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The Modern Master

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Editor’s Note: Although Scotty Mac didn’t make Day 2 at Grand Prix Toronto, one of his faithful stream watchers had success with an identical decklist. Here’s a quick look at his tournament run.

I’m Brendan Hurst, alternately from Philadelphia and Washington D.C., and I have been playing Magic competitively for four years. I’m about to start Physics grad school in January, however, and knew my last big Magic event had to be something epic. A few days after deciding this, I heard Alex Majlaton and Ben Friedman were looking for carmates to drive to Grand Prix Toronto. I was instantly sold.

Having not played Modern for a year, I asked a voice of reason what to play.

“Just play Jund. It’s pretty easy to pick up and has a bunch of powerful cards.” -Jarvis Yu

The logic seemed pretty sound. I didn’t have much time to practice, but I knew Mr. Scotty Mac was streaming the deck every Wednesday. A few hours of stream-watching-while-working later, I felt I knew the deck ‘well enough.. I just had to get the deck together and wait for Friday.

“… non, je ne regrette rien …”

I awoke to the strains of Edith Piaf. 4:30 a.m. As good a time as any to start driving to a Magic tournament. Ben called out of the trip, so we were taking a small detour to New York to pick up some ‘unintended’ guests, Max Tietze and Gerard Fabiano. Max is quiet but jovial, and Gerard is certainly never boring.

Fast-forward 13 hours, and we are being grilled by the Canadian border guard. At least until he asked why we were entering the country. “Oh man, I have Magic for my PlayStation! What colors do you guys play?” Border passed. Thanks Duels of the Planeswalkers!

Day 1

I looked in my bag: three bagels with peanut butter, a bunch of bananas, three Clif bars, a liter of water and my deck. It’s everything I would need. At the site, I took advantage of a Round 1 bye to meet KYT and Scotty Mac for the first time after being internet buddies for years. Soon however, pairings went up, and it was time to play.

Round 2 — Naya Zoo (Cortlin)

This was Cortlin’s first GP and second major event.  He was good-humored, even when accidentally Helixing a 2/3 Tarmogoyf with no instants in a graveyard. He also missed a lethal attack with all of his creatures, overvaluing my being unable to block his single exalted attacker. Nevertheless, I almost lost anyway by mismanaging a shockland. I don’t remember everything from every match, but my note-taking methods provide me a crystal clear picture of every terrible mistake I knew I made.

Every mistake is a big mistake.

Every mistake is a big mistake.

As soon as I make a bad mistake, I don’t react except to immediately write down that I made it. Reflect on your own thought processes right after an in-game mistake. Mere seconds later, you mind is already downplaying it, pretending it didn’t happen, justifying the play you made over the play you should. Immediately making a note stops that from happening, but allows you to keep playing and digest the error later.

Anyway, I tightened up for game 2, and also suggested an alternate way to sideboard against Jund to Cortlin afterward.

Record: 2-0

Round 3 — Spirit Jund (Carl)

The best part of this round was towards the end. Cortlin told me he started Game 1 of Round 3 with his one-of main deck Leyline of Sanctity in play, and his opponent had frustratedly flopped a hand full of Lava Spikes on the table, conceding on Turn 0. Good beats.

Record: 3-0

Round 4 — Jund Scapeshift (Franz)

This match was an exciting back and forth, but poor clock management on my part led to a draw with lethal on the board and Franz without even Scapeshift as an out. From that match onward I resolved to face the clock when I could, to help remind me to play at a reasonable pace.

Record: 3-0-1

Round 5 — Merfolk (James)

James drew an average of 5.5 cards in his opening hands. I drew Olivia Voldaren.

Record: 4-0-1

Round 6 — RUG Scapeshift (Andrew Arnold)

Early in the match, I cast Thoughtseize and Andrew replied, “You lose 2 life?” I had to awkwardly inform him that the life loss was not an additional cost, but part of the resolution. He dejectedly showed me a hand of double Remand plus Lightning Bolt, admitting he was having focus issues. He died with a lethal Scapeshift on top of his library. In Game 2, after seeing his hand featured a Quagnoth, Tarmogoyf pressured him into popping his Relic of Progenitus and I Thoughtseized myself taking Liliana of the Veil to keep the clock up.

Record: 5-0-1

Rounds 7 and 8 — Spirit Jund (Kyle and Dale)

Record: 7-0-1

Round 9 — Melira Pod (Alexander Hayne)

I threw away at least a minute of puzzling out a complicated board state by forgetting it all in an instant and wasting a removal spell, and I can’t deal the 5×1011 damage needed to kill him after he goes off. I am soundly out-midranged in Game 2 despite Alex never drawing a fourth land.

Record: 7-1-1

More importantly, I had made my first Day 2, and had a party to attend. I resolved to only stay for about an hour in order to not make a complete fool of myself on Day 2. But it was long enough to Oppa Gangnam Scotty, tell Medina he was in my Top 5 Eh Team hosts,  and get One Direction stuck in my head for the duration of the second day.

Some sweet dudes.

Some sweet dudes.

Day 2

Round 10 — Spirit Jund (Kyle)

Kyle was packing some sweet mirror tech, and an early Inquisition of Kozilek revealed main deck Thragtusk but not much action. I closed the door by holding a Thoughtseize until right before his Turn 5.

Record: 8-1-1

Round 11 — BW Tokens (Melissa DeTora)

I started on six cards to Melissa’s five in Game 1 and found all good ones on the top of my deck. I started on five cards to Melissa’s six in Game 2 and found a Maelstrom Pulse while at one life, staring down three tokens and a Mirran Crusader with a Liliana on two loyalty.

Record: 9-1-1

Round 12 — Bolts (Will)

So many bolts!

Record: 9-2-1

Round 13 — Spirit Jund (Nick)

I manage to make three mistakes in two turns and have the notes to prove it. I manage to still win 2-0 very easily. Watching our match, Lucas Siow remarked, “Let me tell you about the skill game.”

Record: 10-2-1

Round 14 — Spirit Jund (Morgan)

Morgan tried to scumbag me in Game 2. Or rather, he had a very flawed memory of how I organize my board. One of my pet peeves is when players put their graveyard on top of their face-up exile, with exiled cards turned 90 degrees. Especially in formats where the graveyard is important, having zones set up this way can cause confusion about what exactly is in exile. Because of this, I always have my graveyard next to my deck, with a distinctly separate exile zone at 90 degrees and behind my deck.

So, when Morgan tried to double ping my Tarmogoyf with Olivia Voldaren when he had only creatures in his graveyard and I had one land, he called a judge to try and fix the situation, arguing that my graveyard had been set up similar to his (the above, unclear method) in Game 1. After being no-sir’ed by both the judge and the head judge, he proceeded to kill me with an 11-power Olivia anyway. My blasé demeanor in asking, “… only 11?” even earned me a handshake from nearby Rich Hagon.

Record: 10-3-1

Round 15- Spirit Jund (Adam)

I was pretty annoyed after this match, being badly outdrawn despite Adam sideboarding out his Dark Confidants. However, looking back over my notes a few minutes later, I realized several of my games earlier that day and the day before were decided by better-than-average luck on my part. I’ll never begrudge a little regression to the mean. And I still managed a 60th place and my first WotC check.

Record: 10-4-1

After watching Alex lose in the semifinals, we got back on the road at 9 p.m. Fourteen hours later, I collapsed in bed, exhausted but happy.

It truly was an epic Magic weekend.

Endnote: I realized when I got home on Monday that I had left a hat I had gotten on my honeymoon at a restaurant in Toronto. After talking to the restaurant over the phone, they offered to mail me the hat, no charge. Canadians!

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