Journey to GP Birmingham pt 5; A Journey’s End

Last weekend saw the eyes of the Magic the Gathering community fell upon the NEC, where 1,743 players battled it out for a chance to qualify for Pro Tour Ixalan. It also marked the culmination of many months of work by yours truly to compete in a Modern Grand Prix with my new and improved Burn deck. From local tournaments to SCG qualifiers, I had grinded away in an attempt to improve myself as a player. So, how did the weekend pan out?

The Deck

Firstly, I had chosen to make a change to my previous list in the last few weeks of preparation. What was this change? I dropped Green from my deck entirely. The main reason was due to the way the current meta has developed. With the rise of Eldrazi Tron, there has come vast influx of mainboard Ghost Quarters, both in Tron and those trying to beat it such as Death and Taxes and U/W Control. Since I was only running a single Stomping Ground for when I sideboard in Destructive Revelry, I kept finding myself fetching out my only Green source to take out a Chalice of the Void, only to have my Stomping Ground taken out of the game and being unable to handle the second Chalice. This was happening so many times I decided to cut the Revelrys completely in favour of Wear/Tear. I also decided to put some Harsh Mentors into the sideboard to help against the Affinity match up. These changes were having some positive effects on my games, as I had begun to regularly come within the top two of many of my local events. The final list looked like this.

Creatures (12)
4 Goblin Guide
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
Sorceries (8)
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt
Instants (20)
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Boros Charm
4 Lightning Helix
4 Searing Blaze
4 Skullcrack
Lands (20)
3 Arid Mesa
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Wooded Foothills
3 Inspiring Vantage
3 Sacred Foundry
3 Mountain
Sideboard (15)
2 Rest in Peace
2 Deflecting Palm
3 Path to Exile
2 Kor Firewalker
3 Harsh Mentor
3 Wear // Tear

With my deck ‘perfected’ I packed up with my fellow Masters and headed for honour and glory. So, how did I do?

The Main Event

There is no point in slow rolling you, as you will have probably already seen the top 8 results. I didn’t succeed in my dreams of Grand Prix glory. In fact, I didn’t even make day two. Finishing the first day with a record of 4-5-0, I came up short of the threshold needed to make the second day of play and was therefore relegated to Sunday side events. Why? Well, there was no one answer in particular. I didn’t play against a single Tron of Affinity deck, two decks I had tailored my list to combat. And I had made some miss-plays during the day when it came to what to side in games two and three. I guess you have to accept that no matter how much you prepare, how much you try to predict the meta game, sometimes the games don’t always go your way. I lost games I should have won, and won games I had no right winning. Could I have made better choices in deck construction and how I played? Sure. But I played the best tournament I could and in the end, that is all one can hope for. Do I regret my weekend? No, why?

The Grand Prix Experience

As I have stated before, Grand Prix’s are a great experience for anyone who loves the hobby, and Birmingham was no exception. Not only did I have a ton of fun with the Main Event, but the whole weekend affirmed everything I hold dear about the Magic hobby. I was surrounded by over two thousand strangers, and yet I felt completely at home. Our shared hobby brings us together and allows us to make friends and acquaintances, bonding over our favourite decks and fondly remembered sets. At one point during a Modern double up event my opponent played a Russian language spell. As there was a language barrier my opponent asked if I knew the spell, to which I replied “Yeah, it’s Sleight of Hand. I love that art”. We then had a brief break from the game to talk about Magic the Gathering, just like I have done a million times before in my local LGS. Even with two players from two different countries, speaking different languages, we were able to bond over our shared love of this great game. This was just one of many such interaction I had over the weekend. Whether I was talking to vendors, talking to the event team or doing some trading, I felt as though as I was hanging with friends at FNM. This is way I love Grand Prix’s. In a room of strangers, you feel right at home. I had a great weekend of playing Magic, and even if I failed to achieve my lofty goal of getting to the Pro Tour, I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, if you are on the fence on whether you want to go to your own local Grand Prix, I hope you decided to give it a go. Not only will you have a great time and make new friends, but you will find one of the best run tournament scenes out there. And if you are lucky, you might get to say hello to a denizen of the multiverse.

Picture of Nissa Cosplay

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