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According to Webster – Grand Prix Houston Report Part 2, *14th*

 

The first part of the article left off after day one had concluded. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, check it out here.

Day 1, continued:

A lot of the people from our group made it to day two. Wrapter and PV were in the best shape at 8-1 while Gerry, Gabe, and I were 7-2. It would be difficult to make Top 8 going into day two at 7-2, but I didn’t let that concern me. I had other things on my mind, like food. I had eaten a huge breakfast at the buffet in the morning, but that was twelve hours ago. Food was on other peoples’ minds also so we went in search of a better place to eat than Spencer’s; we weren’t going to walk into that trap again.

The place that had the breakfast buffet also had a dinner menu; a real dinner menu. Almost all of the entrees were reasonably priced. Gabe’s friend Kyle had eaten there for lunch earlier and was able to recommend a few dishes. I took one look at the menu and had decided. The burger they served came with cheese, bacon, and a choice of sauteed onions or mushrooms. It was impossible to go wrong and the burger didn’t disappoint. Everyone who ended up getting the burger had similar feelings.

When it came time to pay, most people decided to game; Eirik and I bought out. With people like Luis, Gabe, and Kyle hanging around, it was pretty obvious that every meal would be gamed. I’d been the holder of credit cards for most of the time that the game had been played simply because everyone had trusted me. At some point they’ll realize their trust was misplaced and I’d been getting shipped twamps for rigging the game. I randomized the cards and we eventually found out that Gabe had treated us all while Wrapter came out ahead. For the record, Gabe has never beaten Wrapter in the finals.

We went back to the site to Cube draft. It had gotten late and I didn’t feel like playing; I watched instead as they played in a 3v3. I headed back up to the room before they had started playing their matches so I could get everything squared away for day two. On the plane flight, I had seen an advertisement for Fogo de Chao and that they had a location in Houston. I had been looking forward to going there again ever since last year at Grand Prix Minneapolis. I had told the group about it and we had originally planned to go there on Saturday night, but postponed it to Sunday because of logistical reasons.

Fogo de Chao is my favorite of the Brazilian Steakhouses. I had liked a different local place until Grand Prix Minneapolis where the combination of exceptional service and exquisite cuts of meat had won me over to the Fogo side. Fogo was a truly remarkable dining experience and I was eager to experience it again. However, there was still one obstacle that I had to overcome to reach it.

In order for me to be content with the Fogo experience, it was necessary to get maximum value. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t have been content with only five servings of bacon-wrapped filet. The problem arose with balancing the food that I’d need to get through the day playing in the Grand Prix with the space left in my stomach that I wanted to save for dinner. I wasn’t going to be able to pig out at breakfast like I had the day before. I knew that I wouldn’t need much to get my through the day because of the adrenaline boost I normally got at tournaments. However, I didn’t want to eat too little and get fatigued during round three.

I managed to get to sleep at a reasonable hour and was sleeping soundly until SOMEONE came back into the room and started hacking away on their laptop keyboard. I wasn’t happy and voiced my disapproval, to no avail. I had been awake from about 3:30 AM onwards up to some point at least an hour afterwards; I don’t know when I had fallen back asleep. I woke up hoping that the broken sleep I had gotten would be enough to get me through the next six rounds.

Day 2:

I got ready for the tournament. Eirik went down with me because he had planned to play in the PTQ. The Hilton had a coffee house inside of it and I got some overpriced food there. After I had been set back a cool seven dollars, I had my black coffee and slice of lemon pound cake.

