Monday, May 16, 2016

MKM Series Frankfurt - Vintage Main Event report, top8 with URw Delver

note: this report is more about my impressions than actual description of the games.

Since I have my birthday in May I decided to celebrate it with a trip to Frankfurt to participate in Vintage and Legacy events of the MKM Series in Frankfurt.

When Lodestone Golem got restricted though I started to get doubts about the Vintage events. I was fairly sure I could do well in Shops environment but not in Eldrazi/Mentor one. For that reason I started playing with Blue Moon and tried to figure out how to beat all those Mentor decks and Eldrazi. This deck has way better match up and it is actually fun to play. I prepared both decks, filled in decklists for both decks and took them with me. For Legacy I started playing with Shardless BUG before the B&R changes and I decided to stick with it. I went 4-1, 4-1, 5-0 and 3-4 in few tournaments to see if I can play the deck at tournament level. The last tournament I played started in the evening and when midnight hit I couldn't play with the deck at all. That made me fear that the same would happen at MKM Series so I tried to sleep, eat and drink well so this wouldn't happen and I could survive those 7-10 rounds and still be able to concentrate.

Zuzy is the one who made the trip possible for me, I did not need to do a single thing except showing up so we could go (and pay obviously, still have to do that^^). At 7 am we were supposed to leave Prague but Zuzy called me that he would have about 20 minutes delay. Matous came soon after the call so we talked a bit about Vintage and some cards while waiting for Zuzy. At 7:32 we left for Frankfurt.

We arrived at 12:12 to the site. Near the entrance I was welcomed by Oddseidank, a Magic Online player, and found out that the site was closed till that very moment we arrived. I went inside to see how the event is organized and if I need to do something in order to be enrolled in the tournament. I preregistered which was supposed to mean that I did not need to do anything. Nonetheless I wasn't enrolled. Few more problems arose but everything was solved soon by the head judge and the TO (I did not receive any Monk tokens for my preregistrations though).

I did not manage to eat something since we arrived rather 'late' than early even though the late opening of the site is to blame so I was a bit upset but I knew that Vintage games don't usually take long unless I would play against Mentor. We set down distributed cards so all players had what they needed and some of the players started scribbling their decklists. I looked around what people were playing, I saw Shops everywhere so I found my URw Delver deck in my backpack.

I made few changes to the decklist prior the tournament. I cut 1 Flusterstorm, added Pyroblast to main deck so I got a slot in the SB where I put a third Sudden Shock.

There were 57 players in the Vintage main event so we played 6 rounds and top 8. There was actually rather high number of budget decks and the metagame was diverse. The most played deck was Mentor but was followed by Shops. Only 1 Mentor deck made it to the top 8 and I did not really see any Shops deck anywhere near me.

Round 1
In round 1 I was paired against a Dredge player. Unfortunately this player did not know how to play his deck so after pondering about what should I do about it (since he had no idea how to play that, or seemed so). I stopped him thus (a bit late) and asked him to explain his plays so I would figure out what he knows and what not. I tried to explain to him how the deck works then so he would at least know what the deck could possibly do. I'm not entirely sure if any of the information was understood. In 30 minutes he wasn't reading every single card but seemed clueless nonetheless. I'm not sure how the tournament continued for him but I hope that everything ended well.

I wasn't really sure what the judges would do with player in the following rounds.

Round 2
In round 2 I moved to table 3 and faced Mentor. Next to me I noticed Julian Nazarenus play Delver and that made me smile. On the other side though was a Doomsday player since his hand contained Underground Sea, Tropical Island, Duress, Laboratory Maniac and some cards I couldn't see.

My opponent started with Sensei's Divining Top. Since my hand was rather bad but had Force of Will I decided to counter it. My FoW was FoW'ed after a little bit of thinking on my opponent's side. Next I played Delver and passed. My opponent played few cantrips and used the Top but otherwise did not play a threat. My Delver did not flip but showed me another Delver after a while. Moxen, lands and Delver obviously do not flip Delver. Then my opponent seemed rather content with his top 3 cards. He played Cavern of Souls (or some other utility land), played Mentor and passed. I thought that it is the right time for me to flip the Delvers and I also desperately needed to find a removal for Mentor (if the Delvers would still decide to be 1/1s). Sudden Shock was on the top of my library though ruining my opponent's game. I played it, killed Mentor and then just attacked with Delvers twice.

