11 Years Old, 12 Matches Won: A Grand Prix Los Angeles Report

The Part Where I Tell You Who I Am

Hi, I’m Abram Goldstein. I’m 11, and went 12-3 at MagicFest L.A. To practice for this event, I only played in one Modern event at my local game store. My LGS is very casual but has some very good players. It’s small and focuses on selling comic books and collector’s items. The players there taught me how to play Magic, and have encouraged me to play in big events like MagicFest L.A. I’ve become a better Magic player and person thanks to them (especially Danny Simard and Edrick Sarkissian). I mainly play Limited, and I thought the transition to Modern seemed scary when there are decks that could easily win the game on turn 2, or decks that play large creatures with little setup costs for 0 mana. But it turns out that the transition isn’t that difficult if you prepare in the right way and choose the right deck.

I decided to play Mono-Red Phoenix, an aggressive deck with lots of interesting and complicated plays. The deck should be renamed Prowess Phoenix because it revolves around Soul-Scar Mage and Monastery Swiftspear and plays Arclight Phoenix and Bedlam Reveler for late-game explosiveness.

Prowess Phoenix

18 Mountain
4 Arclight Phoenix
2 Bedlam Reveler
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Soul-Scar Mage
4 Faithless Looting
4 Gut Shot
4 Lava Spike
4 Light Up the Stage
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Manamorphose
4 Skewer the Critics

2 Abrade
1 Anger of the Gods
3 Blood Moon
3 Dragon's Claw
3 Rending Volley
3 Tormod's Crypt

I think the deck is a good choice for people transitioning from Limited to Modern because it’s like playing an insane Blue-Red Spells deck except you don’t have to worry about bad mana and you get to play the best cards. One of the good reasons to play this deck is because not many people know how to sideboard or play against it. I had people side in four Leylines of the Void against me, not realizing that the deck barely uses the graveyard.

In past MagicFests, I had been very sad after my losses and played worse because of it, so coming into MagicFest L.A. my goal was to 0-3 drop, play my best, and be happy. I exceeded those expectations. I wondered after the tournament how I could have done so well with very little experience competing in Modern, and I believe it was due to my positive attitude. The reason I think this is so important is because when you play with a positive attitude you can recover from your losses by knowing that you did your best and that you’ll do better in the next game. Another thing that helped was getting enough sleep. I got eight hours of sleep before each day of the tournament and I think that helped me a lot. I played against and saw multiple people sleepwalking through the event, and playing Magic poorly because of it. I also read a lot of articles and watched videos of players who knew how to play the deck well. I felt supported through the whole event by my family and people from my game store.

The Part Where I Give a Tournament Report

I started the event strong by winning my first 3 rounds against Burn, Death’s Shadow, and Scapeshift. I felt extremely excited knowing I had a good chance at Day 2. But I ended that streak by losing to Dredge round 4. I still thought I had a good chance at reaching Day 2 as long as I didn’t lose my next round, and my prayers were answered. I had a close three games against Burn, but I was able to win the match on the back of Dragon’s Claw. My next matchup was against Humans, which is good for Phoenix game 1, but not the best game 2 because they bring in Auriok Champion. Luckily, my Soul-Scar Mage and Anger of the Gods combo out of the sideboard was backbreaking and won me the game when followed up with Bedlam Reveler and two Arclight Phoenixes.

It was round 7—a win-and-in—but I was against Ari Lax playing one of my worst matchups: Whir Prison. I knew I couldn’t beat him unless I got extremely lucky, but that wouldn’t even have worked as I got turn-1 Chaliced both games. After that loss, it was round 8 and I was hoping to get paired against a control deck for a free win. I got to the table, shuffled my deck, lost the die roll, and then saw my opponent play Hallowed Fountain untapped. I breathed a sigh of relief, and I effortlessly won the match against control. I was then ecstatically running around the convention center telling everyone I knew that I made Day 2!

In round 9 my opponent was playing The Rock, which isn’t my best matchup, but my opponent didn’t know that I had 0-mana instants in my deck and traded his Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet for my Gut Shot when he blocked my Bedlam Reveler, and I easily won the match. Going into round 10, I was psyched. It was the first round of Day 2, and I had done it. I got matched up against Mono-Red Burn and handily beat them with Dragon’s Claw. Round 11 was a tough matchup against Blue-Red Phoenix. I had never played against that deck and lost badly.

I was 8-3 going into round 12 against Blue Moon. I won the first game, but in game 2 I got turn-2 Chaliced and lost. In game 3, I got turn-2 Chaliced for the second time, but with two Manamorphose and three Skewer the Critics in hand I was able to win the game. I was then matched against Hardened Scales, and after getting absolutely slaughtered in game 1 won the next two games on the back of Anger of the Gods.

I was then matched against Blue-Red Phoenix for the second time. I was worried about getting crushed by it for the second time that day. My opponent messed up a few times in game 1, but had a nut draw to win the game. In game 2 my opponent was stuck on one land for the majority of the game, so I won that one easily. In game 3 he was able to flip Thing in the Ice but I completely went off the next turn and won on the spot. Then it was the final round of the tournament and I got paired against Vizier Company. I won the first game with an average draw, but he comboed on turn 4 of game 2 for the easy win. In game 3 he mulliganed to four but he had the combo in hand. Luckily, I had a Bolt for his first combo piece, and had lethal the next turn.

The Part Where I Say Some Meaningful Words

Overall, MagicFests are my favorite type of Magic events because everyone playing in them is very skilled at Magic, and I feel like I get better after every game. I would recommend going to MagicFests to any Magic player because you become better at Magic and get to play the best game in the world with other people who love it as much as you. Have fun!


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