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Metagame Mistakes

Pro Tour Chicago is only four and a half months gone. Being the first major event after Invasion was released, it defined standard as we know it. A large number of players follow the doctrines set at these kinds of events, and allow them to govern what they play at tournaments, from Friday night Magic, to Regionals. And in some cases, this is very justifiable: you have to look at what is good in order to be competitive. However, there is a classic mistake that is often made after major tournaments, and it is often made over and over again. I've been a victim of this mistake. I think we all have.
It's called the metagame.
Pro's will take days, or even weeks, of playtesting just to figure out what will beat the projected metagame for the next big event. I've tried it (and failed). People try it constantly, and perhaps the most effort goes into it at the same time every year: Regionals. Every player, from the casual "one tournament a year," guy, to people who absolutely must make Nationals at any cost, are looking for the rock bigger than all other rocks. Along the way, they'll probably find any number of decks that win or lose with regularity, and will choose one that they like, and play that. But they won't find the Rock; that's reserved for a select few.
Those selected few may dominate their regions and make it to Nationals (or do well at a Pro Tour, or a Grand Prix). And they'll do it with a deck that isn't normal, something that nobody has ever seen before. They'll be heralded as a genius, articles will be written on web pages everywhere about how smart they are, how they know so much about Magic. And they'll have earned it.
Be we haven't gotten to the mistake yet. The guy who built that deck won't make it. You will.
A month later, you'll read an article on a website about that deck. You'll build it, and bring it to a local tournament, thinking to yourself, "Ha! I've got it now, there's no way I can lose to these randoms with their wacky decks!" You've got the deck, the same one that did so well at just a month before. Everything's just great.
Until you lose.
You won't be able to figure out why; I wasn't, when it happened to me. Things just will not go your way as you play through match after match. You'll watch as things happen that you didn't read about, matchups that didn't happen at that event start beating you. Creatures you never had to deal with pop up, something that you just don't have any way to deal with happens and you lose because of it. You wonder if you're doing something wrong, if maybe you're slipping a bit. If maybe you aren't as good a player as you thought.
The answer to that is probably this: you are fine. You aren't playing poorly.
You've chosen to play a "metagame" deck outside of it's metagame. You taken it from it's home, where it was built to conquer, and put it into an unfamiliar environment. It's like buying a Ferrari and trying to take it off-road; it's not built to handle the kind of pressure you put it under. It's not a matter of playing the deck where you might be making your mistake; it's the choosing of the deck that is important.
Why am I bringing this up now? With Regionals coming up, you have to be ready for anything and everything. Enjoy yourself, but give yourself the best chance you can to win, if that's your goal. Choose a deck that can handle a varied environment, and make sure you have all the tools you feel you need to be successful. Make sure you pay attention to the whole event, and not just to a portion of it. And don't simply rely on a deck from an event that is months old; you'll simply be setting yourself up for disaster. While you may not be able to make yourself into an instant winner, you will give yourself the best vehicle for the situation. Taking a deck metagamed from a Pro Tour months ago may not be the best option for your area; be ready to have your own ideas ready, and prepare what you think you need.
That's all for now. Next week, more information on Regionals, and what I think will be major factors there. Until then, have fun!