Chasing Victory – Inside the Pro Tour

Gabe Walls and I are relatively new Montana natives. We both went there because of a business opportunity, and were both very busy as a result, although him moreso than me. We didn’t know if we would be attending Pro Tour Austin until the Monday before the PT, at which point we bought some overpriced plane tickets and left our new, snow-covered home.

We had no cards, no idea how to draft, and basically no idea what we were going to play in the Constructed portion. The two of us had played some games of Extended and I filled Gabe in on what to expect, but only to the best of my ability. Almost a month prior, I got a decklist from LSV by way of Paulo Vitor, and it was my frontrunner, if only because I had nothing else.

The deck was obviously Dark Depths combo, and with the help of my former roommate John Penick, we had gone through several iterations of the deck. PV’s initial list had Trinket Mage for Expedition Map and zero River of Tears, but those problems were quickly remedied. I compared PV’s list to several lists from websites like Magic-League.com and even did some two fisted testing myself.

Zoo didn’t seem like a very good matchup, although Chalice was great against them, and was one of the reasons why I liked PV’s deck so much. Most other lists seemed like they were kold to anything that could remove their 20/20, whereas Paulo’s deck had a lot of disruption.

The tutor package was almost somewhat weak, as certain tutors could only get one piece or another. Muddle the Mixture for Sylvan Scrying (which is better than Into the North since it can get Tolaria West, and therefore Engineered Explosives) solved that problem, and Tarmogoyf gave you a better backup plan, while also helping the Zoo matchup. However, the Green splash turned out to be terrible, as the mana was already loose as is. I decided to stick to straight UB.

Our flights were uneventful, but the rest of the trip was anything but. Gabe and I picked up our rental car and headed for the nearest Wal-Mart to purchase a laptop and GPS system. We found a knowledgeable employee in the electronics department and Gabe began grilling him.

Gabe: What’s the best deal for our money?
Employee: Well, I like this $650 model.
Gabe: Hmm, OK. Well, what about this $250 tiny one?
Employee: Well, that one’s alright, but we’re out of it.
Gabe: OK, how about this $400 one?
Employee: Yeah, that one is good also, but we’re out of it.
Gabe: Man! What about the $500 one?
Employee: Sold outta that one too.
Gabe: Excellent salesmanship sir. I’ll take the $650 one.

Gabe and the employee ran the same dance on GPSs, but Gabe eventually just told him to give us the most expensive one, since we were just going to return both items at the end of the week. Two week return policy thanks!

After that, we decided that we would hold off on getting groceries until we could tell what kind of hotel we would be staying out. Ideally, ours would come with a kitchen so that I could feed on delicious Tombstone pizzas all week. Gabe just wanted something close to the event site and a gym, with a lot of space.

We stopped at a few different hotels, most of them being closed for some reason, before stumbling into the Candlewood Suites. Gwalls was sick of dealing with the people at this point, so he put me in charge of this operation.

GerryT: Are you guys open? Do you have a room with a kitchen?
Employee: Yes and yes, let me look and see how much it would cost. Hmm”¦ The best I can do is $90 a night. Is that OK?
GerryT: DING!

We did a brief check of the room, which had an odd smell, but was otherwise awesome. Full kitchen and fridge, pull out couch, with a gym, free laundry room, and movie rental area all included. It was easily the sickest room we’d ever seen, especially for the price. It’s a shame that we were at the end of the hallway though.

Once we dropped everything off in our room, we decided to head back to Wal-Mart to get a few things, but mainly Tombstones. At first, I was going to get pretty greedy and get six, but eventually decided to play it safe and only get four. If I needed more, we could always go back after all.

The only other thing I needed was a pizza cutter, but I literally couldn’t find one. Usually, in these situations, I try to find something all by myself only to have someone else help me for five seconds and immediately discover what I had been searching for. At that point, I usually feel like a idiot. However, Gabe couldn’t find anything either. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only stupid one in that situation.

I managed to spot a pizza cutter in a 30 piece kitchen set, but didn’t really want to buy that thing, even if we were going to just return it. In the end I settled on a giant metallic spatula, a tool that I have had to use to cut pizzas in the past. I would make due for the Tombstones sake, and then gladly return the spatula.

When we got back to the hotel, we found a side door that would allow us to basically walk ten steps before being back in our sanctuary, but then, disaster struck. I went to preheat our oven, only to realize that what I somehow thought was an oven was actually a dish washer. Gabe surely would have berated me, but he didn’t realize it either.

I had four worthless Tombstones and then shortly thereafter, no will to live.

In a last ditch effort, I tried to locate the number of the local Domino’s Pizza, only to realize that it was now 3AM. My only option was to watch the movie that Gabe had selected, My Best Friend’s Girl, and then pass out.

The next day, we had some big plans. Gabe had been trying to get ahold Patrick Chapin and company. Pat had rented a house with ten of his friends, and we wanted to get some drafts in. Sadly, no one seemed to be around their phones, as they either kept ringing or went straight to voice mail.

