Stark Reality – Taking Home the Trophy *PT Paris Report, 1st*

The story begins a few weeks earlier, as I boarded my flight from sunny Fort Lauderdale to Indy, without a hotel room to stay in or plans of any kind for the Starcitygames Open in Indy. I just figured I would go to the site and get a hotel room, unless any better options presented themselves. On the way there, AJ happened to post on Facebook that he was landing soon so I decided to meet up with him. At this point I was just figuring we would chop the cab to the site. He wasn’t going to the site though; he informed me that he was being picked up by Nick Becvar (one of the best local Indy players) and that he was staying with him. Within about 10 seconds of Nick getting there he invited me to come along and stay with him…and the run good begins. Really it just continued since I was coming off second place at Grand Prix Atlanta but I was happy to see it would be in full effect for this trip.

Friday night we tested some Standard, ate some sweet burgers that Nick made for the gang of gamers he was hosting, and ultimately Christian Valenti and I hammered out a Valakut list that we would be running. Drew Levin being a smart kid seemed to figure out that if two of the best players here were working and playing the same deck perhaps he should run it, and asked if he could play it. We obliged and it worked out really well as Christian and I had rather mediocre finishes but Drew piloted the deck to second place.

After a nice dinner on Saturday night with Gerry, Nick, and a few other guys I decided I wanted a really good night of sleep so I bought a room at the site and slept from 11 to around 11. I then rushed downstairs because I wanted to make the second draft challenge. It didn’t start till 2, but I was assuming as people lost in the Legacy round by round it would fill up. When I asked if I could still get in they laughed at me as it had something like 12 players at the time, but it ended up having 40 or so. I drafted two really good decks: a controlling B/W deck with Sunblast Angel/Black Sun’s Zenith, and [cardGeth, Lord of the Vault[/card] (the run good continues) and an aggro Glint Hawk deck with good removal and synergy. I won the tournament, then I ran up to my room just in time to see the last 6 minutes or so of game time of the Superbowl.

The next morning it was off to Paris. I have to be honest, France is not my favorite country. When I was there for Worlds in ’06 I found it to be outright miserable. The usual forecast for the weather in Europe, which mostly seems to be cold, wet, and gray, is miserable, along with the people in Paris just refusing to speak English and/or help you ever when they definitely know English. The last time I was there we definitely got charged “the American” price at several restaurants. Luckily for me though I would attend a Pro Tour if they held it inside the gates of hell so I was definitely willing to endure Paris.

The flights went off smoothly, although I did manage to break my laptop somehow when travelling to the airport so that kind of sucked. I also somehow managed to train to the completely wrong side of Paris but eventually I managed to get to my hotel and meet up with my roommate Max who I was staying with.

On Wednesday I met with Martin and the rest of the Channelfireball guys and we did some drafts while I debated which deck to play. Max was going to play my Vamps list, while I wanted to play either Martin’s Tezz deck or the UW Mystic deck. Luis convinced me to play the Caw deck when he made the really good point that while Martin’s deck was sweet it wasn’t ready. They weren’t even sure whether or not Jace belonged in the deck, which is a pretty good sign it wasn’t as tuned as it needed to be. From there I decided to play the Caw deck, though that said Martin 5-0ed with Tezz and Max 4-1ed with our vamps list, so I may have been in a pretty good spot. Still, the Caw deck was amazing and I am (obviously) pretty happy Luis convinced me.

I woke up very early the next day. After Max and I feasted for breakfast (one of the only things I like about Europe is the amazing breakfast spreads the hotels seem to have) we went to the site to get some cards, the finalized decklist, and most importantly to start making battle.

Round 1 – Toni Portolani playing Valakut.

He had to take a few mulligans and just never really got anything going. While I love the sick tight matches where every decision matters it was nice to be able to play a warm-up match with a deck I hadn’t really played versus anything except 10 or 20 games against Max playing vampires the night before.


Round 2 – Ian Wood playing Caw-go

Now it was time to step into the big leagues. Having never played a game of the mirror, I had to guess at what mattered and what to fight over. We had a super-close 3 game match where I decked him a little before he could kill me I believe.


Round 3 – Gerald Leitzinger playing UB

Blue Black is a very easy matchup but he did take a game so I had to sweat it out. I don’t think game 3 was too close though.


Round 4 – Yuuya Watanabe playing Tezz

This was a covered feature match but I consider Yuuya to be one of the best in the world and I think if he played as good of Constructed decks as some of the other top pros he might very well be the best in the world. Beating him is super tough and I definitely felt like he outplayed me game 1 but games 2 and 3 my draws were too strong for him to overcome considering how favored the Caw-go deck is versus UB Tezz in my opinion.


Round 5 – Valentin Mackl playing UB

Another good matchup and this time I had good draws both games and won pretty easily.


Normally if I 5-0ed the Constructed I would be jumping for joy now that it was time to draft but this time was a little different. I didn’t know all the new cards and really had only done 4 or 5 drafts with the new set. I was going to follow my usual rules for draft of not forcing anything and just trying to see what was there. Well, my draft was covered and is up on draft viewer on sideboard and match by match analysis of limited is pretty boring so I am going to fast forward through these rounds. I drafted an aggro infect deck and played a really tight/ cool match in a covered feature match against Chapin in round 3 so you may want to read that one if you are interested.

Round 6 – Jon Kolos – 2-1, 6-0
Round 7 – Kentaro Ino – 2-0, 7-0
Round 8 – Pat Chapin – 2-1, 8-0

In my previous two Pro Tour Top 8’s I started out 6-1 and 6-2 and picked up even more losses shortly after that in both but managed to win my last 3 or 4 matches to make it into the Top 8. I have never had a start like this in the Pro Tour and frankly I was pretty excited. The downside of all that excitement being of course I barely slept, but hey welcome to the life of a pro Magic player.

