“Please simply maintain the Curious Obsession.”
A few week earlier than they introduced the record of gamers who can be becoming a member of the Magic Professional League members on the first Mythic Invitational, I obtained an e-mail asking if I want to be a part of the occasion.
Would I wish to compete within the first main MTG Area event? A 64-player, $1,000,000 prize pool occasion? I had to consider that one actual lengthy and actual arduous.
Regardless that, like many others, I had been questioning who would have the ability to compete alongside the MPL gamers on the Invitational and the way the qualification system would work, not for a second had I thought-about the state of affairs the place I might simply straight-up get invited. I figured I must earn my spot the arduous approach, and to be trustworthy, with the primary Mythic Championship in Cleveland a month away on the time, the entire Invitational factor had utterly fallen off my radar so I used to be simply surprised once I received the information.
Once I determined to give up poker two years in the past to return again to Magic full-time as a streamer and a content material creator for ChannelFireball, I used to be inspired by two seemingly massive modifications occurring at Wizards: a brand new CEO was stepping in they usually have been recruiting the Play Design workforce, which I hoped was an indication of renewed ambitions and good issues to return.
It’s nonetheless early to inform how Area and the Organized Play modifications will influence the sport however issues are wanting up proper now. I anticipate the primary yr or two to be rocky whereas Wizards figures out a very good system for all of it, however I’m hopeful they will get there with the assistance of suggestions from the group.
Whereas getting an invitation to compete for a primary place money prize of $250,000 felt surreal, it additionally made me nervous every time I considered it. Although I’ve performed for pretty excessive stakes earlier than, whether or not within the Prime Eight of a Professional Tour or on the ultimate desk of a WSOP bracelet occasion in Vegas, this looks like an enormous alternative and I’m actually hoping I could make the most effective of it and never have too many regrets when all is claimed and executed.
I feel Wizards did principally a terrific job with the invitations they gave out and I used to be glad to study that the previous 4 Professional Tour winners can be invited to the primary Area Mythic Championship.
As somebody who was all the time against Wizards freely giving something significant by way of the trophy leaderboard system on MTGO, I can’t say I used to be an enormous fan of the best way the final eight invitations can be awarded for apparent causes. I’m assuming a part of the rationale they went with this answer is as a result of they didn’t have a correct event construction out there on Area but.
I’ll say that as time glided by, I truly warmed as much as the thought. I assumed that the system won’t be all that dangerous, and I may need loved being part of it. I additionally thought the entire unhealthy a part of the grind was blown out of proportion and it was simply the character of Twitter that made individuals have such an excessive stance, however I’m not so positive anymore. I don’t belief my opinion on the matter as somebody who, again when Magic was just about my whole life, would beat himself up for months over typically a single mistake in a Professional Tour match. I might not let go of it till the subsequent Professional Tour got here round and I had an opportunity to “redeem” myself.
I feel it’s pretty clear by now that this technique was dangerous on many ranges and also you’d be arduous pressed to seek out somebody who disagrees. Name it morbid curiosity, however I might have an interest to listen to first-hand what the expertise was like for the individuals who went exhausting and got here up brief.
The silver lining was that it appeared that the cream rose to the highest, however at what value?
As standard, I began my testing with the Draft format, and I did so by dropping. Rather a lot. It took me about fifteen Drafts to get my first Three-Zero, however after that, I went on a roll, going undefeated in virtually half my Leagues. I had determined to Draft just about solely on Magic On-line. I figured it needed to be a greater strategy than working towards on Area and whereas I’m unsure the talent hole was large, I used to be fearful about creating dangerous Draft habits and never valuing how excessive or low I ought to be choosing playing cards. Given how the Area Draft bots have been under-picking Gates and Gates payoff playing cards, I used to be glad I did—although to be truthful, you can sometimes nonetheless get some pretty late twin lands on MTGO as nicely.
We managed to trace knowledge for 329 matches over 155 Drafts. Not fairly pre-Area Pantheon pattern measurement however respectable, and it appeared like Orzhov and Simic have been the most effective two colours mixtures. Rakdos was doing fairly properly whereas straight Azorius underperformed and Gruul’s outcomes have been abysmal. For those who’ve watched my stream in any respect whereas I used to be working towards Allegiance Drafts, you may know I hate Gruul with a ardour and I vowed to not draft the combo until I opened one thing like a Domri or a Ravager Wurm. I knew the pattern measurement was small, however R/G simply felt so dangerous and you would even lose with a few of your extra busted decks since you have been simply so susceptible to flood or screw, and there was not a lot you possibly can do in case your opponent had a bunch of removing spells and a few card benefit. Whereas most people I talked to thought Gruul was the worst shade combo as nicely, additionally they thought it was nonetheless very playable, particularly when you have been the one one drafting it.
