It was Thursday night, the day before the Pro Tour. I'd just landed in Nashville and met up with some friends I was staying with at the event site. Quickly I registered for what was my fourth Pro Tour and made my way back to the hotel so that I could iron out the details of the deck I was playing. After stopping in the lobby at the Double Tree to grab some free cookies and food they had provided (random!), I went up to the sixth floor and began what would be the most mind-melting four hours of the preparation I had done.
I was rooming with Steven Mann and William Postlethwait, both of which had shown interest in the Sultai Marvel deck I'd been doing reasonably well with on Magic Online earlier that week. After much debate and some incredibly overpriced pizza, I'd settled on this list.
- 1 Noxious Gearhulk
- 4 Rogue Refiner
- 4 Servant of the Conduit
- 3 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
- 3 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
I wasn't lying! I presented you with a choice between the two archetypes I was debating between, and I did play one of them! The only change I made between this list and the one I posted last week was cutting the random Oath of Jace for a second copy of Dissenter's Deliverance, which I was very pleased to have.
The tournament started off relatively well with a 2-1 in my first draft pod only losing to one of the game's best in Owen Turtenwald. I won my first round of Constructed as well and was feeling pretty great about my choice having seen just how much of the field was exactly as I'd expected with it really being a three-deck format. Temur Aetherworks, Zombies, and Mardu Vehicles were by far and away the most represented decks, and I was happy enough playing against all of them.
With that being said, Aetherworks Marvel decks have this thing about their consistency that just sometimes doesn't break right and things can spiral out of control. From 3-1, I then found myself on the wrong side of some insane variance, and I'm sure a mistake or two and had my back against the wall playing for day two at 3-4.
It's funny how sometimes things can go so wrong, but then you see a light at the end of the tunnel. My round eight opponent apparently forgot to drop from the event and was out of contention for day two and was kind enough not to attempt to play dream crusher and conceded me into day two. At 4-4 I wasn't exactly thrilled based on how my day began, but it was better than not coming back the next day.
I woke up the following morning ready to draft again! I've found this Draft format to be quite enjoyable and have often caught myself incinerating a many Magic Online tickets even after the Pro Tour drafting. My deck was another solid deck, maybe a card or two away from being great. Unfortunately, my day started off playing against a pair of mythics in Angel of Sanctions and Kefnet the Mindful. I was all but out of it at that point: four wins and five losses meant that to expect to cash at all or to get an invite back to the Pro Tour I'd have to win my next seven matches in a row! I didn't have the highest of hopes winning seven matches at a Pro Tour given all fifteen matches!
"Where there's a will, there's a way."
That's a proverb I've grown quite accustom to telling myself over the years when things look most bleak. Usually I hear it in the voice of Goku from Dragon Ball Z but still. From 4-5 I decided I wouldn't lose anymore. I didn't know how or what I would do to make this all happen, but I told myself I'd figure it out. Six rounds later, I found myself playing an Aetherworks Marvel mirror match where the board state on my opponent's side included Aetherworks Marvel, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and two copies of Bounty of the Luxa against my field of only lands and fifteen energy. Four turns later we were going into game 2 and I was up a game.
While I won't deny that there was a great bit of luck involved in casting and activating the card Aetherworks Marvel, it's still Magic and your opponents are still trying to win the game too! So after sixteen rounds of swiss I found myself at the requisite 11-5 record to re-qualify for the Pro Tour in Japan and jumping up and down across the event hall. I settled down long enough for Brian David-Marshall to take this picture of my excitement!
I'm overjoyed to be able to take another crack at the Pro Tour in Japan in just a few months, and I couldn't be more appreciative of all the support I got along the way!
Enough about the Pro Tour! In just a few hours I'll be on my way to play at one of the best formats SCG has ever decided to hold: Team Constructed! Once again I'll be joined by our own Todd Stevens and the one and only "The" Tannon Grace. #TeamDapper
I will likely be playing something similar to what I played in Nashville for the Standard portion of the event. Todd Stevens has been on top of Modern since I've known him, and it's no secret that he's been analyzing every bit of information he can from Magic Online events to have the perfect deck for what I'm sure he's figured to be the expected metagame.
That leaves us with Legacy, a format that has had a huge face-lift since the last time anyone has looked at it. With the banning of Sensei's Divining Top, not only will more rounds finish on time, a huge part of the format is now opened up! Many decks have long since been held in check by the one-two punch of Counterbalance and Sensei's Divining Top locking people out of the game as early as turn 2!
So what are the biggest winners of this banning as far as decks are concerned?
Historically, Elves' worst match up has been Miracles. Not only the Counterbalance lock having a great impact on what Elves can resolve but the threat of an instant-speed Wrath of God effect in Terminus has proven to be too much to handle. With all of that now in the history books, it's likely Elves' time to shine. If there's one deck that I expect to see an increase in play in light of the banning, it's Elves!
Another deck that has long since been forgotten is a personal favorite of mine.
What's the worst thing that could happen when you're trying to cast ten spells that all cost either zero, one, or two mana? Having all of them shut down by Counterbalance with the help of Sensei's Divining Top. Without the lock to stop Storm, what will? You can sure as can be bet that a couple copies of Flusterstorm will not be enough against any competent Storm player. The same can be said for Stifle, Spell Pierce, or even Force of Will. Storm, in the hands of a capable pilot, can fight through almost any amount of counter magic if given enough time. A quick clock and some disruption is the only way you'll be able to keep this deck down.
So we've been over the biggest winners from the banning of Sensei's Divining Top, what are some of the losers?
Many of the more "fair" looking decks such as Colorless Eldrazi and Shardless Sultai often loved the Miracles match up because they just approached the metagame from much different angles that Miracles was set up to handle. Eldrazi decks sporting four copies of Cavern of Souls to power out all their creatures certainly wasn't good for Miracles, nor was the ability for them to cast turn 1 Chalice of the Void locking out Sensei's Divining Top all together.
Abrupt Decay's stock had been at an all time high since it answered literally everything in the format short of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Killing Leovold, Emissary of Trest and Counterbalance as well as any random Tarmogoyf or the like that came your way made it worth splashing in most decks along side Magic's best creature ever printed, Deathrite Shaman. While I don't expect Abrupt Decay's stock in the format to drop much, it's certainly lost it's luster of being an all-star in the Miracles match up.
As for what to expect this weekend in Legacy, most of the format is completely unexplored. Unlike Standard, when you ban a card that makes the best deck for the past five years or so retire, you can expect the floodgates to open entirely on what people decide to bring to the table, not just another deck to take over and ruin the format in a more miserable way. I'm excited to get to play along side Team Dapper again and am thrilled to begin my exploration into Modern for the coming weeks after this Open! Good luck and I'll see you there!