The drive home from any tournament you don’t exceed expectations or perform where you want to is a weird event. Your mind is constantly replaying the matches, turns, and plays of the day, it’s flipping from frustrated, to upset, to hungry.
Driving home from SCG Worcester with a 5-3 record wasn’t the ending I had in mind. Going in, I didn’t expect to top 8, I didn’t expect to cash out and just wanted to play tight games and play like I knew I could. After winning two FNMs in the past 3 weeks, I felt confident in my GR Monsters deck with Rabblemasters, Polukranos, Stormbreath, Boon Satyr, Hornet Queen, Xenagos, Chandra and Purphoros (and of course Mystics, Caryatids and Coursers). It performed well for me against a lot of different decks; it could be aggro when needed or could switch gears and be more midrange against midrange/control decks.
It won me 5 rounds, against Jeskai Aggro, GU Devotion, Bant Control, GB Devotion and Abzan Midrange. But, I lost to 2 Abzan Midrange and a Mono-Red aggro. What was really frustrating was that these were the two decks that I thought I had the best match ups against, and ones that I tuned my sideboard for. 2 Magma Sprays, 2 Anger of the Gods, a Bow of Nylea and 3 Nylea’s Disciple for the Mono-Red, and 2 Ranger’s Guile, a Setessan Tactics and 3 Genesis Hydra for the Abzan Midrange.
But sometimes sideboard cards don’t find their way into your hand, you get out-played, or you just make some mistakes. I know I made 3 game-losing mistakes; keeping a questionable hand with 4 lands and then drawing 6 straight, messing up blocking Siege Rhinos with Hornet Queen, insect tokens and a Stormbreath, only to have the dragon Bile Blighted, and playing another Courser against Mono Red when I should have double Lightning Striked some creatures.
But that’s the point of grinding these tournaments, playing in FNMs and play testing; it’s all a learning experience. I’ve only been playing magic for a little over a year now and feel that I’ve come a far way. Only recently getting into competitive magic, I know that some, or most, of my opponents have years or a decade of experience more than I do. Well, there’s no way to suddenly get years of experience, so next best thing is to keep grinding away and playing tight magic. No matter how much more experience they might have, no one can affect your play other than you.
So the car ride was a relatively short one, under an hour, and I thought about all this. Replayed some good plays, shook off some poor ones, wishing I hit a third land in my last game, and really wished I had put 3 Hornet’s Nest in my deck.
Everyone has bad days, but you have to put your time in if you hope to excel some day. My tip? Shake it off and start the next week with a clean slate. SCG Worcester is over, but there will be plenty more PTQs, Trials and GPs to play at, and that’s the only thing I’ll be thinking about, the next tournament, not the last one.