Thankfully, a few hours later Steve Sadin sent me a text message and we made some plans. First, Gabe and I needed to get some food. I ordered the Domino’s that I was fiending for, while Gabe stopped at a hole in the wall Mexican place. He quickly declared that the guacamole was some of the best he had ever had, and requested that he get some to go. Gabe even made a quick pit stop to purchase a bag of chips to go with his delicious guac.

Once we were sufficiently stuffed, we met Sadin and his crew (Chris Lachmann, Brad Nelson, and Corey Baumeister) at the Hampton Inn. We did a couple six mans but really wanted to round up some eight mans. The best we could do is call up Sam Black, which I wasn’t very pleased about. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like Sam, basically because of his social awkwardness and how it affects those around him.

Case in point:

We were playing a match that wasn’t very close. My deck wasn’t great, but I was easily able to stabilize against his early two drop 2/1s and cast the big spells in my UG deck. In the first game he was flooded, and in this one, he was clearly screwed, missing on Explorer’s Scope several times. When it was clear that he was dead, he asked me a fairly innocent question that I initially assumed was a way of discussing the format.

He just wanted to know how many lands I was playing, and I told him 18. He instantly snapped back, “Well, I’m playing 19!” He was collecting his things as quickly as possible, so I gave him a taste of his own medicine, said, “I still had all these!” and revealed my hand of Inferno Trap, Journey to Nowhere, Whiplash Trap, and Into the Roil.

I was drafting Ugx landfall based on advice I received from Aceman, aka Charles Gendron Dupont. He gave me a brief rundown on how to draft the deck, but I found that I couldn’t really stand up to the aggressive draws from everyone else. It didn’t help that over half the drafts I was in didn’t have a single Grazing Gladehart in them.

Regardless, getting the experience was worth it, even if it meant losing a bunch.

The next day, we basically ran back the same thing. I ate some leftover Domino’s and Gabe smashed some Long John Silver’s. We played a little bit of the Depths deck against Zoo and the matchup wasn’t close. Sticking to straight UB helped way more than splashing Goyf would have, and tightening up the deck and cutting the Trinket Mage engine also made the deck flow much better.

The people at Chapin’s house still weren’t responding. At this point it was very clear that they were simply being childish and didn’t want to let us in the house. Even the day before, Gabe was trying to get someone to explain the Extended format to him, but no one would say a word, as they just assumed that Gabe obviously knew what was going on, but was trying to ninja some information out of them.

That’s not the case guys. It almost never is. We just want to hang out and draft with our friends. We’re not here to steal your “tech.” Still, no one was willing to budge.

Until we got to the hotel, of course. Everyone had their decks out and were playtesting and discussing ideas. I’m not quite sure why everyone spends the two months leading up to the Pro Tour in separate playtest groups, hoarding whatever “tech” they might have, only to get together two days before the PT and share it all anyway. It seems like they would just be better off working together from the beginning, but whatever.

Everyone had the UB Dark Depths deck, but I’m not really sure how. I mean, yes the deck is fairly easy to build once you get the gist of what you’re trying to do, but down to the card? I assume that something happened, like PV gave the list to someone he shouldn’t have, like what happened with Swans.

The bad news was the “our” deck seemed to have leaked everywhere, but the good news was that everyone’s lists were still pretty terrible, containing things like maindeck Threads of Disloyalty. We did some drafts, Gabe brewed up some decks, and eventually we went to the player meeting.

I ran into Big Z and we basically discovered that we were playing the same deck, and that PV had given him the list as well. Everyone was talking in hushed whispers about Dark Depths, whether the deck was actually good or not, and whether anyone had any extra copies.

Obviously I didn’t touch any of the Mexican food at the player meeting. I gave my cowboy hat to Charles Gindy, who I’m sure made good use of it, rounded up a draft crew, and headed to the convention center.

I honestly don’t remember much about the draft except that I couldn’t get away from UG. I lost a key game three to Max McCall’s turn one Lynx, turn two Plated Geopede, turn three Lynx + Geopede, turn four complain when he doesn’t hit his land drop (probably shoulda drawn first with your four Lynx, four Geopede deck brah), and then turn five make his land drop and play a Kortographer.

Real fair. I was getting sick of facing those draws in Constructed, and now I have to deal with them in Limited too?

We retired to LSV’s room, where I got some cards for my deck, courtesy of Wrapter and CFB, and got the rest when John Penick arrived. I had to buy a Crucible in the morning, but that was about it. Meanwhile, Gabe had brewed up an awful UWB “Fish” deck, but it looked terrible.

I posted my Constructed report in my last article, so feel free to read that if you actually care. I went 2-3, and wasn’t very happy with my chances of making day two. Thankfully, I must have been drafting with some millionaires, as they didn’t seem to mind passing me a pair of Misty Rainforests.

I lost round one, despite attacking with, and activating Lorthos. My deck was kinda sweet though, and I wanted to battle some more, so I stuck it out, got the bye round two, and played a very interesting match round three.

I started with Hedron Crab, and he started with Crypt of Agadeem. Yeah, OK dude. Nice card.

The Crab started getting to work, but he used his Crypt on turn five or six to play out three dudes, and I was pretty flooded, so I was pretty much defenseless. If I would have drawn a Harrow, I think I would have raced him with my sole Crab.