Round 10: Lucas Pastorini, UG/r Scapeshift

Game 1: I resolved an early Dark Confidant after using Thoughtseize to take his Scapeshift. He wasn’t able to find any Sakura Tribe-Elders or Wood Elves to stop my beats. I added a Vampire Hexmage to my side, but couldn’t find another Thoughtseize or Muddle to stop him from digging for Scapeshift. I resolved Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but knew that it wouldn’t be very effective because he had two Peer Through Depths in his hand to keep the top of his deck live. I drew into a Tolaria West but knew that if I tutored for a Dark Depths, then he’d most likely go for Scapeshift. I couldn’t have stopped him. Instead, I found a Ghost Quarter to interfere with the number of Mountains he had in play if he went for Scapeshift. He was at ten life at that point versus my Hexmage/Confidant. After reading the Ghost Quarter, he passed. I wasn’t able to find anything still and could only attack him to six and summon a second Hexmage. He found Scapeshift with Peer Through Depths at the end of my turn and resolved it on his. He searched up two Valakuts, some Steam Vents and Stomping Grounds, as well as a basic Mountain. I knew at that point that I’d won because the stock UG/r Scapeshift list only ran one Mountain. I used the Ghost Quarter to destroy one of his Mountains, leaving him with only five in play. After searching his deck, he conceded. I had been at thirteen life when his Scapeshift had resolved. Instead of sacrificing some of the Mountains that he had in play, he could have left one, gotten only one Valakut, and I’d be dead. Of course, I didn’t inform him of that little tidbit.

Sideboard: -2 Smother, -1 Repeal, -1 Engineered Explosives; +2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, +1 Gatekeeper of Malakir, +1 Vendilion Clique.

Game 2: He played an early Boseiju after suspending Search for Tomorrow. I didn’t have a fast hand and decided that I needed to stall him. I tried to counter his Search with Muddle, but he Remanded my Muddle. He missed his land drop that turn and passed back without any more action. I used the Muddle to counter a Ponder on his next turn and summoned a Vampire Hexmage to start the beats. [card]Vendilion Clique[/card] joined my team and I saw that he had two Repeals, Into the Roil, and an Ancient Grudge. He killed the Clique with Dead/Gone and cycled the [card]Into the Roil[/card] on my Hexmage to buy more time. I was able to Thoughtseize one of his Repeals before making a 20/20. Muddle countered the other Repeal, and Marit Lage killed him.

Win 2-0

8-2

Round 11: Travis Woo, Living End

Game 1: I resolved a Thopter Foundry and Compulsive Research off of a Chrome Mox on turn two and three while he cycled some creatures. He used an Ingot Chewer to slow me down by blowing up the Mox. I made the mistake of making a Thopter token when he used a second Ingot Chewer to blow up the Foundry. The token let him play Demonic Dread. I used a Muddle to counter his first Living End, but the second one got me.

Sideboard: -3 Thopter Foundry, -2 Sword of the Meek, -2 Smother, -2 Thirst for Knowledge, -1 Engineered Explosives; +3 Leyline of the Void, +2 Damnation, +2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, +1 Chalice of the Void, +1 Gatekeeper of Malakir, +1 Vendilion Clique.

Game 2: I had a very good draw including Leyline of the Void in my opener. I drew into Dark Depths/Hexmage to go along with the other piece and killed him before he could do anything.

Sideboard: nothing.

Game 3: I had a good opening hand, though it didn’t have a Leyline. He cycled a Street Wraith on his first turn. I Thoughtseized him on mine and saw no lands. What he did have was this:

 

I took his Twisted Abomination. He missed on land and I resolved a Dark Confidant while he played a land. I started to pull ahead with a Vampire Hexmage and Dark Depths. He played a third land and passed. I made a 20/20 on his end of turn, but he had drawn a Violent Outburst to wreck me. My decision to make a 20/20 was terrible. I knew his hand didn’t contain any cycling creatures which meant that if I had simply left the Hexmage in play, then he’d be unable to use his mana ever because of my ability to make a 20/20 and kill him. With a Confidant in play, I should have been able to find a Muddle or Thoughtseize while attacking for four and win that way. Sure, he had to have drawn land, land, and Violent Outburst in his three draws, but he was at that point, and I shouldn’t have played into his out. My Hexmage came back, but I wasn’t able to attack into his Street Wraith and Twisted Abomination. I found a Gatekeeper of Malakir to kill off his Street Wraith, but wasn’t able to block the Abomination. He played Night of Souls’ Betrayal to kill off the Hexmage, followed by Fulminator Mage. I resolved a Jace, but couldn’t find Damnation before I died.

