This year we had a Standard GP in Prague. I don't really have good memories from the previous GPs in our country because the organization was pretty bad and the price/prize ratio was really bad (talking about side events). This time though Mindsports Academy organized the event and they made it right. It was the best GP in terms of organization.
Since this GP was played in the most played format (I guess) many players wanted to come. Many were preparing for the GP and that showed on Standard tournament attendance that almost doubled. I wasn't particularly happy about the format but I decided to actually prepare for the GP a bit and decided to play t2 to find out what I could expect (and stick with one deck if possible). I put together Abzan Control and played with it in a few tournaments both online and 'offline'.
I took a day off on Friday so I could participate in the side events on Friday. The day before though I felt pretty crappy and I knew that this would stick with me for two more days if I would be lucky. That is why I wasn't 100% sure if I want to participate in the GP or play in other events. When I don't feel good I usually don't play well and the memories that stay in my mind are of how badly I felt that day (the case of GP Strasburg). I also found out that I can't find my Thoughtseizes and that I don't have any more Dig Through Times (because all of those were in decks players borrowed from me). But some Magic players offered me that I can play with their cards so I knew I could complete my decks and was truly thankful for that.
I set my alarm clock for 9am or something and I even got up^_^. I headed to Incheba Expo Prague, taking a very strange route because I had to buy some stuff before getting there. That is why I wasn't aware that there was actually a tram line going straight to the Expo from where I live.
When I arrived there I looked around the expo hall that was filled with few hundred people. I tried to psychically prepare for the fact that the day later there would be a thousand more players^_^. I registered for Legacy side event and hoped that at least 20 players would show up. I did not expect many foreign players to join the event but there is a big legacy player base in Prague so I hoped that the tournament would fire. There were fourteen participants in the end.
In round one I played against Ilya Zinovyev playing Epic Storm but I wasn't aware of that for quite a while. I started with t1 Delver and I managed to flip it. I had no counterspells in my hand but I had some creatures and a bolt. At that moment I did not even think that I could play against a combo deck and that counterspells would come handy. My opponent started with Bloodstained Mire and fetched for Volcanic Island. That seemed kinda strange because decks playing Volcanic Islands do not usually run Bloodstained Mires. T1 Brainstorm and T2 Ponder seemed like a Storm deck to me but still it could also mean that my opponent kept a bad hand while playing the same deck as me for example. That wasn't the case. I drew Gitaxian Probe few turns later so I played it. There were three Rituals in my opponent's hand along with 2x Infernal Tutor and 1x Burning Wish so I decided to end the game the soonest possible and won on the same turn. I won game two as well.
Next round I played against Michal Adamec. He started with Island (I had Wasteland in play) and played some Ponders and Preordains. I knew that Michal played Show and Tell for a while but he switched to Delver. I did not expect him to play Delver this time, but it could possibly be Show and Tell. So when I flipped Delver thanks to Spell Pierce that showed up I was glad that I have at least some counterspell (I also had Daze). My opponent wasn't happy about that Pierce at all. Later he played Bayou and it seemed to me that he is on ANT. I destroyed the dual land and that saved me from losing the game. In game two I managed to discard a wrong card from his hand which could result in a lost game but he was unable to draw the one more card that would finish me off (he actually needed one more mana in order to play Tendrils for 18).
In round three I played a mirror match...not really sure if played is the right word. I mulled to five in both games and in one I couldn't draw any land and in the second one I couldn't keep up with 2x Delver and Deathrite Shaman.
In the following two rounds I played against Delver decks as well (not 4c but Grixis) and won.
During those five rounds of Legacy I spent a lot of time shuffling my own deck and my opponent's deck and I have to say that my arms ached after all that..and I still had two more days of shuffling cards ahead of me^_^. I have to say that I forgot how annoying shuffling during a tournament can be.
After the Legacy event in which I came up 3rd winning more or less nothing I registered for a ORI Sealed Deck Last Chance Trial. This tournament was supposed to start ages ago but there weren't enough players for it. That is why the organizers decided to give the players a GP Seville playmat (with Temporal Trespass illustration on it, nice playmat actually). After many announcements and one more hour of waiting the tournament actually started (I waited only that hour unlike the majority of our bracket).
I opened a nice boros pool (with Liliana) and passed it to my left. I received not so nice Boros pool (with no money) but there was one rare card that could win me the games - Chandra's Ignition - so I put all my hopes in it. Apart from this the deck did not have much removal.
