Fair warning, this is NOT a tournament report, but rather a very long write-up about my opinions of all things eternal wekend. Lets jump right in.

i. Old School Magic, presented by Eternal Central competing with the Preliminary Event
I didn't go to this event, though I talked to several people that did. I don't necessarily like the format, mainly becuase I am too competitive, however I do love that it brings people together to play magic. However a person wants to use their cards is their choice, but I do love when the cards get played.

I think Jaco does a remarkable time making sure this event is amazing; he puts a lot of time into this, and there is a lot of cost involved as the cards go out of his own private collection. ANYONE who is interested in trying this format should, as it can be a blast (as long as you're not overly competitive like I am).

That said, while unavoidable, I do think it was in poor timing to host this on the same day as the Preliminary Event. It worked well for me, as I top 4ed the Prelim and won 1 bye to the Vintage Championship, but I'd like to see this event hosted maybe even the day before the actual event. I think the Prelim could have been 100 people had Old School not taken from that.

ii. The Vintage Championship
The Vintage Championship is a special event. The only event that comes close to that in the United States is the NYSE Tournament and Eternal Exravaganza (Which I've never been to, though only heard great things). I was able to play people from Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Indiana, Madrid, and Japan; it's amazing that this silly game we play brings so many people together. Each night, I went to dinner with people that I consider great friends as well as people in the community I have never met, and if it wasn't for that, I would not bother going to this tournament. It's a special thing.

Congrats to almost all of the people who top 8ed. More on that later.

iii. Soly's unique thoughts on Vintage as a format
The format is at a weird place. Most of the time, it 'feels fine', but overall this format is the least fun and least interesting variation of Vintage I've played since I started playing competitive Vintage (2003).

I feel like workshops are clearly STILL great, though probably fine as is. However, they have made 11 of 24 spots in major event top 8s, and I wonder what WOTC can do next with that archetype. Part of me worries that they'll just take Workshop, but then I don't think they can... let me make this straight... they don't give a FLYING FUCK about us... but they do care about the opinion of their shareholders... and the community will be up in arms if workshop gets the ax. For every person who actually plays vintage and owns Mishra's Workshop, there is someone who has one in an Antiquities Set, someone who has one in their Artifact based Commander/EDH Deck, and someone who has 1 or more for investment purposes; the collective uproar of the card tanking in value (which it would in ways that haven't been seen since Strategic Planning) would be too much. I'd expect nothing to happen with that archetype.

I won't be playing competitive vintage until the late spring anyway, as vintage is 100% dead in the Midwest (outside any potential Team Serious Invitationals, which are 3 states away from me). However, even if there was, I wouldn't bother playing until Gush gets restricted. I am sick of losing to this card. Specific scenario was the top 4 of the Preliminary Event. I'd like to start this by saying my opponent played it fine, and he also was a really nice guy, and it was a pleasure to play against him. At one point, he had if I recall correctly 4 mana in play (tapped out) and a Dack in Play, and ONLY Gush in hand after my probe. I set up Tezzeret, Demonic Tutor, Time Walk in hand with Force of WiIll on top of my library, and I was tapping for over 20 mana. I pass the turn, he draws, gushes, dacks, ancestrals, digs through time, and plays Jace the Mindscuptor, brainstorms, and passes with 3 or 4 cards in hand. Those cards included Pyroblast, Mindbreak Trap, and Flusterstorm. There is no reason that should be able to happen from out of nowhere, and it's really frustrating. Something close to this happened in the main event where I made a decision not to play Virulent Plague, and on the next turn my opponent hit his 2nd land, gushed, preordained, probed, and demonic tutored for therapy and wrecked my hand from nowhere.

I am not complaining because I lost... I did a lot of that this weekend. But I shouldn't be losing from out of nowhere like that. Any other card that can do that is restricted. Gush should be restricted. Free spells that allow you to draw 1 or more cards should be restricted. (OHHH FORSHADOWING)

Did I mention that Fuck Gitaxian Probe? I crushed someone who opened up Volcanic Island, go becuase I probed him expecting to see Pyroblast or Flusterstorm, a Misstep, and a Force of Will. I saw literal nothing, and he died on turn 1. I also died several times by my opponent casting Probe, and seeing that my hand was juice but because I didn't have a Force of Will I just died. THat's really frustrating. Peek is not playable. Street wraith is not playable. A Street Wraith that ALSO Peeks, is definitely bonkers.

