Grand Prix Orlando was one of the strangest events I have attended, despite attending Grand Prix Charlotte, Columbus, and Las Vegas when the tournament software broke, the event was split into three, and another software crash respectively. Having been through those events, I still maintain Orlando was the craziest personal experience I have had and I will recap my experience as I also recap the matches I played.
I have two byes when attending GPs, so I did not need to be at the tournament until 11:00AM. While getting ready to leave from Kissimmee, a forty-minute drive to the event, it occurred to me that I never received a confirmation that I had submitted a deck list. In a panic, I began sending messages to friends to have them submit the list and reaching out to Channel Fireball customer service. By the time the deadline of 9:00 AM rolled around, I had still not received a response so I rushed to the event to see what could be done.
I was able to make it to the event at 10:15 AM and as a failsafe grabbed a paper deck list so I could write one up if they had not received mine. Speaking with customer service, they confirmed that no submission had been received so spoke with the head judge. Seeing that I had made a valid attempt to contact them and rectify the situation, he ruled I would be able to submit my deck list with no penalty. Crisis averted.
With that early morning dilemma out of the way, I waited to begin the third round so I could start playing my deck, which for this event was Bant Turbo Fog. The deck seemed interesting and consistent, while providing interaction and the capability to outplay opponents. I often thrive playing decks with a lot of moving pieces, which close out the game with a combo-type win condition.
Bant Turbo Fog
4 Irrigated Farmland
4 Scattered Groves
4 Hinterland Harbor
2 Glacial Fortress
2 Sunpetal Groves
4 Botanical Sanctum
Instants and Sorceries (20)
4 Root Snare
4 Haze of Pollen
4 Spring / Mind
4 Nexus of Fate
3 Karn’s Temporal Sundering
Other Spells (15)
4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
4 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Nissa, Steward of Elements
4 Gift of Paradise
2 Search for Azcanta
3 Carnage Tyrant
1 Nezahal, Primal Tide
2 Jace’s Defeat
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
2 Lyra Dawnbringer
1 Forsake the Worldly
1 River’s Rebuke
Round 3 – Kris McCord – RB Aggro
Game 1 – Kris had a fairly aggressive start on the play with a turn 1 Bomat Courier, turn 2 Scrapheap Scrounger. He attacked me to 14 and passed turn leaving his mana untapped. I cast a turn 3 Gift of Paradise to go back to 17 and he cast Lightning Strike and Shock at the end of the my turn putting me back to 12. When he untapped he cast Insult, attacked me for 8 and cast Shock for 4.
Game 2 – I played a tapped land on the play. He utilized his mulligan and cast turn 1 Bomat Courier, turn 2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider. I cast my turn 3 Gift of Paradise and went back to 21. He cast a turn 3 Scrapheap Scrounger, attacked me to 17. I played turn 4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria plus and passed turn with 2 mana open and a root snare. He cast Insult, attacked me for 7 with double damage from Insults effects, and cast Shock to kill me.
Round 4 – Alexander Marey – Keld Red
Game 1- Alex has a fast start on the play, I have the fumigate in my hand but I miss-sequenced my lands so my 5th land comes into play tapped. He had the right amount of burn to finish me off with the Lightning Strike under his Bomat Courier.
Game 2- Alex has a bit of a slower start, but gets a few creatures down and attacking. He followed with a turn 4 Wizard’s Lightning, Shock, Flame of Keld. After casting Gift of Paradise, I cast root snare on his attacked to stay around 12 life. The turn he draws 3 cards on keld, he plays a land, a Shock, and a Bomat Courier. I cast haze of pollen to keep my life at 10. My turn 6, I cast another Gift of Paradise and a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, knowing I have another root snare in my hand, at the end of my turn he sacrificed a Bomat Courier for 5 cards. When he untapped he procked his Flame of Keld to add 2 damage to each red spell. I fogged his attack, He proceeded to Wizard’s Lightning for 5, Lightning Strike for 5, and cast a Kari Zev, Skyship Raider. I untapped durdled a bit found another root snare and passed turn, he top deck and dropped his Lightning Strike off the top for lethal.
Round five is when my tournament began to get super interesting.
