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Ray Powers

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PTQ Season is here!


Ok ok, PTQ season is always here, but it sounded good. This season happened to be for PTQ Seattle, and I ran my first PTQ for it this past weekend. In all honesty, I don’t have a lot to talk about for the PTQ itself. There were only eight teams, which was horrible for me from a financial perspective, but everyone seemed to have fun.


The top two-team draft was one of the scariest things I have ever seen, including a team leader almost shipping a Pentavus to his opponent’s team, until another teammate pointed it out with what we shall call some “very active pointing and gesturing.”


As a judge, I had to be objective for the entire draft, but I will admit that sometimes I just had to hang my head in shame that this was my top draft table.


My store manager, Jon, often seemed to echo my thoughts watching the draft. Now, don’t get me wrong, the draft wasn’t unskilled. In fact, the winning team (who then rescinded their invite) had an excellent call of the draft and the team leader knew what he was doing.


But the draft was still a nightmare. The players were not drafting what they should be, not hating when they should be, and not drafting to beat each other.


It was my good friend Jay’s birthday, so we had a short meeting amongst us and determined a plan for the evening. The plan included going to Ninja for some Sushi, Teppan grill, and sake, then coming back to do a team draft of our own.


Ninja was quite the experience this time around. This place is normally one of the best Teppan grills anywhere, despite the bad name, but this time around, we got Super Drunk Samurai as our chef. He missed the knife acrobatics twice, thankfully not killing any of us, gave Brandi two bowls of hot sauce and no sweet and sour, and in general was just a bad drunk as a Teppan Grill chef. Its one of those situations where you wonder if its safe to complain, or if he’ll chop you to little bits. Even my steak was bad, which NEVER happens there. At least the Sushi Chef was on the ball, and my California Rolls were great. But next time I head down there, I’m going to complain to the manager, out of earshot of scary drunk knife wielding chefs.

We got back right as the store was closing, and had our six guys ready to go. After random picks for teams it came out to Jon Chabot, Chris Revior, and Dan Voigt versus Jay Webb, myself, and Mike Bahr, a former level three judge.  Jon was calling for his team and Jay for our team, with me kind of doing audibles on the side for Jay. Jay, of all things elected to open the first pack, to “see how it went.”


Well, this was just for fun, might as well. The early picks were pretty easy to define. With the seating as follows:


Chris – Jon – Dan

Me – Jay – Mike


Dan was very early into affinity, and Mike was early into green. We originally had Jay into Black white, but the packs were learning towards some good blue spells, and the white seemed to fit Mike’s deck better, so we fell rather early into me playing g/r, Jay playing b/u, and Mike playing g/w. On the other side, Chris was into u/w early, and as I said, Dan was affinity from pick one pretty much, which left Jon. Jon was shrewd to not commit early, and it was hard to define where he was going at first. A couple key points for our draft.


  1. Me being in the R/G slot meant I got every artifact destruction spell there was to get, especially when you notice that I was the only player in red… Almost, Jon did jump into red, but I still got the lion’s share of the artifact removal. Except…


  1. The one Creeping Mold that got over to Mike, when it was apparent that Chris was going to get a Longbow in their match. The Longbow could prove devastating to Mike, so the Creeping Mold passed to him.


  1. When Jon grabbed up a Spikeshot Goblin, It became suddenly apparent that Jay needed more removal, and Essence Drains went higher than they normally may have.


  1. Even worse, then Jon picked up a Sword of Light and Shadow. To combat it, Jay picked up an Echoing Truth, to buy time, and a Vex. Laugh all you want, but its well worth Vexing a Sword of Light and Shadow when you are U/B.


After the draft, as we sat down, the first words out of my mouth were “we didn’t hate enough.” My draft and Mike’s were good, and Jay’s was ok, but we passed a couple bombs we probably should not have, including a Barter in Blood, and a Death Cloud which both went right into Dan’s deck.


On the bright side, Jon was undervaluing Tangle Spiders, giving Mike two of them. Jon argued that when you knew they were coming, they weren’t as good, but I think, in this case, he missed the point. This was the W/G versus W/U match up. It was all about whose fliers got through. Mike having two Tangle Spiders, one Tel Jihad Archers, and a Blinding Beam was all he needed to eventually push through for the when. Jon had a good argument that U/W normally has an advantage of G/W, but I think Mirrodin skews that a little. All the good fliers are white, especially if you have equipment, and Mike had three pieces, so it really comes down to who has the tricks. Mike had Stir the Pride, Blinding Beam, and Awe Strike, and I think those were the key to his victory of 2-0 versus Chris.


Jay’s match up was not so good. Jon had drafted well, despite hiding a lot of what he really had, and was able to sweep Jay in short order. I didn’t have the time to go through Jon’s deck to understand how we misunderstood the match up, but in all honesty, it was the way Jon drafts. Jon chose to do a lot of the hate drafting himself, and when tracking all six drafters, it makes it harder to often understand what he drafted for himself, and what he drafted to steal from us.


It ended up being a moot point, however, as I beat Dan 2-0, mostly by playing around Barter in Blood. He managed to Barter and Death Cloud me in the first game, but I had a large quantity of big creatures, and mana sources, and some good burn. With my ability to destroy almost every artifact he laid down, (I had Shatter, 2 Echoing Ruin, Deconstruct, Creeping Mold, and such. I didn’t even both to play Unforge because he only had one piece of equipment.) he couldn’t keep a threat on the board long enough to mount a big offense in either game, although game two did come down to me having the Barbed Lightning for his creature and face to win the game.


So, our team won 2-1, and it was a good learning experience across the board for everyone, and a lot of fun. If you are looking to play in this season of Pro Tour Qualifiers, I strongly suggest you do a couple drafts like this to get a feel for the format, and for your hand gestures. My team had a couple of communication problems when we realized we didn’t have a way to ask a team member how many of a type card they had, and it almost caused some problems in our draft.


Best of all, everyone else will have lots of fun watching you make funny hand gestures at each other.



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Have a great week!

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