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Top 8 At The Mythic Invitational


The Mythic Invitational

As some of you know, I was invited to partake in this huge esporting event. A tournament where the winner walks away with $250,000. I remember seeing my invite to this event and thinking to myself, "this is the moment I've been playing and waiting for." I can't believe the game I grew up with will take its first major step into the digital world and with one of the most ambitious prize pools. As you already know from my previous article, I playtested a ton for this event non-stop on and off-stream grinding the ladder. These were the two lists I ended up with

I'm very happy with my two lists. I was definitely pleased with my Esper Control list. The changes I wish I could make now would be to add Healing Grace and Invoke the Divine into the sideboards of both decks. Also in my Esper Acuity list, I would probably look to retooling more along the lines of this.

I originally didn't have a full playset of Thought Erasure which was 100% incorrect. I was more so worried about the fact that it didn't pair well with Dovin's Acuity. If I had played some Erasures, my Esper matchups wouldn't have been so lopsided in percentages. At the same time, the old build I had completely slaughtered aggro and midrange and by bringing in Erasure and having permission spells, I feel like this current build could be light on answers to things that have already hit the board. But now that we've gone over the decklists, let's talk about the Invitational!

Arrival

Tuesday:

I landed sometime late Tuesday night but the frigid air of Boston woke me up. I landed and met up with some fellow teammates to hand them their jerseys and talk about our testing and what we came to on final numbers for testing. All of us brought Esper but my buddy Thundermo was on the double Acuity Esper. We chatted about whether it was correct to be playing Nightmare's Thirst and etc. After having a welcoming committee of friends in MuffinPastryPie and Thundermo, I headed back to my air bnb and rested up.

Wednesday:

So Wednesday was quite a fun day for me. I woke up early and sat around waiting and shuffling my EDH decks and surfed the web for memes as I waited until I had to handle press, photography, and etc. The thing that made this hilarious was that I was late! I thought I didn't have to arrive until a way later time, but then I got a call on my phone as I was goldfishing my EDH deck saying "Hey, you were supposed to be here for photography 20 minutes ago. Are you okay?" It was my worst nightmare. Being tardy to the biggest event of my MTG life. I launched my deck at the wall in a rush and called my Uber. Arriving fashionably late with my heart rate skyrocketing, I was there just in time to get everything done. It was surreal and the experience was life-changing. It felt like the Superbowl, but for Magic. I was asked to take a few serious photos which I'm incapable of doing but managed to muster up enough serious faces and poses. After I finished my photos,  I watched Kenji aka Nummy run around the floor saying hi to everyone, the MPL players with their stern and ready to compete faces, and all the content creators sitting around a table eating yogurt. It sunk in that I was happily out of my league. This was the coolest MTG event ever as I never thought I'd ever be in the same room with any of these wonderful human beings. But for how high profile this event was, I wasn't nervous or anything. I just smirked to myself and said, "whatever it takes," as that quote would soon be the motto for my weekend! 

I then was approached by Merchant who is hilarious and a delight to be around (check out his content on YouTube if you haven't!). We wandered the convention floor looking at all the cool things we couldn't touch or buy and then circled back as we saw these crazy pyrotechnics going off which ended up being the Arena stage. It was massive and you just couldn't miss it. We then headed out of the PAX press room and then headed out and meet up with a few other content creators in LadeeDanger, AnnaMae, NessaMeowMeow, and MuffinPastryPie. We had some friendly games of EDH at Pandemonium! When I say friendly, I meant Merchant just convinced everyone at the table to kill me while he assembled Voltron with his Sigarda deck. After this, we parted ways and called it a day!
 

Thursday

Today was the big day. The tournament began and though I wasn't competing it was amazing to see the casters Paul Cheon, David Williams, Marshall Sutcliffe, Alias, Becca, and Sean aka Day9 destroy the coverage game early in the day. It was unbelievable how amazing this coverage team was. They were engaging, knowledgeable, and more importantly got us all invested and excited about every single detail. As PAX East was going on, I didn't really want to explore. I was captivated by everything and just wanted to watch Magic on the jumbotron on the floor! As a ton of planeswalkers battled, I rooted and cheered for a friend in Amyzonian as she and a few others locked their spot in the Top 16. After this, I went back to the Air BnB early to rest up and get ready for my turn to sling spells. As I got back to my place, I was nervous, excited, and feeling everything you could probably feel, but then I watched the trailer for Avengers: Endgame like 3000000 times and was beyond motivated.

