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GP: Mexico Report


Last weekend, I attended GP: Mexico City. Although I was a bit skeptical about traveling to Mexico, I was trying to make a run at Gold in the Pro Players Club. Every potential point was very important, and I wanted to go to as many GPs as possible. I knew that there were plenty of American players planning on attending the GP, so I felt relatively safe about going.

Here is the deck I received for Day 1.

After filtering out the playables, I was left with this.

At a first glance, I noticed that I had Olivia Voldaren, which is a bomb in Sealed. Untapping with Olivia in play can end the game very quickly. Also, in Sealed, people generally have fewer answers to bombs, and most of the removal in the format can’t deal with her. I knew that I was going to try to play her if possible.

The first color I eliminated was white. The white had no removal, and the creatures were too weak. The next color I didn’t like here was green. There were some good creatures, but overall, it was just weaker than the other colors.

The strongest color was definitely black. There were five good removal spells and plenty of good creatures. In addition, it allowed me to either play or splash Olivia. Therefore, I was going to play black no matter what. So, now I had decide between red and blue with a splash for Olivia. First, I tried to build a U/B deck with a red splash.

I didn’t like this build for several reasons. First, it only had twelve creatures, and most of the creatures were just bad. I‘m not happy to play subpar creatures such as Shriekgeist and Stromkirk Patrol. I wanted to play at least fourteen creatures in my Sealed deck. Second, the mana curve was really bad. This deck had nothing to do until turn three, and there were way too many 3-drops in this deck. Third, the mana base in this deck was just awful. I had to play at least three Mountains to support Olivia, and this deck had a lot of double-blue and double-black spells. A mana base of 7/7/3 was just asking me to be mana screwed in too many of my games.

The next option I had was a B/R deck. Here is what the deck looked like.

This deck looked a lot better than the U/B build because it had more removal and a better mana curve. The red gave me two additional removal spells and three creatures that can two-for-one the opponent (Forge Devil and two Pitchburn Devils). The mana base was a little tricky because this deck required both black and red mana early.

I ended up playing the above deck on the first day of the GP. I played a mana base of eight Mountains and nine Swamps. I was extremely happy with this deck. It had both bombs and removal, which is exactly what I want in Sealed.

After deck-building, I went to Starbucks with James Searles, Jackie Lee, Raphael Levy, Elie Pichon, Lukas Jaklovsky, and Shuhei Nakamura. We tested our decks a little, and then we bought some tacos for lunch. After we ate, James and I went back to our hotel room while the rest of the group went back to the site.

We walked into our room, and the first thing I noticed was that my backpack was not where I left it. I searched the entire room and sure enough, my backpack was gone. We told the person at the front desk what happened, and she didn’t seem to care. We were lucky that there was an American guy working at the hotel who tried to help us out. He questioned the housekeeping staff as to what happened to my bag, and they looked very guilty as they denied taking it. The hotel manager then fired the American guy for helping us! Yeah, the hotel obviously took my bag. My backpack contained both my laptop and James‘s laptop, my cell phone, and some other valuable stuff. Between the two of us, we were out about $1,500.

There was really nothing to do at that point—Round 4 was about to start, and we had to go back to the site. I didn’t want to miss the tournament to call the police, because after all, the reason we came to Mexico was to play in the tournament. We were just going to have to take care of it at the end of the day.

At the site, we told everyone what happened, and the other players who were staying at our hotel rushed back there to check on their stuff. They were happy to find nothing else was stolen.

The word spread about our stolen stuff, and one of the locals, Gabriel Espinosa, approached James and me and offered to help. He offered to take us to the police station, file a report, and translate for us. So, after the tournament, we did just that, and we hope the hotel’s insurance will cover our stolen stuff. I can’t thank Gabriel enough for helping us. If it weren’t for him, there was probably nothing we could have done about it.

Back to the tournament . . .

I finished Day 1 with a 7–1 record, and my Sealed deck performed extremely well. My only loss was to Jackie Lee, which was a feature match that you can read about here.

Because I had to go to the police station and deal with everything that happened, I was unable to eat dinner that night. It was around midnight by the time I made it back to my hotel room, so I just prepared for Day 2 and went to sleep.

