Hello everyone! It’s been a while and many things have happened in my Magic life – as you might or might not know I have moved to Tokyo (already 4 months ago!) which means that I am experiencing what is it like to be a Magic Pro in Asia. I have to say that your surroundings have a huge impact on how you experience and perceive things in general – in Asia people are way more enthusiastic and serious about Magic (and games in general) which leads to me being more into it as well.
When a lot of people around you are passionate about a certain thing, you are way more likely to embrace that and be that way as well. Thanks to that my fire burns brighter than ever and despite having slightly less time to play due to work I am trying harder than ever.
My Recent Tournament Magic
Grand Prix Bangkok
There has been 3 major tournaments that I took a part in since I came here: Grand Prix Bangkok, Grand Prix Nagoya and Mythic Championship VI Richmond. I actually didn’t want to go to Bangkok initially – the flight tickets were somewhat expensive and there wasn’t much of an incentive to play GPs at the time but my friend Yuusuke Ohkawa convinced me to go – we first flew to a different Thailand city – Phuket were we just had a good time at the beach.
Our group consistet of me, Yuusuke Ohkawa, Justin Robb and Lars Dam. We have spend most of our time just chilling (I think it would be a sin to just play Arena or whatever at our hotel rooms in such a crazy place) but we did go over bunch of Sealed decks together which was very helpful. We basically spend only 2 full days in Phuket so we didn’t get to do any crazy travelling, but I was able to taste the food (it was amazing – I actually weirdly don’t really like Japanese cuisine so it was a very refreshing change) and we got to hang out at a famous party street – Bangla Road.
What is most amazing about travelling to other countries is the fact that people just look and think about many things differently and it makes you question whether the way you perceive things is actually the right one – it definitely makes you more open to things. Anyways where I am going with this is that you are certainly aware of what Thailand is famous for but I always thought that people are just overstating it to sound cool or whatever but in reality it was exactly the way I heard – it was super wild – people were just trying to do anything to get your attention, everyone who was touching you and talking to you on the street, everyone drunk… Not gonna lie, it was fun and a good way to forget about our everyday lifes and just refresh your brain. It sounds crazy but I think that without going to Phuket I would propably play worse at the tournament – go Phuket!!
I actually ended up winning the GP which is still crazy to me untill this day – I completely threw away my first match in the GP and ended up day1 at 7-2 record after losing to Yuta Takahashi in the last round. My Sealed deck was a classic Throne of Eldraine Sealed deck – B/G deck with couple of bombs, big creatures and removal. During our testing (just building pools) most of our deck were some combination of sultai colors so nothing really special. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play blue (not enough playables) – which is the strongest Sealed color because aggro decks are extremely rare in this format and all the counters, milling and draw spells are obviously insane against any slow opponent and Yuta proved that to be true when he demolished me with his perfect U/B control deck.
On Day 2 I got incredibly lucky at multiple occasions – the last round of the first draft I played against Kelvin Chew and at certain point he had to missplay AND I had to draw an 2 outer AND outtopdeck him after that – I won the GP so you can guess how that went 😛 My deck was very interesting – I was basically a Mono-Red deck with 2 《Fireborn Knight》s but I was splashing black for 《Belle of the Brawl》, 《Barrow Witches》 and 《Stormfist Crusader》. The biggest issue was the mana – I needed enough sources for the Knights but also enough 《Swamp》s to be able to actually cast my black spells – fortunately there was a good solution – my deck consistet of 3 《Weaselback Redcap》 and 2 《Merchant of the Vale》 so I could afford to just play 18 lands with a 13-5 manabase and the deck actually ended up running pretty smoothly.
In the second draft I was getting passed by Shuhei Nakamura and Yuta which actually ended up influencing my decisions during the draft a little bit. Normally I would try to avoid white – the format was fresh and I assumed that most people wouldn’t yet know that the color isn’t that good so the risk of sharing already a weak color was too high, but both Shuhei and Yuta are excellent players plus I know they have a preference for UB strategies. I opened a 《Giant Killer》 and after getting passed couple of premium white uncommons I ended up in extremely good Adventure deck – unfortunately I didn’t get any 《Edgewall Innkeeper》s but besides that the deck was close to perfect.
