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GP Portland Winner’s Report *1st* - Part 2

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Martin Juza
Martin Juza

About Martin Juza

Martin is a Magic player from the Czech Republic who has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:

  • Level 8 Pro Players Club member
  • 166 Lifetime Pro Points
  • Top 8 Pro Tour Austin 2009
  • Top 8 Pro Tour Berlin 2008
  • Winner GP Portland 2010
  • Top 8 Grand Prix Tampa 2009
  • Top 8 Grand Prix Bangkok 2009
  • Top 8 Grand Prix Brighton 2009

GP Portland  Winner’s Report *1st* - Part 2

You can find part 1 of the report here:

GP Portland Winner’s Report *1st* - Part 1

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Level 8 pro Martin Juza brings you his GP Portland report and explains how he managed to win the whole tournament. He details his take on the format and his preparation leading up to the event.

Day 2 started with the 10th round of sealed deck, which I wasn’t very happy about but I knew my deck was definitely capable of winning one more match.

Wizards should also do something about these monster GPs where day 1 ends around midnight and day 2 starts at 7 45am which doesn’t give you very much time for a good night’s sleep, let alone dinner. Something like online preregistration where you can pay with a credit card would save a lot of time on Saturday morning and give them a solid estimate of how big the field is going to be. Also seeing how attendance is constantly growing and the entry fee is 30 euros even for a Constructed GP, raising the prize payout certainly wouldn’t hurt them.

Round 10 Rob D. Entrup, GWb

Game 1 I mulligan and keep Child of Night, Gargoyle Sentinel, Cloud Elemental and 3 Swamps, then draw 5 straight blue cards and still almost stabilize, but he eventually outnumbers my creatures and swings for exactly lethal. I took out Mana Leak because he showed me 3 Sylvan Rangers and Unsummon for 2 Ice Cages as an additional answer for his Primeval Titan and other green monsters. Games two and three take quite long but I’m eventually able to assemble Triskelion + Steel Overseer in both to take control of the game and when he has an answer I have the Disentomb to bring my guy back.

2-1

Draft 1

  • 41           Denney, Timothy [USA]
  • 42           Allen, Brett [USA]
  • 43           Pozsgay, Michael T [USA]
  • 44           Tran, Anthony A [USA]
  • 45           Ruprecht, Adam [USA]
  • 46           Juza, Martin [CZE]
  • 47           Chapin, Patrick A [USA]
  • 48           Greig, Matthew C [USA]

Getting passed by Chapin I wasn’t expecting to see many blue cards. I opened a very good pack, taking Fireball over Pacifism, Doom Blade, Foresee and other good cards. Pick 2 I took Chandra's Outrage over Nantuko Shade, then another one, Quag Sickness and Assassinate. That’s more removal in the first 5 picks than you usually have in your average deck. Next pack I was offered the choice between another Assassinate and Act of Treason, I thought there was a pretty good chance Viscera Seer was wheeling from an early pack and took the Act. The little vampire did in fact table and my deck was looking pretty strong. Pack two I opened a Mind Control and nothing really exciting in my colors. I thought about taking it but I didn’t want to screw up the draft for both me and Patrick so I ended up passing the Mind Control, hoping that it would put him into blue (if he wasn’t already) and ended up taking something like a Bloodthrone Vampire. Next was another Outrage, Corrupt, Skeleton, Act and some creatures. I could have built a deck from the first two packs without playing any fillers. Pack 3 was basically a freeroll. I took a Lightning Bolt first and got passed a second Fireball by Patrick, so I guess it worked out pretty well. After the draft Patrick told me that if I hadn’t shipped the Mind Control he would have ended up taking the Fireball because he wasn’t sure about his 2nd color. In the rest of the pack I just filled my curve and even took a Howling Banshee over a Doom Blade because I already had more than enough removal and not very many creatures. And with 2 Fireballs, Corrupt and 3 Outrages, both players losing 3 life certainly wasn’t going to be a drawback.

