached the TOP8 of a Pro Tour, especially since it might be the last one as we know them. This result is not only something I wanted to achieve for years, but also a key for 2020 competitive Magic.
I was having a medium season, with the highlight in my MCQW win but full of uninspiring results in the tabletop events, and the deception of an 10-6 finish in MC I in Cleveland after a 9-2 start. However, those points accumulated during the year were all fundamental to put me close to the top of the Challengers Leaderboard with this Top4 finish. Raphael Levy, Chris Kvartek and Ondrej Strasky made more points than me, and Gabriel Nassif and Stanislav Cifka could pass me in the last Mythic Championship of the season. This means that I’m already qualified for the super exclusive Worlds and the Rivals league, with chances of going straight to the MPL, crazy!
Let’s rewind to my preparation for the tournament. -Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t very good-
Mythic Championship V
- The Keys to Success – Important Lessons from MCQ V
- Sebastian Pozzo
For me, that was the big tournament, the important one where I felt I had better chances to earn a spot in 2020 Competitive Magic. I focused a lot on that one testing with Luis Salvatto, Matias Leveratto, Piotr “Kanister” Glogowski and Raphael Levy. I usually play “the best deck” instead of trying to attack it so I invested the last 2 weeks playing Golos and was too committed to submit something else despite of being aware that not many participants would go without a good plan against it. The rest of the squad decided to go with BG Adventures.
In the tournament I started nervous and with my back against the wall pretty quickly after a 1-2 start. It sometimes happens to me that my expectations are very high, then I start with too much tension and not playing very well, and after I lose one or two rounds, I make a click that tells me “you have nothing to lose now, go for it”. And it’s there when I start to play better (if I only convinced myself that I always have nothing to lose!!!). This is something I need to adjust urgent if I want to win more, because I can’t be giving these edges in the pinnacle of competitive play.
After that, I managed to pull a great 4-0 with some nerves in the win and in versus no one less than Javier Dominguez himself (you can rewatch the match here), in the last turns of Game 1 I should have bounced 《Embercleave》 with 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 to prevent him from attacking me with a potential equipped 《Questing Beast》 from the top, but I just didn’t see the possibility of bouncing the Equipment, and got rewarded by my misplay after his 《Skarrgan Hellkite》 topdeck).
Day 2 I started more focused and I was 2-0, but in Round 3 I didn’t play very well against Andrea Mengucci on camera and I made a terrible mistake against William “Huey” Jensen in Game 3 of Round 4. After that, Carlos Romao beated me in a close mirror and Autumn Burchett completely crushed me with Golos Fires. It was over. 20th from 68 wasn’t bad but the goal of Top4 Challenger couldn’t be achieved.
After MC V I stayed in Santa Monica with Matias Leveratto for a little tourism while also starting to try new decks after the 《Field of the Dead》 ban. It was great to be invited to stay with Luis Salvatto, Christian Calcano, Francisco Sifuentes and a few days with Matias too, to a huge residence in Las Vegas called “Ranch Island”, where Ben Friedman and Andrew Jessup live among other people. This place had everything I needed to practice: internet, a good atmosphere and a comfortable living room, while it exceled in ways to relax (table curling, gym, hot tub, nice open-air places and more).
Mythic Championship VII Qualifier Weekend
Next weekend was the MCQW, but the deck I knew how to pilot well got banned. That left me with very little time to practice and I sticked to what the rest of the testing group for the MC had played, BG Adventures. It turned out that it wasn’t very well tuned as Kvartek list was (I had 《Vivien, Arkbow Ranger》s and 《Questing Beast》s while he had 《Rankle, Master of Pranks》s and 《Liliana, Dreadhorde General》s in a sea of maindecked 《Noxious Grasp》s) and I died on day one.
Mythic Championship VI
Preparation and Final Decklist
Now I had 10 days to both practice Limited and decide a deck for Richmond. I started with Limited on MTG Arena and made it to Mythic quickly, then passed to Magic Online to draft with real people. I wasn’t very experienced with all the archetypes but felt comfortable drafting a variety of strategies.
