Owen’s a Win – Platinum in Nashville

This past weekend was GP Nashville, and to say I was excited for it would be an understatement. Innistrad sealed has been very good to me and with a top eight in Santiago, San Diego, Seattle, and a top sixteen in Austin it would seem I can do no wrong in this format. I think I might have the highest win percentage of any person alive in Innistrad limited premier events. I liked that the tournament was being held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, which is just enormous. I liked that it was limited so I didn’t have to playtest OR bring any magic cards with me, which meant preparing and packing was easier, which is a luxury when I think I have been to a GP every weekend for over 2 months straight now. And lastly I had 36 professional planeswalker points coming into the event so if I could manage a meager top sixty four finish that would give me 1 point and basically lock up platinum just by attending Pro Tour Avacyn Restored. So this event was kind of a big deal for me and if I had to hand-pick a format for it to be, I would certainly pick Innistrad sealed.

There was some added pressure I put on myself to perform this weekend to get that extra point because I couldn’t help but think about the formatting of the new pro club and how 39 points is three pro tour invites and $0 and 40 points is basically $15,000. The week leading up to the GP all I could think about was how easy/possible it would be to just do poorly at this GP and Salt Lake City and then not make day two of the PT and just be out in the cold on 39 points. Clearly that would be very unlikely given my ability and the number of tournaments but it’s still a very real possibility. I know it’s not a winner’s mentality to think that way and I usually don’t but I would be a liar if I say I didn’t spend some amount of time thinking what if…

This was my first time running the sleep in special and I have to admit it was pretty awesome. I don’t usually like it for constructed because you have to turn in your decklist the day before and can’t make changes, it costs like $10 or something, and the investment cost of just showing up on time seems really low. Plus you want to be awake at a reasonable hour anyways to get food or just durdle around with friends. Conley’s flight didn’t get in until much later and he was going to have someone both register him plus get the sleep-in, and since we were rooming together it didn’t make much sense for only one of us to get the sleep-in since one guy getting up early and showering and stuff would clearly wake the other one up. So I decided I would give it a try as well. I loved having my sealed deck already registered and verified, I loved not having to walk up to the seating board with 700 other people, I loved not having to listen to random people around me say stuff like “Wow, this guy is gonna win the GP for sure!”, and lastly I liked waking up looking at a clock that said something like 9:23 and not having that sense of urgency feeling like I had to be there in twenty minutes or else I was screwed. Just being able to leisurely decide what to do and when to do it was great.

I got my sealed pool at around noon and it was a real stinker, easily the worst pool I have gotten in this sealed format yet. Though, to be fair I usually have above average sealed pools. I’ll spare you my exhausting decision making process and just show you the final decklist I submitted.

[deck]1 Reckless Waif
1 Avacynian Priest
1 Loyal Cathar
1 Hinterland Hermit
1 Silverchase Fox
1 Torch Fiend
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Rakish Heir
1 Hanweir Watchkeep
1 Midnight Guard
1 Elder Cathar
1 Slayer of the Wicked
1 Angel of Flight Alabaster
1 Scourge of Geier Reach
1 Silverclaw Griffin
1 Faith’s Shield
1 Faithless Looting
1 Gather the Townsfolk
1 Harvest Pyre
1 Burning Oil
1 Brimstone Volley
1 Wrack with Madness
1 Blood Feud
1 Clifftop Retreat
8 Mountain
8 Plains[/deck]

This deck has many problems and the biggest is that it’s Red-White. Basically in all our pro tour practice drafts Red-White decks never had a positive win percentage, ever. No matter how good they looked or how much sense it made to go down that path during the drafting process it just didn’t work. I can’t explain exactly why that is but I know this color combination does not work, be it because they are both good support colors or the card quality is too low or whatever. Also you may notice that this deck has no good cards. I mean, yes, [card]Angel of Flight Alabaster[/card], [card]Slayer of the Wicked[/card], and [card]Brimstone Volley[/card] are quite strong but the deck has no “I win” cards and almost every deck I get paired against will have cards like that. I played these colors because my white was deep and had playables and my red was deep and had removal, I had [card]Burning Oil[/card] and [card]Clifftop Retreat[/card] so it sort of built itself. But I had a sour taste in my mouth after I walked away from deckbuilding.

I ended up 7-2 with the deck which made me quite happy, if I had to set the line at expected wins from this deck it would be at about 3.5 out of 6 rounds, so going 4-2 is real nice. I won my first two rounds against very average pools and some good draws from my deck, only to lose a round 6 feature match against David Sharfman. His deck was about fifty times stronger than mine with stuff like [card]Gavony Township[/card], [card]Mayor of Avabruck[/card], and all the little stuff like [card]Travel Preparations[/card] and such. I won the first game which was ridiculously close and just got trounced in the next two. The next round I lost to a guy who had no byes, his cards were sleeved upside down in some kind of ultra-pro sleeves I had never seen before, and his deck was interesting to say the least. G1 I played 1 spell and died to two drops and two copies of [card]Travel Preparations[/card] (a common theme of my losses), and game two he went turn 2 [card]Gather the Townsfolk[/card], turn 3 [card]Mikaeus, the Lunarch[/card], turn 4 [card]Ludevic’s Test Subject[/card] which turned into a 13/13 and trampled all over my face. Oh and by the way his lands were Forest, Forest, Island, Island, Plains, and Mountain at the end of the game.