Draft 1 GP Portland Martin Juza

Tags: 
Black
Red

This deck forms part of my feature article:

GP Portland Winner’s Report *1st* - Part 2

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4.714285
Average: 4.7 (7 votes)

Relevant cards in sideboard : Necrotic Plague, Deathmark, Mind Rot, Assasinate, Disentomb, Bog Riders, Stabbing Pain, Thunder Strike

This deck was pretty unreal. I had 3 removal spells IN MY SIDEBOARD. I spent the whole 30 minutes trying to figure out how to build it. Mind Rot is clearly a great card in a BR deck full of removal but I just couldn’t make up my mind if I was going to be control or aggro. Necrotic Plague with Skeleton is also pretty sweet. I just didn’t have room for all the cards and my dislike for this color combination left me with not enough experience how to correctly build an Act of Treason deck (if this even is one) Speaking of Act of Treason, I could see myself cutting both of them and the Seer for the Plague, Mind Rot and one more card.

In the end I left it like this with the intention of drawing first if I won the die roll. If they let me go first it’s also fine because I don’t think I can lose if I go turn 2 creature, turn 3 creature and follow it up with Outrage and more removal.

Round 11 Greig Matthew C, UB

This was basicaly a dream matchup for me because Greig’s deck had only 7 creatures. He showed me many Doom Blades in game 1 so I sided out 2 Red creatures for Bog Riders and Mind Rot. Game 2 he mulliganed to four and started with turn 1 Elixir of Immortality, turn 2 Elixir of Immortality. Good game.

2-0

Round 12 Denney Timothy, GW

Game one was basically over on turn 3 when he played Crystal Ball, which was absolutely the best card against my hand of all removal spells and no creatures. I ended up getting him quite low on life but Baneslayer Angel easily turned the race in his favor and he just grinded me out by drawing business every turn and putting lands to the bottom. I boarded in Deathmark and Plague for some Goblin Pikers. Games 2 and 3 were very close but I always managed to kill all his creatures before he found his Whispersilk Cloak.

2-1

Round 13 Allen Brett, UR

Time for revenge. This round was also covered by ggs live. We both kill each other’s creatures with removal spells until I stick a Rotting Legion and finish him with Corrupt and Fireball. He lets me go first and I keep a slow hand with my first play being a Nightwing Shade that trades for his Vulshok Berserker. I then Outrage his Triskelion, Corrupt another guy and Fireball his Gargoyle Sentinel and another Berserker and he seems to be out of gas. He’s at 14, I’m at 10 and I’m holding Fireball with 9 lands in play. He then Foresees into Hellhound, which I steal with Act and smash for 5, taking him to 9 and sacrifice his guy to Viscera Seer after combat. My top card is a land which I keep and Fireball him out next turn.

2-0

Draft 2

  • 9             Wu, Jia [USA]
  • 10           Ruskey, Albert [CAN]
  • 11           Stark, Ben S [USA]
  • 12           Nakamura, Shuuhei [JPN]
  • 13           Juza, Martin [CZE]
  • 14           Wong, Brian G [USA]
  • 15           Ochoa, David A [USA]
  • 16           Jackson, Ian [USA]

It looks like 2 wins and a draw is going to be enough for top8 but this pod is pretty tough with Shuhei, BenS and Web. This time I don’t know the person on my right and I’m passing to Web. I open Wild Griffin, Outrage and Fauna Shaman and I figure that everyone hates green and Shaman is going to be a safe pick. Unfortunately Ocho opens Overhelming Stampede which also puts him into green and both our decks end up being pretty bad while we ship all the Blinding Mages, Pacifisms and infinite white fliers to the people around us. My deck ends up being like 2 removal spells away from quite good but I just didn’t see any or the person to my right switched colors after passing me all the black in pack 1. The only thing I have going is the 2 Fauna Shamans that can fetch Packleaders, Cudgel Troll, Acidic Slime or a hasty Awakener Druid.

