Welcome to another long-winded, and rare tournament report from yours truly; Judge Chris Byrne ;) . This time we’re headed to a Standard Grand Prix! Grab yourself a refreshing beverage and a snack, because we’re going to be here awhile. If you haven’t read one of my tournament reports before, then welcome, and please keep in mind that I create these based on the brief notes I take between rounds of the main event. Some of it's quick and straightforward, and other bits are interesting and fleshed out. Today, as always, I’ve worked in some “words to play by,” that should help you improve not only as a player, but as a person too. Please be sure to pass them on :) . Alright, let’s get into the fun stuff!
GP Atlanta Day 1: 11-11-2017
Playing Temur Energy
A few days before the GP I prepped a sideboard guide for myself. Sideboarding in my opinion is one of the most difficult skills to master, and I am no master. Because of this I wanted to have a guide to save some time each match. While I forgot to add 4C Energy to my guide (d’oh), I still found it to be an extremely valuable tool throughout the GP. Temur Energy is usually a grindy deck with a lot of resource management, and each round I needed as much time as I could get. I highly recommend SB Guides. However, keep in mind you’re guide should not be excessively large, and you should by no means be able to see any part of your guide during a game. This means that from the moment you present your deck to your opponent, to the moment someone loses the game, you’re guide is completely and utterly out of sight. Sideboard Guides are for when you’re sideboarding, so put it away while you’re playing. Don’t mess this up! If you do, you’re going to receive an Outside Assistance penalty and a Match Loss!! Anyway, guides are great. You should utilize them.
My group arrived for Day 1 a bit jet-lagged, even though we had arrived the night before and had plenty of time to sleep. The hall was packed and there wasn’t much time to seek out a solid coffee place. Pairings for R1 and the Player’s Meeting went up at a very reasonable time, and I set off with a goal of making my first Day 2 at a GP.
R1 vs. Wyatt Knox on Temur Energy
G1 on the draw. He Attuned into Cub. That's hard to keep up with.
G2 on the play. I Attuned into a Cub. Again… hard to keep up with.
Those two games, as simple as they turned out to be, still took up most of our time. It was our own faults. Neither of us was quite awake enough to be doing combat and energy math. So, we had to slow down and keep each other correct.
G3 on the draw. We both drew pretty medium. I kept chump-blocking a Cub with thopters. He Boated (Skysovereign, Consul Flagship) my Chandra. I Coup’d his Boat. We ran out of time.
R2 vs. Eduardo Escobar on 4C Energy
G1 on the draw. He missed 2 land drops causing him to fall too far behind. I killed him with an onslaught on creatures.
G2 I got stuck on 4 lands for awhile. I had triple GBringer, and enough interaction to draw into my fifth land.
R3 David Aponte on UB Control
G1 on the draw (trending). I tried to aggro him out as soon as I figured out what he was playing. I couldn’t however beat the SGod that soon followed.
G2 on the play. Steward Nissa basically won the game on her own. I think I got her up to 6 and then just started setting up removal spells to draw and creatures to “zero” into play (thanks for convincing me to play two Nissa this weekend Tyler).
G3 on the draw. He missed his third land for a turn. I was able to stick a Nissa, a Chandra, and a Crook of Condemnation. I out valued him and taxed his mana. I asked him after the match if the Crook mattered. He said "Yeah, it was super relevant." (Spice.)
R4 vs. (my eldest Judge baby boy) Andrew Sherman on Abzan Tokens
Really? Did we travel over 700 miles just to end up playing against each other? Regardless, we both were excited to rematch. We had a bunch of fun too.
G1 on the draw. Tokens…ugh. I put Sherman to about 6 life. He was on four land, and I had to hope he either didn’t have the fifth land (he did), or that he didn’t have a Fumigate (he top decked it, lol). He stabilized and started gaining life after that.
G2 on the play. I flooded. Andrew drew gas. Womp womp. At least our first game was solid.
R5 vs. Jonathan Grogan on 4C Energy
G1 on the draw. Jon played very slowly. He was tired and not overly familiar with his deck. He was a nice enough guy, but he was using a lot of time for almost every decision. He eventually played a SGod and out valued me.
