Controlling Pioneer

Before the onset of COVID-19 relegated all of our competitive Magic playing to the comfort of our own homes, my teammates and I were all high on Azorius Control in Pioneer for SCG Baltimore. Since the Players Tour the Tier 1 decks have remained fairly consistent: White Devotion, Inverter, Breach, Sultai, Spirits and Mono Red/Black.

Both big and small Teferi’s are the main sources of power for Azorius. Both do a significant amount of work against the field and can single-handily take over games. Being able to deal with creatures, countering spells and utilizing planeswalkers is the best of all worlds when the format allows for it. With this deck, you don’t play to win, you play not to lose. As safe as possible until you grind them into the dust with your card advantage and planeswalkers.

In case you never played [Card]Teferi, Hero of Dominaria[/Card] in old Standard. You can utilize the ultimate ability, retain Teferi, and then continue to minus three on itself to keep from running out of cards. Meanwhile each draw step exiles a card from the opponent’s board until eventual victory is assured.

My team — BCW — actually has a lot of control players on the squad. Corey Baumeister, Shaheen Soorani and Peter Ingram all put in a great amount of work to bring this beautiful list together. Battle plans for each of the top five decks have been designed so that games one through three are very favourable. This is what we came up with:

[Deck Title= Azorius Control – Eli Kassis]
[Spells]
4 Opt
3 Censor
2 Essence Scatter
1 Search for Azcanta
1 Tale’s End
4 Azorius Charm
1 Mystical Dispute
4 Narset, Parter of Veils
2 Sinister Sabotage
3 Teferi, Time Raveler
4 Supreme Verdict
3 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
3 Dig Through Time
[/Spells]
[Lands]
2 Castel Ardenvale
2 Castel Vantress
1 Fabled Passage
2 Field of Ruin
1 Geier Reach Sanitarium
2 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
3 Irrigated Farmland
2 Plains
6 Island
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Rest in Peace
1 Surge of Righteousness
2 Dovin’s Veto
3 Mystical Dispute
2 Gideon of the Trials
1 Gideon Ally of Zendikar
1 Settle the Wreckage
3 Dream Trawler
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

When a card is a singleton in the deck it typically meets a few criteria. It’s situationally broken against the right deck ([Card]Mystical Dispute[/Card] versus Blue Decks), we want to draw it in a long game ([Card]Geier Reach Sanitarium[/Card] with a Narset), or it’s broken enough on it’s own that sometimes it can spike a game ([Card]Search for Azcanta[/Card] on two). The fundamental game plan however is early game attrition and toslow the pace of play down. Then its [Card]Dig Through Time[/Card] for the best play-pattern and slowly pull further and further ahead. To that end you are highly encouraged to cycle your spells and not miss land-drops. This game plan works really well with all of the nice one-ofs in our deck because Dig ensures you can find them later on.

It’s almost like playing Urza online, the hope is that your opponent realizes what’s up and scoops before you drain the clock too much. Definitely recommend learning your lines well to bring up your pace-of-play with this deck. Otherwise you may just draw yourself out of a tournament. Sideboarding is fairly straight forward. [Card]Rest in Peace[/Card] for the graveyard decks like Breach and Inverter. Surge for the Black and Red aggressive decks. Veto for decks you can get into prolonged counter wars with. [Card]Gideon of the Trials[/Card] to shutdown Inverter and a few select other aggressive decks. [Card]Gideon, Ally of Zendikar[/Card] for when additional win-conditions are wanted. [Card]Settle the wreckage[/Card] to blow-out aggressive decks in general. [Card]Dream Trawler[/Card] comes in against quite a bit and usually ends up being MVP post-board. When the opposition has access to more interaction post-board Trawler makes for a great top-deck that can close the game when you’re forced to play a tap-out game.

Figuring out what to sideboard out is a tad more complicated as we try to play cards that are flexible versus the field in game one. Your first intuition may be to take out the Narsets versus aggressive strategies for instance. However, finding [Card]Supreme Verdict[/Card] and lining up your plays on turn three and four can be extremely important. Also, cards like Narset eat up damage intended for your face and feed the graveyard for a future [Card]Dig Through Time[/Card]s. [Card]Censor[/Card] is a good one to cut after your opponent has seen it and is likely to play around it anyway, especially on the draw. Cards like [Card]Essence Scatter[/Card] are obviously really bad against decks like Breach.

