A Grand Prix Story: As told by a nobody with a rather insignificant finish

“I just want to destroy Blue Devotion.”

This was the mantra I lived by leading up to Grand Prix Phoenix.

You see, I have a problem with the innately unfair things in life.

Why is it that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Why do athletes/actors/celebrities get paid millions upon millions for a few months of service when the everyday school teacher or caregiver or hospice worker, who do more for society each day than what these overpaid individuals do in a year of entertaining, barely make it by? It’s sad, it’s depressing, and it’s unfair.

So where am I going with this? Let’s go back the source of my mantra…

Master of Waves.

No other card punishes a deck lacking main deck removal like this card. Not only does it make a lot of strategies completely unplayable, it can also be completely unbeatable.

I like to play fair. I like to feel a sense of accomplishment when I win a match without having to rely on the sheer ‘unfairnessness’ of cards like Master of Waves and Pack Rat. I’ve even been described as the type of player that intentionally handicaps themselves, just so they can feel self-validated as a fair player. And for clarification, I do not inherently chastise players that choose to play these cards, it’s just that these cards to not fit my style of gaming. While others rejoice when their opponent mulligans to four or gets stuck on two lands, I lose any sense of achievement that I was hoping to gain. It’s some sort of disability I have, I know.

It’s funny; all the testing I did prior to the event only determined which decks I didn’t want to play. In fact, it wasn’t even until 8pm the eve of the Grand Prix that I decided which deck I would play. The fact that I owned 6 Mutavaults and couldn’t use any of them limited me to a few strategies that couldn’t play them anyways. Amidst the hate between two of the most dominant decks, I returned to my roots and the deck that I’ve been most passionate about since even before Theros’ release…

GW Aggro

Creatures (27)
Experiment One
Soldier of the Patheon
Fleecemane Lion
Voice of Resurgeance
Banisher Priest
Boon Satyr

Spells (11)
Gods Willing
Selesnya Charm
Advent of the Wurm

Lands (22)
Temple Garden
Temple of Plenty
Sideboard (15)
Pithing Needle
Mistcutter Hydra
Last Breath
Unravel the Aether
Bow of Nylea
Rootborn Defenses

15 rounds later with a record of 12-3, earning a 26th place finish and $400, I had just finished competing in my first Grand Prix ever. I didn’t earn any byes prior to the event and my opponents frequently phrased my journey as “the hard way.”

I love stories. I mean, I really love stories. And anything that makes a good story is something worth investing my time in. At the end of this Grand Prix I just wanted to tell a good story. A story where I played a deck that no one ever thought I could go deep with into Day 2. A story where, despite the naturally occurring hate from both black and blue decks, I could still be triumphant. A story that I could ultimately be proud of telling.

I hope you enjoy my story from Grand Prix Phoenix.

Round 1: Mono Black

I got hit by a total of 7 Lifebane Zombies throughout both days. Five of which occurred in my very first match of the tournament. And nothing felt better than only losing two creatures to Lifebane despite the 7 that hit me all weekend. My opponents cringed when they saw a hand full of Charms and Advents.

Some people say my passion and desire for unfairness can get me into trouble sometimes, such as allowing my opponents to fix a mistake. In game one, my opponent passed without playing his second land after playing Thoughtseize. As I was drawing my card for the turn, he said, “Oops, nevermind, land for the turn, scry… Pass.” I knew I had every right to call a judge and dispute what just occurred, but I would have felt horrible and I just hoped this was an act of kind karma. I simply cannot enforce rules like some of you I know. A friend once told me I wasn’t ruthless enough when it came to competition, and he’s right, I’m not. Trust me when I say that I’m envious of those of you that are. Especially when I end up losing the match or game because of it.

Needless to say, despite the 5 Lifebane Zombies during the match, I got it in two games. I’ve discovered that casting a lot of two drops in this matchup makes it pretty easy. Since they’re unable to develop a board presence when they’re being swarmed with an abundance of creatures. That’s not to say that I haven’t lost to double Thoughtseize into Lifebane before.

Surprisingly, my only sideboard for this matchup was taking out 2 Skylashers for 2 Rootborn Defenses.

After the match my opponent thanked me for letting him go back and play his land. I felt good about it and brought that positivity into my next match.