The info additionally recommended that Three-color decks have been outperforming 2-color ones, as was the Gates archetype, and being on the draw was general barely higher. Esper was probably the most profitable shade combo, a deck that ideally relied on Dovin’s Acuity as an engine, and I hoped I’d have the ability to begin my Draft with a blue, white, or black card on the MC.
I relied totally on Area for my Commonplace testing. It’s not the perfect strategy, however provided that my teammates stay in several time zones and have busy lives, it wasn’t straightforward to get plenty of video games in towards them. I performed a bunch of Blue Tempo and whereas the deck was doing nicely, I additionally didn’t really feel particularly nice about any of its matchups. The deck is difficult to play but in addition onerous to play towards, and I used to be nervous it wouldn’t carry out as properly towards the sector on the Mythic Championship. I used to be additionally apprehensive it’d get hated out, particularly given how puffed up Alex Hayne received the archetype together with his loopy run on the Area leaderboard. The entire state of affairs felt like Atlanta once more, once I determined to not play the deck after ending second with it in GP Lille and as soon as once more, it looks like my considerations have been unwarranted.
A few couple weeks earlier than the MC, I picked up Sultai Discover and liked it. The deck was satisfying to play and felt actually good. I wasn’t doing a lot dropping in any respect, regardless that the competitors wasn’t the strongest, and I by no means discovered a purpose to modify to one thing else. I assumed the inventory model on the time was clunky so I attempted to clean the curve out by slicing the third Discover // Finality, the 6-drops, and Memorial to Folly. I used to be additionally very impressed by Hostage Taker and whereas I’m unsure you need the complete playset, it appears bizarre to me to play any copies of Ravenous Chupacabra till you’ve maxed out on Hostage Taker.
I used to be relieved to see I used to be nonetheless doing nicely in individual once I joined the remainder of the staff in Cleveland, even feeling like I used to be capable of go toe-to-toe towards Sultai’s supposedly dangerous matchups, Esper Management, and Reclamation decks. I used to be just about locked in and had to determine the previous few particulars. I wasn’t an enormous fan of Vraska’s Contempt and determined to attempt slicing it from the deck to see if I actually missed it. I made Pete, who additionally had Sultai as his frontrunner, play me within the mirror. He was piloting the model Corey Burkhart had simply taken 2nd place with on the GP and I used to be enjoying my very own model with none copies of the BB2 removing spell. We performed a bunch, I gained a lot of the video games, and in virtually each certainly one of them Pete forged Contempt to eliminate one among my planeswalkers (I clearly made positive to level it out each time it occurred). This strengthened my perception that the deck didn’t actually need the Four-mana removing spell nevertheless it appeared like Rekindling Phoenix was on the uptick and finally, I didn’t have the center to tug the set off.
Four Overgrown Tomb
Three Drowned Catacomb
Four Breeding Pool
Four Watery Grave
Four Woodland Cemetery
1 Midnight Reaper
Four Llanowar Elves
Four Wildgrowth Walker
Four Merfolk Branchwalker
Four Jadelight Ranger
Four Hostage Taker
Four Hydroid Krasis
Three Vivien Reid
Three Forged Down
2 Vraska’s Contempt
1 Vraska, Golgari Queen
1 Crushing Cover
2 Thrashing Brontodon
1 Forged Down
Four Kraul Harpooner
1 Cry of the Carnarium
1 Spell Pierce
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
At this level, there have been a few billion articles concerning the deck, so I’ll simply go over a few of the much less typical card decisions.
Midnight Reaper is a strong curve filler, in all probability the subsequent greatest Three-drop after Jadelight Ranger. You’re often comfortable to attract the primary one in a lot of the matchups, even towards purple and white aggressive decks. Vraska, Golgari Queen was placed on my radar by one in every of VTCLA’s tweets (the Commonplace trophy chief on MTGO). It was out and in for many of my testing however I stored being impressed with the cardboard. Just about each deck in Commonplace has some premium targets for the -Three capacity and an additional planeswalker is effective towards management because it lets you prolong your board presence with out getting wrecked by a sweeper.