For game three, I chose to draw first since I had seen most of his deck and it was pretty bad. I also just wanted to draw a ton of lands and spells, and didn’t feel like I was under any real pressure.

He started the game with a turn two Oran-Rief Survivalist, passed the turn, and I untapped and drew. At that point, he said, “Oh yeah, this gets a counter,” but I stopped him. It was very clear that he had passed on putting the counter on, and despite us being out of contention, there’s no reason for me to allow him to go back and correct his mistake.

He was pretty upset about that for some reason, but I didn’t really care. This is a PT man, learn how your cards work. If I missed a trigger, I wouldn’t even try to go back and correct it.

I had the Crab on turn one, which held off his 1/1 Survivalist for a long while, but again, I didn’t draw much action and succumbed to his random beaters.

The rest of the night consisted of me doing a team draft with The Nicest Guy on the Pro Tour, Tim Landale. I won my first match against Craig Wescoe, but had to pack it up because Gabe wanted to leave. Sadly, my teammates ended up losing.

Penick and I discussed our plans for the next day, and neither of us made day two. There was an Extended PTQ in the morning, and a Standard tournament in the afternoon, should I be out of the PTQ by then. Penick was more interested in winning the MODO Live lottery, but I didn’t really care.

The PTQ was my biggest concern for a few reasons.

1) I knew my deck was good, and I wanted to battle with it some more.

2) PTQs are soft, and I wanted to prove it.

3) It was the first time I could PTQ since I won a PTQ for Hollywood over a year ago.

4) I didn’t plan on going to the PT in San Juan, and I wanted to make sure that no one else in the room would go either.

For some reason, if the PTQ didn’t go well, I had most of the cards for a UBR Pyromancer’s Ascension deck that I could run in the Standard tournament. Again, I wrote about the PTQ in my previous article, but I helped Charles Gindy get the rest of the cards together for the Standard tournament which he 0-1 dropped, declaring the deck was horrible.

I felt good after making top eight of the PTQ, but I’m a little upset that I couldn’t win it.

I took a break to grab some food at Champion’s with Penick and my Kentuckian friend, Justin Brown, who was at his first PT. Tomoharu Saito and three of his friends were at the next table and Saito and I waved hello to each other. Then, the waitress brought out their food. For each of Saito’s friends was a normal sized plate of food, but for Saito, that simply wouldn’t do.

The waitress could barely carry the giant plate adorned with two giant racks of ribs and plenty of sides. Saito apparently fancies himself quite the eater, but I wasn’t convinced. I didn’t believe that he would even come close to finishing it, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth. While Saito certainly did lick every single piece of meat off the bones to the point where David Ochoa would have been envious, it took a lot out of him.

Tomoharu passed out in his chair.

JB and I wanted to get a couple shots in before we returned to drafting, as there’s no better cure for depression than alcohol. While at the bar, I spotted a group of Europeans in the back, including Martin Juza, Big Z himself, and Robert Jurkovic, the man who defeated me round one in a Depths mirror.

All of them had finished quite well, so I wanted to congratulate them by buying their entire table a round of whatever they wanted. I’ve never known a European to turn down free alcohol, but the entire table was going to have none of it. Some of them said they were already a few drinks in, while others just seemed skeptical of my intentions.

I was confused, but there was nothing I could do, so I went back to drafting.

My record with Zach Efland on my team has been quite good in the past, but I think that was because we both knew Shards block pretty well at the end. I will freely admit that even after playing with Zendikar all week, I still have yet to grasp what’s really important. Zach may or may not be in the same boat, but either way, our win percentage during PT Austin definitely took a large hit.

As a testament to how good I was running, and conversely how good Cedric was running, in game three of our match the following situation came up:

He was at five or so life, but had managed to stabilize and was milling me with Hedron Crab. I had five cards left in my deck and he had milled most of my good spells. If he drew a single land, I was most likely dead, but that also depended on whether or not he knew that his Reckless Scholar could target other players. There were turns where he wouldn’t use it at all, despite me having no cards in my hand, and him clearly being on the mill plan, so at that point, I was pretty sure he didn’t know.

He didn’t use the Scholar at my end of turn, again, and he drew a card and passed. I drew my Eldrazi Monument, but the card he drew was Cancel. He untapped, Looted himself, didn’t draw a land and passed. I still had outs, but missed. He untapped, drew a land, and Looted me out. I’m pretty sure he didn’t realize it could target until up at that very point.

It was getting late and they kicked us out of the convention center, but Gabe was still in the middle of things, so Penick and I passed out on a couch in the hallway. We had a $3000 draft challenge to win in the morning! And by that I mean we both slept through it. Still, we cabbed to the site and I did some more drafts, assisted in most of them by Megan. Again, I was losing, so I needed some help and she’s from Florida, so obviously she can draft.

A few interesting situations came up involving missed triggers. When drafting against some Canadians (and Canadian transplant Quentin Martin), I played a turn two creature, at which point Quentin pointed at my face, and marked my life down one lower, as that was his system for activating his Blood Seeker. The next turn, I played another guy, passed the turn, and Quentin untapped, drew, and then silently marked me at one less life.

