F2F Tour Report: Going back to back in Lethbridge

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Dryad of the Ilysian Grove was printed, and Primeval Titan decks are running over Modern with little-to-no opposition.

So, the Spike in me thought, “Let’s just see if I can borrow a Titan deck” and that was my plan – until a few weeks before this event when I noticed a good friend of mine, Tom, was back to his usual nonsense, getting 4-1 after 4-1 with… Candy Control?! Alright, this man better be ready to write a thesis paper on why/how he’s getting results with this jank.
Tom is always flooding my phone with notifications about whatever deck he’s currently obsessed with. It was Jund for years. Then WOTC decided to print Arcum’s Astrolabe. It probably goes without saying at this point, but for those of you who still aren’t aware, this card is ridiculous. Playing Astrolabe allows you to completely ignore one of the core restrictions in deckbuilding – the colour wheel – instead letting you simply play the best cards in every colour. When everybody else plays by the rules, getting to break one of them is a huge advantage.

This, my dear readers, is where sleep became a myth and Tom and I basically became a two-man team trying to brew some kind of “perfect 75.”


The Day of the Tournament

Alright, sweet, I slept MAYBE four hours thanks to my wonderful roommates deciding to start a horror movie incredibly loudly at midnight in the living room, right next to my room. Not only that, but I have to drive, which is fine, but that adds another responsibility to my morning. I brought three good friends from Calgary – Estephan, Charbel and Robbie – none of whom are smart enough to listen to me about Snow, but whatever, I’m not salty (I am). I get dressed (putting on the same t-shirt I won in last time, of course) and out the door I go.

Telecki after his first Lethbridge win.

So, I go pick the guys up and we head to McDs for a good ol’ wholesome breakfast. Robbie is opposed, but I’m driving so basically, he’s out of luck. We hit up McDs and, two of the boys get the two breakfast wrap combo. This is important to note because as we are leaving Calgary, Robbie realizes that there are only two breakfast burritos in total. So, we head on back to get more burritos. Not the greatest morning ever.

I got into the venue, Tom hands me the deck and now I gotta sleeve it. Last month, for the F2F Tour Pioneer event in Edmonton, I had Estephan help me sleeve up because, Charbel, who is his brother, once sleeved a different friend’s deck at a previous Face to Face event and said friend made it to the finals. Estephan obviously did NOT have the magic touch as I 1-3 scrubbed out of that Pioneer event, so, for this event I asked him to text Charbel to come sleeve ‘em up with me. I mean… I did put the same shirt on as the last time I won, so you know I’m down to do whatever to win. Also, Charbel is now offering a service: he will help you sleeve your deck in exchange for 15 percent of your winnings. Hit him up.

Round 1 – Whirza

Alright lads, round one, let’s get this. I had the best deck in the format, I’m ready to go back to back.

Yeah, no. I got utterly stomped in this match. I was unfocused and got completely punished by a very crisp playing Whirza player.

I lost the die roll, he kept and I went down to six. The game didn’t last long; in the end he got Sword of the Meek, Thopter Foundry and Urza online and I didn’t have any way of interacting with it. On to game two.

Game two did not go much better, with the same start as last game except I was on the play. This one went much longer than the last game, but he eventually got the combo online and removed my blocker to kill me with a giant Construct.

After going 1-3 drop at the last F2F event and starting 0-1 here (an aggregate 1-4 in my last ‘league’ of Comp REL) I was pretty upset with myself and with my play. My Garage Magic bros from back home in Medicine Hat were thankfully there to lift my spirits. Big ups to them.

Refocused, I was ready to get back to it: outside disheartened now but I’ve won X games of Magic in a row before, right?! That’s what I kept telling myself at least.

0-1

Round 2 – Grixis Death’s Shadow

I sat down and waited for my opponent, but on the other side of the table (compared to last round): Because you know I have to make sure I’m not on the side I lost on.