I called a judge and spoke with them away from the table to advise them on my opponent’s really slow play speed. I don't believe it was intentional, but it was slow and a judge needed to know.
Side note: You shouldn’t hesitate to call a judge in these kinds of situations let alone any other. Judges are there to help. They’re goal is to make sure you and your opponent get to play a full match with as few technical errors as possible. If you or your opponent messes up, just call a judge. Not only is this to ensure your match is as close to correct as possible, but it also helps to ensure the integrity of the tournament. You owe it to the Magic community to call a judge whenever an error (or potential error) has occurred. Tracking errors is one of the main ways judges discover a pattern of unwanted behavior in the Magic community. Protect your community! Call a judge.
The judge was awesome. He stuck around in the area and paid special attention to our match. Each time he was on the verge of advising Jon he needed to take an action Jon would do something. The judge prepared to step away several times throughout our next two games, but each time he was on the verge of leaving Jon would slow way down again. All in all I think the judge conducted himself extremely well. I don’t think Jon even knew the judge was watching for slow play. I appreciated the judge’s time and careful watch over the remainder of our match. I found him later to express my gratitude.
G2 on the play. I curved out better and killed him with GBringers.
G3 on the draw. I curved out better again and took his SGod on T6. I just beat in from there. He had a lot of misplays including not killing the SGod in combat after he saved his Hydra (with a Blossoming Def) from dying to an exert trigger. I felt kind of bad for watching him miss lines and triggers, but Comp REL means you are there to win and test your skills against your opponents’. You’re not there to show your opponents how to beat you.
After the match he told me he made a huge error on turn one of G3. He Attuned for a Swamp, but instead of putting it in his hand he put it in his graveyard. I was baffled. I was flying through my turns so quickly that I hadn’t even noticed. I asked why he didn’t call a judge. He responded “It wouldn’t have mattered. Judges are all assholes.” He was very passionate in how he said it too. I was shocked. The only thing I could think of was “What crazy situation did this guy run into on his first judge call that scarred him so badly, and what did he do to invoke such a negative response from a judge?” I tried to reassure him that was not the case, and explained that most judges are fracking awesome. You just have to be clear and respectful. Jon remained biased. I explained to him that a judge would have absolutely fixed the error by having him put the land in hand, and if for some odd reason that didn’t happen, then I would have had him put the land in his hand. Jon remained biased. I wished him better judge interactions in the future, and headed on my way. I never did tell him I was a judge. Maybe that would of helped, but I had a feeling he would have used the info to channel his aggressive opinions about judges toward me. I really do hope he has better encounters with judges in the future and that he changes his mind about us.
R6 vs. Brad Denmark on UW GPG (God-Pharaoh's Gift)
G1 on the draw (consistency, every time). He had a pretty close to perfect hand and drew just as well. I simply cannot race my opponent when they're gaining 6 life each turn.
G2 on the play. Flooded. Just flooded. No real threat. Just flooded. I did play a Crook of Condemnation on my third turn. I figured that would slow him down until I found a back up answer and a couple threats, but nope. His first few turns were pretty bad as he was only able to put lands and sorceries into his GY. So I got to exile those… yay. At the end of my 5th turn he Casted Out the Crook. I cracked it to exile everything, but that was incorrect. If I drew an Appetite for the Unnatural, then I could get the Crook back. I was playing around an Azcanta. Regardless, I only drew more lands while my opponent combo’d out.
Record: 3-2-1 (Probably dead for Top 8 on breakers.)
R7 vs. Connor Dempsey on Temur Energy
G1 on the draw. Honestly these were not very interesting games. The highlights were my G2 coup where I took his huge Hydra, and G3 where I took his huge Cub.
He kept asking my how many cards were in my hand. Usually I’m fine with that, but after the third or fourth turn in a row where I had drawn, played a card, and passed back, it became a bit annoying to repeatedly tell my opponent I still had one card in hand. I don’t think he meant anything by it. He said he’s usually a control player, so it was a habit he picked up at some point. I politely made it known that it wasn't a big deal, but that it shouldn’t be too much to ask for him to pay a little bit closer attention so he didn’t have to ask so frequently. We moved past the slightly tense moment, and got back on each other’s good side.
