After Tuesday night Modern at Face to Face Games Toronto, we unwound at the Firkin next door. Commander being played at the next table, pint in hand, I took a few minutes to pick Jack Cooke’s brain.
You see, Jack has been posting the most consistent results at our Dailies in the history of the store. In the last month, Jack has posted a 32-4 record in Modern, firmly cementing himself as the end boss of Dailies. That’s an almost 90% winrate. With consistent results like these, it’s clear that he’s doing something right. What’s even more interesting is that Jack switches it up, playing something new nearly every week.
“What have I played? I don’t know… Lightning Angel tribal, Tamiyo, Field Researcher Eldrazi, or Tribal Flames zoo. Other days it’s Sun and Moon, Abzan, Jund, Reckless Bushwhacker Zoo, some random turn two tokens deck from Saffron Olive. I even played Modern Miracles one time… the list goes on.” Jack was having a hard time even remembering all the different goofy decks he has brought to Face for a Daily.
I asked him why he plays so many weird decks. “It’s become sort of a joke, actually.” Jack enjoys testing the “ham sandwich” theory of tournament Magic, which states that an experienced player should be able to win a tournament with any deck, or no deck at all: just a ham sandwich. Jack’s been pigging out with extra cheese lately! “Dailies are a great avenue to play decks that are good, but might not be the best. You get to try something new, when there isn’t that much on the line.” He spoke highly of the events themselves. “Weekly events are great when everyone brings interesting brews. It keeps the metagame constantly evolving and shifting. The other week I was 3-0 playing for the big prize card, running Tribal Zoo against a mono-black Tron deck. It was just fun! Another day it was four-colour Delirium… What?” He laughed.
Tribal Zoo is Jack’s pet deck right now. “It seems really good right now, so I’m putting in the repetitions. I’m all about random janky decks, specifically full of good cards with mana that is probably fine. If all your spells are good, it doesn’t matter if you can’t cast a few of them, right? How bad can Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, Tarmogoyf, Lingering Souls, and Tribal Flames be?”
Those of you who have met Jack you will know that despite playing a ton of Magic (he hasn’t missed a Tuesday or Thursday Modern daily in over a month), he doesn’t exactly take it very seriously. I asked him about that. “What’s the point of Magic? I don’t know, what else would I do with my weeknights? I mean, maybe I don’t even like Magic. Wow.” He went full-on Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure with that revelation. “But in all honesty, I just love being part of the community. I mean, here we are, after the event, out with friends having a bit, drinking a beer. This is part of the experience as well. I think I’d be just as bummed out if you canceled hanging out after the tournament as canceling the tournament itself. It’s the whole experience.” He jammed the rest of his fish taco into his mouth. “I’m comfortable living without regrets.”
I caught a rare moment of seriousness as the maverick reflected. “My job makes me work hard and think in a certain way. Magic lets me use my mind and think in a different way. It gets me out of my head and keeps me sharp. I like being good at Magic as something that other people value – being an authority on it and having people turn to me for ideas or advice. And I like having others to reach out to whom I respect and look up to as well. Community.”
With the Facetofacegames.com 3k Modern Open in Toronto just a few days away at the time of writing, I asked him how he prepares differently for a Daily as opposed to a Sunday Showdown or an Open. “I don’t really prepare, which is kind of the point. Playing Modern several nights a week is my preparation for the big events. I just play Magic all the time, and any time spent playing a reasonable deck in a format you care about is time well spent.” I asked what he is bringing to Seneca for the Open this Saturday. “Abzan, probably some version of it. I played one tonight that I’m not happy with, so Thursday I’ll tweak and play something a little different. But if I had liked my list today, I’d just bring something silly for Thursday to goof around.”
Then we looked ahead: Jack is not only qualified for the Ultimate Showdown, but he is on the leaderboard fighting for a bye, currently at 8th place with 73 points. But Jack hasn’t won or even finished second place in a Showdown this season. “I’ve finished in the top 8 of every Showdown I’ve played this year. I was just thinking of a deck and playing it with confidence.” Bold results.
With the Ultimate Showdown now just over three months away, I asked Jack what he is going to do to prepare for that tournament. “The biggest thing I’ve ever won was some Legacy ‘win-a-Mox’ where I ran Pox or something? I mean, what? So the Ultimate Showdown is going to be the biggest thing I’ve ever played. The goal will be to play more Standard: play more PPTQs and also prepare for the Ultimate Showdown.”
I asked Jack what his goals with Magic are, and got this absurd answer. “Goal? I don’t know, win a GP or whatever, but it won’t upset me if I don’t. I think it’s cool to be ‘up money’ on my hobby, but whatever. Maybe it’s to win an SCG Invitational and get my face on a token! Yeah, that’s a good goal.”
Here are a few of Jack’s more (and less) reasonable decks. Shuffle one up and let us know how it goes at your local!
Jund Nahiri – Jack Cooke
Fearless Mardu – Jack Cooke
Delver Moon – Jack Cooke