12:29, 22/6 -16
WMCQ vinder - Anders Gotfredsen
Anders har taget sig tiden til at skrive en tekst om hvordan det hele gik til, da han vandt den første WMCQ i år - Odense, Standard. Læs mere her - på engelsk.
Our hero's story begins at GP Manchester at the end of May. I had been testing and tuning the Naya deck that won GP Tokyo a few weeks prior. This tuning included adding an Island and a couple of Sarkhan Unbrokens instead of 2 Avacyns and a land that could actually cast spells. The deck was sweet, and I started of 8-0 before losing in the last round on saturday. My record on sunday was 0-3-1 drop. Of course, doing well only to fall short when it starts to matter is nothing new for me. I have around 20 PTQ top 8's without a win, and before last weekend I was 1-2 in WMCQ finals. My best record in a GP day 2 is 3-3. 2 Years ago, I got my first real job which has given me enough of an income to travel to all the European GP's and I thought that now I could grind the circuit and finally qualify for the Pro Tour. Fast forward 2 years and I had won nothing of significance, not even a PPTQ. Needless to say, at some point you start to wonder if you have what it takes. Now, I am very reflective person and spent countless hours pinpointing my shortcomings. Aside from tangible stuff like keeping trying to beat the best deck instead of just playing it and mismanagement of testing time, it became obvious that one flaw overshadowed them all: My mental toughness is complete and utter crap. I want to win so badly and it makes my brain go haywire whenever I get close. Some examples: In a WMCQ finals two years ago (yes, one that qualified you for the team that ended up winning the whole thing), I cast a Sphinx's Revelation for 5 in a game that I could never lose from that spot, but because I went up to 7 life I missclicked and drew 7 cards. In a WMCQ finals last year, I played UW control against Abzan Aggro, a matchup that I had beaten with plenty of regularity in testing. I lost 2-1 when I probably could have won all 3 games. Dromoka's Command was one of his worst cards game 1, but I spent most of the game not casting my Last Breaths for fear of it, instead simply dying to a bunch of creatures that I could have killed by just playing my spells. Game 3 he cast a Duress with 2 creatures in play and me at a pretty low life total. I had Dig Through Time and Anticipate but instead of just casting Dig to find 2 removal spells (or just any relevant spells), and then killing one of his creatures and buying time to draw out of it, I convinced myself that I needed End Hostilities to have a chance so I just let him take Dig so I could Anticipate afterwards. No surprise, neither Anticipate nor my draw step did not provide said sweeper and since I could now kill none of his guys, I was dead on board.
There are many more stories, where I know exactly what went wrong, and therefore should be able to fix it. So why haven't I? Well, while you cannot fix a problem unless you know what it is, knowing the problem does not automatically provide a solution, and I have no magic formula for keeping your cool when things get rough. I also think it's important to note that not all my mental breakdowns can be attributed to nervousness. Most of my day 2 rounds following a loss, I have been heavily tilted, and just wanting for the day to end (even though I was sometimes still live for top 8). My only meaningful Magic accomplishment (compared to my goals and standards) was qualifying for the first World Magic Cup. I still remember a lot from that WMCQ and think about it a lot to try and replicate that state of mind. In short, I laughed my way through the top 8. I was making jokes all the time and it seemed to take the edge off. After a flurry of Wolfir Silverhearts and miracled Bonfire of the Damneds I was headed to Indianapolis.
Since I decided to dedicate myself to getting on the Pro Tour I tried to be as stoic and serious as possible during my matches, since that's what all the good players seem to do. I also decided, that I needed to call a judge more, especially regarding slow play. The result for me, however, was that my brain had too much room to think, so it came up with a bunch of possible reasons I could lose the game, and tried to play around them all. You can rarely play around everything and the result was often that I put myself dead on board because I was to busy thinking about cards the opponent might have. I have tried meditating to be able to control my focus, but getting good at that is a long process, and it will be a while before I get there. Meanwhile I have tried to get back to just joking around and having fun to keep myself occupied, but haven't been able to for an entire tournament.
After Manchester, I hit a new low in terms of confidence in my decision to pursue Magic. The weekend after had an RPTQLCQ (I guess is the correct abbreviation) and a couple of PPTQ's. I went a quick 0-2 drop in two of them and didn't even bother playing in the third. I was burnt out, but at least I recognized it and took some time off. For the better part of two weeks I mostly played poker and DOTA 2 (which, by the way is superior to HoN and LoL, and it's not particularly close) instead of magic. It was not until around midnight the night before the WMCQ that I got around to deciding what to play. My options were UR Eldrazi control, Bant Colorless Human Eldrazi Company, and Sultai Midrange. GW tokens was the deck I knew I would have to beat and should be playing, but with no experience it felt like a bad call. I knew Christoffer Larsen was playing it and that I would have to go through him, and I didn't like my chances of beating him in the mirror (this sounds weird, but I promise you it was my actual thought process). UR Eldrazi was good against GW but mono white humans was basically unwinnable, and stuff like Lambholt Pacifist was a giant pain. Sultai Midrange also seemed good against GW but it had trouble with Bant Company decks and anyone who went slightly bigger (Seasons Past versions, for example). This left Bant Colorless Human Eldrazi Company. I really liked the deck, my only doubt being the manabase. It was iffy even with Knight of the White Orchid, so cutting those for Eldrazi Displacer while adding more colorless mana seemed like a bad idea. Except it wasn't actually. Cutting Knights meant less need for white mana so while the mana was a bit more painful, the number of sources for each color was fine. On the other hand, Diplacer is insane in the deck. Thalia's Lieutenant, Reflector Mage and Thraben Inspector love getting blinked, while a lot of creatures in GW don't. The biggest reason to play Knight is not the mana but the creature type. Casting a mid-combat Company needing to pump Lieutenant and finding only Displacer can be rough, and a 3/3+ first striker can definitely do some work especially when Dromoka's Command gets involved as well. In the end, I like Displacer but not by much. Just don't do what a guy from the US WMCQ did and try both, that seems like a recipe for disaster.
