So today I'm heading to the tournament with a group of local FNM players, the qualifier is less than an hour from our store. I'm playing Super Shock, Austin Ruthermund is playing WW Quest, Chase Genge is running Valakut, Josh Windsor is using Goblins, and Andrew Kwiatkowski is using Caw-Go.
The first thing about this place is that it's small. I mean REAL small. The entire store was about the size of the bathroom of the place where I play FNM. And there were 40-something people there for the qualifier, a total of six rounds before the cut to top 8. Which means that 4-2s barely had a shot of getting to top 8, so there weren't really anything in the way of drops until after round four. It was a nightmare, really, but I didn't have too much of a problem with it. However, Chase is a pretty big guy, and let's just say there's no way in hell he's going to Toys N' Games ever again.
But on the other side, the TO was a pretty awesome guy. He called up Dominoes and ordered like ten pizzas, gave them to everybody for no charge, said he gets food for everybody at FNM and stuff too. I didn't ask him how much he charges for FNM and such since it's such a distance to get there, but looking back, I probably should have. If you're in the area and don't have a problem with smaller spaces, you should check the place out.
Alright, without further ado, let's move on to the main event.
Round 1: Eric Held; U/G Genesis Wave.
In the first game, he ends up mulling down to five, but at least he was on the draw. I drop a t1 Lavaclaw Reaches so he thinks he knows what I'm running. He land passes, I land go and he's thinking that without any plays in the first two turns I have the worst hand ever for B/r Vamps. He drops a Lotus Cobra only to eat a Galvanic Blast, and instantly he realizes he's not playing what he thought he was playing. I resolve a turn three Dark Tutelage and proceed to win that game after drawing into Goblin Guide and Bloodchief Ascension on the next turn, despite him playing Jace on turn 4 and a Frost Titan on turns 5 and 7. I throw in Duress and it's on to Game 2.
In the second game, my hand is pretty meh. I have a Duress an Arc Trail, a Galvanic Blast and a Staggershock, but my only lands are three Dragonskull Summits. And from what I had seen of his deck so far, he might have been just a RUG player missing his red source. So I keep it, figuring that I can afford being one mana down with a Duress for his Jace/counterspell, but I was oh so wrong. He was indeed playing Genesis Wave, and I don't get an untapped land, forcing me to blast his turn 2 Lotus Cobra and wait to Duress until turn 3, which reveals an Obstinate Baloth, Genesis Wave, Primeval Titan, and two lands. I proceed to draw two more Duresses in a row, then some lands now that I don't want them, and that's game.
I start off game 3 with a turn 1 Goblin Guide, killing a turn 2 and turn 3 Cobra and getting him down to 12 life from swings in the process. Then I Staggershock at end of turn, then Staggershock Bolt and Burst Lightning kicked ends the game.
End of Round 1: 1-0
Round 2: Ethan Eisdorfer; Valakut
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate Valakut, and hate it with a burning passion. I t1 Guide him, a play that ends the game against any other deck, and even better is that I reveal two Avenger of Zendikars going into his hand over the first two turns. But the problem was that he resolved a T5 Primeval titan and got the THREE Valakuts he played from his hand online immediately. I Doom Bladed the Titan, then assailed him with burn and got him down to three life with a Staggershock waiting to be recast and a Forked Bolt in my hand. He topdecks a Primeval Titan and deals 18 damage to me, then plays a mountain and I lose the game. Did I mention that I hate Valakut?
Game two sees me without a Goblin Guide, but a potential t3 Dark Tutelage. Too bad I never see any of my 12 black sources the entire game. I end up getting him down to 10 life with two Staggershocks, a Galvanic Blast and a Burst Lightning in my hand, but I'm stuck at three lands the whole game and can't cast it all in time. He goes T2 Explore, T3 Cultivate, T4 Explore AND Cultivate, T5 Primeval pulling two Valakuts online when I don't have a Doom Blade. He swings and casts a Harrow for the win. I friggin hate Valakut.
End of Round 2: 1-1
Round 3: Devon O'Donnel; B/r Vampires
Being one of the original Vamps players when Bryan Haak first showed me the list at this year's States, I've always felt pretty confident in this matchup. After all, the whole reson I built Supershock was that I felt like Vamps was vulnerable to early disruption, and my deck IS early disruption.
He starts out Game 1 on the play and drops a Pulse Tracker. I use a Lavaclaw Reaches and he hits me down to 18, but doesn't play any dudes on T2. I drop a Forked Bolt, dissuading the illusion that it's a mirror-match and starting the burn at the same time. an EoT Blast his Lacerator followed by a T3 Dark Tutelage and I have a really strong advantage. He does get a single Highborn towards the end and gains four life off it, but it just wasn't enough to stabilize, especially when I was still at 15. I take the win on game 1.
On Game 2, I get absolutely wrecked. He gets a turn 3 Highborn, but even still I keep his board clear abd put him down to twelve. Then on T6 he casts a Highborn, Pulse Tracker and drops a land to recur a Bloodghast, all when I'm tapped down. I have the pyroclasm, but he has three mana, so I drop down to 12 and he goes to 18, completely reversing the game. Another topdecked Highborn on the next turn secures him the win, especially since I was down to one card left in my hand at that point.
