by Fausto de Souza (with the collaboration of Artur Villela)
Las Vegas – Thiago Saporito almost did not go to GP Las Vegas, bought the ticket just in time, and almost dropped from the GP Sealed because he found his pool of cards to be terrible. He decided to play because he saw no point in giving up even before the first game. But, of course, he signed up for the GP Modern, which would start the next day. To him, the Sealed GP would end shortly after his first loss. The tournament was over and the defeat did not come. By the words of the champion of the GP Sealed last weekend, you can notice that he is a guy who never stops demanding performance of himself. Never satisfied, always seeks to improve. And it was this insistence of the boy who started playing in high school, with his brother, that took him to the top of the podium in the USA. From a “horrible” player, according to himself, to a professional, there were 12 years of frustrations and joys. All provided by this card game that he has already thought about dropping more than once. Check out the chat between Fausto, Tutuzinho (one of the great players we have in Brazil) and Thiago Saporito.
Fausto – Let’s get the story from the beginning … how was the trip? Was it quiet? Were you feeling good, was it the format you wanted, did you want to come to Vegas?
Saporito – I didn’t want to come. I bought the ticket two weeks ago. I wanted to come to Las Vegas and Cleveland (GP that happens on June 23 and 24, team Sealed), but I didn’t set up the team. Then, when I got something more or less like a team, the ticket was already very expensive. So I decided to come to Vegas. I made that decision because I thought: “It’s three GPs. Maybe I’ll go well in one of them”.
The trip was very tiring. I went through a six-hour scale, so it was 19 hours just to get here. And that was on Wednesday, the day before the first GP. Then was that rush to find a Legacy deck, because I don’t own Legacy cards. I posted on Facebook and Twitter that I needed dual lands, and I got the dual that was missing just before the fourth round, just in time. And I didn’t do well in the Legacy, as expected, because I’m horrible in the format, never played it in my life.
I played a [mtg_card]Delver of Secrets[/mtg_card] deck because I thought it would be an easier one to play, but it was not easy at all, I knew I was missing a lot. Legacy is not my thing. Then I went into the sealed, which was where everything went well. I didn’t expect to go well, because sealed has a lot of its pool. If you open a pool that doesn’t look good, you don’t believe in the deck, you think it’s not going well. But everything worked out, and I ended up winning the tournament.
Fausto – Ok, you dropped from Legacy and went to Sealed. Then, opened your pool. What did you see?
Saporito – Oh, I saw a lot of bad cards together and I was totally disappointed. I ran the deck and went to subscribe in the Modern GP because I believed I would drop in the Sealed. Already looking for a borrowed Modern deck. But then I said to myself: “I’ll drop after the first loss, because it doesn’t make sense to give up without losing any game. But then I continued to win, had a draw in the fifth round and won the other four. Then I decided not to play Modern anymore, focusing on the draft. I thought that since I had done a Top 8 in a Sealed GP in Richmond (played on May 7 and 8), I was already getting along with the draft of this series. The problem is that I only knew, and still only know, how to play with three colors in the format, which are black, red and white, the Mardu colors.
Then in the first draft I made a BW, got a [mtg_card]Liliana, Death’s Majesty[/ mtg_card], and my deck got really good. And in the second draft, I got a [mtg_card]Glorybringer[/mtg_card], which charged me a lot. In Top 8 I opened a [mtg_card]Liliana’s Mastery[/mtg_card], and they passed me an [mtg_card]Insult//Injury[/mtg_card], which is one of the strongest reds, and passed me a demon ([mtg_card]Archfiend Of Ifnir[/mtg_card]), which is one of the strongest black rares. Then everything worked out and I managed to win the tournament.
Fausto – There was a moment, there in the Top 8, which is always tense, you’re in front of the camera, did not think it was going to work out, or were you still? How was that moment in the Top 8?
