My Ticket to the Pro Tour

WRITTEN BY

Hi! My name is Teresa and this is the story of how I managed to Top 4 an RPTQ (Regional Pro Tour Qualifier) and earn my first Pro Tour invite!

This was my second RPTQ. At my first one, I was extremely nervous and I started the day with a disappointing 0–2 record. I had previously qualified for that one by winning a Standard PPTQ (Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier). I also qualified for this RPTQ by winning a Standard PPTQ playing Mardu Vehicles. I only started playing Standard a couple years ago, but I felt that Standard quickly became the format I was best at. When I found out this RPTQ was Sealed instead of Standard, I was a little worried. I felt I would have had a better chance to redeem my disappointing first RPTQ record if the format was Standard. Oh well. It was time to make Amonkhet Sealed my best format!

Normally, I don't play any Magic during the week and I only play when I go to PPTQs on the weekend and the occasional Grand Prix. However, a few months ago, I started streaming on weeknights because it would force me to play Magic during the week. After doing a bunch of Drafts and Sealed pools on my stream for weeks, I was extremely familiar with all the cards and interactions in Amonkhet. I didn't earn a lot of trophies and I probably did more losing than winning, but I learned a lot.

The weekend before the RPTQ, there was a local Sealed PPTQ and I figured it would be good practice before the RPTQ so I decided to attend. I ended up winning the invite to the next RPTQ! This meant that if I came Top 8 at the RPTQ the next weekend, it wouldn't be worth anything; I had to Top 4 or bust! I already had such good luck this weekend that I felt that either I used up all my luck winning this PPTQ or I was on a roll and the PT invite was going to be mine!

My RPTQ routine the night before that may or may not help you:

  • Eat Nashville's Hot Chicken and drink an IPA

  • Listen to Disney music on repeat (specifically Moana's "How Far I'll Go" and Mulan's "I'll Make a Man out of You")
  • Say no when your friend offers you a shot of Cognac
  • Try not to puke from nervousness

At the RPTQ, my luck was still with me because I opened a great Sealed pool. There were no Glorybringers or Gods or broken invocations, but I had a horde of zombies on my side.

There were 6 rounds of swiss and I was 3–1 going into round five, playing for a win-and-in for Top 8. My round five opponent's deck was the perfect match-up for me; he was playing a slower four-color deck which gave me time to build up my zombies. Winning that match put me at 6th place overall going into the last round. I could draw into Top 8 now, but it would put me firmly in the 8th seed. No problem, I didn't need to go first. I just needed to win my next match.

Going into the Draft, I knew I was on the draw no matter what and I thought about how that would affect what deck I drafted. I opened my first pack to find a choice between Final Reward or Ahn-Crop Crasher. Final Reward is more of my playstyle as I don't normally like forcing an archetype, but I took the Ahn-Crop Crasher and focused on drafting an aggressive Red/White deck, knowing fully that I was going to be on the draw.

My aggressive Red/White deck ended up being more of a midrange Red/White deck with a bunch of removal spells and not a lot of two-drop threats. So it goes. I just needed to win one match with it and I felt like it could pull it off, so I wasn't too upset.

My opponent was the player I drew with in round six so I had not played against him before. He ended up drafting a Green/White deck. In our first game, I was flooding out with lots of lands in my hand, a Brute Strength, and a Limits of Solidarity. On board, I had a Desert Cerodon and an Ahn-Crop Crasher. My opponent had a 4/4 Exemplar of Strength and a 4/2 Beast token. He was at 16, and after crunching the numbers I realized that no matter what creature he played, I had him. I was waiting for him to finish his turn so that I could claim my first victory. Only one more win away from a Pro Tour Invite. My mental momentum was disrupted, "Ornery Kudu" he announced, pointing to his Exemplar of Strength. My excitement eroded into despair. "Attack, gain one life." I realized the game just slipped out of my hands, and now I was on the back heel; I needed to win the next two if I wanted to see my efforts for the day mean anything.

We shuffle up for game two and I was feeling kind of defeated. Losing game one was rough because now I had to win two games back-to-back for the PT invite. Game two was much easier being on the play though. I could do what my Red/White deck wanted to do—beatdown.

Game three, I was back on the draw again and this time, my opponent got to be the aggressor. I was down to six life before I finally stabilized the board with creatures of my own. We both built up a large board on the ground with creatures who matched up perfectly against each other, so no one could make any good attacks. I eventually drew my Tah-Crop Elite and started slowly hitting in the air for two damage a turn, trying to catch up on the damage I hadn't dealt all game. I also drew my Oketra's Attendant a couple turns later which helped speed up the clock a lot. My opponent had no way to deal with my fliers and I didn't give him a chance to, because once I got him low enough to kill him with an exerted attack and a Brute Strength, I went for it. It was a great match and I can't believe I was now qualified for the Pro Tour!

I really don't think I would have made it this far if I hadn't started streaming and playing Magic an additional 10–12 hours a week. Everyone who has watched and learned Amonkhet with me on my stream was the kind of support system I needed to get to this level. Going forward, I will definitely be streaming my PT prep and I hope it will be as helpful as it was for my RPTQ.

Thank you for reading and I hope I can make everyone proud at the Pro Tour!

See you on the battlefield,

Teresa

Teresa Pho is a data analyst currently living in Cincinnati, OH. She has been playing Magic competitively since 2015 and qualified for her first Pro Tour this year (a huge achievement unlocked!). Her new goals are to make day 2 of a Pro Tour and to become a Pro Tour regular. When she is not travelling or playing in tournaments, she likes to stream at twitch.tv/squeethegoblin.

 

MTG strategy, finance, & trading. Delivered weekly.

Join the other Magic traders who get our content first.