I could take this opportunity to talk about the work that I've put into tuning Arclight Phoenix strategies in Modern and my deckbuilding process, but that's simply not the story of this weekend's Team Constructed Open at SCG Baltimore.
Liz Lynn and Jacob Hagen won that tournament.
Instead I want to tell you about how our team came to be, and the way that we worked together as a sum much greater than any of us as individual players. If you stick around to the end, I suppose I have some good notes on my deck as well.
Jacob Hagen on Standard
Despite both of us being born and raised in Minnesota, we met when he was living in D.C. and was a regular playing on the SCG Tour®. You might know him as the player who made the finals of a Standard Open with Crush of Tentacles, but to me he was the guy who always ordered the beer that I was going to on Saturday night.
Last year Jacob moved to L.A. and Magic took a back seat for him while he adjusted to this chapter of his life. I missed him on the road in 2018, and when he asked if I was interested in hitting a team event, I snapped off the opportunity.
For deck selection, Jacob was a bit concerned about card availability and wanted to select an archetype early to make sure he could get cards, but Liz and I told him that we had him covered in that department and to wait for the results from SCG Indianapolis. Minnesotan players Max Magnuson and Eric Hawkins had great weekends with Azorius Aggro in Indy, with Magnuson making Top 4 of the Open and Hawkins making Top 4 of the Classic. Beyond that, the deck had a ringing endorsement from Pro Tour Champion and SCG columnist Andrew Elenbogen, who was kind enough to provide Jacob a sideboard guide.
- 3 Adanto Vanguard
- 4 Benalish Marshal
- 4 Dauntless Bodyguard
- 2 Deputy of Detention
- 2 Hunted Witness
- 4 Skymarcher Aspirant
- 4 Snubhorn Sentry
- 1 Tithe Taker
- 4 Venerated Loxodon
Azorius Aggro finishing exactly in the Top 4 of last weekend's tournaments was probably the best result that could have happened for us. It was enough to establish that the deck is capable of winning, and Sultai Midrange winning the tournament meant that we knew what we would have to beat. The combination of sideboard counterspells; Adanto, the First Fort; and Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants sliced through the field, which broke pretty much exactly as we expected it to.
I think that I'm a pretty good middle seat for team events, though this deck plays way more to Jacob's strengths as a player than mine. As such, I made a point to avoid getting involved in Jacob's matches unless he explicitly asked for advice.
The biggest thing that I did for Jacob was keep an eye out for triggered abilities and minor things like that while he navigated the macro-strategy of his matchups. He did his testing on Magic Arena, so while he pounded one Golgari Midrange or Esper Control player after another, I did my best Arena impression to make sure no triggers were missed. In our Top 8 match, Jacob made an Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants emblem against Cain Rianhard in a game that was then basically over but lasted a dozen or so more turns, and my job was to shout "Three 1/1s!" at the end of every turn.
Jacob went 7-1 with one unfinished match on Day 1 and a clean 9-0 through the finals on Day 2. His play was great, the deck was great, and his radiating positivity really helped pull the team together. Despite having the best record on the team, Jacob was not about to let me or Liz feel down about ourselves after a tough loss.
Liz Lynn on Legacy
Frankly, this is just too alliterative to pass up. On a more serious note, Liz is a powerful Legacy player who knows her way around the format. I first met Liz through Jacob at a post-tournament dinner a couple of years ago, and when she stated that Basking Rootwalla was the "ideologically perfect Magic card," I knew that we were going to get along swimmingly.