Barcelona, Rome, Frankfurt & Hamburg ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น | A Tale of Four Cities โ€” And 2 Trophies

It’s 11:57pm on a Sunday night. Two men in their early 30s gather around a table in an abandoned hotel lobby. Their bodies are tired, hungry, and exhausted from a long day in a foreign town. They have spent the last two hours roaming the suburban streets, desperately trying to find some food. After being turned away by three different restaurants they have decided to send out one last tweet calling for help, before returning home empty-stomached. But they can’t go to bed yet. There’s still something to do. They have to play Vintage! That’s what they came to this town for, that’s what their minds have been sharpened to do. The task at hand is to use Mishra’s Workshop on the first turn and cluster the board with annoying Artifacts. As our heroes keep adding absurd amounts of mana to their pool, suddenly a shimmer of hope emerges from the darkness: another group of players has seen their Bat-signal and shows up with tons of food and supplies in the hotel lobby. With the day’s final match of Vintage played, Tom and Julian feast upon their unlikely windfall. Relieved, they finally head to bed.

They’re not sure whether today was a good day. But such is the life of grinding Magic: things can get rather scrappy at times.ย 

Tom De Decker & Julian Knab after MKM Hamburg 2017

Finding Your Balance and Accepting it

The second half of 2017 has been really stressful to me, and to a certain degree, it actually annoys me a bit how often I catch myself lamenting about that. After all, Magic is supposed to be just my hobby and as such should act more as a relief than an additional “burden”, time-wise, shouldn’t it? It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. These thoughts really started around last autumn when I started looking for a new apartment, which in Munich is a really hard thing to do. I eventually found a great place but had to put tons of work and money into making it the place of my dreams. During this period, which lasted from about October till February, Magic took a major step back in my life. And I felt great about it. There’s nothing wrong with the game – after all, it helped pay for a lot of all the new furniture I had to get. But during this time I realized how much more relaxed and less stressed out I had been. I remember that during the first three months at my new place, I only played a single League on MTGO. In the pastย  I averaged 2 leagues on a weekday and an absurd amount more on the weekends I was home.

During these couple of months away from the game I in fact never missed it. I would still sometimes show up to our weekly Magic gatherings at a restaurant, but I wasn’t playing Magic with competitive drive. However what I did kinda miss was content creation: writing articles, doing silly streams or recording videos; sharing my experience and knowledge. Some of you might remember what I consider two of the best articles I have written last year (MKM Frankfurt & Eternal Weekend). I thoroughly enjoyed writing those articles even though I had to put an ungodly amount of hours into each one of them. I also love everything about projects such as producing the Legacy Mediocre League and the Legacy Premier League. Not to mention shooting the (competitive) shit with my friends from all around the world in our Everyday Eternal episodes. Or producing my April Fool’s video this year where we broke Academy Rector before it even knew it was broken. Producing this kind of content is something I happily sink time into because it’s fun and I enjoy seeing you guys enjoy it.

But the time commitment is very real. When I do produce content, you will often find me in front of the computer at 4am, putting some finishing touches on a video or article because I really want to get out to you. And while it’s fun while doing, when I step back and think about all the other amazing things I want to do in life, it is an unreasonable commitment. If playing competitive Magic and producing content about it was all I ever did, I would not be happy in the long run. At the same time, I don’t like compromising and releasing content of which I knew I could do better. But such is the life of anyone who likes producing something: you often know that with even more effort you could do even better. And you think of this as some kind of “challenge”, something you want to pursue and improve upon as much as you can, without wondering whether it’s logistically sustainable. The latter is a revelation I only just recently had. The primary challenge of producing content as a hobby is not how far you can push it – it’s finding your perfect logistical balance between the time you invest and the quality you put out.

