I’m not generally one to write tournament reports, as I feel like the actual details of specific matches aren’t entirely entertaining or informative. Sure, there are some games that stick in your mind and are certainly worth writing about, but those are generally few and far between and are bogged down by the remaining rounds that are generally lackluster.

Here I am though, writing a tournament report, but it will be more about the experience itself than the matches that I played while I was at Grand Prix D.C. this last weekend. Perhaps it won’t be extremely exciting either, but I feel as though it’s better than just a hazy recollection of the matches we played. A few match reports might leak into the writing but otherwise it will be a general overview of the weekend and what occurred overall. Because I’m gas.

Hello friends, and welcome to my Grand Prix D.C. report! I currently write (type) this while flying back to Seattle, but what better time to explain the details of the weekend than the flight home while all the scenarios are still fresh in the mind? Washington D.C. is a bit of a journey for me, seeing as how it’s on the other side of the states, but it was a journey I considered valuable, and not frequently do you get to play in a team grand prix. My teammates for the event were two up-and-coming Magic players that have had some real success on the largest levels. While I’ve done well at Grand Prix before, I’ve never managed to snag the elusive Top 8 or ever actually play on the Pro Tour. My companions, on the other hand, have multiple successes, and they are only 18 and 19 years old! If you didn’t catch any of my various social media updates while the tournament was running, I was playing with Oliver Tiu and Jake Mondello. Oliver is coming off a top 16 at the last Pro Tour, and Jake is coming off a recent top 8 at Grand Prix Quebec City. So basically they’re both gas.

It was sort of humorous how we came to be a team, as I had only interacted with both of these players on very few occasions outside of my Twitch stream. Oliver simply messaged me one day asking if I had a team for D.C, which I did not. We collaborated and picked up Jake at Oliver’s suggestion, and that was that. Sadly, at least for him, my good buddy Marshall “Banana” Sutcliffe messaged me only a few days after Oliver reached out, asking if we had a team. #FeelsBadMan. In any case, Oliver, Jake, and I did almost zero practice in preparation for the actual team event. While we are all heavy Magic Online players, that isn’t a good way to prepare for a team event, and the only practice we put in was the night before in a pseudo-deckbuilding scenario. We were definitely prepared, because we are gas.

Day one rolls around and we stumble into the event, bleary-eyed and somewhat enthusiastic. Somehow we weren’t listed as a team and so had to sort that out with the registration judges, but huge props to StarCityGames for how the entirety of the event was run. For the largest team event of all time, nearly 1200 teams competed, it was extremely smooth and I couldn’t imagine a better way to do this type of event. We sorted out our team registration issues and soon were seated to build our deck. We open our pool, (again, props to SCG for pre-registering all the cards. It was an extreme time saver), and are entirely unimpressed by it. SIX rare lands, and very few actual bombs left us with a salty taste in our mouths, but we knew what we wanted to do going into the event and set our minds to the task. We knew a black/white ally deck, if possible, would be one of the decks to put together, and then potentially some sort green/x deck and a blue/devoid strategy. Lucky for us, a powerful black/white ally deck presented itself, as did a green/red ramp deck, in addition to a nearly mono blue/devoid strategy. The building was quite straight-forward, and I ended up being the pilot of the blue deck, (featuring four Blinding Drone, Deepfathom Skulker, and a full eight non-basics including Sea Gate Wreckage, Ruins of Oran-Rief, Corrupted Crossroad, and Sunken Hollow), while Jake took the green deck, and Oliver took the allies. Confident with our gas decks, we started the event.

Things started swimmingly for team Mishra’s Sweatshop, (the team name we eventually settled on, perhaps in poor taste, as a nod to the youth of both Jake and Oliver. I was also ‘lovingly’ referred to as Daddy Numot throughout the weekend). We rattled off three quick wins and felt like we had good deck choices and playability. We had a bit of a reality call when we lost rounds four and five to fall to 3-2, but we rallied our ancestors from the graveyard and finished the day with four more wins after that. The most intense match came in the final round of day one when we went up against the team of Chris Pikula, Osyp Lebedowicz, and Phillip Napoli. Oliver quickly took his match versus Osyp, but Jake and I were still on the ropes. I was “lucky” enough to play against Phillip, who had an insane black/white ally deck featuring multiple Ondu War Cleric, Isolation Zone, Vampire Envoy, a Drana, Liberator of MalakirSteppe Glider, etc, etc. We quickly went to a game three where I managed to stabilize after ripping four relevant devoid creatures in a row (while pumping them with Ruins of Oran-Rief) while my opponent only managed to draw lands. Turns out drawing relevant spells while your opponent draws lands is good when you’re both hellbent. Chris and Jake played out their now irrelevant match where Chris won. Phew. That put us at 7-2 to end the day, and with high hopes to do well and put up a good finish on day two. We quickly scuttled out of the event hall, grabbed some food, and went to sleep. Gas.

Sunday starts with our alarms ringing, and we all prep ourselves for a new sealed pool with hopes of opening well. And well we did open. We had a similar strategy to day one, but our rares proved to be much better this time around. We ignited two sparks as both Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar presented themselves to us. Planar Outburst, Kozilek’s Return, Emeria Shepherd, and a few other nice rares rounded out the pool as we set out to build our decks. Once again Oliver championed what came to be a numotGROSS black/white ally’s deck featuring two Ondu War Cleric, three Relief Captain, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and great supporting cards. Jake was on a green/white build with multiple Saddleback Lagac, Nissa, Voice of ZendikarPlanar Outburst, Emeria Shepherd, but perhaps too few removal. I was left with the black/red remnants, a decent devoid strategy with plenty of good removal spells and solid creatures. Confident with our gas decks, we set off to battle.

We quickly won the first round, (though I got completely smashed in my match), but then the unfortunate happened. Through a series of poor draws, probable poor play, and matchups against better decks, we lost the last four rounds of the tournament to end at an extremely disappointing record of 8-6. We collectively thought our decks were better than the previous day, but things just didn’t seem to run our way. Definite pain seeing as how Jake is only a few pro points away from Silver, and Oliver is very close in the race for rookie of the year. We sludge crawled our way out of the convention center and that was that. We are still gas, though.

Obviously I haven’t recounted the weekend in its entirety, but this was hopefully a decent overview of the events that took place. Again, huge shout out to StarCityGames for how well the event was run, congratulations to the insane lineups that comprised the top four teams at the tournament, and also a huge thank you to everyone that came up to say “Hey, what’s up, hello”, and that they enjoyed the stream and other content I produce. Fetty Wap, etc. I didn’t get to enjoy the actual scenario of D.C but it was an enjoyable experience overall, and I certainly hope to play in more team events as they are the absolute best. My next event will be at Grand Prix Albuquerque, where I hope to dominate the sealed event with the new cards from Shadows Over Innistrad. With D.C in the books I should be close to a full two byes, something that is insanely beneficial to doing well/having good breakers for these type of long events. I hope to see many of you there, or perhaps just on my stream if you’re unable to make that event. As always, thank you friends, and may your Num Nums always be Dum Dum… (I don’t actually know what that means).

~Kenji

P.S. Both Jake and Oliver continuously called everything “gas”. I know this is a phrase Magic players use frequently to describe good things but it was humorous the extent to which they, (especially Jake), used the term. Basically I’m gas, so I inserted ‘gas’ into many of the sentences above just to prove how gas I am. Gas. So much gas.

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