In all those rounds I played (4 in total) I played against Boros decks (even though there were few other decks, BG mostly elves, GW aggro that actually won and two Boros decks were in top 4). All those players (playing boros) had cards like Consul's Lieutenant, Celestial Flare, War Oracle AND SENTINEL OF THE WATCH. I could stop most creatures but Sentinel of the Watch was a huge problem. Mainly because all my removal was either burn that could deal 2-4 damage or destroy tapped creature at sorcery speed and well creatures with Vigilance don't usually end up tapped, right? I managed to win against those three Boros decks but when playing against the fourth one I got flooded and I could not simply deal with the Sentinel and died. But this time I won a loooot of points so I could get some nice prizes.
When I got back home my physical state worsened so I printed my decklist, checked the deck and its sideboard and went to sleep. When I awoke it wasn't much better but I could walk. I left the flat, hopped on some tram and 30 minutes later ended up at Expo Prague. At 8:45 we got seatings for the players' meeting. The players' meeting was one big mess and I also got the feeling that I'm sitting in an elemantary school class. But after some hiccups we received everything we were supposed to be given out and the organizer got both our decklists and consents. After this I headed outside to chill out (the outside temperature was something like 35 dgrs of celsius, inside it was even worse, the table numbers oftentimes served as a impromptu fan) a bit and prepare for my first round. I played few games to see if I can actually concentrate or keep in mind that something is supposed to trigger etc...I did not forget my triggers but it was difficult for my brain^_^.
The funny thing during the 'byes' period was that there were players that still did not have their decks ready for the event. These players submitted their decklists without actually having those decks ready. I just couldn't understand that...I know that there were players that were getting the cards for their decks before the tournament but it never came to my mind that someone could be possibly doing this during the first two rounds of the event. That's kinda crazy o_O.
In my first round I played against RG Devotion. There wasn't much I could do in this match. I have problems dealing with one Whisperwood Elemental. Dealing with two is even worse...and if the manifested cards are Whisperwood Elemental and Dragonlord Atarka it does not help much. When I finally managed to get rid of those Elementals and Atarka my opponent hit me with second Atarka and that finished me off. Next I played against Burn and that's pretty much all I played against till the last two rounds. I won all the Burn matches somehow. I even managed to win twice game 1 which was a surprise but well it was well due to either having too many Rhinos (they usually come in a pack errr a crash) or opponent missing a land drop etc. Again I had few chances to look at my opponent's face when I played Dromoka. In one case it was revealed on top of my library. My opponent read the card about three times. Then I played it and he read it once again, he tried to stoke it twice on his turn but Dromoka's Command saved the Dragonlord and I won.
Next I played against Ivo Dienelt whose decklist you can check here. He started with Monastery Swiftspear. It wasn't followed by any non-land card though. 5 mountains followed and then he slammed (not really) Stormbreath Dragon on the table. I was stuck with few forests and Windswept Heath so I had no way of getting rid of those two creatures and those killed me. I wasn't really sure how to sideboard against this deck because I hardly saw something except the Swiftspear and Stormbreath Dragon. So I added some cards against burn and kept global removal spells in the deck. That showed to be a good idea but still wasn't good enough. My opponent started with Temple of Triumph, followed with Battlefield Forge into Seeker of the Way and things did not look good for me. I also messed up and killed his two morphed Ashcloud Phoenixes with Bile Blight even though this does not work as I found soon later (*facepalm*). Hope he knows that now as well. After this terrible loss I awaited my last round to see if I can possibly squeeze in day 2 or not. I was paired against Xin Sui playing Jeskai Midrage/Tempo. I have to admit that in this round I seriously messed up twice. I couldn't concentrate well and we both had hard time trying not to boil (or melt^_^). Even though I was trying to save my non-Abzan Charm removal for Stormbreath Dragons I still died to Stormbreath Dragon...Elspeth did not show up either. Stormbreath Dragon killed me three times in the tournament and that meant I couldn't try playing in Day 2 (because I had to go X-2 in order to end up there).
When I finished playing the main event the side events were already closed (or rather the registration for them) so I spent some time walking around and waiting for others to finish their Sealed Decks/Standard or whatever. I played few games of legacy and utterly died to Jund top decks^_^ but it was ok...