I’ve been struggling to find this balance, but after becoming aware of this general tension and how it impacts my life, I already feel much better. I want to produce more and better content, but I have accepted that I don’t always have the logistical resources to.* Coming to accept is something that I have learned from reading my friend James’s Hsu’s blog and the talks we had. James produces the (by far!) best Magic-related podcast I am aware of (Humans of Magic); he’s worked a ton on both his technical skills but also invested many hours into improving his skills as an interviewer – and it really shows! His super professional way of approaching each episode, preparing for his guests and guiding the interview is some of the best I have ever seen. But just like me, he has a lot of other commitments that require his attention more than Magic ever will. And it seems he is at terms with that. Something I only very recently came to accept for myself.

*My patreons actually do help a lot with balancing my commitment to Magic, as their monthly contributions have helped me more than they probably think over the course of this year. Without them, I might not have been able to travel to several events I ended up attending this year. I am really super grateful for that, really. I don’t want anyone to ever feel obligated to financially support me for what I am doing; not everyone has the means or feels comfortable with that and that’s perfectly fine. But for those people who do go out of their way, I just want you guys & girls to know that you do make a very real impact! ๐Ÿ™‚

A Tale of Four Cities

Since I am also using this blog is kind of a public Magic diary, here’s what I’ve been up to ever since we last caught up with me at the (for me) disastrous MKM Prague event last summer. Once you expand the single events, you will also find the decklist I fielded for most of them.

ย MKM Hamburg (15th – 17th Sept 2017)

VINTAGE Main Event:
Round 1 โ€” Dredge โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 2 โ€” Dredge โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 3 โ€” BUG Leovold โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 4 โ€” White Eldrazi โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 5 โ€” UWr Landstill โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Round 6
โ€” White Eldrazi โ€” ID
Quareterfinalย โ€” White Eldrazi โ€” 2:0 WIN
Semifinalย โ€” UWr Landstill โ€” 2:0 WIN
Finalย โ€” Paradoxical Storm โ€” 2:0 WIN (vs Tom De Decker)
Final Result: 1st out of 34 players

Thanks to my friend Tom De Decker I was able to participate in Hamburg’s Vintage Event, trying to secure highly valuable points for MKM’s Power8 Race. I went with a pretty standard Ravager Workshop list, which you can find here. Looking back, even though Tangle Wire had been really good for me in that event, Steel Overseer was even better and I would certainly recommend running a playset of it. On top of that, I later tried lists with Hangarback Walker and was blown away between the crazy synergies and damage potential between these two cards, Arcbound Ravager and Walking Ballista. Truly bonkers and a blast to play at the same time. I ended up taking down the entire event, beating Tom in the finals. I felt really sorry for doing so since he’s the by far better Vintage player playing a much more interesting deck. At least to me, Workshop feels like the most unreasonable deck I’ve ever played in a format. In a way, it’s like Legacy Belcher, except that it also has a long game. My only loss came from a Landstill deck which locked me out with maindeck Moat, backed up by (3 maindeck!) Stony Silence for the hard lock. Guess that’s what it takes to defeat Workshop. Though I still got my revenge in the semis >:-)

LEGACY Main Event:
Round 1 โ€” ANT โ€” 1:2 LOSS (Rodrigo Togores)
Round 2 โ€” Grixis Cryptic Servant Delver โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 3 โ€” Grixis Delver โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 4 โ€” ANTโ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 5
โ€” Czech Pile โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 6 โ€” Grixis Delver โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 7 โ€” Sneak Show โ€” 1:2 LOSS (Dennis Zens)
Round 8 โ€” Czech Pile(?) โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Round 9ย โ€” RG Lands โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Result: 5-4 for 72th out of 298 players

The Legacy event started out with a boom, losing to Rodrigo in the first round. As usual, the postboard games of Elves vs ANT are super technical and even though I lost, I really enjoyed them. After winning my next 5 rounds I ended up facing Dennis Zens on Sneak Show. He narrowly edged out probably the most important win of the season with regards to the Power8 race. Looking back, this is where I lost my chance at taking the overall #1 spot. Overall MKM Hamburg 2017 was an okay experience and I’m super happy I got to take home the winner’s trophy. However, the venue certainly left some things to be desired and I’m happy they moved the 2018 iteration of it to a different one.