I used to be by no means an enormous fan of Negate within the sideboard and even Disdainful Stroke, however some quantity might be a mandatory evil. I dislike that it’s often so apparent if you’re holding permission with this deck and maintaining 2 mana to counter one thing like a Wilderness Reclamation whereas deploying sufficient strain isn’t a trivial activity. I made a decision to attempt Spell Pierce and it felt actually good. Individuals didn’t anticipate it and I felt prefer it stayed surprisingly related even in a number of the longer video games due to costly playing cards like Entrancing Melody, Chemister’s Perception, and even March of the Multitudes. Having to solely hold 1 mana up makes an enormous distinction in lots of matchups and it’s one of many explanation why I made a decision to run two Thrashing Brontodon in my sideboard as properly, principally as a proactive method of coping with what some referred to as a damaged enchantment.
Pete registered one thing very comparable and the remainder of my teammates all performed a Reclamation deck. Eli, Morgan, and Edgar performed Temur Reclamation with out Nexus of Destiny—the identical deck Pascal Maynard, who was testing with us, performed to an Eight-2 document. I feel the general win-rate of the deck was round 60% regardless of Morgan going Zero-5 after a Three-Zero begin in Draft. Shaheen performed a Sultai Reclamation management deck and my BFF Amiel, who certified for his first PT in virtually a decade, determined to play White Aggro.
We ran slightly simulation the place we assigned a win proportion for every matchup, in addition to a share of the metagame, for every main archetype and our conclusion was that it was a toss-up between just about all of the tier 1 decks. The one clear loser appeared to be Rakdos Midrange regardless of its excellent Sultai matchup.
I felt properly ready for the event regardless that loads of matchups in Normal felt like a coin flip. I nonetheless thought I may need some holes in my Draft recreation, however I felt like I had an opportunity of doing nicely if the packs broke my means, I used to be capable of keep targeted, and never make silly errors in-game.
The primary Draft was sort of a nightmare. I first-picked a Chillbringer out of an unexciting pack, and Sky Tether and Skitter Eel have been respectable second and third picks however not precisely what goals are product of. Issues acquired a bit trickier as I needed to dip into inexperienced, and after making an attempt to remain the course by passing a pack with Zhur-Taa Goblin, and one other one with Skewer the Critics and Mild Up the Stage, I resigned myself and picked the Savage Smash that wheeled out of the pack I had opened. I used to be nonetheless hoping to have the ability to keep away from Gruul, however there appeared to be no approach out and I ended up with what I assumed was a reasonably dangerous red-green-splash-blue deck.
I acquired crushed in spherical 1 by a superb Rakdos deck. Sarcastically sufficient, Spear Spewer, a card I deemed borderline unplayable and had so far as I might keep in mind by no means misplaced to on-line, did a ton of labor for my opponent, even appearing a pseudo Sol Ring in recreation 2 when the Zero/2 powered out a turn-2 Mild Up the Stage.
At this level I might have virtually been completely happy getting out of the pod with a single win, however my luck rotated and I gained two extraordinarily shut matches.
Once you 2-1 with purple and inexperienced playing cards in your Ravnica Allegiance Draft deck.
My first spherical of Normal was a punt fest between me and my Simic Nexus opponent. I even missed an onboard kill within the third recreation, which just about turned my assured win right into a draw. I needed to make use of the additional turns to deal the ultimate factors of injury and hope my opponent didn’t draw a Nexus or a Root Snare.
I received paired towards Orzhov Angels in spherical 5. We cut up a pair non-games and I used to be capable of curve out on the play in recreation Three, leaving him no probability to win.
I then needed to face one among my housemates for the week, GP winner Jacob Baugh, enjoying the Temur Reclamation staff deck. I wasn’t actually comfortable having to play this matchup however I a minimum of knew what to anticipate. I gained the die roll, put my coaching wheels on, and obtained the dream Wildgrowth Walker into double Jadelight Ranger attract recreation 1 whereas a number of Hostage Takers have been capable of hold his Niv-Mizzet at bay in recreation 2.
I acquired paired towards Izzet Drakes in spherical 7. Recreation Three was wanting good and it seemed like I is perhaps choosing up my sixth consecutive win, however I began drawing land after land, and a pair Crackling Drakes helped my opponent flip the nook shortly.
To make issues worse, I needed to play towards Juza within the final spherical of the day in what I assumed was the mirror. I stalled on lands in recreation 1 and will have in all probability taken a web page out of the Mengucci guide and scooped a bit quicker. I used to be in an honest spot in recreation 2 however with the clock operating low, I made a decision to take a spewy line in an try to shut out the sport quicker, regardless of having good information of Martin’s hand. It backfired huge time.
