The Diary of a Pro Player: My Audible to GP Houston

This past Wednesday, I was sitting quietly at home with no particular plans for the weekend except for some Modern here and there waiting for my RPTQing friends to communicate their results.

That is, until I read Team East West Bowl’s chat where people reported getting ass-whooped by BBD, Owen, and Sam Pardee playing GW Hardened Scales. This caught my attention and, a few hours later, teammates confessed that the deck was great.

At 11:00 pm the same day, I contacted Kevin Anctil, one of those RPTQing this weekend and told him about GW. He gets on Skype and I play a Magic Online League with the deck. We completely crush the 5 rounds and feel very hyped about GW Hardened Scales—I go to bed around 3:30 am.

I can’t sleep. I’m wondering if I should go to GP Houston, which is something I had not planned at all. Okay, I figure, let’s look at flights before falling asleep.

$800 USD and no options leaving from Quebec. The closest would be Burlington, Vermont (a 5-hour drive from Quebec). I then ask around to see if it would be possible for a friend to buy me a flight with their miles, which is normally significantly lower. Alexander Hayne is my savior—he has extra miles to sell me and we find something that costs me approximately $700 USD. That’s still expensive, but I’m too hyped about playing the deck—my wallet is ready!

As I am giving out my information to Alex and making sure that I get the correct flight, I refresh the flights page. What do I see? A $250 flight. DING! I went from buying one of the most expensive GP flights to one of the cheapest. Sign me up!

It was still a little bit of an hassle since I had to get to Burlington, Vermont. The small details include driving to Montreal and meeting with Jon Stern, who has approximately the same itinerary as me leaving from BTV. We got dinner with a few friends from Montreal, drove to Vermont, and stayed at the airport for 12 hours since Jon’s flight was supposed to be at 5 a.m. while mine was at noon. This was actually not too bad since I could play MTGO all night, which I did.

Houston

At 5 p.m. Friday I finally land, Uber to my hotel, and play mirror matches with teammate Ricky Chin over MTGO since we expect a bunch of Hardened Scales at the Grand Prix and I haven’t faced it before. The quick conclusion was that we didn’t think there would be any mirror-breaking cards—Daghatar, the Adamant, High Sentinels of Arashin, and Elite Scaleguard were all considerations, but in the end, Silkwrap was the single best card so I registered 4 and called it a day.

GW Hardened Scales

2 Bant CoCo
1 Ascendancy Combo
1 Esper Dragons
1 Mirror
2 GR Ramp
1 Mardu Green
1 Jeskai Black
2 Rally

This was my tournament. Without going into details of each round, I lost to:

Esper Dragons
Mirror
GR Ramp
Rally
Rally

In the last round, I was paired versus Steve Rubin on Abzan Aggro, but he conceded to me as he is already GP capped and so the 1 Pro Point wouldn’t be relevant to him.

I attribute at least 3 of my losses to bad keeps. The deck is not easy to play. There is a lot of sequencing and I’m sure I made mistakes here and there—I am certain that I kept hands I shouldn’t have and it cost me.

Highlights

I had a fairly close match on camera against Shaheen Soorani where I basically lost the game when he played Prairie Stream tapped on turn 3, leaving himself Swamp and Sunken Hollow untapped. I had Gideon that I wasn’t sure I was going to cast since Silumgar’s Scorn was a concern, but once he played that tapped land, I was going to jam this Gideon in play.

But his one-of Negate showed up to the party and crushed my dreams, as you can see here.

I was so convinced that I was going to close that game—I did not expect Negate and it wrecked me.

Another one that is kind of hilarious:

In round 13, my opponent mulligans to 6 cards on the draw and scrys to the bottom. I keep seven—I have a great start—my opponent drops Polluted Delta and cracks it end of turn for Sunken Hollow, draws for his turn and passes without playing a second land. I play something, he draws, then scoops while accidentally showing me a mono-white card. I couldn’t tell what it was but I could guarantee that it was mono-white and not white multicolored. I’m trying to decide whether he’s Esper Dragons or Rally. Esper Dragons didn’t make sense—I doubt you would ever keep a 1-lander with a control deck, and if you did, you would certainly not crack your fetchland turn 1. Rally made more sense since keeping a 1-lander on the draw, with a scry, and possibly Jace or Elvish Visionary in your hand was reasonable. Fetching turn 1 is also most likely the play because you are playing 4 colors and can’t afford to fetch basics if you only have one land.

While sideboarding, I’m considering boarding only half the cards I’m supposed to, yet, I’m convinced he is on Rally for the reasons I just mentioned.

It turns out he was Jeskai Black, which was something that I absolutely didn’t think was a possibility. I drew 3 Hallowed Moonlight and lost the game.

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