Third Place in the Magic Online World Championships!
My name is Logan Nettles but perhaps you know me as Jaberwocki on Magic Online. I've played the game of Magic for quite a few years but only recently has it become a serious hobby. However now that I've had a taste of the Pro Tour I'm hungry to qualify for everything I can.
Way back in January I set my sights on qualifying for the Magic Online Championship Series in order to get my share of the ridiculous $100000 prize pool that Wizards decided to give away for it. I qualified for almost all of the monthly tournaments but constantly came up short of winning them. However on my second-to-last chance I finally achieved my goal and was able to win the Standard MOCS tournament on September 25th qualifying for both Worlds and the Magic Online World Champs using a pretty standard Jund list. It was awesome! I guess Jund just gets there sometimes.
Now that I had qualified I needed to figure out what I was doing as I play Limited day in and day out and don't even really touch Constructed. Amazingly my cousin and fellow MTGO master Reid Duke (reiderrabbit on MTGO) had also qualified for the MOCS and would be one of the eleven competing with me in Japan. We decided to help each other all we could so that we were both ready for the tournament and immediately began preparing to crush the event. He'd been a Constructed guru since age six and I'd been a dedicated Limited grinder so together that made us sick collaborators. After weeks of testing on MTGO Reid flew out from New York to California and we began cracking down about a week before Worlds.
We had toyed with a lot of the popular decks in Standard online and felt that Extended is what needed most of our focus. Most of the work in Standard is done by other people winning tournaments and decks cycling in and out of tier 1. We looked to Pro Tour: Amsterdam while keeping in mind that format-defining cards like Punishing Fire and Tarmogoyf were no longer in the fray. After testing a bunch we decided that the White Weenie deck piloted by Paul Reitzl and Kai Budde really didn't lose anything except for Flagstones of Trokair and Mana Tithe which were both pretty negligible.
However we felt that Ethersworn Canonist was quite weak and can sometimes hinder your own plays. By replacing it with War Priest of Thune we could blow out turn 2 Bitterblossoms and Pyromancer Ascensions which were sure to be popular decks. The War Priests are also very effective in the mirror match for Honor of the Pures and can bust up Prismatic Omen as well (which we weren't sure would make a strong showing or not).
After doing well against Faeries and Pyromancer and absolutely crushing Jund and RDW we were feeling very good about our White Weenie list. We set it aside for a while and started working on Standard and then we were off to Japan. Here's the White Weenie list that I decided to play:
- 4 Figure of Destiny
- 4 Knight of the White Orchid
- 2 Kor Firewalker
- 2 Ranger of Eos
- 4 Steppe Lynx
- 4 Student of Warfare
- 4 War Priest of Thune
The first day of the Magic Online World Champs was to be Extended the second day Masters Edition IV Draft and the third day was Standard. The field included Brad Nelson Carlos Romao Akira Asahara my cousin Reid myself and a bunch of other MTGO sickos that you probably recognize if you're a MTGO grinder.
Round 1 vs. reiderrabbit (White Weenie): Win 2-1
The White Weenie mirror is pretty uninteresting. It's probably at least 70% in favor of the player on the play as it's all about beating down and not caring about what your opponent does. Once you attack two or three times you just play a Spectral Procession with Honor of the Pure or use Brave the Elements as Falter and the game is over. In game 1 Reid had the play and beat me with his Falter game 2 I returned the favor and game 3 he had a creature-light hand while I curved out sick with Steppe Lynx fetch Honor of the Pure and Spectral Procession.
Round 2 vs. Archer.(Polymorph): Lose 1-2
From the replays I saw that Akira was running some crazy Polymorph deck with Bitterblossoms Mutavaults and Cryptic Commands — giving it a pretty gross upgrade from the garbage tier 2 Polymorph deck that used to be in Standard.
I knew game 1 was going to be rough as I only had one Path to answer his Polymorph and if I could not kill him real fast I was done to an Emrakul the Aeons Torn. Fortunately I had a God draw in game 1 with turn 1 Steppe Lynx and was able to beat him down before he got his Polymorph off.
Nevertheless this matchup seems pretty close. Game 1 we are very low on Paths and they can easily stick an Emrakul but they are pretty light on removal and a fast draw can take them out. Games 2 and 3 they board in lots of removal and Infest is just a blow-out against our deck — but with more Paths to counter their Polymorphs we can really swing the game in our favor when they go for the Polymorph we Path their target and swing back for a massive beating.
Brave the Elements is pretty weak in the matchup because it doesn't save your men from Infest and can really only be used to counter a Smother or Disfigure. They will often just use these on their main phase when you are tapped out anyways and usually tapping out for a better creature is just as good as saving the one you have in play.
Canonist is good because it takes away Polymorph + Mana Leak and is better than Ranger of Eos because he is just too slow. Lapse of Certainty is awesome against Cryptic Command when they try to tap down your team and obviously another way to deal with Polymorph.
Round 3 vs. Millennium9999 (Jund): Win 2-0
Millennium9999 is a real good online player but when I saw he was playing Jund I was very relieved. I feel like this matchup is almost a bye as long as you don't have too many mulligans.