I try to teach people in coaching lessons that preserving the curve of a deck post-board is also of paramount importance. It can be hard to visualize this at a live event. That’s why structuring a sideboard guide before you go to a live tournament is also good practice. Also, your sideboard strategy for games two and three should probably change as your opponent will be compensating for your new plan.

When you’re playing a control deck it’s important to know your own weaknesses to understand how your opponents can exploit them. When your goal is to play as many turns as possible you have to know how each deck can beat you on turn 50.

White devotion decks can setup a combo without attacking and if they play Heliod first which allows them to play around [Card]Supreme Verdict[/Card] quite well. Spirits will try to overwhelm us fast and accrue damage while disrupting our answers with cards like [Card]Spell Queller[/Card] and [Card]Selfless Spirit[/Card]. I’d recommend that you tap-out on turn three to play planeswalkers even if they’re not always going to stick around, because if we can slow the opponent down enough to make enough land-drops. Eventually we will be able to recapture control of the game.

Inverter eats away at our specific answers and then tries to attack us on whatever front we are weakest. For this matchup a nice density of interactive spells can help, but I’ve also utilized the strategy of slowing myself down. Meaning I won’t cycle [Card]Censor[/Card]s and [Card]Opt[/Card]s until the first few turns are out of the way. After that I find they’ve burned through their [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card]s without having the pinnacle of options as we have retained cards strictly meant to be cycled. From there our top decking potential is maximized and they may have a difficult time navigating the game.

As always don’t forget to have fun with Magic. This deck can get on some people’s nerves and being cognizant of that can help you to be respectful. That said, I think this deck is really fun, and you get to play with some of the most fun printings in recent memories.

That said, like many of you I’m not sure when my next IRL event will be. But I will be jamming a ton online while we all stay inside and make sure we’re keeping healthy. You can check me out at Twitch.tv/elikassis where I’ll be battling a ton in both Pioneer and Modern. I’ll see you there!

Magic Super Saturday in Toronto & Quebec City

90 teams, almost 300 players and even more battling in side events descended on the Montecassino Hotel in Toronto this past weekend. The biggest event in the history of the F2F Tour!

And lucky for me, my team and I got to take down the whole thing.

Your F2F Tour Toronto champs, Capstick, Fournier and Tzaneteas.

This was the first Team Trios stop on the F2F Tour in 2020 and we heard Toronto loud and clear — y’all really like playing some team Magic.

Fournier, Elliot and I were able to take down the event with the lineup of Dimir Inverter in Pioneer, Amulet Titan in Modern and Golgari Depths in Legacy. A week prior to the event, Fournier and I didn’t even have a third and got extremely lucky to tag Elliot in. He’s kind of a silent master in the Toronto area and plays linear decks like Burn in Modern and Depths in Legacy extremely well.

In the finals we triumphed over the team of Brian Ching, Zach Ryl and Geng Yu Xu. These three have been battling together for a while now on the Face to Face Games Toronto Showdown series and Ching in particular has been on quite the heater with his [Card]Stoneforge Mystic[/Card] decks in Modern as of late.

Your F2F Tour Toronto Top 4.

Joining us in the Top 4 were the teams of Dhaliwal – Harvey – Van Vaals as well as Duong – Luciow – Ablack. The former were another team of Toronto ringers who have been putting up big results over the past year and the ladder were a combination of St.Catharines and Toronto players.

As for the metagame in the room, it can sometimes be hard to pin down what is most successful in these big team events. With that said, both Amulet Titan in Modern and Dimir Inverter were clearly the two front-runners in their respective formats. In my — admittedly biased — experience Amulet was incredible on Saturday and was able to simply run over all of the [Card]Blood Moon[/Card]s and [Card]Ashiok, Dream Render[/Card]s people had ready for me.

That said, I was specifically impressed with Ching’s deck from the Top 4 and would be interested in exploring various [Card]Stoneforge Mystic[/Card] decks in Modern. The combination of [Card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/Card] to induce fear in Amulet players and [Card]Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath[/Card] for fair mirrors is an extremely powerful one-two-punch.

The biggest event in F2F wasn’t the only event we hosted this past weekend. The Tour also stopped in Quebec City on the very same day. With that said, we’re still preparing the lists from Quebec City, so stop back later this weekend and check out all the details from that event.