Day 2 kicked off with another booster draft. This time I pretty much saw nothing but red cards the entire draft. Archetype-wise I should have been green-red dinosaurs but the green was really dry. I ended up just playing straight mono-red. This time 2 of my 3 matches were featured and the one that wasn’t was a tough 3 game match against Yuuya.

Round 9 – Naoki Nakada – 2-1, 9-0
Round 10 – Pat Chapin – 1-2, 9-1
Round 11 – Yuuya Watanabe – 1-2, 9-2

Ok ,so I lost two straight but that basically just returned me to the pack. I was still doing quite well, needing 3-1-1 for Top 8 and hoping to pick up a nice easy good matchup to return me to winning.

Round 12Luis Scott-Vargas playing Caw-go

You have to be kidding me. I have to play against the best deck in the tournament being played by the best player playing the deck (give or take a PV). I wasn’t pleased. I won the die roll though and just straight nut drew him on the play game one. Game 2 he took a mulligan and had a fairly weak draw as luck smiled down on me and gave me a victory.


Round 13 – Tom Martell playing Caw-go

This is getting old, I understand we had the best deck and lots of us were doing well but there were still plenty of other people I could play and playing the mirror every round is definitely not what I was hoping for.

On the other hand…I won the roll again! We took turns nut drawing on the play in games one and two, then in game 3, I had a Stoneforge on turn 2 while he didn’t make land drop 2 and discarded. I made land drop 3 and passed, but he found a land that came into play untapped on turn 3 and passed the turn.

Now this told me some interesting things. For him to keep a 1-lander without Preordain he must have all the good 2-drops (Hawk and Mystic). However for him to not cast a Hawk to chump block the Sworded Mystic I could make he must have had a better solution (Divine Offering). I had lands and a Mana Leak in my hand so I figured I would just sit around for a turn. If he didn’t draw an untapped land next turn I could put the Sword in play with 2 up and Mana Leak his Offering, and if he did draw the untapped land I would rather let the game go longer by forcing both of us to keep two lands untapped at all times. I was ahead on lands already, so this line of play would punish him much more than me, and that’s assuming I missed on lands and he hit, an unlikely scenario.

As it turned out, he made some land drops but discarded a few times, since I was locking his mana up, and somewhere around turn 6 or 7 I was able to put the Sword in knowing I could protect it and I rode it to victory.


Round 14 Nico Bohny playing G/W quest

Win and I am in, sweet right? Well this match sure wasn’t. He browned me like I was Fried Chicken and he wanted extra crispy. Two games, maybe 9 turns and 15 minutes later and I was cooked.


Round 15 Mat Marr playing Valakut

I started off the tourney against Valakut, and now I would have to beat it again to make Top 8. He beat me game 1 in a really long tight game, and my back was now officially to the wall. Game 2 he mulliganed and didn’t play a green source until turn 4; he did some things but I won pretty easily. Game 3 we both had good hands, and I elected to Preordain on turn 1 instead of leaving Spell Pierce up because I felt if I hit the Mystic the gain was huge, where as if I left Pierce up he was just going to elect to play Battlement or Cobra instead of something Pierceable. The best plays for the Valakut deck on turn 2 in order are like Cobra, Expedition, Zenith for Treespeaker, Explore, and Battlement in my opinion.

So, if he had drawn a Cobra I was basically accomplishing nothing but if he hadn’t then I was gaining quite a bit having him play Battlement instead of one of the other plays but not as much as if I find a Mystic. It was tough choice but I was pretty sure I made the right one, though everyone else seemed to think the other play is better so who knows. I ended up not finding Mystic, he Zenithd for Treespeaker, I Ousted it and the game went long, where I managed to pull it out.


Round 16 Vincent Lemoine playing Boros

Having the nut breakers since I started 9-0 I got paired against a 12-2-1. All I needed was a draw and he was happy to give it, saying I earned it by going 12-3, so we drew. I also informed him the matchup was quite good for him so he should want me in Top 8 anyways. He didn’t think it was so great but Bboros was pretty much the only deck we had been losing to all tourney.

As it went Luis got unlucky and got paired down against Paul playing Boros and lost. Martell drew in and Efro and Owen won to go X-4 giving us two in the Top 8 and 3 more in the Top 16 and since two Japanese players also Top 8ed with their own Caw-go variants and Erik Landriz Top16ed with his I would say utter dominance.

In the Top 8 I held serve against Tom, and as I was the higher seed I got to play first game 1 and whoever played first won all 5 games.

The Top 4 and Finals were filmed/covered but I basically drew amazing for 7 games in a row, including the one I lost to Rietzl and took the 2 matches down.

I really view this more as team Channel Fireball winning the Pro Tour then me winning it. I went 4-2 in draft and just crushed in constructed by running great with the best deck in the tourney designed by the whole team and sideboarding strategy taught to me by Luis and designed by the team as a whole.

Also I want to say thanks/props to my girlfriend Michelle for understanding when I disappear completely for a few days to play a Magic tournament, my roommate Max for helping me get in practice games every stage of the way. Thanks to Gabe Walls, since his generous offer to host all of us was crucial for our Limited practice in particular, and it’s just a shame he couldn’t make it to the Pro Tour. Thanks also go to Brad, Kibler, Efro, and all of Team Channel Fireball for making the deck, helping me along with it and essentially winning this Pro Tour as a team. I just happened to be the pilot who drew the best and got the victory it could have been any of us. Thank you guys a million times no amount of dinners could ever show my gratitude.

Now off to Conley’s and GP Denver where I hope to continue running good and adding points to my lead in the PoY race. While it is way too early to be even hoping to win, I consider it the highest honor in Magic and nothing would mean more to me that to add my name to that list of great players.

