This article is going to be about MagicFest Copenhagen, or rather the Grand Prix at MagicFest Copenhagen, which I attended on 15-16 June 2019 in – you guessed it – Copenhagen, Denmark. Copenhagen is in fact my hometown, and with the farewell to Pro Points and the Players’ Club on 20 June 2019, it felt almost like my Magic career came full circle at this event. Grand Prix Copenhagen 2005 was the first Premier Event I ever played (going 5-2-1 with my trusty BG Troll Ascetic deck). I can imagine that a lot us probably have some great memories about our first foray into Premier Event Magic, perhaps at a hometown or home country GP. Removing pro points from GPs takes away some of the competitive incentive to attend these awesome events, so I guess sometimes it can be nice to reminisce on why we started playing them in the first place; simply for the competition and the love of the game rather than the financial or pro status rewards that came with it!
Setting the goals for the Grand Prix
As you may recall, I started off my Mage Market writing gig back in September with a tale of my hunt for pro points to become a Gold member of the Pro Players’ Club during the back-half of 2018. Since then, I have had some wonderful fortune at the Pro Tour/Mythic Championships in Atlanta, Cleveland and London, earning a combined 31 pro points at these events to lock up Platinum. This was of course a dream come true for me, not least because it proved that I belonged with the best in the world!
Given the straightforward and easy-to-understand cycle system that Wizards introduced, I found myself at 49 pro points going into Grand Prix Copenhagen and thus needing 3 more for a total of 52 to lock up Platinum for the rest of year. That would basically mean appearance fees for two more GPs and one more Mythic Championship plus of course the all-too important separate ‘platinum’ line at the player registration on Thursday before. This translates to a minimum requirement of a 12-3 performance at the GP, or 9-3 not counting byes (platinum brag).
The format for GP Copenhagen was Modern Horizons Limited with Sealed deck on day 1 and drafts on day 2. My testing for the event consisted of a couple of Magic Online Sealed leagues where I built UGx snow decks with Abominable Treefolk in all of them. I really wanted to test out other archetypes too, but I’m a simple man; if I see a Krosan Tusker, I play it. I also managed to get in a couple of online and IRL drafts where I got a much better feel for the many different archetypes this set enables. Overall, I really enjoyed the games and I love the nostalgic and sweet synergies the many different keywords and card-throwbacks provide. I also liked how they somehow effortlessly mesh together, so naturally I was looking forward to the tournament with great anticipation. I really think Wizards hit a home run with this “Masters” set, and I hope it has enough longevity so that we don’t get sick of it before Mythic Championship Barcelona in late July, where it – much like paella – will be on the menu again!
Building a challenging Sealed pool
My teammate and trusty companion in all of life’s endeavors, Michael Bonde, was staying with me for the weekend (along with non-teammates but friends Thomas Hendriks and Ivan Floch), and we arrived at the convention center on Saturday at an unimportant hour to build our Sealed decks. I didn’t save the entire pool (because appearance fees alone don’t pay for my lavish lifestyle), but I remember opening some unexciting rares except for Pashalik Mons and Deep Forest Hermit. There were also two copies of Mob staring back at me, so decisions had to be made. Worth noticing at this event, probably because of the recent release of the set, we had 45 minutes build time instead of the normal 30. This came in very handy for me, as I stared for a long time at a red-black build with some Goblin synergies before moving over to an unsophisticated red-green deck with some big beaters and not too much removal. I had early on excluded the white cards as too low on playables and the blue cards for lacking card quantity (and quality). I did have a small Ninja theme with Ingenious Infiltrator, and since I had issues with the power level of both the RB and RG decks, I decided after 25 minutes to take a closer look at a more synergistic UB Ninja deck. I had already seen this archetype in draft and knew it could do absurd things with very few means by utilizing the many tempo plays available to blue-black. So I laid it out, and while it definitely had some lackluster cards in the maindeck such as Chillerpillar with 3 Snow lands and Return from Extinction with no changelings, it had a solid plan and great removal. And of course, the potential for a turn 2 Infiltrator off of a Faerie Seer is the kind of value which, let’s face it, I cannot for the life of me resist. So thanks to the time extension for the build portion, I managed to cobble together what I in retrospect think was the strongest deck I could build from my pool (and since I don’t have it anymore, there is no way for you to challenge that statement). The lesson here is to always challenge your assumptions and consider other options, even if you discarded them at first glance. Magic is a complex game and being able to evaluate cards and entire pools at a glance is a great skill, but so is reflecting and challenging past decisions, which you should always be open to when building limited decks, because there is always potential for the sum to be greater than the individual parts.