Lose 1-2

8-3

Round 12: David Saunders, Thopter Depths

Game 1: This is one of that games that I don’t remember all too well. I remember that we both got Thopter/Sword online, but I was able to break the stalemate because of having more mana.

Sideboard: -3 Thopter Foundry, -2 Sword of the Meek, -2 Thirst for Knowledge, -1 Chrome Mox; +3 Leyline of the Void, +2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, +1 Gatekeeper of Malakir, +1 Threads of Disloyalty, +1 Vendilion Clique.

Game 2: I opened with a Leyline. We both threw Thoughtseizes at each other; Smothers killed our Confidants, and Jace died to the legend rule. I stuck a Hexmage when we were both low on cards and began to attack with it and a Creeping Tar Pit. He had a few turns to draw into an answer before my Tar Pit and Hexmage finished him off, but found nothing.

Win 2-0

9-3

Round 13: Cedric Phillips, Dredge

Game 1: I won the roll and kept my hand while he mulliganed to six cards. My hand was pretty good:

 

I Thoughtseized him and saw that he had multiple one-drops; he had a Hedron Crab and Drowned Rusalka. He also had a Flame-Kin Zealot, Bridge from Below, Life from the Loam, and a Misty Rainforest. I took his Hedron Crab. In that situation, the Crab would take less work getting cards into his graveyard compared to the Rusalka. When the deck is working on all cylinders, Drowned Rusalka is significantly better. I could have Thoughtseized him again, but that would have left me without much action, as my hand was largely dependant on Dark Confidant to get ahead.

He played a Rusalka; I Repealed it. He played the Rusalka again and I drew Smother to kill it. He had been missing on lands but had a second Rusalka. I summoned the Confidant while he drew a non-fetchland to cast Loam and get back his Misty Rainforest. We were off to the races. I cast a second Confidant while he began to build his manabase/Dredge with Life from the Loam. I was on three lands and revealed a Vampire Hexmage to go with my Dark Depths. However, I wasn’t going to be able to play Muddle the Mixture to protect against Dread Return on Iona if I played both. He had dredged a Stinkweed Imp and if he hit a Narcomoeba or Bloodghast, then he’d be able to Dread Return Iona and have Stinkweed Imp in play. Getting through with a 20/20 would have been difficult against that board. I played the Hexmage with Muddle backup. He didn’t hit a Narcomoeba or Bloodghast. I used my Hexmage to kill his three Bridges from Below while Muddle countered his Dread Return. I continued to bash with my Confidants. He was down to four life, but I wasn’t able to find another Hexmage or Thopter Foundry to go with the Sword of the Meek in my hand. He Dredged some Bloodghasts and was able to Dread Return Iona while I was at nine life. I attacked him with one Confidant and he blocked with Iona. Then I transmuted Tolaria West for Creeping Tar Pit, played it, and also played Sword of the Meek. I didn’t have enough mana to play the Sword and put it onto the Tar Pit. He dredged again, but didn’t hit another Bloodghast. Iona attacked me down to two and he said go. Dark Confidant didn’t kill me during my upkeep so I attacked with the Tar Pit for the win.

Sideboard: -3 Thopter Foundry, -2 Sword of the Meek, -2 Thirst for Knowledge, -1 Ghost Quarter; +3 Leyline of the Void, +2 Damnation, +2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, +1 Gatekeeper of Malakir.

