Most of Team East West Bowl were in Albuquerque the weekend Ricky Chin and I were in Barcelona—we decided to arrive in Europe early as opposed to flying west, only to fly the opposite way after—it made more sense to us, though apparently not to everyone on the team.
PT Shadows over Innistrad
On Monday morning we took a short flight from Barcelona to Madrid and waited until the next day for our teammates to get into our playtest bunker. It really did look like a bunker with actual concrete walls. Most of our testing was already done online, but meeting up a few days in person could only help. We had 4c Rites, which we were on and off about. I finally settled on White Weenie 2-3 days before the Pro Tour and was just trying to find the best version. The majority of the team sleeved up Esper Planeswalkers (which Seth Top 8’d with), but I didn’t like the idea of playing a control deck at the Pro Tour, especially in the Bant CoCo environment.
I had played only Standard throughout the week and my performance in Barcelona denied me the chance of drafting on Sunday. Needless to say, our usual Thursday evening Limited meeting really helped. I can’t stress how important those are for our team. We get so much information during that meeting—all the archetypes we individually didn’t get to draft now felt like we had drafted them multiple times. I love this team.
Anyhow, I didn’t do well with WW. A mix of a few punts and prepared opponents quickly ended my run. I made it to Day 2, but dropped the second-to-last round. I had never felt this prepared with a Standard deck for a Pro Tour before, which is a step in the right direction. Now to find one that’s actually good.
Pro Points: 36
GP Toronto (Standard)
This is another way that being part of a Pro Tour testing process pays off. You have all these decks that you didn’t have the guts to play at the Pro Tour, only to now have an established metagame and an extra week to tune. We took GP Toronto by storm with 4c Rites, seeing multiple people 12-3 with the deck. Our sideboard was poorly designed, but we were getting there anyway. Personally, I made it to Day 2 at 7-2, but my Sunday was atrocious—the deck is hard to pilot.
Pro Points: 36
GP New York (Standard)
In between GP Toronto and GP New York, my good friend Louis-Samuel Deltour came down to Quebec City with me since he lives in France. We had a great time, but most importantly we got to play hours of 4c Rites again, perfecting the sideboard and how to play each matchup. I was now feeling not only extremely confident that this deck was going to be the best for the weekend, I was also sure I’d play my matchups properly, unlike in Toronto.
It paid off. Louis made his way to the finals while I ended up 11-3-1 and got 2 points—effectively 1, since I was capped.
Pro Points: 37
GP Columbus (Skipped)
Four weekends in a row was rough. I decided to skip the Legacy GP. I definitely enjoy playing Legacy once in awhile—it’s a skill-rewarding format as far as technical plays goes, but I had absolutely no idea where the format had gone, and 1 week to learn all of it again was too tall an order.
GP Los Angeles (Modern)
This weekend gave me hope again. A little before LA, I wrote an article on Platinum, in which I ran some quick numbers on how many Platinum players there would be next year. I didn’t include myself. At that point, I’d need about 1.5 GP Top 8s and a good Pro Tour result or 3 GP Top 8s to make it—that wasn’t realistic. It was the start of a hot run. I made Top 4, collecting 4 extra Points and putting me in range of Platinum again.
Pro Points: 41
GP Minneapolis (Standard)
I wanted to play 4c Rites at this event because it was the deck I knew best, but I knew everyone had adapted to it. There were wrath effects everywhere, and people knew how to play against it. I trusted Louis-Sam Deltour, who had been playing Standard non-stop since New York, and I ran his Bant CoCo list with Eldrazi Displacer. My tournament did not go well. I did not feel like I played well either, but Louis’s friend, Julien Henry, made his way to the finals of GP Manchester that same weekend, playing the same 75. I could not feel bad about my deck choice.
Pro Points: 41
GP Costa Rica (Standard)
A bunch of other pros and I spent the week prior to the event at Miguel Gatica’s mansion in Costa Rica for a good time. I mean, an absurdly good time. I can’t really go further into how that week went, but you can imagine a ton of good friends in Costa Rica, in a mansion… for a week.
Needless to say, close to no testing was done. I ran a WW splash red deck that Alex Majlaton convinced me to play. I played against 6 GW Tokens decks, a matchup where having red cards in my main deck made me lose most game 1s. I ended up cashing at 10-5, but earning no Pro Points.
Pro Points: 41
GP Pittsburgh (Standard)
The last Standard Grand Prix of Shadows over Innistrad’s season. I had never played so many events of one format, especially Standard, yet, all week I had no idea what to play. I knew most of the decks, but couldn’t decide which would make sense that weekend. It wasn’t until Friday that I locked in on Bant Humans, with literally less than 5 games played with it. If you’ve read through my results up until now, you’d know that it was a stupid move to play a deck I had not played before—my results were awful when I didn’t practice with the deck I decided to play. It ended up paying off because I played against the same deck eleven times. I knew what I was doing after the… third match? I’m not going to take this event as a reason to do what I did again—I got lucky and that’s all. I lost in the finals, which put me 1 point away from Platinum. I was feeling beyond lucky that I was almost there.
Pro Points Status: 46
GP Sao Paulo (Team Limited)
About 2 weeks before Pittsburgh, I got tricked by Brian Braun-Duin and Shaheen Soorani to join their crazy adventure in Brazil. After too many hours of flights and layovers, we all made it on time. BBD and Shaheen both felt comfortable with the format. I think I was a little less, but I consider myself much better at Limited than any other format, which made me confident regardless of the circumstances. We were one of the favorites to do well—and we opened 2 good pools and got there. We lost in the Top 4, but I finally got what I wanted—I locked Platinum!
Pro Points: 48
GP Sydney and PT Eldritch Moon
We are not there yet and at this point, whatever happens is just bonus. Of course, I want to put forward the same effort I did to get to Platinum for the Canadian captaincy as well as a slot at the World Championship. I’m 5 points away from Alexander Hayne, which means that I need a minimum of 11-5 or better at the Pro Tour and for him to crap out. I’m much more attracted by the slot to Worlds, and I believe that 11-5 or better would also lock me in—but it depends on how everyone else does.
Minimum Pro Point Status: 51
Thank you for reading my adventure.