Watching Yourself Play

Last weekend I played at GP Stockholm. I was picked up for the feature on the second round. As you may know, most of the early round features are not based on the same criteria as the latter rounds, where they focus on famous players and those in the running for Top 8. In my case (and I asked Tobi Henke about this), I was picked, and I quote “[they] had access to certain decklists”. It was my fault then.

But it is a unique opportunity for me. Sure, I’ve been featured before on small scale tournaments in Finland, but nothing on this level of production value or visibility.

Obviously I took a look at the match afterwards. Actually immediately when I got back to the hotel (after rest of the day 1, dinner at a great Thai-restaurant and an eight-person team draft, so not until around 1 am). Besides noticing that I probably need a haircut and being reminded that my head is freakishly big (yes, I’m on the left), there’s a lot to learn, actually.

I shuffle for a really long time. I don’t think I shuffle too much, but I am thorough. This is probably, because I understand how shuffling works better than most, but on camera it becomes obvious to me as well. Am I going to change that? No. I’m probably going to encourage others to do the same.

I’ve slowed down my pace of play. Not sure if this is aging or am I just thinking about things I didn’t think about previously. Probably a combination of both.

There’s also a decision, which I clearly hesitate on, but too late, as it’s already been done. When I Retrace [scryfall]Raven’s Crime[/scryfall] on turn two of the first game, I notice that I still have a [scryfall]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/scryfall] in my hand and for a second I think I should have played it instead of the Swamp. Now, this isn’t clear cut. There’s an argument for playing it and an argument against it. For it would be all about [scryfall]Smallpox[/scryfall].

The last land in my hand was [scryfall]Mutavault[/scryfall], but the deck is hungry for black mana, so playing Urborg would allowed me to freely sack a Swamp to [scryfall]Smallpox[/scryfall] in case I drew one. Now I might have been forced to sac the Vault.

Another thing to take into account is that the Elves deck might have a black splash. My opponent took a mulligan, so it’s possible that they were missing the color. I hadn’t seen any black cards in their hand, but they do sometimes play [scryfall]Shaman of the Pack[/scryfall] in the main, as far as I know. I don’t play much Modern. I did see it later in the day.

On the other hand, Urbord is Legendary, so if I had drawn another one, there’s a chance I couldn’t play it. It’s a complicated game. In the end I decided against playing it, but I already forgot the decision in that point of the game, so there was the hesitation, which might have given my opponent some information.

In general I was very immersed in the situation and didn’t really think about the camera during the games themselves. The thought did sneak up on me during sideboarding and when my opponent took their mulligans, because my initial idea was that this isn’t going to be good for coverage, as mulligans against me are very painful. Well, as you can see on video. I think the matchup in general isn’t that good for me and I’ve lost plenty of matches to Elves in the past.

At the start of the second game, I did pause to think about what to do just there. Often the right thing to do would be to use the funeral charm to force the opponent to discard a card, especially since I had a [scryfall]Bontu’s Last Reckoning[/scryfall] in my hand, but it worked out quite nicely. Not sure that’s what I would in the future. The problem against Elves is that you can’t let them roll everything out at once, so I was trying to just slow them down. It just turned out they didn’t have the second land, which meant I was able to get a flawless victory, as they conceded with no permanents in play. (Achievement unlocked.)

If I watched it again, I could probably find more things to learn from, but I’m guessing it’s also a good idea to let the whole thing simmer a bit first. I am a teacher (in higher education, a senior lecturer), so I do believe in the power of reflection and given such opportunities, you should definitely use them to your advantage. This is a chance to see sides of yourself you normally wouldn’t.

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