Game 2: He mulliganed and kept his hand on six while I opened up with a Leyline of the Void, since why not? He wasn’t able to do much except play small creatures like Drowned Rusalka. I played a Vampire Hexmage and started racing. He played another Drowned Rusalka and a Stinkweed Imp while I Thoughtseized him a few times. Then I transmuted a Muddle for Dark Confidant after being convinced that Echoing Truth wouldn’t let him run away with the game. The Confidant gave me a few extra cards before I traded it away by attacking into his Drowned Rusalka. After I played another Vampire Hexmage and attacked him a few times with it, he conceded.

Win 2-0

10-3

Round 14: John Freitas, Living End

Game 1: I knew I was playing against Living End going into the round and kept:

 

on the draw. I summoned the Confidant on turn one after drawing a land and proceeded to draw all lands after that except for one Muddle the Mixture. He played a Fulminator Mage and blew up my Sunken Ruins, which left me with no Blue lands except for the three River of Tears. I could have not played lands to be able to cast Muddle in case he had Violent Outburst, but didn’t have enough lands in play to fall behind like that. I’d needed to start playing lands at some point and didn’t want to wait around for another Sunken Ruins. I played the third River of Tears and he had the Violent Outburst during my End Phase to bring back a bunch of creatures.

Sideboard: -3 Thopter Foundry, -2 Sword of the Meek, -2 Smother, -2 Thirst for Knowledge, -1 Engineered Explosives; +3 Leyline of the Void, +2 Damnation, +2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, +1 Chalice of the Void, +1 Gatekeeper of Malakir, +1 Vendilion Clique.

Game 2: I had a strong hand with Leyline of the Void. I drew into Dark Depths which went well with the Vampire Hexmage and Muddle the Mixture in my hand. I made a 20/20 with Muddle backup and killed him on my turn four. I wish I hadn’t had the Leyline because my hand had killed him easily without it. He was going to be more prepared for it in game three.

Sideboard: nothing.

Game 3: I opened up with a Leyline of the Void. He started cycling some creatures to build his manabase. I played a Chalice for zero to bait out an Ingot Chewer if he had one because I had a Repeal that wasn’t doing anything in my hand and wanted to cycle it. Eventually he played a Deadshot Minotaur and started attacking me. I played Jace after being attacked once and started to Fateseal him. Jace wasn’t going to die to one Violent Outburst. I bounced the Minotaur on my next turn and transmuted Muddle for Gatekeeper of Malakir. With the Gatekeeper ready, I was able to defend myself from his monsters while using Jace to bounce it and Fateseal him during the turns where I didn’t have to edict him; at least that had been the plan. He didn’t actually cast anymore creatures for a while; he had cycled the Minotaur after he saw me get the Gatekeeper. I used Thoughtseize to take his Violent Outbursts, leaving him with nothing but multiple Demonic Dreads and Living End in hand. All the while I had Repeal waiting to save my Jace/Leyline/Gatekeeper from whatever he could have played (excluding Krosan Grip). The game had gone extremely long. Eventually I used Jace’s ultimate ability to RFG his deck and he conceded.

Win 2-1

11-3

Round 15: Scott Bielick, Thopter Depths

Game 1: We Thoughtseized each other while I resolved a Dark Confidant and started to get ahead on cards. I was hitting my land drops while he wasn’t. I was also able to assemble Hexmage/Depths, but he was able to transmute for Thopter/Sword the turn before I was able to make a 20/20. I used the other Muddle in my hand to find Thopter Foundry to go with the Sword in my hand. We were both making tokens, but I had Dark Confidant in play which let my manabase grow each turn. Eventually he decided to save time and go to game two.

Sideboard: -3 Thopter Foundry, -2 Sword of the Meek, -2 Thirst for Knowledge, -1 Chrome Mox; +3 Leyline of the Void, +2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, +1 Gatekeeper of Malakir, +1 Threads of Disloyalty, +1 Vendilion Clique.

Game 2: I opened with a Leyline while he played a Gatekeeper of Malakir to kill off my Confidant. I killed the Gatekeeper with a Smother and played a Dark Confidant. He played a Vampire Hexmage and continued beating down with it while having Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek in play. I had been concerned about the Thopter Foundry simply making a few tokens because I was below ten life. My concerns were amplified when he had an Echoing Truth for my Leyline of the Void which turned his Thopter/Sword online. I died shortly afterwards.

