Before the 12th and final Swiss round of the Magic: The Gathering Grand Finals 2020, Emma Handy had to win her next match against Ken Yukuhiro. Sitting at a 7-4 record, a win would put her in the top eight. Not only would this be her first best Magic Esports finish, but she knew respect was on the line. Handy is a member of the Rivals League, a writer for Star City Games and Magic caster. There is no doubt about his knowledge or skill at the game, but there is a part of the results-oriented fans who won’t care about his qualifications without the best finishes to his name. “Just being able to have that kind of finish is the kind of thing that makes people give your opinions more validity and it doesn’t matter if I play well or play badly in a game,” Handy said. “C ‘is something that I wish it was different in the Magic community as there are a lot of people that I have seen that don’t have the best finishes but are actually amazing at the game as I have played it. 2-0 and won his first place in the biggest event of the year so far. Looking back at the tournament, Handy was one of the most memorable players in the 2020 Grand Final to have faced head-on the Omnath menace, Locus of Creation. The list of Gruul adventures that Handy and his team have now banned from Omnath decks. The strategy leveraged the inherent value of adventure creatures with a few clutch inclusions developed in the lab The international team with which Han dy worked was full of big hitters. Including the top eight finishers Autumn Burchett, Luis Salvatto and Piotr Glogowski. The team was represented in the United States, Poland, the United Kingdom and Argentina. Magic is individual esports and success and failure boil down to individual performance. But having a group of top players to test the effectiveness of decks is an integral part of tournament preparation. Handy weighed all the options, but was drawn to the Gruul Adventures strategy which worked well against Omnath Adventures in smaller tournaments. These eye-catching results inspired Handy to see if this was the real deal. Long days and constant refinement was how Handy prepared Gruul Adventures for prime time. After all, just because the deck performed well at a lower level doesn’t make it viable to copy and paste the roster for the biggest tournament of the year. Handy spent time grinding games and determine which cards are actually good in the deck. While it sounds simple, Handy explained that the process is much more involved than looking at stats and mana costs. “Let’s say you have a good card in your hand,” Handy said. “Is it difficult for me to make a good card?” Should I navigate where it’s a good map? If I have to navigate, what is its quality? Is it worth all of that effort to make it good? If not, this is the kind of card I’m less interested in playing. Handy didn’t see any value in Questing Beast, which is typically used in lower level rosters. The traditionally powerful card was not suitable for the 2020 Grand Final tournament metagame, as it traded unfavorably with Omnath and did not significantly affect the board. Another calculation was the de-emphasis on the adventure side of the bridge. While Handy took advantage of the adventure creatures, she stayed away from cards like Rimrock Knight.A strong inclusion in the deck was Brushfire Elemental, which has proven to be one of the most valuable cards in the decklist. Aside from being a powerful attacker and quest pseudo-beast when attacking, it also justified playing Embercleave because Fabled Passage and Evolving Wilds had value outside of mana fixation. Handy said playing Arena is more about developing a sense of what works, not winning or losing. It is not necessarily the game she is playing, but the situations and interactions between the cards that appear in a given game. In general, these interactions will be similar in Arena as in the tournament game. “It’s so difficult outside of playing tests with other people to really gauge how good your opponent is and what you can expect. I have found it more helpful to try to be introspective about how I felt during the games and how I rate, ”Handy said. All of this isn’t to say that Handy was fully convinced of the power of Gruul Adventure. The decision to save the deck came at the last minute, a practice apparently common among high-level Magic players before big tournaments. “It got me going down the rabbit hole a bit and tuning the deck in a big way for the next couple. of hours. Sleep four or five hours, wake up an hour and a half before submitting the deck with input from teammates. Then I changed the game up a bit based on those and said, ‘OK I think I got something real. I submit this. You do not have to. I can’t say I’m confident, but I think I’ll get more match wins with this deck. Handy said. Burchett and Savatto both ended up submitting the game. The decision to play Gruul Adventures in one hour zero paid off for the seasoned aggro player. The Rival’s League competitor showed her thoughtful play and killer instinct on her way to her first victory and an 8-4 record in two days of Swiss competition. Burchett also placed in the top eight with Gruul Adventures and they were unbeaten from day one. While other players remain relatively stoic during the game, Handy instead finds that swaying to the sound of music helps him concentrate. While the Magic competition will be held online for the foreseeable future, Handy said that this has prompted her to explore methods to help her focus better. I’m just trying to consume as much information as possible. I will also have music in the background. I obviously can’t have a stream or anything like that while I’m playing, but I can definitely listen to music, ”Handy said. As for what Handy listens to, it’s an eclectic mix of music. The first two days were loaded with Handy’s drums on Bullet for my Valentine’s “Waking the Demon”. When Handy isn’t playing the drums, she hammers on her own drums. She added some A $ AP Rocky and “Defying Gravity” from the Wicked soundtrack for good measure. She pulled out her Halsey playlist for the top eight, with the top eight made up of several test teams who managed to get duos into the top eight. Raphael Levy and Gabriel Nassif placed in the top eight after being tested together. Aaron Gertler and Austin Bursavich were teammates who ended up battling in the final. Although Magic tournaments are individual groups, it is always helpful to have a teammate on the court. Handy and Burchett both discussed the game against common opponent Seth Manfield, who teamed differently against each of them. “A lot of times every time one of us is successful at an event, we’ll talk to each other anyway. We were just really close even before this event. We worked together for a year or more, ”Handy said. The job isn’t done for Handy following her top-eight appearance in the 2020 Grand Final. She will dive into Rivals League play this weekend with the start of the Zendikar Rising split. Catch Handy, and all Rivals League competitors, during monthly League Weekends on Magic Esports’ Twitch channel.