In the following game I played a creature early. My opponent was afraid of the creature killing him so at the end of my turns he played Gush that slowed him down and I wanted to use that advantage it provided it me. I decided to put more pressure on him, counter his cantrips/Gush/Treasure Cruise and even Bolt him. He put up a little bit resistance but I already had enough burn spells to win the game so I did not really care about Mentor and his Monks (and my creatures not being able to deal damage).

The match did not take long so I was looking forward to some free time so I could refresh myself but I heard a judge calling me to the judge station. I went there and was asked to present my deck if I do not play with proxies. After the Power was checked and both the player who came to the judge with a question if proxies are allowed and the judge himself apologized several times for this interruption, I went outside to find a spot where I could chill out for a bit. I managed to talk to some players and then it was time to go back for round 3.

Round 3
It was the toughest match I played that day. I lost the first game in which I couldn't get through Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Vryn Wingmare and in the end Aven Mindcensor dealing the remaining damage. It was my opponent top decking luckily this time. I needed to win the second game thus.

I put in Sudden Shock, Mountain, Containment Priests and Wear//Tear after some time of thinking if it Wear//Tear is a good card against White Trash. My opponent did not have creatures at first but played 2 Ghostly Prisons I couldn't deal with them nor pay for them. So my creatures were just staring at my opponent and later stared at his creatures. I had 2 Insectile Aberrations, Young Pyromancer, Elemental and Containment Priest in my hand. I knew that no creature would deal damage to me but I had to deal with my opponent's creatures. My opponent started to play his creatures - Leonin Arbiter, Leonin Relic-Warder, Spirit of the Labyrinth, Vryn Wingmare and Aven Mindcensor. My opponent attacked with the flyers into my Delvers so I blocked that. He also exiled one of my creatures 'on the ground'. I tried to look for a land but there were 4 nonland cards. I shuffled my library and then I was awarded with a flood of land. I played a land each turn and later started attacking with my creatures. We traded few of them and then I was waiting for Delver to show up since my 1/1s were good only at staring at my opponent's 2/2s (still meaning my opponent couldn't attack). The Delver won the game later. It was a very long game and I did not expect to win it.

In game 3 my opponent did not play creatures till turn 4 which gave me some time to find some of my own. I had Priest in my opener though so I flashed it in and dealt few damage with it. Then it was once again a staring contest. We both played creatures. I tried to deal with some of his and let him look for 2 Plains cards in the process. I started to have more creatures in play so I could either kill Spirit of the Labyrinth that I wanted to kill few turns earlier (since I also had Dack Fayden and really wanted to use the card so badly) or deal with Ghostly Prison meaning I could swing with everything. I decided in the end that destroying Prison was a better choice even though I was 100 percent sure that having Dack in play and having less creatures to attack would win the game as well but it would take longer and we did not have time for that. Later my creatures breached the wall of white creatures and I won.

Round 4
After this match I really wanted to play against something I did not need to think so hard against. I was paired against Phillip Homman. I kept a hand with Stony Silence, Ancestral Recall and Ponder hoping that I wouldn't die before my turn even started. My opponent started with few Moxen, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault and some other cards and Tezzeret the Seeker fetching Time Vault. He had only one card left in his hand so I was sure my Stone Silence wouldn't get countered with FoW. I played, it resolved. I had some time to deal with Tezzeret before his ultimate ability would kill me. I tried to looking for a Lightning Bolt so I could kill it before it would do more harm. I managed to burn the planeswalker and then we stared at each other for quite some time. My opponent obviously did not draw anything that could help him and I had no creatures. Few turns later I finally drew Young Pyromancer and had more or less anything and won.

In the second game I sided in some artifact removal and Pyroblast and wondered how the game would go. My Delver bait was countered and later on my opponent really missed the Misstep. I won by a chain of restricted cards having Pyromancer in play. After this match I thought that I played against a regular Tezzerator deck but being able to see it in the top 8 I realized that it was far from it. It was more old school highlander deck. (decklist can be found here.)

Round 5
In the following games I realized how strange one-of cards can turn the game in someone's favor. We played a mirror match. Those games are usually about who manages to get more aggressive. My opponent though had Misdirection in his deck which could ruin the math pretty badly. On the other hand I had more removal main deck than my opponent so it was actually me who was favored. My Delvers stayed in play and managed to deal lethal damage sooner than my opponent's ones.