ย MKM Barcelona (4th – 5th November 2017)

I still won this game!

VINTAGE Main Event:
Round 1 โ€” Budget White Eldrazi โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 2 โ€” UWr Mentor โ€” 0:2 LOSS
Round 3 โ€” Dredge โ€” 0:2 LOSS
Round 4 โ€” MUD โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 5 โ€” Junk Humans โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 6
โ€” Oath โ€” WIN
Result: 15th out of 47 players

Like in Hamburg, I entered the Vintage instead of the Modern tournament in Barcelona. I only realized halfway through the season that doing so provides a lot more ranking points on average, while also being a lot more enjoyable format for me. In the end, I fell short of the Top8, but got to squeeze out a win against Oath despite him getting both Griselbrand and Inferno Titan down. As I said, Workshop is busted and Arcbound Ravager allows for some of the craziest combat tricks I’ve ever pulled out. An interesting situation arose in the first round of the event where I made a lethal attack, the opponent declared no blocks. I announced that he went to 0 life, while he insisted he was still at 3. We eventually had the head judge investigate the situation. However, as my record-keeping on my life pad was a lot clearer than my opponent’s (who had noted ~3 life total changes as opposed to my 10+), the HJ almost immediately sided with me upon checking both our pads. The opponent got really annoyed, so playing the second game against him wasn’t very enjoyable, but what can you do. Be sloppy, get punished.

Everyone needs to see Messi at least once in their life.

LEGACY Main Event:
Round 1 โ€” *BYE*ย 
Round 2 โ€” Sneak Show โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Round 3 โ€” Grixis Delver โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 4 โ€” Infect โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 5
โ€” BUG Pile โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 6 โ€” Deathblade โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 7 โ€” Elves โ€”ย 2:1 WIN
Round 8 โ€” RB Reanimator โ€”ย 2:0 WIN
Quarterfinals โ€” Sneak Show โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Result: Top8 out of 298 players

I really, REALLY enjoyed my time in Barcelona. To me, even though I already started moving away from Magic to carry out the refurbishments on my new apartment, these couple of days really helped me clear my head a little, while also spending a couple of great days with my friends. And of course, there was Messi! I’ve always wanted to visit the Camp Nou, Europe’s largest stadium and a temple to every football fan in the world. I also figured that if one day my future kids would ask me why I had never gone to see Messi *live*, I would regret it sooo much! So I got myself a ticket for Barca’s match vs FC Sevilla, which they ended up claiming with a 2-1 victory. If you ever get the chance, definitely try to catch some live-action Messi. It’s astonishing to see just how much time he spends just slowly walking around the field. If I had to guess I’d say that he does that for ~70% of the match. But when he gets the ball, with 2 defenders approaching him from behind, he turns into just something else. Cristiano Ronaldo might be a goal-scoring machine that has all his stats completely maxed out. But Messi, he actually hacked the game and transcends all our humanly categories of a footballer. I’m really happy I finally got to see him in the flesh.

Oh, and there was a Magic tournament, too. I ended up Top8’ing after telling the coverage that my built of Elves only ever lost to Sneak Show. Even though I didn’t win the event, my prediction held up perfectly. If you have the time, definitely check out game1 of my Quarterfinals vs Sneak Show, which was one of the most stellar performances of Nissa, Vital Force you’ll ever get to see:

That’s my lady, Nissa! Unfortunately, I couldn’t repeat this performance for the second and third game, once again going out in the Quarterfinals. Still, because Tomas Mar ended up losing to Maximilian Lorenz in the semifinals, my Top8 finish was good enough to barely surpass both Tomas and Johannes Gutbrod in the MKM Power 8 rankings. Because Dennis Zens ended up winning the Modern event that weekend, he was already out of reach for me anyway. Looking back at it now, I’m really happy I got that 2nd place overall finish as the benefits that come with it have been helping me out a lot this season, but following my #1 finish in the previous season, I did feel somewhat disappointed at the time.

