Congratulations to the final champion of the Baltimore Open Series: Adam Cai! Maverick remained the story of the day; after seizing the Invitational in the hands of Max Tietze, it went on to claim the majority of Legacy Open Top 8 slots. Meanwhile, Brad Nelson and Zack Hall each won their Draft Opens, while former National Champion Joshua Wagener took the Standard Open with Zombies.
We’re heading to Grand Prix Salt Lake City next weekend, with a Standard Open on Sunday during the Grand Prix Day 2. Adrian Sullivan and Matthias Hunt will be commentating on @SCGLive throughout—see you then!
The finals came down to a Maverick mirror, but Adam Cai’s list had a little bit of spice. Featuring Fauna Shaman and Elesh Norn plus Loyal Retainers, he could really break open these grindy Mother of Runes fights. Would Todd be able to overcome the looming Praetor?
The Maverick mirror promised to be very interactive so long as Punishing Fire wasn’t involved, and neither of these players had that mirror-breaking card here, though Adam did have some spice in both a Fauna Shaman toolbox and an extra color to play with.
Todd’s Maverick list faced a tough matchup this round in Sneak and Show, an archetype that played a fundamentally unfair game against Todd’s G/W creature deck. Could he combine aggression with some disruptive creatures to steal the match out from under Joshua Adams?
Adam Cai’s unique Maverick deck plowed through the Swiss rounds and landed him in the second seed, giving him the option to start things off against seventh-seed Alix Hatfield and his trusty High Tide combo deck.
“I’ll play,” Todd announced shortly after sitting down. “That feels real good!” By playing it out in Round 9, Todd had locked up the option for the remainder of the tournament thanks to the new change in policy.
This isn’t your grandfather’s Painter’s Servant deck. We’ve seen a number of different archetypes that abuse the Painter’s Servant/Grindstone interaction, but this one’s packing a different color combination than most. Rather than going U/R for stuff like Goblin Welder and Pyroblast, Chris Cornwell-Shiels has dipped into white for a base blue deck that uses the combo a different way.
The last round of the Swiss treated us with a bunch of win-and-in matches, and this showdown between two regulars was a showcase of two of the best decks Legacy has to offer. Mark was armed with RUG Tempo and David wielded G/W Maverick and the power of winning the die roll.
Sam Black’s Zombie deck has been the talk of the tournament for the Legacy Open, and his opponent this round, Adam Cai, certainly appreciated a good brew. His own deck was semi-Maverick, with a Fauna Shaman engine jammed in to provide even more versatility and some powerful endgame combinations.
This pair came into the round undefeated on the day, a stark contrast from their experiences in the Invitational, and the two commiserated on their strange weekends as they shuffled up for their match.
“I’m not sure how I’m supposed to win,” Max laughed. Nick’s deck featured haymakers like Dread of Night and Night of Souls’ Betrayal to really put a damper on the tiny creatures Max used to attack people to death. Still, Max’s beatdown deck had plenty of late game and some big, scary monsters.
The mood seemed to be much lighter for the final four players after they got a win under their belt., but there was still a trophy waiting for the winner, and no one wanted to come up short after working so hard to get here.
“Being eighth seed… not cool,” Max said. “I’m not going to lie, I was rooting for you,” Javier said—he wouldn’t have automatically received the play against Ben Friedman, but his seed order was a strong advantage now. He considered being on the play against Maverick very important, after all.
The quarterfinals appeared favorable for Caleb at first glance, and he wasn’t displeased to see the Esper matchup on the other side of the table. That said, Shaheen hadn’t gotten here by losing matches of Magic—he promised to be a challenging opponent.
Javier and his BUG Delver deck had earned the right to play first by landing one spot ahead of Drew’s RUG Tempo deck in the standings, and he started things off with a Tarmogoyf after Drew set up with a Ponder.
Competitors at the StarCityGames.com Invitational in Baltimore answer some questions about their playtesting, whether Delver is broken, and what they think is in the Helvault for the Avacyn Restored Prerelease.
The crowd pressed in around the raised feature match viewing area as the last round was called. At most only one of the many 30-pointers would be able to squeeze into the Top 8, but it was anyone’s guess as to who that lucky person would be, so there was a lot at stake in this matchup featuring Brian Kibler’s Naya Pod against Harry Corvese’s U/W Delver.
These two had been driving to the event together all weekend, and with comrade Drew Levin already locked for Top 8 they were among the more successful trios in the room. A win here would lock Top 16, with the loser likely falling to Top 32.
This was a very important match for these players, each sitting on four losses with Top 8 perilously close. Like many of the upper tables, these competitors came with U/W Delver. The seventy-five in Brad’s hands had been very successful this weekend, boosting Drew Levin to the same record as they both tore through the field in Standard and Legacy.
It’s always interesting to see what the professionals take to in Legacy tournaments, because the format isn’t usually prominent on their radar. For Brian Kibler, a man known to love his fair share of creatures, Maverick wasn’t much of a shock to see.