Friday

"Whatever it takes..." a quote that I chanted to myself as I woke up early and rode to the convention. I was fortunate enough to be in the later group. This allowed me to relax and get a little more rest and hang around the lounge. I watched as the early group aka the group of death competed. Seeing some top notch players falling early made me zone in on the challenge at hand even more. I never felt more confident and ready to compete in my life. Everything I was worried about dissappeared when it came time to check in....

Round 1 vs Thiago Saporito:

My opponent Thiago aka BOLOV0 is a high caliber player and I knew wasn't going to be an easy match up. I considered myself to be in what was a 'bracket of death' as the winner of my match goes on to play one of two MTG all-stars in Brad Nelson or Marcio Carvalho. I shrug this off and get ready to play.

Game 1 Esper Acuity vs Mono White: This matchup is exactly what I wanted as I had Cry of the Carnarium and a few sweepers to just cruise through this match. I was pumped and excited to play the Esper mirror. 

Game 2 Esper Control vs Esper Control: This matchup comes down to who drew fewer board wipes, and I just happened to get lucky and hit enough Absorb with Thought Erasure. It seems the Hareyuya Latin team had a line up that was slightly disadvantaged to my build of Esper as Devious Cover-Up was able to shuffle my counterspells back in and gave me more counterspells. It was also nice to do away with Chemister's Insight with the exile effect. I was able to walk away with a win here after pulling far ahead and resolving a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Round 2 vs. Marcio Carvalho:

Marcio has so many Pro Tour top 8's I definitely felt the intimidation settling in as I thought about his resume, but then I air drummed some My Chemical Romance and chanted "whatever it takes.." to zone in.

Game 1 Esper Acuity vs Mono White Aggro: Once again the matchups lined up in my favor. My Acuity deck was a monster and just consumed the mono white deck easily, and I was feeling the momentum. I was on fire! 

Game 2 Esper Control vs Esper Control: This one goes for a while but I eventually drop this game due to Marcio having a full grip of counterspells and a crazy card advantage engine where he could protect his Kaya, Orzhov Usurper. I concede to save time and move to game 3.

Game 3 Esper Control vs Esper Control: I wasn't sure what to expect here as I wasn't sure if Marcio would try to play the control game plan or try to get the jump on me with an aggro deck so I kept a hand that was perfectly split down the middle with answers for aggression, while also being able to play the long game. I won this one in a typical Teferi fashion. Nothing more needs to be said.

Round 3 vs Gregorz Kowalski

Game 1 Esper Acuity vs Esper Acuity: Though Kowalski mulls down to 5, he had the best 5 cards you could ask for. He was also able to land his Mastermind's Acquisition grabbing Unmoored Ego before I drew a counterspell so he was able to nab all my Acquisitions and then soon after casted Ego again to rip all my Devious Cover-Up, sealing my fate.

Game 2 Esper Control vs. Temur Reclamation: This matchup is abysmal. His deck is just able to play the long game better as he has ramp and Wilderness Reclamation to make it so he never taps out. The deck also has less dead cards than Esper. This ends with me face blocking 33 damage from Expansion // Explosion. As some of you witnessed, I had emoted "Thinking" because you know...I had to verify it was lethal hehe. None the less, that was well played by Gregorz. He had the anti-Crim line up.

Round 4 vs Taruya Kakumae 

Another top-notch player with a deep resume. At this point, I was just happy to play anyone that wasn't on Temur Reclamation and after looking at Taruya's lists, I definitely liked what I saw as it was Mono Green Aggro and Rakdos aggro which was really Mono Red splashing black for Rix Maadi Reveler with only 1 Experimental Frenzy

Game 1 Esper Control vs Mono Green Aggro: This match up felt like it was decided early as I was able to get a value Cry of the Carnarium when he had a board loaded with 2 toughness creatures on my turn 3. After that, it was just board wipe into Teferi to seal the deal.

