How to get the most of a GP when you’re not winning

October 28, 2018

How to get the most of a GP when you’re not winning : A GP Rimini report.

About
Alexandre Darras

32, from Brussels, Belgium.
Started playing Magic in 1995
Won GP Manchester 2012
17th GP Praha 2009
2 times Nationals top 4

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This last weekend was Grand Prix Rimini. And things didn’t go well Magic-wise. It just seems that I couldn’t win. My main event sealed deck was a train wreck, having only one color I would be happy to play, forced to choose the least bad of the four remaining colors. I also didn’t really like the format, as it doesn’t have a lot of synergies and possibilities of gimmick decks, except the sliver deck.

The one thing you have to keep in mind is that Magic is still a game. You can’t always win, and when you don’t, you should get the most from your time.

I started my trip on Thursday evening as I had no convenient way to reach the airport on time on Friday. So I decided to sleep at Emilien Wild’s place, so as to be sure to arrive to the airport on time. We obviously didn’t hear our alarm clock and left his place way too late. I was pretty sure there was no chance we would catch our flight on time. We arrived at the airport at 5.53 AM, the boarding was supposed to close at 5.55AM and the flight had to take off at 6.25 AM. We ran through the airport and arrived at our gate 12 minutes after the supposed end of boarding. There were still a lot of people in the queue so, for once we were really grateful that the flight company had some delay. We were relieved and could go to Bologna where friends picked us up and brought us to the GP site where we arrived just on time for the start of the judge conference. We spent the day learning and chatting with fellow judges till around 6 PM,
On Friday night, Rich Hagon organizes a game show on pretty much every GP. As he is an entertainer, this always carries a lot of fun and good stories. You don’t need to know everything, sometimes you don’t need to know anything at all, and everyone has a chance to get a prize. We, for instance, got a box of Worldwake while we won the game a few Gps ago. The Friday before the GP is also the day of last chance trials, Judge conferences, team drafts, Cube drafts and Judge Dinner, where all the judges participating (in the last Gps this has been opened to all judges) bring some home food to share with their fellow judges. There are a lot of things to do so try to arrive a little bit earlier next time and you won’t regret it!

On Saturday, during the byes (You should always try to have byes, even though your opponnents might not be really good players, you can always lose as Magic still has some variance involved, and you can do much better during these few hours) I got to see how bad my deck was and we started to search for a place to eat. We found a little nice restaurant not too far from the site, in the old center. The “menu turistica” (tourist menu) did let us think we would be ripped off but this was quite the opposite. We ate great food for a modest price and were ready to battle.

After I had been utterly dominated during the GP, the whole MTGMadness team got to spend a meal together in a restaurant, where good stories were exchanged and where I was confronted in the idea that fellow MTGMadness team member Narciso Ferreira is completely crazy.

On sunday, I played the Sunday Super Series in sealed deck. I had a much better deck, but a kid packing an Angelic Accord deck (sick!) beat me with a never-ending supply of life-gain. Two fellow Belgians picked me up to play a Ravnica – Guildpact – Dissenssion – Return To Ravnica – Gatecrash – Dragon’s Maze team sealed deck. Man this was crazy! Logistically there were numerous problems, as they didn’t have old Ravnica block deck lists. So we’ve been told to start building with what we opened. Just after we just scrambled all the cards together to try to see our options, we were told they found deck lists and that we finally should fill them. So we had to sort all the cards again and then proceeded to build three decks while we had no idea of the strength of the format. Apparently everyone took the same approach: build a 5-color crappy deck and two guild decks around your best 2-color combinations. The games were really nice, the format played well, even though I don’t think it should be used again outside of regular events as it’s too much of a burden logistically. We lost our first two matches (I told you I couldn’t win), then one of the team members had to leave. He still attended the third round, but conceded immediately after he sat down. We eventually managed to win a round, the lone win coming from a two-men team against trio. We then watched the top 8, featuring Emanuele Giusti, who unfortunately lost in the semis to the eventual winner Christoph Aukhenthaler.

Emilien Wild and myself then decided to grab some food as we had to wake up early on monday, so I decided to come back to friday’s restaurant. It was obviously closed so we tried our luck in the old center. We encountered some fellow Belgians finishing their meal in a small restaurant, where we could order really nice pizzas to end the weekend. We still couldn’t pass on the mandatory Gelato (ice cream) which happened to be really tasty and generously served, before finally going back to our hotel.

Our trip ended on Monday, when I left our hotel at 6.30 AM, and got back home in Brussels at 2 PM, as I had a succession of cab, train, plane, bus and tramway to take! I came home really tired after such a long week-end, but eager to know when the next GP will happen, as, even when you’re not winning, you can still get a lot of fun out of a GP! Just don’t forget to convince all your friends to come to support you, and this will make your tournament enjoyable whichever result you end up with!

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