ย MKM Frankfurt (5th – 7th January 2018)

MODERN Main Event:
Round 1 โ€” Burn โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 2 โ€” Burn โ€” 0:2ย LOSS
Round 3 โ€” RG Ponza โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 4 โ€” Eldrazi & Taxes โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 5
โ€” BGuw Midrange โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Round 6 โ€” BGw Midrange โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Round 7 โ€” Jund โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Round 8 โ€” UWr Midrange โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Result: 3-5 Drop (620 players)

Guess what, I finally stopped playing Ad Nauseam in Modern after lamenting about it for almost 2 years now. But oh well, I still sucked. On the upside, I did play GW Elves and despite my way too many losses, the deck definitely felt competitive. The sweetest play was a turn3 combo kill with Vizier of Remedies against my tapped out Burn opponent. I might continue playing the deck in the future, but my interest in the format in general is at such an all-time low that I don’t see myself putting some real preparation into it. At that point, I think it’s probably just better to stick with Ad Nauseam since it has a more proactive, unfair gameplan. As a bonus perk, I won’t have to put up with the Tron matchup. All the crying and lamenting about that deck is really deterring me from playing anything weak to it. People seem to be absolutely livid about being Tron-ed out of games.

LEGACY Main Event:
Round 1 โ€” ANT โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 2 โ€” ANT โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Round 3 โ€” MonoB Land Destruction โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 4 โ€” Czech Pile โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 5
โ€” UW Stoneblade โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 6 โ€” Eldraziโ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 7ย โ€” Czech Pileโ€”ย 1:2 LOSS (Feature Match)
Round 8 โ€” RB Reanimator โ€”ย 1:2 LOSS
Round 9ย โ€” Burn โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Result: 5-4 for 104th out of 380 players

Legacy started out really promising and I eventually found myself in the feature match against Czech Pile. Ignore that the thumbnail says “Round 8” and “Aggro Loam”, which is just a mistake on MKM’s part. Check out the video below:

Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for me. I promptly lost the next round against BR Reanimator as well, despite Glimpse comboing through an on-board Chancellor of the Annex for which my opponent missed every trigger.. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Still, I had a really great time in Frankfurt and enjoyed every minute of it. One thing I could certainly tell was that I lack proper practice, which comes at no surprise since I hadn’t played a single League on MTGO in over 2 months at this point. But that didn’t stop me from mounting a crazy comeback in Round 3: my opponent had 2 Lilianas on the board + 3 cards in hand, while I only had 4 regular lands and a Gaea’s Cradle, hellbent and no creatures. To my big surprise, he then decided to Ghost Quarter my Cradle instead of one of my “proper” lands, which allowed me to upgrade Cradle into a Forest. After topdecking Nissa, Vital Force on my turn to immediately take down one of his planeswalkers, I completely turned around the game on the following turn. All because of that small Ghost Quarter misplay. Legacy can be super brutal at times, I’m loving it.

ย MKM Rome (16th – 18th March 2018)

It was at this moment Julian realized he might need a new phone.

MODERN Main Event:
Round 1 โ€” UG Merfolk โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 2 โ€” UG Infect โ€” 0:2ย LOSS
Round 3 โ€” BR Midrange โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 4 โ€” BR Midrange โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 5
โ€” Jund โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 6 โ€” Naya Zoo โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Round 7 โ€” Bogles โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 8 โ€” 5c Shadow โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Result: 5-3 for 40th out of 192 players

Back to Ad Nauseam because I really do believe it’s better than Elves right now. I had a pretty decent start once again with the only loss coming from the probably worst matchup in the whole metagame, Infect. The following two rounds felt lake absolute cakewalks vs BR Midrange Young Pyromancer decks. While they do have some disruption, the clock they present isn’t amazing and their lack of countermagic makes the matchup feel a lot better than against its Grixis Delver cousin. I remember stealing both postboard games with Grave Titans (once even back-to-back Titans) that the opponents never could handle. If Grixis Midrange establishes itself as one of the best or most-played decks in the format, I’m feeling a lot better about Ad Nauseam.

