The Diary of a Pro Player: Top 8 at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch


That’s the only word that has come out of my mouth when asked how I feel since last Saturday. I’ve qualified for so many Pro Tours, but I never got results—my win percentage was under 50% in 13 PTs played, and I cashed three or four times four years ago.

I entered the tournament with one goal: cash the event.

Once I got out of the second draft, I was 8-3 and at that point I was just thinking, okay, I can still lose 3 more before I’m out of cash contention. Obviously, I knew Top 8 was still in sight, but it never went through my mind that I could do it. I had hardly ever made Top 50 before—I had to start somewhere.

Well, looks like my starting point is Top 8 now and going forward, Top 4 will be the new goal.

Deck Choice

I had Affinity in mind about 2 weeks before the event. Knowing that I had teammates Alex Majlaton and Ricky Chin as experts on the matter, I was at least going to have this option open. I tried a bunch of decks throughout the testing process, but everything only came together on the Monday prior to the Pro Tour where each and every day was dedicated to Magic. I was down to Abzan, Affinity, and UR Eldrazi. Abzan was the back-up plan as it is never terrible. UR Eldrazi was the team brew, which was originally built by Ben Weitz and JC Tao (eventual PT winner). They tried many different versions but settled on UR as it had great testing results.

On Monday, I’m sitting there casting Eldrazi Skyspawner and I just keep thinking “what the hell? This can’t be right” (no, I’m not in a draft). I eventually abandoned the plan and decided to play an infinite amount of Affinity on Magic Online instead.

FB Status

Yup, I kept losing to Stony Silence. It was ridiculous. The eve of the event, I was there asking myself whether my opponents the next day would be as crazy as my Magic Online opponents by jamming infinite Stony Silence in every deck. Before going to bed, I freaked out, brewed a Jeskai Spreading Seas list, sleeved it, wrote my deck list for the next day, and went to bed (don’t worry, there’s a video!)

I had nightmares, couldn’t sleep, woke up a 7:45 and decided to go back to Affinity. I was going through scenarios in my head and there were too many where I didn’t know what to do because I had no experience with the deck. I registered the following 75, which I had playing all week. I was ready to dodge Stony Silence.


Main deck Stubborn Denial was there to protect the 4 Master of Etheriums, which were there in expectation of a metagame where racing was the most important quality. Going forward, I am most likely cutting Stubborn for Galvanic Blasts.

Draft 1

PT OGW Draft 1

This was definitely not a deck I expected to draft. I opened Linvala pack 1 with Craig Wescoe feeding me, so white was not open, but neither was any color. I couldn’t find any signals at all. I ended pack 1 with a bunch of cards that didn’t make any sense together. Pack 2 I opened Fall of the Titans, which I took as I was undecided on what colors I’d play and figured that I might as well take the bomb. My two strongest cards at that point were clearly my rare and mythic. I let them dictate my draft. I took a few filler cards, and ended up in the famous RW colorless control archetype.

I 2-1’d the draft, happy with that result considering the deck. Needless to say, those bombs won me many games.

Draft 2

PT OGW Draft 2

Well now this deck made a little more sense. I could never lose the late game with this number of mana sinks and recursion. I destroyed my opponents until I hit a wall—that wall was called Yuuya Watanabe. He had exactly the type of deck I didn’t want to face: RW Aggro, 2 Weapon Trainers, Stone Haven Outfitters, enough equipment, and fliers.



There is honestly not much more to say than:

I drew extremely well throughout the tournament and saw very little hate. My only loss in the Swiss was to Ad Nauseam, which seemed like a slightly unfavorable matchup thanks to Phyrexian Unlife and sideboard Hurkyl’s Recall.

My second loss came in Top 8 against crowd favorite Luis-Scott Vargas. I felt slightly favored in this matchup—still, there was a lot of room for mistakes between Simian Spirit Guide into Dismember and free Gut Shots, which all make decisions to go all-in much harder. My opening hands were all okay but unfortunately, none of them had Mox Opal. We had a close match, but I was defeated.

Since last Sunday, I keep asking myself what made me succeed more than before. What changed that I could repeat in the upcoming Pro Tour? Experience is the answer. The fact that the format was Modern helps me a lot—I can play decks I already know. I can’t expect to only perform in Modern—there are three Standard Pro Tours per year. My solution to solve the problem will start in Madrid. I plan on choosing a few decks early and practicing with them more than I’ve ever practiced instead of trying to “break it.”

Oh, also, for those asking, I probably made a mistake by not playing the Pro-Tour-winning deck when I had it—but $10,000 and 18 Pro Points were enough to help me get over it.

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