Looking Back On A Sweet Season

Javier Dominguez

Javier Dominguez

Hello!

Pro Tour 25th Anniversary (PT25A) is already over, and now we are really close to the end of the 2017-2018 Season. While it is not technically over, I don’t really plan to test much for the upcoming GPs, hopefully saving enough energy to properly prepare for the 2018 World Championship.

How did my season go? Quite well!

It has been so far my best season ever in terms of results, but that doesn’t mean many mistakes were not made. I also didn’t do very well in the Pro Tours this season. Sure, I finally got my first PT Top8 at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, but in the other 3 PTs combined I only got one extra Pro Point.

I also accomplished my biggest goal for the season which was qualifying for Worlds this year, so even though my PT performance wasn’t great I’m obviously very happy.

What I want to do today is sharing with you a few memories and lessons I’ve got from the events I’ve played this season.

GP Birmingham 2017 – Modern // 10-5

Death's Shadow

For GP Birmingham I played Jund 《Death's Shadow》, following the common notion at that time “《Death's Shadow》 was busted”. I felt really underpowered playing the deck during the tournament even though 《Traverse the Ulvenwald》 is a good magic card.

Turns out 《Death's Shadow》 was still a fine deck but under a different form: Grixis Shadow. I did not feel comfortable with that build of the deck, but it didn’t take long for me to realize I had made the wrong call. A few months later, Grixis Shadow would become pretty much the only 《Death's Shadow》 deck.

GP Turin 2017 – Standard // 11-4

For GP Turin I played my beloved Hazoret Red.

Hazoret the Fervent

This is a GP I didn’t prepare much, since I already played the deck a lot during the preparation of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, and I considered the deck to be strong enough to stay on the top even if the metagame adapted against it. I was really wrong and the GP ending exactly having 0 Ramunap Red in the Top8, since most of the decks were at that point really prepared to beat the red decks.

I went 11-4 which was actually a fine result since my deck wasn’t very well positioned.

GP Providence 2017 – Team Limited // 10-4

Marcio Carvalho Artur Villela

Marcio Carvalho and Artur Villela (Image Copyright : Wizards of the Coast)

In my way to worlds, I decided to play the Team GP along with Marcio Carvalho and Artur Villela. Team Sealed events are always very fun and this time we ended 10-4 which was an OK performance. However, now I think it was a relatively bad idea to attend to that tournament, since I should have spent the time playing on the GP testing for Worlds instead.

2017 Worlds Championship – Mixed Format // 2nd place

Finals

Image Copyright : Wizards of the Coast

This is my best result in magic so far. I wrote my report here. Now that the tournament is long gone, the biggest lesson I get from this tournament is the fact that if something works for you in Magic, it can still keep working even if doesn’t work for most people. I played enough (too many?) games with Ramunap Red to the point that I was sure it would be better for me to stick to it than to change to a better deck where people would be able to outplay me. Nowadays, I’m very happy I made that call.

GP Liverpool 2017 Limited – // Drop

Vraska, Relic Seeker

I opened a very good sealed pool featuring 《Vraska, Relic Seeker》 and some curve to support her. However, I didn’t have a very good day where I lost to 《Vraska》 twice and against 《Huatli, Warrior Poet》 as well. Planeswalkers are really strong Limited Magic Cards.

I sneaked into day 2 under the old 6-3 rule, but there I also got destroyed after drafting a weak White-Red deck. I also threw a game playing very bad against 《Skulduggery》. If that happened to you as well, you are not alone, my friend.

Pro Tour Ixalan // 6-8 Drop

PT Ixalan didn’t go very well, but I am happy about how preparation went. Since “Ixalan” had been around for a few weeks, I felt good about drafting and for the Standard portion I went with Hazoret Red once again. This time I went with Tomoharu Saito’s plan. He had been playing the deck for long as well, and admittedly his sideboard and game plans against most of the top decks were better than mine. The spicy card we brought to the Pro Tour was 《Invigorated Rampage》. Unfortunately, it didn’t make a difference for me.

Invigorated Rampage

Going 3-3 in the drafts didn’t help either, heh.

GP Warsaw 2017 – Standard // 11-4

This GP was the tournament where I finally decided to jump off the 《Hazoret the Fervent》 team. I moved to Temur Energy, which would stay as the best deck until the end of the format. It was time to join the 《Attune with Aether》 team!

Attune with Aether

A part of me regretted not doing the change before the PT, but this time I had more space for testing and to learn the archetype better. I didn’t splash for 《The Scarab God》 because I wanted to have a better manabase, but I did lose to the card a few games during the tournament. I still don’t know which version I should have played.

