You Had to Be There: Grand Prix Minneapolis 2016 Day One
Shortly after sitting down outside the convention center to set up this blog entry, I turned around to see a friend whom I had first met at my very first Friday Night Magic event way back during the end of the Return to Ravnica block. He gave me a huge hug, and then proceeded to tell me about the bad beatdown he’d been given last night by Reid Duke.
To the left of me, a former Austrailian was sleeving up a Commander deck which he’d just bought. Like me, this was also his first Gran Prix (GP). After a wide-ranging conversation which included talking about dangerous creatures from Australia and the voting procedures of the Democratic Farm Labor party, the three of us aren’t in the event decided to sign up for a draft, and my friend headed off to play his Round 3 (he’s 2-0 right now).
Welcome to Magic the Gathering.
12:07 pm: We were told that we were the last people to fill in the next “small” draft to fire, so we immediately headed over to the Gathering Point. But even then, there was still a lot of waiting going on. I have a lot of empathy right now for the two organizers who are trying to call out people who have signed up for their draft and who are competing with the person on the PA. Hugo, a person in my draft pod, has been waiting for 1.5 hours for this draft to fire.
2:02 pm: Well, that certainly was a thing. The first pack of the draft didn’t show me anything fun so I defaulted to white flyers because I like flying creatures and I started with green humans. Turns out that my opponent who was seated four seats away with me also was playing green/white and it feels like he picked up all the better cards. I’m going to see if I can have my friend Michael Simon (who recently made the Top 8 at GP Albuquerque) take a look at what I drafted here and tell me whether or not I was insane or just addled in the head when I drafted this deck.
G1 had my opponent stuck on land while I played out my creatures and just whittled him down. Lost the second two games in a row, but I’m choosing not to count the second game loss as entirely my fault because I had to mulligan to 5 and poorly chose to keep a hand that had only 1 creature in it just so I wouldn’t have to mulligan to 4. The middle game was pretty good, with both of us developing our boards well, but in the end he was just able to do more with his creatures.
Gonna lick my wounds, perhaps get a bite to eat, see how folks are doing, and maybe jump into one of the more expensive drafts.
3:09 pm: Just off to the side of the hall is the feature match area. Round 5 saw well-known professional players Yuuya Watanabe (18th) and Owen Turtenwald (2nd) facing off against Andrew Wagener and Greg Orange, respectively. It felt a little strange to stand around next to the tables at watch the games play without any context and/or explanation of what was going on. Orange and Turtenwald finished first, with Orange taking the round, 2-1. I managed to get a little interview with him which I may upload later on tonight. While writing this entry at the tables outside, I also met a gentleman named Kelly Hoesing, who is 5-0 heading into Round 6 and just beat two-time World Champion player Shahar Shenhar with his Bant Humans deck. Quoth Hoesing: “[I] ran him over with little dudes because he couldn’t get a Languish.” The amazing thing about Hoesing is after his last day of school as a high school teacher, he hopped into his car and drove all the way from Nebraska to be here by 8 am to play.
4:38 pm: Early in Round 6, I happened upon a producer and her videographer who are doing a story on Top 8 pro player and renown deck builder Sam Black (8th). Her name is Michaela Vatcheva and as her videographer was getting B-roll of his match against Ava Adams (whom I think is the female player who currently has the best record), Michaela told me that after meeting Black through a mutual friend, she realized that his would be a great story to tell and pitched it to the folks at Wisconsin Public Television, where she works. That was six months ago, and she said that she started to learn how to play just so that she could not only tell the story well, but tell it accurately. I pointed out Melissa DeTora (who is here doing the text coverage for Wizards) as being someone she should speak to if she needed to speak to another pro about Black’s prowess as a player and I also told her about Tifa Robles and the Lady Planeswalkers Society. Michaela said that she would probably have her piece edited in a few weeks, and you bet I’m going to try and find it online when it’s done.
6:19 pm: Two of the players I began the event following have both dropped. Ian Dixon is someone I first met in the original Desert Bus For Hope chat room, back when the chat was in IRC and not on Twitch. He’s one of the people who is instrumental in ensuring that the chat room was free of trolls and other terrible people and when the Loading Ready Run crew began streaming more often, he became a moderator in their chat room, along with many others. Ian’s also a good player in his own right, but today the cards were not with him and his loss in Round 5 put him on a huge tilt.
My friend Michael Simon‘s GP ended one round later, and he was kind enough to go over the GW Flying Humans/Druids deck I played at the top of my day while we were waiting for round results. I was gratified when he reassured me that my instincts were okay and I had drafted the deck very “reasonably.” He said that I didn’t pick any blanks and that along with my main deck cards, I even was able to pick up some good sideboard cards. Of course, I didn’t even remember about my sideboard while playing my deck. Something to remember for tomorrow!
8:20 pm: With time called, Round 9 and Day 1 of GP Minneapolis is in the history books. My last walkabout for the day included run-ins with Erin Campbell and Kriz from The Girlfriend Bracket where we talked about the importance of creating podcasts for both Spikes and Johnnies, congratulating both Meghan and Maria from Magic the Amateuring for making their first Day 2s and grabbing a picture with them, and running into Suzy, a player from my old stomping grounds of New York City who was just killing it on text coverage play-by-plays of top players and other folks. (In other words, she was out-Tweeting me, and I am just fine with that.) As we were walking over to her group of folks, a tall familiar-looking gentleman greeted her, and she introduced me to him. I tried to play it cool, but as they walked away, I immediately had to berate myself for babbling like an idiot in front of Jon Finkel, “the Nicest Man in Magic.”
Thus endeth my Day 1 here at GP Minneapolis. What will be in store for me tomorrow?