In Game 1 he managed to get out two Putrid Leeches which are great blockers for WW's threats but he opted to beat down with them as 4/4s. This isn't a great way to play the matchup because WW is so fast that Jund really just needs to stabilize until their threats outclass WW. He took a bunch of life drain from the Leeches and I was able to finish him off with Brave the Elements.
Game 2 was similar but he was more on the defensive this time around. His sideboard was clearly not set up for this matchup as Great Sable Stag showed its face not only in game 1 but also in game 2. I was able to take advantage of this and win pretty easily.
Celestial Purge is more effective than Path here because you don't want to be giving them extra lands. It might be correct to bring in the other two Paths but I didn't want too much removal because the main objective is to beat them down and not worry so much about their guys.
Round 4 vs. Jabs (Faeries): Win 2-0
Carlos Romao was running a build of Faeries I hadn't really seen before with three maindecked Jace Belerens. While Faeries is a pretty close matchup I feel like our War Priests of Thunes can really blow them out and a build with Jace Beleren is great for us because we are just beating down while they tap out to play it.
In game 1 he ran out Jace Beleren and was too slow for my quick beats. Game 2 he told me he misclicked through a turn where he could have killed one of my guys with Peppersmoke and then he ended up cycling it on a later turn. The game went pretty long but eventually he tapped six for Wurmcoil Engine which met Path to Exile and he scooped. Paths are great for this matchup because of Scion of Oona and Mistbind Clique and are especially good if they are running cards like Wurmcoil Engine.
I feel like Ranger of Eos is bad in this matchup because if the game gets to the point where you need to play him the Faeries player probably already has you locked down. People playing Faeries love it if they have the chance to counter a Ranger and Cryptic Commands deal with the extra threats they provide with no problem at all.
The best way to win this matchup is quickly before the Faeries player can start drawing extra cards and increase their board position. Not surprisingly trying to win as quickly as possible is often the best plan with White Weenie and Ranger doesn't contribute to this.
So with that I had finished Day 1 at 3-1 and was feeling great about my Extended choice. I felt like I made a few mistakes in the match against Asahara — but aside from that if you discount my mirror match against Reid I was 4-0 in games. Reid had similar success and although he lost to a W/U deck with Baneslayer Angel and Kitchen Finks he was also able to 4-0 his other games against RDW and Pyromancer Ascension getting his opponent hard with War Priest of Thune.
We were both pleased with our decision in Extended going a combined 4-2 against opponents outside of the family. Unfortunately it wasn't such a great choice for the metagame at Worlds as lots of players played Four-Color Control and W/G Summoning Trap decks both of which are pretty rough matchups. I went 3-3 in the main event beating W/G trap once Naya Zoo and Jund while losing to U/W R/G Scapeshift and W/G Trap once. While I was pleased with this deck for the MOCS I wouldn't recommend it for the upcoming PTQ season as the W/G Trap decks seem like they are pretty popular and are just a nightmare with their turbo Baneslayer Angels and Iona Shield of Emerias. Also Four-Color Control is full of board sweepers and some of the other control matchups are not the greatest.
That said it absolutely destroys RDW and Jund so go for it by all means if you want to annoy the hell out of those players.
The Masters Edition IV draft was a lot of fun but unfortunately I only managed a 1-2 record. I had a great R/G beatdown deck but made the mistake of valuing artifact removal too high. While there are good artifacts and artifact removal is certainly playable the artifacts and the artifact removal are not as dominant as I thought they would be from reading the spoiler. You can find my decklist here as well as my final game against Asahara that dropped me to 1-2.
(The game starts at 4:15.)
At this point Akira had a pretty big lead on the field with Brad Nelson trailing in second. At 4-3 I was tied for third place at 21 points with a bunch of people just behind at 20 points. This was great for me because I only needed to match their records in Standard in order to finish better than they did. Because I was in this position I really didn't need to go crazy and gamble on a deck that could either turn up 4-0 or 0-4 so I just decided to play a solid deck that would be assured to get some wins no matter what the field was.
This deck happens to be Valakut Ramp. I know Valakut Ramp is very strong and can just auto-win games with some draws so I was expecting at least a 2-2 record. Based on my scouting during the Main Event and my analysis of the other players I decided that nobody in the MOCS was going to turn to aggro. I built my maindeck to have more of an edge against control and a slight edge in the mirror match while taking a heavy hit if there happened to be aggro in the field.
I went with four Summoning Traps and one Acidic Slime in the maindeck with no burn… Which worked out great as my predictions turned out to be right. The field consisted of six Valakuts three U/W two U/B and one B/U/G deck.
Here is the decklist I ended up playing:
Round 1 vs. prolepsis9 (Caw-Go): Lose 1-2
Prolepsis9 had beaten me in the Player of the Year tournament on his way to qualifying so I figured he owed me one and would gladly concede to me. Somehow I was wrong about this.