Game 2 Esper Acuity vs Rakdos Aggro: This was an extremely well played match by Taruya as there was a point where I was starting to stabilize with a ton of removal in hand and Dovin's Acuity sitting on the board. Taruya chose to hold back all creatures at this point and just played the burn game which worked out for him! I know some people were surprized when I took 4 damage to the face when Taruya cast Risk Factor but as I've clarified before, it doesn't matter what stage or how big the event is. I would rather lose than let a Red Deck draw cards!! It was a statement 4 damage. 

Game 3 Esper Acuity vs Rakdos Aggro: This was one of the easiest picks for me. Going into game 3 I knew no matter which deck Taruya picked, my Acuity deck would be able to battle them. I was happy to say that I was right. At one point I was at 30 or so health and after a flurry of burn spells, Taruya got me down to my starting health total of 20 as I was able to race and ignore his board while I had Lyra Dawnbringer and a bunch of lifegain from Dovin's Acuity. After the concession, I got up and gave Taruya a heartfelt handshake as it was a hard fought battle. This also meant I was locked into the Top 16. 

I was jumping with joy and as you saw from the post-game interview being dubbed as "The Plays" interview.... my opponent went out and made plays but I was able to walk away with the win as I made just a few more plays. After this I celebrated with friends by jumping and hugging. After that, I was asked to go upstairs to film some interviews and take a few more photos. They asked me when filming what would sum up my PAX East?...my match against Taruya is everything that is me. I had to use the bathroom really bad and it was the one time where I regretted playing a slow deck. I remember going back seeing the VODs on Twitch and somebody noticed how fast I was playing. A comment that made me chuckle was "when you get fast played by Esper Control"....but in my defense for my speedy plays, I really did need to use the restroom, and bathroom breaks are for winners and playmakers!

The Top 16

Round 1 vs Amazonian

This was a heartbreaker for me to start the day as we both didn't want to play each other until the finals of course. But I think Amy and I had so much fun off screen. As we were battling we were emoting all day and cracking jokes on Discord. This was everything about Magic that I love. The friendly trash talk and banter while battling with our tournament lives on the line.

Game 1 Esper Control vs Mono White: Though I was able to win this match, it was off a topdecked Cry of the Carnarium which saved my life and allowed me to clean sweep the board and then stabillize with Teferi.

Game 2 Esper Acuity vs Selesnya Tokens: This matchup was another top deck for the win scenario where Amy had Trostani Discordant back to back but I had a followed it up with two back to back board wipes which allowed me to live long enough to slam Ethereal Absolution and shut the door on the game.

Round 2 vs Andrea Mengucci

Andrea Mengucci has been a player I've always wanted to play against and meet and this event gave me the honor of battling him! I was pumped and on a hot streak so I felt very confident going into this match despite everyone assuming I'd be a huge underdog and rightfully so as he eventually goes onto to win the whole tournament with me being his only loss!

Game 1 Esper Acuity vs Mono White: In typical control fashion, I sweep the board and fight for dear life while sitting at 5 health. It wasn't until a wonderfully timed Mastermind's Acquisition and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria come in to fully shut the door on this match as I sat around after stabilizing just holding up counterspells.

Game 2 Esper Control vs Esper Control: If you ask Mengu, he'll tell you the funniest story of all time about how my in-game banter won this matchup for me. If you see him make sure you ask him all about it! I'll give you the simple version here. It's later in the game around turn 7 or 8 and he casts Thought Erasure and I reveal my hand of two Kaya's Wrath, Mortify, and a Cleansing Nova. I casually chuckle over Discord and say "I promise I will destroy any creature you play"... which Mengu wasn't used to hearing before and in doing so, he picked one of my random cards in hand and then later played his Search for Azcanta which was then blown up by my Cleansing Nova. He said it was thanks to my banter that he misplayed in casting the Azcanta as opposed to just sitting and waiting and this story cracks me up every time. Anywho, I eventually just draw some win cons after a few key counterspell interactions and shut the door on the match.

Seriously though, this was a huge moment for me as I felt like I was unstoppable....well, atleast until I ran into Piotr!

Round 3 vs Piotr Glogowski

I remember thinking before the tournament that Mono Blue would be a bold move when theres so much Mono Red and Mono White, so I assumed not many people were on it but Piotr was brave and skilled so it was no surprise he made it this far.