GP Lyon 2017 – Team limited // 7-5 Drop

Luis Salvatto Marcio Carvalho

Luis Salvatto and Marcio Carvalho

I played with Luis Salvatto and Marcio Carvalho, and while things didn’t go really well, it was a very fun weekend. After we dropped, Luis and I went as fast as we could home to play a Monthly MOCS event. What happened there is that I had a small blackout and couldn’t remember my password for a few minutes, and because of that I managed to log in just in time to miss the event. Meanwhile, Luis went 7-1 on that MOCS event proving who was the smartest of us. 0-2 would’ve been enough, though.

Slow Motion

2017 World Magic Cup // 5-3

Spain Team

Image Copyright : Wizards of the Coast

World Magic Cup in Nice was nice as usual. I played with Spanish national champion Daniel Martinez and Pedro Lechado. We prepared the WMC enough that the preparation felt closer to a PT than to a GP.

For that tournament I played 4-Color Energy, using 《Glint-Sleeve Siphoner》. While I thought Temur Energy was a better deck, playing that version let Daniel play a full-powered Mono Red deck, which we considered very important. Pedro ran U/W 《God-Pharaoh's Gift》, which we expected to be good against the control decks many people would play in that slot.

The tournament itself started well with Spain going 3-0 in the Sealed portion. Day 2, however, was rough and we didn’t manage to win many games. I ended being very happy with my teammates and with the tournament itself. It is definitely something special. This year Spain will do better!

GP Madrid 2017 – Team Modern Unified // Drop!

Marcio Carvalho Thiago Rodrigues

Marcio Carvalho and Thiago Rodrigues

I played Tron with Marcio and Thiago Rodrigues as teammates with Shadow and 5C Humans respectively. We ended losing the last match for day 2, and overall Tron was just fine. I think Marcio won 2 or 3 games the whole day which made the awesome day Thiago had not very relevant.

GP London 2018 – Limited // Drop

This has been an important tournament for me in terms of confidence even though the result was very bad. During Christmas, one of short-term goals was improving my mental game. Going into GP London I would try to keep the focus as high as possible under any circumstance and just give the best I could at every single moment.

The pool I was delivered was really bad and every match I played I felt my cards were outclassed. However, I was proud when I felt I was keeping my mind game as it should be even though everything was going wrong.

On Sunday, I played a MOCS where I got 《Tetzimoc》ed more times than I would like to remember. Sometimes Dinosaurs are not that cool.

Tetzimoc, Primal Death

Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan // TOP8!

PT RIX was my first PT Top8 so it will probably remain as a sweet memory forever. You can find my report here. The lesson from that tournament is about Modern. I think that in Modern, if you know all the decks it doesn’t really matter which one you end running as long as you understand your plan for all the match-ups. For that reason, I think testing that format is rarely going to end being useless if you end going to a Modern tournament.

I also learnt that listening to Andrea Mengucci can be a very good idea.

5-1’ing the draft portion and then having a decent 7-3 Constructed was good enough. Yay!

GP Lyon 2018 – Modern // 10-5

Karn Liberated

For GP Lyon I went with my old friend 《Karn Liberated》. Tron is a very special deck when it comes to feelings, because when you win it feels like the best deck ever, but when you lose it often feels like you would lose to a normal draft deck.

My result was very medium and it really felt like I didn’t really chose my deck well…… until I saw Tron had destroyed the field and put 4 copies in the top8, which are a lot of copies for a Modern event.

Lesson: evaluating your deck selection after a tournament is always a difficult thing to do, because even if you try not to give too much weight to your personal result, I find it also hard to completely ignore it.

GP Madrid 2018 – Team Constructed // 5th Place

This team was the one that would later be my PT25A Team: Andrea Mengucci and Christian Calcano. Our setup was Andrea on Grixis Energy (Standard), Calcano on Jund (Modern) and myself on BUG Delver (Legacy), my Legacy petdeck (until Wizards of the Coast banned 《Deathrite Shaman》).

After a rough start, we started winning match after match and we ended being out of Top4 on tiebreakers. We also learnt a lot of things about how to communicate for the PT.

Goblin Digging Team

GP Amsterdam 2018 – Team Limited // 3-3 Drop

Marcio Carvalho Marc Tobiasch

Marcio Carvalho and Marc Tobiasch

My team for the event was Marcio and Marc Tobiasch, both from Hareruya. We opened a weak pool and I’m still not sure if we built it right, since all our decks felt quite underwhelming. Team Sealed pools are often so complex that even if you review them carefully it is very hard (for me, at least) to come up with relevant conclusions.

Highlight of the day was Marcio getting a Game Loss for tardiness on round 8 because apparently forgot he was at a GP (huh). The good part of the trip was that I really enjoyed two days of sightseeing in Amsterdam with my girlfriend, something I really don’t do that often in GPs nowadays.