Sideboard: nothing.

Game 3: I didn’t have a Leyline in this game. We both traded Thoughtseizes and Smothers for our Dark Confidants. My mana was awkward because of multiple River of Tears and Dark Depths which prevented me from playing Vampire Hexmage and Jace for many turns. I had three Dark Depths and could have played a second one to summon my Hexmage and then make a 20/20 on the next turn, but that plan was vulnerable to a bounce spell and opposing Dark Depths; I didn’t feel that it was worth the risk. Four or five turns went by with us doing not much of anything until I found some land. I made a 20/20 but it got bounced with Repeal. Then he played a Confidant and I played a Jace. I knew most of the cards in his hand and was trying to contain his good draws with Jace, however his Confidant was letting him see new cards that I didn’t know about. I made a 20/20 a few turns later after using Thoughtseize to ensure that the coast was clear. He had one draw to find an answer but didn’t.

Win 2-1

12-3

While I had been playing in day two, Luis had been battling in the Vintage tournament. I had been going too and fro to watch in between rounds. After I had finished the last round of Swiss, I focused my attention on the Vintage top-8. Luis’s report can be found here. Efro, Dave Williams, and Luis split the prizes after cleaning up the top-8 which included a Mana Drain, Bazaar of Baghdad, and Unlimited Ancestral Recall; not bad for a twenty-six man tournament.

At that point we found out that Paulo had lost his top-8 match against Boom/Bust Zoo which was unfortunate. However, the upside to that bittersweet situation was that we could go eat. We had made reservations at Fogo de Chao for 6:45 PM and it was 6:00 PM already which gave me enough time to go back to the room, shower, and clean up. We were off to dinner shortly afterwards.

Our dinner party was a respectable size; nine people came altogether. The taxi ride was longer than I had expected; about twenty minutes. The anticipation had been killing me. I remembered that all good things come to those who wait and I was not disappointed. While I explained about Fogo earlier, mere words cannot do it justice. Please take some time to explore their menu here. Fifteen cuts of meat including top sirloin, filet mignon (grilled and bacon-wrapped), rib eye, bottom sirloin, beef ribs, lamb (chops and leg), bacon-wrapped chicken breast, pork ribs, parmesan pork lion, and house-made pork sausages were brought to our table and carved directly onto our plates by men with swords. The salad bar included 24-month aged parmesan cheese, aged manchego cheese, prosciutto, Brazilian hearts of palm, artichoke bottoms, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, smoked salmon, Italian salami, jumbo asparagus, tabbouleh, and shitake mushrooms among other things. After dining for a few hours, we were completely satisfied and took taxis back to the site.

Everyone else went back to cube draft while I headed back up to the room. I was tired from the lack of sleep over the last few days and wanted to catch up. My flight was at 7:30 AM the next morning which didn’t leave much time for shut-eye. I slept soundly enough and got up at 5:15 AM to get ready. Easter had been that weekend which meant that the airports would be crowded.

Sure enough, the airport was busy. The check-in lines weren’t bad. However, the security checkpoint line had grown considerably larger since the time that we had arrived to check in. It took nearly forty-five minutes to get through. Had we not left so early, we surely would have missed our flight. I wanted to try and get some sleep on the plane, but my plans were thwarted by a toddler in the row ahead of me. Her parents were unable to control her. As a result, my ears were filled with her displeasing screams on the trip back. Despite having a nonstop flight, it was one of the longer four-hour plane rides that I’d been on.

Grand Prix Houston had its ups and downs; the ups vastly outnumbering the downs. I managed to top-16 which equated to three pro points and $500; the cash barely covering the plane flight and hotel costs. Overall, the trip had been a success. It left me looking forward to Grand Prix Washington D.C. in late May.

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