On the last day of the GP I wasn't really sure what I wanted to play. At first I wanted to participate in the big Modern tournament because the upcoming WMCQ this weekend is in Modern. I haven't really played much Modern in paper form so I thought that it could be a good idea to try it and see if playing Jund is a good idea. I woke up grabbed my deck and decklist and ran to the tram station. I hopped on a tram supposedly going only two stops further (no.12). I hopped of it on the first stop so I could catch the subway train to Palmovka. But unfortunately the subway was closed. So I ran up once again (because I knew that in about 30 secs there would be a tram going to Palmovka). I missed it by few seconds so waited for another one. I got on and heard an announcement that due to subway not operating the tram will take detour covering all those subway stops. This generated quite some delay. At Palmovka I got off the tram to check if the tram number 12 arrives any time soon. It was supposed to arrive in 16 minutes so I hopped on the tram I got off from few seconds earlier and tried to go to the Expo via a different route...only to find out that there I would have to wait yet another 16 minutes to get on yet again tram no. 12. I finally got there but rather late as the registration was closing.
In the end I decided to register for Historic Sealed Deck. But we were accidentally registered for the earlier Modern tournament (I suppose, I was). Some time later our tournament was announced and we went there to find out that we are not enrolled. So we headed back to the judge station and asked to be enrolled in the tournament we payed for. That meant that me and Ondra would face each other in the first round as we had to be paired manually.
In the very first booster pack I opened Serum Visions and it was the only card worth some money in my pool (or at least I thought so). After looking at my cards and not finding the cards I wanted to play (mainly in green, white and of course colorless) I ended up putting together Gr deck with Masticore as my win con. In the first round I played against Ondra's 5c deck and managed to win. Next I utterly lost to GW aggro because the only cards I could draw were lands and when I finally drew some creatures I was too far behind. But anyway I'm not sure if I could have withstood that onslaught. My next opponent did not really seem to know his own cards so that helped me a bit to beat him. I lost game one, but I won the following two. In game two my opponent fell behind fast and in game three I decided to be as aggressive as I could and it worked out. 2/2 by round 2, 3/2 hasty creature on t3, even bigger creature on t4 and it was enough to win the game. In the following round I met the nicest person at the GP. He had a nice UB deck with Platinum Angel (and Mind's Eye). Even though I could deal lethal damage before I would die I couldn't get rid of the angel so I could win the game (with quite some artifact removal main deck). I sided in even more artifact removal. Since my opponent was playing several copies of Cranial Plating I even sided in Unforge (never managed to draw it though). In my opener I had a artifact removal that I wanted to use on the Angel primarily. So I was letting all the opposing creatures attack me and hoped to keep my card and stay alive. Soon after that Platinum Angel showed up, I killed it and then I started also drawing some creatures so I could block the ones already in play. I had quite some creatures with Protection from Artifacts so those could block those creatures with Cranial Plating equipped all day. Anyway.. I won both games and that meant that I ended up in top 8.
At this point I did not really feel well and I could hardly concentrate. My drafted deck was pretty bad (especially when white was heavily drafted by two more players) and I couldn't even trigger my own triggers nor attack with a 1/2 vigilance Hover Myr with +2/+2 equipment (I had Puresteel Paladin in play so I could equip for free). I terribly died (and made a fool of myself). I received my prizes and then I had nothing to do.
I walked around and checked the prices of cards at each stand. One vendor was selling Japanese non-foil cards so I bought a bunch and then walked around the table rows. I went through some binders. Then I encountered some Italian? guy that had quite a lot of Japanese cards.
We went outside to process the transaction and it was quite funny to see the face of the security guy. I wonder what kind of thoughts were in his mind when I was pulling out 100EUR bills to pay for those cards I chose earlier.
When I got back I also had some fun watching strangers come and go. I'm not entirely sure what was happening in the other half of the Expo hall but from time to time mothers with their children came to the GP part and were staring at all those guys (and gals) playing Magic. Their looks were priceless. (The finals were going on so there was actually quite some commotion)
It was time to leave the site, sit down somewhere, drink a hot chocolate and open our prize packs. We played some Legacy afterwards...I was so tired that at some point I had to ask what number of counters there is on my opponent's Vial (he just passed his second turn). After lifting my head I realized that it is my third turn...but it certainly did not look like it....it could easily be a turn 10. I had a Deathrite Shaman, two Pyromancers and 6 elemental tokens in play^_^