An Overseas Perspective – European GP

Welcome back to the instalment of an overseas perspective from a local. This time round, Evan will be talking about his experience of competing in the European GPs. Also, he is going to talk about his 1st GP in Bologna (back in 2016). For those who are travelling overseas for GP Hong Kong in September, we hope that you could share some perspective with us! Do ping us! I’ll leave the rest of the content to Evan!

Hi guys, I’m back to talk about my experience of competing in the EU GPs! The first GP I participated in was GP Bologna 2016 (Modern). I almost wasn’t able to board my flight as I did not do the required visa check at the counter before clearing security. Do remember to check what you’re supposed to do on the airline u choose to fly(some silly requirement for non-EU travellers by Ryanair, they literally just look at your passport then chop your ticket, why can’t they do it just before you board!) Tip No. 1: Our passport may be great, but we still need to check out for Visa requirements!

If you are wondering if that’s him in the video, YES! that’s him! Head over to CFB Events to check out the GPs! Or the renamed MagicFest!

I flew from Dublin to Milan, and had to take a train to get to Bologna. Bologna is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. It’s the home of the ubiquitous Bolognese sauce, apart from being a major cultural centre.

Yummy!

To give a bit of context, GP Bologna 2016 was in the weekend of GPs right smack in the middle of eldrazi winter, after it ravaged the top 8 of PT Oath of the Gatewatch. Surprisingly, the attendance for the GP was still pretty good at 2176 players. For the sake of comparison, GP Melbourne 2016 on the same weekend had 1105 players. Usually the attendance at EU GPs are much better than the ones in Asia/Australia, as the cost of travel is cheaper and the playerbase is considerably bigger. Especially for the Europeans, because they don’t live that far away, and can literally drive to the GP venue. Ireland is geographically separated by water from the rest of Europe, which leaves me with little alternatives apart from flying.

Eldrazi was out in full force, and I distinctly remember seeing it to my left and right as I sat down to participate in the trials on Friday.

Language is one big difference when it comes to competing in the EU. Varying nationalities have different standards of spoken English. Naturally, the bulk of my opponents during the GP were Italian, and communication wasn’t the smoothest. As Singaporeans, I find that we tend to speak very fast and don’t enunciate our words, which is a problem for the Europeans. I constantly have to remind myself to speak slower and pronounce my syllables while in the EU.

Also, there are more professional players in the EU compared to Asia. The pro lifestyle is easier to pursue over here, given that there are more GPs and they are more accessible compared to those in Asia. You have to almost fly in order to attend every other GP, and to have the required Visa (if applicable). I distinctly remember seeing Andrea Mengucci walking around, among other pros. A nice souvenir I received from this GP was from Patrick Dickmann.

His favourite card from modern affinity!

Live coverage is more prominent in the EU compared to Asia. I was fortunate enough to be featured in round 6 of GP Warsaw 2017 (IXN standard) You can watch the featured match stream here.

You can hear Riley mangling my Chinese name at the beginning of the video. It was an interesting experience playing under the spotlight, and it’s only after experiencing it that you understand why people make the silliest of mistakes under the camera. I got steamrolled that round, playing against a deck that I considered to be a rouge strategy. My speed of play left much to be desired, and it is something I strive to improve with every game of magic. So don’t be surprised if you are running pretty well at a EU GP and you’re summoned to the feature match table!

Side events payouts tend to seem to pay out better in the EU compared to Asia. For example, an on demand booster draft costs €15 (which is about SGD 23.50), and pays out in prize tix of 300-100-20-20. In contrast, looking at GP Singapore 2018, the same booster draft costs SGD 22, but pays out in prize tix of 120-80-40-40. Upon a detailed comparison, the event cost : payout ratio seems similar.

However, for Constructed swiss events, the payout for different regions are the same, but the ones in EU are cheaper ($25 vs $27). Among the weekend, some of the scheduled events are doubled-up events, which gives double the payout! Imagine that you get to win double the prize! Towards the end of the day, some of the events turnout will be lower, and that’s what you should aim for!

Also on the topic of side events, I feel a chaos draft is worth doing at least once at the EU GPs! It’s great fun especially after a day of competitive magic at the main event, and it offers a different style of magic that one might expect. Fancy a game that you have to read every single card that is played? Sign up for a chaos draft! A chaos draft functions similarly to a booster draft, but the pod of 8 players receives different packs from a pool. These include really old sets from the pre-modern era, to the current sets that are in standard

This was one of my chaos draft decks that managed to reach the finals, only losing to the eventual winner. You can’t go wrong with aggro in such a nonsense format, and 2 drops are key! Colourless equipment is at a premium as they function as manasinks, and make your bears more threatening as the game progresses. I even had  a “bad” Glorybringer in the form of Mordant Dragon!I remember at one of the GPs, one of the booster packs of the chaos draft came from a pre-modern era set and was in Italian, and there had to be a judge at the table translating what cards were passed to the receiving player. It really is full of nonsense! Imagine playing UNsets in the draft too! Hahaha. Also, sometimes the more obscure cards that have some monetary value may unknowingly table, so it does pay to know which older cards are worth something! Tip No. 2: All we want is to have fun! 

Allow me to leave you with one of my more memorable experiences at a side event. This was at GP Utrecht 2017 at a side event, and it was a booster draft (AER-AER-KLD). I reached the finals of the event and agreed to split the prize with my opponent. As I still wanted to play the final round for fun, he suggested that we both have a normal game, then switch decks for another game. He reasoned that the better player would be able to win with both decks. I agreed to his suggestion, and he won both games. Despite losing to my own deck, that was one of the most enjoyable games I played in recent memory.

Writer’s Profile

Evan is a Singaporean player currently based overseas in Dublin, Ireland. He was first introduced to MTG during his NS days at Khans block. His first taste of competitive magic was at GP Bologna 2016 à la Eldrazi Winter.

Notable achievements include a 34th place finish at GP Guangzhou 2016 (modern). Evan favours aggressive, proactive strategies, and prefers to be the one asking the questions rather than finding the answers. Outside magic, Evan enjoys playing the violin, amidst mugging for medical school.