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Posted February 6, 2016 by Scott Gerhardt in Card Games

Grand Prix Mexico City 2016 – Day 1

So I play a lot of Grand Prixs (or did – seems WotC is cutting back on limited ones).  There are certainly ones I have really looked forward to, like Las Vegas 2013 and 2015.  But one that has really started to stick out in my mind has been Mexico City.  While not without its flaws, the TO and staff are awesome and always make you feel important and help accomdate as much as possible.  This is important to a guy who caries around recording equipment and can take anywhere from 7-10 minutes to get it set up correctly.  They always go above and beyond to make me feel welcome and not like a burden.  So when that weekend before the PT in January/February hits, I look forward to spending the weekend down in Mexico City.  Now, if I am being completely honest (and when am I not?), I also go because the field is a touch on the soft side.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they are all bad players, but of all the places that hold GPs, the player quality seems to be a touch lower, and the main event gets capped at around 800 players, which is also huge.  Well, at least it had been a little softer in previous years.

This year was going to be difficult to go.  Typing out articles and streaming on Twitch doesn’t seem to pay the bills as much as I’d like, so cash flow was going to be an issue.  Luckily I found a pretty cheap flight, and the dollar being strong against the Peso now (was about 13:1 last year, 18:1 now), the expenses were less.  Calling upon the resources I had as well as a generous sponsor i decided to make the trip.

So Friday ended up being a crazy day.  After booking the flight, I got invited to play in the Streamer Showdown that night. My original flight had me getting in too late, so I took advantage of doing a good bit of flying in 2014 (they extend benefits from previous year for 2 months into the new year) to be able to fly standby for free.  When I get to the airport about 3 1/2 hours before my scheduled flight and 75 min or so before the one I wanted to standby, I learned a new lesson: you can’t fly international standby.  With the change fees and everything, I thought I was just screwed.  I frantically started calling American Airlines, and to make a very long story short, they moved me to the new flight free of charge (though I doubt I could ever get that again).  My flights go as scheduled, I land a little after 3, get to where I’m staying a little after 4 and get to the Convention Center just after 5.  I really wanted to draft once, but with the showdown at 8, I needed to set up and make sure that everything worked fine.  So Saul gets me up into the VIP area and they give me a place to set up.  All my equipment comes out and I get everything set up.  Once done, I run a speed test, and while not as good as I’d like, it was sufficient to stream with.  So I start working on some of the little details I was planning on fixing.  Then, maybe around 6:30-6:45, the internet goes down.  At first I started to panic, but the IT department was right on it.  Around 7:15 I start panicking again since it was not fixed.  I tried to hook up my phone as a hotspot, but that place barely got reception, so that did not work at all.  People start to give me alternatives and suggestions, but they all turn out to be too late.  It takes some time to get everything packed up, then moved, then rehooked up – I didn’t think I could do it in time, so I was at IT’s mercy.  Well….I didn’t get to play, which REALLY sucked because I was looking forward to it and it would have been a nice boon for us.  I’m disappointed and head downstairs to at least get a draft in, but they closed side events right before I got there.  Dejected and upset, I head back to my room and set up a stream off my phone, play an MTGO pre-release event, then get to bed.  Luckily having 2 byes meant I could sleep in, allowing me to be up later for the practice.

The next morning I get over there around 11:20 or so and end up finding out they were overwhelmed with the number of sleep-ins and had judges feverishly registering them.  It took about an hour until I got my pool:


You can maybe imagine my disappointment.  This was pretty clearly not the best ever, and I told a couple people I would have been happy trading it in for another random if I had the chance,  but obviously can’t do that.  While in deck building, some ass comes and steals my deck bag. Now, I had a backpack stolen last year, so I brought a bike lock this year, but hadn’t used it yet – was going to hook it when playing.  Luckily, unlike last year, I had a pseudo tracking device in it.  So I quickly grab a judge to watch my stuff as I go using my phone like a compass to find it.  It needs to be in Bluetooth range to work, and after my initial search came up empty, sitting back down quite upset, a couple minutes later my phone says it was within range.  I go try to figure out exactly where.  Well, the tile in the deck bag starts just going off playing music.  So I have a couple theories here, but I’m pretty sure either the theif dropped it when the music in the bag started going off and a good Samaritan found it, or the “good Samaritan” was the thief and was trying to act all innocent.  I didn’t care so much – I got my bag back.  I’m a bit emotionally exhausted after it all, but I finished up the deck and it looked like this:

[showhide type=”deck” more_text=”Click to see the final deck” less_text=”Hide Deck” hidden=”yes”]



I said it was a 3 1/2 or 4 out of 10 and still think that.  Obviously there were some good cards in it, but I felt the overall power level was quite weak and the only way I could get it up to a high enough level was to play 3 colors.  All things being equal, I would rather lose to variance than having an under powered deck.  I think I will lose less to variance, and being under powered in the late rounds can be killer if you want to stay in day 2 contention.  Now all that was left was to play the games.  For each round, I am going to put the video up, as well as mention any games I thought were particularly good (with the mark where they start if not game 1).  Also I will give a hidden tl;dw version underneath the video.  Simply highlight the text after the video and you can read it if you don’t want to watch.  You should probably read it even if you watch the video so I can give my commentary.

Round 3 I play one of the, I believe, locals.

