After two tournaments (trial and main), 16 rounds of Magic: the Gathering and 8 hours of driving (one way), the trip to Frankfurt am Main is over and we are back home. Was it worth it despite little to no success from our team? Definitely.
What have we learned in two days of Modern Magic tournaments?
Be ready for everything
That’s right! GPS can be wrong, tournaments can go long into the night and the number of rounds can change on the fly. One day, you face all the Shadow and Abzan CoCo decks while on the next, it’s all UW Controls. Sometimes you prepare for the right metagame and face none of those decks, yet there are times you get by skipping some hate in the sideboard and just avoiding those match-up’s altogether. Your opponent can be a douche, or someone so nice or funny that you don’t mind losing to at all. Welcome to Magic once again.
First time Junking
After a month or so of grinding with Jund, I finally gave up and sleeved a Junk version of BGx midrange which is said to be in a better position for the current metagame. Lingering Souls and Path to Exile are gas, but so are my beloved Raging Ravine and Kolaghan’s Command. Anyhow, I ended up enjoying playing Junk and as far as I can tell it really is better currently.
It all started on Friday, a day after we arrived to Frankfurt and attended an on-site Trial with more than 100 participants. Three of us started to play in what was supposed to be a 6 round tournament, but somewhere along the way the judge announced that we will be playing 7 rounds instead. I love Magic and it was all good, but it was getting late and we were all tired. One of my friends dropped at X-2 because there was no way to get into the prizes with 6 rounds, but he could have continued to play if he knew about the 7th round. Either way, it ended up well for me as I managed to end the trial with a score of 5-2 (16th place due to tiebreakers) and despite not getting a BYE for the main tournament (top 13 got a BYE, first place got two), I got myself a playset of Hallowed Fountain as a reward.
Anyhow, I started with an easy win against a screwed Esper Control, followed by dismantling Affinity for a 2-0 start. My third opponent was on Grixis Death’s Shadow and for the first time, I was happy to be on Junk instead of Jund as I managed to come back from behind to take a 2-1 win (3-0 in rounds). Fourth round I was paired with a decent Bring to Light Scapeshift player who swept me 0-2. I didn’t really draw well but I was far away from winning any of the games against him. At 3-1, the dream of getting a prize (or a BYE) was still alive and it was during this round that we were informed about extending the tournament for one more round. Me and my opponent looked at each other and let out a sigh as we were all getting tired. He was on Abzan CoCo and literally out-valued me in both games for an easy win. With a score of 3-2, I had to win both of my remaining games to end in the Top27 (or some number like that) to finish “in the money”. Luckily, I managed to beat a Burn player that saw a lot Eidolons (one or two too many) while getting buried by double Collective Brutality. So there I was yet again, 4-2 and facing a “win and in” or lose and get nothing. My last opponent happened to be a nice guy on BUG Midrange and I was happy to ride my 1/1 Spirits to the victory in Game 1, while grinding Game 2 without any Souls against Engineered Explosives on 0 from my opponent. I sealed the deal with a 2-0 victory that secured me a 16th place and already mentioned Fountains. Little did I know that it was a sign.
Main Modern event
I played at some larger Magic tournaments before but none had 674 participants and 10 rounds plus Top8 in only one day. Not that I was complaining because we came that far to play Magic and it didn’t bother me to go long, but I have to say that it is hard for players to be on the top of their games after so many games. Thumbs up to those players that hold their composure for the whole tournament, and judges for their work and dedication as well. Here is what I sleeved up:
Junk/Abzan Midrange, MKM Series Frankfurt 2017
4 Dark Confidant
2 Scavenging Ooze
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Siege Rhino
4 Verdant Catacomb
3 Marsh Flats
1 Windswept Heath
4 Blooming Marsh
1 Twilight Mire
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Godless Shrine
1 Temple Garden
2 Shambling Vent
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Gavony Township
Anyhow, I started off against a Merfolk player that I befriended while losing 0-2 to many a fish and elementals. It is one of those swingy 50-50 match-up’s but I always like to play against BGx when I’m piloting Merfolk. Not the best start for me but the follow-up was even worse. I faced my first Hallowed Fountain deck of the day, and tied against an UW THOPTER GIFTS TRON. We ran out of time during Game 3 with him at 6 life and me having an advantage. You remember all those articles by the pro’s that talk about ties and how to avoid them? Well read them again and do yourself a favor, ties this early in tournaments are really bad. Looking back at the games, I should have conceded Game 2 sooner after I noticed that my opponent was not the fastest when it comes to sideboarding, shuffling or resolving Gifts Ungiven. At least I experienced my first unwanted tie of my Magic: the Gathering career and will be more cautious in the future, or so I hope.