I’ll sum up my round for day 2 with a quote from the GP coverage.

Owen Turtenwald had to scrap for his win as well, but he summed up his 2-1 victory so succinctly I’ll just let him tell how it went.

“He didn’t draw [card]Lingering Souls[/card] the other two games.”

Well said.

Day 2 started out with a bang for me as I drafted a deck I described as incredible, Ben Stark said it was the best draft deck he had ever seen in this format, and LSV said it was a “10/10.”

[deck]9 Plains
8 Swamp
1 Doomed Traveler
1 Niblis of the Mist
2 Slayer of the Wicked
2 Village Cannibals
1 Dearly Departed
1 Fiend Hunter
2 Avacynian Priest
1 Elgaud Inquisitor
1 Village Bell-Ringer
1 Gavony Ironwright
1 Unruly Mob
1 Falkenrath Torturer
1 Ravenous Demon
2 Skirsdag Flayer
1 Victim of Night
1 Altar’s Reap
1 Tragic Slip
1 Unburial Rites
1 Curse of Death’s Hold[/deck]

This deck was soooo sweet to play with. In my first round I have a [card]Village Cannibals[/card] out against [card]Invisible Stalker[/card], [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], and [card]Havengul Lich[/card]. I slam [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card], pumping my Cannibal and triggering morbid for a [card]Tragic Slip[/card] on the [card]Havengul Lich[/card]. That felt really dirty.

In my second round both games I got to stack [card]Fiend Hunter[/card]’s come into play ability and sacrifice it to [card]Skirsdag Flayer[/card] for full value. In one of the games this round I had Flayer out but wasn’t using it because my opponent’s creatures were so bad and the entire game my hand was [card]Tragic Slip[/card], [card]Fiend Hunter[/card], and [card]Slayer of the Wicked[/card]. I wasn’t even playing the same game as my opponents and nothing they could do could stop me.

But the dream had to get spoiled somehow right? In the last round of game 1 I mulliganed to 5 and faced a [card]Lumberknot[/card] that I just could never kill, as that card specifically was very problematic for my deck. Game 2 I obliterated him, the game wasn’t even close, and game 3 somebody flipped the doomswitch and I don’t think anyone or any deck would have beat his opening. Turn 1 [card]Delver of Secrets[/card], turn 2 flip the Delver revealing [card]Ranger’s Guile[/card] is the equivalent of the type two Delver flip [card]Mana Leak[/card] for protection. He ran over me this game and took the match, I have to admit I wasn’t happy that I couldn’t manage a 3-0 with a deck this powerful but that’s just the nature of a magic tournament sometimes you just get unlucky.

My second draft deck was less exciting but pretty decent.

[deck]1 Forge Devil
1 Bloodcrazed Neonate
1 Ashmouth Hound
1 Village Ironsmith
1 Walking Corpse
1 Hinterland Hermit
1 Kruin Outlaw
1 Stromkirk Captain
1 Hanweir Watchkeep
1 Markov Patrician
1 Crossway Vampire
1 Bloodline Keeper
1 Afflicted Deserter
1 Falkenrath Noble
1 Night Revelers
1 Farbog Boneflinger
2 Faithless Looting
1 Geistflame
1 Tragic Slip
1 Harvest Pyre
1 Moan of the Unhallowed
1 Heretic’s Punishment
7 Swamp
10 Mountain[/deck]

First round of this draft I lost to a very solid looking Green-White build that just had too many problematic cards for me. Something like a [card]Chapel Geist[/card] is good against all my creatures and I have very few ways to remove it, I think he drew it all three games. I won game two because I basically drew perfect with a [card]Stromkirk Captain[/card], [card]Bloodline Keeper[/card], and [card]Falkenrath Noble[/card]. But on the flip side after drawing perfect in game two I had to double mulligan in game three so who knows what should really happen in the match if we both have decent draws.

Next round I played against Korey Mcduffie, and he and I have played countless times and I can never get an easy win off him. Luckily for me this time we were both on Black-Red except his deck was significantly worse than mine. I saw him take 2 [card]Reckless Waif[/card]s during the draft and he led off with a [card]Stromkirk Noble[/card] in g1 so I knew his deck was capable of some blowout opening hands. I managed to outcard him in g1, but g2 I lost to some [card]Nightbird’s Clutches[/card] and a [card]Bump in the Night[/card]. Game three was pretty uneventful I had a good draw and he had a bad draw and that was just about it.

I was pretty nervous going into the last round as a win would lock up Platinum for me and a loss would give me another couple weeks of sweating. I didn’t like that I got paired against a guy who opened [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card] p1p1 of the draft and both games when he played his 4th land all I could do was hold my cards and pray he didn’t have it, and obviously he didn’t. I drew [card]Bloodline Keeper[/card] game 2 and the whole match was just a walk in the park.

Another GP, another top sixty-four. I think my finishes in GPs this year have been t8, t16, and about four or five t64. I think it’s just the nature of these new GPs because of all the extra byes the threshold for a high finish is much higher. But I know it used to be 10-4-1 would always make t64 and 11-4 would always make t32. Not that it matters anyways, I’m going to keep attending them and trying my hardest, and however I finish is up to me.

Owen Turtenwald
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OwenTweetenwald on Twitter


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