For all of us not fortunate enough to be sweating it out in London this past weekend, the UK has just had its first Regional Pro Tour Qualifier. The new qualifier system was announced last year by Wizards of the Coast and this is the first time we can really see the results.
Roughly 106 qualified players gathered at Dark Sphere in London for the event, each receiving a shiny new promo Liliana of the Veil. The number of Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers for the season hosted in Great Britain and Ireland was around 90, and while we had a few Europeans travel over for the tournament the event didn't meet the required 128 players necessary for Pro Tour Invites for the whole Top 8, rather than just the Top 4.
Not hitting the Ideal 128 players is unfortunate but not unexpected. Being off the coast of mainland Europe makes us one of the more awkward PTQs to get to, and not one that's likely to hit the player threshold either leaving little incentive to travel over. Unless we have an influx of advanced level stores we're unlikely to hit in future either. In fact only 2 Regional Qualifiers worldwide hit the 129 player trigger.
So without further ado I would like to congratulate Antonis Fyssas, Sean Thompson, Karim Al Takrouri, and Chris Foster on qualifying for Pro Tour Magic Origins.
Moving on last weekend I played the Modern PPTQ in Leicester I mentioned briefly before. Going in I was unsure exactly what the meta would look like, so I ended up settling on a fairly straightforward Splinter Twin list with a few interesting choices in the 75. As it turns out the tournament was poorly attended with an astonishingly low 13 players with only a few people coming in from out of town.
The players agreed to play 5 rounds and cut to top 4 rather than 4 rounds and top 8 because there were so few of us. I managed to 4-0-1 the swiss, intentionally drawing my last round as the only player on 12 points to guarantee 1st seed (giving me the play in every match in the top 4). The rest of the top 4 consisted of a Jund Deck, a Hate Bears deck, and a Affinity deck.
Unfortunately due to breakers I had to play Tom, a good friend of mine on Jund, while the Hate Bears and Affinity players who'd traveled in for the event together got paired against each other. Tom and I play a bunch of Modern against each other pretty much every week, and we both know the ins and outs of each others lists. Being on the play put me at a huge advantage especially because I was packing 2 main deck Blood Moons, and I managed to 2-0 him with a bit of luck on my part. In the other semi-final game 1 was a grueling slog fest eventually ending in the favour of the Affinity player, game 2 ending much quicker with Affinity the victor of the match.
Going into the finals I was feeling pretty confident. I'd 2-0'd him in the swiss, and got to be on the play. Game 1 went off without a hitch, I had a good amount of interaction early and managed to combo off fairly easily. Post-board I figured my match up got even better with a full 4 copies of Ancient Grudge waiting in the wings.
In game 2 he tapped out for an Etched Champion on turn 3 with his only other artifacts in play a Cranial Plating, a Memnite and an Inkmoth Nexus without mana to activate. I untap and decide to fetch shock to mainphase Ancient Grudge the Plating followed by the Champion putting me down to 8 life. He untaps, plays a Galvanic Blast to put me to 4, then plays a Arcbound Ravager and a Darksteel Citadel to exactly have me dead animating his nexus to sacrifice all his artifacts onto the Memnite.
That's not exactly something I could predict and it seems almost insane not to make the play I made to kill the Plating and Champion, but there are other lines I could have taken. There was no chance I was dead to Inkmoth Nexus and Plating, and I would be able to Snapcaster Mage - Lightning Bolt his Nexus once I'd untapped again. While the play looks correct, I definitely should have taken more time to consider other possible lines and factor in what my opponent could have in hand.
Game 3 I was on the play again and feeling good still despite losing the second game. My opening hand was Deceiver Exarch, Deceiver Exarch, Lightning Bolt, and 4 lands. Its underwhelming, but I thought if was probably better than an average 6 card hand. The game was going along ok, Id managed to stay above water but was missing a Twin or Kiki-Jiki to finish the game. He manages to make a 4/4 Inkmoth with a Arcbound Ravager which puts me on a three turn clock. With me on zero infect, he casts a Spellskite in his mainphase before combat and I completely blank and forget to tap the Nexus in responce which would have bought me an extra turn later. As it happens this mistake ends up costing me the game and the match, along with a 'golden ticket' to the 'bright lights and sunshine' of Huddersfield and a RPTQ. But hey that's Magic, live and learn.
This weekend I'm playing in a local Standard PPTQ at the other Leicester store. Its capped at 26 places so will also be fairly small and will be largely played by locals with a couple of grinders possibly coming in to stake a claim in Leicester soil. Hopefully I'll get a chance to redeem myself. At this point the standard format has been pretty well threshed out, we've had multiple Grand Prix, a Pro Tour, and a number of Open Series to see how the format has shaped up. Between that and knowing the local meta fairly well hopefully I can make another great deck choice for this tournament.
Once again that's it from me this week but before I sign off I wouldn't want to miss a chance to share Michael Flores' RPTQ winning decklist. Here it is in all of its glory: