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Feature Article – Pro Tour San Diego Report *2nd*

 

Wow, what a weekend! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Kyle and I have been grinding in the PTQ circuit for the last three or four years in the Midwest. This is the first article I have written since a 2007 regionals report. I am a member of Team RIW Hobbies and like long walks in the park, funny movies…you get the picture.

My testing for the event began as soon as Worldwake was spoiled and I quickly assembled decks that involved plenty of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I tried a u/w control deck that Pat Chapin was working on and I was pretty impressed with it. I tried many variations of it because I thought Everflowing Chalice was a great way to start a control deck. U/W/R and Esper decks were brewed as well, and I just could not get them to beat a good Jund list. I did a large amount of testing with DJ Kastner. He lives 5 minutes away from me and also has an affinity for a saucy control deck. We both really wanted to make Jace work, but knew when it was time to try something else. Another concern I had was that if I played a control deck, it needed to be constructed in a way that is able to handle a specific metagame. There was a lack of non-Magic League tournaments, so the format was still undefined and I was running the risk of being prepared for the wrong decks.

The Deck

To remedy this problem, I wanted to try some other decks that were a little more proactive such as Vampires and a Bant/Junk hybrid. I still could not beat a Jund deck to save my life. I knew what needed to be done and I was not happy about it. Jund has been a deck I have been battling with since States and was hoping that I could find a deck that could top it.. Here is the list I played.

I played two Explore because I wanted to do something on turn two more often. Even though I almost always played Putrid Leech on two if I had both in hand, it allows you to cast a turn 3 Garruk. Bloodbraid Elf is not always great on turn 3 if there aren’t any creatures in play so I wanted another good 4-drop. Bituminous Blast bit the dust because it seemed like Blue control would be bigger than it actually was. Siege-gang is good versus Blue decks as well as creature decks, so it got the Boggemes stamp of approval. Raging Ravine was insane for me in testing. Having a set of lands that do something allowed me to play that 26th land everyone has been wanting.

The Great Sable Stags came in against most decks and probably deserves a main deck slot. It blocks Kor Firewalker and White Knight, and goes through Wall of Denial to smash Jace. If you thought that was good enough, it’s also great against Vampires and the mirror. I wanted a fifth Blightning against the mirror and control decks, but under the current rules I am not allowed to do so. As a result, I played a Mind Rot in my board.

So the Standard deck was ready to go, but I needed to learn the draft format as well. The colors seem to be more balanced and I decided to be open to taking anything. My strategy was to take the cards that are better in a defensive deck because control is underdrafted in this format. Many people like to go first and try to smash face and I take advantage of that by having a lot of walls and other cards that slow down the game. I also hate when I have to mulligan a hand on the play because you are down two cards before it starts. I like to force trades and make the games go long and punish my opponent for not having enough spells. Most of my decks end up having 17 lands because drawing allows you extra time to find the proper amount of lands.

I haven’t played in a Pro Tour since Hollywood 2008 and was ready to get back into the big leagues. My Standard deck was Jund, but had some spice to separate me from the rest of the pack. The Limited strategy was the same as what I used to get me a 9th place in GP: Minneapolis. It is the reason I qualified for the tournament, so why stop now?

My flight left on the day before the Pro Tour because I had school on Wednesday night. As a result of leaving so late, my flight to Nashville was pretty boring and lonely. When I got on the flight from Nashville to San Diego, I heard some people behind me speaking a foreign (Magic) language that I was able to pick up on. It turns out they were two guys who were also qualified from the local area who went by the names of Brent Gregath and Philip Dickman. The plane ride to San Diego was much more entertaining than to Nashville. I even got two of the Raging Ravines I needed to borrow! (thanks guys!)

When I arrived at the convention center, I met up with Cedric Phillips, Josh Wludyka, Adam Yardstick, and others that I love to hang out with, and I tested Jund against White Weenie with 18 lands. I learned that Kor Firewalker is just the nuts and needs to be respected. This is where the Deathmarks came into play; before, they were Jund Charms. I also had a Lavaclaw Reaches that was never activated and quickly became the third Dragonskull Summit.

I stayed with Ari Lax and Brian Boss for the weekend in a semi-sleazy hotel about a mile from the site. It was cheap and only had one bathroom area on each floor, but got the job done. We got to the room after registering and getting the free meal. It was nothing special, but the salad in a cup was pretty good. I wish the pro lounge would come back; it was honestly my favorite part of the Pro Tours I played in the past.