GP Copenhagen Sealed deck by Thomas Enevoldsen
The good, the bad and the lucky
My day 1 rounds in Copenhagen had all of it
The tournament started off great with 2 quick wins against, respectively, an unexciting BW deck and a feature match against a very strong UGx deck. The latter I only narrowly managed to beat thanks to – well I am not one to brag but neither one to lie – great plays by me. And topdecking a two-outer snow land to monstrous my Chillerpillar to get in for exactly lethal, but I was never good with percentages, so I figured it was just “deserved”.
The wheels then came off a bit as I lost two straight matches to some quite busted snow decks. Back against the wall at 5-2, I faced a red-green aggressive deck with Genesis, a card my deck could not realistically beat in a long game. Game 1 we were racing past each other’s creatures and both arrived at a low life total with him having Genesis in the yard but only 4 mana due to sacrificing a land to Excavating Anurid. He even had a Spore Frog in the graveyard, but since he was facing lethal, picking it up and playing it meant he would just be spending 4 mana without advancing his board with a lot of castable creatures still in hand. So he played out some critters, presenting lethal on his next turn, but a topdecked removal spell from me sealed it before Genesis could take over. Had he been a little less aggressive with his attacks, he would probably have won that game on the back of his graveyard engine. In game 2, I finally got my first turn 2 Infiltrator, which ran away with the game as it should.
Mage crushing Day 1
The entire team advances to Sunday
Locked for the Draft portion, we still had one more round to go on Saturday. A very important one, mind you, as a win would mean going into day 2 with a loss to give and still be able to achieve my coveted 12-3 record. Thankfully, my deck provided some great draws again and I ended day 1 with 7-2.
The rest of team Mage was of course also represented at the GP, and we managed to all make day 2, with Christoffer Larsen, Simon Nielsen and Martin Dang at 8-1, Michael Bonde, Andreas Petersen and yours truly at 7-2 while high school reject and recently resurrected uncensored wizard, Martin Müller fighting to 6-3. Things were looking good for a Mage top8 representative, while I of course would be relatively content with a 5-1 score for those 3 valuable pro points.
How to prepare for Day 2
Life hacks, food tips and a sleep plan
Day 1 ended with Michael, Andreas, Thomas Hendriks, Ivan Floch and I going out for some delicious burgers with the new-school hotness of ‘Rösti-top’, which basically means exchanging the top bun with a ‘rösti’, i.e. a patty of grated potato fried in oil. Thomas and Ivan in particular could not stop harping about this new life hack that combines a Swiss national dish with traditional American fast food. They were over the moon about it, and Thomas was in fact already dreaming up import options to the Netherlands to cash in on this idea of ideas.
Completely beat, we went back to my flat joined by Christoffer and fired up a Modern Horizons draft on the feature screen in which each of us got to pick cards in random order, resulting in what can probably best be described as an unfocused Rösti of a deck. We did not 3-0.
Michael had eschewed this nerdy debauchery in favor of actual debauchery with some other Danish friends, but as we expected him to be home later, Thomas and decided it was most fair to draw straws for the good, decent and bad airbed, respectively. We documented it on video broadcast via snapchat for Michael to see, to ensure no tricks were being pulled. This resulted in Michael getting the best of the beds and Thomas the worst. Being the good guys that they were, Thomas and Ivan still made the bed for Michael so it was ready for him when he was done with his nocturnal adventures. However, he never came home (he ended up staying at another friend’s place), but due to the way the bed was made, it looked like Michael was sleeping in it, so even though Thomas woke up multiple times during the night because of the admittedly lackluster back support, he didn’t switch because he thought Michael was using it all along. Bad beats.
The first Day 2 Draft
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Well-rested for day 2, and 10 minutes to the start of the draft, Ivan, Thomas and I “decided” to hop off the metro one stop before our actual destination, just to get a nice walk out of it. This resulted in us barely making it on time but discovering another life hack in the process, as the brisk walk to the site surely helped clear our minds and get (our pulses) in gear for the draft!
