Grand Prix Manila 2017

I don’t really play Magic regularly anymore; Last year I only played Standard because I was Q’ed for the WMCQs. But when there’s a local Grand Prix, oldies like me crawl out of the woodwork and try to believe we can still do well in a tournament with minimal prep. Grand Prix Manila 2017 was to be Standard format, held on June 2-4, 2017, at the SMX convention center.

At the start of the year I already knew I would be playing in this year’s GP Manila, but since I hadn’t played Standard for well over a year, I didn’t really know what I would be playing. But I started keeping track of what decks there were in the metagame. Sadly, the meta was not so good, with an oppressive combo deck dominating the field. Like many others, I assumed there would be a ban at some point, which means I couldn’t commit to a deck too early.

I only decided on a deck after the B&R announcement shortly before the release of Amonkhet. At that point, looking at the available cards we had, I settled on trying to put together the Temur Marvel deck. It took me a couple of weeks to put the deck together, then I ran it through an FNM and a couple of other smaller tournaments. I was satisfied enough to play it for the grinders on Friday, Day 0 of GP Manila.

If you’re playing Standard this year, you’re familiar with this guy

Day 0 – Friday, June 2

As I’m from Quezon City, the venue is quite far, and to be honest I was a bit stressed out at the idea of commuting to SMX three days in a row. But still I went. I started out determined to play as many Standard grinders as a I could on Day 0, both to up my chance of earning byes for the GP and to give me more familiarity with my deck. Unfortunately, things did not go so well. I ended up 2-6 for the day, not even earning any prize points. I played quite a few mirror matches, something I hadn’t been able to do in my previous tests. It gave me some insights so even though I came home late that night, I stayed up late tweaking the main deck and the sideboard based on what I learned during the day.

Day 1 – Saturday, June 3

I woke up early and took the train. Saturday was a bit lighter commute than Friday, but not by much.

This was the deck I ran:

I opted to play with Trackers in the main because I found my mirror match losses from Day 0 often came to a Tracker sticking on the opposing side. I also dropped down to 3 Ulamogs because it felt like I often got stupid hands with 2 or 3 of them.

Sadly, most of my tweaks didn’t matter much as I performed terribly. Here’s my day 1 record:

R01 1-2 LOSS vs UR Kefnet Both games he won, he had the turn 3 Kefnet which I had no answer for.
R02 1-2 LOSS vs RB Hazoret. This deck is great and fun, and the matches were really close, but eventually I ran out of Marvel spins
R03 1-2 LOSS vs UW Flash. I had a Marvel, but it ran into a Spell Queller. In desperation I tried to kill the Queller while he was tapped out, spun into a second Marvel, spun again into nothing.
R04 2-0 WIN vs Monoblack Zombies
R05 0-2 LOSS vs Temur Marvel. Made the mistake of spinning on my turn when he had 6 energy. My ulamog died to his ulamog
DROP

I feel like I didn’t make any particularly bad plays during the first 3 rounds. The Marvel spins just didn’t work out for me. I may have been already starting to feel the lack of sleep during round 5 so that’s a thing. (I immediately went home to sleep after dropping.)

Their decks did seem particularly tuned towards beating Marvel. That’s one of the big downsides of just netdecking the dominant deck – everyone’s gunning for you. The lack of prep time was really hard on me too. The last time I did well in a Grand Prix was GP Manila back in 2015, and that time I had been playing Jeskai for months before the GP. Unfortunately I had been caught between a rock and a hard place – if i had assembled a deck months before it likely would have been Saheeli combo (since I used to play Twin in Modern), which meant I would have been the victim of the bannings. Ah well, can’t dwell on the past too much. Have to note it for next time.

Will there be a next time? On the bus ride home I was so dejected at the poor performance I wondered if I was just done with Standard forever. But I suppose it depends largely on the metagame; Marvel was pretty bad whether you were playing it or against it. In any case, I’m also somehow qualified for Nationals this year, so at the very least I’m playing Standard again in September. (Mostly because I want the promo Inkmoth Nexus)

Day 2 – Sunday, June 4

I decided to come back to just play for some prizes in side events (and also because I had to return some cards I borrowed). Day two had one of my favorite side events: Chaos Sealed! I played this after scrubbing out of GP Singapore 2015, so this may become a day two tradition for me lol.

For Chaos Sealed, I got dealt the following boosters: EMA, MMA2017, BFZ, SOI, Dissension and Torment. I think I got a pretty good pool, value-wise:

(No, I didnt dare play or shuffle the FOW)

My pool was kinda light on removal, but I had like a Llanowar Elf and some basic land search and three signets, so I decided to just ramp into some Eldrazi! A number of people were shocked that I decided to run the Ulamog, and a friend even told me I’d never be able to cast it. I sent him a picture of that Ulamog ready to attack for lethal on the first game in the first round.

I went 3-2 with my pool. My losses were to a Deadeye Navigator (that guy is a nightmare to get rid of) and to a deck that was almost entirely removal (I died to a Control Magic’ed Benthic Infiltrator. More like InfilTRAITOR amirite?). Not bad. I won enough points to split a box with some guys, and the FOW/ Ulamog meant I came out ahead value-wise. The sad thing about these events is that they’re among the last to finish, so the prize wall is kinda cleared out by then and we weren’t able to get a Kaladesh box, had to settle for Amonkhet.

