It all began with a miserable 35-hour itinerary—fun times. In all honesty, I got lucky. No cancellations, no delays, no having to run through LAX, and close to zero talking with border agents from 3 different countries.
Once I landed in Sydney, I was expecting to talk for hours to a customs agent considering how long the form to get my visa took. As it turns out, I literally did not interact with a single human until I got in a cab… Punt number one—I could’ve kept that $175 I spent on a visa.
Our team split into the rich and the poor. The poor, including myself, Eric Severson, Ricky Chin, and Seth Manfield (diapers are real expensive, man) stayed at “Ibis Budget Hotel.” Its name, to be fair, was very accurate. The rich stayed at a $500/night Airbnb a 10-minute walk away. That’s where we all joined for testing and meetings (and good WiFi).
Luckily, all of the team made it in time except Scott Lipp, who landed in Sydney during his byes, ran to the Grand Prix with no sleep, and casually won the event.
I personally had about 15 drafts in, but our team compiled data from around 65 drafts, done between multiple draft camps in Maryland, California, and at my house.
I prefer not to be too results-oriented going into the GP because 65 drafts, even though it sounds like a lot, is actually still a small sample size. But looking at our prior data from other Pro Tours, I really liked how the color ranking was dictated for Eldritch Moon—the differences in win percentage between the 5 colors were very minimal, which meant that you can pretty much draft anything and get away with it, without having to be super lucky or open bombs.
The combinations that have high win percentages (RG and UW) are intuitive to draft and so the failure rate is lower. If you take UG, its win percentage was awful, but if you ask multiple pros, they’ll tell you that the archetype is good, which is true. The reason it did poorly in early drafts was based on its difficulty to draft and play. Our draft camps have good players, but not all of them are full-time Magic players.
I felt very comfortable in Limited going into the Grand Prix. I got a miserable 6-3 record, but I also played against many, many great players. I punted games and my deck was good, but not mythic-power-level good, unfortunately. On Day 2, I needed to go 6-0 to add any relevant points to my Worlds race, but I lost in round 11.
Pro Tour Eldritch Moon
A roller coaster of emotions. I entered the tournament with absolutely no expectations, I was locked for Platinum, and everything I would get at that point would be a bonus (Worlds qualification and Canadian captaincy).
After 6 rounds, I found myself sitting at 6-0. My hopes were high that I was now the favorite to make Worlds and everything—I was ecstatic. Then everything went off the rails. I drew against Steve Rubin, and lost to LSV. On Day 2, my draft deck was trash, I went 1-2 with it, and then I couldn’t win a single Constructed round.
I felt crushed. Everything was so close for a brief moment, then I lost it all.
Then, I paused for a second. Wait, I’m still Platinum… and a smile came to my face, I dropped, and went on to cheer for teammate Andrew Brown, who was playing for Top 8.
I registered the same 75 as Andrew for the Constructed portion.
East West Bowl split into 8 players on BG Delirium and 4 on Temurge. It was weird one, where we knew the deck was doing something powerful, borderline broken, but weren’t sure that the rest of the deck was good enough. I convinced myself it was and didn’t want to miss the Eldrazi bandwagon a second time.
In retrospect, I believe the deck was pretty good, but extremely hard to pilot. You kind of do nothing for a while, you just accumulate resources and land drops, then you press the Sanctum of Ugin button where you start chaining Elder Deep-Fiends. Finding the right moment for that was my issue and I’m sure it cost me many games on Day 2.
Decks That Didn’t Make the Cut
This was a pet deck of mine as soon as Spirits broke out, and I wanted to find the best version of it because it reminded me too much of Faeries, which I loved. Eventually, its weakness to White Weenie, Liliana, and Ishkanah, Grafwidow pushed me away.
RB Demonic Pact
This was designed by Seth Manfield and he actually spent a day crushing everyone with it. It always raises two kind of alarms on our team when that happens. Did Seth break it or is he just that much better than everyone else? It was the latter.
Four Days in the Wild
It was planned long ago that Steve Rubin, Brian Braun-Duin, Justin Cohen, Ricky Chin, Sam Black, Ben Stark, Corey Burkhart, and I would get an Airbnb downtown and enjoy stress-free days in Australia. Needless to say, the stress was still there and very real. 40 kilometers later and no Kangaskhan for my Pokédex—I felt defeated.
But I got to pet an actual Kangaroo. It’s no Pokémon, but it’ll do.