Day 1 began and I was feeling pretty good. I usually don’t get very much sleep before tournaments, and this was also the first time I tried 5-hour energy and it worked great. I recommend it to everyone playing in tournaments. I don’t have any notes on the actual matches I played because I am just as surprised as you are that I did this well, and was not expecting to write an article.

Round 1- Bradley Wojceshonek, Jund mirror: 2-1

Round 2- Levi Hinz, White Weenie: 2-0

Round 3- Antonio Sirvent, U/W control: 2-1

Round 4- Martin Goldman-Kirst, Bant with Time Warp: 1-2

Round 5- Theophile Thuillier, Jund mirror: 2-1

I get to the draft and I am passing to PV and Mat Marr is on my right. I first pick a Disfigure and pass an Inferno Trap that is easily the second best card in the pack. I am then passed an Obsidian Fireheart and a few other good Red cards. I am sending terrible signals to Paulo and still end up with a great Red/Black deck. I was able to get four fetches and still have 26 playables. I manage a 3-0 with this wild deck defeating Mat Marr, Jonas Wallendorf, and Gaudenis Vidugiris along the way. I end the day with a 7-1 record and get dinner at Hooters.

Day 2 I wake up early and am feeling rested again, but just to be sure, I get some more 5-hour energy. I arrive at the site early with Ari and Brian, who both made day 2 as well. I need to go 5-2-1 to Top 8 and that’s what I intend on doing.

Before I know it, the second draft begins and I am passing to Tim Landale on my left. I open a Sphinx of Lost Truths and ship a Living Tsunami. I guess I cannot draft and not send some awkward signals to the person I am passing to. Blue dries up pretty quickly, but White is open. My deck ends up with three Kazandu Blademaster. I am more confident with this deck than the one from yesterday.

I win round 1 versus a mediocre Red/White deck- piloted by Tooru Inoue that I thought contained a Comet Storm. I played around it both games, but it turns out Tim was also in Red so he snatched it. The next round was against Lucas Florent, who also happens to belong to Team Unknown Stars. He was playing a Blue/Black deck that was pretty slow. I won the first game when he flooded pretty badly, then lost to a mulligan to four, followed by a Sorin Markov that dominated the third game. I played against Tim, who was playing Blue/Red, in the last round of the draft. His deck probably could have been better had I not opened a Blue bomb and passed him an insane Blue uncommon. His deck was still fine, but I was able to win the third game when he stumbles on land and I draw and endless amount of bounce spells.

9-2

After the second draft, it was time for more standard battles. The rounds went as follows.

Round 12 Rafael Coqueiro, Naya: 2-0

Round 13 Craig Wescoe, White Weenie: 2-0

Round 14 Daniel Grafensteiner, G/W/B Junk: 2-0

At this point in the tournament I am able to draw in either of the next two rounds to Top 8, but I am paired against a man who takes “I came to play” to an entirely new level.

Round 15 LSV, Naya: 1-2

I wait for my pairings and am excited to see that my opponent also has 12 wins.

Round 16 Simon Gertzen, Intentional Draw!

12-3-1

I am in the Top 8 of the Pro Tour!

The final standings are announced and I am in third place going into Sunday. I get my picture taken about a dozen times, and get a group together to go out for sushi. I could spend this night testing my Top 8 match, but sushi is pretty important. I have never been to a good sushi restaurant, so I wanted to try a bunch of different items. After this amazing meal, I return to the hotel room and get some sleep.

Sunday arrives and I am pumped. I go to the same Seven-Eleven I had been going to every day and get my lucky 5-hour energy. I arrive about an hour early and play some games against Ari to get into tournament mode.

The Top 8 begins and I am paired against Yoshihiko Ikawa playing Jund. (Official Coverage can be found here) I manage to win all three games, including two that I was on the draw and mulliganed. I was nervous in the first game, but then realized that he was in the exact same situation. Realizing this helped me relax and gave me the ability to focus.

After the quarterfinals, I got a free lunch upstairs that included a sub, chips, cookies, and soda. It was much better than the player party dinner. Wizards really makes you work for a decent meal! The top 4 began about an hour later, and I would be paired against Craig Wescoe once again.

Official Coverage

The first game he came out fast and my hand was pretty slow, so I didn’t have a chance. I won the next three games by transforming into a control deck and always having a Terminate at the right time. I still have his Raging Ravines that he let me borrow for the tournament, too… awkward.

The finals was against Simon Gertzen, in a Jund mirror match. I got land screwed in the first and third game and barely won the other two. The final game came down to me being in a good position, but him drawing a Blightning the turn before I could play a Broodmate Dragon. After it was cast, I was dead in the water.