As for Standard I started with the updated version of BG Adventures that Kvartek used to win back to back invites for the Arena MC. However, I felt it wasn’t good enough to beat 《Veil of Summer》. I also tried Temur Reclamation (Leveratto almost qualified again in the MCQW with it), but in the GPs of Nagoya and Lyon some straight UG and Bant Food decks did very well. If the food decks don’t have 《Noxious Grasp》 and have 《Aether Gust》 instead and maybe 《Brazen Borrower》 it suddenly becomes a way worse matchup.
So once again I had to go with “the best deck” and locked myself in UG Food based on the success of Riku Kumagai in Nagoya and Shouta Yasooka in the MPL Split. I was also able to receive some advice from Lee Shi Tian, Jeremy Dezani, Dickman and Ben Friedman, who had played with the deck for the last days.
4 《Breeding Pool》
2 《Temple of Mystery》
2 《Mobilized District》
-Land (24)- 4 《Gilded Goose》
4 《Paradise Druid》
4 《Hydroid Krasis》
4 《Brazen Borrower》
4 《Wicked Wolf》
4 《Once Upon a Time》
4 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》
4 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》
Round by Round: Day 1
My first pod looked very strong as I identified Ben Hull, Arne Huschenbeth and Martin Muller. I sited in between the 2 firsts and opened the white Myhtic 《Harmonious Archon》, then got passed a bunch of good red cards and a late 《Inspiring Veteran》 incentiviced me into going Boros.
The top end was very powerful and I was happy with the deck in general.
R1: Ben Hull on Mono-blue Splash 《Lochmere Serpent》 2-0. 1-0.
R2: Arne Huschenbeth on Mono-blue 0-2. 1-1.
R3: Jackson Smith on BG Food 2-0. 2-1.
Not a bad start, now onto Standard:
R4: Mattew Norton on Simic Flash 2-1. 3-1.
R5: William Araujo on Mardu Knights 2-0. 4-1.
At this point I was already happy with my decision of playing straight UG over Sultai, I think the edge Sultai can get in the mirror is way less than what you might lose in the other matchups like the ones I just played.
R6: No Ah Ma on BG Adventures with 《Bolas’s Citadel》 1-2. 4-2.
This was a pretty tough loss, his unique take on the BG Adventures deck probably made me play badly at some points and I didn’t know how I was supposed to sideboard.
R7: Jonathan Hobbs on Sultai Food 2-1. 5-2.
This round I started a bit demotivated after losing a long match in last round and quickly lost Game 1. After that I made my biggest efforts to get back in my feet and managed to win a complicated round.
R8: Arnaud Hocquemiller on Sultai Food 0-2. 5-3.
At some point I had to play the Oko mirrors, I don’t remember much about this round but I was probably more tired than I wished.
5-3 was not the result I was hoping for but at the same time wasn’t very bad. I went to sleep and tried to restore the motivation for what was about to come.
Round by Round: Day 2
I surely wanted to draft, and in my pod I recognized Shuhei Nakamura, Adriano Moscato, Mattia Oneto and Daniel Duterte.
I once again opened a White Mythic (《The Circle of Loyalty》) and this time premium white cards kept coming (white is known to be the weakest color of the set, but if none takes then it’s really good). I also noticed a bunch of good red cards passing but I tried to be Mono-white. Pack 2 was very bad for me (I couldn’t cut all the good Boros cards that where passing in pack 1, so I fell short to play Mono-color). This was my final deck:
R9: Gregg Keithley on Boros 2-0. 6-3.
I was passing to him and he was my same colors, sometimes these things happen and he was trapped into a worse deck than mine. But I think there’s not much he could have done different, since in many of the packs I passed in Pack 1 the best card was red or white.
R10: Daniel Duterte on Izzet 2-1. 7-3.
He had a pretty good deck but I had potent draws and a 《Syr Carah, the Bold》 gave me the edge in stacked boards.
R11: Shuhei Nakamura on Mono-blue 2-0. 8-3.
There was the final boss of the table, but his draws weren’t even close to mines and I won pretty easily truth to be told, on Game 2 he mulliganed and barely interacted.
It’s been a While since I 5-1ed the Limited protion of a PT, so that was already nice! It was the time to give it all in the few rounds left. It’s disproportionate how much we usually prepare for tournaments compared to what the competition lasts. Yet sometimes we don’t give 100% of our capabilities when we play. So, going back to the Standard Rounds I just made a big effort to play my best.
R12: Charles Da Cunha on Sultai Food 2-1. 9-3.
