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FFfreaky Friday – My Favorite Moments from Chiba

I would have liked to start this article off with a list of thank yous to all my friends that helped me on my journey to becoming Player of the Year. That is just not in the cards anymore. It seems that there was a very determined Frenchman that had a plan to stop all of the fun I was having. An evil man that feeds only on the misery of other Magic players. This man is Guillaume Matignon.

I would love to sit here and try and turn this playoff into a huge grudge match, but this could never happen. Guillaume is one of the nicest guys I have come across so far on the Pro Tour. He is always one of the happiest guys and even gave me a draw into my first Pro Tour top 8 when he could have easily knocked me out of it. Even though he is a good guy, I will still do everything in my power to take that trophy out of France come this February.

There really isn’t anything to complain about even though Worlds did not go too well. I am sitting in a hotel room with my best friend right now in the heart of Tokyo, I get to go home and see family in a week for Christmas, and I get a decent-sized check from Hasbro in the next month for my time here in Japan. All in all it was a very sick couple of weeks.

Why did my tournament go terribly? I really don’t know the answer to this question. I think I played the correct deck for constructed. Kibler finished 6-0 with the deck. I played my worst matchup, did not draw lands in one match, and made a small mistake against a very good player in another match. That was how I went 3-3 on day one. Some could blame it on luck or bad playing, but I like to think I am getting my first taste of reality in a very long time.

Day two should have been the day for me. I have been doing very well in the Limited portions of the last two Pro Tours, finishing 6-0 in each of them. This time around, I went 3-3. I don’t think I drafted poorly and even had the nuts for one of the drafts. I just couldn’t get anything going. At various points in this event, my record was 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, and 7-7. It is very rough to keep fighting when you can never pull two consecutive wins together.

On the other side of the event was the Magic Online Championship where after two days I was sitting very pretty. I had to either 4-0 or 3-1 to make final two. I did not get there and ended up 1-3ing and sneaking into 4th place. I felt I was playing the best deck here as well but just couldn’t get the run goods to give me an edge.

This is just something that happens to most people more often than it does for me. I run better than expected most of the time. It is not like I don’t put a ton of effort and work into the events I play in. I spent three weeks testing for this event and doing nothing else. It just happens when there is variance in a game. It is very hard to see that when you are never getting effected by the variance from the negative side, however. I see so much clearer now.

So enough talk about how my tournament went poorly. A ton of people told me that they loved my Amsterdam report, so I just want to run that again. My top 5 favorite moments from the Pro Tour:

#5 Saturday Night Dinner

Saturday night at a Pro Tour is always great for 8 people and all of their friends. They get to go out to a celebratory dinner and get ready to test and dream how their one friend is going to be a Pro Tour champion in 24 hours. There is also a decent-sized chunk of people that did not have a great weekend and want to go drown their sorrows down with some cold beer and some much-needed food. I was one of those people.

My dreams were crushed when I couldn’t win a match in the last day of the Magic Online event. My cheering crowd was Tom Martell and Brian Kibler. Kibler was not his regular Dragon Master self that night. He missed out on top 8 of the event when he started the event 9-0. It was a rough one for him as well. Tom could see it in our eyes that he was in charge for bringing both of us back from full blown life tilt.

We went out to the local mall to find a very good recommended restaurant by everyone. It was this sick Korean barbeque place that served all-you-can-eat meat. I was in! But when we got there, it was closed! Sushi was the next on our list and we sat down at a nearby restaurant. We sat there for about 30 minutes and got no service. The waitress didn’t even acknowledge our existence. We finally tried the Hail Mary play of blocking her path, and that didn’t even work. We were out of plays until we ran into Nicolai Herzog, who told us about a great place he was eating at. “The plates are small, so order a ton,” he warned us.

Hungry and thirsty we rushed into the restaurant. We even got service right away. There was no English menu so we had to order from the pictures. This is when Tom Martell did the best thing I have ever seen him do. He was the leader of the pack during ordering and he just went back to the first page, pointed to one of the first things and said, “one!” He followed suit with this procedure about 10 more times before Kibler saw something he was interested in. Kibler asked what something was and before the waitress had a chance to explain, Tom already pointed at it and shouted, “one!” We both laughed at how funny this was going but Tom continued to stoneface the waitress. Halfway through Tom’s gluttonous ordering, Kibler and I couldn’t stop laughing. The waitress was even laughing at how much food we are ordering.