Round 2: Esper Control

My opponent mentioned that he was from Connecticut and I remember feeling instantly intimidated. Something about the idea of a Grand Prix grinder makes me feel like I’m an inadequate player. I have a partner and two kids and getting to play Magic as often as most of my friends is totally unrealistic. The extent of my Magic career is playing FNM and the occasional PTQ. Luckily, this didn’t matter and I beat him in 3 games.

In game one he mulligans to 5 on the play and plays Doom Blade, Dissolve, Dissolve, Dissolve, Elspeth. I lose that game obviously. In game 2 and 3, he doesn’t have that kind of draw and I flash in a lot of creatures all the while being mindful of Supreme Verdict. Gods Willing pulls its weight these two games and counters two of his removal spells.

Even in the early round of two, this is the point in the tournament I realized that I wanted to be paired against Esper every round. In my impassioned fury of wanting to “destroy Blue Devotion” I had created a deck that performed exceptionally against control.

In addition to the 16 flash spells in my deck, the other non-flash creatures in my deck had built in resiliency. Experiment One, Voice, and Fleecemane can all essentially survive verdict in one way of another. This made my Esper matchup rather easy, as I would later discover throughout the rest of the Grand Prix.

My sideboard plan for Esper on Day 1 was to take out 3 Banisher Priests and 3 Fleecemanes for 2 Pithing Needles, 2 Rootborn Defenses and 2 Unravel the Aethers. We’ll address Mistcutter when we get to day 2. (Early on I was skeptical about bringing in Mistcutter Hydra against Esper. It wasn’t until day 2 when my friend Riad insisted on bringing them in after convincing me they’ll spend their black removal on other stuff.)


Round 3: Naya Hexproof

Do you ever have those opponents who are the nicest guys you’ll ever meet… Until they lose? That was this guy. No joke, one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, prior to a game of Magic. During the match however, he just had an attitude like he was entitled to win this matchup. We went three games after I won the first and third games. Game one, I got a huge blowout by Selesnya Charming his Voice of Resurgeance that had 2 Ethereal Armors and an Unflinching Courage when he went for a lethal attack. The token he got from triggering Voice remained a 1/1 for the rest of the game. Game two was close, but a top decked Ajani sent an enchanted Witchstalker over the top and hit me for 14. In game three, I blew my opponent out (again) with Unravel the Aether on his Unflinching Courage that was enchanted on a 5/5 first striking Gladecover Scout. After Unraveling his plans (sorry, I had to), I blocked his 3/3 with my 5/5 Wurm.

So after attacking for lethal my opponent gathers his cards and doesn’t say another word to me. I would later realize that this was my hardest match all weekend.


Round 4: Esper Control

In round 4 I discover that I am playing a fellow local, Mike Griffin. We discuss how we may know each other and find out we played at the same shop over 10 years ago at a store called Gamer’s Edge. Mike was a pleasure throughout the match, but it ends quickly. I believe the only non-flash creatures I played were turn one Experiment One and Soldier respectively in each of the two games of our match. After the match, Mike comments about the benefit of losing a match so quickly is that he gets to eat. (Mike, it was the least I could do.)


Round 5: Junk Midrange

My opponent initiates conversation by asking me if I had any byes. I tell him that I didn’t and I learn that he had 3. He looks impressed and says that I’m getting there the “hard way.”

He starts the match by playing Golgari Guildgate and I put him on Dredge. On turn two he Thoughtseizes me and plays a Godless Shrine tapped. Okay, I was clearly wrong, I think to myself. I get game one on the back of turn 1 Experiment One which ends the game as a 5/5.

In game 2, Archangel of Thune comes down on turn 4 with a Courser of Kruphix already in play and a land sitting on top. By the end of this game, Archangel is swinging for 11 and all his creatures are insanely huge.

In game 3, I discover how powerful Bow of Nylea can be against midrange decks. After casting Bow to my opponent’s surprise, he elects to give me a free attack when I cast it rather than block a large amount of damage that would destroy 2 Caryatids and a Courser otherwise. It proves to be too much pressure and he has to Abrupt Decay my Bow rather than destroy a 5/5 Voice token. He stabilizes a bit with Polukranos and Obzedat, but as soon as he chooses to exile Obzedat, I Selesnya Charm the monster, untap, and swing for lethal.


Round 6: GR Monsters with Nythos???

This was my first Feature Match ever! I get to sit next to Paul Rietzl and Tom Martell while their playing their match and I get super excited about the thought of playing on camera.

