Taking a Stab at GP Montreal
As many of you know, on September 16th through the 18th I traveled up to Canada to compete at Grand Prix Montreal. It was an amazing experience that I will probably never forget. Not only for the way it changed the way I look at the game but also the way I want to compete. On the opposite of what Luis said in his article about the GP, I really was riding high on my competitive spirit. I had been doing well at my local drafts, placing well at my FNM, and just feeling the Fire just burn inside me. I had missed Top 8 at my GPT by one place. So, as I finally got into the car for Montreal I was really feeling good about my chances despite having no byes. But this is a poor start of a story, there should be a beginning.
While this is neither here nor there, my summer had been pretty rough. I was barely scraping by on a shitty minimum wage job and while I make things sound gravy on the podcast and through Twitter, life had me in a Stasis lock. I had high hopes that SCG Boston was going to knock me out of my funk. Although it was a fun experience, there was a lot of things that went wrong or just didn’t go smoothly and it didn’t turn into the event I had been looking forward to.
Flash forward to the week of my Montreal trip. On Thursday, as I began to prep myself to leave, I noticed I could not locate my wallet. I looked all over for it and called all my friends. Alas, it was no where to be found. The good news is that there is $1.32 in the wallet in physical cash and a debit card with an account balance of $0.46. So, no real loss. And I had my passport, so it wasn’t as though I had no identification.
Moving on, I go to my shit hole job to pick up my paycheck. I was excited because I was receiving a decent size check for once and it seemed like I was set financially for Montreal. That is, until my job tells me pay checks won’t be in until FRIDAY.
Okay. Not having a wallet would not have been a problem. But NO MONEY?! Yeah, that’s a bit of a problem. Defeated I walk out my job to meet up with my friend. I tell him plight and he tells me how fucked up it is. Then proceeds to hand me $80. Dumbfounded, I ask if he is sure. He reminds me how much I have been looking forward to this trip, so I bashfully accept the money. I arrive at my local card shop, where I collect cards to be signed by the attending artists. After telling more friends my story, I begin to receive donations.
Usually one does shout outs at the end of these things, but it be wrong to wait until the end. Because if it weren’t for Nathaniel, Andrew, Morgan, Sam, and Zach I would not even be writing this article here. I don’t think I can ever thank those people enough.
Now that I was armed with cash, I hung out with a friend till 6am until my ride showed up on my campus. I didn’t want to risk not waking up for my ride. That would be dumb. I expected to share the “keep the driver awake” responsibility with the other person in the car. That is, until my driver notified me that the other passenger wanted to sleep. So who gets the solitary job? Me! FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC!! Whatever, I’ll suffer through it. Play Magic with no sleep seems like a fantastic idea.
Survived the car ride, Now lets sling cards.
Despite having Luis as a friend on Facebook, I wasn’t 100% sure I’d recognize him. Why? Because unlike most people in my age bracket, I don’t troll people’s Facebook’s all day. In fact, despite running a Magic the Gathering site, I do indeed have a life. Anyway, I heard someone that sounded like Luis and after awkwardly standing next to him and chiming in on a trade happening, we both figure out who the other was.
This is the moment that it sunk in I was in Montreal. Not crossing the border or walking into the venue. It was meeting Luis. When I first brought up the notion months ago after GP Providence, we both were a bit more than a little doubtful it could happen. So here we were, both tired as shit, making small talk and getting to the comfort level we have when we talk across the net. There was small talk with some twitter peeps and talks of what we wanted to rip, but no hopes being raised.
That is, until we got our sealed pools. Whats that? Jace, Memory Adept, Foil Grave Titan, Mind Controls, Belltower Sphinxes? Me likey. Luis’ was just as dumb and we laughed about how this grinder was ours.
Well, we thought so anyway. Rule one of sealed, if you open godly you will lose to shit. Or at least that’s what happened to us. But thanks to talking to Nina, aka @CardboardWitch, we realized a huge error in our mental process. Grinders are the finals, round after round. If that was the GP, we’d probably continue to win out. Not so with grinders.
With our mental state restored, Luis and I decide to play some EDH with Chris Lansdell, aka @Lansdellicious, and Charlotte Sable, aka @JqlGrl. It was fun game and a way to kill time before the FNM. Which, I think I could have done well at. That is, had I not been guilt tripped into leaving for the hotel. Which was an experience all of its own and Luis already covered.
To be honest, there isn’t much for me to say about Day 1 of the GP. I played as tight as I could but lost to better decks. So, after I dropped I focused on just relaxing, selling cards, and talking to the crew. It was cool to know that most of the people I knew at the event were doing so well. I had also made some friends, one of which made Day 2. Out of the people I knew at the event, I knew 6 people who Day 2’d. Not too bad.