122 thoughts on “Stark Reality – Taking Home the Trophy *PT Paris Report, 1st*”

  1. sagedgsgwregwrgerg

    how bout some sideboarding lists especially since LSV gifted everything to you already thats what people want from articles hello .. changes to the 75? does your team have to give you everything on a silver platter

  2. Luis Scott-Vargas

    ben might have gotten the list without doing much work on it this time, but the reason we happily gave him the list plus sideboard strategies and all that is because he’s a critical part of the team. For Pro Tour San Juan (where PV won and both Josh and Brad made t8), Ben’s draft strategies were crucial in both their Swiss and t8 records. Just because ben wasn’t able to meet and test with us for this particular tournament doesn’t diminish his contributions as a whole, and he definitely earned this pro tour win, even if he wasn’t as actively involved in this particular deck.

    That being said, I’ll have more info about the deck this coming Sunday, and PV’s latest article also discusses it.

  3. Really? You hate france because they won’t speak English, and you think Restaraunt prices tricked you?

    #1. Don’t look for English in France. Look for French, it’s everywhere, and if you’re smart enough to cast JTMS You can probably read a phrasebook.

    #2. MENU

    You need to hold your head a little higher, brother. Spend part of that 40k on some travel guides.

  4. Boros did very well, as well. And it seems to have an edge 1v1 vs. Caw-Blade. Is that an inherent advantage, or does it have more to do with the way you decided to Main Deck your Caw-Blade? If you want to not lose to Boros, how can you set-up the deck? What will you be giving up? What match-ups are Caw-Blade better at than Boros with the Pro Tour Set-up you had?

  5. So one thing I’m curious about. Do you guys share your winnings with the rest of the team when someone wins some good $$? Is that something you agree about ahead of time?

  6. I don’t know, I feel this report is not particularly informative, innovative, helpful or entertaining. Nothing bad about it, just nothing great I think.
    It’s CF fault, the standard is just so high.

    BTW: flaming France after having been to Paris once (or twice) will make you look bad.

    Paris is so different from the rest of France, it’s like a different country.
    But yes, Parisienne can be very… unkind to foreigners

    P.S I’m not French

  7. I visited Paris this summer for 6 weeks and found the people to be very nice and helpful. Just like with any foreign country (but especially in the U.S.), locals don’t respond well to visitors who expect them to speak the visitor’s language. As is the case with most people I know, I’ve had frustrating experiences with people working at fast food places that don’t speak english well and mess up orders. The least you can do is spend a couple hours before hand or on the plane learning some basic phrases, as well as bringing a phrasebook with you.

  8. dude people commenting are being douches. Congratz man i though the semi’s and finals were sick and you definitely deserved it. btw LSV was defending Ben not trying to help you after you trolled the post.

  9. Congrats.

    More substance to the games and how the deck plays out or what’s the future for it would’ve been nice, though. After all, you did say that your win mostly came on the back of your constructed performance, so why not focus on it more? Like – say: “From there the game went long and I was able to win”. Well, so no interesting strategic decisions must have presented themselves in the process? You just… attacked him a bunch of times and he lost?

  10. I understand you guys read strategy to get better but this is a tournament report, not a guide to how to play the deck. I am sure me or someone else will write a complete article on the new Cawgo list. I think what LSV was saying is that when you are a team sometimes you break it, other times your teammates do. You all try to help each other and in the end everyone does better. Since for this pro tour it was my teammates who broke it and not me, I wanted to make sure credit was given where it was due.
    Everything I said about France actually happened/is how I feel about it. I have been to a ton of European cities and have had very different experiences in them so I can draw comparisons, that said obv I have been to Paris twice in my life so My sample size is biased. I am just talking about my experiences not giving a complete tourist guide to Europe/Paris.

  11. Restaurants having dual pricing for locals/foreigners is unheard of in France. All prices are clearly visible on the menu, and displayed in the storefront of the restaurant, as required by law. Maybe all outside the US looks like a corrupt third world country to you, but it really isn’t. That’s disappointing reading that kind of bad vibes from a Pro Tour Champion. Play the game, see the world, spit on foreign nations ?

  12. Well, I think it kind of come down to your demeanor. Many Europeans have reservations about Americans who act like they’re the kings of the world and don’t even give a semblance of trying adapt. After all it’s only natural that everyone speaks English… Well it is, but still blatantly taking that for granted is not very polite.
    Now I’ve never been to Paris so maybe it’s worse there or whatever but I just wanted to point out that this kind of image that some Americans present themselves with may be the cause of the annonyance.

  13. Well I live in Paris and I love speaking English.
    On the other hand you’re being a bit ethnocentric indeed, and that alone explains why some french behave like this. They just don’t like how some Americans think they are the center of the world.

  14. You fucking trolls give the man a break.
    Its HIS opinion on France and his only .
    FUCK OFF if you dont like it .
    Im from europe and i can also say that fucking France + Italy have this syndrome of “i speak my native language only because i think im superior to everyone else” well go fuck off every other Europe country uses ENGLISH its the mainsteam language everywhere so get off ur fucking fatasses and go learn some english dumbshits you are no better than everyone else.
    Thanks for the report and gj on winning pri pro tour.

  15. just because someone hands u a deck doesnt mean that the person that handed u the deck is better. Playing in the PT all of the players are the best in the world, and nothing in the PT is handed on a silver platter. Just because Luis showed BenS sideboard options doesnt mean that every game that Ben won was because of Luis. He still has to play 1v1 against the BEST players in magic. That is a tough Route to win and Ben deserves the congrats, because it is hard to make it to the PT and its hard to Win a PT

  16. It is true. The French are a stubborn people. Belgians too by the way, they speak dutch, like me, but they’re just trolling and talk french all the time pretending not to understand what you’re saying.
    Even Germans at least TRY to speak english. Although I do believe most of the French actually really don’t speak english, which is a major flaw in their educational system.
    Also, congrats Ben on your win.

