My friends and I have been talking about playing in a tournament that is bigger than we have before. The 3 of us wanted to try something different, have an experience, and play people we have never played before. I was huge into watching SCG tour opens every weekend. Those streams helped me learn meta and what it had to offer.
There was 1 big problem that we faced. The problem was the fact the Frankenmuth IQ was the very first tournament after the release of M20. None of us could guess the meta but we each had our own ideas. My first friend decided that he wanted to play Simic nexus. He was comfortable piloting a deck like that and decided he didn't want to try playing a new deck that he has very little practice with.
My other friend decided he wanted to play Temur elementals. He practiced with us for fun and realized it has some fantastic synergy to blow up fast. For me, I decided to play something easier. I built Jund Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were one of the first decks I played with when I started in Dominaria and I have always wanted it to be viable again but it was a niche deck. As soon as I saw Rotting Regisaur and Marauding Raptor I knew what had to be done. I built my list of Jund Dinosaurs.
We played our decks a bunch before the tournament trying to figure out plays and what hands are keepable and what hands are just garbage. The day before the tournament I print of my decklist fill out the forms and I am all ready to play in the tournament.
That evening we go to FNM and I meet my friends there. That's when I heard the craziest idea that I loved. My Simic nexus friend suggested I have Thud in my mainboard. I also decided to have 2 noxious grasp on sideboard over Thrash//Threat. We played FNM and sadly my friends Temur Elementals got first, my other friend playing Simic nexus got 2nd and I did sucky and got 3rd.
The only one of us that didn't go 4-0. *SIGH!* The next morning we woke up at 5:30 AM met up at 7 AM and started the 2-hour drive to Frankenmuth. Of course, as the youngest, I'm sitting in the back seat. So like any young magic player does who thinks he's good at magic, I started flicking my other decks and shuffling and flicking hands of 4 or 5 cards. An hour of flicking cards happened before my friends had enough of it and told me to chill it.
When we get into town we found out that Frankenmouth had a power outage the night before and some of the traffic lights were still out. We were worried that we drove for 2 hours and it would be canceled. We finally make it to the game store and find out that it was full of power and the tournament was still on. We got there early, the venue was nice and spaced out aside from the tables for play. There was snack bars nearby and many cool places. We got there an hour early and I had some time to kill before the tournament. I wandered around meeting cool people, like members of Liberty Coins who I watched on YouTube since I started playing.
The event was about to begin, and there were a whopping 27 players at the tournament. It was comforting to know that there weren't 64+ players. So I thought about it as a competitive FNM. The first round matches were about to go up and I was pacing back and forth nervous because I didn't know how I would do. I was worried that I was going to blow my first tournament. The matches were posted and that's when I found out my round 1 match was BYE. YES! I felt way better about things after finding this great news out.
When I had 50 minutes to kill I started to crunch numbers and I found out that you could only allow 1 loss or you are out of contention for top 8, which helped a lot. It helped stress me out. I went around looking at everyone's decks and learned what everyone was playing. My Simic Nexus friend paired up against Boros Feather and my Temur Elemental friend vs Azorius Flyers. In the car ride up my Temur friend was saying how he thinks he will be fine vs most match up except Azorius Flyers. Ding-Ding Ding! That's his round 1. Simic Nexus ended up winning and my friend's Temur Elementals deck lost.
We go into round 2 and my opponent was playing Gruul Stompy. It seemed like it was going to be a fun race. Game 1 I had the play, and went Land pass, land Otepec Huntmaster, land Marauding raptor Rotting Regisaur swing for 7, then Turn 4 Land Ghalta Colossus on Regisaur and swing 23 Trample. Game 1 turn 4 win. Feels great.
Game 2 comes around, I keep a slower hand with 4 lands a Marauding Raptor Ripjaw Raptor and Ghalta. Then I drew 5 lands straight and lost game 2. Finally, we go to game 3. I had a mulligan down to 5 and kept 2 lands Otepec, Rotting Regisaur and Lighting strike. I went turn 2 Otepec and he went turn 2 Domri's ambush and I had 4 turns of no lands. I died to a pig and a snake charging at my face for a lot of damage. 2 Rounds down 3 to go and I already had my 1st lost.
I go into my Round 3 annoyed. Simic Nexus lost and was 1-1 and Temur Elementals lost and was already 0-2 and have no chance at top 8. I go to my round 3 table and it was a Temur Elemental play. I was intrigued to see how it would go as I practiced versus it all the time. I go into game 1 on the play and kept a strong hand. It had 3 lands Otepec Huntmaster Rotting Regisaur Shifting Ceratops and Lightning strike. And at this point, the only thing I can remember was winning on Turn 5.
It felt amazing seeing my deck go off as I planned. We go into game 2 and that is when it went downhill. Keeping a 3 lander and Otepec Huntmaster with 2, 4 drops and a 5 drop. He kills my huntmaster and I couldn't find my 4th land again. I found it 2 turns after my opponent's deck blew up. Game 2 was a loss to mana drought. Finally, game 3 started, I was on the play and I had an aggro deck, here's my chance. I draw my 7. 1 land hand, go to 6. My 7 cards were 6 lands and a Regisaur Alpha. I Mulligan to 5. I said I was going to keep this hand almost no matter what. Until I found out 0 land hands were very possible.