Restrict Gush and Gitaxian Probe would balance the format out. Mentor would still be the best, as people would go more to Brian Pallas' deck, but it would be a step in the right direction.

iv. Legacy Disqualification of Zach Dobbin
For those that don't know,Zach Dobbin was playing Michael Guthro, who is another Vintage allstay in the format. Zach was very nervous in the match, as winning this match gives him a very good odd of top 8ing the Legacy championship. He played brainstorm, and found Moat. Being friends with Michael and knowing the list, he KNEW Moat would seal the deal 100% for him. Throughout both Vintage AND Legacy, whenever Dobbin found a card that he HAD to keep, he would place it down on the table. The judges talked to him after the match, and he said he disagreed with a Disqualification but said that if it happened on Camera he'd accept the consequences. In turn, he was disqualified, and Michael Guthro was given the win. I think a disqualification was harsh, and that it should have been a Game Loss (and thus Michael would be given the win, but Zach would still be live for top 16 Prizes). I believe 100% that Zach made an honest mistake in a high pressure situation.

On Sunday morning I walked by, and I ran into him and we were talking. I'd like to state that I had not that I could remember spoken in person with Zach before this. He was holding back tears... in our conversation, he never once mentioned being upset about not landing prizes or top 8ing. He was really bothered by the position he put Nick Coss and the Judge Staff in, he was upset for the situation he put Michael Guthro in, because I'm sure Michael has a lot of questions about this match, and he was upset that people would question his integrity. I have dealt with cheaters before, and they are upset to get caught or upset to not get prizes, but they're never upset about the integrity of the event. He even told he that he accepts the Disqualification, but hopes that people understand that it was an accident.

Here's the fact: He wins that game 100% if he doesn't make that mistake. He gains NOTHING by cheating; if he's stupid/smart enough to try and cheat, it would be to GAIN ADVANTAGE not to gain nothing. After all, the saying doesn't go "everything to lose, nothing to gain".

V. Vintage Qualification of the eventual winner.
The person who owns the painting right now has a huge asterisk next to their name. I refuse to say our Vintage Champion, because my opinion is he isn't the champion.

Facts: Joe Brennan had stated to me the winner of the event had Lotus + Library in all 3 of their games in the Swiss. The winner, in the top 8, had the judge called on him for insufficient shuffling, and was given a warning. Against Andy Markington, he had Wasteland, Sol Ring, Crucible, Tundra, Moat, Mana Drain, and I can't remember his last card. On the play, that hand is insane as he knows Montolio doesn't play a Crucible of his own. Side note? His Sol Ring was Judge Foil as well as his Crucible being foil, and they were shaped in such a way they were actually curving off the table. I brought this fact up to Rich Shay, who brought it to the judge, who then made him remove all suspected foils from his deck. Against Joe, he had a Turn 1 Strip Mine for Joe's only land, and shortly afterwords had his Sensei's top and a Snapcaster Mage if I recall correct. The reason this is important? Those were the three foils that remained.

I spoke with others who played against him and watched him shuffling in a weird way; I thought nothing of it at the time until another player told me he was Lotus + Library'd on the play. There were reports of him playing two lands, and I watched him wasteland an Urborg and then tap a Flooded strand to pay for a spell (which was minor, and a warning). How does a sloppy player get into the top 8 of a major event?

In this country, you are Innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, we have no real proof. However, in the scheme of things... if it looks like a skunk and smells like a skunk, most likely it's a skunk and not a cat.

That's just my opinion on the matter; he should have been DQ no-prized, and our Semifinal should have been Montolio v. Joe Brennen.

vi. Review
The event was amazing, and I look forward to it already for next year. I really wish I could play more vinage, as it was an amazing event. Nick Coss really does amazing things for our community.

****Edit: I am not at all complaining about Old School; I think @JACO does an AMAZING job with that event, and I encourage anyone to check it out.

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More salt than the Dead Sea, I commend you.