Losing round 6 to Naya Zoo did hurt a bit though. The matchup feels incredibly good with only Blood Moon as their only relevant interaction. Unfortunately, my opponent got me pretty good with exactly that when he topdecked the enchantment right before I was able to go off on my turn. Shit happens. I’ve been on both sides of these topdecks way too many times to really care about it for more than just a minute or two. Round 7 against Bogles for example, the variance was once again on my side. My opponent knew I was on Ad Nauseam and had also seen all my previous lists in which I didn’t play maindeck Laboratory Maniac. Therefore he happily mulliganned down to a super unimpressive hand of 5 cards, but presented me with Leyline of Sanctity. What he didn’t know was that I had finally come around to maindecking the Maniac. In the face of no offence on his side, I quickly took down the game by drawing from an empty library. After losing g2, I then quickly took down game 3 in which my opponent had a strong offence but no interaction.

Judge call: proper priority etiquette

In the last round I had an interesting judge call. Game 3 I had Leyline of Sanctity on the battlefield. This is how the situation played out:

Opponent: ย  *revealing Mishra’s Bauble from his hand* – “Bauble?”
Me: ย  “Ok.”
Opponent: ย  *puts Bauble into his graveyard, immediately grabs and looks at my top card*
Me: ย  “I have Leyline, you can’t do that.”

We call a judge who ends up ruling that both of us will receive a warning.: my opponent for activating Mishra’s Bauble on a player with Hexproof, and I for allowing him to activate Bauble on me in the first place. Now I didn’t really care about the Warning, but I felt “violated” in my integrity as a player because of the ruling. I argued with the head judge that there was no way I should be issued a warning as I had done everything correctly and should not be liable for my opponent activating and resolving Mishra’s Bauble without giving me a chance to stop him. My opponent argued that he thought I had already allowed him to activate the Bauble, but that is not true. I confirmed the resolution of it, as one should. There’s nothing more annoying than opponents who don’t confirm each and everything that uses the stack: be it the use of Fetchlands (“Dude, I don’t play Stifle”), casting of spells (“I don’t play blue, man!”) or other seemingly unimportant interactions. Whenever an opponent insists that you should just do your thing without waiting for their confirmation, they actually create a favourable scenario for them: technically you can not proceed or resolve your spell without their permission. By still doing so, your opponent can always argue that they wanted to respond to something you did after you have revealed important extra information. As such, it’s a good habit to both always confirm each and every single thing your opponent does, but also always wait for their agreement to anything you do. This can be tiresome but it’s the best way to protect you from anything either shady, or even just takebacks where your opponent didn’t have any ill-intent but also originally forget to confirm your spell.

Because of my very firm belief in this way of playing very clean Magic, I felt especially violated by the judge’s decision to also issue a warning for me in this scenario. The judge argued that it was reasonable to assume that I had agreed to both the resolution and immediately activation of Mishra’s Bauble. I countered that this was in no way a reasonable assumption as there not only are many scenarios in which the opponent would want to cast, but not immediately activate the Bauble since it’s a delayed card draw. On top of not communicating that he also wanted to activate the Bauble, my opponent also made no notion to indicate a potential Bauble activation’s target. This is especially important because in the previous game he had activated Bauble on himself all the time because of my Leyline.

Eventually, the judge agreed with me and withdrew the warning he had originally issued. Gotta give him props for that. Admitting a mistake is not easy and I’m glad he came to this eventual ruling. It didn’t matter for the outcome of the game and I don’t think there was any kind of ill intent in my opponent. It was just that it really rubbed me the wrong way that I should receive a warning for trying to play as clean as I can.

