Q&A: Lucien Longlais-GP Richmond (Legacy) Finalist, Silver Pro

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend and had a chance to either play Magic or watch some of the wonderful events that were taking place. If you did watch some live coverage I hope that you got to watch the Legacy action taking place at Grand Prix Richmond. There were a lot of great decks being played by a lot of really great players. After the Grand Prix we had the opportunity to get to know Lucien Longlais. Lucien put forth a phenomenal showing in the Legacy event and finished 2nd place piloting his Lands deck and earning himself Silver Pro status. Below we’ve compiled a Q&A with Lucien that really lets us get a feel for the journey it takes to make it into the Pro scene.

Name: Lucien Longlais 

Age: 34

From: Columbus GA

2nd Place – GP Richmond 2018

How did you get into Magic?

I started playing Magic in 1995, during 4th Edition.  A few kids had brought Magic cards to school and I immediately fell in love with it.  We would play in between classes with whatever cards we had, often 5 color decks with 20 basic lands.

Have you always wanted to be a professional Magic player?

I never set out to be a “Pro Player”.  I have always just loved to play the game, and I am very competitive.  When I first started attending sanctioned tournaments in 1997 I had no idea what I was doing, and lost very handily to much better players piloting much better decks.  Those brutal losses ignited the competitive fire.  I began to grind against the better players, losing all the time, in order to learn about the game and improve.  As time went on I started winning more and more, until it got to the point that I was barely losing.

I lived in Northern Maine at the time, and the closest Grand Prix were upwards of a fourteen hour drive.  I was a student and didn’t have a way to attend the larger events like that, but I played in States and Regionals for my area, and other larger local tournaments.  In the early 2000’s my ELO rating (the predecessor to Planeswalker Points) had gotten high enough to qualify me for the Pro Tour.  I didn’t attend that event because of the cost associated with travel, and the focus on school work.  Then I qualified for PT Honolulu (2006) and that was too good to pass up.  Thankfully, I had a family member that supported me and paid for my trip so I could attend.

PT Honolulu was an amazing event in an amazing location.  It was the site of Craig Jones’ Lightning Helix top deck, look up the video if you haven’t seen it!  I went 4-4 and did not make day two.  I enjoyed the event and was happy with my play.  Not too long after the event, I took a job out of state, sold off my physical collection, and moved to Georgia.  I never really quit Magic.  I still played casually online, but didn’t keep any physical cards around.  Years later, in 2015, I started playing locally again.  A larger group of friends had decided to make a trek to a few Grand Prix that were relatively close by that year and had invited me to come along.  I put up respectable records but didn’t cash any of the events.  At that point I went back to focusing on work and didn’t really consider going to any other premier events until Grand Prix Atlanta 2017.

I live about an hour away from Atlanta and some friends were going so I went as well.  I posted an 11-4 finish, which was just outside the money on tie breaks.  I enjoyed playing, and decided to attend Grand Prix Oklahoma City at the end of 2017.  I posted a 12-3 finish, good for Top 32 and some prize money.  That result reignited the competitive fire.  The next three events I played in were a 2nd Place at a PPTQ, 1st Place at a PPTQ, and then I won a Magic Online PTQ to qualify for Pro Tour Richmond (2018).  I went on to have poor finishes in the next 4 Grand Prix I played in before stringing together three 11-4, and then the Top 8 at Grand Prix Richmond which qualifies me for the next two Pro Tours.

How has Magic influenced your life?

Now that’s a question!  Everything in my life is tied into Magic in some way.  My friends I met through Magic, my vacations are planned to coincide with Magic events, my free time is immersed in Magic.  Magic will reach out and touch every aspect of your life, if you let it.

What’s your favorite format?

My enjoyment of a format is directly related to the number of cards permitted in said format.  I like doing powerful and broken things, so here is my list of favorite formats in order:

  1. Vintage
  2. Legacy
  3. Modern
  4. Standard
  5. Limited

While I don’t have the cards to play Vintage in person, I do love to play it online.

How do you prepare for events?

I typically prepare for events on Magic Online.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?), due to work, I did not get to prepare for GP Richmond at all.  I would like to get a few leagues in before a GP, but I rarely get to grind that many events beforehand.  I typically get into Grand Prix event cities the night before the event, and leave as soon as the event is over.  The switch from 9 rounds on day one, to 8 rounds on day one has been absolutely miserable for me because of travel concerns, and a host of other reasons.

What do you do to keep your energy and focus during long Magic Tournaments?

I drink lots of water, eat regularly, and stay away from caffeine.  In between rounds I relax and just try to clear my mind.  Everyone’s body is different, you need to find what works for you.

Why did you choose Lands for GP Richmond?

For quite some time I played Titan Post in Legacy.  It had an amazing Miracles match-up.  However, when Wizards banned Sensei’s Divining Top the metagame share for Miracles dropped dramatically.  When that happened I moved to Infect as my Legacy deck of choice.  Then Wizards banned Gitaxian Probe and Deathrite Shaman.  I thought that this made Infect much worse, but Lands much better.  I liked the game play of Lands, and thought it would be a good call for a field of Delver and Shadow variants.  I also like it against Grixis and Sultai Control, and Death and Taxes.  The decks you do not want to play against are Miracles, Sneak and Show, Storm, and other “unfair” combo decks.  At Grand Prix Richmond I was very lucky and I avoided all the bad match-ups until the finals.

