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Amazing Days in Japan -With Limited Grand Prix-

2018/07/28 00:00 

    • Petr Sochurek
    • Hareruya Pros Blog

Hello everyone!

I had the honor to stay little over 2 weeks in Japan and it was a blast! I've met a lot of amazing people, improved significantly in the language and got experiences I will never forget. I can't rationally explain it, but Japan really has something special about it, which makes me love it and I can't wait to come back again.

It was little unfortunate that I had 3 important tournaments ahead of me during my stay, so I couldn't have had as much fun as I would like to because I dedicated a lot of my time to practicing. A good way to do both was to attend a bunch of weekly tournaments in Hareruya Tournament Center or to play a real life Drafts with pros or just a regular Japanese grinders. In fact Hareruya has organized a Draft camp for Hareruya Pros and Hopes during the weekend before Grand Prix Chiba 2018 and that has helped me significantly.

Learning Process -M19 Draft and Sealed-

My strength in Magic (or anything else for that matter) is that I have a really good learning process. Most things aren't intuitive to me so I usually struggle at the beginning, but I am good at learning from my mistakes and can improve fast. What this means is that at the beginning of a new limited format, my record is usually pretty bad compared to other players, but after 2 weeks of playing I can become better than most of them - this applies to constructed as well. When I pick up a new deck, I will most likely be worse at playing it compared to most pros, but I can become better than almost anyone eventually even if we play the same amount.

What I realized during our testing was that there are very few good 2 drops and most of them have 1 toughness and you can easily take advantage of it. What this means is that green as a color is really bad - not necessarily because the cards are bad in vacuum (but this is partly also the case), but because green's usual strength comes from going over the top of smaller creatures, but those aren't really present - you don't really want to be the guy with 5 drops or auras in your hand against an opponent packing bunch of 《Essence Scatter》, 《Divination》, flyers and removal spells.

Essence ScatterDivinationSkymarch BloodletterLich's Caress

I think that blue is by far the best color and unless it's severely cut I am looking to be blue in every draft. The best archetypes in my opinon is UB followed by UR - cards like 《Sift》 and 《Divination》 are very medium if your deck is filled up with just the same-ish random creatures, but become great when paired with 1 for 1 answers like 《Essence Scatter》 and red/black removal spells.

Heroic ReinforcementsAjani's PridemateBrawl-Bash OgreGift of Paradise

Other potentially good archetypes are Boros Aggro, BW lifegain, RB Sacrifice and X Color-Green, but you need very specific cards (uncommons and rares) to make them good and those Drafts can easily turn into trainwrecks if your colors aren't open and it's usually very hard to say if that's the case before it's too late. One of the good ways to end up in these is to start you Draft with something like 2 great black removal spells and then you get passed a RB or BW payoff card - you take it and see where it leads you, but I would advice against forcing. If blue isn't opened you can still fill up your deck with random 《Anticipate》 etc. Instead of playing bad cards and your deck will end up being fine.

Anticipate

As for the Sealed - I think it's a little different from Draft - first of all, you obviously know what is in your pool, so you don't have to worry about not getting passed the important cards and any color combination is viable. What I think is the most important thing to realize about this Sealed limited format is that there are already only few good 2 drops in a Draft, but the number goes even more down in Sealed - if your deck doesn't function without them in Draft, you can prioritize them very highly and you will usually end up being fine, but you can't do that in sealed which means that the number of for example RW aggressive decks goes significantly down and most people end up with Midrange/Control decks filled up with all good cards, making cards like 《Omenspeaker》 almost unplayble.

Omenspeaker

The good thing about 《Omenspeaker》 in Draft is that it still does something if you draw it late or against a wrong opponent, but it's crucial to have an early play against someone trying to curve you out, but that just doesn't really happen in sealed and the 1/3 body is almost irrelevant. I have found that many people can't really imagine the way the games play out - when they build their deck, they think about if it looks good on the table - nice curve, everything covered etc. But that is just wrong - you have to think about the actuall games.

During the games you will draw the cards you have put into your deck and it doesn't matter if it looked good or necceseary on the table - that is what you have to work with to win the game and if that card doesn't do anything then it's your fault. Imagine mulliganing to 6 - the game turnes out to be super close and then you draw a 1/3! Try to put impactful spells in your deck please.

Grand Prix Chiba 2018

I have played some Sealeds and many Drafts online right before Grand Prix Chiba 2018 and I felt relatively confident - it wasn't like I was sure about everything, but the format was new and most players likely didn't play with it that much yet + there is no limited on the Pro Tour, which meant that pros most wouldn't be as strong as normally.

I arrived to the building table with Tomoharu Saito and our pools were just horrible - all bad rares and not that many good cards in general. I ended up building a random Red-White deck, which had the highest number of good cards in my pool - it was sort of aggressive, but it had cards like 《Suspicious Bookcase》 and 《Gargoyle Sentinel》 - good cards, but not exactly what are you looking for in a RW beatdown deck.

Suspicious BookcaseGargoyle Sentinel

I also had 4 good removal spells so I thought that my deck is more of a good stuff deck then a beatdown deck which has lead to building my deck wrongly. I ended up running 《Arcane Encyclopedia》 which should have just been 《Lava Axe》 - after playing couple of matches I realized that the way I win is that I deal bunch of incidental damage and kill them and even though 《Axe》 sometimes doesn't do anything it would end up being a more impactful spell in my deck.

Lava Axe

I got really lucky in some of my matches and finished up going 7-2; not a great record, but I was happy with it given my pool. Unfortunately Japanese GPs are really big and I knew that I am most likely death for Top 8 after my 2nd loss. Day 2 went really well for me - I didn't open any broken rares or anything like that, but as I already mentioned, people were very unexperienced with the set and I crushed (relatively easy) both Drafts with a perfect UB and less perfect, but still good UR decks - my opponents decks just didn't matched up well against what my decks were doing and I was able to put up a great 6-0 result to finish 11th.

You would think that I would be dissapointed about not making a Top 8 at a X-2 result, but I knew that for a long time that I can't make it and I was just happy for my play and result and didn't have any bad emotions. What makes me feel bad is when I play bad or underprepared, but I am usually trying to not stress about things out of my control.


I can't wait to play this format again at Grand Prix Minneapolis 2018 - most people say, that it sucks because it's a Core Set, but I actually enjoy it quite a bit.

Until next time,

Petr Sochurek

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