I got a draw in the middle of the 2nd draft which would regularly mean an elimination from the top 8 contention but the GP was small enough that I was still in it (especially due to my good 3 byes tiebreakers). I was kinda upset over the draw – I would have won the game the next turn but what actually ended up happening was that my last round opponent was on 3 losses and he was nice enough to give me the win!!
In the top 8 everything just went my way and I endep up in a completely busted Temur deck featuring 3 《Golden Egg》s 2 《Animating Faerie》s 5 rares and bunch of sick uncommons and all of the sudden I was a Champ! This marks my 4th Grand Prix victory but what actually makes me the most happy is that I was able to level up my Limited game – I think that Limited is the ACTUAL MTG and I am glad I am no longer just the “Standard guy”. The decision that I thought about for the longest period of the time was my first pick – 《Lovestruck Beast》 and 《Epic Downfall》 – in the end I went with the classis – “if you dont know, take the rare” and moved on – I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have won the GP if I took the other card, phew…. After that everything kinda went my way:
-Land (17)- 1 《Flaxen Intruder》
1 《Maraleaf Pixie》
2 《Animating Faerie》
2 《Grumgully, the Generous》
1 《Emry, Lurker of the Loch》
1 《Irencrag Pyromancer》
1 《Lovestruck Beast》
1 《Rosethorn Acolyte》
1 《Signpost Scarecrow》
1 《Garenbrig Paladin》
1 《Sage of the Falls》
1 《Prophet of the Peak》
1 《Scorching Dragonfire》
1 《Unexplained Vision》
1 《Charmed Sleep》
1 《Scalding Cauldron》
3 《Golden Egg》
1 《The Great Henge》
The deck kinda had it all – the artifacts to go with 《Animating Faerie》 and 《Emry, Lurker of the Loch》 loops, enough draw spells to make 《Irencrag Pyromancer》 good, good mana, enough early interaction… Now that I am writing about it I sort of regret that I can’t play with the deck anymore… 😀
The deck didn’t have only strong main deck, but sideaboard as well – I had additional draw spell, counterspell and a 《Return to Nature》 which was very handy during the top 8 games and I actually think I wouldn’t have won the finals without sideaboarding – my opponent had 2 copies of 《Clackbridge Troll》 which I didn’t really have any answers to, but I was able to use a Didn’t Say Please against it.
Grand Prix Nagoya
Soon after GP Bangkok there was a Standard GP in Nagoya – the GP itself was basically meaningless because there are no Pro Points to be earned anymore and I was qued for the Players Tour thanks to my win already but I felt like it would be kinda weird to not go to a GP in my “home” country and it was a good preparation for the upcoming Mythic Championship.
Part of my work at Hareruya is recording videos for their channel and it was very nice to meet many new awesome people who came to me and told me that they like the videos. Stuff like these are a big part of what keeps me running so thank you for stopping by! I did OK, my final result was 11-4 but I definitely screwed up a lot – the deck I played: Sultai Food was extremely difficult to navigate and sideaboard with properly and to this day I am not sure about many things. I learned a lot during the GP and I felt somewhat ready for the MC in Richmond.
Mythic Championship VI Richmond
I flew to Richmond alone and stayed with my buddies from the states – Oliver Tomaiko, Oliver Tiu, Noah Walker etc. in a cool looking airbnb place. Everyone in the house was on Sultai too so we went over some of the flex spot card choices together – the main thing we couldn’t agree on was that which of 《Liliana, Dreadhorde General》 and 《Casualties of War》 was a superior 6 drop. The main argument I heard was that Casualties is horrible against 《Veil of Summer》 but that just doesn’t really make any sense – most people don’t play Veil maindeck and I felt like Casualties was a better card if that was a case – obviously Liliana is insane when you just jam it proactively but it can be bad when you are behind getting beaten down by 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》 and friends.
Other think I liked about it was that people are going to overboard on Veils in fear of Casualties but I am gonna have a Liliana post board instead – the fact they are likely to draw a Veil means that in many games they will deploy their threats slower (they want to have the extra green mana up to protect their Nissa etc.) which makes the game slow down and Liliana becomes insane.
I started the tournament at 1-3 after a very medioce G/W Adventures draft – I had a lot of good cards but for some reason I didnt get about 4 extra playables and was forced to play some very questionable pieces and ended up going 1-2. In the past I would just scrub out and would be out of the tournament but this time I forced my mind to ignore the record and just focused on the matches and I actually ended up going 11-5 in the end!