I can’t remember anything about this match, sorry 😫
R13: Remi Le Francois on Sultai Food 2-0. 10-3.
I remember not playing very tight, and Game 1 I could have lost even when my opponent mulliganed to 5.
R14: Stephen Tuchek on Temur Reclamation 2-1. 11-3.
This round was crucial. I lost game one after not drawing much of my interaction but post board it gets even better. The reason I decided to play UG over Sultai was that I expected a bunch of Temur Reclamation, Jeskai Fires and 《Embercleave》 decks (not many, but all together it was something). Now it was time to play with more counters, Veils and 《Thrashing Brontodon》s. All I needed was some pressure and prevent Reclamation from triggering.
In the second game he didn’t do much and a Brontodon gave me the win even though I was mana screwed all the time.
Next Round was very likely a win and in! I saw the standings and I was the last one with 33 points, so maybe even with a win I might not be able to draw the last one getting paired down. One way or another I needed to get this win.
R15: Borja Muñoz on Jund Sacrifice 2-0. 12-3.
You can see the round here.
In Game 2 I thought for a while what to make with my 2nd Oko, and decided that making an Elk was Probably better, because even though I had 2 《Wolves》 in my hand, I could spend the next turn making a food with 《Gilded Goose》. However, for some reason I had a lapsus and made a food instantly when I played it, it wasn’t horrible but I think it was way worse and the game turned out a little more complicated, but in the end I got there.
Wow 12-3! I didn’t want to celebrate much because I wasn’t sure if I would be paired vs another 12-3.
R16: Andrew Cuneo on GW Adventures ID. 12-3-1.
Finally, the pairings went up and I could draw with Andrew Cuneo, I got very emotional, after so many years of trying to improve, to finally get something I haven’t achieved before was overwhelming.
During dinner it was inevitable to take a look at the Challengers leaderboard and I was tied with Luis Scott-Vargas (LSV) in 75 points. I thought advancing to semifinals would lock me in the MPL and Worlds but as I said earlier I’m not in that yet because Strasky passed me and in MC VII Nassif and Cifka have chances of doing so too. However, for Worlds I should be in because Strasky’s win passes one invite down, and so would Cifka if he wins the whole MC VII (and with less than that he can’t pass me).
Day 3: Pro Tour Sunday
On Sunday I woke up at 5:00 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. It wasn’t too bad because the first 6 hours of sleep are the most important and I rested well. When I got to the venue I was told I would be playing in 2nd turn so I had a lot of free time before playing. I really mentalized myself for the quarterfinals.
Quarterfinals: Austin Bursavich on Sultai Food.
I was going to play against Austin Bursavich, who had dominated the Swiss with a 6-0 in draft and was showing very confident.
Game 1 and 2 where my high points of the tournament by far. I played both games on the draw, against a version of the deck slightly better for “the mirror”, and both times started behind. However, I was calmed and was always able to take the decisions that would give me better chances, clearly identifying how could I pull out win. Game 3 I also felt comfortable but a timely removal topdeck from his side plus some flood on my side moved things out to Game 4. Luckily, with a strong draw and being on the play I won in the first not close game of the series.
Semifinals: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa on Simic Food.
Then it was time to continue, and I barely had time to eat something and I was against what I consider to be the best player of all times, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (PV). After focusing so much on the quarterfinals it wasn’t an easy task. PV mulliganed a million times against me and yet I was unable to win the series. You can watch it here.
I really don’t want to re-watch it now because I know on Game 5 I was overwhelmed by my card advantage that didn’t take all the precautions to capitalize the advantage and gave him the opportunity to win with 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》. Also in Game 4 I was told I missed lethal and it makes sense because I remember at a point in the match looking and his life total and being surprised that it was lower than I would have imagined. This is mostly a result of my nerves plus not practicing with cards and playing a lot of digital MTG on both MTG Arena and Magic Online.
I’m never too harsh on myself and I will watch the full match sooner than later to understand better my behavior in these unique scenarios. I am a slow learner but I’m also constant and persistent, so I know that I will keep improving my abilities and obtain an even better result once I’m ready for it.
Thanks a lot for everyone cheering and supporting me now and in the past years, I really appreciate it!
See you all in competitive magic 2020!!
Sebastian Pozzo (Twitter)