  17. @ Pilatos:
    People from Paris don’t speak english because they think they are better
    French not from Paris are very nice and polite and will speak english to you if they know it
    Italians don’t speak english because they don’t know it!

    p.s. I’m Italian

  18. @ Pilatos :
    then don’t go to france or italy if you don’t like it,it’s very simple 🙂
    Also,don’t know about Ben,but most U.S. natives speak with remarkably strong accents and unconventional “jargon” that is not taught in european schools.So have a little patience:)
    About the price for locals/price for foreigners: if they charge you differently from what stated on the menu call the cops,that’s true in every country i think.
    Anyway good job winning to Ben,i’ve been a fan of his for some time now and it was about f.. time he won big^^

  19. Paris sucked monkeyballs!

    Including the african american dudes who are trying to rape you with little cheap tower replicas, the beggar girls who try to bum money acting as deaf people, the organized crime syndicate, who make living conning turists selling them metro ticket when they try to go CDG. The security people who are on the take, and can lose the ability to speak English in 1 second when they understand what your problem is.

    All the people on the servicing fronts I met in shops and restaurant, who look at you with clear contempt as soon as you open your mouth.

    FU Paris,I wont go there ever if I can help it.

  20. Great job, this was a well deserved win. You always do well but seem to fall short. You are on fire now, and i hope the fire fighters stay far far away.

  21. RE: France

    Ben’s thoughts are likely in the right, but posting it is likely wrong.

    Anyone flaming him had better damn well have been to Paris more than twice.

    Also, stereotypes tend to be there for a reason. Frances stereotype has always been that people (Foreigners) don’t like them. Don’t you think there may be a reason for that?

  22. I’ve been to France a few times and people are generally friendly except in Paris, where everyone is miserable and rude, especially if you try and speak english to them (PS: I’m European) Paris has to be the worst place in Europe to visit.

  23. BENS, france is not as bad as you think. I’m american and I’ve lived in paris for the better half of last year and made some of the best friends, ever. The frenchies are alot nicer and helpful than you think. Also, people in middle of france, south of france are generally nicer/hospitable than people in paris, just like how people in cities like ny are not as hospitable as people from the south.
    Also it helps that the quality of food and life is just better overall in france(maybe europe in general) and people are just healthier and not fat(did you see any fat ppl in paris?). Also about the prices, if you go to touristy areas its way more expensive then going to places that normal frenchies go to. If you go to place next to the eiffel tower or champselysee, be prepared to pay more. It’s the same in NY too.

  24. Parisians are known to be arrogant and impolite. Being one of them, I kinda know what I’m talking about.
    Only americans carry an even worse stereotype of rudeness. And as french people don’t like to be beaten in any domain, it’s no secret why they can be so unwelcoming to yankees.

    That being said, it is nearly impossible that Ben got foreigner-charged in a french restaurant. Prices are tagged everywhere and french police is severe regarding this kind of fraud.

    And, concerning the “they won’t speak english to me sob sob sob”, first this is not a given (lol), second french schools are quite as bad as yours, so we have some difficulties learning new languages.

  25. I definitely understand a lot of what people are saying. For example if you go to New york city in the united states the people are a lot more rude and unhelpful then if you go to say Nashville. Also just like with Paris that is just a true over generalization. Some new yorkers are helpful and some people in paris are helpful. For the record I don’t dislike all french people are all people from paris or anything like that. Nassif is a really nice guy and I have met and spoke with Matignon a few times and he seems like a very nice guy also. Like i said before I have been to Europe like 15 times and experienced a lot of the major cities. I am just citing my observations.

    Further to me its not about English being better or America being better. It’s logical if you speak 2 languages and I speak 1 that we communicate in the one we can. I live in South Florida and people come up to me speaking Spanish all the time. I speak a little spanish but not a lot and I always try and answer what I can in spanish and be helpful.

  26. “one of the only things I like about Europe is the amazing breakfast spreads the hotels seem to have”

    Damn what an asshole!

  27. I once played a French guy who refused to understand me, even when I counted in French! However, I am wise enough to know that he doesn’t represent all French people, but it sure was frustrating being the only one trying to communicate.

  28. @ Pilatos

    Calling the others “trolls”, dirty-talking and saying things you don’t even know if being true is what makes yourself a troll.
    I agree with bananapower, Italians don’t speak english because they don’t know it, not because they think they’re superior. Not knowing a language is a disadvantage for a person but not a duty.

  29. Parisians do tend to be a little less friendly than the rest of france, but I think they can be equally incensed that people turn up in their country and just expect them to speak english with them. It’s pretty simple to get a phrasebook, after all. Hell, it would also probably reccommend some restaurants.

    On a more blatently obvious note; You did turn up to Paris in early February, so I’m not sure why you’d expect the weather to be anything but miserable.

  30. France is fun. Paris is fun. Awesome how the comments here have turned into “What do you think about Paris?” thread. Been there many times. Here’s a hint, try to speak French. It’s not very hard. most of the Latin languages are pretty darned similar. Ben says he speaks a little Spanish, cool, you pretty much already speak a little French then.

    What I’ve experienced is that if you try… even if you butcher the language, you get more respect. Agree completely that one city should not be represented of an entire nation. I’m from the mid-west and despised the people in New York, for example. The French are a proud people with a long and proud history. Show that you understand that a little and it makes a world of difference. On a side note, Paris is one of my favorite cities for a morning run.

  31. Thank you for writing this for us. There has been so little content lately I think the natives are restless. LSV and company spoiled us rotten for over 2 months with wave after wave of great video articles and written content. The flow of information has slowed to a crawl recently(I understand why with MBS just about to hit MTGO) and the children among us that have no patience are showing their a$$es.