Game 1 Esper Acuity vs Mono Blue Aggro: I was able to deal with the early threats but then a turn 3 Tempest Djinn came down. I wasn't too worried but I do remember seeing Piotr's list and seeing that he had a ton of ways to counter non-creature spells so I casted my Acquisition to grab a Lyra Dawnbringer to race. What I didn't account for was that Piotr had 2 copies of Curious Obsession which made the Djinn grow beyond Lyra's power and then Piotr started swimming in card advantage to win this game.

Game 2 Esper Control vs Mono Red

Unfortunately this one ends quickly as I was able to deal with one Experimental Frenzy thanks to Teferi but I was not ready for Piotr's follow up Frenzy which allowed him to run wild on me with burn and a bunch of little red critters. Props to Piotr. He knew came out and made more plays than me.

Round 4 vs Ondrej Strasky

On my last legs of the tournament and in need of a win to lock my spot into the top 4 ... I was in do or die. I was so close to Top 4 I was rattling and air drumming like a mad man. 

Game 1 Esper Acuity vs Mono Red: This match up was the exact way I needed our decks to pair up as Ondrej's Esper deck is very good at playing against Esper. This was a tough loss as I went back and studied the gameplay and realized I could've used Devious Cover-up on my own Cry of the Carnarium to trigger my two copies Dovin's Acuity. Even without that though, I had an Immortal Sun and a Lyra Dawnbringer out, and I was in the lead until Ondrej found an Experimental Frenzy. At this point, I was desperate for spells but had ripped 6 lands in a row to eventually lose what felt like was an unlosable spot, but its okay because it's never over until you see your opponent's portrait blow up with a red aura and you're staring at a victory screen.

Game 2 Esper Control vs Esper Control: We have some nice early back and forth but I remember studying Ondrej's list and seeing that he only played 2 copies of Kaya's Wrath, 1 Vraska's Contempt, and 3 Mortify as his creature removal that could deal with a Nezahal, Primal Tide, so I quickly cast a Mastermind's Acquisition and then jammed the Nezzy. Now I could've held the Nezzy for one more turn but I've heard two groups of MPL players argue saying it was right to deploy the Nezzy early and the other to hold. I personally liked deploying Nezzy there as it had Ondrej sweating as I knew he had way more counters than me and I couldn't let the game go any longer or else he'll just win. It was unfortunate after all of the exchanges that he top decked a Mortify to end our prehistoric friend. After this, he ends the game by getting a Teferi ult and like that my tournament comes to an end. 

Conclusion

To be honest, the ending was perfect as it was one of my favorite planeswalkers sending me home. Normally at the end of all of this, people would be sad and down but I felt inspired and motivated to compete even more. My competitive blood is now boiling over and I'm just thrilled to have had a chance to compete. I remember going on Pinnacle and seeing how much the odds were against me for this whole tournament and it felt good to flip the script. Along the way, it meant the world to me to see so many people tweeting at me with their support and some people took the loss harder than I did! It was an eye-opening moment when I realized how many people connected with me and had a champion to root for. This is the part of esports and sports alike that I loved. When you find a team or player you support and together you go through all the emotions together during a tournament. 

People asked me how I was able to handle all my losses in such high spirits and a happy demeanor? Simple! Losing is not the end. Losing is good. I'm a proud loser because in losing I learned so much about me as a competitive player. So many people take losing hard and beat themselves up for it when that does nothing. It's cliche but learning from your losses might be better than actually cruising your way to easy victories. 

Thank you to everyone who shed a tear or shared tense moments with me at this tournament. I was proud to be your champion and I hope I can continue to grow in the world of Magic and Esports to some day get that trophy and bring it home for all of you!

I want to thank everyone at Wizards of the Coast. GG's to all my opponents. Keep up the great content to all the creators that were there...except for Merchant. You need to cut out that Sigarda Tron stuff. It's killing me ;) jk...you're awesome. Lastly, congratulations Andrea Mengucci for being one of the nicest players. It was nice hanging out with you and Marcio on our last day there. You deserved your win. 

Sincerely,

-Your Neighborhood TheAsianAvenger

 


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