I wasn't at the event, so I don't really care as much as you do. But I have been following the cheater scandal and I think the asterisk thing is pretty lame. To go 8-1 at Eternal Champs with a stock decklist, you need to get lucky. You need to get Black Lotus just about every game. So this guy does that, and that's evidence of cheating?

Would it be fair to say that, during a time in which you've won a tournament, that you drew Black Lotus a little more than usual? Is that grounds for losers of the event to accuse you of cheating? God forbid you accidentally flipped over your top card while shuffling; that would be down right proof that you were stacking your deck.

There is just a problem when it comes to 350+ people executing the physical aspect of the game 100% correctly. It will never happen.

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@socialite censoring myself. Not salty at all; just my thoughts. I'm relatively good on how the weekend went. I don't see anything 'salty' about it.

@Soly said:

That said, while unavoidable, I do think it was in poor timing to host [the Old School tournament] on the same day as the Preliminary Event. It worked well for me, as I top 4ed the Prelim and won 1 bye to the Vintage Championship, but I'd like to see this event hosted maybe even the day before the actual event. I think the Prelim could have been 100 people had Old School not taken from that.

I think Jaco and the Old School crowd are in a tough position with this. Holding Old School the day before EW starts (ie, Wednesday) would require players interested in playing in both events to set aside five full days for Magic at minimum, three of them weekdays. That doesn't include the time if you're coming from far away and need to fly in the day before and/or fly out the day after. For many of us, this represents a significant portion of the time we are able to spend away from our normal lives. And all that's without considering the additional cost for an extra day of lodging, food, and other expenses. While I'm sure this isn't a problem for some of the Old School community, it would make event going just to watch Old School a non-starter for me.

@Soly said:

V. Vintage Qualification of the eventual winner.

Most of what non-Vintage players will know about this comes from a now-deleted Reddit post, in which the poster based the majority of their claims on things that they say that they heard from people at the event and Twitch videos that they don't provide links to. If the initial outrage had been better sourced, we might have something. With how it "broke" to most people, I suspect it'll blow over as a witch hunt now regardless of the truth.

I'm conflicted on how I'd like the situation to end. On one hand, I'd very much like to see my friend Jacob named Vintage Champ. On the other hand, the average Magic player thinks of Vintage about once per year. I'd really hate for their one time in 2016 to be primarily associated with a scandal and the ensuing drama. I'd kind of like the whole thing to blow over as quickly as possible to avoid that association.

edited to add: Had a great time. Working on a tournament report now. I hope to have less than half of it be about games of Magic. Everyone I met was awesome. My only regret is that I did so well that I didn't have more time to hang out with all of you! (Is that a humblebrag? I'm not hip to the language of the youngsters/standard players)

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I, being a life long landstill player, was in fact rooting for the shops pilot. There are many many reasons I was forced into this decision. I will not root for someone whom I don't think deserves it. I will not go into details here...but there are a bunch of people that feel this very same way Soly feels, that were there first hand. It's a damn shame.

I don't see the salt people are talking about. He's giving his honest opinion on the situation. You could make arguments about whether you agree or disagree, but he did state he was going to give thoughts on the weekend.

I do agree on Gush. I'm not sure how I feel about Probe, but I haven't played with it enough to for sure. The information it gives at 0 cost is stupid, not to mention it gives you card velocity. Shops is fine, nothing needs to be touched. You want to hurt Shops, take out Gush. Done, you hurt blue you hurt Shops.

But that's enough on that for now, let's not turn this into a restriction discussion.

Not responsive to Soly, but in the spirit of candor and un-sober reflection he audaciously manifests:

The Old School event was unbelievably amazing, and undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend for me. The location was sick AF. The drinks and food kicked ass, and the format rules.

That said, my first love, and main love, will always be Vintage. But this was undoubtedly the least fun Vintage Championship I've ever played in. Which is crazy because the deck I played is possibly in my top 3-4 favorite Vintage decks I've ever played.

Why did I not enjoy the tournament? Was it my record? No. I've done worse and had much more fun. It's because in a 9 round tournament I played Workshops/Eldrazi 8 times. Specifically, I faced 6 Workshop decks, 1 Jaco Drazi (which had Chalice in two games), 1 White Eldrazi, and 1 Jeskai Mentor.

