Pestering My Way Up – A Fun Route to a PTQ Top 8 – By Gabe Dion

So, about 2 weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what I should be playing in the Saint John PTQ. I was confused. Too many good decks to choose from and so many options. So, I did what I do in case of emergency. I sent a plea for help to my good friend Daniel Fournier in Toronto. Only a simple message: “Deck Me!”. He knew what was up.

He sent me this simple answer:

Tempo Twins


4 Scalding Tarn
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Steam Vents
1 Stomping Ground
6 Island
1 Mountain
1 Desolated Lighthouse
3 Sulfur Falls


3 Snapcaster Mage
2 Grim Lavamancer
4 Pestermite
2 Vendilion Clique
2 Deceiver Exarch

Other Spells(24)

4 Splinter Twin
2 Cryptic Command
2 Electrolyze
4 Remand
1 Dispel
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Flame Slash
4 Serum Vision
2 Spreading Seas


3 Blood Moon
2 Engineered Explosive
1 Shatterstorm
2 Dispel
1 Counterflux
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Keranos, God of Storm
2 Relic of Progenitus

Being trustful in Dan’s list, I sleeved it up, did a Daily Event on MTGO with it the day before the PTQ and kept telling myself: “YOLO!”

Round 1: Brett O’Donnell playing G/R Tron

Brett is a regular in the Halifax metagame. I knew right from the start that he was on Tron. I’m more of a wild card for him. In the last months, I’ve been on Melira Pod, Kiki Pod, Esper Control, Scapeshift and Twins (Turbo and Tempo).

Game 1: A timely cast Spreading Seas and a countered Expedition Map were all it took to negate his plans. Unable to assemble Tron, a Deceiver Exarch and his friendly twins were enough to move quickly to game 2.

Out: 2 Electrolyze, 2 Grim Lavamancer, 1 Flame Slash, 1 Dispel

In: 2 Blood Moon, 2 Ancient Grudge, 2 Keranos, God of Storms

Game 2: This was the worst hand I ever kept. 5 Lands, Snapcaster Mage, Keranos. I drew fuels to do EOT Pestermite into Turn 4 Splinter Twin. Brett extended the hand and I was walking away with a round 1 win. Being aware that Brett is a good pilot with Tron, this first win would be beneficial for my tiebreakers all day.

1-0 [2-0]

Round 2: Jim Langmaid playing G/W Hate Bears

Jim is a good friend of mine and I do believe my lifetime record against him (mixed format) is in the 1-X bracket. I have simply no idea what I am up against in this round. I kept an average hand, but I lack removals/direct damage spells (aka Bolt/Electrolyze). Game 1 was a slaughter. I haven’t had my butt handed to me in such an elegant way since my first days of playing Magic. Jim knew the Modus Operandi of his deck more than anyone else playing it in the room. I scooped my cards up to get ready for game 2.

Out: 2 Spreading Seas

In: 2 Engineered Explosives

Game 2 felt like a plain repeat of the first game. Jim knew this match up on the tip of his fingers. I felt like I gave him more trouble than game 1, but I could be wrong. I sign the match slip and we leave for a chat laughing. The good thing about losing against your friends is that you can laugh about it later.

1-1 [2-2]

Round 3: Jeff Fretz playing 8-Racks

I noticed Jeff next to me in Round 1, so I was aware that he was on 8-Racks. I doubt he was knowledgeable of my deck choice until the curb stomping began.

Game 1: He slams a Shrieking Affliction quite early in the game, and start using Raven’s Crime. My hand allows me to pitch extra lands while I slowly sculpt my hand into an end of turn Pestermite into twin with Dispel back up. My opponent then confirms my thoughts. He was convinced I was on a Delver based deck.

Out: 1 Flame Slash, 2 Spreading Seas

In: 2 Engineered Explosives, 2 Keranos, God of Storm

Game 2: My opponent stripped my hand apart in quick fashion. So, I had to switch to the most classical ways of winning a match: the infamous “Top Deck” mode. Again, Dan Fournier’s list proved itself in my eyes. Threats. Threats everywhere! I started to apply more and more pressure on my opponent. Doug was saying on the way to Saint John: “The best resource a Twin player has is his life total”. That statement has never been more true.

2-1 [4-2]

Round 4: Doug Maguire playing Twins

Saturday, when the tournament began, I foresaw Doug as the Gatekeeper. If I really wanted to go to Hawaii, I needed to crush him. For those unaware, Doug went twice to the Pro Tour (Dragon Maze and Gatecrash) Game 1: I’m on the play with a fairly aggressive hand. Bolts and Pestermites did most of the work. The mirror often comes down to “Who has the biggest balls”.