Talk to your opponent when something is bothering you. Odds are they didn’t mean anything by it and were unaware of any issue. We’re human. We usually keep doing something until someone tells us there’s an issue. You can’t expect someone to change their behavior if you never speak up about an ensuing issue. Not everyone will care. However, most will. Be kind to your fellow human. Get to know them a little bit. You’ll both be better for it in the long run.
R8 vs. Justin Baker on UW Approach
G1 on the draw. I almost killed him with just a Cub. Sadly, he went on to kill it and answer a bunch of other threats till he Approached for the win.
G2 on the play. The thing about playing against control is you have to force them to act in their least favorable way. You have to play into counter spells and force your opponent to use them up on the things that will otherwise kill them, but are not always your best way to kill them. I was able to do exactly that. I was able to stick a creature and then force my opponent to interact with it. This allowed me to stick a Chandra and another threatening creature. He dealt with the creature, but I rode Chandra and a Boat to victory. I never attacked with the Boat unless it was my only legal attacker. I force him to deal with my less relevant creatures, while being able to constantly threaten a huge hit from the Boat and Chandra’s ultimate.
G3 on the draw. Another thing to keep in mind when playing against control is you can force them to react if you swing before activating your Chandra. I played around disallow for a ton of turns in G2 and G3. I kept ticking up Chandra before attacking. It all worked out in the end, as I was still able to ride her and the Boat to victory again, but I could have locked up the win sooner in this case if I had been attacking first, and then activating Chandra.
Justin was a solid control player. This was the first match all day were I felt like my opponent and I were able to play Magic and compete at a higher level. My match with Sherman would have been similar, but I flooded hard, and I don’t consider that kind of stuff really playing Magic. Variance is a part of the game, so getting screwed on lands or getting flooded happens, but that doesn’t mean you actually “played.” That stuff just happens on its own.
R9 vs. Nicolas Delvalle on 4C Energy
G1 on the play (at long last). I kind of drew poorly. It was a fine back and forth game, but I definitely flooded harder than my opponent.
G2 on the play. Attune, into double Cub, into removal, into GBringer equals a very short game. When I played the second GBringer I recognized my opponent’s reaction as being identical to the reaction each of my other opponents had also expressed at the sight of the second GBringer. And then it clicked. It was the same expression everyone had to the second Siege Rhino in old Khans’ Standard. The first Rhino wasn’t that big of a deal. The second one was the one you hated to see.
G3 on the draw. We both play a T3 Steward Nissa. Throughout the game we traded things back and forth. He slammed a SGod on like T6 or T7 tapping out to do so. I immediately coup'd the SGod and went on to beat him with his own creatures.
End of Day 1 Record: 6-2-1
Good enough for my first GP Day 2!!!
GP Atlanta Day 2: 11-12-2017
(Happy birthday to me :D )
From our group of players Bryan Carey, Jacob Tilk, Randy Davis, and I all made it to Day 2. I felt like I had several good opponents on Day 1, but would only face very skilled players on Day 2. Therefore, I had my doubts about how far I could go. I had met my goal of making Day 2 and was very pleased with myself. I considered setting a new goal of winning some prize money, but I know I tend to punt matches once I’ve played a few tough opponents in a row. So, I settled for playing well, and most importantly having fun.
I arrived early enough to seek out some caffeine this time. I did not want another draw on my record just because I wasn’t quite awake yet. An ice cold Mt Dew had me thinking clearly throughout the day. Probably the best $3.50 I spent that day.
R10 vs. John Hudson on Sultai Energy
G1 on the draw (the saga continues). We quickly hit a board stall, which was fine by me since I had a Coup ready if he played a SGod. I drew into double GBringer to win. Double dragons are still tough to beat.
G2 on the draw. He made some early trades that favored me, but might have been an issue if he resolved a SGod for a couple of turns. I had double GBringer again, and I Spell Pierced his Contempt as both GBringers came in to lock the game and match.
Note on Hostage Takers over the weekend: I think it’s a fantastic card, but you have to cast what you’re exiling immediately or have protection ready for removal. I don’t recall all of the Takers over the weekend, but it often seemed like they either took something I didn’t care about, or they wasted my opponents’ draw entirely.
