Stu takes on an M:TG Regional PTQ ... and Top 8s!
I wish I could be writing this article about how myself and 3 other ringers requalified for the Pro-Tour at the RPTQ in Monroeville, PA but that unfortunately was not the case. In fact, out of myself, Steve Nagy, Mike Derczo, and Kyle Boggemes, only Kyle was able win himself a flight to sunny Nashville. I am going to try to give a quick recap of the tournament and I am sure you are going to be able to see a pattern by the end of it.
Here is my decklist for reference:
Round 1 - Bye! (1-0) :Bye (Yeah, sometimes I run REALLY good)
Round 2 - Win in 3 (2-0) :
I get paired against a nice fellow from Cincinnati playing Mardu (as opposed to Stu-du Mardu). Game 1 I get completely run over after a mulligan to 6. A lot of games play out as follows: “Thing into thing, into Unlicensed Disintegration, into Gideon, and then dead.” I bring in the prerequisite number of Planeswalkers, Release the Gremlins, and a Shock or 2 and take out the Toolcraft Exemplers (they come out A LOT) and a few others 1-ofs. Game 2 was my turn to just run over my opponent who got stuck on 3 lands and Thalia, Heretic Cathar coming down to stop any kind of comeback. Game 3 the Thalia’s come out and a couple more removal spells come in. This one started off in disaster where I mulled to 5. Fortunately my opponent had a slow start and got stuck on 3 lands and I was able to get him down to 3 life. Unfortunately for me I started to flood out when he hit his 4th land and started to stabilize with a Gideon. I was a turn off from losing to his Shambling Vent when I was able to find a Walking Ballista and deal the last few points to escape with a win.
Round 3 - Lose in 3 (2-1) :
This time I am against a friend of mine, Zach Duncan. I have permanently set up shop in his head and sometimes it lets me get a few extra draw steps that I would not have had otherwise. This happened in Game 1 where he missed on board lethal, leaving me on about a 12-outer to draw a removal spell and steal the game. It was not to be however as I draw my 6th land in a row and get ready for game 2. Same sideboard plan as above since there really is no difference in the lists. Game 2 is less dramatic as he is stuck on 2 lands and loses pretty quickly. Game 3 was unfortunately also very lopsided in his favor as I mulligan again and die rather quickly.
Round 4 - Win in 2 (3-1):
Needing a good rebound match, I sit down, get a strong opener of multiple Scrapheap Scroungers and Thraben Inspectors and keep. Turns out I am playing Mardu once again! I have managed to empty my hand on turn 4 since all I have drawn are Scroungers and Inspectors aside from a single, important Walking Ballista. I say it is important because my opponent is on the older style of Mardu with Veteran Motorist instead of the newer versions and my Ballista is able to pick off several Motorists and Toolcraft Exemplars during the game. Game 2 I sideboard a little bit less aggressively and leave the Chandra’s in the Sideboard and opt to let more removal and my 3rd Avacyn take over the game. Game 2 is also very one sided as after a few turns of casting 2 spells a turn, I am able to cast a Gideon on an empty board and it finishes off the game rather quickly.
Round 5 - Win in 2 (4-1):
There is not much to write about this match-up that was not said above, as my opponent is playing Mardu with Veteran Motorist. The Walking Ballistas take over the game in game 1 and in game 2 my removal and Avacyns are too much for his multiple X/1s.
Round 6 - Win in 2 (5-1):
Here we are at the fun part of any tournament, the “win-and-in” match. After some free time for scouting, I was able to narrow down to who I was playing and learned he was going to be my first 4-Color Saheeli match of the day. I do not remember a ton about this match as it was super close throughout the 2 games. Game 1 he mulled to 5 and I was able to get some early pressure. He able to play a combo piece or 2 throughout the turns but I am able to finish them off quickly before he can assemble anything meaningful. Game 2 was far, far closer. He goes for the combo early but I have an Unlicensed Disintegration to stop it and eventually he goes into top deck mode. Eventually he gets me down to 1 life and he is at 7. He plays his last card of Whirler Virtuoso, giving me one last draw step. I crack a clue end of turn and it is a Chandra, Torch of Defiance. That plus the Oath of Chandra in play, along with a Walking Ballista on 1 and a Shock in hand I am able to steal game 2 and lock up my spot in the T8.
Round 7 - Intentional Draw - (5-1-1)
Bonus Round: Top 8!
I am into the Top 8 with a record of 5-1-1 and sweating out my spot in the top 4 so I can be on the played to start. I manage to sneak into 4th by a percent or 2 and get ready to play one last match.Top 8: Game 1 drags on a bit, but not because I am flooding out, but because he is answering every one of my threats. Two Harnessed lightnings and an Aether Meltdown later my opponent lands an Aetherworks Marvel and over the course of several turns gains 39 life before ending it with an Ulamog. Game 2 I bring some Releases and Avacyns in and try to fight him in a way to minimize his removal. Game 2 I am able to win after he does nothing for a few turns, whiffs on a Marvel activation and then activates it at the wrong time on the penultimate turn. Game 3 I mulligan to 5 on the draw and get stuck on 3 lands. I get him down to 8 life before he Marvel’s into a Nissa’s Renewal and then untaps to find an Ulamog in his next activation eating my 2 black sources of mana and ending the match shortly thereafter. It was a bit frustrating getting to within 8 life and a few spins of the wheel and coming up short. I worked quite a bit over the prior weeks with Mike Sigrist on figuring out the best configuration for the deck and between the MOCS that weekend and playing a lot of MTGO to catch up on the format I felt very prepared. I was pretty happy with my play and it shows that if I am playing consistently I can be as good as almost anyone. Making the T8 and not having to PPTQ this entire season means that I will get another shot at it again in a few months, plus getting nearly $300 in Promos and Packs means it was not a net loss of a day.
Thanks for reading!
-Stu Somers@Ssomers55 on Twitter
Stu is a former M:TG Pro Tour competitor and avid comic book fan. He wants to know what you think about his article, so leave a comment below or hit him up on twitter
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