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Lee's GP Charlotte Tourney Report

MTG GP Charlotte Tournament Report

by Lee Niece

For the last few weeks, myself and a crew of close friends have been gearing up for GP Charlotte. With my recent success at high level limited events, I was itching to get down to play this event. While we all decided that grinding was what we need to be doing, I had the fallback of having earned a bye in the first round based on my performance last season. Ogre was the only one who managed to win a three-round bye off of pre-event grinders, but the experience of losing twice on Friday just made me want to play that much harder on Saturday. But enough of that, let's just jump right into things.

Round 1

I had a bye, so while the bulk of players were starting the tournament, Tandy and I went to the other side of the convention center to discuss our sealed pools and determine if any changes needed to be made. This discussion definitely helped as the day progressed as we realized that I needed Act of Treason in the main much more so than the Ripscale Predator. We played three games with the hopes of getting a feel for our decks and allow us some added insight for the matches that mattered. While I lost 2-1 in our games, we did come to the conclusion that if my deck curved out right, no deck in the room would be able to compete with it. Taking the knowledge we gained from our testing we both prepared for our respective starts.

Here was my deck for the sealed portion of the event:  

9 Mountain                                                                      

8 Plains

2 Boros Elite

2 Bomber Corps

1 Skinbrand Goblin

1 Daring Skyjek

1 Syndic of Tithes

1 Sunhome Guildmage

1 Blind Obedience

4 Martial Glory (yes 4)

1 Warmind Infantry

1 Court Street Denizen

1 Frontline Medic

1 Gift of Orzhova

1 Massive Raid

1 Scorchwalker

1 Cinder Elemental

1 Rubblebelt Raiders

1 Homing Lightning

1 Ripscale Predator


Notable Sideboard Options

2 Act of Treason




Round result: BYE; Overall record: (1-0)


Round 2

I sat down for my first match of the event against Ryan Nelson. Ryan was playing a Boros deck with Frontline Medic (which he never saw) and Assemble the Legion. The only real highlights from the match involved me resolving a Blind Obedience the turn after Ryan played his Assemble the Legion in game one, which led to me blowing him out. Game two, Ryan curved out and made short work of me. Game three saw our roles reserved as I curved out into a turn three Frontline Medic, swinging with battalion on turn four and following with Rubblebelt Raiders which quickly led to Ryan's demise.


WIN (2-0)


Round 3

I waited patiently for my next opponent to come to the table only to find out that it was someone I played in the grinder the previous day. Brandon Patton was a nice fellow that must have been on the same wavelength as me for the weekend as we were both on Orzhov in the sealed grinder and both on Boros for the GP. This was possibly my easiest matchup of the day as Brandon's Boros deck was full of big creatures that were completely useless in the match as I curved out both games.


WIN (3-0)


Round 4

My round four opponent presented me with what I felt would be my worst matchup with an Orzhov deck. Matthew Spano had a highly defensive Orzhov deck, but it turned out to be very removal light. Game one was competitive until around turn seven or eight when I managed to resolve a Frontline Medic, a few battalion triggers later and Matthew was scooping up his cards. Game two was a very back and forth game that saw me as low as six before resolving a Gift of Orzhov on a Syndic of Tithes and turning the game back around between the flying lifelinker extort triggers and a well timed Martial Glory.


WIN (4-0)


Round 5

At this point I have become incredibly excited with my strong start and figure it is time to step up my game as I expect the competition to become much tougher. Danny Li proved me right as his Naya deck was stupid good. Game one was very back and forth but ultimately led to a victory for me on the back of a Warmind Infantry with Gift of Orzhova making it a real threat. Game two saw us racing each other, and with his creatures being larger than my own, ended with him as the victor. Game three turned out to be an incredibly fast affair with my plays being turn 2 Bomber Corps, turn 3 Frontline Medic, turn 4 Rubblebelt Raiders, and turn 5 Syndic of Tithes and Boros Elite. Danny played turn 2 Syndic of Tithes, turn 3 Skyknight Legionnaire, and turn 4 some random 2/2. Danny took 3 off of my Medic on turn 4, then 10 from the team on turn 5. His crackback was nearly lethal as he came across with his three creatures. I promptly blocked with my syndic and elite to keep him from blowing me out with some random combat trick but little did I know that even with my blocks, Danny had the ability to still get there with a Ghor-Clan Rampager and Boros Charm but never considered throwing them on one of his blocked creatures, disaster adverted!