R11 vs. Matthew Peace on 4C Energy
G1 on the draw. We played a long back and forth game, but I flooded harder. That said, sometimes a few thopters are all you need. If Temur Energy had an end of turn mana sink, the deck might be unstoppable.
G2 on the play. I had double planeswalker threats in Steward Nissa and Chandra. I cleared his board and swung with my only creature, because the only haste creature in my opponent’s deck was GBringer, and I wasn’t doing anything against that with a Rogue Refiner. I however was not playing around a Nissa, Vital Force, and lost my Nissa because of it. I really thought I had punted after my opponent made that play, but I was able to recover later with a top deck Steward Nissa ultimate for lethal. Thankfully my opponent didn’t leave a thopter back to block. (Thanks again go out to Tyler for talking me into playing a second Steward Nissa over a Bestiary.)
Note on Vital Nissa: this card seems bonkers right now. She makes a 5/5 haste creature and immediately goes to 6 loyalty. A GBringer can’t answer that on its own. It can’t answer that with a thopter either! Card seems good.
R12 vs. Minh Nguyen on Sultai Energy
G1 on the play. What a great game! It was very back and forth. We both played around each other's interaction very well. Ultimately I was able to thopter him out.
G2 on the draw. He kept a good 6, but it was a bit greedy with only one land. He missed his second land drop, but only for a turn. I got ahead because of it though and ran a couple GBringers into him.
Minh was probably the best opponent I had all weekend. We both played pretty quickly and smoothly. Dude was also very enjoyable to chat with. We played a third game for fun, and to test out our sideboard plans. That was another excellent game. He was able to keep up pressure pretty much the entire time. I drew a bit poorly, but in the end I think he was just too far ahead for me to come back. Our games reminded me of playing against a number of our local Comp REL players. I felt refreshed and challenged, and knew that I would have to focus on that for the rest of the day.
R13 vs. Kevin Quackenbush on Ramunap Red
G1 on the draw. He played a Scar Mage and I regretted keeping my creature heavy hand with no interaction. He flooded with just mountains and non-Ramunap deserts. I stabilized and started swinging with a GBringer and Hydra.
G2 on the draw. I kept a slightly awkward hand with a Coup and no blue sources, but a lot of removal. I didn't see a 4th land for several turns, but I was able to one for one his creatures with all the removal I was drawing. I stabilized with a Chandra on board and started to hit gas. On my end step he Lightning Striked my Chandra to keep her from ulting on my next turn. I had two creatures on the board to protect her, and was at 6 life. He drew a Lightning Strike on his next turn. I was holding a GBringer and removal in hand for a few turns just in case I needed them, but he started to flood. I hit a GBringer off of Chandra and basically killed him with it.
Every single turn this weekend I was thinking about my steps to victory. When I was behind I would think about what I had to do to win. Not what I had to do to get back in the game, but what I had to do to win. I was playing towards my outs. Sometimes that’s as straightforward as casting two GBringers back to back, and other times it figuring out the only sequence of plays where you barely get there. It requires a fair amount of skill, great knowledge of the meta, and probably even more luck, but you have to play towards your outs if you want to win. My opponent was going to almost assuredly lose if I was able to ultimate Chandra, but he definitely would have won if he’d play towards a second 3 damage burn spell. It’s nothing personal against him. He was a chill dude, and I enjoyed playing against him. He just took a different line.
R14 vs. Jarron Puszet on Temur Energy
G1 on the draw (I think? It was a long match and it had been a long day). What an immensely grindy game. It was a good game for sure, but I don’t think either of us really enjoyed the general way the game was going. It was just interesting that we had seen so much of our decks and done so little in terms of getting ahead of one another. Our first game was approaching the 23rd minute mark when we started to pick up the pace. We knew we’d need every minute with how the game was playing out. We had already been playing pretty briskly, but we needed to turn it up a notch, so we did. Unfortunately, that lead to an odd error.
We had a turn where I exerted a GBringer to kill a Whirler and we failed to change life totals. We both agreed that we knew the GBringer had connected, we just didn’t write it down, because we were moving through actions quickly. We started to work out what life totals should be when I said we should just call a judge so we didn’t lose the time it would take us to work it out ourselves. So, we called a judge.