Four turns into the first game and I’m not even sure what I’m playing against. My aggressiveness proves to be too much and none of his Mystics or Caryatids can block efficiently. We go on to game 2. Since I’m still under the assumption that my opponent is running monsters, I board in 2 Pithing Needles and take a few Skylashers out.

His first spell of the game is Voyaging Satyr. After playing Experiment One turn one, I play a Soldier on turn two to evolve the Experiment, step away to ask a judge of I can Pithing Needle his Satyr, attempt to sit back down at the table and accidentally kick my chair into Paul’s vicinity. I may have nailed his elbow, but I’m not sure. FML. I feel like an idiot, but it doesn’t stop me from playing Needle naming his Satyr.

On his turn 3, he plays two more Satyrs… Well, I guess this plan worked out. His only non-accelerant spell is Polukranos and I Banish it before attacking for lethal. After my opponent scoops I see some big haymaker spells like Garruk and Clan’s Defiance and think about how those would have been bad for me.

Sitting at 6-0 felt awesome. My partner came down to visit bringing our little girl and we got to spend a little time together before round 7.


Round 7: Monoblack Devotion

Here’s a fun fact about my losses. Did you know that I never put up a game in any of my three losses? Yep, 0-2, all three matches.

In game one I’m on the play and I mulligan to six. I keep a hand where I can’t play anything until turn 3. It has both colors and I feel like I have to keep. I get Thoughtsiezed and Lifebaned (Miss!), but my opponent gets to navigate the game his way and I lose in traditional style to Gray Merchant without ever having a board presence.

In game two, I mulligan to five on the play. I keep a plains and Pithing Needle and a few boon satyrs who would never see play. I turn one Needle naming Pack Rat. Turn two I draw a forest and can now cast a Charm, but elect to save it. My opponent plays Mutavault and casts Pack Rat. I draw and pass it back to him. He plays another Mutavault and another pack rat. Draw. Go. He plays another Mutavault and ANOTHER Pack Rat!

I have a little story I like to tell. Whenever I Needle Pack Rat, without fail, my opponent has no less than three each game with multiple Mutavaults. True story. I almost don’t wish it any other way to be honest. It’s like tradition. It’s so randomly unlikely, it’s hilarious.

Anyways, despite losing, I feel a little sense of relief from the pressure of being undefeated. I lost to eventual Top 8 competitor Brandon Bercovich, so I couldn’t feel too bad about it. It’s just that I didn’t put up any fight in either of the two games and that can feel kind of embarrassing.


Round 8: Monoblack Devotion

My opponent is a very friendly player from the Northwest and he tells me he brought his family with him. I feel a sense of guilt at the thought of him coming up empty handed after the tournament knowing I was one of the people that essentially eliminated him.

I’m on the play again against mono black and I mulligan to five. Feeling defeat start to creep in, I think that maybe I won’t have to feel guilty after all and he will beat me and win lots of money and take his family to… OMG… This is the most beautiful 5 card hand I’ve ever seen…

Temple Garden, Forest, Experiment One, Voice and Fleecemane. I draw two more lands, a Banisher Priest and multiple Advents, and my opponent looks deflated after I win game one. I guess people assume too often that 7 (+1) should always beat five, but not so this time!

In game two I get another beautiful hand that includes multiple Voices and a Banisher Priest that exiles a Desecration Demon with Gods Willing to protect it when he tries to Downfall it on his turn.


Round 9: RW Burn

Believe it or not, I was eager to play against this deck. You see, as mentioned earlier, I have this disability… I like being the underdog, or at least, feeling like the underdog. I love making comebacks. And I did just that, winning the match in two long, methodical games.

My opponent was a great guy and player. I also would argue that he probably had the coolest hair in the entire tournament. No, not that Nathan guy, although that was impressive, if you’re into that thing, or whatever…


In game one, he gets me down to 2 and I crack back for lethal after flashing in a Boon Satyr and Selesnya Charm at the end of his turn that make a Voice token huge. Skylasher also takes him by surprise this game when I block his Phoenix and gets blown out by Gods Willing.

This is when I realize one of the core strengths of this deck. It’s always threatening something. I’m sure my opponent never expected me to have lethal when he passed turn. It’s easy enough to predict the game when my permanents are in play, but when I don’t have to do anything until your turn, it gives you several new opportunities to make mistakes. I don’t think my opponent made a mistake this game, but I capitalized on him not accounting the possible plays I could make when he passes the turn.