I was in Pod 2 for the first Draft along with Ben Stark, Paul Rietzl, Elie Pichon, and Andreas Franz. During the Draft, I was being fed by a local player, and I had a hard time reading a signal from him. My first picks in order were Dawntreader Elk, Briarpack Alpha, and Scorned Villager. Because I knew that Scorned Villager was coming my way, I chose to force green. After I received the Scorned Villager pick three, green just dried up. I picked up a Wrack with Madness, and then I started drafting black cards, but my deck was looking pretty bad. After I received a very late Griptide, I ended up grabbing a couple of late Screeching Skaabs and a Tracker's Instincts. After Pack 1, it looked like I was G/U self-mill.

For the Innistrad packs, I was passed some good blue cards, but the green was very weak. The self-mill plan did not work out, but I was passed a late Geist of Saint Traft that I could splash, so I decided to pick up a few Spectral Flights so I had a get-there plan. Here’s the final deck I submitted:

Overall, I was not too happy with the deck, but I had a chance to be lucky with a Spectral Flight on either Invisible Stalker or Geist of Saint Traft. However, that plan never actually happened. I went 1–1–1 with the deck. It turned out that the player passing to me on my right was R/G aggro, and the player to my left was G/U self-mill, so I was being cut off pretty badly from both sides.

My second Draft went much better. I first-picked a white card because I knew that there were two Loyal Cathars coming, so I set myself up to draft them. However, for my second pick, I was given the choice of Loyal Cathar, Tragic Slip, or Wolfhunter's Quiver. Both Quiver and Tragic Slip are better than the Loyal Cathar, so it looked like my white plan did not work out. I really like the Quiver, and it also keeps my options open, so I took that.

Pick three, I had the choice of Loyal Cathar, another Tragic Slip, or Wild Hunger. I think Wild Hunger is a great card and always take it when I see it, so I snatched it up. Passing a second Tragic Slip put the player I was passing to in black, so I knew that I could no longer draft that color. I was set to force R/G at that point because I had the Wild Hunger, and I was very happy about that. I picked up a Wrack with Madness, Markov Warlord, and some other subpar red creatures, but there was no green coming at all. Then, I was passed three Griptides in a row, so my deck was all over the place after Pack 1. On the plus side, I could easily adapt to whatever I was passed in Pack 2.

My deck came together very well Packs 2 and 3. I picked up a ton of burn, good creatures, and a Blasphemous Act. I was practically mono-red except for the three Griptides that put me into blue. I really liked the way this deck shaped up, and I felt confident that I could do well with it.

I needed to go 3–0 in my pod to have a shot at Top 8, but unfortunately, I only went 2–1. In the match I lost, on the play, I kept a sketchy hand of two lands, a Geistflame, some 3-drops, and a 5-drop, but I failed to ever draw a third land.

Other than that, this Draft deck performed very well. It was a bit slow, but very powerful. I really like the Hanweir Watchkeep because it was a great early, defensive card and also a huge threat later in the game. It also worked well with Wolfhunter's Quiver because you can spend your turn equipping something, and then the Watchkeep will transform, and you won’t waste your turn. It was perfect in a slow deck like this.

Blasphemous Act was great, obviously because it was a Wrath effect, but also because it could deal lethal damage if I had a Rage Thrower in play. I was able to win a game with that combo, and I even won a game after casting Selhoff Occultist followed by Blasphemous Act to mill my opponent out.

I ended up finishing twenty-first place, good for $400 and two Pro Points. Overall, I’m happy about my finish. Two Pro Points put me a bit closer to my goal of Gold Level in the Pro Players Club. A good finish at Pro Tour: Avacyn Restored will lock up the spot for me.

After the Swiss rounds, I watched the first round of Top 8, in which Pascal Maynard was defeated by Craig Wescoe in two quick games. Poor Pascal made Top 8 in the past two Grands Prix that he attended, which is an incredible accomplishment, but losing in the quarterfinals meant that he is still not qualified for the next Pro Tour. That seems like a bad system to me. If a player is able to Top 8 a Grand Prix twice, he clearly deserves to play on the Pro Tour. The way things are now, making multiple Top 8s in a row is just not good enough. I hope WotC does something in the future so that people like Pascal will be able to qualify for the Pro Tour.

After the tournament, I became really sick and had a miserable night. I couldn’t wait to board my plane and go home. I had just about enough of Mexico.

Despite my good finish at the Grand Prix, my stolen property was a big enough loss for me to never want to go back to Mexico. If for some reason I do go back, you can be sure I won’t bring anything valuable with me.

This weekend, I will be at Grand Prix: Salt Lake City. The format is Standard, which is something I haven’t been playing a lot of lately. I hope I can figure out what to play by then. If you see me, feel free to say “hi.” Thanks for reading!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter@AllWeDoIsWinMTG.

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