WIN (5-0)


Round 6

Curtis Sheu was the next one to stand in my wave of destruction. There isn't much to saw about this slaughter though as Curtis was demolished by the screw in game one and double mulliganed in game two. Two words: blow out.


WIN (6-0)


Round 7

I am now super excited as I only need to win one of my next three to guarantee at least one match the following morning and making my goal of Day 2. Torio Boscacci was the next in line to attempt to cool off my heater. Torio and I had a nice pregame conversation as he lives close to Johnson City and was a fan of our store. I mulled game one and flooded out which left me getting demolished. Game two saw me curve out into turn 3 Frontline Medic and turn 4 Rubblebelt Raiders (I won a lot of games on this line of play) which led to a quick win. Between games two and three Torio and I were selected for a mid-round deck check (I about died laughing when Jordan of all people was the judge who came to collect our decks). Initially, I was worried that this deck check would slow my momentum, but despite this, I took a great deal of time upon receiving my deck back to ensure I was sufficiently randomized. Game three was very back and forth, I don't remember exactly how it ended but I believe I extorted him out with Blind Obedience.


WIN (7-0)


Round 8

Excitement level = THROUGH THE ROOF! I can't believe I have made it to 7-0 and have not only guaranteed myself day 2, but am well on my way to a potential high finish. Chas Tanner was next up on the chop block at this point. I felt there was no one in the room that could keep up with my deck and showed the same confidence when I sat down. Chas was playing Orzhov (my third match of the day with the archtype, Torio being my second) but unlike the two previous iterations, Chas had a great deal of removal. Game one saw me curve out with Medic and Raiders (again!) and prevented Chas from even having time to play (though he did answer my Medic). Game two saw Chas go into aggro mode and beat me down with a couple of extort bears and keeping the couple of guys I played off the board. Game 3 ended as quickly as it started as Chas took 3 on turn 3, 5 on turn 4, and 12 on turn 5 (double Martial Glory). I became somewhat emotional at the end of this round as I knew I would be playing until at least round 17 at this point. For the 15-ish years I have played this game, it has always been a time sink (a fun one admittedly) and an excuse to spend time with some great friends, but finally, I felt like I achieved something. I have always had a desire to play on the Pro Tour, but not necessarily enough to warrant spending every waking moment trying to improve my game. While winning the eighth round of a GP does not a pro make, it definitely made me felt like the time I have spent trying to better my game has been well worth it. Since October I have nearly made day 2 of a Grand Prix, made top 8 of a Pro Tour Qualifier, and now made day 2 of the LARGEST Magic tournament ever. But enough of the aside, there is still more day 1 action to recap.


WIN (8-0)


Round 9

With the pressure off, I prepared for my final opponent of day 1. Thomas Butler was in the same boat as myself having 1 bye and running off seven straight wins to follow it up. Only one of us could make it to day 2 undefeated though and I was bent on making sure it was me.

Thomas was running a Boros deck splashing black for some removal and extort guys. Game one saw me curve out insanely fast (even without the medic!) and ended as soon as it started. Game two saw Thomas on the play and a game where I was ground out by an army of extort creatures. Game three put me on the play and looking for the curve draw one more time to enable a 9-0 start to the event. Thomas looked at his opening grip, decided he didn't like it and went back for 6. Thomas thought long and hard over his six before deciding he couldn't keep it either. Once he was on five, he decided he couldn't go any lower and kept. At this point I feel like I can't lose, I have a two card advantage and an insanely fast deck, the chances of me losing this game are less than 10%, I am flat out ecstatic. I manage to make my early drops, but draw land after land after land while Thomas manages to keep drawing fuel and clawing himself back into the game. After I draw land number 10 Thomas top decks a Boros Charm to kill me on exactsies and end my crazy run.


