Grand Prix Minneapolis 2014 finalist Andrew Huska is playing his first Grand Prix in years and is off to a scorching hot start with Izzet Phoenix.

Where have you been since finishing 2nd at a GP?

I went to the Pro Tour, flew to Seattle for a GP, didn’t do well, missed Day 2 and then didn’t go to any GPs for about 3 years.

You’re coming for this one because it’s local?

I’m coming because it’s local. I’ve been vending at a couple of GPs for the last year or so. Really wanted to play the hometown GP and kind of just started to make my preparation. It’s my favourite format: Modern. And I have the fire again because we’re degens. Magic is great. Arena is awesome.

And I’m hearing you think you’re playing the best version of the best deck?

It is not close the best deck in Modern. It’s what you should be playing. If you want to win and you think you are good enough to learn all the interactions and you know the format, you should be playing this deck because it is the best deck. You have game against everything. Even your “bad matchups” are not that bad if you know how to navigate them properly. You see more cards than your opponent which means you make more decisions. The deck is awesome and also there’s these busted draws where you put 2 Phoenixes in play on turn 3 and they’re just dead in 3 turns cause… Modern.

So what makes your version the best version?

I’m doing something kind of controversial though GerryT wrote about it on Friday and Todd Anderson has been kind of an advocate for this. I’m playing 0 Crackling Drakes in my deck. I’m playing 3 Pyromancer Ascensions in my deck with an Echoing Truth main and a Snapcaster Mage. Pyromancer Ascension is the best card in the mirror and it lets you snowball against the randomness that is in Modern. I played against Merfolk today. I just played an Ascension, took a hit, went down to about 6, played my 4th land and all of a sudden I was able to wrath their board cause I had an active Ascension.

It also gives you a lot of play in matchups that aren’t about Phoenix or Thing in the Ice. It gives you an alternate win condition game 1. It makes the deck more susceptible to Rest in Peace and Leyline of the Void post-board, however most people just aren’t playing those cards. There’s not a lot of decks that can play it outside of UW.

This means you’re more resilient to Surgical Exctration right?

Yes. Once you cast a Faithless Looting and you put an Opt and a Serum Visions in your graveyard with an Ascension, your opponent doesn’t have a really good target with Surgical Extraction. You’re so diverse with your cantrips. Surgical is still good against the Phoenix plan.

What do you think of the Whir matchup?

I think the Whir matchup is better than Lantern one. Lantern gets to see Shatterstorm coming. Whir usually doesn’t, so I’m playing Shatterstorm, Abrades and Ceremonious Rejections with a Snapcaster. Pyromancer Ascension is another really important card in that matchup because it gets around Chalice at 1. I think I’m pretty confident in the Whir matchup because I’ve played it a lot. I know where I am at. It is not favourable by any means. I would say I am a dog in the matchup, especially G1 if I don’t hit their Bridge with a Thought Scour. It’s not as bad as people say it is. It’s not doom and gloom. And even Burn, I feel confident playing against Burn too. No sideboard cards for Burn. Just Spell Pierces and Abrades. The bad matchups are less bad than they are told in the hivemind.

Anything else you want to mention?

Shutouts to Daniel Fournier. Without his 2 articles on how to play the deck, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am today.