Games 2 and 3 didn't go so well as I had to mulligan several times and made the terrible mistake of bringing in Back to Natures. For some reason I was convinced before the event that this card was good against U/W because it is able to deal with Luminarch Ascension Leyline of Sanctity and Journey to Nowhere. While it may deal with these things it is certainly not good and had it been the Harrow that I sided out for it I probably would have had a good chance to win either game 2 or 3. Instead it sat in my hand both games doing nothing and I might as well have just mulliganed more instead of bringing it in.
Despite my poor decisions prolepsis9 — or “Bing” as I got to know him — played quite well and was able to cleanly land a Gideon Jura in both game 2 and game 3 in the face of no danger and make short work of me. This was an unfortunate match because I felt like I wasn't even prepared for it and had done a poor job sideboarding.
If I could replay this match I would keep two Harrows in for the two Back to Natures. While Harrow seems bad because of the risk that you lose a land and they counter it it is still fine when you have a lot of mana or if they tap out and can still be used as a finisher with Valakuts or a way to power up Khalni Heart Expedition. It is certainly better than the Back to Natures that sat dead in my hand for both games.
Round 2 vs. 7720 (UB control): Win 2-0
Game 1 I had a great draw on the play and was able to stick a Summoning Trap after he countered my Primeval Titan. Game 2 was even less exciting as he sat on two mana for about five turns and was never able to recover from me playing lands and being able to cast things without fear of Mana Leak.
Despite this match being a breeze I'm really not a fan of this matchup. The Valakut player really has to have a good draw and often needs to have Primeval Titan in addition to Summoning Trap to be successful. Between hand disruption and Counterspells U/B just has too much annoying stuff going on that messes up your game plan and a good player usually finds a spot where they are able to safely slam down a Grave Titan for a two-turn kill.
I'm relieved game 1 went so well and that game 2 went poorly for him because this is certainly my least favorite matchup as Valakut Ramp.
Round 3 vs. millennium9999 (Valakut Ramp): Win 2-1
I had the play in Game 1 and was looking great for a turn 4 Titan after playing a Battlement on turn 2. However my dreams were crushed when he used two Lightning Bolts on the Wall and crushed even more when I whiffed on my sixth land after using a Harrow. My turn 4 Titan had become a turn 6 Titan which was much too slow for millennium9999.
Game 2 went much better for me as I was able to hit a Titan early while his Khalni Expedition + Harrow start was followed by nothing threatening.
I don't remember the specifics of the beginning of Game 3 — but the finish was nothing short of legendary at least from my perspective. He was on the play and we both stumbled a little bit with our ramping each setting up a turn 5 Titan. However I just had to hope for mine as it was in the form of Summoning Trap.
On his turn 5 he untapped and played Primeval Titan setting up a sure kill on his next turn. With my hand of two Explores Cultivate and Summoning Trap I cast the Trap at the end of his turn. If I could hit Titan I could search for Valakuts and finish him off by attacking and casting Cultivate. Even with an Avenger I would probably have enough power to finish him off because of my Explores and Cultivate in hand to pump up the plants.
Oh please hit it just this one time! But no…it was not to be.
I sat there in complete despair as I selected the Overgrown Battlement — the only creature that my Trap had revealed. I sunk down in my chair and accepted my defeat as millennium9999 passed the turn to me.
But I had a draw step left! And that draw step gave me none other than Act of Treason. I could not help but apologize in the chat for my great fortune. GG!
Round 4 vs. FFfreak (Caw-Go): Win 2-1
I felt I was much more ready for this match after the debacle in Round 1 against Bing. Unfortunately though this match was the biggest of my life against one of the top players in today's game it was not the most exciting.
Game 1 I simply had the nut draw that Valakut can sometimes have and was able to slam a Titan off of Summoning Trap.
Game 2 the FFfreak got me with his Spreading Seas shenanigans keeping my forest count at one or zero for the entire game.
Game 3 was an interesting one though although I guess not from Brad's perspective. I was on the play and Brad led with an Island. For some strange reason I became certain that he had Spell Pierce in hand because U/W players tend to lead with Preordain or Celestial Colonnade. I decided to sit on my Khalni Heart and instead opted to just play lands.
As we both sat there playing lands I eventually had enough to where I was out of Mana Leak and Spell Pierce range. However I was not out of both combined! I cast a Cultivate which met a Mana Leak as well as a Spell Pierce. The following turn my next Cultivate met two Spell Pierces.
Eventually I had about five monsters in hand to his nine mana and no business and I was able to resolve a Titan. It was a strange game to say the least — but it worked for me.
With that I had finished 3-1 in Standard and 7-4 Overall which was good enough for $9000 and third place. I was very satisfied with my tournament and truly had one of the best weekends of my entire life. It really could not have gone much better; I met lots of great new people and good Magic players and got to see Japan (which was much more awesome than I expected) all the while playing 29 rounds of Magic in three days with the good company of my cousin Reid Duke and friend Ben Jones. I really could not have asked for more and I love Wizards for giving me the opportunity.
I can't wait to qualify for next year and improve on my third-place finish. That's it from me; good luck to all of you trying to make next year's MOCS! And I hope you enjoyed my first article.
Jaberwocki on MTGO