After we ordered about 25-30 things off the menu, she asked what we wanted to drink. “Beer 3!” Tom said to her. A different server brought the beers out and within a minute she was back to tell us one of the things we ordered was sold out. “Beers 3,” I told her before she could get anything out and then once we heard about our 18th plate being sold out, Tom opened up the menu and found something to replace it. This was about the time I busted out laughing and finally realized how much our server must hate us.

It was magical how much sorrow and despair surrounded me and Kibler before the meal started, and how much fun we had throughout it all. We ordered way too much food but made an effort to finish it all. Emotions were in check and we were back to normal. “Credit card game?” I asked the group. They both politely opted out and wanted to pay their cut instead of losing any more on the weekend. It was probably a good call in the end.

We ran into Nicolai Herzog leaving the restaurant and decided to group up and go sing some karaoke. It was a great way to bounce back.

#4 CAW…..GO

Even though I ended up 3-3 on day one doesn’t mean the deck I chose was wrong. I think Caw-Go is one of the best decks in Standard right now. It might need some tweaking for the new metagame since people have now caught on to the 4 Spell Pierces, but it still seemed like a great deck choice. The ability to beat any deck in the format was the real selling point.

It is also the best name for a deck ever. I don’t really have much more to say about this deck since my last article was on it but I strongly encourage you to give this deck a shot. It will be worth your time.

#3 “I beat my Kryptonite!”

My brother was desperately looking for a top 50 finish. He was set up to do this with a 8-4 record going into day 3. He just really wants to get on the train so he can travel the world with his big brother. I really think his motives are actually just to drink legally until he is 21, but I might be wrong.

Day three was not going too well for him and he was out of top 50 contention going into the last round. I got the “I’m quitting Magic” speech from him before the round started. He was so bummed out about his finish and he told me he just never wins and that he can’t afford to keep chasing the dream anymore. I didn’t know what to tell him since I would never push Magic on him. It is a fun thing to do, but if you are not having enough fun, you can’t justify the time and money put into it. I just told him to win the last round and think about it later.

His opponent was also the one guy that has crushed his dreams in one too many events, Iyanaga, Jun’ya. This guy beat him in the last round of his first Pro Tour to not make top 50, beat him in a 2k draft to not make top 8, and beat him in two other Pro Tours. Corey just couldn’t get past this guy.

I drew with my last round opponent since we couldn’t accomplish anything with either a win or even a loss so I had a ton of time to watch Corey. By the time I found his table he was already down a game and I could see the emotion building in. He was also getting very close to life tilting. This is when I saw something click in Corey. He had the same face I got when I was down 0-2 to Kai earlier in the season. He was not going down without a fight.

Two games later and Corey had crushed his opponent into the ground and finished in the money. He did not get his top 50 finish, but he did beat his Kryptonite and got his resurgence.

Corey Baumeister’s retirement lasted all but 20 minutes.

#2 Getting to see my best friend.

I thought Magic was a life-or-death battle when I first started going to the professional events. My happiness depended on how well I did at each event. This was just idiotic. Magic is a very competitive game but it has so much more to offer. It took me over a year to realize this.

My best friend Ryan Gustafson moved away last summer for a job in Japan. You might not know who this person is, but many of my fans out there have seen his videos on Youtube. This is the man responsible for all of the Fffreak’s Bedroom videos that have popped up. We have been really good friends for as long as I can remember and it was really hard to see him move away.

Magic brought us together in the beginning and has done it again with a Pro Tour in his back yard. We have been hanging out since the event ended and will part ways this Sunday.

Magic is responsible for most of my friendships. It is even the reason I am so close with my brother. It is so amazing how a children’s card game could have such a big impact on my life, but it has. This is the true reason we play this game. Not to be a World Champion or Player of the Year, but for the times we have at the events. Like when Paulo comes up to me after he made top 4 and just says,” Hello Brad, how is your day?” These are memories we will have for the rest of our lives and is the best part about the game.

#1 Player of the Year Playoff

Are you kidding me? I get to play a match that has never been played before? That is way cooler than actually being Player of the Year. Making history is the sweetest thing you could ever do in life and I get to be a part of it the first full year playing this game. This is just the sweetest thing I could ever ask for.

I get to play a really cool guy in the playoff and it is the first time a non-Brazilian, I mean Japanese did not win Player of the Year in the last 5 years. It is just super cool!!! I really want to do something special like play a best of 9 match or something. The problem is they want to film it so it will probably be 3 games or something lame. All I know is I am ready for some sick Rocky montage to put up on the site in the next month. Hopefully I can make it up all those stairs without dieing.

That is all I have for this week since I want to go outside and enjoy all the hot women in Tokyo. I’m serious, these woman are all so gorgeous. I have no clue if I will be able to get on my plane this Sunday.

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