My possibilities to Prime Eight have been extremely slim however I hoped I might play a great Day 2 and get some additional factors for the staff.
Coincidentally, my different Magic BFF, Herberheezy, had certified for his first PT shortly too. Williams and EFro needed to go to a Brazilian steakhouse however I didn’t really feel like treating myself to a dear dinner and Mark by no means stated no to a burrito, so Chipotle it was. It was good catching up with him although it meant I needed to cope with the standard jabs and rub-ins.
The second Draft was uneventful. I first picked Rakdos Firewheeler over Lawmage’s Binding, received handed a Hackrobat, and by no means had a cause to look again. My deck ended up very strong however I used to be a bit nervous as I needed to move an Angel of Grace, in addition to two Gates Ablaze and an Archway Angel within the third pack.
I performed Kenji Tsumura in spherical 9. As we sat down and began to shuffle, my thoughts wandered for a second. Kenji gained Participant of the Yr in 2005 with out profitable a single Professional Tour, repeating what I had completed the earlier yr. It virtually felt like one other lifetime. Neither of us had a PT Prime Eight this decade.
In recreation 1 his Orzhov deck did what it was presupposed to as I slowly fell behind to an afterlife set off regardless of an inexpensive draw.
I mulled to 5 in recreation 2, which was just about a demise sentence, however Kenji missed his third land drop and didn’t draw a black supply till my Cult Guildmage had snagged 5 or 6 spells out of his hand. A close to good attract recreation Three helped by the Glass of the Guildpact I had boarded in sealed the comeback. I didn’t take it as any sort of signal although—I knew higher.
My spherical 10 opponent and I performed three extremely shut video games, however a number of 2-for-1s and appropriately enjoying across the second Gates Ablaze couldn’t make up for the 4 additional lands I drew in recreation Three. I picked up the loss that formally knocked me out of Prime Eight rivalry. At the very least I didn’t have myself accountable for this one—I had even boarded out a land and selected to be on the draw. However what about my lazy play towards Juza?
I drew a lot better in spherical 11 and was capable of rating a good 2-1. Although we don’t check collectively for main tournaments lately, the truth that Rietzl Three-Zero’d the pod made issues a bit higher and it nonetheless felt like “we” maxed out on factors.
Again to Normal and I hoped that with the strain of competing for Prime Eight gone, I might have the ability to pilot my Sultai deck higher than I had on Day 1.
I confronted Wilson Mok in spherical 12, who joked about being intimidated by the yellow hat. I defined that the hat was of precise impartial luck and requested him if he would quite me not put on it. He snapped off the supply. We cut up the primary couple of video games, and within the decider, I used to be struggling towards Tocatli Honor Guard, having drawn just about all ETB creatures. I ultimately acquired out-tempo’d, however might have perhaps prevented that state of affairs if I had performed a vanilla Hostage Taker as an alternative of greedily holding it in hand.
I then misplaced towards Izzet Drakes for the second time within the event, a matchup I should have gained the final seven or eight occasions I performed it on Area. Loss quantity seven ensued, this time towards Nexus of Gates. I had by no means performed towards the matchup and I feel it confirmed. Recreation 1 was out of my attain, however I feel I performed over cautiously in recreation 2 and gave my Russian opponent a bit an excessive amount of time to set issues up.
I obtained paired towards Blue Tempo for the primary time in spherical 15 and gained an in depth one. There’s a cause the deck ended up profitable the event and regardless of getting access to 4 Harpooner after sideboard, the matchup nonetheless feels shut.
Within the final spherical of the Swiss, I performed Makis within the pseudo-mirror-match as he was operating the Kanister construct with out Wildgrowth Walker. I used to be beneficiant sufficient to provide him a head begin and punt recreation 1 however unimaginable luck prevailed. I even had the posh to overlook an on-board kill once more, a element he didn’t omit to convey up later that night time at dinner.
I ended up 9-7, and Pete was Workforce Face-to-Face’s greatest performer with a 12-Four document. Edgar acquired the 9 wins he wanted to qualify for the final two Mythic Championships of the yr, however Amiel misplaced his “PTQ finals” within the final spherical towards Seth, ending up 10-6. He even made all of it the best way to the Prime Eight Draft of the Sunday PTQ ,however his seat was rotten and I’m unsure he might have ended up with an honest deck if he drafted completely.
