My last post was just a preamble of what it took just to get to GP Chicago. Now I can get into my experience a little, this is just from me. I wanted to record my impressions before reading the big picture coverage at wizard’s site or anywhere else. I did see who won but I am mostly ignorant about the metagame and analysis. There was first a heat wave outside, then a thunderstorm and flash flood warning; my wife and mother-in-law’s situation was never far from my mind as I got text messages from her about all the adversity she was having. Between that and the stressful trip I was really tense, I unfortunately keep all my tension in my shoulders and they were just on fire most of the day. That is not an excuse, I gave this event my best; there are always obstacles and unforeseen bad news so I tried to be prepared for playing at less than 100%. I do not think I am being pessimistic to state that I cannot think of any positive or good surprises that can jump out of a competition, the one “gift” I received made me feel guilty as hell. In fact, both of my wins were basically flukes (2-1-3). But hey, I got to play at a Grand Prix!
My first match was with Joe Hletko, nice guy I would have a beer with him. He was playing mono blue devotion and I felt kind of confident despite my haggard condition. I practiced against mono blue and had a pretty good record against it. This was definitely not practice though, both games we finished were long, draining affairs even though we were friendly competitors. I was kind of relieved when we ran out of time in the third game even though I had just resolved an Aetherling and probably could have pulled out a win with more time. It really was a good match and I wished Joe the best of luck as I hurriedly packed up my stuff with shaking fingers.
I should probably state that I have been working very hard on my deck. I played U/W Control, partially because I feel it reflects my personality and partially because the very first card I pulled at a Return to Ravnica Draft was a Sphinx’s Revelation. I may not be the best judge of power but I have never seen a combination Alabaster potion and Braingeyser, and knew that this was really something. Since then I pulled 2 more revelations, 2 hallowed fountains, an Elspeth, detention spheres, Azorius charms, and a few other components of the deck. Then I traded a Wasteland for 2 Jace Vs. Vraska sets, 4 Temples of Enlightenment, and 4 Supreme Verdicts (a test Esper deck I made with proxy sweepers convinced me some months ago to keep on this path). I spent what my wife believed to be an obsessive amount of time refining and practicing with this deck and GP Chicago was probably my only shot at really testing whether it was worth it or not. Jim Davis’ innovation of removing D-spheres for planar cleansing caused me some consternation but in the end my deck contained none of the latter. My only contribution was two main decked Kiora’s Dismissals to recall my D-spheres, bounce my opponents’ enchantments, and in a prime testament to my commitment to cutesiness I believed I could use this card to reset D-spheres if I they played additional copies of whatever I was detaining. I do not recall actually pulling this off but in my next match I did make Dan sacrifice a Jace when two of them were suddenly in play on his side of the table.
That would be Dan Johnson, not Charles Johnson who had originally sat down across from me in the second match. In all honesty despite winning this match, I would almost have preferred Charles’ Boros Burn to the control mirror with Dan. This epic struggle pretty much consumed my will to continue. Even with an extension of time due to the mix-up of Johnsons, there was only one game completed in this match. I am almost 99% sure that I would have pulled the second victory if time had permitted but Dan was very upset that 1-1-0 is still a win, not a draw. Whereas some players will simply concede if they are going to lose, nothing I did in either game convinced Dan to let it go so that was what we were left with. It was such a mess, at one point all 8 Detention Spheres and a couple of Banishing Lights were in play but no advantage was to be gained. One think occurred that I had never experienced or thought of before, the text box of D-Sphere where it says “target nonland permanent and all other cards with that name” means your side too, oops. Not sure if that particular copy of Jace would have given either of us the edge for victory but you never know. I definitely will consider that in the future and try not to make the same mistake again.