I opened an unexciting first pack and took a Rhox Veteran before being passed a Mob second pick. While I had no idea how to build a BW deck and what synergies to look for, I decided that the removal spell was too good to pass up. Third pick I took a Trumpeting Herd out of weak pack, before picking up a snow land in another relatively empty pack. I then got passed a Dead of Winter and decided to move in on my beloved Gxx snow deck, wheeling a couple of Arcum’s Astrolabe. Pack 2 I picked up some snow creatures in Frostwalla and Conifer Wurm as well as another Mob and some snow lands. A third Astrolabe in pack 3 meant I was ready for basically any colors I saw as long as I could support the labs with snow lands. Unfortunately, another drafter at the table decided they were on a similar mission, and none of picks 4 through 15 contained a snow land for me, so I had to run it a little light and play 6 to go with the 3 Astrolabs and cards from all 5 beautiful colors of Magic. I was not entirely pleased with the deck, as it needed a few more snow lands (having played the format more, it seems like that is the motto for all Snow decks, so pick those suckers up early and often!). This is was I registered:
GP Copenhagen Draft deck 1 by Thomas Enevoldsen
The power level and the removal were great, but I knew I would have some issues if I faced white-based aggro as I was a bit on the slow side.
Running the Gauntlet
3 Matches against 3 different decks
In the first round, I played Oscar Garcia Munoz, a talented player with some decent success on the European GP circuit as well as some Pro Tour appearances. He was of course playing RW aggro with multiple Answered Prayers, some Slivers synergy and a nice removal suite as well. He stumbled in game 1 and I already figured this was going to be a good day, before being handily beat in 2 not-close games, exposing my deck’s slow starts and weakness to the enchantment creatures. Not a great start, and I now had to rattle off 5 Ws in a row for Platinum.
I then faced off against previous Grand Prix winner Leo Lahonen, whose UB do-nothing deck did nothing for two games, which I, as a matter of fact, was able to beat. A very important match 3 came against Hannes Witt on RG “lands matter”. A supposedly decent matchup for me if he didn’t run me over. I took game 1 in convincing fashion, before losing a long drawn out game 2, in which he at one point forgot to tick down the suspend timer on his Crashing Footfalls. This ended up winning him the game, as I had to wait a turn to use my Dead of Winter to clear his board (to get the Rhinos as well) and on that turn he drew a way to give his 5/5 trample and kill me for exactsies. Thankfully, in game 3 I drew all my snow cards with a curve of Frostwalla, Frostwalla, Conifer Wurm, Dead of Winter your board and he had seen enough.
Cracking Packs and Drinking Hex
A strong start in the second Draft of Day 2
I was happy to escape the first draft with a 2-1 record as the deck could easily have stumbled more given the greedy albeit necessary manabase. I was determined to draft a more focused deck for draft 2 to get the needed 3-0. It was not going to be easy, as my draft pod contained Hall of Famer Jelger Wiegersma, MPL member Jean-Emmanuel Depraz, Czech superstar Petr Sochurek and GP warrior Thoralf Severin.
It seemed like the pack gods had heard my inner plea, as I looked right into the face of Hexdrinker for my first pick, which is obviously an insane bomb and goes right into the “beat-them-without-too-many-questions- asked” strategy I was hoping for. I wavered a bit in the opening pack for my second color, but a late Answered Prayers answered my Gx equation, and I settled into this nice little GW beaters deck with some powerful cards and a lot of interesting sideboard options. I spent the whole 25 minutes deckbuilding deciding on those 21st to 23rd cards, but my unhealthy love of card advantage got the better of me and I started 2 Shelter, though with lots of sideboard options for games 2 and 3, which is something I highly value in Limited (and you should too!).