LEGACY Main Event:
Round 1 โ€” *BYE*ย 
Round 2 โ€” Elves โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 3 โ€” Sneak Show โ€” 1:2 LOSS
Round 4 โ€” RG Lands โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 5
โ€” GWb Maverick โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 6 โ€” Dredgeโ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 7ย โ€” Sneak Showโ€”ย 2:1 WIN
Round 8 โ€” Czech Pile โ€” ID
Quarterfinalsย โ€” UR OmniTell โ€” 0:2 LOSS
Result: Top8 out of 111 players

Remember what I said in Barcelona? Elves only ever loses to Sneak Show. While not technically true (see Frankfurt..), my prediction once again held up in Rome as I cruised through the Swiss only to come to a sudden stop in the Quarterfinals. Along the way, I even managed to squeeze out a super close win vs Sneak Show in my win-and-in match in round 7. If you wanna watch my quarterfinals, check it out below. The only really interesting situation is when I Thoughtseize my opponent in game2:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luCMsFa0HZs(Note: It took me exactly 2 minutes to resolve the Thoughtseize. I should have received a Slow Play warning long before that.)The commentators’ assessment of the situation is off. Here’s what happens depending on which card I discard:

This leaves me with only Emrakul as the only viable thing to take as it requires my opponent to either find Omniscience or another Emrakul. By Surgical’ing Emrakul, I get to reduce my opponent down to 4 topdecks, which I can potentially even stop cold if I ever find Reclamation Sage. Unfortunately, my opponent found the Omniscience on his next turn and proceeded to kill me turn after. Sometimes you make the right call and still lose. People get frustrated by that but I think it’s one of the most important aspects of Magic as a game. Because Magic lacks a dexterity-based component, it is important to have a certain amount of variance in the game in order to allow for a large number of people to play it in a competitive setting.

In the end, I was even reunited with Yoshi, which I had lost on the very first day of the event! While checking out I randomly spotted him behind the reception counter. Apparently, someone had deposited it there on the last night as it had not been there on all the previous occasions I had asked for him. Really happy to get my mascot back! ๐Ÿ™‚

ย MKM Hamburg (20th May 2018)

LEGACY Main Event:
Round 1 โ€” Czech Pile โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 2 โ€” Slivers โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 3 โ€” OmniSneak โ€” 2:1 WIN
Round 4 โ€” Infect โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 5 โ€” Turbo Depths โ€” 0:2 LOSS
Round 6
โ€” Eldrazi โ€”ย 2:0 WIN
Round 7
โ€” Steel Stompy โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 8
โ€” Esper Deathblade โ€” 2:0 WIN
Round 9
โ€” Eldrazi โ€” 2:0 WIN
Quarterfinal โ€” Moon Stompy โ€” 2:1 WIN
Semifinalย โ€” Belcher โ€” 2:1 WIN
Finalย โ€” Slow Depths โ€” 2:1 WIN
Result: 1st out of 260 players

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! Or in this case: an amazing burger in downtown Hamburg ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m incredibly happy to have taken down this event because it was a real hassle to travel to and I almost even bailed out of it the night before. My initial plans of travel there with friends had fallen through as our driver had to cancel the trip. At that point, flights and regular train rides had already become quite expensive..and I really didn’t feel like riding a flix bus for 14 hours. Eventually, I warmed up to the idea of just skipping the trials and Modern main event, only participating in the Legacy Main Event. I ended up taking the train from Munich to Hamburg on Saturday night at 18:30, only arriving at 02:00 in the morning at my friend Jan Lenger’s apartment. After only 4 hours of sleep, we woke up for the event, which we almost missed by taking the wrong train. Fortunately, we weren’t too far off and could take a different one to arrive at the venue with still half an hour to spare.