Now, this is wrong for a few reasons. First of all, I know that the regulars on the “casual side draft” circuit are all pretty relaxed, and willing to forgive you if you immediately realize that you missed a trigger, or if you do something out of order. However, while David Felske is a semi regular and Quentin is definitely a regular, I didn’t know their third, and from my experience, Canadians in particular have played “casual side drafts” as if they were in the finals of the Pro Tour.

I just wanted to set a precedent. I don’t mind if Quentin deals me a point of damage, but I want to know that if me or one of my teammates has the same thing happen to them later, than the Mounties aren’t going to get all uppity and maintain that we made a mistake.

My other issue was that Quentin didn’t explicitly tell me that he was marking me one life lower. If I hadn’t been paying attention, there could have very easily been some life total controversy in the future. It’s because of that specific action that I felt like he was kind of trying to be a ninja about it, and not really bring it into focus that he had missed a trigger.

In the end, he decided that he would just mark me back up to 19, and he’d be clearer in the future, but the moment still had that awkward aftertaste whenever something confrontational happens.

Later, I was playing a match against GP Tampa champion Gaudenis Vidugiris, and he attacked me for two, put a counter on his [card]Bloodchief Ascension[/card], thought for a moment, realized that maybe he didn’t want to end his turn. He took the counter off, thought for a bit, and then eventually passed the turn anyway. I untapped and drew, and he put a counter on the Ascension. I realize that he was thinking he had already put a counter on it, but again, I had to be sure.

The situation ended up with me putting all my permanents in my graveyard for dramatic effect, and marking my life total down by two for each one, but I’m not quite sure how it got to that point. In the end, the counter wouldn’t have mattered, mostly because his deck was pretty bad, but still.

In the end, I think I handled the first situation as close to the best that I could, although I was probably a bit too confrontational about it. I was just protecting my own neck, and didn’t want to get screwed. Quentin understood that, but still probably thought I was a douche about it.

As far as the second situation, I was a douche. End of story. I have no excuse.

I went up to Tim Landale’s and “Mother Magic” Megan Holland’s room to hang out for a bit, and I got to explain to them why I was probably quitting Magic. I’ve had to give this speech a few times lately, but basically, I don’t like losing. I’ve tried to remain positive this year, especially after the run I had last year, but at some point you simply have to back down.

My results this year have been below expectation to the point where I am seriously upset about the way things have gone. I have been playing solid Magic, I’ve had an excellent network of people to work with, and clearly this isn’t fair, but compare my results with LSV’s, who has played mostly the same decks as me at these events. It’s just not even close to the same.

I’ve tried switching things up. I typically wouldn’t play a deck like Dark Depths at a Pro Tour, but I figure there are only so many times you can play a control deck. If it’s not working, change what you’re doing. So I did, and the end result was the same.

I need a break. I don’t want to quit entirely, but I certainly don’t want to grind out another year like I have only for it to be filled with disappointments. If I take a break, Magic is going to be fresh and new in a year or so, and at that point, I will probably be ready to make a comeback.

Megan and Tim, by far two of the nicest, most selfless people I know, naturally tried to cheer me up, and convince me to go to GP Tampa the week after, but I was having none of it. I had thought about this for some time, and I definitely need a break. I could finish out the year, but I only have nine points right now, and I don’t even really want to be qualified for everything next year. That way, it guarantees that I don’t go to things like San Diego and San Juan and make myself even more miserable.

They had some good points of course. Going to these tournaments is all about hanging out with the people I enjoy, but I still want to win. If I do nothing but lose, it’s kind of hard to have fun.

So what did I do? I went downstairs, ordered some Domino’s, and continued losing. I figured I might as well make the most of it while I was there.

Sunday wrapped up quickly, but obviously there’s an after party. It was held in the breakfast room of a hotel, but you needed a key to get in. Over the course of the night, many people were furiously pounding on the door attempting to get in, only for someone else to point at the key that was left right next to the door, just for that very situation. Whoever thought of doing that was a genius.

Gabe, Ben Stark, and LSV were taking all comers, while I tried to organize a little draft of my own. By the time it got started, Gabe wanted to leave, so I had barely gotten to play one round before we had to leave. I left the draft in the competent hands of Megan Holland, only to later find out that Tom Martell had played out the draft with my deck before she could get back from running a quick errand.

Our team won, but apparently they all decided that I wouldn’t want any of the cards. Thanks, you greedy D-bags.

The Pro Tour was officially over, but Gabe and I had work to do the next day. We drove BenS to the airport and went back to Wal-Mart to return our things. We went to customer service, where Gabe told them he was simply returning them because they weren’t what he wanted. They sent us back to electronics to get them checked out, make sure everything was there and working properly, and the guy inspecting them couldn’t have been any more suspicious.

He just couldn’t believe that we were returning them in pristine condition, and there wasn’t some sort of scam involved. Turns out, he was somewhat correct, although this was a seemingly new scam he had never heard of before.

We were sent back to customer service, where Gabe was returned his $900 cash, and once we stepped outside, a large smile crept across my face. I knew what we were doing coming in, and it all seemed very clever, but it didn’t actually seem real until it was over, done with, and finalized. At this point, we had done nothing wrong, but I felt like we (and by we I mean Gabe) had pulled the wool over someone’s eyes, and that made me supremely happy.