In game two I board in 4 Last Breath and 2 Bows. I take out Boon Satyrs since I’d rather cast a two drop and telecast Gods Willing protection. I even ended up intentionally bluffing Gods Willing in game two when I shocked myself playing Temple Garden untapped.

We nearly go to time this game, but I draw all 4 Last Breaths and a Bow. Two of the Last Breaths are used on my own creatures, including, sadly, one of my Voices. The other two are used on his Phoenix’s. 3 Skylashers block 3 Mutavaults. I know right. He plays three Skullcracks. Bow activations on my turn pull me too far ahead for him to come back. He extends the hand. I believe I gain something like 30 life this game with 3 life being my lowest life total.


I finish the day at 8-1 and I can’t believe it! I learn that a few of my other friends, Sam, Gary and Thomas make day two also. I feel excited and exhausted and proud. My friend Joe suggests we go eat at the restaurant I told him about the day before, Green, my favorite restaurant. We celebrate our successes with the best vegan food in the valley and I savor my favorite thing on the menu, the Big Wac, an uncanny vegan resemblance to my former favorite burger. I’ll just let you guess which one it was.

I get home, exhausted, but barely able to sleep from the excitement about competing in day 2. I find my partner waiting up for me, we talk, I tell her a bunch of Magic stories she doesn’t understand, she listens enthusiastically, I give thanks for this day… and we fall asleep.

It was a good day.

Day 2

I wake up. I usually don’t get up this early on weekends. I’m nervous, but I start to visualize myself winning the whole tournament. I’m confident. I believe in my deck. And I’m ready to finish this thing.

I pick Thomas and Joe up and we repeat our day old ritual of stopping by the QT right before getting on the freeway. Making Day 2, and more specifically: feeling successful, seems to alter your choices. I didn’t want a bag of salty chips or some sugary energy drink. I wanted to feel healthy and alert and pure. I grab a couple of bananas and some bottled water. I’m starting to get anxious. I start wishing this day was already over just so I can know what happens. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

We get to the venue and it’s like night and day. It feels empty. It’s almost depressing thinking of all the people who didn’t make Day Two and all of their accompanying dreams crushed and unattainable now. I feel a wave of gratefulness wash over me and I’m thankful for the opportunity I have at that moment.

We sit down and I ask a fellow player who I know has an affinity for GW (Mr. Riad) about side boarding for the Esper matchup. I tell him I haven’t been putting in Mistcutters against Esper since they have all the best removal to deal with it. He understands my logic but shares his own. He convinces me, but I argue that I only want to bring in two Mistcutters when I’m on the draw. We agree on taking out one Gods Willing, 3 Banisher Priest and 3 Fleecemane for 3 Mistcutters, 2 Pithing Needle and 2 Rootborn Defenses. We realized I didn’t need the Unravels since Gods Willing essentially does the same thing, but has the opportunity to give me a huge boost in tempo if they go for a Detention Sphere on turn 3 or 4. I feel really good about this plan and not long after pairings go up, wouldn’t you know…

Round 10: Esper

I know I’ve already written an extensive essay by now, so let’s save some time. Easy 2-0. I curve out both games with plays on turn 1-4, all including multiple flash effects and my opponent is dumbfounded. He found no Verdict either game, but it really wouldn’t have mattered. In game 2, I drew into 3 straight Advents, of course after I cast one EOT on turn 4 first.


Round 11: Really Black Jund Monsters

Tylon Blas versus Damyan Brunson: A short story…

Once upon a time, Damyan exclaimed, “The draws are good today!” and with that, he proceeded to cast his 3rd Stormbreath Dragon (for funsies) of the game on turn 5 and swung for more than lethal.

And just a short while later, Damyan casted Mizzium Mortars on turn 4 wiping Tylon’s overextended board. Soldier of Pantheon, Fleecemane Lion, Boon Satyr and Banisher Priest all lost their lives that day. Whip of Erebos cleaned up.

The end.

Epilogue: I kept beautiful hands both games, and I simply got destroyed. I feel good about these losses though, the kind where you just can’t beat your opponents draw no matter what you do. It happens.