Lands-Lucien Longlais GP Richmond Legacy 2nd Place

Main Deck Sideboard
Sorcery (8)
4 Gamble
4 Life from the Loam

Instant (7)
4 Crop Rotation
3 Punishing Fire

Artifact (4)
4 Mox Diamond

Enchantment (5)
4 Exploration
1 Manabond
Land (36)
1 Barbarian Ring
1 Bojuka Bog
4 Dark Depths
1 Forest
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Glacial Chasm
3 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Karakas
2 Maze of Ith
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Riftstone Portal
4 Rishadan Port
1 Sheltered Thicket
2 Taiga
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
4 Thespian's Stage
1 Tranquil Thicket
4 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Ancient Tomb
2 Drop of Honey
1 Molten Vortex
2 Tireless Tracker
2 Choke
3 Krosan Grip
4 Sphere of Resistance

How did it feel to make Top 8 at GP Richmond Legacy?

I don’t think expecting any specific level of success in Magic is realistic.  The game has variance, the best players in the world will win barely over two-thirds of their matches.  You just have to show up, play your best, and make the most of the opportunities presented to you.  When I won round 13 to be 12-1, I knew there was a strong possibility I could just double draw into the Top 8.  Even after doing so, it didn’t really register.  Several people had asked me earlier in the weekend what I needed from the event to end the season, and I told them that I needed to make the finals to lock Silver.  I couldn’t imagine actually doing that at the time, and it wasn’t until I won the Semifinals that it sunk in.

I love the legacy format, and I was very happy to be able to drop from the Standard Grand Prix and loan my Standard deck to a friend for the event.

What was going through your mind during the Finals?

I knew the match-up was very bad for me, and I knew it was going to be even worse since I had never actually played the match-up before.  I went in with a very positive attitude because I had just accomplished my goal of making it to the finals and locking Silver.  After I won Game 1, I thought that I had a chance and that I just needed to steal one of the sideboarded games.  Alas, it was not to be.  In hindsight there are a lot of things I would have done differently in the match-up, but I could never be unhappy with the final result of the event.

What was your best Magic moment before GP Richmond?

My best moment before this event was winning the Magic Online PTQ.  I had been playing Mono-Red for some time leading up to the event, but Wizards had just banned Rampaging Ferocidon and Ramunap Ruins.  I thought Ferocidon was the best card in the deck, and wasn’t impressed with the deck without it.  I decided to run Mardu Vehicles on a lark the night before the event, changed a few cards around from a deck list I had seen online, and ran it the next day without having ever played the deck before.  After playing 12 rounds in one day, when I won the finals after losing the first game of the match it was exhilarating.

What was your worst Magic moment?

I lost to a good match-up in Grand Prix Oklahoma City (2017) playing for a chance at Top 8 because I punted two consecutive games.  I had to go find a corner to sit quietly by myself for about 30 minutes to decompress.

Can you talk about the two Pro Tours you’ve participated in?

The first Pro Tour I played in was single format Standard.  I felt very prepared for the event.  I brought a control deck, expecting a field of aggro decks.  I believe something like 65% of the field were playing aggro decks, but I ended up getting paired against aggro zero times and kept getting paired against other control decks, and the decks designed to prey on the control decks.  I felt super unlucky in my match-ups, but I left satisfied I was able to squeak out a 4-4 record.

The second Pro Tour was a mixed format, and I felt good about Standard and Draft.  I went 2-1 in draft losing to a deck that was packed full of bomb rares and I was feeling pretty good heading into Standard.  I was playing mono-green aggro, a deck I had just recently went 7-2 in an Online PTQ with, and had several good leagues with.  Needless to say, it didn’t go well.  I cobbled together a 1-4 Standard record losing two consecutive win-and-in’s for Day 2.  It felt good coming back to Richmond and redeeming myself.

How do you feel about the upcoming Pro Tours?

I’m now qualified for PT Atlanta in Nov 2018, which is Standard and Booster Draft.  I am also qualified for PT Cleveland 2019, which has a format that is yet to be determined.  I’m very excited for the opportunity to continue to play on the Pro Tour, and am anxious to challenge myself to do well at that level of competition.

Can we expect to see you in more upcoming events?

I’m going to take a little time off from travelling, as there are not any Grand Prix nearby.  I do plan to ramp up events towards the end of October this year.  With the way the cycles are now for the Pro Players club, I have a good opportunity to be able to achieve Gold.  I only played in one event in the first cycle of 2017-2018, which means I basically don’t lose anything during the first cycle rotation of the new season.  It’s almost like I have a three month head start on Gold.

What does it mean for you to have gone from Bronze to Silver Pro?

Being Bronze didn’t do anything for me.  I had two byes already from Planeswalker Points, and none of the other benefits really mattered.  Silver was important because it got me an invite to a Pro Tour I would have otherwise not been invited to.  Beyond that invite Silver doesn’t do much either.  The step up between Silver and Gold is huge however.  Gold gets you invites and paid travel to all Pro Tours that you are Gold for, a third bye at Grand Prix, and a bye at Nationals.  My goal is to reach Gold in the next cycle.

Do you have a team?

I am not currently a member of an official team.  For the last Pro Tour I was a member of an unofficial team of other players that were qualified for the event.  I’ve spoken to some people about putting together a team for the Team Series this season, so we will see how that goes.

What advice do you have for players trying to reach the Pro Tour?

If you want to reach the Pro Tour, there is no secret to success.  Play in events that qualify you for the PT, or in the case of the PPTQ system, qualify you for an RPTQ.  If you are good enough you will make it.  It is all a numbers game.  You need to be willing to play in enough events that eventually your skill will line up with you getting very lucky, because you need both skill and a lot of luck to spike an event.

How can our readers reach you?

You can find me on Facebook: Lucien Longlais.

There you have it folks! It was great to get to know Lucien and I look forward to watching him excel in the professional scene. He is a prime example of success through perseverance and love of the game.

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