Semifinals vs Belcher

Regarding my decklist, I opted for the same maindeck that had already served me well at MKM Rome earlier this year. I think it’s a pretty safe bet when it comes to consistency for events where you don’t wanna make too much of a metagame gamble. For the sideboard I ended up cutting all the discard which felt like a huge relief. I HATE discard in Legacy, it’s so bad. For non-blue decks it’s kind of a necessary evil in order to keep up with combo decks. But I’ve never even liked it one big, except against Miracles where discard really shines now. Against the likes of ANT, Sneak Show etc, discard is not only a huge tempo loss, it’s also not very good to begin with. Most Legacy combo decks have a lot of interchangeable pieces, as well as many ways to play around discard with softcounters and Brainstorm. Because you still need interaction, I decided to include the 2 Mindbreak Traps, which I have always liked in Elves as they perfectly support my general approach to the ANT matchup of having Deathrite Shaman and Quirion Ranger online as soon as possible. Once you got those two on the table, Mindbreak Trap has already done its damage by safely getting us to turn 2/3 and it’s okay if they discard it. On top of that, it also doubles as hate vs other matchups such as TES, Belcher and BR Reanimator. If you’re desperate you can also bring it in vs OmniSneak, which isn’t completly unreasonable but I can’t really recommend doing so.

The Elderscale Wurm is there for the Dark Depths matchups. I like it a lot more than Karakas against those decks as they usually have tons of ways around the legendary Land, but have a harder (but not impossible) time dealing with the Wurm. Of course, the downside is that you won’t have Karakas for the Czech Pile matchup, where bouncing Leovold, Emissary of Trest into Glimpse of Nature for the win is an important line. On the upside, the Wurm doubles as additional hate for RG Lands, TES, Burn, Eldrazi, Dredge and Belcher. Thus far I’m really liking it in big tournamnts.

My tournament routine

I have a very special routine for big tournaments that I deeply enjoy but don’t always adhere to. In Hamburg I once again and I’m super happy to see it paid off. Here are some important cornerstones to the kind of tournament routine that was worked out the best for me with regards to results. I employed the exact same routine back at Bazaar of Moxen Paris 2013 which I ended up taking down, too:

  • Reduce community interaction to a minimum
  • Don’t watch your friends play
  • Acknowledge but try to generally avoid people’s bad beat stories
  • After your match, sit/lie down outside and enjoy fresh air, sun and music
  • Have a dedicated playlist you crafted for this tournament
  • Drink about 4 litres of water over 9 rounds
  • Avoid stress at all costs
  • Use online pairings
  • Don’t think about prizes/finishes until it becomes relevant to your current round

Like I said, most of the time I don’t really stick to these guidelines. I just love interacting with people and watching exciting matches on the top tables. But in Hamburg, everything was perfect, especially the weather and the opportunity to sit outside in the grass and let the sun shine onto you. My girlfriend who was watching the stream even noticed that I was playing the finals with a sunburn on my right arm. I also messaged home my current status after every round while she was cheering for me, which really is an amazing feeling ๐Ÿ™‚ While I played the finals my mobile phone in my pocket kept going off from the messages that arrived whenever I made a game-changing play. And while I couldn’t look at the messages at the time, it’s such a great feeling to still notice how much someone is cheering for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

If you wanna watch my two features matches, check our round 8 on MKM’s Twitch channel. They haven’t uploaded that one to YouTube, but you can still access it here. As for the finals, see below:

(Note that the commentators unfortunately were off with their assumptions that my last attack wasn’t lethal. I could actually untap two of my creatures to (even after blocks) swing for 27 altogether, easily enough to kill my opponent.)

I got incredibly lucky in game2 there! While I untapped I even announced to my opponent that there’s only one card that could still win the game for me. I carefully lifted it and could feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins as I spotted that sweet yellow leopard cheetah. After triple-checking that it was actually lethal, I cast Natural Order in Craterhoof Behemoth for exactsies!

In the third game, Jan was watching from behind me. You will notice that on my penultimate turn I passed with Green Sun’s Zenith in hand. I could have played it for Elderscale Wurm to make sure I wouldn’t die to Marit Lage anytime soon. Instead, I decided to wait a turn that would allow me to GSZ for lethal on the following turn. The risk of that play is that you’re opening yourself up to discard. However, the opponent already demonstrated that he didn’t have discard and would need to topdeck it. Weighing the potential upside (winning the game) vs the downside (having to topdeck one of surprisingly many outs myself) I am super happy to keep the GSZ there and “make him have it”.

He didn’t have it. I won!

Have an awesome summer!

So long,
-Julian

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