  32. Lay off a little bit on the paris thing i have been several times and the stigma around americans is not a stereotype its very real. On the other hand though the town and country was so damn beautiful and the food so good that it made up for it. Also I did get charged the “american price once” i got charged 50 euros on a 20 euro meal.

  33. Ben,

    Congrats! I hope to see you at cool stuff again one day, so I can congratulate you in person.

    p.s. Your opinions on France don’t need to be defended, don’t feed the trolls 🙂

  34. I just love the guy who referred to “African Americans” in France. I wonder if he realizes what he did there?

    Congrats, Ben. Well deserved.

  35. Paris/France/jew ass hamerikanistanian – all the same. None is treated in a kind society to become a good person, we’re all made into mindless money making worms by the system so.. no point in covering rudeness imNho.
    I liked the report – fast and easy to read and entertaining 😉 Grats on the win/s.

  36. Well the french are notorious for refusing to speak english even if it’s clear that it would be the easiest way to understand each other. It’s gotten quite a bit better in later years though, people under 25-30 who grew up with the internet usually have no reservations about it. As for “American price” I very much doubt they scammed you, but it’s possible you are used to a different pricing model. For example european restaurants frequently put out bread on the table even if you don’t ask for it, but if you eat from it they might charge you. Things like that vary quite a bit from country to country and is usually mentioned in travel guides and similiar.

  37. Completely useless report and much lower in quality than the usual content of this very good website.

    About France/French, I just do not understand how the author can fall into such cliche: while reading the article I expected brilliant comments like: “Black people are lazy” or “Arabs all belong to Al Qaida” or “Americans are fat”. Pointless and disappointing.

  38. Eh, the general consensus from people who travel to France is that Parisians are often very rude and generally dislike Americans, especially the ones who can’t speak French, which is generic dickery.


    About time with the win, way to go.

  39. Congrats Ben and Team Channel Fireball! A great win and a fun deck. Don’t listen to the trolls, enjoy your victory!

  40. Ok, about the Paris thing (I am French and I live near Paris). I know it’s not the topic, but it’s fun :
    – How would you feel if I came up to you in New York (or whichever big American city) while you’re going to work and asked you something in French ? You probably wouldn’t bother, since you can’t really help me. I understand that English is much more globally useful, i.e speaked, language, but you can’t expect everyone to speak english (we have the shittiest education system ever, especially when it comes to languages, so it has nothing to do with arrogance). Really, trying to speak some basic french words (S’il vous plaît and Merci, i.e Please and Thank You, especially) reaaaaally helps.
    – the double price thing : I don’t see how that would happen, really, and if it did, that’s pretty outrageous. What is true though, is that, contrary to the US, we don’t have a tradition of tipping in France. As I understand it, tipping is basically mandatory in the US, whereas in France, it’s only in case of a very good service. That may lead to higher prices (gotta pay the waiters more).
    – The funniest thing here is your comment about the weather : hello, we’re in February ? Also funny when there is a blizzard storm in the US at the same time…
    – As everyone said, Parisians are not representative of France. Everybody hates them, basically.

    @ French military victory : I suggest you to read the tvtropes page about that. Long story short, France is the third army in the world, whatever Americans/British might think. just because we don’t invade countries for oil doesn’t mean we don’t have an army (see, I can say stupid generalizations about a country too).

  41. I remember one Brad Nelson giving infinite props to BenS for his immense help on draft ports… Ben obv deserved to have the list handed etc. I’ve been seen innumerous props to BenS’ help in older top8’s report.

    He also was pretty right and humble saying that its a TEAM victory. I see the same.

    Also he’s def not the first one to say what he said about Paris, although I dont deem it as a rule.

  42. Ben,
    Congrats on the win. I was rooting for you all weekend. Can we get some draft videos fro
    you? I want to see the limited master in action.

  43. I really cannot believe the amount of negative comments on this article. Trolls will be trolls I guess, but get real. Ben Stark is one of the top 10 limited players in the world and can clearly play constructed as well. He absolutely deserves this pro tour in terms of both his play ability and his dedication and time to the game.

    The part that bothers me the most though, by far, is people who make the comments about “his team handing him everything on a silver platter”. This statement is RIDICULOUS and those making it are extremely naive and ignorant and have clearly never played Magic professionally. You can quote Luis above for saying how crucial Ben is to the team and how much effort he puts in, and any other CF member would say the same, and I can assure you that Ben is one of the hardest working Magic players out there who has REALLY logged the hours over the years.

    Also, a final note on the above topic. Read between the lines a little bit. Ben was not trying to give you the “I put in no effort and my teammates hand me everything on a silver platter” message… Ben was trying to be CLASSY and MODEST, which I feel he did very well. This entire article was extremely humble and should tell you something about who Ben is as a person.

  44. “I really view this more as team Channel Fireball winning the Pro Tour then me winning it.”

    Too humble!! This is YOUR win and YOU deserve it!! Sure, without the help and support of team channelfireball you wouldn’t have won it. However, just to get on that team you need to put in a huge amount of time, effort, and requires a ton of skill. Plus, you took it down and finished in first!

    Congrats Ben, and I hope to see many more finishes from you so you can take home the player of the year trophy.

  45. I don’t really fault Ben for providing his honest observation about Paris. Fair or not, that was his perception and it isn’t wrong. Right and wrong don’t apply here–in his subjective experience, Paris isn’t tourist-friendly. He can say that if he wants in his report.

    I’m not really a fan of the random anti-France hating that has followed though. I’m American and not of French descent, but I don’t get why our culture thinks there’s something inherently wussy or something about France. Read some books, France is one of the historical and intellectual hubs of the world. Sure they got stomped by Hitler, but before that Napoleon was the one taking over Europe. Is it something to do with France having the confidence to speak out against our ludicrous war in the Iraq?

