Explorer’s Scope: Lessons from the Pro Tour

No, I didn’t play at the PT, nor did I get secret tech from anyone who did attend. In fact, I don’t usually even follow the pro tours closely at all. I will check in once a day or so (if I remember) to see if friends, and friends of friends are doing well or not. I’ll also check up on the progress of some of the pros whose writing I enjoy (LSV) or whose deck designs I have admired (Wafo-Tapa). Pro Tour San Diego was different, it engaged me and taught me some lessons that can be applied to most aspects of Magic.

Sunday: LSV and Me

I’ve never met LSV, but by a little before noon on Sunday the PT was over for both of us. Jund would take the top slot, and perfection was proven once again to be unattainable. I wasn’t playing, but for the first time a Magic tournament had taken on some of the gripping emotional significance and drama of the best sporting events: could the titan stand tall enough to grasp the brass ring of history, or would the mortals through which he strode rise up and make their own mark?

In case you were asleep last week, or don’t follow the Pro Tour: Luis Scott-Vargas went undefeated through 16 Rounds of Draft and Standard to reach the Top 8, a first for the Pro Tour. He then swept through his quarterfinal opponent, and fired the opening salvo in his semi-final opponent, only to be stymied by the power of Bloodbraid Elf and the fickleness of the tide of fate, which having carried him so high withdrew in the blink of an eye (and a pair of mulligans) and stopped his run at 17-1. The run ended in a relatively non-descript 1-3 match loss and a concession in the face of overwhelming board position. It was a Casey at the Bat kind of moment — surely, surely that was not supposed to be how such a streak was supposed to end. There was no joy in Mudville.

To provide a stark juxtaposition: just as LSV was getting to the tournament site and readying himself to put his sparkling 16-0 record on the line for posterity I was going 0-2 drop from the 100 Card Singleton Weekend Challenge with my current GWB build. Yeah, how is that for a streak? For reference sake only (do not try this at home) here is the decklist:

100c Rec-Sur

Creatures (34)
Other Spells (28)
Lands (38)
Sideboard (15)
Buy this Deck
100c Rec Sur Click the arrow to download the above deck in .txt format

(To load a .txt deck into Magic: Online’s Deck Editor, click “Load”, select “Local Text Deck”, find the location of the downloaded deck file and double-click the deck.)

The deck is not a total pile, but it is a work in progress, as I have been trying to move away from a reanimation/survival/midrange deck with Combo potential towards an Aggro disruptive strategy within a GWB skeleton. I have had some substantial success with this and earlier iterations in the 2-Man Queues, and have been winning a pretty healthy percentage of games in practice with it. So what happened?

  1. Another very fine article from you, Robin. I enjoy reading about your successful and less successful attempts to master the game and the pitfalls along the way. I think reflecting on the bad plays is much less common but ultimately leads to greatness.

    “The winner of the game is the player who makes the next-to-last mistake”
    (Savielly Tartakover – famous Chess Master)