On Saturday morning before Day 1 of GP Amsterdam I was recognized in the supermarket.
“Hey! You were in Scrub Club. I hope you don’t scrub out!”
I laughed. “I’ve done that too much lately.”
This kind stranger clearly gave me some good fortune for the weekend.
I chose to team with my good friend and coworker Guido Sondag, as well as our mutual friend Gervaise Pechler. Gervaise even offered to let us crash at his place a few metro stops from the venue. Thank you Ger!
The weekend started rough with a delayed flight and some baggage claim issues, which meant that we didn’t get to Ger’s until after midnight on the Friday. We went to bed groggy and woke up sleepy, trying to focus for Day 1.
For Day 1 deck building, I immediately glance at our artifacts.
“Do we have a Pirate’s Cutlass?” I ask.
“No,” Gervaise laughs, “just a Prying Blade. That’s the same, right?”
My kingdom for a Pirate’s Cutlass in this format.
After some discussion we settled on U/R, B/W, and G/B. G/B was the weakest, but after trying a few configurations this seemed the best. In retrospect it should have been G/W, which would have had same power level as G/B, except shoring up its weaknesses.
I played U/R as I favor aggressive decks in Limited. Guido played G/B, which left B/W for Gervaise. We each made personal preference changes to our decks and built our sideboards.
After winning Round 1 our opponents joked and said, “see you in the finals!”
“It’s funny because we won’t be there,” laughs Guido. I suppose since we lost in the semifinals, Guido wasn’t wrong.
We made it to 5-0, then fell to 5-2, and after a tense elimination match, succeeded in making it to 6-2 to close the day.
For dinner we went to an Indonesian restaurant with other players from Ireland. It was a lovely evening and it was nice to catch up with friends I don’t see often. GPs remind me of the great aspects of Magic and seeing old friends is a huge reason why I keep coming back.
When we checked our registration sheet to browse our Day 2 pool, Guido laughed.
“Look at the bottom artifact,” he said.
I glance and see a Pirate’s Cutlass.
“Finally!” I said. My eyes also caught a card I haven’t had the pleasure of casting before: Tetzimoc. For a moment I daydreamed of 6-0’ing, but I tried not to get ahead of myself and snapped back to focus on deck building.
B/R and B/W were obvious. B/W was the likely destination of Tetzimoc since B/R wanted to stop its curve at 4 and play 16 lands. B/W also had Ravenous Chupacabra and Recover (which happened to be rather rude with Tetzimoc).
We initially built U/W but it didn’t come together. Guido suggested G/W instead, thinking of the lessons from Day 1. This had better game against flyers and maximized Ghalta, Primal Hunger.
I played B/R, Gervaise played B/W, and Guido played G/W.
We realized that our decks might be better than we gave them credit for when we 3-0’d each of the first four rounds to make it 10-2. Sleeping longer the night before didn’t hurt either as we were playing crisper and smarter.
In Round 13 we faced Christopher Larssen’s team, alongside Lucas Blohon and Martin Muller. I lost my match 1-2 after Larssen topdecked a pump spell for lethal. Guido took Blohon down 2-0. We turned to Gervaise to win his Game 3 against Muller. It looked close but after Muller drew a few too many lands he extended his hand, bringing us to 11-2.
Going into Round 14 there were seven teams that could get to 34+ points, meaning that nobody could ID. We got paired against Hendricks and his teammates, Karsten and Floch. We knew what they were playing as we had been seated next to them in Round 13 and this gave us an advantage in our mulligan decisions game 1.
I played an aggressive mirror with Hendricks but I had the edge with cards like Moment of Craving. I won 2-0 relatively quickly but Guido had lost to Floch just as fast. Once again it was down to Gervaise to win his game 3 to take us to Top 4.
At one point Hendricks turned to me and offered an ID. While our tiebreakers were good, we couldn’t be 100% sure that we’d make it. Guido and I considered our options and decided that we would rather be 100% locked for Top 4 than take the risk and declined the ID.
Karsten is on 9 and us on 14. Time is called and we think a draw might happen anyways. Karsten has multiple Merfolk, including Seafloor Oracle, but no good attacks. We have seven creatures, either 1/1s or 2/2s.
Turn 0: Karsten explores and leaves a creature on top.
Turn 1: Land, go.
Turn 2: Land, go.
Turn 3: We draw Mausoleum Harpy. Karsten has no flyers and at this point we have to assume that he lacks interaction. We play Harpy and attack with our board. For every creature Karsten blocks, Harpy gets a counter. For every creature Karsten doesn’t block, he takes at least 1 point of damage. No matter his blocks, Harpy will grow to lethal in the air unless Karsten can find an answer on his turn 4. He blocks 5 of our creatures, takes 2 to fall to 7, and the Harpy grows to 8 power.
Turn 4: Karsten draws, and attacks with his team of Merfolk, including Seafloor Oracle. For every Merfolk we don’t block, he draws a card. We block one with our Harpy and watch Karsten get three triggers. I can barely watch.
“Flip ‘em!” Gervaise says.
Karsten looks at his cards and then glances at his teammates. He passes the turn and we get to swing for lethal in the air on turn 5 of extra turns. I could hardly believe it: 12-2.
We end up 1st in the Swiss—I was over the moon.
In the Top 4 Draft I end up short on playables, having to splash blue and run cards like Sword-Point Diplomacy. Guido won his match while Gervaise lost his.
I had won Game 1 after drawing the five good cards in my deck.
“Ooph! Your deck is good!” my opponent says. If only he knew.
In both games 2 and 3 I get him to 1 life with lethal in my hand before he casts Raiders’ Wake and makes me discard the winning card to stabilize the board. I lose 1-2, feeling like I had let my team down with my poor deck.
But that’s not how they felt. We had still made it further than we expected and had qualified for Pro Tour Dominaria. I am so ecstatic to be back on the Pro Tour and even happier that I got to do it alongside my incredible teammates and friends.
In Scrub Club, Denis Stranjak says to me that he is looking for someone to carry him to Top 4. Well, I fulfilled that request Denis, but it took me a bit longer than you liked!
Looks like I’ve finally graduated from Scrub Club!