Round 5 – James Kim – Grixis Midrange (dubbed James Off)
Game 1 – We both durdled a ton and just played lands and passed turn. I eventually get the extra turn lock on him, show him 4 extra turn cards in my hand and he scooped in the interest of time.
Game 2 – After sending out a few bait walkers, he had to deal with with multiple vraska’s contempts, my Teferi, Hero of Dominaria stuck and tucked his the scarab god. He followed up with a Nico Bolas, The Ravager, and I untapped and had the lock.
We submit our match slip to a judge who verifies the result and no drops.
That is, until I was dropped for round six. The scorekeeper verified I had been dropped in error and proceeded to pair me against an opponent whose record was 1-2-1 (4 points). Arriving at the table, I saw the opponent did not show up so I was paired against the player he was supposed to play whose record is 1-4 (3 points). Being alive for day two, I respectfully asked my opponent if he would scoop to me, however, he declined, as his goal was to finish even at the GP. I shook his hand, understanding, and began to play.
Round 6 – Eli Cason – Primal Amulet of Hailfire
Game 1 – After resolving his turn 4 Primal Amulet. He spent the next few turns counter-spelling all my spells and flipping his Primal Amulet. Once he flipped it he cast Torment of Hailfire for 6, which was doubled by his primal wellspring. I only had enough to survive 11 iterations and died.
Game 2 – He was stuck on 3 lands for most of the game, which allowed me to get into the lock fairly easily.
Game 3 – This game was a bit of a battle. I cast a turn 4 Carnage Tyrant and clocked him fairly well. He got a amulet down, and flipped it with a torrential gearhulk block. He was able to Torment to 1 and was a land drop short of just killing me.
I managed to squeeze out a victory.
When the pairings for round seven were posted, I needed to return to the scorekeeper’s table to determine why I only had nine points, rather than the twelve my four wins should have allotted me. They fixed the error, but left pairings the same. I explained the situation to my opponent, who was essentially out of the tournament but he indicated he did not want to scoop, asking, “why don’t we just play it out”.
Round 7 – Phillip Lorren – RB Aggro
Game 1 – I don’t remember well, as I was tilted out, but he had a slow start and I was able to lock him out of the game.
Game 2 – He had an aggressive start and got me low enough to where a resolved siege gang commander was able to finish me off through my fog.
Game 3 – We had a super grindy match where he cast a ton of haymakers. After going back and forth with me fizzling on combo-ing multiple times. He was finally able to kill me.
As he was swinging for lethal I reached out to shake his hand, and asked if he wanted to scoop, half jokingly. Laughing, he said, “I’m going to get some food.” My heart dropped and even though it makes for a great laugh now, I was definitely stressing.
Round 8 – Stephen Pierce – UR Dyna-Turns
Game 1 – We took turns trying to combo each other back and forth. He ended up getting the combo locking me out with Dynavolt tower and Nexus of Fate.
Game 2 – I got a turn 4 Carnage Tyrant out, and he wasn’t able to deal with it, while I was also casting take extra turns cards.
Game 3 – We barely had any time left after the first 2 games, We got to a point where were at the end of turns. I had a Carnage Tyrant, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria on 6, 2 sorcerous spyglass on dynavolt tower and Jaya Ballard on board. My hand was Lyra, dawnbringer, Jace’s Defeat, land, and I was about to draw a card. His board was 2 whirler virtuoso, 3 thopter tokens, dynavolt tower, and Jaya Ballard. He had 1 energy and 1 disallow in his hand.
We had previously discussed our race for pro points to qualify for bronze and after some deliberation he reluctantly scooped knowing that a draw would knock us both out. I hope karma catches up and he gets this act of kindness paid forward, so if you see him at a tournament buy him a drink! He’s a good guy and thanks to him I finished 6-2, allowing me to continue to play on day two.
Round 9 – Mauricio Espinoza – Mono-Green Aggro
Game 1 – He played a few threats, I played fumigate, then fogged a few times. I was able to lock him out between extra turns and fogs.
Game 2 – He ran me over on the back of his turn 2 heart of kiran, turn 3 rhonas, the indomitable, turn 4 steel-leaf champion. I ran out of fog effects.
Game 3 – He had cast a duress and doomfall but wasn’t super committed to the board with threats. I was able to eventually fog enough of his plays and get the lock out.
