I had the pleasure of spending the last weekend in GP Atlanta, enjoying time with Kenji and Roderick from Numot Gaming as well as a ton of wonderful friends and fans. The GP itself was a learning experience. Going in, I didn’t feel especially well-prepared. I had done quite a few sealed leagues and even a release at a local store, which I normally don’t attend. Despite this I just didn’t feel like I had a grip on the format yet. I had so many questions about this format because of odd curveballs like Vehicles and it threw me a bit, but attending gave me a lot of insights into the format and despite narrowly missing day two, I felt oddly relaxed about my performance.
The first day of the GP I had to get up very early; Atlanta is two timezones ahead of where I normally live and I have no byes, since I don’t normally play any paper Magic. The opened a pool with a lot of strong cards and the build could have gone multiple ways. I ended on a GW deck, splashing blue for Cloudblazer.
1x Accomplished Automaton
1x Aerial Responder
1x Aviary Mechanic
1x Fairgrounds Trumpeter
1x Ghirapur Guide
1x Herald of the Fair
1x Highspire Artisan
1x Longtusk Cub
1x Peema Outrider
1x Servant of the Conduit
1x Verdurous Gearhulk
1x Revoke Privileges
In hindsight, I am pretty happy with the build and I think it was mostly correct. I had included Fairgrounds Trumpeter in the main and left Cowl Prowler in the sideboard, thinking I had enough late game and needed to shore up early game to get there, but it was often poor in comparison and I sided it out for the larger creature in 75% of my matches. The choice of playing White over Black is where I think I made the correct choice. Fumigate was a monster of a card, leading to more than a few total blowouts; One game I Fumigated to kill eight creatures, bringing me back to 15 life, leaving my opponent with one card in hand while ending with a full seven myself. It wasn’t always that good and Vehicles gave it fits once or twice, but it probably won me more games than any other card, including the Verdurous Gearhulk.
I started off very slow, playing an aggro R/B deck that curved into Chandra and ran me over. The next match I played we had a grindy game one and we went to turns with the last turn leaving my opponent at one life facing a massive board on my end, but with no way to close the game out before the draw. I caught my stride shortly after that and despite playing a very sloppy round 3 I pulled out a win and I managed to refocus and tighten up my play following it up with 2 more wins. I ended the day by losing my win-and-in for day 2 in the only match of the day that felt was determined by really poor draws.
One of the biggest takeaways I had from this tournament was a shift in attitude. I try not to be negative about loses, but I definitely struggle with tilt; everyone does. At this GP I felt much better about how I handled my losses and the way I settled down and refocused after a rough start. The way it worked for me was to stretch, take a breath and focus entirely on the board. No talking, no thinking of anything but the cards in my hand. I learned by talking with some great players like Kenji (NumotTheNummy) and changed my mind slightly on how to play the sealed format, like my decision to main deck two artifact removal spells instead of just one; a decision that probably gave me one or two extra game wins in the main event. You need to have an answer to Renegade Freighter and since it is a common you will play against a lot of them and I underestimated how many other artifacts decks would run. I don’t think I ever drew a dead Fragmentize or Appetite for the Unnatural.
Both of the GPs I’ve gone to in the last two months have been amazing learning opportunities. Not only because of the practice at a high-level event, but also because I was able to go with a group of players who I could learn and grow from. I’m confident in my play, but I know I can always improve and being around other strong players, especially ones who differ in opinions is an advantage that can’t be understated. Discussing plays or cards with Kenji or Lucas (Mr. Lubufu) was an opportunity I can rarely take advantage of. In the coming months I plan to continue to grind out more GPs and hopefully grow as a player thanks to the people around me.