LOSS (8-1)


Day 2

After sitting up until 2AM trying to learn how to draft the set (yes I am dumb and didn't draft the set before the GP...at all), I had to get up a little after 6 to get prepared for the second half of this marathon of a tournament. Surprisingly the lack of sleep didn't affect my play throughout the day as I could only count a couple of play mistakes I made and they were much later in the day.


Round 10

I sat down at 8 am for my first match of the day against Alex Amato. Alex was playing Orzhov + Red that was full of extort guys. There really isn't much to say about the round as I blew him out game one and proceeded to flood out games two and three and eventually get extorted out.


LOSS (8-2)


Round 11

Knowing I was still alive for a berth for the top 8, I got my head on straight immediately after the previous match and was bent on making a run similar to how day 1 started. As it turns out, willpower alone is not enough to win a round of Magic (a game perhaps though). Eddie Walker was the next in line for the blazing fast Boros deck I was piloting. Game one started with me playing 4 lands before resolving a spell while my opponent curved out properly with his Gruul deck. My creatures were completely outclassed from the start and I was quickly taken out. Game two was the opposite of the first go round as we both mulliganed to 6. I curved quickly into Frontline Medic and Rubblebelt Raiders, turning guys sideways is super effective! Game three saw Eddie on the play and we both kept slow hands. My four lander quickly became a six lander, then a nine lander, and eventually an eleven lander. Turns out, casting spells is essential to winning games of Magic. :(


LOSS (8-3)



Between rounds 11 and 12 came the first draft of the event. While this wasn't my first called draft, the fact that all the product had already been opened and marked was very new to me. The whole process could easily have been incredibly overwhelming, but seeing draft is one of my most comfortable formats, I feel as though I was able to settle fairly quickly. I really do not remember the exact picks and decisions I made in either draft, so I will just give a quick summary of each one following by the resulting decklist.


Draft 1

I started with a Wrecking Ogre followed by by a Skarrg Guildmage essentially trying to force Gruul. Around pick 4 I received signals from my right showing that Boros was open so I started drafting heavier in white while still keeping my Gruul option available by taking a late guildgate. I was rewarded with staying in Gruul by opening Domri Rade in pack two. After taking Domri, I had no choice but to start taking every in color creature for the rest of the draft, especially any of them with a low casting cost. The rest of the draft was pretty uneventful as I never saw another bomb come by.



1 Gruul Guildgate

2 Boros Guildgate

3 Plains

5 Mountain

6 Forest

1 Burning-Tree Emissary

1 Daring Skyjek

1 Firefist Striker

1 Gyre Sage

1 Skarrg Guildmage

2 Skinbrand Goblin

1 Wojek Halberdiers

1 Madcap Skills

1 Pit Fight

1 Prophetic Prism

2 Armored Transport

1 Crocanura

1 Ember Beast

1 Domri Rade

1 Massive Raid

1 Ordruun Veteran

1 Scab-Clan Charger

1 Guardian of the Gateless

1 Towering Thunderfist

1 Wrecking Ogre

1 Angelic Edict


Notable Sideboard Options

1 Boros Elite

1 Court Street Denizen

1 Dutiful Thrull

1 Naturalize


Round 12

Being out of contention for top 8 helped to calm my nerves as I didn't have nearly the pressure on my shoulders as I previously did. It didn't hurt that I felt very confident sitting down for my first draft round as my deck came together exactly how I wanted with 17 creatures to go with Domri. My first opponent was Robbie Cordell piloting a Boros deck (because I haven't seen enough of that this weekend :p). Game one saw Robbie come out with a curve starting on turn one and ending at turn five. I managed to resolve a turn 4 Domri and was able to protect him until he was at 6 loyalty. Robbie managed to get Domri off the board by sending his entire team. Since I was unable to strike for leathal with the crack back, I decided to make a couple of blocks to clear the board some but ulitmately got my creatures killed by a Marital Glory and some Bloodrush creature. After a few more turns of board stall, Robbie managed to swing for lethal with me at 14. Game two saw me curve out from turns two to five into a Wrecking Ogre. Much to his name, the Ogre wrecked Robbie's face while he flooded out. Game three was another situation of Robbie making some early plays but eventually flooding out while I kept adding more and more pressure to the board and using Domri to fight his creatures off the board. Finally back to my winning ways!