My tentative plans for right now are to attend GP Minneapolis and Worlds, but I will probably skip at least the first two Pro Tours for next year. I definitely have a few more articles that I want to write, but after that, don’t expect an article from me every week. If I’m not playing Magic, I probably won’t have much to write about.


67 thoughts on “Chasing Victory – Inside the Pro Tour”

  1. As if my day wasn’t depressing enough…First no more morons of the week, and now the possibility of no more weekly Chasing Victory articles. Taking a break is always a good idea though whenever you come back to something refreshed your mind is always in a more clear state and that focus can put you over the top. Good luck either way,

  2. Why must you leave us at the apex of your cynicism?

    For real though, this article is hilarious and I have enjoyed your writing since you started at Star City just before PT:Hollywood. Good luck in whatever you are doing and I hope you come back.

  3. Hope you feel better when you get back in the game.

    Here’s an honest idea, meant with no sarcasm or malice: Eat better.

    Maybe all the fake pizza (tombstone! dominos!) is your indulgence when you’re on the road playing, but even if that is the case, I promise you this is having an effect on your game and overall mindset.

    Eating well on the road can be hard, but I’d give it a shot next time.




  5. love the random stories, also yeah returning electronics after using them for a day or so with no intention of keeping it in the first place equals big smiles

  6. “Interesting article but is calling Sam Black out really necessary”

    100% Yes

    more people need to be

  7. LOL.

    Man, we have a ‘Sam Black’ here in Melbourne too. Literally some uptight guy, looks exactly like SB with the glasses and weirdly shaped head and everything. At every tournament he goes to he takes his little shitty wheelie bag with him. He Top 8ed the Austin PTQ with a Kithkin Deck…maindecking Lapse Of Certainty.

    Life, is this really fair? Are bad randoms like this really allowed to cause wanton destruction wherever they go?

    I feel your pain GT. You’re an inspiration, I hope you find your direction.


  8. I agree, hilarious article. Especially the part about hedron crab holding off a 1/1 survivalist.

  9. Your articles can be funny at times but from reading this and other recent articles it seems like you could be a serious dick. The ally counter thing seemed sort of rediculous to me just because it feels like what you did was just wrong.

  10. Because Gerry and his opponent both knew exactly what he ment to do, but Gerry took advantage of his opponent not being clear enough about a shortcut. It would be like if someone used a pact of negation and then tapped the mana in their upkeep for it and then drew their card, and the opponent said they mana burned for 5 and lost the game. Both players knew the intent but one is trying to get an advantage by basically being a douche.

  11. Best of luck to you, whatever you decide to do. I’ve learned more from you without ever meeting you than seems reasonable.

  12. “The people at Chapin's house still weren't responding. At this point it was very clear that they were simply being childish and didn't want to let us in the house. Even the day before, Gabe was trying to get someone to explain the Extended format to him, but no one would say a word, as they just assumed that Gabe obviously knew what was going on, but was trying to ninja some information out of them.”

    Take the hint, Gerry. They don’t like you.

    No one does.

    No one but me.

    But seriously, lose the hat.

  13. Numidar: Actually, it was like he cast Pact of Negation, drew his card, and then said, “Oh yeah, obviously I meant to pay for this.”

    Bob the Builder: Yes, yes it was.

    pt3: Thanks, I appreciate that a lot. I’ve always been this cynical, but now that I’m on my way, I don’t feel like I need to hold back. 🙂

  14. Oh wow so it isn’t just me who has had really awkward experiences playing magic with Sam Black. I thought he was just being a dick to me because he didn’t know me.

  15. While what GerryT did in regards to the Survivalist might not have been the friendliest play, it was perfectly correct. He’s under no obligation to point out a “may” trigger to his opponent. Any judge called over in that situation would rule that the opponent choose not to put the counter on it; GerryT just saved the trouble of a judge call.

  16. Why do Magic players incessantly write about food? I’ve never understood that one.

    Why on earth would one think that a hotel room would have an oven? Has anyone ever seen an oven in a hotel room before?

    And as shady as those returning shenannigans were, well, if the store has the policy written in such a manner where one can take advantage of it…it’s their own fault, really.

    And you were totally justified with the Oran-Rief Survivor counter thing. Heck, I called an opponent on that exact move just last week. If the player played the card, didn’t put on a counter and then said ‘pass turn’, that is totally their own fault.

    And why make it a mission to win a PTQ for the sole reason of making sure no one else can go? Are you really that angry at life?

  17. Wow, great article. Could have had a better title though – something like “I’m an arrogant idiot and I keep losing even though I’m soooo gooood at MTG…. and I’m dick to people in casual drafts”

    I get it, you’re competitive – you like to win and you really HATE LOSING. You are good at magic – clearly capable of winning multiple PTQs.
    But in game you care so much about the win, maybe it is affecting how you play. (It’s certainly affecting how you behave in ‘casual’ drafts) You’re annoyed at your bad beats. You’re annoyed when your opponent doesn’t see the on the board win and you still lose. Taking a step back isn’t a bad idea.

    “We had no cards, no idea how to draft, and basically no idea what we were going to play in the Constructed portion”
    Are these the words of someone who genuinely expected to win?