And this is where I go to 4 cards. I kept a solid hand considering it was on a Mulligan to 4. It was Blood crypt, Unclaimed Territory, Otepec Huntmaster, and Rotting Regisaur. Turn 1- Blood crypt tapped. Opponent plays Scry land. Turn 2- Draw a Ripjaw Raptor, plays Unclaimed Territory and Otepec Huntmaster. Opponent plays a 2nd Scry land! Turn 3- draw Regisaur Alpha, play Rotting Regisaur and swing for 7 damage. But I was stuck with 2 uncastable cards in my hand. My opponent plays a 3rd land and went Risen Reef. Found the 4th land. I knew I was in trouble, he was confident and his board state was about to blow up.
Turn 4- Discard Regisaur Alpha due to Rotting Regisaur, and drew the 1 of Thud in my deck. I pretended to be annoyed about another non-land card and I said I guess I'll continue and swing 7 with my Rotting Regisaur. He then tells me, " I think being at 6 life will be fine, I would rather keep Risen reef alive for next turn. He's tapped out and I tap 1 red mana and cast Thud. That was the moment that I realized I successfully won a mulligan to 4 and my opponent learned Thud is in Standard still.
My heart was racing I get up barely able to process what just happened when I went to talk to my other friends. Simic nexus lost again putting him 1-2 and Temur Elementals lost again at 0-3. So, of course, I put all the pressure on my self. I went into round 4 worried and I get to the table and found out it was vs one of the guys from Liberty Coins. We both were 2-1 and needed to win. He was playing Boros Feather which is a tough match up. Reckless Rage early vs my ramp creatures hurt me a lot and made it so I couldn't go fast. Game 1 he slaughtered me quickly and easily with the combination of Reckless Rage and Gods Willing on Tenth District Legionnaire.
Game 2 had the same rocky start except I had Noxious Grasp that killed his Tenth District and I was able to get a board state. We go at it for a few turns and he finally finds his double Gods Willing he was looking for. He was casting spells on both Tenth District as well as his Dreadhorde Arcanist. He ends up accidentally miss sequenced and missed lethal by 2 damage and gave me one more turn. I became the luckiest man alive at that moment, yes once again I drew my one of Thud when I needed it the most to give me lethal damage.
Game 3 was super awkward, we both do a mulligan down too 5 and both kept AWKWARD hands. We go on for a few turns and he doesn't have feather or Tenth district. He does have his Saheli out which kept pooping out tokens. I eventually made a bored state big enough to cast Ghalta. At that point, it became tough for my opponent as he didn't have solid removal for my 12/12 dinosaur. I ended up being able to trample over and win the round 4 match.
We go into our 5th and final round and I see the sheet and it was the best possible news imaginable. I was playing on table 1. That meant my opponent and I sat down looked at each other shook hands and said good game as we wrote down 3 ties. At that moment I found out that I got top 8 in my first tournament ever. Which meant I got the IQ playmat that I wanted. In that 50 minutes, I texted my streamer friend Travic(which is his twitch name, not real name) and told him the amazing news. I went to a crepes shop and had a ham and cheese crepes and it was sooooooo good. I was happy to be eating lunch.
After around 45 minutes pass I head back and I get ready for top 8. We got our pairings and my opponent was also my round 5 opponent. He was 1st seed before our draw. His tiebreakers were the best I've seen and he beat 4 players who were also at the top 8. When we sat down we voted to see prize break downs and we voted to see if we should split the 1k between all top 8 or use the original prize structure. Just one problem we all knew the one esper player was going to prevent that. Guess what, we were right the prize structure stayed the same. After that, we were given the signal to start.
We shuffled our decks and got ready to start and all the sudden we were selected to get our decks checked. After about 3 minutes I got called over because I forgot to change the 2 Noxious Grasp for the 2 Thrash//Threat on my sheet, so I started my 1st top 8 with a match loss. I figured it was all over for me. We get started in game 2 and I was in my head disappointed in myself for checking the mainboard but forgetting the sideboard. We get started and I found out it was Temur elementals once again, which pre sideboard I went on a spree and won on turn 4, I blew up quickly and realized it wasn't over. I could decide it this game.
We shuffle up and draw our hands. He mulliganed and I look at my hand and it was slow but I figured it could work. I kept as he went from 6 to 5 to 4. He never found a 3rd mana and I slammed him on turn 5 or 6. I got lucky and I was able to get top 4. In this match, I versed Boros Feather....again. This time it did not end as nicely. I got smashed on turn 5 by Tenth District Legionnaire and game 2 I got mana droughted and lost quickly game 2. The good news is we decided on splitting between the top 4 and we each got 200 dollars. Which wasn't too shabby for my 1st tournament. At this point, my friends and I started a 6-way commander game had some fun and went on our 2-hour journey home from our 1st tournament together.