WIN (9-3)


Round 13

Beaming with confidence once again, I prepared to play my next opponent Jaron Clinton. Jaron was playing a bonkers Boros deck sporting his own Wrecking Ogre, Assemble the Legion, and Aurelia the Warleader. Game one saw a back and forth game come down to a play where I two for oned myself to get his big butt creature off the board and finally topdecking a Madcap Skills to make my Wrecking Ogre truly live up to his name. Jaron took the play for game two and I was unable to keep my seven. After going to six, game two was underway and while I don't remember the overall gist of the game, I remember drawing lots of lands while Jaron resolved an Assemble the Legion, after whiffing twice on an answer, I decided to scoop up and try again in game three. Once again I had to mulligan on the play, but it was much more painful being on the play. I was stuck on two lands for much of the game, but still managed to get battalion on line for my Firefist Striker and kept the pressure on my opponent. With Jaron at 12, he resolved an Aurelia with a Daring Skyjek in play and promptly punched me for 12. On my next turn, I swang with my two remaining creatures for 5 damage, but in doing so, made a terrible mistake by not leaving a creature back to block, as the only card I had left to play was an Ember Beast, since he couldn't block alone, I literally punted the game. :(


LOSS (9-4)


Round 14

While I disappointed about punted my previous game, I was able to get my head back on straight and prepare for my next opponent Daniel Acevedo. Daniel drafted an incredibly nasty Orzhov + U deck with between 9-11 pieces of creature removal. I believe Daniel was only running 5 or so in his main deck as I was able to crush him game one via Flawless Victory! After watching Daniel board in a half dozen cards, I prepared for a long grinding game to come. After getting hit with 7 different kill spells, I still manged to keep a few creatures on the board and eventually started getting bodies out to protect a late game Domri that eventually went ultimate and resulted in an immediate swing for 50, needless to say, Daniel didn't survive!


WIN (10-4)


Draft 2

Going 2-1 in the first draft did wonders for my confidence heading into the second. But soon after opening my pack, I realized I was going to be in for a long draft. My first pack was abysmal leaving me drafting a Borborygmos Enraged as my initial pick due to lack of a better choice (awful pack was awful). I still attempted to try Gruul as I was able to take a pick two Gruul Charm. This was easily the hardest draft I have ever participated in as the signals I received from the other players were constantly changing. I was in each guild at some point in this and was incredibly unsure if I would even have a deck at the end. After forcing Gruul and Simic for the bulk of the draft I managed to come up with the following deck (and was VERY unhappy with it).