GP Copenhagen Draft deck 2 by Thomas Enevoldsen
1 Knight of Old Benalia
1 Treetop Ambusher
2 Mother Bear
1 Enduring Sliver
1 Impostor of the Sixth Pride
1 Good-Fortune Unicorn
1 Lancer Sliver
3 Rhox Veteran
2 Savage Swipe
1 Stirring Address
2 Answered Prayers
1 Trumpeting Herd
1 Battle Screech
1 Wing Shards
1 Winding Way
1 Stirring Adress
1 Martyr’s Soul
1 Krosan Tusker
1 Wall of One Thousand Cuts
2 Llanowar Tribe
Beating a Veteran with Veterans
Taking a match from a Hall of Famer
My first round was against Jelger Wiegersma on a two-drop heavy RG beaters deck. Game 1 I got an early Hexdrinker that managed to go the distance since he did not have one of 5(!) removal spells ready before it was out of reach. He outclassed me game 2, and game 3 I drew all three Rhox Veterans, and being on the play that was simply too much for his aggressive deck to handle. For two rather simple strategies, we had lots of interesting decisions during our 3-game set, and according to him, he apparently punted both games he lost against me, so I guess even the Hall of Famers are human nowadays. And apparently, they will be reduced to humans again, since there seem to be no HoF benefits anymore, WotC what is up with that!?
At 10-3 I just needed two more wins for platinum, and I was definitely feeling the pressure, as even though I was out of top8 contention, with the platinum appearance fees I was essentially fighting for the equivalent of second place at the GP.
Winter is here
Playing around what beats you
Next round was against Thoralf Severin on a pretty sweet UGb snow deck splashing for Limited all-star Dead of Winter which, as you can probably imagine, was a complete powerhouse against me. He got me good with the card in game 1 where his superior card advantage spells took it home. In game 2 I tried to play around it by keeping some threats back in hand, and he was forced to use it on both sides of my Battle Screech. As he also managed to deal with the rest of my threats, things were looking pretty miserable until I topdecked that lovely Hexdrinker! With plenty of mana on board, he was suddenly drawing to Diabolic Edict only, which he may not even have had. In the final game, I presented a big board presence early and he was digging for his snowy get-outta-jail-free card. At one point he played a Pondering Mage and he absolutely had to find it there to have a chance in the game. Even though I knew he would shuffle anything but Dead of Winter away, I still watched his body language closely, because I wanted to see how he was going to bluff not finding it. He did a good job of head-shaking and eye-rolling, but I see right through you Thoralf! So I held back some threats and dashed my Treetop Ambusher to present lethal the turn after, even through the mass removal. He obviously had it, and then was forced to use Fact or Fiction to dig for an answer with 1 mana left. I let him have a String of Disappearances along with a land, and he staved off the damage for a turn, but next turn he had to succumb to the little dasher that could!
So it all came down to this one match for platinum, eternal fame and 600 squashbucklin’ dollars for top16. Meanwhile, the rest of team Mage were doing not too shabby either, as Christoffer Larsen comfortably drew into top8, Simon Nielsen sketchily drew into top8 and Martin Dang was playing for top8. I was fortunate enough to be paired against the only other Dane in the pod, Kim Weilmann, whom I’ve known from local tournaments in Copenhagen throughout the years. Kim had no particular need for the pro points that came along with our great finish, so he was gracious enough to scoop to me so I could retain that elusive platinum status! Both Dang and Simon made it into the top8 and Chris even made it to the finals, so overall an insane weekend for our team!
A thoroughly successful tournament
After the tournament, Thomas, Michael and I went out to a celebratory steak dinner (although they didn’t get the memo and ordered another burger …), before going home to watch the limited, but exciting coverage of Grand Prix Washington. I guess cutting down on the amount of GP coverage makes me more appreciative of when it is actually on, so maybe this is a back-handed marketing ploy to gain more viewers for the few livestreams that do appear on the Magic twitch channel?
As this is the official (and hopefully temporary) end of pro points, I will just conclude that I am incredibly happy and proud to have reached 200+ lifetime pro points and made platinum for the entire 2019 season. Team Mage has great things in store for the future, including at the upcoming Mythic Championship Barcelona, where our goal is to finish in the top2 of the Team Series leaderboard. It will require an extraordinary performance by all of us, but if GP Copenhagen was anything to go by, the other teams better look over their shoulders for the Mages of the Market or whatever a good team nickname for us would be! Probably not Mages of the Market though, that sounds like we just go to the bazaar to show off tricks rather than fight other planeswalkers in epic street battles like Liliana against Bolas in that sick War of the Spark trailer. Okay, we are still in brainstorm mode re. the nickname!
Thanks for reading and see you around!