Round 12: Esper

What’s better than being paired against Esper? Being paired against an Esper player who scoffs at every spell I cast at the end of his turn and then killing him really, really fast. Game 2 saw some surprises by the likes of Ashiok (which I ignored) and Alms Beast (which I Charmed, to much scoff).

My opponent didn’t say anything all match. Just scoffed a lot. I couldn’t help but smile afterwards, but I’m sure it only induced another scoff when I left to turn in the slip.

4-0 against Esper so far and in pretty convincing fashion. Let’s just hope I can keep getting paired against it and not some rogue deck that I’ve been afraid of all weekend…


Round 13: Naya Midrange/Control

Well, here’s that rogue deck everyone’s been talking about.

We get called to the feature match area and I get really excited again. Perhaps too excited. My opponent is Farand Lee and he was my favorite opponent all weekend. He was wearing an MTGO Online Championship sweatshirt and I get anxious at the thought of playing against a pro I may never have heard of.

“I just want to play well. I just want to play well. I just have to play well.”

Somehow in the time between that chant and my ability to make the right decision to mulligan, I lost the latter. This would be the one and only game I would regret throughout the entire event. All weekend I felt pride in my ability to aggressively mulligan. As mentioned earlier, I already won two games on the play after mulliganing to five, and yet, somehow in that game one, I didn’t listen to the same voice I’ve been listening to all weekend.

In game one I mulligan to 6. I’m on the draw and I keep…

1 Plains 1 Gods Willing 1 Fleecemane Lion 1 Selesnya Charm 2 Voice of Resurgeance

“Two draw steps,” I think to myself, “This hand will be nuts if I draw the right mana.”

On turn 3 I discard Boon Satyr on cleanup. Another mistake. “I play a Plains and then discard Boon Satyr… Am I an idiot?!” I give him a free win and free information. I am disgusted with myself.

I concede on turn 4.

I see two Voices, Courser, Temple of Abandon, Temple Garden and Stomping Ground.

Not the unknown matchup I wanted to see this round.

Game two I mulligan to 6 again. This time, a much better hand. (I don’t have the link, but game two can be found in the last match of the Day 2 video on Channel Fireball’s Twitch page).

He catches me off guard when he goes to block my Soldier after shocking himself to cast Mystic. His snap decision makes me think of his hand. I could have let it trade, but I felt like Gods Willing keeps me ahead and swings past the inevitable Voices I felt he had in his hand. Later in the game and right before I attack him to one life, I get lucky and draw a Banisher Priest off the top to exile his Archangel he just shocked himself to cast. But it doesn’t seem to be enough. I just can’t get there.

On camera, you will see an epic comeback on Farand’s part. Courser reveals my ruin of high impact spells that are looming and I can’t get the final point of damage through. Selesnya Charm. Banisher Priest. Gods Willing. Bow of Nylea. Rootborn. Advent. Anything…

Xenagos. Elsepth. Mizzium Mortars. Further and further out of reach. A tortuous chronology of spells that were going to claim my dream of making Top 8.

In the end, Mizzium Mortars clears my board, save a regenerated Experiment One and an Wurm token with 4 damage done. I’m forced to block a 13/13 Voice token. I survive. But there isn’t anything I could draw that can get past 3 Elspeth Soldiers.

I draw Rootborn Defenses.

“Heh. That would have made a great story last turn.” I think to myself.

I extend my hand.


After the match someone tells me our match is on Twitch. I pull out my phone and Farand and I start watching it together. It’s so awesome to hear Matt Sperling and Huey talk about your decks and plays and decisions. Virtually all sense of losing disappears and I’m all smiles as my dream crusher and I silently watch the coverage together under the shade of the spotlights.

Luis Scott-Vargas comes up to us to asks us about the match and empathizes with me about game 1. I tell him it’s the first time I didn’t listen to myself all event and he says it happens to the best of them. Wow. Never has a loss felt so good.

Round 14: Monoblack Devotion

Sam Meyer, my friend. This is not how I want to finish strong. Of all the people sitting with this record, I have to play a personal friend of mine. Dammit. I know I’m going to feel even worse if I end up beating him. I’ve always thought of Sam as one of the most talented players I’ve ever known. I admire his ability and believe he’s a far better player than myself and I feel he deserves this win more than I do. It’s one of the few times in my Magic experience that I root for my opponent to win.

In game one I’m on the play and multiple Banisher Priests disrupt his curve of creatures. Nightveil and Desecration get exiled and I have the Gods Willing to protect either. It proves to be too much and Sam concedes.