Draft 2 GP Portland Martin Juza

Tags: 
Black
Green
Colors
Artifact1
Black7
Green15
Land17
Converted Mana Cost
14
25
36
42
56
Type
Artifact Creature1
Basic Land17
Creature15
Enchantment1
Instant2
Sorcery4

This deck forms part of my feature article:

GP Portland Winner’s Report *1st* - Part 2

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Relevant cards in sideboard : 2 Nature's Spiral, 2 Disentomb, 1 Nether Horror, 1 Autumn's Veil, 1 Brindle Boar, 1 Wall of Vines

Round 14 Nakamura Shuhei, UB

Shuhei had a slow UB deck which was a reasonable matchup for me. In both games I had a Hornet Sting for his turn 2 Child of Night and then my Basilisks just kept bashing through his Azure Drakes and Wall of Frost until he was forced to start chump blocking. I didn’t see any removal besides one Corrupt and Cancel so either his deck wasn’t very good or he just didn’t draw the right cards. Either way a win is a win. Ben and Web also won their matches so it looked like 2 of us 3 would make it, which was pretty sweet.

2-0

Round 15 Wong Brian G, UB

I saw him play the round before and his deck was pretty good with Mind Control being the card that I was worried about the most.

I won the die roll and had the nuts in game 1, accelerating with 2 Llanowar Elves into a turn 3 Acidic Slime, destroying his only Swamp. Couple of green monsters later and we were shuffling up for game 2. I boarded in Autumn's Veil as a pretty good answer to Mind Control and Disentomb to be able to get the most value out of my Acidic Slime. Second game is a blur so I probably just got quickly destroyed. I’m making game 3 very close by playing around most of the cards, for which I get yelled at after the match by BenS and Kibler but I just refuse to lose to the Mind Control that I think he has after he taps 5 mana, thinks for a while and eventually plays a 5 mana creature with 1 card left in his hand. If I didn’t think I could have kept holding the Acidic Slime I definitely wouldn’t have but I think I had enough resources to afford that. In the end he buys a lot of time with 3 Gravediggers returning each other but eventually just loses to my 3/5 deathtouch guys that he has to chumpblock every turn. I certainly could have won the game a couple of turns sooner by playing more aggressively and maybe I should have but in the end it all worked out for which I’m very grateful.

2-1

Round 16 Ochoa David, RG

To give you an idea of what a master Web is, he made the finals of this draft with a Bloodcrazed Goblin in his deck. Nuff said.

ID

Top8 Draft

PV started the tournament by going 12-0 and still had to hope some results would go his way in the last round to make top8. That just shows how crazy the big GPs are these days.

  • 1             Kiene, Thomas J [USA]
  • 2             Loucks, Jonathon R [USA]
  • 3             Lynn, Nicholas G [USA]
  • 4             Juza, Martin [CZE]
  • 5             Layne, Josh [CAN]
  • 6             Ochoa, David A [USA]
  • 7             Bau, Philip E [USA]
  • 8             da Rosa, Paulo Vitor D [BRA]

Top8 time! Feels good to be back. The only people I know at this table are Paulo and Web, who is feeding me. I start with a Doom Blade and get passed a Vengeful Archon, which I don’t think is as powerful as a Blinding Mage or Pacifism but still take it as a good signal. Next pack has a Conundrum Sphinx, Foresee and Scroll Thief, which makes it pretty clear that blue is the right color to be in. I take the Sphinx and follow it with more blue and black cards, never really seeing anything else in white. In pack 3 I took a Diabolic Tutor over Cancel, because I’m not a very big fan of countermagic in this format and also pass a Mana Leak or two for something like Ice Cage. My deck ends up being a pretty good UB control with enough removal, solid creatures and a fine curve.

Top 8 Draft GP Portland Martin Juza

Tags: 
Blue
Black

This deck forms part of my feature article:

GP Portland Winner’s Report *1st* - Part 2

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Relevant cards in sideboard : Necrotic Plague, Flashfreeze, Disentomb, Maritime Guard

Quarterfinal - PV, UW

You can see all the games on ggslive here and here, so I will only talk about the interesting plays.