GP Manila Loot

Competitively the GP was a bust for me, but at least I came away with some swag and some packs. I’m also planning to attend GP Singapore in December this year, and that’s Sealed/Draft so hopefully I do better there. Until then, thanks for reading!

Grand Prix Manila 2015

One of my many, many loyal blog readers pointed out to me that I had yet to post about Grand Prix Manila, which took place in the first week of this year. I’ve been meaning to post about it, but it got lost in my backlog. So here we are.

Day-2-Opening_0

Yes indeed, I still play Magic, “on and off”, as it happens with most Magic players with busy lives and/or multiple other hobbies. I wouldn’t miss a chance to play a local Grand Prix of course, so I started getting back into standard as soon as Khans of Tarkir rotated in. I couldn’t stand the grindy midrange Abzan mirrors, so I’ve been playing Jeskai pretty much since the format started; Mantis Riders at first, then transitioned to tokens in December after I did poorly at a couple of GPTs.

The list I ran, largely based off Yuuya Watanabe’s Player’s Championship deck (sideboard might not be accurate…I may have taken too long to write this up :p):

This was probably the GP where I was most prepared in terms of deckbuilding – I didn’t scrimp on card availability this time although my team pool hasn’t been as large as it used to be. Playtesting wasn’t much, mostly against Abzan variants and the aforementioned GPTs where I crashed and burned.

I did pretty well on day one:

R01 2-0 WIN vs ub control
R02 2-0 WIN vs ub control
R03 2-0 WIN vs temur
R04 2-0 WIN vs temur
R05 2-0 WIN vs temur
R06 0-2 LOSS vs abzan whip
R07 2-0 WIN vs monored
R08 2-1 WIN vs jeskai tokens
R09 2-0 WIN vs abzan midrange (terry soh)
That’s 8 and 1, my best Day One performance ever. My deck was running well, I was in the zone, I had some good matchups and luck was in favor a lot; I won at least 3 games against different opponents due to their mulligans to 5 or worse. I performed well enough to warrant a mention in the coverage even:
day1coverage
Unfortunately Day Two didn’t go quite as well; apparently the luck I had during Day One had to be paid back with interest. I lost at least three games off mulligans to five, and my lack of playtesting against some archetypes such as UW Heroic cost me some suboptimal plays.
R10 0-2 LOSS vs uw heroic
R11 2-1 WIN vs abzan aggro
R12 2-0 WIN vs jeskai tempo
R13 0-2 LOSS vs mardu
R14 0-2 LOSS vs monored
R15 2-1 WIN vs abzan aggro
Going 3-3 on Day Two means I finished the GP at 11-4, which was the same record I had back in 2012. That’s good enough this year for a 37th place finish and some cash:
2015-01-04 16.12.24
Not a bad performance at all, and it was a great weekend altogether: got to see some old friends again and it feels to do well at a high-level event. What next; should I go to GP Singapore this year too?

Grand Prix Manila 2012

Last weekend was Grand Prix Manila 2012, held at the SMX at Mall of Asia. I don’t really consider myself a “regular” Magic player anymore so I’m not going to give a full tournament report, though I will record some details for posterity.

Let’s start with the deck. I played some version of Naya Pod, limited by what cards were available as usual:

It’s a pretty straightforward deck, what with the turning guys sideways and all. And the round by round results:

1 BR Zombies WIN 2-1
2 UW Humans WIN 2-0
3 Gb Pod WIN 2-0
4 UW Delver LOSS 0-2
5 Frites WIN 2-1
6 RG Ramp LOSS 1-2
7 Wb Tokens WIN 2-0
8 UG Infect WIN 2-0
9 RG Ramp WIN 2-0
10 Pike Delver WIN 2-0
11 Delverless Delver LOSS 1-2
12 Sun Titan Delver LOSS 1-2
13 Some Delver WIN 2-0
14 Spectral Flight Delver WIN 2-1
15 Solar Flare WIN 2-1

As can be seen above, I made day 2 for the first time, and I believe this is already my sixth Grand Prix. I finished 11 and 4, which was good enough for 39th place despite my pretty bad tiebreaks. This means I finished in the money, hooray! Feels good to have a decent finish after playing this game for what, seventeen years now? Playing in Day 2 was great, the tables weren’t as crowded as Day One! Hah. I still made a lot of bad plays though, I mostly got lucky with a lot of my wins. With tighter play I might have gone as good as 13-2.

My finish
39th!

 

Aside from the main event, another thing I participated in during the second day was the Magic Rules Challenge! This was a fun thing they had where they set up a booth manned by a couple of judges. You could go up to them (no entrance fee) and answer up to three rules questions in a row. If you get questions right, you get foil cards! Well, the foil cards I won weren’t very useful or valuable, but I had a lot of fun with the rules questions themselves, I really enjoy that stuff. I’d hang out there between rounds not only to join but also to watch other people play. The questions ranged in difficulty from quite easy (“You play Grim Lavamancer’s activated ability and your opponent uses Tormod’s Crypt, how much damage is dealt?”) to an actual layers + [card]Humility[card] question! It was a nice relaxing change of pace to play between rounds to take some pressure off.

My crappy foil winnings from the Magic Rules Challenge

The weekend was exhausting, especially the nine rounds on the first day and the needing to travel back and forth to MOA, but it was a fun experience and definitely worth it (not sure if I’d say that if I didn’t place haha). Makes me excited about playing Magic again. Looking forward to the next GP Manila in a couple of years!