    If you want to win all the time, then play against newbies. Play FNM, play GPT’s play PTQs, play local 8 drafts. You’ll win all the time at that level. But playing at the pro tour against the best players in the world, you’re bound to lose. If you want to be the best player on the pro tour then decide months in advance and spend time preparing.

    I hope you have fun at Worlds, even if you don’t win.

  18. Gerry’s right on the two problems he presents in this article:

    1) People need to watch their optional triggers. Tight play is what is supposed to separate good players from bad, and it seriously doesn’t take an unreasonable amount of time to do this exchange:


    The ascension cards even tell you when to put the counters on, so there’s little excuse for anything other than reading your cards, and keeping track of what’s going on. I’m not saying Gerry couldn’t have been nicer about it (it did seem pretty douchey to start altering the game state for dramatic effect…), but you should respect your opponent enough to accept when you’ve made a mistake.

    2) People who play magic competitively can be huge assholes. I’ve met a lot of really nice people from both ends of the skill spectrum who really make the experience enjoyable – but for every friendly face, there are a dozen rude, inconsiderate people who must be intentionally seeking me out to screw up my day.

  19. Calling out Sam: kinda douche
    Survivalist not getting the counter late: absolutely correct
    Binning all your permanents and burning from Bloodchief: super douche, though a funny mental image.

  20. So I was totally just talking to you on Magic Online about various things and my wife deploying and all…remember that? Then I go and check my standings for Montana (since I live here and all) and I’m like who the hell is Gabe Walls. Now I know…welcome to the tundra GT. Hope to see you at states 🙂

  21. Gregtron, I truly agree with your second point. I love the game, and like the idea of playing competitively, but the people who play the game are total pricks waaaay too often. And by being a prick, I don’t mean holding me to my missed triggers. That’s fine. There are a billion other ways to act like a prick while playing magic that have nothing to do with adherence to rules, and we all know it, and we all see it way too often.

  22. I hate when I call people on missed may triggers and then they get mad at me about it and try to weasel their way out of it. Own it up; you forgot it. Don’t try to make me feel bad because you remembered too late instead of way too late.

  23. Great Wal Mart story. I’m sure Gabe likes a large room after our debacle in Kobe (you get the box springs or the mattress). You should both stop by LA sometime.

  24. I’ve read alot of articles now from Gerry and I still can’t decide if he’s a total d-bag or just Gerry. I’ve only played him once and although he came across a little arrogant I didn’t think he was that bad. The call out on sam black was completely unnecessary though. You act like there’s only one person that plays Magic that is socially awkward…are we playing the same game? It’s tough to find COOL people playing this game…

  25. Buying Dominos and wal-mart pizza when visiting a town with great food is douchier by far than all the missed triggers put together.

  26. “I don't like Sam, basically because of his social awkwardness and how it affects those around him.”

    haha I love that this makes the final cut in your article.

    Also, with so many optional triggers in Zendikar, I think the precedent needs to be set that you can miss them in money drafts.

  27. My $0.02… Encouraging fellow players to play by the rules: not douche. It’s a serious event, and serious players should know better. And who cares if they get pissed off. But taking advantage of store return policies: pretty douche. The thing about the return policies thing is, stores now are starting to strongly limit their return policies, so that people (like me and my soon-to-be-ex-family) now suffer because they can’t make legitimate returns that used to be possible before the swindling. Bills don’t get paid, errands don’t get run, families go further into debt … etc. I also agree about the pizza. Not good, and not good for ya. Get a veggie sub and an apple (sez the guy who just ate a greasy cheesesteak and fries for lunch).

  28. Who knew Saito’s middle name was Kobayashi?

    Also, I completely understand wanting to take time off. Basically taking all of this year off from competitive play has reignited my fire and I can’t wait to come back better than before.

  29. Sorry to hear you are leaving MtG, but from the sounds of it you need the break.

    The one thing I do have to agree on with the other posters though is the food. You (and all PTers really) should _definitely_ eat at local joints rather than choosing chains 99% of the time. The food is better, the people are better, and it make the whole experience better!

    Just my $0.02.

  30. I’ve played Gerry before at GP Brighton and he was perfectly courteous, although I imagine he was telling his friends how he lost to some scrub kid later (to be fair I’d have bitched about losing to me if I’d been him – my deck carried me on Day 1). Enjoyed the dig at Sam Black though, I’ve never met him but his articles are always bland and uninspiring. I’ll miss Gerry’s articles though, top quality humour combined with no-nonsense strategy.

    Out of interest Gerry, do you play poker? If so, have you found that success at poker correlates with success at Magic (as in, when you’re at the top/bottom of your game at one is the same true of the other)?

  31. The break isn’t a bad thing Gerry, a few years ago I got pretty good at MTG, then through various reasons stopped loving the game, so I quit for a few years during which I got writing published, roadied for a band and met my now wife…

    But you know what? I came back to Magic, now I’m a good as I ever was and I don’t think and I’ll ever quit playing and I’m pretty sure that me quitting for a while was the best think I ever did to help my game.

    I’ll still miss your articles though, I think you’re one of the best writers around.