Round 10 – Gonzalo Ferrari Spampinato – GB Constrictor
Game 1 – He absolutely destroyed me with 2 winding constrictor, walking ballista, and verdurous gearhulk.
Game 2 – I was able to get the turn 4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, fog, then extra turns lock fairly early.
Game 3 – It was a huge grind back and forth and very well played game by both of us. I whiffed on the combo at least 4 times drawing all lands and missing on multiple Azcanta, the sunken ruin. Eventually on turn 4 of turns I was able to get the lock. I asked for a concession, but he had no reason to because he still had potential to make prizes, so he opted not to. In hindsight I should have scooped since I was only playing for the pro points. The draw did nothing to help me on that goal, I would have been far better off putting him in a better position to win prizes.
Round 11 – Ali Aintrazi – Bant Turns
Game 1 – After a bit of a durdle fest he was able to chain enough Nexus of Fate together to lock me out.
Game 2 – I missed on a few lands but was able to cast ramp spells. He had mini comboed off but had his Teferi, Hero of Dominaria at 8 when passing turn. He was able to negate a few times and after missing on the combo, he had a hand full of counters. When he untapped and found his first Nexus of Fate, I scooped as I was dead to the Teferi Emblem.
In post game discussion, we spoke about an extremely unlikely method to try and win; casting my Carnage Tyrant and hoping he missed on his extra turn cards a few times. I opted to try and bounce and extra turn his Teferi with Karn’s Temporal Sundering. He played well, as anyone would suspect, but he was also very classy. In my opinion, he is the kind of pro player the game needs, extremely down to earth and approachable. I was glad to finally meet him personally.
Round 12 – Lachlan Saunders – Grixis Midrange
Game 1 – I easily locked him out of the game when he drew a ton of his removal and cards that were dead in the matchup.
Game 2 – He was able to get a glint-sleeve siphoner out and ride its card advantage engine to victory with a bunch of duress and negate.
Game 3 – I fizzled on the combo a few times, I made some poor choices on discards, and ended up getting punished by have my hand clogged with Karn’s Temporal Sundering and no way to cast them.
Round 13 – Alfredo Torres – RB Aggro
Game 1 – I was able to lock him out after fogging a few times off a turn 4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. I got a lock pretty easily and was able to extra turn my way into his concession.
Game 2 – I got run over with him on the play. A bunch of creatures and he finished me off when he pushed me into tapping out for Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and holding up a root snare. He cast Insult and that was it.
Game 3 – I played turn 2 sorceress spyglass naming hazoret the fervent. His hand was pretty mediocre as he only had 2 land and a few large drops. He drew all the lands he needed. I felt pretty good by the time I hit my 5th land to cast my Teferi, Hero of Dominaria with the fog needed to survive and a hand full of extra turn cards. He had 1 mystery card in his hand with a hazoret the fervent and chandra, torch of defiance. I was feeling pretty good at 7 feeling like I could just win after untapping. As soon as I went to pass the turn he flipped over his Insult in his hand which left me dead through my fog.
After dropping that round I was completely dead to make any pro points, so I dropped from the tournament. I didn’t have a stellar day two performance, and by the end of the day I was fatigued and feeling it. I was making some fairly suspect plays and it felt like I was making more mistakes as the tournament continued.
What I learned:
Over the course of the tournament I played against some stellar talent, and some great humans. I made the best out of everything that went wrong and tried to keep my head afloat. I am not a fan of the current state of standard because there isn’t a deck I am fully comfortable with that can also consistently win.
Players were definitely prepared for Turbo Fog this weekend and going into the event I was expecting some number of lost legacies to be cast. What caught me off guard was Insult having such a presence in the meta. I wasn’t prepared for it and I had a rude awakening when I first saw it cast. Looking ahead to GP Providence next week, I am not set on my deck choice, although, I am leaning towards a deck that I have comfortably piloted often in this format: Control. I haven’t determined which colors or card selection at this point and with the shift in the meta, I don’t feel comfortable piloting the deck flawlessly. With only a week to prepare for Rhode Island, I have challenges ahead of me as I get everything in order. I’m looking forward to continuing the hunt for the last two pro points I need as the season rages on!