In game two Sam casts Lifebane (Miss!) but discovers my weak hand and the Last Breath I won’t ever cast that game. He sided out his Specters to my surprise and his skill. I don’t cast anything he can’t immediately deal with and I concede as he casts Merchant for lethal.

In game three, I experience one of the best mental battles I’ve ever had playing magic. I can’t tell if Sam is trying to setup playing to an out or if he really has all the spells in his hand already to blow me out. I put him on the former and he blows me out.

It’s his turn 3, and he’s casting Devour Flesh into my board of Voice, and a Voice token. I really want to sacrifice the token, but if I sac the Voice, I could close the game out so much faster. I know he’s trying to Bile Blight, but when he passes, I can cast a Fleecemane and flash in a Skylasher if he tries to Bile Blight. I sac the Voice and put my second token into play. On my turn 4 I play the Lion and swing with my two tokens and pass. I kick myself when I realize my mistake. If I put him on Bile Blight, I might as well have casted Skylasher last turn to force him to have exactly Doom Blade and Bile Blight. I was just hoping the Ultimate Price’s I saw in the other two games would be sitting dead in his hand right now. But, he had it and I very visibly shook my head in frustration. I made the wrong call. His follow up last card of Demon was met with my last card of Charm as my patience pays off when he tries to bait it with an attacking Mutavault. The life totals gave the play away as a last ditch effort, but I would have done the same if I were him.

However, the top of my deck treated me very well as we both had exhausted our hands in that previous melee of plays and I eventually ended up the victor.

I told Sam of my appreciation of his awesome plays, but I think we both may have been upset at the occurrence of having to play each other.


Round 15: Blue/White Devotion

Master of Waves, we finally meet.

Cue epic crescendo music.

That’s not a joke. Seriously. Cue the epic music. Go to Spotify, YouTube, wherever and search for…

A Poor Man’s Memory by Explosions in the Sky.

The matchup I’ve been waiting for all weekend and what better and poetic way for it to be the last match of the event.

My opponent talks about splitting. I have no idea what he’s playing. He says he’s from New Mexico. A grinder. I push aside the involuntarily intimidation I feel. I shove it aside.

“Get the F out of here!”

I tell my opponent it’s my first Grand Prix. He asks if I had any byes and I tell him no. “The hard way,” he says. Yes, the hard way I tell him. Suddenly, he looks like he wants to pounce all over me like some untrained, inexperienced, casual player who must have just gotten lucky. Someone he can, ultimately, take advantage of.

In that moment I realize I do not want to give him the courtesy of splitting. He suggests playing before I can even ask and I can’t oblige any faster.

Let’s do this.

He’s on the play and I keep a hand of Experiment One, Fleecemane, 2 Skylasher, Boon Satyr and Temple Garden and Temple of Plenty.

Turn one he plays Hallowed Fountain untapped and casts Judge’s Familiar.

I look at my hand and deep inside a smile starts to spread at the core of my being.

“Finally,” the smile widens inside. I suppress that internal smile so much that it must look like I’m so distraught playing against Blue.

I draw Soldier of the Pantheon and I cast Experiment One after shocking with Temple Garden on my turn and pass.

He plays a Temple of Enlightenment on his turn and attacks with Familiar. Post combat, another Familiar joins his side.

On turn two, I draw a Forest and immediately wince at my draw.

“Did he notice? Did he buy it?”

I think I saw him smirk. The basic land was the absolute perfect draw that turn and concealed my incoming Skylasher block beautifully.

I attack with Experiment One signaling my desperation to trade with his Familiar. He doesn’t block and I wince again and pass the turn in turmoil. He draws his card and can’t attack fast enough. I collect myself, tap my lands and cast Skylasher. His eyes widen. I evolve Experiment One. His eyes darken. I block. He sighs in disgust.

“Wow,” he says.

“Yeah,” I says.

Tidebinder comes down post combat to take out my Experiement One’s ability to smash him.

I untap and draw Fleecemane. I play Temple of Plenty and keep a plains on top, I need this Boon Satyr on this Skylasher ASAP. I attack with Skylasher. I pass.

On turn 4 he casts Thassa. He attacks with Tidebinder and Familiar.

“Before blocks…”

I cast Skylasher #2.

He can’t believe it. I block Tidebinder. He sighs again. Post combat he casts a Cloudfin Raptor.