Out: 2 Spreading Seas, 1 Splinter Twin, and 2 Grim Lavamancer

In: 2 Keranos, 2 Dispel, 1 Counterflux

Game 2: My hand was alright, but Doug had the god hand. T2 Spellskite, T3 Pestermite, T4 Twin. Move to Game 3! No changes in the sideboard.

Game 3: We both mulled to 6 and we both kept a 1 land hand. The main difference was that I started to draw into Pestermites (3 in a row as a matter of fact) and Doug kept drawing lands. Doug is a really good player and with this win my confidence level was at its highest.

3-1 [6-3]

Round 5: Austin Estey playing UWR Control

Over the past 6 months, I’ve played against a lot of control decks. Richmond had a fair quantity of it as well as Minneapolis.

Game 1: Being on the play (again!) helps a lot. Lightning Bolts are my best weapons against him, so I need to maximize their value. This is a grindy match up so I need to play tight. He then decides to be the aggressor and start beating me with Celestial Colonnades. This is not going to end well. The standard strategy won’t work. Time to switch gears. He’s at 10 life, I’m standing at a lowly 5 and he can activate 2 colonnades next turn. I bolt him. Cast Splinter Twin targeting Snapcaster Mage, copy it, Bolt him again and swing for 4. He didn’t have any counter magic or removal.

Out: 1 Flame Slash, 2 Electrolyze, 2 Spreading Seas

In: 3 Blood Moon, 2 Keranos, and 1 Counterflux

Game 2: I mull down to 5 after 2 disappointing hands. I also hate going down to 4. So I keep a passable 5 being on the draw. He tries to land a Turn 3 Geist of Saint Traft that got Remanded (aka Time Walk). This was the turning point of the game. I landed a Blood Moon while his 3 shock lands were tapped while I’m sitting on 2 Islands and a Sulfur Falls into the combo kill in the upcoming turns.


Round 6: Braxton Churchill playing Scapeshift

Josh Breau made a lot of waves with his deck in the Maritimes, and lots of people picked it up hoping to do as well. I remembered my opponent talking outside to us about how happy he was that he was that far with a deck he never played before. Having toyed with this archetype once or twice in smaller tournaments, I felt like I had an edge against him.

Game 1: The game is a bit blurry in my mind. I remember it being a match where I played around every Counterspell I thought he might have. Suited up a Pestermite for the win.

Out: 2 Electrolyze, 2 Spreading Seas, 1 Flame Slash

In: 3 Blood Moon, 2 Dispel

Game 2: I think this is where everything went wrong, for my opponent. Missing multiple Search for Tomorrow triggers, trading Sakura Tribe Elder for an Ambush Viper (Snapcaster Mage) early and waiting until late in the game to try for Scapeshift (that got answered thru Cryptic Command with Dispel back up) I applied pressure with a single Deceiver Exarch. Once my opponent tapped out, I simply suited him up.

5-1 [10-3]

Round 7: Galone on Jund

Quickly ID into Top 8 and allowed us to grab some food.

5-1-1 [10-3-2]

Top 8: Galone Seto playing Jund

Jund is my worst match up in all formats. No matter what deck I play, it seems like I got a bad luck spell on me every time I face this specific archetype

Game 1: I kept a good 7, but Galone quickly destroyed my hopes away with targeted discard and a big ol’ Goyf. His Dark Confidant was dwindling his life total down to lightning bolt range but I was not able to find one on time and lost soon after.

Out: 2 Electrolyze

In: 2 Engineered Explosive.

Game 2: After a mull to 6, Galone stuck to his battle plan. He easily crushed me. This was the end for me.

6-2-1 [10-5-2]

Overall, I was pretty happy with the tournament. John Goud is known to run tight events. Josh Mullins also had tons of funny American stories. God bless Tennessee.


– Funny car mates

– Great tournament

– Good friends

– Good laughs

– Mike Sheng picking up smoking again [Editor’s Note: Way to go Mike!…]

– John Goud impeccable hair

– Dan Fournier’s awesome list


– Bob’s Corner being closed and missing out on burgers

I’d like to thanks the guys for supporting me through this adventure, Sandy from Game Zilla for hosting this tournament and the community for being so awesome.

Thanks! -Gabe




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