Grand Prix Chicago Report *19th*

So… Im sure many of you have heard about Pastimes GP’s…this one lived up to all the stories.

From not passing out Batterskulls to everyone, to being a $50 entry (with $15 voucher for a side event), to not getting a playmat unless you played in a side event or had the $100 VIP entry, to saying you would post pairings in certain places then not posting them while saying the round begins in one minute. Also, the head judge having a very thick accent over the PA, which didn’t help. In all fairness, they did get a much higher turnout than they thought, but oh well, down to business.

Orzhov doesn’t really have a particularly weak matchup. It struggles a little against the extreme aggro decks that plagued last week’s SCG open and invitational, but is solid otherwise. The thought was that Blue decks would be popular at this GP and make Black the right deck to play at the top tables, assuming you adjusted the deck a little to be better against aggro(which you would certainly see in the early rounds). Whip of Erebos main board and trading the Lifebane Zombies main for Nightveil Specters (3 toughness goes a long way) did the trick.

DAY ONE

Day one started off well for me, playing against Burn and Mono Blue to start the day off right, going 3-0 including my round one bye. I played against Selesnya round four and was forced to Thoughtseize a Loxodon Smiter. I lost that game, but quickly recovered and 1 for 1’d each creature he played games two and three until I resolved a superior threat. Round five was against the worst deck I’ve ever faced, 4-color monsters. The deck did actual nothing, but it was ridiculous that it was 5-0. Round six was a mirror. My main deck Blood Baron of Vizkopa took game one,  and my opponent extended his Pack Rat army into Bile Blight to reach 6-0.

One win from locking day two I went into the next match feeling pretty good about myself. My next opponent was Robert Vaughan, who so happened to be wearing a Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx competitor T-shirt. Robert was my favorite person I met all weekend and a pleasure to play against. He was playing mono black, splashing green for Courser of Kruphix, Scavenging Ooze, and Abrupt Decay. Games one and two were decided by who resolved Underworld Connections first. In game three, I decided to sacrifice a Mutavault to Desecration Demon so I could get in with a Nightveil Specter and snag Robert’s Ultimate Price, which I knew was there thanks to his Courser of Kruphix. Unfortunately, after snagging the Price, Courser revealed another Demon, and I drew two Elspeth, Sun’s Champions while stuck on five lands.

Now 6-1, I played against esper control. Game one took absolutely forever, but was finally finished by my opponent’s resolved Aetherling at 28 minutes. I knew I needed to win the next two games fast or I was going to get a draw, which was just as bad as a loss for the purposes of making day two. I ripped apart his hand in game two and curved into Obzedat, Ghost Council and Blood Baron. In game three I put my opponent on a weak hand because he took a long time to decide on whether to mulligan or not and had Temple of Silence and Godless Shrine[/card] tapped to start the game. I went all in on Pack Rat. He played his first blue source on turn five, shocking himself and not playing a Supreme Verdict or Detention Sphere.  I think he was trying to scare me, but I had a 17 damage coming next turn.  I wasn’t convinced to not go for the kill, and kill I certainly did.

Going into the final round assured of making day two felt great. What felt even greater was  the hand I kept for both games against my Junk opponent. Thoughtseize, Underworld Connections,  and two removal spells. My opponent top decked very well, but couldn’t slog through my already powerful hands.

DAY TWO

 Round 10: Jund Monsters – Cameron Sullivan

Cameron played very well, doing things like forcing me to block a Satyr token with Nightveil Specter, then playing Polukranos, World Eater post-combat and activated the hydra for one. That and other plays kept him in the running despite an uphill battle. I felt like Courser was almost a bad card for him due to my Nightveils. Knowing when I could make his draw dead, and when I needed to attack and steal a Rakdos’s Return was extremely useful.

9-1

Round 11:- Blue Devotion – Oscar Jones (made Top 8)

You know a match is going to be fun when your opponent shuffles your deck for four minutes to start the round, speaks extremely quietly in a large echoing convention center, and is wearing a jacket inside.

I lost game one to a possible misplay, but i had no outs anyway while being stuck on lands.

Game two I Thoughtseized him and saw two Domestications. I had no Specters or Rats in my hand, so I thought hey, lets just leave him with those…and then proceed to draw only Spectres and Rats the rest of the game >.>

9-2. Feels bad man.

Round 12: Black Devotion – Tyler Blum (Grand Prix Winner)

Game one I kept a three land hand, with a Demon, Thoughtseize, and two removal spells. I drew only lands the rest of the game. Game two I kept a three land hand with Blood Baron, Bile Blight, Underworld Connections, and Dark Betrayal. I had Connections Seized out of my hand, and Blood Baron Lifebane Zombied. I think it was just Tyler’s day.

9-3

Round 13: Burn – Adam Grimm

Took game one through a resolved Obzedat and removal for his Young Pyromancers the turn they hit the battlefield. Game two my opponent mulled to six , and I Duressed on turn one and see zero burn spells, only creatures. I lost in short order. I won game three in style with Whip and Obzedat.

10-3

Rnd 14: Black Devotion – Joe Demestrio

You know a match is going to be fun when you opponent asks you “Are you interested in conceding?”

Yeah … uh … no.

First person all tournament to pile shuffle me … so I obviously pile shuffle him back. I thought, was he trying to get me to ask for compensation for scooping and then yell for a judge or something.

Game one I resolved Blood Baron … end of story.

Game two he got Connections online and drew enough for the victory, though he did go to one life before drawing any real threats.

Between game 2 and 3 while im shuffling his deck, down at table level, and away from me while looking him in the eye, my opponent asks me to “keep the deck down”. Bewildered, I say “its down and away, i cant see it, im looking at you”. I think he was trying to get me to try and shuffle it more awkwardly or something and drop his deck for him to call judge on me… anyways:

Game three I baited him heavily into investing in Pack Rat while holding double Bile Blight, Ultimate Price, and Dark Betrayal by using the Ultimate Price to kill a token to make it seem like I was struggling to handle the Rats. Malachi Reda also came up to me in the middle of this match asking me how I was doing and I had to rudely tell him to “LEAVE” since I felt my opponent was looking for any excuse to call a judge. Sorry buddy, <3.

11-3

Round 15: Green/Black Devotion – Mark Mehochko

My opponent was 30 seconds late to a professional REL event and complained that he got a game loss. While tilting, he had to mull to six and kept a hand that got torn apart by Thoughtseize and had it’s mana guys killed by Bile Blight and Devour Flesh. It wasn’t a real match, but I’m fairly sure I have the advantage in the matchup anyway.

End result: 12-3, 19th place 2 pro points, and a cool $500. The prediction of Mono Blue was spot on, and I managed to avoid the hyper-aggro decks in the early rounds to make it into the Black/Mono Blue/Burn/Control meta that I thought my deck was well equipped to beat.

…. and then my car broke down on the way home, WOO!

Matthew Nemchik