3-0 (6-0) with this masterpiece. What's the highest number of cards for one mana you had in your limited deck :D? Mono green aggro is probably the best hidden archetype in the set. While everyone looks for big creatures for milion mana, smash them with 5/3 on turn 2! pic.twitter.com/Zp0UXLa56J— Grzegorz 'Urlich' Kowalski (@urlichmtg) November 9, 2019
The second day started awesome when I went 3-0 with a very good R/G aggresive deck. Green aggro was the hidden gem of the format and I saw many pros like Ondrej Strasky or Grzegorz Kowalski do really well with decks featuring bunch of 《Gingerbrute》s and 《Rosethorn Halberd》s. My pod was actually consistet of many good players like Brian-Braun Duin and Lucas Esper Berthold, but people are usually kind of down on such a record so the draft wasn’t as hard as it could have been.
After that I kept getting very lucky – opponents were mulliganing a lot and I got a lot of free wins but I will take it! 11-5 is a very solid record especially given the circumstances. Leveling up my mental game is one of the most important things for me these days so I am proud of myself for not giving up. In the tournament I won all of my 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》 mirror matches but I’ve lost 3 matches to the other decks even though I feel like I shouldn’t have – I playtested alone this time and I just wasnt’t experienced enough in some of the other matchups and ended up not having the proper sideabord plans etc. Well we will get them next time! This is the Sultai decklist that I ended up playing:
4 《Breeding Pool》
4 《Overgrown Tomb》
4 《Watery Grave》
3 《Fabled Passage》
1 《Castle Locthwain》
-Land (24)- 4 《Gilded Goose》
4 《Paradise Druid》
4 《Hydroid Krasis》
4 《Wicked Wolf》
4 《Noxious Grasp》
4 《Once Upon a Time》
2 《Casualties of War》
4 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》
1 《Vraska, Golgari Queen》
4 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》
I know that by the time you are reading this, your interest about Oko decks is propably close to 0 so I am not really gonna go over my card choices, but there is still something to be learned – I added the 1 Veil maindeck in the last minute and the card ended up being horrible – I got kind of scared because everyone I talked to was main decking either 《Mass Manipulation》 or 《Casualties of War》 but that was just dumb – even if the card is slightly better for the mirror than a different option (let’s say a 《Vraska, Golgari Queen》 or whatever) the fact that it could be completely useless means that overall it certainly decreeses your win percentage against the field.
There are many things I should have done differently in my sideaboard but the thing I would like to highlight is the fact I should have added a 3rd 《Massacre Girl》 – the reason why I didn’t was that it’s actually not spectacular against B/G Adventures (it depends on their build and the way they sideaboard) so it would be in my sideaboard only for G/W which is a small part of the field – the flaw in my logic was that the deck doesn’t actually really sideaboard in the mirror so you have bunch of free sideaboard slots and shoring up some of the weaknesses would have been worth it.
I lost a match against G/W in the tournament and in the second game I 《Once Uponed a Time》 twice and drew additional cards from 《Hydroid Krasis》 etc. but failed to find the key card: 《Massacre Girl》 – I have a bad feeling I would have if I had a 3rd one and there was easily a place to be find for such a high-impact card. I don’t think there has ever been any tournament where I would look back and wouldn’t have changed any cards, the important thing is to learn from it and do better next time.
Nice thing about going to states was that I reassured myself about my love for Japan – when you are here for a long period of time, the things that you love it for become normal and you don’t appreciate them as much but couple of days away and I wanted to go back already.
My flight back to Tokyo was on Monday morning so I just spend the night at the ariport jamming the fresh new format Pioneer in which the next big tournament – Players Tour Nagoya is being held and I have to say – for some reason I don’t really enjoy playing it too much – it might just be because I am still sort of lost it in and don’t really know what is going on – I guess we will see how the format shakes up by the time of the PT – hopefully they do a good job with the bannings to make the format balanced and healthy.
I hope you liked my article and if you are interested in more of my content – decklists etc. don’t hesitate to follow me on twitter here: https://twitter.com/PetrKikac .
Thank you for reading,
Petr Sochurek (Twitter)