Despite the fact that Amiel is extra of a Restricted participant and I’m the famend deck builder, he was the one who got here up with the Jeskai deck I performed to a 2nd place end in GP London 2001, the week earlier than we made the finals of the Workforce PT collectively alongside Nicolas Olivieri. You might say I owe him. He was additionally one of many very first buddies I made enjoying Magic. It was nice to root for him all weekend and see him do nicely once more. Regardless that he got here up brief this time, it in all probability gained’t be too lengthy earlier than he’s again enjoying in a Mythic Championship and crushing the “aspect” Drafts.
I can’t keep in mind the final time I watched the whole Prime Eight of a event. I’m not even positive it has ever occurred. I’ll often watch when my associates are on however even then, I’d skip a recreation or get in a Draft whereas maintaining a tally of the scoreboard. Not this time although.
It had been a bit disappointing to seek out out that Autumn and Reid have been on the identical aspect of the bracket. Hopefully they might a minimum of each make it out of the quarters.
It wasn’t precisely a clean experience as they each dropped recreation 1. After a small hiccup, Autumn turned the screws on Julien and even gained the deciding recreation after discarding handy measurement on flip 2 and taking successful from a curious Trickster. I keep in mind wanting away for a couple of minutes and questioning if the sport rating was bugged when Autumn was in a dominating place and the graphics nonetheless confirmed them up two to at least one.
I would not fancy my possibilities if I used to be opp pic.twitter.com/STAVDkMzAK
— Daniela Díaz (@h0lydiva) February 24, 2019
Reid needed to battle a bit more durable and dig a bit deeper. Down two video games to at least one, I used to be already making an attempt to determine the phrases I might use to attempt to console him if he exited the Prime Eight with out profitable a match for the fourth consecutive time. I couldn’t provide you with something. A hug would hopefully assist.
However Reid was on the play in recreation Four and curved out properly to even the rating. Each gamers acquired to maintain their opening seven for recreation 5 and I held my breath when Alex tapped his mana on flip 2. I’m positive Owen and Huey sitting proper subsequent to me did too. A Steam-Kin backed up by any affordable variety of spells can be extraordinarily onerous to beat.
Viashino Pyromancer, go. A sigh of aid.
Reid was prepared together with his personal 2-drop, a sideboard Surge Mare. For the remainder of the sport he was capable of slowly pull forward till Alex was left drawing lifeless.
On the opposite aspect of the bracket, you had arguably the present two greatest gamers on the earth going up towards one another. LSV was capable of reap the benefits of a positive matchup and defeat Marcio three video games to at least one.
Bonde and Ikawa’s match was nearer despite the fact that recreation 5 was considerably anti-climatic as Bonde by no means recovered from an early missed land drop.
Within the first semis, Reid and Autumn confronted off within the mirror match. Reid and I’ve been good associates for a very long time now, and I felt a little bit of guilt over not with the ability to select sides. I used to be simply hoping for an excellent match and for whomever was the higher participant that day to return out on prime. I discovered some aid understanding that Reid would approve.
Recreation 1 was favorable to Reid however issues didn’t keep that approach, and for the remainder of the match, it appeared like each robust determination was on him. Or perhaps it was Autumn making it look straightforward as they took the semis in Four.
Their remaining opponent can be Ikawa, who had swiftly gotten rid of Luis. It was LSV’s flip to be on the improper aspect of the matchup, and in his personal phrases, it was not near being shut.
It was time to seek out out who walked away with the $50,000 prize and the very first Mythic Championship title.
Autumn had the superior attract recreation 1 however in what should have been a lapse in focus, they gave Ikawa an out to Wrath the board away. Luckily, the Japanese participant wasn’t capable of finding the land he wanted to dodge Spell Pierce and the back-to-back English Nationwide champion discovered themselves a recreation nearer to holding the trophy.
Ikawa hit again although, backed up by Azcanta, the Sunken Break in recreation 2 and Kaya, Orzhov Usurper in recreation Three.
However Autumn, with their again towards the wall for the primary time on this Prime Eight—for the primary time in all the event truly—performed two of one of the best video games of Magic I’ve ever watched. Two close to flawless video games when the stakes couldn’t have been larger.
The world knew.
I don’t assume BDM might have hoped for a greater final occasion to cowl or a extra touching last interview.
Each match had been extremely tense and extremely contested. Every of the eight gamers, whether or not they have been making their first Sunday look or their tenth, had impressed me in their very own method.
Because the weekend got here to an in depth, I discovered myself sitting on the ground, within the nook of a now principally empty corridor, ensuring my telephone had sufficient battery so I wouldn’t miss out on dinner plans or lodge foyer Drafts. I felt one thing I hadn’t felt at a Magic event in a very long time. I felt a way of belonging.
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