  32. Gerry, either you write with hard-to-detect sarcasm, or you are an arrogant jerk. I’m guessing that you would win a few more matches if you turned the ego knob down a few hundred clicks. Arrogance is a manifestation of confidence, which is a key trait to have for a Magic player, but you still need to raise your level of respect for your fellow Magic players. I wouldn’t answer the phone if you called me for a draft.

    I do agree with your attitude on keeping players in-check when it comes to the rules (i.e. missed triggers), otherwise Magic would be all about the cards and not about being smart. Confronting an opponent about failing to obey the rules will always be sticky, no matter how nice you try to be. I completely agree with you that if I missed a trigger like that, I would feel so dumb that I wouldn’t even try to remedy the error– especially at a pro-tour-level.

  33. I’m assuming the Sam Black dig was complete sarcasm and should not be taken seriously at all.

  34. Can we hear some more stories about people who you hate or are annoyed with on the Pro Tour? Maybe that could be a new weekly article…

  35. @Jeff Stewart

    Have you seen Sam Blacks shirts? Abominations…

    Awkward is his middle name.

  36. This was fun to read. I’m not a regular reader on this site, but I had to see what the “GerryT is a douche” buzz was about. It was totally worth checking out. I don’t think I’ve interacted with a Madisonian yet who wasn’t a sack of crap.

  37. aha you rock Gerry! Too bad you will leave as now magic will be overrun by knowitall douchebags like chapin.

  38. while i agree with the “eat better” strategy for having a pleasanter event, it seems like the real problem is that you need to relax. Consider that each game has a winner and a loser, so at 51% win rate, you are still ahead of the curve. I prescribe a quarter pound of the purple nuggz to increase your tolerance for losing.

    WRT Sam Black: As a percentage, the number of magic players who do not have “social awkwardness” to the point that it “affects those around them” is pretty low.

  39. GT, give us more Moron (Moran?) of the Week. That and I don’t consider you to be a DB when calling people out on optional triggers. There’s a reason why these are optional. I won’t let anyone try and use Path’s “may” trigger several moments later after they’ve clearly let it go, and I won’t let anyone put a counter on an Ascension after they’ve passed turn. This is me, in 16K and up. I have no clue why some people are giving you crap for this.

    Wal-Mart’s return policy? Good game, sir. The stuff there was garbage anyway.

    Also the biggest DB I’ve had the displeasure of playing against was PTR at an Austin PTQ, though I can say I won after trying to put *him* on tilt and almost succeeding.

  40. your team did not win the draft. we were all tied up and Martell decided he didnt want to play a tiebreaker against my retardedly awesome 3-0 red black deck. so he decided we would chop the rares among everyone. apparantly josh bennet provided packs for like 6 of the 8 drafters so he got 6 of the piles.

  41. So much trash talk and all I get is “I won my first match against Craig Wescoe, but sadly had to pack it up because Gab wanted to leave.” !!! C’mon Gerry, you can do better than this… I’m so jealous of Sam Black.

    The best part, though, was the build up to the epic dishwasher fail.

  42. Don’t pay attention to the haters, Gerry. Maybe you shouldn’t play Magic for awhile but continue to write your rants as they are always top notch.

  43. i think maybe you should just try to play a couple games and go into it saying win or lose you are going to have fun and if you cant do that then ya id say it is a good time to stop for a bit.

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  45. “We had no cards, no idea how to draft, and basically no idea what we were going to play in the Constructed portion.”

    yeah small wonder you didn’t win

  46. Very entertaining article, gl in Montana – it’s tough to poker (which I assume yer doing) and mtg inf.

  47. Joe: This is probably my first article containing anything about my eating habits. I figured I got blown out enough times that it warranted mentioning. I thought a lot of you here would take joy at hearing about my stupidity.

    Yes, I've seen hotels with ovens. I have stayed in them. I figured (incorrectly) that asking for a full kitchen would be enough, but that'll learn me.

    As for the PTQ thing, well, they gotta earn it.

    Sparks: I don't concentrate on any of that in game obviously. I wouldn't be where I am if that were the case. However, when telling stories afterward, those things seem worth telling.

    As for the no cards, no clue, etc stuff, that was mostly hyperbole. If you paid attention in the article I did actually have an Extended deck, people who were bringing me cards, and certainly people who I could borrow stuff from. Also, I talked to people about the draft format and did a few practice ones to warm up.

    All in all, I didn't expect to win the tournament. I had decided well before Austin that I was on my way out, so there's not really any need to prepare fully.

    I like winning, but I want to do it vs. the best, otherwise I wouldn't even mess with the PT.

    Bombo: I was hoping someone would ask that. Long story short, I punted. I could have sculpted a complicated series of turns where I tap down his lands, leaving him without the mana to draw any out to my animal, but instead I went for the simple, on the board kill you next turn win, tapped out all his white when I passed three Journey to Nowhere (and he was on my left), leaving him with three black mana, and he drew Hideous End with no cards.

    I was low on life, and with only briefly thinking about it, didn't really see a way to ensure a win, so I just took a gamble, and rightfully lost.

    J_Klimek: Amen.