My opponent showed up, we did the dice rolling, I won and took the play. I mulled again (for those keeping track, that’s three of three) and he kept seven. He led on untapped Watery Grave into Thoughtseize, which got my juices flowing as I like this matchup very much. I have lots of removal and they have eight threats. He ended up playing Gurmag Angler, which I answered with an Assassin’s Trophy. Then he hurt himself to eight and played the deck’s namesake. I cast a Drown in the Loch on it, but he had the Stubborn Denial. I untapped and played a Dead of Winter with many more than enough snow permanents to take out the Death’s Shadow. He eventually played another fish, which I answered with Snapcaster Mage, DoW. All this left him at four life with very little he could do and a Wrenn and Six ready to ult on my side. We were off to game two.

My opponent opted to be on the draw again, which was interesting to me, but I have seen GDS take the draw in matchups they deem grindy. Again, I went to six, my opponent kept seven. This game went on quite a long time and actually had me worried about time in the round by the end. It started off the same way that game one did, with a shock and a Seize. This game had a very similar back and forth to game one, except I did not draw as much removal and he drew many Stubs along with a Temur Battle Rage. Game three it is.

I took the play and I mulled to six, what can I say? I like to mulligan. He kept and very unlike the start of our other games went fetch, shock, Seize. This game was never close; the only damage I took was one point off a Prismatic Vista, and Uro in play turn four meant he couldn’t do much. Sweet victory, how I’ve missed thee.
Alright, that side of the table is working for me.

1-1

Round 3 – Amulet Titan

This was an extremely fun match to play (for me). Apologies to my opponent for the savage beating. I went turn one Astrolabe pass, he went turn one Sakura-Tribe Scout pass. Oh my. I went turn two Wrenn, minus one targeting Scout. My opponent played a Dryad of the Ilysian Grove. I untapped and played Field of Ruin, used it on a bounce land and returned it with W6. My opponent never got to have more than five lands in play. I eventually escaped an Uro and they conceded after one swing.

Game two I was on the draw, and for once I kept. He played an early Once Upon a Time (great card) finding a Bojuka Bog. Turn three I played Uro, he replied by Bogging me on his turn. I followed with Field of Ruin into W6. Again, he was stunted on mana until ultimately, I played a 10/10 Abominable Treefolk and swung twice. Brief aside on the Treefolk, he is an odd inclusion, but he is also a massive threat that does not die to our board sweeper.

Alright, I’m getting into a rhythm. I’m telling my friends I’d love to play against Humans or GDS. My friends tell me they had seen lots of Humans on the top tables, great! 

2-1 

P.S. Yes, I was once again on the winning side of the table.

Round 4 – Humans

Game one I lost the die roll but kept a semi-loose hand that was slow but had good mana, while my opponent mulliganed to six. I got punished by a good Humans draw with Thalia into Meddling Mage naming Dead of Winter, conveniently the only removal spell I kept. Let’s go to game two, I’m still hyped about this pairing at the moment since the matchup is generally great.

Game two I was on the play, and it played out more closely to what you’d expect. I had lots of answers for my opponent’s creatures, including built-in two-for-ones thanks to Ice-Fang Coatl. My opponent attacked me down to nine, but I eventually stabilized, fetching down to seven before casting an Uro, escaping it the next turn and attacking until my opponent died.

Game three I got back on the mull-to-six train, he kept and we’re off. My opponent got to play and Image an entire play-set of Militia Buglers, but Dead of Winter meant that nothing he could do stuck. Eventually, my opponent played a Freebooter with me at nine with four cards in hand, saw four different removal spells and decides to call the match.

I got the matchup I wanted and the winning side of the table! Starting to feel like I’m in a good position.