So I had a deck, that I liked but hadn't played other than 10-20 matches online (this is a big deal, since being used to Magic Online handling all my triggers made me miss quite a few). What I didn't have was expectations; I was just going to have fun with a bunch of friends and have a couple of beers if things went south. I started out with a bye (the one bye doesn't seem that bad to me but our two platinum pros had two byes in a 6 round tournament...) before beating GW tokens 3 straight times. 4-0 meant me and Christoffer could draw and be able to play for seeding in the last round while locked for top 8 (Yes, that's 3-0 to top 8 a 6 round tournament. Maybe even 1 bye is a stretch). In the last round of swiss I played Martin Müller. Since only seeding was on the line neither of us took things all that seriously, and while I was trying to joke around all day, things got out of hand at this point. I played horribly, missing countless triggers to flip my werewolves despite Martin's best efforts to make me remember without explicitly mentioning them. At one point, I passed the turn with the board consisting of pretty much only my two werewolves which should flip. Martin untapped and asked if he could draw. I basically rage at him, that of course he can draw, I don't want to play Company on his upkeep. It's funny to note that while the rules consider flipping a werewolf a beneficial effect, it can actually be a bad thing, especially with Thalia's Lieutenant in the deck since it can only pump the front side. Also in the case of Duskwatch Recruiter, there are plenty of situations where you would rather have it stay human, so you can keep digging for creatures. I also managed to play into one of the most obvious Tragic Arrogances in history. I lost and ended up as the 5 seed facing Christoffer in the quarters, or so we thought. Müller is basically locked for the team captaincy and so was just playing to be able to scoop to someone he wanted on the team. In the quarters he was paired against Martin Dang who certainly meets that criteria. But then he found out that he could also drop before the top 8 meaning that 9th place suddenly would get in. The 9th seed being Simon Nielsen made Müller drop before top 8 thus moving all the rest of us one seed up. I was now the 4 seed and on the play(!) against Mads Rasmussen, obviously also on GW. I won in 3 after taking an alarming amount of time to realize that instead of just blinking his Linvala and Sylvan Advocate every turn and kill his planeswalkers with my Displacer and enormous Tireless Tracker, I could just kill him. This match also contained the only game, where I drew my lone Gryff's Boon and I can confidently say that there should be at least two in the board. The semi versus Simon on x color rites was one of the most hilarious matches I have ever played. Words can't really do it justice but some highlights have to be mentioned. The whole match we had a contest to see who could do the most convincing passing of the turn with 4 mana up to conceal the Collected Company inevitably looming (I won; he didn't even sigh the last time he did it). At one point he got a warning for scrying off of a Catacomb Sifter after I had cast Declaration in Stone on one of his creatures. This gave me an alternate route to victory, if I could just get him to scry twice more for no reason (sadly I failed at this one, but not for lack of trying). Also someone accidentally made a Nazi salute. This match to me was the perfect example of what magic should be like: Simon, myself and basically everyone around us were just laughing the whole way through the match. Simon even got to put himself out of his misery with a combination of painlands and Westvale Abbey. My win set up a grudge match with Christoffer (last year's WMCQ finals that I mentioned earlier was against him). Sadly this was pretty much the opposite of the semi, since game 1 I was stuck on 3 lands, and in games 2 and 3 he was stuck on 4 with all sweepers and Avacyn etc. in hand. It felt very bittersweet to beat a good friend in such a manner and in such an important match. In team draft, few things are more enjoyable to experience than Christoffer losing to bad luck (and Mads Utzon), but this was not the way a WMCQ finals should play out. On the plus side, now I know what it takes to beat him.
I don't know how long it will be before I can replicate the success but I have a pretty good idea of the differences between my good tournaments and my bad tournaments. The no expectations part feels a bit hard to replicate consistently though. I have always tried to tell myself to just have fun and not focus on the end result, but it is easier said than done. I mean, if the results don't matter to me, how can I hope to become a pro, and if I don't hope to become a pro, how do I justify spending basically all my money on cards and travelling? Just to have a ton of fun? I guess, that doesn't sound too bad. It's going to be a fine line to walk between not caring too much but still putting in the work to have a shot at winning, but this isn't supposed to be easy. I want to mention that another notable thing about my two WMCQ wins is that both were with quite aggressive decks, whereas I mostly play quite slow, reactive decks including the two WMCQ's where I lost in the finals. Now the difference is only one match and I don't think control is inherently flawed (this is a big topic that I hope to go in depth with some other time), but one key difference is that an aggro deck has a higher chance of winning in spite of it's pilot, among other things because it can more easily punish mana screw. In the near future I will definitely try leaning towards more proactive decks.
I can't wait to see who will join Müller and me for the World Magic Cup and no matter what, we're going to have a blast in whatever place it's being held this year. Seriously, can someone please tell me where it is, it's google proof and I've heard both Nice and Rotterdam.
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