    Geissap: For how I treat you, it depends on who you are and how you treat me. If you are like Sam, one of the bigger douches on the PT, then I am going to treat you like garbage. If you're like LSV, Tim Landale, or Ben Stark, aka the nice guys, I will never do anything to offend you and will often bend over backwards to help you. I may do some things that you may not approve of, like calling out Sam Black, but in my own twisted version of reality, it's for the greater good.

    Yes, Magic is full of awkward people, but that's not really the case when you're dealing with the best of the best. Your average level 4+ is generally someone who can function in real society, whereas Sam managed to somehow slip through the cracks.

    Jack: No offense man, but maybe you shouldn't have made those purchases in the first place if you need to return those things to feed your family.

    I forgot to mention this in the article, but there was literally a guy behind us in line returning a PUMPKIN! Gabe and I couldn't stop laughing.

    Alex: At what point did I do that? Canadians don't side draft a lot and therefore aren't well versed in the dos and don'ts. That's not a dig, it's just how it is.

    Zulo: Complaining about losing without a story should be ignored. Everyone loses and it can be to a good or bad opponent. Whichever it is doesn't matter.

    I assume you were the DI Gravedigger/Serra kid? If so, you played more than fine against me. You mulliganned to five in game three (I think) and CRUSHED me!

    I played a bit of poker before I moved to Montana, but I'm playing way more now than I ever have. I think your mindset definitely affects your success. Last year, I was having a pretty poor year, although I was at the point of quitting then also, when I managed to win a GP. From there, I set my sights on big things, my confidence grew, and I achieved what I wanted to. Winning breeds more winning and once you're down in the dumps like I am now, it's hard to get back out. I imagine that no matter what I was setting my mind to last year, I would have been excellent at it.

    Jag: Thanks man. J

    LP: Judge away. I might be a so-called douche bag, but I'm not out there baby whining, slow rolling, and "I still had these!"ing people. I also don't say in interviews that I deserve to win more than my friends do. If you have something to say, please just say it. I'm a big boy, I can take it.

    Stone: My writing is probably a combination of both, and as I said above, how I act toward you depends on who you are. Also, if you've read the last couple months I've been writing, you'd see that I've already preached almost exactly what you are.

    As for the arrogance/confidence thing, I can only imagine that several other players would have loosened up against my round two PTQ opponent because

    1) it was a girl

    2) she mulliganned to five both games

    3) it was a good matchup

    I kept my resolve, gave Melissa the respect she definitely deserves, and didn't dare get overconfident.

    Jeff Stewart: HA!

    Efland: Fair, although I used my own packs and got daggered, so"¦?

    Leo: Magic is my job, it's not all rainbows and sunshine.

    Kj: Kind of answered this earlier, but it was hyperbole, and I didn't go in expecting to win the PT.

  48. I am from Canada and when I was at my first pro event, aside from Canadian Nationals, I was really impressed by how nice some of the pros were to a nobodies like my friends and I. Especially Kibler, Chapin, LSV and Peebles Mundy. However I clearly don’t get that vibe from you Gerry, as I feel that bashing Canadians was completely unnecessary and really ticks me off. Secondly WTF did calling out Sam Black accomplish outside of starting a parade of bashing him in the forums. If I were Sam I would be beyond pissed and it shows your complete lack of class. Hopefully taking a break from the game will allow you a fresh attitude and maybe, just maybe you won’t be such a prick.

  49. dowjonzechemical

    Wow…its just an article from someones perspective. I don’t think it should be dissected and literally translated into a King GerryT version of the Bible.

    I love the casual dropping of everyone’s morals/opinions on Sam Black and Oran-Reif triggers. Wow, how f*ckin enlightening that you think that. Now I can sleep at night.

    Christ on a crooked crutch crying in a chrome, cracked creavsse with Chris Kringle. It is bad enough to constantly hear it from religious fundamentalists.

    How about- Good luck at Worlds and enjoy your break, sir. I am sure you won’t miss the deebs who feel they need to feed you this crap.

  50. I usually don’t condone calling people out in public forums, but I can get over that, but what really bugs me about your attitude to the game is this:
    “4) I didn't plan on going to the PT in San Juan, and I wanted to make sure that no one else in the room would go either.”

    While I can see the other reasons for playing in the PTQ, this one strikes me as incredibly resentful and vindictive. While I can understand being frustrated that you can’t seem to post positive results at the events you’re going to, I think you shouldn’t attempt to deny other people the opportunities that you’ve been had, like playing on the Pro Tour.

  51. GT is one of my best friends on the planet. I can safely say the next sentence with no fear of what comes next:

    Gerry Thompson is a giant douchebag

    And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  52. I’d just like to mention that people love to call out others they don’t like, but seem too dense to realize when others don’t like them. Perhaps some people do deserve to be called out, but surely the callers should understand when they are the called.

    Also, if Sam was rude to you, that may be grounds for a callout. Being socially awkward unintentionally, however, and calling somebody out based on that seems petty. This is unlikely to help said person be less socially awkward in the future, thus making your own problems with them worse.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your articles through the last year or so, but honestly I guessed from your attitude that you were nearing your limit. I hope life does good things for you and you come back a little bit more happy with yourself and laid back, as you do better work and play better when you seem to be enjoying yourself. Best of luck in Montana.

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