3-1

Round 5 – Dredge

He won the die roll and kept, I kept as well. He played a fetchland turn one and passed to me. I played an Astrolabe and passed back. He cracked his fetch and found a Stomping Ground, indicating likely Dredge, which made me glad I kept a Force of Negation hand. Turn two he played a fastland and cast Cathartic Reunion, without revealing what he was discarding, so I asked, and it was TWO Stinkweed Imps. I would have been so excited to pitch ‘em too (miss you Dredge). I crushed his hopes and dreams with a swift Force of Negation discarding a Snapcaster Mage. This gave me plenty of time to establish myself. He got me down to 15 with a Creeping Chill and a Bloodghast attack, then Uro started to gain me life. I escaped Uro onto a board of two Stinkweed Imps, which is normally a hard board to get through, but next turn I played The Royal Scions, went +1 targeting Uro and ended the game.

 

Game two I was on the draw again, we both kept seven. Pre-game effects, Leyline of the Void. His face, . Yeah man, Ive played my fair share of Dredge and I know “hate” is much more difficult to beat these days. This game lasted a long time, but was never close, I escaped and won with Uro.

Winning side of the table is killing it for me today! One more win and I might be able to draw into the top eight?! Incredible position after losing round one.

Pray with me for some poor Humans player.

4-1

Round 6 – Humans 

Luck is on my side today. I sat on the winning side of the table AND I’m paired against someone I’m fairly certain is playing Humans. I’ve played against him at past events where I was on KCI. On top of all that, I won the die roll AND kept seven while my opponent goes to six. Running hot. Sorry M, you’re always great to play against.

I put myself to 19 and then back up to 22 thanks to Uro. My opponent then hit me for five before I cast a Dead of Winter and won the game.

Game two I was on the draw and mulled to six. My opponent goes to five, oof that’s disappointing for him but is great for me. NAH. He had a great draw and completely ran me over before I could set my footing and catch up.

Game three I was back on the play and kept a hand with great removal options while my opponent mulled to six. I never ended up taking damage over the course of the game, with my opponent conceding to a Wrenn ult.

UNREAL. From round one loss to potential draw in?! My breakers aren’t great here so I need my round four opponent to take down my round one opponent (who had a draw and could potentially mess up the clean cut to top 8 at 5-1-1+).

I actually left for a couple slices of pizza and fresh air, during which time the round ends leaving me unsure of who did end up taking that match. Oh well, I’ll show up fully ready to play it out.

5-1

Round 7 – Draw (Intentional)

Turned out my round four opponent did end up taking down my round one opponent, meaning I was safe to draw into seventh, good for top eight.

Now, this was a very special moment for both Tom and I. Not only did I top eight, but so did he, WITHOUT LOSING A MATCH. Candy Control BABY. Give respect where respect is due. There IS room for innovation and Tom Cairns (TBagTom on MTGO) has proven that with Candy Control.

The F2F Tour Lethbridge Top 8.

Tom and I went for a drive around town just to talk and get some fresh air. This was Tom’s first ever top eight at a Comp REL event. We didn’t know exactly how the standings would shake out, but we just hoped to be in opposite brackets. But it was just pure elation for both of us to top eight after both going 6-2 at the last event we played Candy Control at. So many hours of testing and theory crafting went into this deck, most of it by Tom. It’s hard to explain the feeling we had in this moment.

5-1-1

Top 8  

Quarter-finals – Eldrazi Tron

I was up against the second seed, a well-known local from Lethbridge who I knew was on Eldrazi Tron.

Being the seventh seed there was slim to no chance I was going to ever have game one on the play, not to mention I was placed on the LOSING side of the table… but it changes for the top eight, right? Yeah. That’s how it works.

And so it began. I mulled to six for what felt like the billionth time while my opponent kept. He led with Eldrazi Temple pass. I led with Fabled Passage pass. He went E-Temple into a Thought-Knot Seer, man that’s a hot start but alright. I can’t remember what he took but I flashed in an Ice-Fang to block the TKS. I untapped and played a Field of Ruin to hit one of his Temples and passed back. My opponent played a land into ANOTHER TKS, this time taking a Dead of Winter. I untapped, played a land and passed back. My opponent played a land and then a Reality Smasher and swung at me with everything. I flashed in a second Coatl and blocked both TKS’s taking five and drawing three (Coatl, TKS, TKS). I untapped and Trophied the Smasher (discarding a land) and played a big snowy tree. That was game one, Coatl is one heck of a card.