  46. I mean part of being on a team is winning as a team. I mean, when someone wins the World Cup/Super Bowl/whatever, the players who played in the game don’t go up to the guys on the bench and say, “no, you can’t celebrate with us, you didn’t even play.” Anyway this sort of thing has been said by many people before me so I won’t harp on it.

    Great job Ben!! I really enjoyed watching the video coverage of your matches.

    Also, when in a foreign country you have to realize that foreigners who know a language (like English), but aren’t bilingual may be intimidated by someone who is fluent int he language and may feel a little reserved about speaking it for fear of making mistakes. I know I always get a little uncomfortable around native Japanese speakers because I know I can’t speak Japanese on their level and I always worry about messing up and looking like an idiot. That might just be me though.

  47. Utter LOL at David’s African-American comment. I hope that’s real.

    I was fortunate enough to attend Paris, and to witness some of the fantastic/farcical interactions between the American contingent and the locals. Example 1:-

    GP Top-8-er:- WHAT IS THAT
    Patisserie worker:- A pie
    GP Top-8-er:- WHAT IS INNNNNN IT (loudly, rudely, confrontationally)
    Patisserie worker:- (Silence, and walks away)

    And this after cutting in front of me in line…

    Paris is like most cities, in that some of the people in it are assholes. This is to be expected wherever you go.

    Congrats on the win, you guys deserved it.

  48. I love europe and had a blast spending a few months there not that long ago. However, my least favorite place was Paris – to the point I have no desire to ever go again, since I saw the sights I wanted to see the first time around.

    Say all you want about them speaking or not speaking English – everywhere I went I made the effort to learn enough words to ask what I needed to ask and everywhere I got answers – except in some parts of France, notably Paris. There they would look at me with that purely French look of both disdain and superiority as they appeared to smell something foul in the air due to my less than perfect pronunciation and then proceed to act as if they had no idea what I was asking.

    When I commented on the differences of how I was treated to people in Normandy and Marseilles and how it made me understand that not everyone in France hated me, I often got the reply. “France, this is not France, this is Marseilles etc.” So even some in France don’t much care for the Parisians airs 🙂

    Great tourney, great deck, great luck and great play Ben

  49. lol the remark about france only makes you look like retarded.

    Yes french people don’t like to talk english but many people don’t like being forced to speak the the language of the visitor especially when they’re american.
    Alot of other people from other modern countries DO like to speak english, usually just to practice it for themselves, which might have given you a wrong look about how it works when you travel. In the netherlands and scandinavia for example people will speak english to you even if you speak their own language but with a english accent just because they will gladly adapt to you. In any 2nd world country or some of the more mediterean countries of europe you simply can not expect this courtesy though and making remarks about it only makes you like stupid.

    That said, France is notorious for being a fairly unfriendly country towards visiting foreigners.

  50. For anyone thinking of visiting France you should attempt to learn a few phrases in French. Once they understand you don’t speak their language but have made an attempt they’ll speak to you in english or perhaps spanish. Most speak a variety of languages. Its also helpful to dress like their culture since fashion is taken seriously in France. By just making an attempt the French become very friendly.

  51. first, i am not an american. i lived in 4 countries and France was by far the worst one in terms of people being rude and unfriendly. they dont like foreigners. they still think they are in the napoelon era and they rule the world. they just need to wake up.

  52. Congrats!

    For all you douches interested in tearing down BenS. Get a life. Most of you i am positive have NEVER even been to Paris, France. If you have, then you would know that what BenS said is true.

    I have been to Paris. We were speaking english, we weren’t served. We were speaking spanish, and the french waiter asked us if we speak english. when they discovered that we spoke perfect american english, they also refused to serve us.

    at the train station, we asked for directions in english and in french. guess who got helpful instructions?

  53. So, congratulations opinionated trolls, you have succeeded in turning an article written by someone who won a pro tour, about the pro tour, into a rant about whether or not Paris is the most hellish city in Europe. Who cares?

    Congrats on the win, Ben!

  54. I think some people need to stay away from the “bad tourist” topic. I would understand people getting upset with his comments about Paris but if you think about it, those are HIS perceptions. HE admitted that he felt like HE had a hard time in Paris about some rude people and the possibility that he got ripped-off. If you put yourself in his shoes, with all the pressure and anxiety of playing in a Pro Tour, you might have felt the same. We always have perceptions about things and this is just a prime example of HIM not meeting HIS expectations.

    I think this report was rather more revealing of how one ought to feel playing outside of your comfort zone. It’s not easy to stay focused and apparently, things like those tend to get more highlighted. Some of you also need to think that the Fireball is not there to improve your game. They help you with strategies and all as their response to the people who support them. We should be glad that they post stuff like these otherwise, where else can we get it? Not just the Fireball team but from the other player sites as well. They inspire us to become better players all on our own.

    Congrats on your win Mr. Stark. Congrats on team CFB as well for another outstanding tournament.

  55. LOL @ all the discussions about the France..Just..Lol..

    Not the most interesting of articles, but reports aren’t supposed to be too interesting anyway.
    It’s funny how Ben basically gives all the credit to CFB and ‘lucky draws’ 😛
    Such a humble and awesome guy.


  56. LOL at Mark for the retarded comment, then the lengthy attempt to show how to get people to respond to you, ending with the conclusion that France is notorious for being unfriendly to foreigners.

    Which is it exactly? 🙂

    Rhetorical question since I know it isn’t all French – just some, many of whom reside in Paris

  57. Typical american reaction, stop watching hollywood movies!, not everyone speaks english, or care to speak…

  58. eveyone defending paris obviously is some little french bi#$% smoking little cigarettes, women not shaving their armpits, and guys gaying out aka waffle tacos with pepe la pue. where is your patriotism we are the USA we are SUPERIOR and we should act like it .. every american defending paris should be ashamed of themselves!