Yes, I literally played against 1 blue deck/8 Thorn decks in a 9 round tournament.

I've been an ardent Workshop supporter for years. I was one of the first people to ever play a workshop deck in a major tournament, to win power with Shops in Type 1, and to defend Shops from calls for restriction almost as soon as Shops started performing well. I've also been out there, front and center, defending Shops from critics for years since.

But, I have to say, I think I've reached my limit. Deep down I believe that Shops is still the best deck in the format. Its why Rich Shay and Hiromichi played it. It's why it almost (and some say should have) won this event. Last year, all the best blue pilots who switched to Shops won (Demars, Shay, Hiromichi, and Mastriano).

We've restricted Golem and Chalice, and Shops are still the best deck. The problem isn't just Workshop. It's the fact that Wizards continues to print insane new cards. This year we got Vehicles and Eldrazi. Last year Hangerback. There is no end in sight.

None of the interesting cards from recent sets, like Leovold, make a damn bit of a difference in an environment in which Shops are just the best.

Maybe I'm just frustrated from playing 8 prison decks in 9 rounds. Maybe I'll feel different in a week or a few days. But I think there is something deeper. The main reason I'm upset Shops didn't win is because people will think the colorless decks arent a problem. The Top 8 suggests otherwise. 4 TKS decks in the Top 8 is the the same we saw from Lodestone Golem, a card that is now restricted.

I'm not sure what to do, but the restriction of Ancient Tomb seems increasingly attractive to me. In the coverage, Brass man said that it was the best unrestricted card in the format, which Randy laughed at. But by the end of the weekend, no one was laughing. Shops won almost all of the major tournaments this year except this one.

After this event, nothing will probably happen to the B&R list. But I feel like it's a prison/Eldrazi format. We're just living in it. It may be fair. But it's not very fun.


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@socialite said:

More salt than the Dead Sea, I commend you.

Less salt than an empty shaker. Soly has a reputation for vast salt flats. He's admitted it in posts. But when you talk to the guy in a real conversation he is just basic and straightforward. He likes to talk about the game of magic and despite his colorful and sometimes abusive language on this site, he DOES have more of a clue than most players.

He is not complaining about anything here (except gush, and that is hardly a salty comment). He's making some observations on some big issues that came from this year's champs - issues we should all be concerned with. I watched the video of Dobbin's misplay. My first reaction was, "wow, that was a stupid misplay.' Then I thought about it and figured he must be trying to cheat a card. Then I looked at the board state and cards involved and realized there's no way he'd cheat that situation. Play land, moat - coast to victory while your opponent sits twiddling his non-flying thumbs every round. Cheating just doesn't make sense.

As for the eventual winner, I've heard enough comments about it from people whom I know and respect to at least doubt this guy was on the up and up all done. Sure, any given game he may have been cheating or may have been clean. But on the whole on the day it just doesn't seem to add up that he's on a level playing field.

@Khahan Did you just call me a Basic Bitch?!

LOL jk. moving on!

@Smmenen said:

But I feel like it's a prison/Eldrazi format. We're just living in it. It may be fair.

And I want to echo this sentiment. I dont agree with all of what smemmen is saying. But I do feel a format with 3 very viable prison archetypes is a VERY unfun format. I have no problem with shops. I have no problem with eldrazi. I have no problem with hatebears. I DO have a problem with shops/eldrazi/hatebears all in a format.

@desolutionist Concerning the landstill player: there is more than what Soly wrote here. Some of it I witnessed firsthand while some I heard secondhand or can be seen on the twitch coverage. I am being very careful to have it well documented before sending it to anyone.

@Smmenen funny I never saw a single Shops list in my 9 rounds. Could be the losing bracket I was in, but I faced Eldrazi 3 times. Two Jaco and one White Eldrazi. The rest were one Dredge deck, Mentor decks, one landstill, and one dredge. I think it just depends on the luck of a draw a bit (no pun intended).

I don't see what's wrong with that. Not trying to be argumentative. I'm not surprised by the representative of Jaco Eldrazi because it's a cheap deck. A very, very good cheap deck.

I think that's important to the health of the format. It's needed. It brings people into the format and allows it to grow in ways never thought possible. If you hit Ancient Tomb you kill that deck. I don't think that's a good idea.