After Day 1 wrapped up Luis and I were looking for something to do that evening. We linked up with KYT of Manadeprived.com, Frank from CrazyTalk, David Lee from Durdling Around, Carlos of CommanderCast, and a few other people made of win. Frank lead us through the streets of Montreal where he found us a place to eat and chill. Considering our group was like 16 people, it was surprising we were all able to sit together. Of course, the best were the non MTG related stories being slinged about life and the woes of working on a site. And bad beats. Because whats a time with Red Site Wins crew without bad beats and tilt stories.
As we all parted, I knew that no matter what happened during Day 2, I was going to remember this event as one the best MTG memories of my life. Heck, one of the best vacations of my life.
I’ve got the glow. No ya pervs, think The Last Dragon
It was nice not to have to wake up super early for a change. In fact, it was weird considering I usually have to get up early for these type of things. Luis and I had packed, for the most part, the night before so leaving in the morning was no problem. As we arrived at the venue, both of us were rather calm. Luis was going to compete in the PTQ and I was mainly going to dick about. There was really no stress attached to the day, no expectations to be met. If Luis did well, fantastic. If not, oh well. I met up with some friends I had met the day before and proceeded to have my ass handed to me in EDH. The problem with piloting a group hug EDH deck in 1v1 is that it tends to mean your opponent reaps more rewards than you do. Memo received.
Pretty much the day was filled with a lot of EDH, card signing, and interviews. Well, sort of interviews. It was more like me trying to ambush people for their opinions on stuff. I finally got a hold of Gavin Verhey between rounds of the PTQ. For all of you out there who think pros are stuck up, meet Gavin. He is one of the chillest most laid back people I know period. That including people I actually hang out with on a day to day basis. One of my friends played against him during a grinder for the GP and said it was a pleasant experience. Anyway, I asked him to just ramble on about Innistrad. For those of you wondering why his head is missing during parts of the video, I wanted to clearly show his SCG t-shirt. Man has got to make his money, right?
My next victim was poor Conley Woods. I kind of ambushed him the first second I noticed he was separated from the ChannelFireball crew. I gave him the choice of discussing Planeswalker Points, Innistrad, or his time at the GP. He chose his GP experience. I won’t lie, I was a little tired when I recorded this. It was the middle of the day and I just didn’t have the energy to keep the camera steady. I need to invest in a tripod, I know. By the way, Conley is a giant. I was not expecting that. As I told my friends, Conley Woods is not the Magic player I wanted to get into a bar fight with.
I could talk about Luis’ job at the PTQ, but you can just read his GP report for that. To be honest, the rest of Day 2 post talking to Conley Woods was uneventful. I played EDH with some people from the ManaDeprived crew, @Ejseltzer, David Lee aka Durfington, and Carlos from CommanderCast. That was some sick times. The car ride back was pretty relaxed for the most part. I was surprised that a road side McDonald’s had a cleaner bathroom than the venue. And as I got out the car back on campus I was both high from the experience and just too tired to fall asleep. Overall, this experience was definitely an 11 out of 10.
KYT aka Captain Canada -> Thanks for show Luis and I a great time. Good job knowing Luis’ age and not introducing me to your girlfriend. 😛
Chris Lansdel and Charlotte Sable -> Not only are you two bad ass judges, but it awesome to finally meet yall in person. Thanks for a sick EDH game and FNM.
Nina aka @CardboardWitch -> Keep ya chin up. Bad beats happen. Ya need to find a better Zen mode. But seriously, you gave me some awesome advice and have deff changed my outlook on competitive.
Frank -> Thanks for being so baller and finding us a spot to eat. Oh, and for pimping out my playmat.
David Lee -> The Red Site Wins playmat looks even more baller and its thanks to you. Even though no one knows what a fricking Blood Knight is.
Carlos -> I now hate Child of Alara and want to collect every copy on the planet just to burn them all. Oh, and I hate High Market. And Manabound. Just that list. And maybe you. Just a little.
Jackie Lee and Mark -> You guys were awesome. Not much else to say. Mark, good job being a baller and making Day 2.
Dani Stout -> Sick times. Thanks for making Day 2 not completely boring. Your crew of peeps were chill. Hope to see yall again.
Luis -> Dude, we made it happen. The GP would not have been the same if you weren’t there. Thanks for the laughs, the pep talks, and just being you. We need to find another event to meet up at. It will happen!
Andrew Clark, Nathaniel Galloway, Zach Doty, Morgan Frederick, and Sam Spiro -> If you it weren’t for you guys I would have never even gone to the GP. You guys are the best.