Adventures at Grand Prix Richmond (62nd Place)

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Hello, my name is Sarah Zyla and I was the Play it Forward winner from GP Richmond. I was able to capture a Pro Point with my 11–4 record which landed me at 62nd place. Today I'm going to take you through my adventures at GP Richmond with cameos from Alex Hayne and Seth Manfield. Let's go!  

Day 1

I had two byes, which made ths start of the day pretty nice (mainly because it allows me to get Starbucks and take two hours to get ready without having to get up super early). My sealed pool seemed pretty strong, but spread out among three colors. I started checking my pool against my registration sheet, and I realized I got an invocation I couldn't read—I had never played with it before so I wasn't familiar with the card. I called over a Judge immediately, who first told me congratulations—which made me laugh—and then informed me it was an Austere Command (he also told me it was a White card). My favorite magic color is White, and it was a pretty powerful card, so I decided to force playing it if possible.

After looking at the whole pool, my Green and White cards had strong two-drops/early game. I also had two bombs in Sandwurm Convergence and Austere Command, but the overall power level still seemed a little low. I had a Glyph Keeper, Aven Wind Guide, and both a Trial and Cartouche of Knowledge in Blue. Now, I'm a huge fan of flying in sealed (who isn't though?), so it was too hard to turn down splashing blue. I also had no answers to fliers outside of Stinging Shot without splashing, so I went for full greed and splashed the double-Blue Glyph Keeper.

After building and round three (or my round one), I found my much better Magic-playing friend and asked for his advice on my build (Alex Hayne). He kindly suggested splashing for double Blue was too greedy and helped me read the card Oketra's Monument. When I was building, I thought you only got a 1/1 if you cast a White creature. Oops. That was going into my pool after every game one. I also played a lot during Theros and didn't realize [[Commit]] was basically Griptide. Oops. That one I almost never ended up siding in though, as it was too hard to cut other cards for it.


Thanks Alex! 

My favorite match of the day happened either one or two rounds after that; I was ecstatic to see I was paired up against Seth Manfield, who I force to take selfies with me at almost every Grand Prix (GP). We had a very close game one where he attempted to lethally attack me with a precombat Mighty Leap, but I obviously had topdecked Stinging Shot for that turn so his creature didn't deal enough damage and then I killed him on the swing back. Game two I landed my Sandwurm Convergence, and he didn't concede. I thought this was odd, until a few turns later he played his own. Luckily I had sided in my White trial, so my wurms were much larger, and vigilant. It was great. Easy 2–0, suck it, Seth! My losses were to a very good Green deck which snuck out Honored Hydra too early with Champion of Rhonas, and to a R/W aggro deck piloted by Martin Muller. We had three very close games but he got the best of me. I was mainly just stoked to get my 6th match win, as this would be my first Limited day two and my first time drafting at a GP. I consider myself a much better drafter so I was really excited to have the opportunity. 

Day 2

I was a little nervous because I had only drafted the set one time before day two. I also had only done one timed Draft in my life from a Limited Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier top eight. In my first Draft I was seated between Martin Dang and Carlos Romao, with Dang passing to me for the first booster. I don't entirely remember what I opened, but I know it was an overall weak pack so I picked Lord of the Accursed. I was getting fed great Black cards which made me pretty happy, and an okay mixture of Blue and White cards. I'm pretty sure in pack one I got a Wayward Servant late. As I mentioned earlier, my favorite color is White, and well, my second favorite is Black—Zombie tribal seemed very ideal. I also tend to fall into a pattern of drafting Black and White whenever possible.

It so happened I opened Oketra the True in pack two, so my propensity to go White was pushed over its threshold. I then got passed Archfiend of Ifnir, thanks Carlos! I was feeling ecstatic about my draft now. I had a lot of removal and some great bombs. I could not remember what my curve was but I remember it being okay. Between boosters, I tried to just keep a creature and removal count so I would make sure I had enough playables in both for a solid deck. I showed my deck to my friends who thought it had a solid chance of going 3–0. I felt great.

Match one was against Dang who was on R/W aggro. In game three I made a critical error in blocking when I had cast Oketra that turn; it was the worst block decision of my life, but I was worried because my life total was low. I was blown out by a combat trick and stifled on mana. I died with multiple Final Rewards in my hand but unable to cast them. Had I just taken the damage, I could have churned out tokens while being mana screwed and left up Oketra to block until I drew out of it. Lesson learned as now my top eight dreams were dead. I was a bit frustrated because my deck was so good; I was really sad to lose to my own play mistake. I won the next two matches fairly easily on the back of my deck.

Draft two I figured was not going to go as well as the first one. The only person I recognized in my pod was Jeremy Dezani who was seated to my right. I started out picking Red cards and moved into Blue as Red was being cut very hard. My draft was going very poorly; I had some okay cards, but no bombs, and no real removal. I was very worried I was going to go 0–3.

In pack two I was being fed decent White cards which made me pretty happy; I had some semblance of a deck, but its power level was very poor. In pack three I opened up Temmet, which was pretty perfect in my token deck with two Binding Mummy and an Anointer Priest already. I saw an [[Anointed Procession[[ in this pack relatively late, but I didn't want to pick it thinking it would wheel. And boy, I was so happy when I got it last pick. After the draft I showed this deck to my friends who all gave me a face of disapproval. I was really just hoping to go 1–2 with this deck.

The first match, I was paired against the guy who gave me my first loss the prior day; time for revenge! He was on a Black/Green durdle deck and I was making a ton of creatures thanks to my Oketra's Monument. I made his Cruel Reality turn literal. I won that match and thought to myself, "Wow, I'm already doing better than I expected." Round two of this draft I was paired against Dezani, who to my surprise was also in U/W. I beat him 2–0 and thought, "Wow, he was feeding me U/W and my deck crushed him. Nice!" I was already way outperforming how I thought my deck would do, so I was pretty pumped for this last round. I don't remember much about the round unfortunately, but I do remember my deck did not feel well poised against my opponent; he had big ground creatures and my creatures could not block effectively. There was too much pressure and I lost the round.

In the end, I ended up netting my best performance yet, cashing in the event by coming in 62nd. I can't wait to compete for more at my next GP!

Sarah Zyla is a Magic player from Maryland who loves Limited and cats. She started playing Magic during Dark Ascension and has since become obsessed with drafting. When not working, she enjoys traveling to play in GPs. Her goal is to qualify for the Pro Tour.

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