So at 0-1-1 I had to start a winning streak in order to finish high enough for any prizes (Top64). My third opponent was playing Junk and somehow I managed to win my first mirror match ever after losing Game 1. It is needless to say how volatile the BGx mirror is, but in Game 2 my opponent couldn’t remove my Scavenging Ooze that ended the game in my favor (he had 3 small goyfs, mind you) after a board stall. This time, luck (topdeck) was on my side.
1-1-1 is nothing to be proud of, but I had to keep winning. Sadly, that didn’t happen after my 4th opponent beat me with Bant Eldrazi. Game 1 I somehow manage to ride my Siege Rhino to the victory, but Game 2 he had the nuts (his words), and in Game 3 I got the control of the game but he ended up drawing Drowner, Displacer and two Path to Exiles off the top of his library to seal the deal. I don’t wish to go into the details but I guess the luck (topdeck) left me again. One of the mistakes my opponent did was to commit to his board after seeing my hand containing a Pulse and Damnation, yet that mistake didn’t cost him the game. Note to everyone: write down the cards if you don’t remember them as the game goes on.
At 1-2-1 there was little hope left to achieve anything, but since two of our group still had good scores, I countinued to play until the last of them was in the mix for prizes. Round five is announced and my opponents ends up playing UW Control. He was a really fun and nice guy and I enjoyed the games despite being screwed hard in Game 1. I lost the second game as well and parted ways in good spirit. 1-3-1 is far from anything I could be proud of, but droping and waiting is not really my style, and I also wanted to get my reps in with Junk.
Round 6 I’m paired against Elves and beat them easily, mostly thanks to my flooded opponent. Oh well, not much either of us can do, and I take the win. Next up was UW Control (who would have guessed), and somehow I manage to win Game 1 and 3 on the back of my flying spirit tokens. I sit down for Round 8 and there it is, another Hallowed Fountain deck (Esper Tokens) that I beat in three grindy games. At 4-3-1 I face my last opponent of the day and was not surprised when I see another UW Control, this time with As Foretold. Game 1 I miss the lethal as I didn’t wish to play my Siege Rhino into open mana and wanted to check first with Thoughtseize to clear the way (I was on 4 lands). Somehow, my opponents draws into counter spell and takes the first game while at 2 life. Game 2 I outgrind him with Liliana, but he could have played better (his words, probably true, I believe him). Game 3 we grind once again and he has me on the next swing but extra turns ran out. I would have conceded but since none of us had any chances for prizes, I just left it a tie.
I dropped after 9 rounds as the last friend from our group dropped as well and we had a long drive back home, so this was it. My second MKM Series of this season was not as successful as MKM Series Milan, and 4-3-2 is not really good, but I will come back more experienced and stronger (but not taller). Junk was fun to play but I’ll go back to Jund for our local events.
Before I conclude, here is the link to the metagame breakdown for MKM Series Frankfurt 2017 Modern Main event. While BGx was the most popular archetype, I faced only one mirror match and didn’t play against Death’s Shadow, Tron, Grixis, Valakut, Burn, Jeskai, Hatebears or Abzan CoCo/Chord decks. It shows how hard it is to metagame and prepare your deck correclty as everything in possible in Modern, let alone Magic: the Gathering. One more reason to love the best format of our card game.
Next up are side events at GP Bologna, where I’ll continue to grind. Jund or Junk? See we shall!