In game two I kept Sudden Shocks in my hand and decided to put pressure on my opponent and then burn the Delvers. My plan would have worked if my opponent wouldn't have two Lightning Bolts in his hand obviously having the same line of thought (my problem would be solved if I could have fetched earlier in the game or played a Mox or regular land) so I could Bolt him in response. In the last game I was wondering if I should destroy one of his lands (Volcanic Island) so nothing bad would happen to me (like being Bolted or that I would have to face Pyromancer while my opponent would have still mana for another spell). I decided not to use Strip Mine so I was punished for it. I could witness the most cool play during the whole tournament - my opponent tapped his three islands and played Temporal Trespass.

While checking my planeswalker points to know against whom I played I found out that someone entered a loss and I don't know who to blame for this. I did not lose this match and I'm very sad that it end up like this because I don't go undefeated every day. I lost a single match and that was in the top 8 not the Swiss part.

Round 6

Round 7
In top 8 I was supposed to play against Eldrazi, Doomsday or Delver. I certainly did not want to play against either of those. I was seeded against Eldrazi player but not the budget colorless version that I was supposed to play against but rather a bit more white version. My opponent mulled to five keeping Eldrazi Temple, Cavern of Souls, Eldrazi Displacer, Chalice of the Void, and Thorn of Amethyst. I kept Volcanic Island, Ancestral Recall, Gitaxian Probe, Force of Will - I couldn't ask for more. I countered Chalice of the Void because I had no way of dealing with it game 1 and I really needed to play Ancestral Recall and my Path to Exiles/Lightning Bolt. I exiled Displacer and then managed to draw bunch of cards. I played Jace, Vryn's Prodigy so I could flip it and play Path to Exile next turn on a creature my opponent would play. Unfortunately the creature that joined Eldrazi Mimic already in play was Reality Smasher. I tried to counter it but did not realize that it was cast using Cavern of Souls and lost two cards because it. My Telepath Unbound died to Smasher attack. I destroyed the Smasher with Sudden Shock and Lightning Bolt discarding Flusterstorm and Tundra keeping only Preordain in my hand. I drew Delver and Pyromancer but then my draws were Tundra, Volcanic Island, Mental Misstep, Mental Misstep and I lost.

Game two was unwinnable right from the beginning. Eldrazi Mimic on turn 2 was better than facing TKS on turn 2 but it was followed by Reality Smasher on turn 3 hitting me for 10. On turn 4 I faced TKS wanting to concede but waited one more turn to see if my opponent still had some creatures. EOT Containment Priest, main phase Eldrazi Displacer was an overkill. I waited for my opponent to tap his mana and target my creature with Displacer and scooped.

I felt terrible for a while but then the feeling subsided and I remembered all the good things that happened during the tournament and outside of it and how fun it was. I met cool people, talked to the ones I already knew, had lots of fun in general and met a really inspiring judge - Saverio Adamo (who probably entered the wrong result).

I collected my modest prize and we all left for the hotel to chill out and sleep (and prepare for Legacy the following day - I just swapped some English cards for Japanese ones^_^).

The feeling of happiness I had at that time is now overwhelmed a bit by the fact that someone (my opponent or scorekeeper) submitted/entered a wrong result. It felt good to be undefeated in the Swiss part but the history says otherwise *sad*.

After the tournament we left for the hotel, talked a bit, played more Magic - if cheating Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play can be considered 'playing' (or Fireballing someone for 20) and then we went to sleep.

Thank you for reading
S'Tsung (stsung on MODO, stsungjp on Twitter)

EDIT: Since I expected to write reports from the following events (I already finished Legacy event report) but I don't feel like making them public, I'd like to thank Zuzy for making this trip possible for me. I'd like to thank all the other people I talked to, had fun with, my opponents, great judges and the TO. This was the best weekend I experienced in those past few years that I tried to pretend a normal life and believed that something like 'love' exists. My relationships left me in a situation that does not really allow me to travel much. My life's been a mess for the past few years and it will probably still be but events like this give me energy to go on and give me something to look forward to. So I hope to see you all at another eternal event I might attend. We have Legacy GP in a bit so I hope to see you there! Thank you for your support and kindness. Paper Magic is not lost to me yet.