Gerry sat down for the round a little late, stuck with a game loss before the match had begun. That meant Reuben had half the work done for him, but he’d still need one more off Gerry to take the match during Legacy’s final round. After the end of this match, they’d be putting those decks away until Top 8 time.
Two of our own columnists met in the arena this round—not an uncommon occurrence on the day! Josh Cho has just earned his invite to Pro Tour Barcelona, while Reid Duke finished up an undefeated weekend at Grand Prix Nashville. The battlefield for this match, however, would be the Legacy format, with two very different RUG decks on either side.
A strong finish here in day one would open the door to a potential Top 8 run tomorrow, so these two had lot to play for despite an already good record on the day. It promised to be an interesting matchup between former Player of the Year Brad Nelson’s RUG Tempo deck and Nicholas Spagnolo’s BUG Control.
“I don’t know what a game that I win looks like,” Sam admitted. “Drags out, I don’t have Vortex, Batterskull,” Patrick replied. “Yeah… I don’t know how those first two happen!” Sam said. Packing his trusty Burn deck, Patrick looked forward to incinerating one of the many Esper Stoneblade pilots in the room.
Neither of these players is any stranger to the tournament scene. Kibler is one of the best-known professionals on the planet, fresh off a Pro Tour win in Hawaii, while Max has been grinding the Open Series and Grand Prix circuit with success for some time.
Sitting on a perfect 5-0 record after smashing the Standard portion with the Delver Humans deck we featured earlier, Nicholas Spagnolo turned his attention to Legacy and registered an updated BUG Control list that lines up perfectly with the metagame.
If you’ve been a fan of the Modern U/W/R Delver decks, then David Gearhart’s Legacy brew is right up your alley. Combining aggressive creatures within those colors with some of Magic’s best burn spells of all time, David is putting a new spin on attacking for 20 today.
Pet decks were the name of the game as the California neighbors squared off in round six. Patrick was armed with his trusty Burn deck, while Brian got to play with his friends Noble Hierarch and Knight of the Reliquary in the popular G/W Maverick deck.
Douglas McKay has created a powerful planeswalker deck built with you in mind! In fact, he has a lot of things in mind, starting with crushing the format’s aggressive decks, and ending in trusting his deck to overpower everything else.
A Delver mirror awaited these seasoned grinders in the 3-0 bracket, but the decks were quite different. Drew’s list featured equipment and Invisible Stalkers, while Dave had the hot new Champion of the Parish model with Gather the Townsfolk.
There are a number of different Delver decks in the room today; Nick Spagnolo’s tweaks have made his one of the more interesting builds around. Combining the power of Innistrad’s Humans with its most notorious Human Insect, Nick’s deck amps the aggression.
Great Magic play had led these friends to the finals, but now it was time for the gloves to come off as the Standard Open trophy sat sparkling next to them. Josh Wagener, armed with U/B Zombies, had the greater resume that included a U.S. National championship, but Conor Moran had earned the right to play first by finishing higher in the Swiss.
Josh was looking to sneak his Zombie horde past Justin’s Wolf Run Ramp deck, and he’d be leaning heavily on Phyrexian Obliterators to do so—it was his best card in the matchup. Post-board, he’d have to contend with Wrack with Madness and more removal, so it threatened to be a very tough fight for the undead horde.
There would be a distinct lack of braaains in this quarterfinal, as each player came equipped with Zombies. It would be a tough fight, with Eric's Lashwrithes and his mono-black manabase facing off against the Phantasmal Images of Josh's B/u build.
After a really long day you could expect these players to be exhausted and not in the mood to be friendly, but that wasn’t the case here. David and Paul chatted all while reviewing the contents of each other’s’ decks after being informed that David would have the play or draw option as the higher seed—three over six.
Fighting to make the Top 16, this round put Bryan Hardenberger’s aggressive green deck against Alex Bastecki’s Wolf Run Ramp. Wolf Run Ramp is traditionally favored in the first game, but depending on Bryan’s sideboard that has the potential to change.
It’s a showdown for a spot in the Top 8 as both players have already used up the 1-1 part of the 8-1-1 record required to make the cut. Chris Baker’s U/W Delver deck had a strong start with a pair of Delver of Secrets, but Brian Gorman had a disgusting trump after a turn one Ponder.
Maryland native Brad Taulbee has experienced a recent rekindling of “the fire” and is proving it with a strong performance this weekend, sitting on just one loss through seven rounds with his Esper Control deck. His opponent, StarCityGames’ own Wes Wise, is having his own bit of success with Naya Aggro, and the two sat down to battle for favorable odds at a Top 8 spot.
Jon and Paul were both playing Seachrome Coasts, but the similarities pretty much ended there. Paul’s Humans deck was sorcery speed and aggressive, while Jon’s build was an Esper Spirits deck incorporating Lingering Souls and Drogskol Captain.
If you’ve followed the Standard Opens over the last few weeks, you may have noticed that Esper Control decks have ticked up in popularity every week, culminating in Beaux Bruggman’s Standard Open victory in Sacramento.