  59. Typical conversation with a french peron

    Do you understand English?


    Well u seemed to understand that question just fine mate/

  60. Guys, it’s understandable that the French are a little resentful . We used to be a colony of theirs until 1776, remember?

    Just kidding, but I wanted to try to join in on the

    ” Paris sucked monkeyballs!

    Including the african american dudes ”


    By the way it IS amazing how this comment board became just about the Paris feelings!

  61. trollololollolol

    He said Paris wasn’t his favorite European city, get the fuck over it. He said he personally found it miserable the last time he was there.

    The man is entitled to his opinions on Paris and in no way did he present his views as anything but personal feelings towards the city. There is no requirement for someone to like every place in the goddamn world.

    There have been reports that were MUCH more damning of other locales (shit hotels, too small, false advertising, bad public transit, horrible organizers etc) that didn’t cause this kind of trollfest.

  62. Why are all these people hating on the man for winning? Do professional racecar drivers build the cards they drive? No! The winner is the man who drives better/ faster.
    And for the whiney French bitches- Remember WW2? The least you could do is have some gratitude and use the language of your saviors, or you’d be speaking German and eating saurkraut!

  63. Gratz for the win! <3 channel fireball, but but was sad to see people from cf with starcitygames t-shirt 🙁
    It Seems a lot of frenchfries are upset, big deals ben stark doesn't like france omg omg :< and yes most of Italians doesn't know english.

  64. well i have been in paris for 4 weeks before pro tour and i must admit that people in this city are quite unfriendly but if you can stay modest and nice to them they easily become friendly andyou can try speak british english if you are american,that helps too,same with not looking like hostile tourist or rude person acting like only his language or country belongs to world as many peoples who plays magis do(mostly ones who arent best pro’s or well traveled players…)and yeah February weather is always shity in Europe countries near some of the northren seas…

  65. [quote]Its also helpful to dress like their culture since fashion is taken seriously in France[/quote]

    I refuse to wear long black socks with shorts and flip flops…no way no how.

  66. Seems that magic forums are as full as brainless haters as the other ones lol. Moderation would help.

    As for the report, modesty is nice, but it could have been more informative. You don’t win a PT just by luck 😉 Share more insights please.

  67. Loads of xenophobia in the comments.

    FWIW, I don’t think Americans are particularly friendly either if you go to their country and expect them to understand whatever non-English language you happen to speak.

    Personally, I haven’t had problems with unfriendly locals in France / Paris, especially young people were perfectly willing to chat using English.

    Oh and gz for the win.

  68. What happens when the rudeness of parisians comes into contact with the rudeness of americans? The trolls have a feast!

  69. The funny thing is that the most 2 popular countries in the world in 2010 were… USA and France, and the 2 most visited ones by tourists were… France and USA ^^

  70. Oh wow, so many retarded comments, i’m not even sure if they are trolling or americans are so stupid when it comes down to patriotism.

    Great results there Stark, but i expected better from a top 8 report, like how to sideboard in matches, cards that didn’t perform very well and should be replaced, your insight in post PT Paris metagame, etc.

  71. “Well the french are notorious for refusing to speak english even if it’s clear that it would be the easiest way to understand each other.”

    YES, YES and YES.
    I’m european (not french, phew) and everybody knows that french people simply won’t speak english with you even if they know it. It has something to do with their mindset. I hate the french so much, even more after spending 4 years in school trying to learn the language.

    It might be true that its arrogant to just assume everyone speak english. However it’s even more arrogant to ask somebody to speak french. They are tourists, they don’t know french.

    I agree Americans should at least learn some other languages but fortunately for them english is the international language number 1 and everyone on earth should learn it. So in order to communicate chinese and italian people should learn english and not chinese and italian respectively. The same is true for france. I am neither american nor french, but when I go to france I want to speak english. Americans are just lucky and everyone who asks them to learn french is an idiot.

  72. “Refusing to speak English” ….. in France? “Paying Tourist prices’?



    No wonder Americans / gamers / magic players (take your pick or combo) get bad rep. There’s a world outside North America. Nobody in this world is obligated to speak English nor should they have to.

    With a mindset like yours, I wouldn’t be surprised that your interpersonal or social grace isn’t really up there to begin with.

    Why would they want to spend extra time and effort to speak English, which they may not be fluent in (thus uncomfortable for them), with a kid that gives off such bad vibes? I surely wouldn’t want to deal with a jackass who obviously has some skewed sense of entitlement.

    Get an editor for your article or something. Not only is your bit on France shameful – and yea, I do realize this is a “free” site – but your match reports are pretty lackluster compared to other great writers like LSV / PV.

  73. ROFL on the haterade people are sharing because you dislike France.

    Almost a boring article, stark is good but idk if i like what your writing, maybe you could talk more about drafting? your strengths in draft theory seem well… stronger!

  74. Go team CFB! Just that happens english is the “universal” language and obviously France is just an unfriendly country. (european myself)

  75. Besides all the raging about Paris, France, an English: This article just wasn’t good.
    There were 2 game situations Ben talked about, round 13 and 15. That’s it. The rest of the tournament says “Opponent A, went X-Y, score Z-0”. Not even a comment on the draft.
    So, a bad article, but very amusing comments!

  76. you Americans always sound so arrogant when you speak about other countries. no wonder no french will talk English with you. who would ….

  77. Some guys here (including Ben Stark, which is sad because I thought a player of his quality was smart enough to avoid such pitfalls) don’t have a clue.

    1) In every single French restaurant, prices are listed on the menu and displayed outside the restaurant. This is mandatory and required by law. Saying that you paid “the American price” means you didn’t read the menu. Also in the news : tourists restaurants are overpriced and in France service charges are included in the listed prices.