In game 1 he has a Mind Control for my Sphinx and an Air Servant beating me down. I’m at 4 and I can Ice Cage one of the guys and Diminish the other one to survive one more turn but unless he has nothing for the Ice Cage (he has like 4 cards in hand), draws like 10 lands in a row and I draw a Doom Blade followed by all gas, there’s no way I’m winning this game. I strongly consider not showing him any of my cards and scooping right away but as long as there’s a slight chance of winning I’ll still take it. Many people do this without even thinking and often just end up showing their opponent 2 extra tricks just to survive one more attack even though next turn they are drawing dead. In the end I play the Ice Cage and PV shows me an end of turn Diminish of his own to destroy it, so it actually works ok for me as I get to see another card from his deck in return.

I board in the Necrotic Plague as an additional answer for the Air Servant and also switch a Maritime Guard ... for a Maritime Guard. I like to do this quite often, especially when I see a card like Mind Control, Overhelming Stampede, Fireball etc. By not sideboarding at all you just show your opponent that you don’t really have an answer for it and he doesn’t have to play around anything. This way I’m at least representing something like Negate or Cancel (or something like Safe Passage in the case of Overrun and Fireball) or even Duress which could possibly buy me a turn or two because my opponent will try to play around it. If you look at my match against the UGr guy from day 1 where I have the Mind Control and he has GR open, him sideboarding in 2 cards basically won him the game right there because if that was game 1 I would have just straight up stolen his Spider and attacked with everything. Instead I tried to play around Naturalize and Back to Nature and that cost me the game. So always check your sideboard and even if you don’t have anything to bring in, just prepare 2 of the same basic lands that you are using and swap them around.

In game 2 he has a guy with flying and plays a Warlord's Axe. I don’t have any bounce or instant removal at this point so I just pause a little at the end of his turn and then untap which should give him the impression that I actually do. It works out as a couple of turns later he attacks first and then equips post combat, but meanwhile I drew the Doom Blade anyway so it doesn’t really matter and actually backfires a little.

After that I have 6 lands and play an Augury Owl which leaves me a Foresee on top. My hand is Doom Blade and a land. I then choose not to play the land because first of all I’m playing against PV and he knows that if I had that land I would have played it because that way I’d be able to draw into another land and play a 4 drop next turn, so I obviously have to have a spell. He also already played 2 Mana Leaks and I doubt I have to worry about a 3rd one so I think there’s more value in keeping the card in hand to represent another spell because I will very likely have to use the Doom Blade next turn. If it was just a draw 3 spell or if I was way behind on board and really needed to draw into a certain 4 mana spell, I would play the land for sure but from the Foresee I can also just choose not to get the 4th drop next turn and draw something else.

In game three he keeps a hand on play that starts with a turn 4 Azure Drake and that pretty much means he has either Air Servant or Mind Control in his hand because I know for sure PV wouldn’t keep a slow hand like that without any of those 2 cards. I then play my Sphinx instead of a Banshee because I don’t really have a good answer (I think I had Necrotic Plague in my hand at this point but I’m not sure) and this way I have an extra chance to draw a Doom Blade if he has the Servant. He has the Mind Control though and that makes my play much worse but fortunately I draw into a Diabolic Tutor which lets me bounce my Sphinx back with Aether Adept. After that PV doesn’t have any follow up and only draws more lands and useless cards like Sleep and Diminish while my hand is all gas and I just make sure not to die to anything.

2-1

Semifinal - Layne, Josh, GW

In game one he starts with 3 flyers into a Yavimaya Wurm into Ajani. I then make a mistake of not making him attack with his War Priest the first turn when he pumped his guys but I was afraid he would just attack with everything instead and that would leave me with very few outs. This way he didn’t attack with anything and just passed the turn so I guess it worked fine. I’m ready to make some unfavorable trades but he has an Awakener Druid which adds another 5/5 haste attacker and at this point I think there’s no way I can win this game. Fortunately he doesn’t attack with everything and even leaves me with a flyer instead of a ground guy, which lets me Doom Blade his Cloud Crusader next turn and kill his Ajani. He draws a Cudgel Troll which I kill with a Call to Mind for the Doom Blade and next turn I chumpblock his Forest and he adds two more guys. At this point the board is my Azure Drake against his 5/5 Forest, 2/2 Awakener Druid, Wild Griffin and Llanowar Elf. I’m at 4 life. Yeah, it’s not looking very good. Being a pro, I rip Aether Adept and Foresee in my next two draw steps which lets me stabilize and take control of the game. He draws a few blanks in a row but I guess if you start the first 10 turns with 5 lands all spells I guess you have to start drawing lands at some point. I realize I did have to get pretty lucky to win this game but if he just killed the flyer when I double blocked his Wurm, he would have left me with no outs and we wouldn’t even be here. In the end I just make sure not to die to Inspired Charge and win shortly after.