I draw the land on top and play it. I cast Lion and Soldier, evolve Experiment One and I attack with both Skylashers and Experiment One. He’s at 10.

I pass and he keeps the card on top with Thassa.

Master of Waves comes down with 4 friends. I know I’m in trouble. Two more lands and I’m safe.

He attacks with Cloudfin and Familiar. I’m at 14. He passes.

I draw a basic. Doesn’t matter which one. I calculate the damage he can do next turn if he has another Master. He can really kill me. I attack with only Skylasher and put him to 8. I pass.

He keeps the card on top with Thassa again.

Master of Waves #2.

He swings with the team. Skylasher blocks Thassa and I have to block a couple tokens and master with the rest of my team. Fleecemane, Soldier and Experiment One all die. I take 9. I’m at 3.

I untap, knowing I have to draw a land to win. I draw it like a boss and as if I had it my hand all along, shock myself, going to 1 and attack.

“Before damage…”

I bestow one of my Skylashers. He sacs Familiar. I pay the one mana. He takes 8.





2 Pro Points that is.


“12-3, wow.” I celebrate inside.

I tell my friends that I got my last match. They seem to be impressed. I know, I’m even impressed with myself.

I find Thomas and Joe and we wait to see the final standings. I find Eddie and ask him what 12-3 will get me. I ask if it’s good for top 32, secretly hoping they’ll post deck lists that deep. He thinks I have a great chance at it. I feel relief and I start to celebrate a little more. How awesome would that be…

I find out Gary is making Top 8 and I’m so excited for him. I’m honored that I get to game with such an amazing player. If only I could have played him in Top 8 I think to myself. Haha.

Standings are posted and I’m looking for myself in the 30’s and 40’s. I can’t find me. And then a friend points me out.


I look at the payout.


And then I look for what matters most to me.

2 Pro Points.

I want to frickin’ dance. I’m so elated.

It’s those little dreams, you know?

For 10 years I waited for the moment where I could feel what it was like to earn those few measly points.


We got there.

And yeah, I got to destroy Blue Devotion too.

My name is Tylon Blas and I’ve been playing Magic on and off again for the past 20 years. My first rare was Force of Nature and I paid my cumulative upkeep many, many times as a kid. I didn’t start playing competitively until many years later when I met some eventual friends in Adam Prosak, Anthony Avitollo and Phimus Pan. My greatest Magic achievement up to this point was qualifying for Nationals with my friend Adam at the 2005 Phoenix Regionals. But perhaps this was better?

I’m kind of a nobody, but I love this game and the people that I can call my friends within this community. Thank you for letting me share my story with you despite the rather unimportant finish of 26th place. This was a little story about my little dream and how 20 years later, I somehow managed to make this little one come true.

Thanks for listening.

*Additional Thanks (that makes it sound like I won something meaningful):

Cade Gouldthorpe – for playing and testing with me whenever I asked. But dude, I’m just going to be honest and say it, I know you’re a little Hearthstone pro now, but you needed to test more. You know what I’m talking about. Hahaha.

Thomas Paguio – for being a legit teammate as friend. For helping me find cards even when I didn’t even use them. For taking Cade under your wing and keeping him entertained when I can’t. Thanks man.

Joseph Pinkley – the conversations and theory and strategies. Your insight helped a lot more than you realize. You’re not just the guy who won a PTQ with UG Delver to me. You build creative and relevant and effective decks that no one else discovers. Don’t give up.

Gary Wong and Eddie Caudill – for all the testing and being down to game whenever I asked. I hate Master of Waves, but I don’t mind you guys. Haha.

Chris Worman – for always being willing to listen to my stupid deck ideas and actually looking at all the deck lists I send you.

Justin Carter – my brother from another mother. I don’t see you much anymore, but I heed most words you say. You tell me the truth if something is garbage. I appreciate that. I’m really glad I didn’t play your deck though. Sorry. But not really.

Adam Prosak – if you’re out there somewhere, I haven’t heard from you in forever. Hope you’re doing alright. Thanks for gaming with me all those years ago. I sincerely credit most of my abilities to your influence. Thanks man.

Keturah Pettitt – my partner and beautiful companion. Thanks for letting me be a complete and total nerd all the weeks leading up to this event. I love you and appreciate everything you do for me. I brought home the bacon! Err, $400.