GP Bologna 2018 – Team Limited // 5-3

For this GP Tobiasch had some flight problems and I ended needing a replacement. Luckily, my good friend Marcos Fernandez showed up as a timely reinforcement and ended teaming up with me and Christoffer Larsen for the GP Bologna.

Timely Reinforcements

We even started the tournament quite well, but we lost the last two rounds to miss day 2. It was a fun tournament and both I and Marcos were surprised with how many games Larsen managed to win with one of the worst decks I’ve submitted in Team Sealed ever.

Besides, it was Bologna so the good food was guaranteed. One perk of GPs going to the same cities again and again is that you don’t really have to research for food places if you already know a few good ones.

GP Birmingham – Legacy / Standard // 0-3 Drop and 12-3

Since our PT25A plan was having me on Legacy, Mengucci on Standard and Calcano on Modern I just started to play a bunch of Legacy before the GP. That way, I would also be able to use my testing on the format for the GP. After some weeks of testing, I ended running a Sultai Midrange deck very similar to what Jeremy Dezani used to come 2nd at GP Seattle 2018.

Deathrite Shaman

It would my last time with this small Elf Shaman. My Legacy tournament didn’t go very well where after a bunch of testing I got a swift 0-3 drop. At least I think I didn’t go for the full 0-6 in games.

Since this was a double GP, I had to play standard. Since I haven’t tested the format because I dedicated my time to Legacy testing, I needed some help. Thankfully Anthony Lee had my back covered once again and he provided me a good Mono Red 75 with a full sideboard plan that I submitted for the GP.

I ended 12-3 with Lee’s deck which was good for 3 Pro Points. B/R was the most played deck among the top tables, and I was really happy to discover the deck I played was actually fine against them, since I didn’t beat many non-BR decks.

GP Washington D.C. 2018 – Team Limited // Drop

Zen Takahashi Jason Chung

Zen Takahashi and Jason Chung (Image Copyright : Wizards of the Coast)

This time I played with Zen Takahashi and Jason Chung. When in our practice game before round 1 started Jason misunderstood what one of his cards did, I knew we were ready to win the tournament. Yes, I was wrong, but it is still cool to think you are going to win once in a while.

GP Copenhagen 2018 / GP Barcelona 2018 // Top4

My reports for the tournaments are here and here. What remained for me after these events is the feeling that I am prepared now to play control deck if I think it’s the best deck to play for a given tournament. Also, 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 is great.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

GP Turin 2018 – Limited // 4-3 Drop

With PT25A one week after the GP and with Core Set 2019 (M19) not being a relevant Pro Tour format, I decided to skip almost all my testing for GP Turin effectively turning it into GP Prerelease. We also changed my Team PT format to Modern, which made me want to play M19 limited even less.

On the GP Itself, I opened a pool with bombs, curve and removals but I didn’t manage to win many games. While I obviously didn’t get very lucky in those games, I think I really didn’t get close to the best possible build with my pool. I feel like in this event I really got punished by not testing. I do regret not putting a little more work into this sealed format, since playing a few leagues can already make a huge difference when it comes down to building a sealed.

Again, Italian food didn’t disappoint.

Pro Tour 25th Anniversary – Team Constructed // 8-6

Our setup was:

Player Format Deck
Christian Calcano Standard Mono Green
Me Modern Jeskai Concede
Andrea Mengucci Legacy Eldrazi Stompy

Our decks were OK, but none of them overperformed. Eldrazi Stompy was actually quite good in testing, but in the PT Andrea got very unlucky in a few good match-ups. In addition to that, we didn’t read the metagame well and those good match-ups were not very common.

Jeskai was just… Jeskai. It was also cool to finally play control at the Pro Tour.

This is what I ran at PT25A:

The sideboard problem is not going anywhere, and this time I chose to play less anti-aggro cards to have more hate cards against graveyard strategies. You can’t be prepared against everything at the same time and because of that you are forced to have holes against certain match-ups. I do think the deck is good going forward, but enough match-ups where you actively need sideboard cards will make the deck quite bad.

For Standard, we ended running Mono Green Stompy even though we could access to the Turbo Fog deck.

That one is on me, since I was the one that insisted on us not playing what ended being one of the best decks for the tournament. This is another important lesson. Being conservative with deck choices has helped me for long time and once I started sticking to “the best decks” my win-rate reflected that change. However, there is a time and a moment for everything, and I just have should identified that we had a great deck in front of us. Instead, my past let me to decide and think that playing a safe deck was better. This time it wasn’t. Next time, we will see!

Think Twice

Conclusion

That has been my season. I’m really looking forward to the 2018-2019 season, where my goal when it comes down to results is going to be earning an invite to the 2019 World Championship. I am aware, though, that might not happen even if I really put all my effort. For that reason, my real goal for this new season is to be the best Magic player I can be.

Thanks a lot for reading, and see you at the tournaments!

Javier Dominguez

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