This is my last article going up before Pro Tour Born of the Gods. I am feeling so much from this, but mostly excitement. Five months is a long time to wait for a tournament. That’s how long it’s been since Oakland.
But here I am now, in Valencia. Let me tell you about how I see this city so far.
The geography of the city is a perimeter of massive sand beach meeting an old dried out riverbank park lush with green fields and trees encompassing a bustling little tourist city. You could almost Hobbit your way barefoot around the approximately 10-mile circumference in the 70°f February, but most people run on concrete trails with shoes on.
Half of the people don’t work and the other half of the people don’t work much compared to a working American. Suspiciously none of them are starving. Seems like they hang out in the park, walk their dogs, and chill at home. It’s a slow pace. Things feel a little more present, but somehow mañana turns into mañana turns into mañana.
I am seeing Valencia. I did not see Hollywood, I did not see Atlanta, I did not see Amsterdam, I did not see Puerto Rico, I did not see Philadelphia. Those are the five previous Pro Tours I have attended without a satisfactory finish. I did not see Chiba, Japan. That’s the Pro Tour I couldn’t afford to attend—merely showing up would have put me on the next year’s train. Somehow, things are different this time.
In the past I was much more limited by time and location. I was lucky that my parents had the resources and desire to facilitate traveling for the Junior Super Series, but when it came time for me to pay my way to a foreign land, I was restricted. If I could make it, I would have to scrape, and I would have to return to work and school immediately.
“Play the game, see the convention centers,” I said.
Magic is a hell of a game though. It has never failed to exceed my expectations. It has grown more every year than I thought realistic and my personal security in the game has grown more every year than I thought realistic. Through the counterfeiters and the competitors, this game will prevail. There are too many human beings invested in Magic’s success for it to fail.
When you’ve spent 18 years pouring energy into the game, pattern indicates you are going to continue until some kind of end. This isn’t just me. It’s many people.
The reason why is because Magic is the greatest game. It is so complex. It has so many facets. It has so many things to think about thinking about that the years passed and you’re still playing. I’ll be here and I expect you to be here as well.
Pro Tour Preparation
In my final week of preparation I am allowing myself and our team some privacy on technology. But I want to share my general preparation anyways. Maybe to help you prepare for tournaments, maybe just to get you an idea of what could be done.
Obviously it requires a tremendous amount of resources that aren’t necessarily available to show up to the Pro Tour two weeks in advance, but man is this going to be a huge physical advantage that no amount of leaking can give up.
I’m writing this at 8 a.m. right now. I’ve been up for a couple hours and out in the city already. I’m getting good sleep, eating good food, and spending the bulk of the day out walking through and playing sports in the park. I’m not going to be sick and hungover or red-eyed come time for the Pro Tour.
A lot of the competitors will come in the day before the tournament and play as bad as they are jetlagged. That’s fine, not necessarily a way around that. But that will be a huge advantage for me. While my opponent hopes his friend will make it back for him with food, I will be biting into a juicy apple mid-match. It’s gonna be great.
As for the tactical and strategic portion of the tournament, I am feeling very good about that as well. I have been playing Modern exclusively since Grand Prix Oakland. Through all of my (failed) brews I have learned the ins and outs of various strategies. I’m comfortable with where the metagame is going after the banned list, as I have played in tournaments with [ccProd]Wild Nacatl[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Bitterblossom[/ccProd] since their release.
This past week I have been working on the internet for a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours at night. I’ve been thinking and talking throughout the day. That’s it. I don’t see a reason to binge on testing. It doesn’t take very long to find the answer to a question with the right tools.
Mainly I’ve been working with my brother, Elliott. Elliott is much more into draft than I, and I am much more into Constructed than he, so we make for a good team. Our Constructed and Limited strategies are going to be very, very good. We’ve also been working with our decade-old JSS buddies Martin Goldman-Kirst and Jesse Hampton, as well as Michael Hetrick.
It’s a small team, but I think that’s to our advantage. The super teams have a lot of things going for them but the groups are so big that a lot of thought can get lost in the noise. I am planning for these teams, and I am incredibly excited to match up against them.
I have written about emotionally divesting in the past, but I can’t do that. I’m emotionally invested in my result. I’m emotionally invested in my brother’s result. I want to win. I want to continue. It’s Top 25 or bust for the both of us. My preparation has been too long. I’ve spent too much time…
When the time comes for the tournament I’m going to scrap over every point of every match. I am going to be confident in my mulliganing and sideboarding decisions. I am going to be grateful for past mistakes to draw from the knowledge pool for this tournament.
If neither of us make it, it’s going to sting. There’s no way around it. That’s the only way it can be when you have the fire to win this bad.
Even with all of the preparation for the tournament, I still have some time to brew.
The other night my brother asked me if I remembered [ccProd]Cosmic Larva[/ccProd]. Of course I remember Cosmic Larva. One PTQ season we played the card in mono-red because of its strength in a burn-heavy and [ccProd]Path to Exile[/ccProd]-light field.
I recalled making a Cosmic Larva deck that combo’d with [ccProd]Lightning Greaves[/ccProd]. Greaves was crazy with Cosmic Larva and was also good with [ccProd]Keldon Marauders[/ccProd].
Since that deck, [ccProd]Lightning Mauler[/ccProd] has been released! Lightning Mauler hits a critical mass of playable cheap haste enablers, to play a haste and haste-abuse deck.[ccdeck]4 Goblin Guide
4 Vexing Devil
4 Lightning Greaves
4 Lightning Mauler
4 Burning Tree Emissary
4 Keldon Marauders
4 Cosmic Larva
3 Phyrexian Soulgorger
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Shrapnel Blast
4 Blinkmoth Nexus[/ccdeck]
I’m not going to play this deck at the Pro Tour, but oh baby is this sweet. It has some incredibly fast openings with big bodies bashing the opponent. Finish off with a flurry of [ccProd]Lightning Bolt[/ccProd]s and [ccProd]Shrapnel Blast[/ccProd] for the GG.
This deck is also incredibly cheap to make. It has [ccProd]Goblin Guide[/ccProd]s and [ccProd]Blinkmoth Nexus[/ccProd], but as far as Modern goes, this is as cheap as it gets.
Is it better than the conventional mono-red burn decks? Maybe, maybe not. What it offers is something that feels much different playing. This is a unique deck, and it is a fun one.
That’s it for today. I will be back next week with an article about my tournament technology, with a report on the tournament the following week.
Thanks for all the love and support!