A new card of Grafdigger's Cage-accessibility preventing all mana taxing would be a nice shakeup.

Regarding holding Old School on the day before Vintage Champs, there is not a lot of crossover from the people who wanted to play in the Vintage Prelim and those who played Old School, from those I spoke to. A surprising number of the people who played in the Old School tournament told me they came to Eternal Weekend specifically for Old School, which is pretty astonishing - and this happened last year as well. Just as in the past 2 years, most of the players I talked to said or wrote to me that the Old School tournament was the most fun they've had playing Magic in years. And I don't even know what the hell I'm doing as a tournament organizer (yet).

The vast majority of Vintage players I talked to last year who played in the Vintage Prelim event the day before Vintage said it was a mistake, and they were unlikely to do so again in the future. Unless Vintage is all you play (or if you very rarely get to play), it is not very enviable to grind through an all day Vintage event for almost no reward on Thursday (or Friday), and then do so again the next day, especially for those who were planning on playing in yet another all day grind (Legacy Champs) the very next day bright and early. It's simply not worth the mental drain, when the optimal play is to save your energy and focus for the Champs events themselves, and spend the rest of the weekend enjoying free time and food with friends. Long travel times compound this problem. This is symptomatic of many all weekend events, and you can see this in the past when Waterbury has had like 120+ on Day 1, and then under 20 on Day 2.

The other reason that the Vintage Prelim tournament attendance was down quite a bit from last year is because it was on a Thursday, and many people were not willing to take yet another midweek day off of work to travel on Wednesday night (or early Thursday morning) to play in what is essentially a very long side event for little reward. The reason that people are willing to come in early for Old School is because it's totally unique, and the casual atmosphere, imbibing, and fun that they have is often more rewarding than the rest of the weekend. I suspect that if the weekend schedule was changed to being something like Friday (prelim events)/Saturday (Legacy Champs)/Sunday (Vintage Champs), there would be more participation again next year, even in Columbus.

@Smmenen I think there were only three decks with play sets of Thought-Knot Seer, and only one of those was a Workshop decks. Ito's car shops did not play Eldrazi and Kory's deck was a Stax list. I understand what you mean though, although I'm not sure what could be done to fix it and if it even constitutes a problem. This could be my own personal bias from playing decks that typically beat all those I just listed though. If I wasn't playing Oath of Druids all the time I might feel the pressure of those decks more.

@desolutionist To put a finer point on this. ...

It's true that the odds of any single player drawing lotus consistently, every game, are small. But the chances of someone drawing well out of a pool of dozens is quite likely, and the one who does will probably do well. That's why drawing v well alone is not evidence of cheating.

Consider the lottery. The chances of any one person winning the lottery are small, too. But, when someone wins, we don't immediately suspect they cheated. We understand that it is perfectly likely that someone wins, given millions of players.

Bent cards and weird shuffles are a different story. The lesson here? Shuffle your opponents deck, kids.

Just as an aside, I think that we can have two different players of the format (who played pretty similar decks) simultaneously pointing out two very different decks as the boogeymen of the format is probably speaks well of the state of the format. I do think thorn is doing very well right now, but part of the reason for that is the number of decks you can play that card (and some amount of prison in general) is larger than it has been for a long time. There isn't only 1-2 very similar versions of shops, between multiple flavors of eldrazi, and shops from stax to Cars being reasonable, one set of hate isn't enough.

I don't think this is a problem. We don't fault all the decks running Force of Will for being too similar, they are different decks, oath, gush aggro, and paradoxical storm are all VERY different, but can run force to contend with the brokeness of the format. I think the thorn decks are doing the same thing.

Is gush too good? It is unclear, but I do think people are getting tired of the card. It seemed evident to me that gush feels the same in all the decks that play it, and it has been around for what feels like forever. I think restricting it would make gifts/outcome/thirst decks seem way more viable, and not just be the decks people play to avoid playing the gush deck that EVERYONE has been playing for a long time. All that aside, I think the format is fine, and probably still unexplored, as usual, I would call for no changes (unless they involved giving back some cards that I personally really like, that are probably not good for the format as a whole. Dig through time, i miss you!)

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