Saporito – Oh, in Top 8 and in Top 4 the games were very quiet, I did not have any difficulty. But in the first game of the final I had a bit of bad luck, because the lands wouldn’t come. It all came in the wrong order and I lost very fast, doing nothing. In the second game I also had problems with lands. I believe that I had three cards costing five in hand and four lands on the table, and it was already turn five or six. I was just trying to hold the game, so I could play the cards. I bought the land, but still the game wasn’t good. Then he made a mistake – I saw it only on the camera, online, later. He skipped a land drop in one of his turns, so he couldn’t activate an artifact, and it was the turn that I was able to turn the game around. I played the rares and he failed to activate the artifact ([mtg_card]Edifice of Authority[/mtg_card]) to prevent my demon from hitting because he was one mana short. Then I did a lot of damage to him, killed the creatures… I won the match there. Game three was very smooth. He didn’t played lands, it was his turn to do nothing, and I won very easily.
Fausto – And from now on, what’s your next goal? Already thought what you’re going to do?
Saporito – I’m going to Kyoto. I wanted to get Platinum again, but I’m far away. I have 43 points and need 52. I don’t know if you know, but I was Platinum for two years in a row, so I wanted to be for the third time. I was very discredited and started the season very badly. Before the Richmond GP, which I did Top 8, I wasn’t even Gold, had 23 points, and 2 Pro Tours were missing. I already thought I would be lucky if I got Gold because they are 35 points. So I did Top 8 in the GP and 10-6 in the Pro Tour (Nashville), which guaranteed me the Gold. In GP Santiago (Standard, on May 20 and 21) I made 12-3, which gave me three more Pro Points, and then I won here, which guaranteed me eight points. I have 43 in total. So I need to win the Kyoto GP (Sealed, July 21-23) or do 10-5 on the Pro Tour Kyoto (July 28-30), which would guarantee me the Platinum, which is what I want to happen.
Villela – You talked about getting Platinum, which I think is a lot less distant than you make it seem, considering how much you play, but let’s just imagine, well, things did not work out and you wouldn’t get Platinum. What does Thiago expect for a Gold year?
Saporito – Even without Platinum, I’m going to end up traveling to random GPs, like this one in Las Vegas. I usually only travel to pre-ProTour GPs so, even though I’m Gold, they cover the flight costs. Then I can play the GP and the Pro tour, no problem. I will continue to play GPs in the US, especially if there are two together. I like to travel to play two or three, as I have already done this year. So it’s keep playing to get Gold, Platinum, and a World Cup spot. Because my dream is to do great at a World Championship, which I played twice and didn’t get to the Top 4. I was eighth and ninth, which was not what I expected… But that’s it, even if I do not get the Platinum, I will continue to play, to be dedicated.
Fausto – Would you like to leave a final message to those who are reading? For those who are starting, who want to evolve their game, and who knows, to play a PPTQ, to begin joining the professional circuit. What’s needed for this?
Saporito – It’s kind of ironic, because I always say I’m going to give up, stop playing, but I always keep playing. If you dedicate yourself, prepare yourself, at some point you’re going to win. Even if it’s your first Friday (Friday Night Magic), your first PPTQ. So it’s all a matter of time, really. Always do your best. Even if you’re losing, do not give up, because at any the victories might come.
Villela – Tell us how long you’ve played Magic, how long it took for you to get your first good score, a little bit of your story in the game.
Saporito – I started playing with my brother at school in 2005, 2006, and we were pretty bad. In 2006, I played my first National. It was an accomplishment for me, but nothing more, because I was very bad. Then in 2008… because in 2006 and 2007 I did nothing else, I would just lose. In 2008 I went to play my first GP in Buenos Aires, and I ended up getting in the top 16. At the time, they only gave the spot, not the flying ticket, but I went to my first PT in 2008, and I wasn’t good. Didn’t even got into Day 2… I did not dedicate myself. I don’t know, I was not very good either. Then, in 2010, I returned to play a PT, in fact, two, and then I was only losing for a long time. Until, in 2014, I managed to win a PTQ, which gave me a spot at PT Honolulu, where I stayed in fourth place, and this allowed me to go to several GPs. So, I play all the Pro Tours from 2014 to here, got the Platinum for two years, and now I’m trying the third. But I started way down below, very bad. I’ve been playing for a long time to get to where I am now, after 12 years, I am a professional who lives from Magic.