Game two he mulligans into a land light hand, Alluring Siren takes care of his first few guys and he gets stuck on 3 lands until it’s too late.

2-0

Finals - Kiene, Thomas J, UWr

In game 1 I have a Rotting Legion against his two guys and Honor of the Pure while I’m holding two removal spells and waiting for some action. I have to use one on Blinding Mage and next turn I trade Diminish for his guy and Inspired Charge. He empties his hand with Gargyole Sentinel and also has a white 3/3 against my Legion and Augury Owl. I then Deathmark his guy and we start racing. Before the last turn, he draws, thinks for a while and then passes. I’m at 3 and he’s at 8. At this point I’m pretty sure he has a Pacifism that he kept for a blocker next turn so I attack for 5 with both of my guys and draw the game with Howling Banshee. If I only attack with the Legion and keep my Owl to block his guy, I only get him to 4 which means I won’t be able to go for the draw anymore and I’m dead to any removal spell or any creature that can block my Legion next turn.

Game 2 is very long and all the people commenting for ggs live can’t understand why I’m not playing more aggressively but I don’t really want to lose to his Baneslayer just because it looked like he didn’t have it and I felt like racing and wasting my removal on his average guys just so I can push some damage through. At some point I have a Tutor and Sphinx in my hand but instead of playing the Sphinx I tutor for a removal spell and keep the Sphinx in my hand. I do that because I have Necrotic Plague and I don’t want to throw my best guy out there and then lose it two turns later because I was forced to pull the trigger on the Plague. I realize it’s very conservative but I’d much rather win the game with both Sphinx and Plague still in my hand than waste it on his Silvercoat Lions and then lose to his Baneslayer, which is pretty much the only way how I can lose this game. The coverage then again makes me look like the luckiest person in the world when I draw an Aether Adept for his Armored Ascensioned guy, but I’m still holding that Necrotic Plague and even though my opponent makes a comment that I just one outered him I still even have Ice Cage and Assassinate left to answer his guy. He then forces me to make some bad blocks with Inspired Charge but in the end I just slowly grind him out and finish him with Sign in Blood that I was holding for a couple of turns, which again seemed awkward to the coverage guys, but at that point there was very little action left in my deck and there’s no point in throwing away 2 life and most likely drawing 2 lands or a useless Maritime Guard. In the end his Mountain wasn’t really a turn too late because I was never going to let him get me under 7 life if a Mountain showed up at any point.

In game three he gets stuck on two or three lands and while I’m playing a creature every turn, my Alluring Siren makes him throw his guys into my bigger ones until he just scoops.

2-1-0

So I finally won something other than Nationals and even though I value those two titles pretty highly it was pretty nice not to lose in the finals of a GP for once. We went celebrating to a karaoke bar and from what I remember (not much) it was a lot of fun, drinking beer from the cup and all. Right now I’m in Sydney with Shuhei, Chief, LSV, Web, Kibler and PV. We are all staying at Aaron Nicastri’s (who is an awesome host) and let me tell you this place is quite the nuts. It’s basically a 3 bedroom apartment with a giant living room with 2 poker tables that are conveniently used for drafting. Within a 5 minutes’ walk there is a casino, 7/11, kebab, pizza and a supermarket. Our daily schedule consists of showering, ordering pizzas and doing 3 to 5 drafts and going to sleep. A gamer’s heaven, if you will. By the time of the GP we will hopefully have a pretty good understanding of the format and I’ll try to write an article about Scars Limited as soon as possible. I hope you enjoyed this report and I’ll do my best to make it two in a row!

MJ

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