We did the awards ceremony and then I was off to eat at the Soup Plantation with Adam, Josh, and John Balla. If you have not been there, I highly recommend it.

I got 20,000 dollars and 20 pro points to show for my performance this weekend. I had a blast and cannot wait for the next big tournament. San Diego was a great place to have a Pro Tour; the restaurants were fantastic, as was the weather. I hate the end of these long Magic weekends where you have to go back to reality and say bye to all of your friends that you only get to see on these trips.

Props: -DJ Kastner, Cedric Phillips, AJ Sacher, and Pat Chapin for helping me test for the event
-Josh Wludyka for helping me get a plane ticket
-Craig Wescoe, Philip Dickman, and Brent Gregath for lending me raging ravines
-Ari Lax and Ben SW for letting me stay in their hotel rooms.
Slops: -The lack of pro lounge

Thanks for reading.
-Kyle

30 thoughts on “Feature Article – Pro Tour San Diego Report *2nd*”

  1. Do you think you should have held either the Garruk or Savage Lands in g5? Seems pretty difficult to lose if you play around a topdecked Blightning. You could have also just played Garruk and untapped lands, although that play is kind of awkward if he draws like, Bloodbraid Elf.

  2. I thought you and Simon ran a 5K split in the finals, no? By the way, you owe me $7,000 for those Raging Ravines. It’s only fair.

  3. Alexandru Dimitriu

    You should have talked more about your Jund list and what changes you’d do for the future.

  4. Congratulations on your finish! I agree with Alexandru, it would have been nice to know what you’d change with the deck for the future (if anything). Hope you do well in the next PT too!

  5. I want to know what the “Boggemes Seal of Approval” looks like. Also cool article! Always fun to read a success story.

  6. thanks for the positive feedback so far guys! As far as changes I would make: -terminate from the board for another deathmark.
    [email protected] I do have a split with Simon, forgot to mention that=)
    [email protected] I thought about keeping the savage lands in hand, but decided against it because garruk would have to survive in order to cast broodmate. The way to play around bolt/bloodbraid etc would be to untap lands with garruk instead of making a token which I dident want to do. In retrospect, a different line of play should have been made.

  7. master of disaster

    Hey Kyle,
    could you please tell me your sidebord strategy against Jund. My problem is not that i do not know what to bord in, it’s what to board out. Great article and congratulations.

  8. Congratulations on your finish, and on getting out of the trenches for at least a year. Hope to hear more from you.

  9. bluehamletworld

    I really appreciate your choice of defense in the draft. As I learned, it’s pretty typical of others to go on offensive ( aggressive), but using the psychology was pretty tricky.
    Also, as a beginner I felt like I obtained some strategy analysis from the article ( thanks on that)
    Congrats!

  10. Well done and congrats! I think I’m gonna have to break down and play Jund also, it’s just too damn good. I’d like to know what your super secret tech is for keeping down 5 hour energy, that stuff makes me wanna ralph 😉

  11. I’m currently playing a list very similar to yours and SB strategies would be useful in the future. With that being said congratulations on such an excellent finish!

  12. Why do you prefer Garruk to Master of the Wild Hunt?

    And the critical piece of technology I need is this: do you chug your 5-hour energy, or just sip it throughout the day?

  13. I’ve always chugged, but years of caffeine abuse have basically left me numb to anything like 5 hour energy. I’ve tried it and it does nothing. Perhaps I should try sipping, or creating my own 10 hour energy.

  14. Pingback: MTGBattlefield

  15. @GerryT 5-Hour with a RedBull chaser always is a winner for me. That’s the secret to gutting through the horrible taste!

  16. -I like garruk because master never lived a full turn when I tried it. It also is better with man lands giving extra creatures for the over run effect.

    -I chug the 5 hour energy (this comments section is like a commercial, I should get money from them.)

    -vs jund mirror -2 broodmate -2 terminate -3 maelstrom pulse -1 garruk +1 mind rot +4 ruinblaster +2 great sable stag +1 bituminous blast.
    in the finals I had broodmate only becasue I knew his list did not contain mind rot or ruinblasters and my ruinblasters were bad on the draw because of his 27 lands and 2 rampant growths.

  17. Filipe Constâncio

    Hi Kyle,
    Congratz for you PT finals and for your PTQ win with a deck pretty nice,
    I need some help with sidebord of your extended zoo list, if u can help me, giving me a sidebord plans, post here or reply me for my mail: [email protected]

  18. I’m loving this site every day more and more. Great strategy articles for free? Damn.

    Congrats Kyle, you seem to be ready for a great pro career. Keep up the good work!

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