[showhide type=”summary3″ more_text=”Click to see match summary” less_text=”Hide Summary” hidden=”yes”]After dropping game 1, I thought that would be my fate on the day with this crappy deck.  Alas, his mulling to 6 with me on the play let me get game 2 with an absolutely sinister draw, and while I had to mull to 6 game 3, I get the slightly better draw and take the match:  Record:  3-0 (2-1)[/showhide]

Round 4 I play against….um….nobody?  My opponent never showed up.  I have no idea why.  And while I could easily just check my Planeswalker points to know who it was, there is no need to mention it here.  4-0

My round 5 opponent walks up and I immediate recognize him as my stomach turned sour real fast – Number 2 in the world and reigning World Champion Seth Mansfield.  He said something to the extent of “I recognize – I’ve seen you at a few tournaments” to which I responded, “I recognize you because you seem to be playing a lot of day 3’s.  He chuckled and we got under way.

[showhide type=”summary5″ more_text=”Click to see match summary” less_text=”Hide Summary” hidden=”yes”]Well, if I am going to get crap draws, might as well be against the World Champion who is likely to give me all I can handle and then some.  Wish I had a better perfomance, but that’s Magic sometimes. (0-2)[/showhide]


[showhide type=”summary6″ more_text=”Click to see match summary” less_text=”Hide Summary” hidden=”yes”]It was nice to get a good bounce back after my drubbing the round previous.  Sometimes your deck likes you, and sometimes it doesn’t (2-0) 6-1[/showhide]


[showhide type=”summary7″ more_text=”Click to see match summary” less_text=”Hide Summary” hidden=”yes”]This is why you play the games.  I have to beleive that my opponent had the better deck, but the pilot does matter as well.  I knew there were going to be matches I could win by simply outplaying my opponent, and despite him starting with 7 cards on the play both games, I was able to get there to 6-1 (2-0)[/showhide]

It was very nice to know that I had Day 2 locked up now, despite thinking the change was dumb.  It didn’t make me play looser, but at least with a small sense of relief.

Round 8, my opponent comes over to say hi in English, but with a non-Spanish accent and a sponsor T-shirt on.  Now I’m terrible with remembering which people are pros to begin with, so when I asked him how many byes he had and he responded “3”, I knew I was going to have a rough match against this gold pro, Immanuel Gerschenson

[showhide type=”summary8″ more_text=”Click to see match summary” less_text=”Hide Summary” hidden=”yes”]I was feeling really good after winning game 1 from a mull on the draw.  But, gold pros aren’t gold pros for nothing.  He played a very solid games 2 and 3 and I just got beat.[/showhide]

Round 9 come, and a guy comes over in a Team Canada shirt.  I figure he’s someone at least decent.  Now, I remind you, I am bad with names and probably worse with faces.  I asked him how many byes he had, and he said “3”.  Then I asked him who he was.  The answer did not particularly thrill me:  Pascal Maynard.  Well, obviously I know who Pascal was: I wrote an article after GP-Vegas defending his pick of the Foil Tarmogoyf.  He said he had seen that and thanked me for it.  I felt thrilled Pascal Maynard read something I wrote.  I don’t want to say I was starstruck, but I feel like we’re still growing here as a media outlet, so I was happy he found it. He also said he started wearing glasses and had grown out his beard a bit so that might be why, though honestly I doubt it – just bad with faces.  For the record, I asked him how much the Tarmogoyf really sold for since it was pretty known the first auction had fake bids.  Apparently there were too many fake bids on the first one for it to “complete” so he took it to a private auction where it sold for $2,000.  Also, instead of the 50% he was going to donate to Gamers Helping Gamers, he donated 75%.  Wow.  Great guy.  I was tired and a bit chattier than I maybe should have been.  I wanted to be seen in at least a mild light of respect, so I mentioned how I was in the same draft pod with him for the 2nd draft of Mexico City the year previous, but I knew if I wanted real respect, I needed to earn it with my cards.

[showhide type=”summary9″ more_text=”Click to see match summary” less_text=”Hide Summary” hidden=”yes”]Okay, so we played game 1, it was a reasonably competitive game with me getting a good jump on him and being able to keep the advantage long enough to get the win.  Game 2 was not a game.  When he mulls to 6 on the play and then misses his second land drop on 2, you had this feeling it wasn’t going to go well for him, and it didn’t, as my draw was rather decent and I dispatched him before he could get online.  7-2 (2-0)[/showhide]

So I am pretty happy at this point,  After taking losses at the hands of the first two pros I faced, I was able to get this 3rd one and make day 2 at the old record of 7-2.  I don’t like the new changes and I think it makes Day 2 less elite, not to mention more difficult for TOs to run.  I can’t even imagine the headaches they had in Nagoya running nearly 100 draft pods – considerably more than the previously largest day 2 at Vegas 2013.  Now mind you, in the 16 limited GPs I’ve played (yes, I’m a dork, I keep stats like this), twice the new system would have been good for me as I lost Round 9, Game 3 both times.  But for the 13 other times that I did go 7-2 or better, I felt like I earned it.  Losing 3 times makes me feel like I didn’t.  By the way, the difference between the two systems at this GP would have been 218 vs 89.  Oh, and the bye argument doesn’t work with me.  People do not wake up one morning with 2 or 3 byes.  They had to work and earn them.  At some point they had zero byes too.  If that’s your argument, do something about it.  I am in real danger of losing my 2 round bye and having it go to 1 round if I don’t get working on it.  If I do lose it, though, that’s on me and I just have to do better and play more Magic next time.

Anyway, end of my rant on that.

So that’s Day 1.  Day 2 will be up soon!  Come see the thrilling conclusion!


Scott Gerhardt

Scott has....thoughts. They can be about this, that, or just about anything. Seldom at a loss for words, you can find his thoughts chronicled here