Game two we both kept. He did not have as insane of a start, and this game felt much less stressful for me. Unfortunately, I never found a way to answer his ever-growing mana base and he slammed an Ulamog WITH Cavern of Souls. GG. Game three it is.

I was on the play, and I use my secret weapon, mull to six. My opponent kept (of course everyone is lucky but me). My life total did not change over the course of this game. I killed all his lands and that was that.

On to the semis! And my opponent is likely to be… Tom?!

6-1-1

Semifinals – Candy Control

OH BABY THE 75 CARD FOR CARD POUND FOR POUND MIRROR MATCH LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

Alrighty, well I was on the draw and we both mulled to six. According to my life pad, not a whole lot happened and then I went from 20 to 39 thanks to Uro. But actually, there was a lot more to this game. This game was the second-best game I’ve ever had the opportunity to be a part of, the best being the insanity that was game three of my QF match at last year’s FTF Lethbridge.

So, there were a million trades throughout the game, attempts to sneak in a walker only to get Forced. Eventually, we were both able to tell that our threats were thinning. But this guy has been Brainstorming turn after turn after casting a Force of Negation on MY Jace. Incredibly selfish. Luckily, I was drawing well enough to somehow keep up with him, eventually killing the Jace.

Then the greatest play of all time happened when I had a W6 in play. Tom played a big scary snowman, trigger on nothing. I got to have the pleasure of un-tapping and slamming my own snowman, tapping his and making him use a Trophy on that instead of my W6. I took the opportunity of him being tapped out/low to kill his snowman. He untapped and immediately killed my W6 and slammed a second Jace, never didn’t have it, I guess.

I untapped and escaped my Uro, which he ended up bouncing and I ended up replaying. We played a weird sub-game for a while where it’s Jace vs Uro jostling for position. Eventually Tom gets it all and he’s fate sealing me. He had Royal Scions with enough loyalty to ult and stay alive, Wrenn was climbing, and Jace was about to ult kill me. I got lucky hitting Jace with an Ice-Fang as well as pinging him with a W6 before each was dealt with. This bought me the time to draw into an Assassin’s Trophy in order to kill the Jace just in time. With nothing left to do but draw the rest of his deck, we were off to game two. This was an extremely entertaining game where I had to tell our friends to quiet down in a rude way, sorry gents.

Tom and I sideboarded face up and everyone was like what in the world is going on, not that it would have mattered as we both would have done the same thing regardless. But it was still fun to theory craft in the moment with you my man. At this point we knew what we’d be playing in the finals, we just had to decide who would get that opportunity.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about our sideboarded game. At some point during game two somebody mentioned that we played the same way old people made love, “slow and safe.” Which prompted me to ask the table if we were playing slow only to get a resounding NO from the crowd. Top eight matches are so fun. Tom ended up winning game two of course (lucky). Our third game went similarly to any control matchup: small trades until one side sticks something and rides it to victory. Well, similarly to any control matchup other than Tom totally falling for the snowman into snowman play AGAIN after I got him with it game one, “hahahaha gottem”.

Holy cow, I’m going to the finals ladies and gentlemen. After joking about the back to back possibility, it’s within reach. Tom and I take a walk where he confesses that I thoroughly outplayed him and he’s 100 percent correct, I am not lucky ever.

7-1-1

Finals – Eldrazi and Taxes

I was once again on the draw, we both kept and just like that the finals were off to a start. He played land, Vial and passed. I played land, Astrolabe and passed back. Eventually he had an amalgamation of different creatures on the battlefield, but his land destruction plan with Leonin Arbiter was off the table thanks to W6. I got to cast a Dead of Winter into a full board after some back and forth and jockeying for board control with Coatl and removal spells. This promptly brought an end to the game, and we were off to game two just like that.

It was getting late and the crowd was getting rowdy by this point. We were chatting a bit amongst one another and with the crowd as we sideboarded, making jokes about the wedding in the next room over from this MTG tournament, joking about asking them to play “We Are the Champions” by Queen. I was feeling GREAT at this point, I felt like I was up a game on a good matchup with a real opportunity to take down the event.