In Game three, my opponent takes a mulligan and is stuck down to 1 land, but with four 1-drop creatures. On the other hand, I kept my hand of seven on the play, with three lands, a guide and three shocks. Perfectly acceptable, but I'd have to rely on drawing into a Pyroclasm, Bloodchief or Dark Tutelage to keep my card advantage for later in the game. Of course, I see none of it. I get a Bloodchief Ascension on my 3rd draw, but tap out to Staggershock a creature, figuring that I can let the stagger give me the first quest counter. But alas, he gets his second land that turn, and casts a fourth 1-drop along with a Duress, screwing me out of my stability. Nevertheless, I do end up getting him to bolt range for five turns in a row, at one point leaving him with 1 life. But then he draws his second Highborn of the game and manages to win with one life. It was a no win situation, because he had two blockers and four life, I had two attackers and two life. Which means I had to kill the Highborn, then kill the other creature, then swing, but then he had enough life that I couldn't deal lethal. But if I didn't cast the killspells, then being able to pump my Lavaclaw reaches was irrelevant because he'd just block, and if I let the highborn stay in play then attacking wins him the game no matter what happens. I knew he had a land for his two dead bloodghasts in his hand and a Highborn to end the game next turn thanks to seeing his draws with my Goblin Guide, but I was absolutely powerless to stop him. So thanks to the lack of burn in a burn deck and some serious lifedrain spam, I lost round three to Vampires.
End of Round 3: 1-2
Round 4: Adam Carrill; Vampires.
Oh boy. This sounds familiar.
Game one, I'm on the draw and my opponent mulls to six, so I'm happy about that. I drop a Guide on T1 and a Finkel on T3, and absolutely dominate him, ending the game with a hand still holding five burn spells. Game two I don't get the bomb start like last game, but even though he sees a Highborn it only ends up being good for two life. I slowly but surely drain out his life, burning his dudes and then hitting him with whatever mana I have left poured into a Lavaclaw Reaches. He finally gets a bolt for my manland and now we end up in topdeck mode, only I'm at 14 and He's at 4. I draw a Staggershock and that's the game.
End of Round 4: 2-2
Round 5: Andrew Kwiatkowski; Caw-Go
Oh boy. Andrew's one of the players in my pool, the son of the guy that owns the store we all play FNM at. And I know his deck, and I know that control should have a really big issue with Super Shock. Keyword being Should.
He gets the play and mulls to six on game one, and I resolve a t1 Bloodchief Ascension. Unfortunately, he ends up Spreading Seas my manland and Tectonic Edging my Dragonskull Summit, leaving me no black sources for the rest of the game. I proceed to draw a Dark Tutelage, then three Doom Blades and some Mountains and he gets Jace online, winning the first game.
Game 2 gives me a hand with two mountains and a Blackleave Cliffs, two Lightning Bolts and two Dark Tutelages. He ends his turn 2 with a single land untapped, and knowing he maindecks four Spell Pierces, I proceed to cast both my Bolts. He lets them resolve and goes to 14. I drop my third land and cast a Dark Tutelage, and to my surprise it resolves. Equally to my surprise, He Purges it on his turn and passes to me. I resolve the second one, and he proceeds to reveal to me topdecking a second Celestial Purge. I have practically nothing left in my hand, and when he resolves a Gideon on the next turn he gets there after two turns with him and a manland.
End of round 5: 2-3
As sad as I am to see that happen, that makes Andrew 3-1-1, which means winning his next game pretty much guarantees him a slot in Top 8. Since I have nowhere else to go, might as well play to the last game.
Round 6: David Jennison; Valakut
Oh come on, do I really have to do this again...
On game one I take my first mulligan of the night and lose to a T5 Avenger of Zendikar/T6 Primeval Titan. Game 2 lets me take the win in the form of Bolt/2x Staggershock/Goblin Guide and getting Bloodchief Ascension online, then he drops an Avenger and I Forked Bolt two tokens, draining four life and finishing him off with a Burst Lightning. In Game 3, I bring him down to 1 life and proceed to draw three lands in a row while he dropped two Primeval Titans to take the win.
End of Round: 2-4
So in the end, I didn't end up doing so well, which was really a disappointment, but all of my games were really close, and could have gone either way, even the Valakut ones, so I still had a good time. Plus, three of the players that went with me, Austin with WW Quest, Chase with Valakut, and Andrew with Caw-Go, all placed in Top 8. Chase and Andrew play in round 1 and Chase loses to four maindeck Spreading Seas alongside 4 tectonic Edges, and Austin ends up winning his games as well, beating down RUG. In the semis, Andrew loses to a Naya homebrew with Vengevines, Squadron Hawks and the Spark/Collar Package, using Stoneforge Mystic and the Sword of Body and Mind. Austin wins against his opponent and ends up splitting the prize pool with the Naya player and taking second, since the 12-year-old isn't flying out to Chicago to play for a $75,000 pool any time soon.