Preparation for Invitational

Another set has arrived, and on Saturday one of the most prestigious events here at WNY Gaming will be taking place for the second time since its creation, the WNY Gaming Invitational Championship. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, let me break it down for you. It is the result of, us here at WNY Gaming, wanting to reward players for their hard work and accomplishment at events they participate in, as well as their dedication and attendance among those events. It takes the top 16 players who have accumulated the most points within the season and pits them against each other in a 5 round Swiss dual format event, followed by a top 8 playoff that swaps between formats. All of this culminating into having 1 player being named Champion, their name on the Invitational Trophy, and having themselves forever immortalized with their likeness being transformed into a personalized token of their choosing. It could look a little something like this:

Yes, it’s true! I mentioned that this would be the second ever installment of the championships, which means there has already been one winner. After an intense tournament, I was able to hoist the coveted trophy.

In having to defend my title, preparations are crucial. First, we have to look at the event as a whole and figure out what is going to be required of us. This happens to be a dual format event which, I not only have an exception track record of doing well, but also happens to be my favorite style because it’s the most fun. The layout of the event hasn’t changed, we’ll be starting things off with 3 rounds of standard and finishing off with 2 rounds of modern. Considering the size of the event, we know to make Top 8 we only have to escape the Swiss with 3 wins to lock the elimination rounds. This allows us to be able to rely heavily on 1 format over the other.

Although standard and modern decks can be vastly different from each other, I believe the decision making in the decks we chose could dramatically affect how our event turns out. In dual format events, we must take into consideration how our mindset can influence certain decision making, and therefore play a part in our game play. Transitioning from aggressive decks with minimal high impact decisions, to control strategies where patience is a virtue, lines of play may become cloudy. Being aggressive with counterspells because you’re in an aggro mindset might cause a mismanagement of resources. Swapping between two control decks, one might experience tournament fatigue from too much decision making, whereas someone else may be most comfortable in the control mindset.

We all think differently, and there are pros and cons for each of these scenarios being optimal combinations of deck choices. You need to make the best decision that will play to your strengths, and go from there. Looking back at my past choices, G/B Constrictor in standard was a mid-range deck that could have very powerful, aggressive plays, and could transition into long games if need be. Titanshift in modern is a deck that I have a lot of experience and play time with, and plays a combo oriented game plan with inevitability. The combination of these two decks allowed me the to play lots of interaction with my opponents in standard, then almost none in modern through comboing as soon as possible. This recipe turned out successful for me because I was more comfortable maneuvering complicated scenarios in standard as opposed to in modern.

Also affecting deck choices for events is “metagaming” and trying to find out the most popular decks in the room. Small scale tournaments are an interesting challenge, as we could just go based off what we’ve seen people playing at the store, but we can’t completely rely on that information if we anticipate our competitors will also be doing their homework and change it up. Considering our competition will be the top players at WNY Gaming, we can expect strong, established decks in each format to have a presence. With this thought process, I tend to lean in the direction of decks that have good strategy and game play against a large variety of the projected field.

In the end, we are only able to prepare for a limited amount of scenarios, or the vast possibilities of decks we become paired up against. Our decision making will be our most valuable tool in the event, and using it in a precise and skilled manor can overtake even the tallest of obstacles. I am very excited for what this weekend will bring, and pumped for the challenge. Regardless of how I finish, I will follow up with a tournament report on what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what direction I’ll be moving forward in. Until then, I know I’ll be ready, will you?

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About The Author: Michael Strianese

Husband, Dad, Electrician by day, Competitive Magic player by weekend, with a resume including a SCG Invitational Top 8 and SCG Cincinnati Classic Top 8