    2) If you meet a French person in Paris that doesn’t speak English, it’s probably because that person is unable to do so, hasn’t learn it properly, rather than out of arrogance. It’s a sad fact for foreigners and I feel bad for them, but just listen to one of our politicians here and you’ll see what I mean. Even our elites are not able to speak proper English. Keep in mind that for the same reasons we are quite bad at understanding English spoken too fast or with a strong accent. Even people that speak English often shy from it because they are not comfortable with it and don’t want to look stupid.

    As you have probably guessed, I’m French and living in Paris. People from everywhere in the world will always be welcome here, just keep in mind that if everybody thinks the foreigner (one way or another) is an arrogant prick things won’t be nice for anybody.


    Never before have the great wise Samuel L. Jackson’s words ringed truer…

    Anywayz I’m European, been to Paris and Belgium, and can easily say that… I didn’t like Paris and Belgium was somewhat on the same level but a bit more friendly.

    Now with regards to BenS and his team, what the hell are you bitching about, what’s the point if his team helped him or not? Isn’t what being part of a team is made of, huh?
    If they handed the decklist that’s their problem, if he contributes or not to the team is up to them to judge among themselves, so y’all trolling bastards, go chew on a big black log and shut up.

    TL;DR – Congratulations Ben, keep it up and kudos for Team Fireball for keeping the support for the game going!

  79. I don’t know why people keep answering the writer’s comments about Paris/France.

    Each time I read a report from a yankee that goes to a tournament abroad, he starts by bitching about something that wasn’t like in the USA…

    Why don’t you stay in your country?

  80. @Lorgalis

    It’s cuz Americans like kicking ass and taking names overseas (e.g. PT Paris results)

  81. Apart from your hatred from french people (which is both understandable and hard to ear for me as a parisian), this report is pretty lame, I mean :
    Round 9 – Naoki Nakada – 2-1, 9-0
    Round 10 – Pat Chapin – 1-2, 9-1
    Round 11 – Yuuya Watanabe – 1-2, 9-2

    Ok ,so I lost two straight but that basically just returned me to the pack. I was still doing quite well, needing 3-1-1 for Top 8 and hoping to pick up a nice easy good matchup to return me to winning.

    that’s covering 3 rounds , and more particulary 3 rounds of draft? Come on

  82. while this article could certainly have used more strategic detail it read like a lot of other tournament reports regardless and I’m sure Ben wasn’t intending for it to turn into a racial debate where the biggest snobs reading from each country have a go at each other and not suprisingly there are jerks where ever you go ben maybe to prevent future debates you should be more careful how you word things for example “my experiences in Paris were rather unpleasant and because of this it’s one of my least favourite places to go, although I did like this” this statement sounds much less pig headed and racist Ben not that thats what you were aiming for anyway, people have a tendancy of turning nothing into something huge.
    Also It’s always great to read another tournament report but what was the purpose of the article because there certainly wasn’t much strategic content about the deck so it seemed more like a tournament experience kind of thing. Just because you pilot a deck to win a PT doesn’t mean you have to write an article if you don’t really have anything to write about. You can leave that to the builders and be happy with your 40 grand regardless. All I’m saying is that if your leaving talk about the deck for others then what are you going to talk about

  83. @ssthetrain

    It’s a tournament report. Google it.

    Aside from that.

    Ben, since the crew is hailing you as a draft expert how about some draft strategy articles about archetypes and picks etc.

  84. @peoplegettingontheirhighhorse It’s not controversial to say that people in Paris can be unfriendly if you don’t speak French. It’s just observant. I love Paris but some people can be lil’ bitches especially if you go at this timer- they are more tolerant of tourists in the actual tourist season.

    Grats on the win Ben, thought the report was fine. If you did some draft videos that would be amazing. The brief bit of analysis you did on Juza’s draft on GGslive was really insightful and entertaining, so I’m sure you’d be good at commentary.

  85. Congrats on the win, but this was a very weak report.

    It was also VERY badly written. Commas and sentence structure are your friends.

  86. @Ben Stark:

    Congratulations on your hard-fought and well deserved win, Ben. You are clearly one of the most talented players our game has at this point in time and thank you for taking the time to compose a tournament report for CFB. It was by no means perfect, even at times riddled with typos and grammar errors, but the take home point was simple to pick up on. I think that you should expand further on your wellspring of knowledge when it comes to Limited formats because it seems pretty clear that you aren’t terribly interested in writing about Constructed formats. Still, thanks for the effort.

    As far as the whole Paris bit goes, I don’t feel that you went too far in your assertions of what your experiences were like. You told it like it was and some people just aren’t going to like hearing what some people have to say. It wasn’t ethnocentrist, it was simply what you dealt with. I have been to Paris numerous times and while I do my best to not act the tourist and attempt to speak what little French I know whenever I can, a great number of Parisians are extremely snobby to anyone they suspect to be a tourist. It’s just part of the culture, as much as it is for New Yorkers or Los Angeleans; human snobbery knows no bounds. Just try to avoid the more touristy restaurants and you should be just fine for prices!

    @ “Greatbox Strikes Again”:

    Thanks for opening your great big box again. We all needed to hear your opinions again, no matter how much I may blantanly disagree with them. 😉

  87. well he can dislike the city of Paris, the weather and all that (which is fine, just dont go there only during winter!)…but blaming them for not speaking English is just stupid, I mean if I go to the US I have to be mad if they “refuse” to speak spanish to me (my language)? I was hoping all this travelling would make people more aware of the world they live in.

  88. Parisians are just pissed because a Yankee used dope to win their national pride 7 times. It’s only ok to use dope if you are from a proper civilized country like, France, Belgium, Holland, Spain or Italy

  89. Wow, this was like the worst report ever!

    Ben, if you’re doing a report, at least do it right. It was so vague and boring writing, that the comments only resort to discuss your hate for Paris….

    It’s a shame a champion doesn’t have passion in what he does…

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