1 Gruul Guildgate

6 Forest

6 Island

4 Mountain

1 Cloudfin Raptor

1 Experiment One

1 Wasteland Viper

1 Greenside Watcher

1 Metropolis Sprite

1 Skarrg Guildmage

1 Gruul Charm

1 Simic Charm

1 Crocanura

1 Elusive Krasis

1 Simic Fluxmage

2 Verdant Haven

1 Clinging Anemones

1 Crowned Ceratok

1 Leyline Phantom

1 Towering Thunderfist

1 Zhur-Taa Swine

1 Mystic Genesis

1 Totally Lost

2 Ruination Wurm

1 Diluvian Primordial


Notable Sideboard Options

1 Hands of Binding

1 Foundry Street Denizen

1 Scorchwalker

1 Scorchwalker

1 Towering Thunderfist

1 Naturalize

1 Borborygmos Engraged


Round 15

Joining me in my RUG escapades was my round 15 opponent Chris Tourloukis. While we were in the same colors our decks were very different, Chris was attempting to go the controlling route and mill if necessary while I had a good chunk of evolve guys and a group of large guys at the end of the curve. Game one saw the two of us in a bit of a stalemate after a few turns of back and forth. After getting nearly half my deck milled from the blue denizen I managed to top deck Gruul Charm to make my opponent unable to block, after adding a bloodrush activation from a Zhur-Taa Swine, I was able to hit for exactsies and move on to game two. The second game wasn't even close as Chris came out with a turn two Zameck Guildmage, a turn three Simic Fluxmage, and a turn four Fathom Mage. After drawing about 6 cards off the Fathom Mage, Chris was able to bring the beats and force a game three. Chris had made some changes to his deck between the first two games and they made a huge difference in the outcome of the match. Game three was quickly turned into a stalemate again, so I attempted to go for the blowout again via Gruul Charm. This time Chris was prepared blowing up one of my animated Islands and another creature as well. While the alpha strike falling short wouldn't have necessarily cost me the match, allowing my second Island to be my animated creature was a terrible misplay as I was holding the Diluvian Primordial and could never get my second blue mana to cast it and blow out my opponent.


LOSS (10-5)


Round 16


Getting my fifth loss put me in a position to where I didn't feel I had any chance to finish in the money, so any other wins I had were purely for bragging rights. Since there was no pressure, I was able to sit down and enjoy a nice match with Vincent Spezzo. Vincent was running a Naya deck that came out quickly and had a lot of staying power. Game one saw a very back and forth game come down to a Simic Charm slowing down my opponent's board position only to topdeck a Gruul Charm and make my team unblockable and lead to a quick win. Game two saw Vincent come out with a dude on turns two through six while I sat around waiting for land number four, quick game was quick in Vincent's favor. Game three was much closer as I was faced down with turn three Firefist Striker with a Madcap Skills on it. I managed to have the most ridiculous curve ever, as I dropped a turn one Experiment One, followed by a turn two Gyre Sage (evolving the Experiment One), followed by a turn three Elusive Krasis (evolving the first two), followed by a Verdant Haven into a Crocanura (evolving all but the Gyre Sage), until eventually I resolved a Ruination Wurm and evolved six evolve guys all of which were already huge. I started turning huge guys sideways and grinding Vincent out of the game fairly quickly after the backbreaking evolve curve.


WIN (11-5)


Round 17

By this time, I really just wanted to be done with the event. Playing 22 rounds of high level tournament Magic from Friday to Sunday (especially with very little sleep) was incredibly taxing, yet I still prepared to get another win under my belt before calling it a day. Yiran Lin was my final opponent for the event. Three minutes into the match and I was already down a game as I kept a two lander that never drew a third land. Game two was just as uninteresting as I mulliganed to six while Yiran mulled to five, Yiran flooded on lands and only managed to cast two spells, neither of which had much impact on the game. After some lighthearted chatter, Yiran and I decided we would end the day with one good game of Magic. Yiran had to mulligan once before keeping his grip of six. Both of us made early plays that kept the board deadlocked, but while his 2/2s remained 2/2s, mine grew and grew and grew. Around turn 7 I managed to topdeck a Gruul Charm with Simic Charm backup to blow Yiran out and end my day with a win.


WIN (12-5)


After finally taking a moment to eat, I waited patiently for the final standings to be posted. I was still holding out hope of finishing in the top 64 to manage to cash out on my first GP Day 2. While I did not make the cut (finishing 79th), I still couldn't begin to be disappointed with my performance in the largest Magic tournament ever held. I just want to thank everyone who supported me before and during the event and would also like to thank you for taking the time to read my reflections (as vague as they were). Once again, if you have some specific questions about the tournament, feel free to reply and I will do my best to remember for you! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I will be heading to a PTQ in Roanoke this weekend and will hopefully be able to come back and write about how I managed to run train on the field and qualify for my first Pro Tour!

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