My thoughts (and pictures) on the 2012 Nagoya Grand Prix – Day 1
Thanks for being patient! Now that I’m done with work for the week, I have some free time to put together a post about the Nagoya GP. I wrote a report about some of the decks I saw and talked about the metagame in this weeks 60cards.com article (In the Embers of Rakdos- look for it soon!), but in my blog post I’d like talk more about my first experience at a major Magic Event. Leading up to the Nagoya Grand Prix, the biggest event I had been to was a 140 player Pro Tour Qualifier. To any of you that followed the Nagoya GP news, you probably heard that it was the largest GP EVER in Japan with 1689 players. I went into the event with 463 planewalker points, which awarded me with a 1 round bye. Even with the bye, I didn’t want to deal with all of the registering shenanigans on the day of the event, so I headed to the event hall on Friday.
I have to admit, my first foray into a world class event was pretty intimidating. Fukiage Hall was massive and I had never been in a place with so many Magic players before. There was a good number of people not even bothering with Friday Night Magic that day, and after taking part in the Foil Promo Challenge (I went 1-2 😦 ) I overheard some judges saying that 800 people had already pre-registered for the event. Hearing how big the event was shaping up to be made me even more excited.
At pre-registration, I was able to check out the trophy and take pictures of it. It’s nothing special and pretty plain, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t hope that I will someday be hoisting one above my head victoriously.
If you thought that GPs in Japan are made up of mostly Japanese people, you’d be right. I’d say that out of the 1689 players that attended, less than 100 were non-Japanese. It’s quite the obstacle to overcome, and that could be the reason that only THREE non-Japanese players have ever one a Japanese GP (Jon Finkel being one of them).
The artists selected for this event was great. Rebecca Guay’s art is iconic for any long time Magic player, and Aleksi’s creations such as Angel of Serenity and Vraska the Unseen seem to spring to life from the cards. The lines always stood at about 2 hours, so I didn’t really have the chance to get anything signed. Didn’t matter anyways. Most of my cards by Rebecca were back in the USA, and I didn’t have that much by Aleksi. Still was cool to see them in person!
As I said up above, I started day 1 with a bye. I was nervous and wanted to play, so I played against some other people while I waited for the first round to end. My first game was against a BRU (Grixis) control deck, and the player constantly stalled on mana and I beat him pretty easily with tokens to go 2-0. My 3rd match was against a RWU flash deck and I lost 0-2 since counterspells and Supreme Verdicts sucked away any and all momentum I had. In round 4 I went up against a UW humans deck and after siding in my removal cards such as Ultimate Price I was able to take out his quick hitters like Silverblade Paladin, Champion of the Parish, and Restoration Angel.
I was 3-1 going into round 5 and I was feeling really good with my chances. I knew I had a few bad match-ups but I as fighting through them.
That’s when I hit a snag.
Played against 2 GW Human decks in a row and was barely able to put up a fight against them. My biggest mistake was keeping in Selesnya Charms instead of siding in all of my black removal. The charms were worthless against a deck that topped out at 4 power. Both players played very smart and after round 6, I was 3-3 and my GP dreams were over. I stopped recording the decks I played against at that point, but I did manage another win to finish the day 4-5. My biggest mistakes came with my sideboard. I put in cards that didn’t really have synergy with my deck due to other people making suggestions (and not really knowing my deck or the meta), and they usually just sat in the sideboard doing nothing when I could have used those spots for something much more useful.
The best part of the Grand Prix was going there with friends and cheering them on, even if we all did bad. The best record out of all of us was my friend Chris’ 4 color control deck that went 4-4-1. I was next at 4-5 (801st place), and two of my other team members also finished with 3-6 & 4-5 records with some last round wins. Featured in the front row from left to right is my friend Sarah (UWR beatdown), me (JUNK Tokens), and Isamu (Mono Red). From right to left in the back is Keith (Rakdos red?), Matt (Frites), and Brian (4 color Peddler/Staticaster). My friend Matt had flown in from Seattle the day before and was absolutely exhausted the entire event. He ended up going back and crashing at the hotel until day 2 and I don’t blame him. Playing a GP with jet leg is pretty impressive. We took this picture after round 6.
I saw my fair share of Japanese magic celebrities during the GP. Seeing players like Yuuya Watanabe play IN PERSON was incredibly cool. I sat diagonally from Tomoharu Saito during round 6. For those of you that don’t know. Saito was banned for 1.5 years and this GP was kind of his welcome back event. He didn’t end up doing too well but I look forward to seeing him make a comeback in the future.
Another awesome thing about playing this event in my own backyard was that so many of my friends and fellow Nagoya magic players were in attendance. I’d walk around after each round and see how they did and cheer them on for the next round. In the picture above, you can see Tomoyuki Suzuki (the first one on the left) who plays at my local shop not 5 minutes away from where I am right now. He went 9-0 on the first day with a BR midrange deck that had all sort of nasty surprises like Hellrider, Falkenrath Aristocrat, and Thundermaw Hellkite. He ended up stalling on day 2 and finished 10-5 after some bad land hands and misplays, but I’m pretty proud of him. The person in the yellow shirt, Shinohara Kazuaki also plays at my local shop and finished in the top 8! Go Card Brunch!
These pictures sum up my day 1 experience. I dropped the ball on practicing with my deck leading up to the GP do to work obligations and other errands, but I wasn’t really expecting to win it anyways. My goal had always been to go 5-4 for a winning record, but I even fell short of that :(. I’m going to redouble my efforts and raise my game even further after this event. When GP Kitakyushu rolls around in August, IF I GO, I’ll be ready and shooting for day 2.
More to come
This isn’t the end of my coverage of the Nagoya Grand Prix. This weekend I’ll be posting DAY 2, so be sure to check back for more! Thanks for reading.