After a lot of questions both at and away from the table, and then at the table some more (lol), the judges ruled we both were going to get a GRV (Game Rule Violation) for not properly changing life totals, and the game and life totals would be left as is. I respectfully requested an appeal since I believed it mattered that both my opponent and I agreed the creature did indeed deal damage and it wasn’t going to change our play options from the time the error occurred.
Please keep in mind that I also felt that the judges’ ruling was probably correct and seemed fair, but I also thought we could apply a “quick-fix” to correct the error.
The HJ (Head Judge) arrived and confirmed with us what had occurred. He was great from start to end. He asked a lot of questions. Many of which were just to clarify what we had told the floor judges. The judges stepped away and came back a couple times to clarify things further. After a couple minutes the HJ said he had decided to overturn the floor judges’ ruling, because he believed we could perform a simple backup to correct the error while arriving at the same point in the game as when we first called a judge. It was very complicated, because over the last three turns we had exerted three different GBringers and killed three different creatures, but it indeed worked perfectly. I was pretty impressed by the HJ. I won on my next turn with a GBringer and a Chandra.
We received a 19 minute extension.
G2 on the draw. We played quickly because we knew we'd need the time. He aggro’d me out, pretty quickly.
G3 on the play. We were flying through turns. So much so that I got a GRV for playing a Hydra without a second green source. Good thing I played the wrong land that turn... Since the time of our judge call there was at least one judge at our table for the rest of the round. The HJ was also checking in on us from time to time. He and a couple other judges were right there when I made the Hydra error. He reminded me that was now my second GRV for the day, and if I received another I would receive a game loss. I was thankful for his warning. I took a breath and slowed down a little. We backed up to the point of the error, and I cast a Chandra instead. We went to turns and things were not looking good for me. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have an out. My opponent had a field full of threatening creatures both on the ground and in the air. I had a chump blocker Cub. I was also pretty sure we’d draw the game if my opponent didn’t draw a removal spell or another GBringer. We had a large audience watching our match. I had one turn left to draw something. I should have slow rolled the draw, just for the audience’s sake, but I drew so that I and everyone around me could clearly see what it was. I drew, took a quizzical look at the board, and attacked with my Cub. After a thoughtful moment of hesitation from my opponent he said “No blockers.” I pumped the Cub as high as I could and “cast” the land I drew, then offered a handshake, and promptly conceded.
This game is about bringing people together and having fun. Reward good sportsmanship with good sportsmanship. You’ll feel better about yourself later. Always remember; if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
Record: 9-4-1 (Probably not prizing, but having fun.)
R15 vs. Sam Giarratana on Sultai Energy
G1 on the draw (open at the close). I drew so much interaction. I played around his Blossoming Def and was rewarded when I got to double removal a Hydra. I killed him with a GBringer soon thereafter.
G2 on the draw. I didn’t see any of my anti-SGod cards and slowly died to one.
G3 on the play. I opened aggressively, and drew into removal. I started smashing with thopters. I top decked a second removal spell right when I needed it in order to get around a Blossoming Def, and was immediately rewarded when he had one in hand. I was able to kill him with Chandra and thopters.
Final Record: 10-4-1 (My first Pro Point.)
|Temur Energy Vs.||Win||Loss||Draw|
I finished 101st out of almost 1400 players. Overall, Temur Energy is still a very consistent and powerful deck. Abrade was great this weekend. I played well, had fun, and met a bunch of cool people. Great event, great weekend, and great birthday :D .
Thank you for reading about my GP Atlanta experience. I hope you enjoyed it.
Thank you to everyone that sent me support throughout the weekend. You're awesome!!
Special thanks to my travel buddies: Alison Chambers, Tyler Echevarria, Andrew Sherman, Nathan Keene, Bryan Carey, Jacob Tilk, and Randy Davis. Thanks for the great birthday weekend!
Special shout out to my boys Jacob Tilk, Bryan Carey, and Randy Davis for their fantastic GP finishes of 11th, 30th, and 75th respectively!
Huge congratulations to Meg Baum on rising to the rank of Level 3 Judge this weekend while working at GP Atlanta!!!