Finally, we were ready to get going with game two. He was on the play and we both kept our sevens. He started his first turn off by drawing a card so, I jokingly asked if he plays lots of EDH. He was a great sport about the situation. Ultimately, I got to see his eight-card hand and choose one to be shuffled into his library. I saw a hand with Caves of Koilos, Eldrazi Temple, three copies of Giver of Runes, a Tidehollow Sculler, a Charming Prince and an Eldrazi Displacer. I took the only coloured land, which felt bad, but it is what it is. At this point I was feeling great about my position, he drew a coloured source in about two turns but it never ended up mattering and he conceded while I was making my way up to a W6 ult.

I ACTUALLY DID IT. I RAN THE TABLES TO RUN IT BACK BABY LETS GOOOOO! What a feeling.

F2F Tour Lethbridge champ, Jozef Telecki,

Thoughts on the Deck

Candy Control is the kind of deck you look at and go “oh that looks like a super sweet brew that would be a blast to play” and that’s about it. But, as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. This deck is more than just an amalgamation of sweet cards, each and every slot has been carefully considered, tested, and tinkered by Tom and myself. I like to make the joke of this deck being much like Jenga, if you move one piece of the puzzle (lol) the entire thing might collapse on itself.

This list is hands down the best control deck the format has to offer right now. It has access to the best removal spells, the best planeswalkers, and even the best board sweeper. People love their Supreme Verdicts but how can you scoff at a three mana one-sided Wrath of God that gets under indestructible and regeneration.

We tried to fit in as many cards that could do or deal with multiple different things and if the card did not have flexibility it had to be powerful on its own. Cards that hit anything, Assassin’s Trophy for example. Cards that affect the stack OR the board, Drown in the Loch and Cryptic Command come to mind. Powerful cards like Dead of Winter, Jace, and Wrenn. One of these walkers was once banned in our format and the other is currently banned in Legacy. Then, the rest of the deck are “velocity plus” cards as I like to call them. Cards that draw you more cards but also contribute to the overall game plan, these would include Astrolabe, Uro and Coatl.

Our removal buys us time to reach our powerful cards which can catch us up even if we are behind. Our “velocity plus” cards do a great job of finding us our removal and most powerful cards as well as contributing to our game plan in meaningful ways (gaining life, blocking, mana fixing).

F2F Tour Lethbridge.

You might be thinking, “well what about white?” and my answer is, well what about it? Adding white stretches the mana base just the tiny bit too far it takes to make it too inconsistent to be worth the power available from playing all five colours. But that right there is the beauty of Candy Control, try it, you might be able to figure it out in a way we could not.

If you enjoy playing control, and limited, this is the deck for you. This deck plays like the best limited control deck you’ve ever opened or drafted in your life. Limited is my favourite format and control is my favourite archetype so I truly love this deck and I hope you do too!

If I could go back and change anything about my deck for this event I would have cut one, or maybe even both (I did not bring them in all day) Weather the Storm for a Kolaghan’s Command and some other flexible artifact hate card (would have to think on it).

Thank You

All in all, playing this deck has been an incredible trip, topped off with an incredibly sweet back to back win which I cannot even begin to describe my elation over. I owe all my success with this deck to Tom. Thank you so much for being a great friend and Magic partner. Please, people, force him to finish his report. He thinks a top four finish doesn’t warrant it. But I think we would all enjoy reading from the person who conceived this deck over half a year ago.

Apparently, my powers as a planeswalker grow dramatically when I am in Lethbridge. This is just one man’s opinion but I’m thinking the tour finals should be moved… Better lucky than good! I hope you all enjoyed this write up. I am amazed if you actually managed to read all 4600+ words of this lengthy beast. It’s not as long as my last tournament report – you’re welcome. I hope to see many of you out at the F2F Tour Weekend March 14th and 15th, wish me luck!