Now, without further ado, here are the Top 4 lists from Toronto:

F2F Tour Toronto Top 4 Trios Decklists

First Place: Fournier, Capstick and Elliot

Pioneer

[Deck Title= Dimir Inverter – Daniel Fournier]
[Creatures]
4 Inverter of Truth
3 Thassa’s Oracle
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Censor
4 Dig Through Time
4 Fatal Push
2 Hero’s Downfall
4 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
1 Narset, Parter of Veils
4 Opt
3 Thought Erasure
4 Thoughtseize
[/Spells]
[Lands]
2 Choked Estuary
4 Drowned Catacomb
3 Fabled Passage
3 Fetid Pools
6 Island
3 Swamp
4 Watery Grave
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Cry of the Carnarium
2 Legion’s End
4 Mystical Dispute
2 Narset, Parter of Veils
4 Pack Rat
1 The Scarab God
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Modern

[Deck Title= Amulet Titan – Keith Capstick]
[Creatures]
4 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
4 Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
4 Primeval Titan
4 Sakura-Tribe Scout
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Amulet of Vigor
1 Engineered Explosives
4 Once Upon a Time
1 Pact of Negation
4 Summoner’s Pact
[/Spells]
[Lands]
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Breeding Pool
4 Castle Garenbrig
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Field of the Dead
2 Forest
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Golgari Rot Farm
2 Gruul Turf
1 Hanweir Battlements
1 Radiant Fountain
1 Selesnya Sanctuary
4 Simic Growth Chamber
2 Snow-Covered Forest
2 Tolaria West
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
1 Vesuva
1 Wooded Foothills
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Aether Gust
3 Beast Within
3 Dismember
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Field of the Dead
3 Mystical Dispute
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Tireless Tracker
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Legacy

[Deck Title= Golgari Depths – Elliot Tzaneteas]
[Creatures]
4 Dark Confidant
4 Elvish Reclaimer
1 Sylvan Safekeeper
4 Vampire Hexmage
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Abrupt Decay
1 Assassin’s Trophy
4 Crop Rotation
3 Duress
4 Mox Diamond
1 Sylvan Scrying
4 Thoughtseize
[/Spells]
[Lands]
3 Bayou
1 Bojuka Bog
4 Dark Depths
1 Forest
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Nurturing Peatland
1 Sejiri Steppe
1 Swamp
4 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Wasteland
4 Thespian’s Stage
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Assassin’s Trophy
1 Force of Vigor
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Karakas
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Pithing Needle
2 Plague Engineer
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Sylvan Safekeeper
2 Veil of Summer
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Second Place: Ryl, Ching and Xu

Pioneer

[Deck Title= Mono-Green Devotion – Zach Ryl]
[Creatures]
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Jadelight Ranger
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Voracious Hydra
2 Voyaging Satyr
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Karn, the Great Creator
4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
4 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
4 Wolfwillow Haven
[/Spells]
[Lands]
2 Castle Garenbrig
16 Forest
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Damping Sphere
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 God-Pharaoh’s Statue
1 Nylea’s Disciple
1 Pithing Needle
1 Questing Beast
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Shadowspear
1 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
1 The Great Henge
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
1 Verdurous Gearhulk
1 Walking Ballista
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Modern

[Deck Title= Bant Snowblade – Brian Ching]
[Creatures]
4 Ice-Fang Coatl
2 Snapcaster Mage
4 Stoneforge Mystic
2 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Arcum’s Astrolabe
1 Batterskull
2 Cryptic Command
3 Force of Negation
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Mana Leak
4 Path to Exile
1 Spell Snare
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
3 Teferi, Time Raveler
[/Spells]
[Lands]
1 Breeding Pool
3 Field of Ruin
4 Flooded Strand
1 Hallowed Fountain
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mystic Sanctuary
1 Snow-Covered Forest
6 Snow-Covered Island
2 Snow-Covered Plains
1 Temple Garden
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Aether Gust
2 Ashiok, Dream Render
1 Disdainful Stroke
2 Kor Firewalker
2 Mystical Dispute
1 Return to Nature
2 Timely Reinforcements
3 Veil of Summer
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Legacy

[Deck Title= Temur Painter – Geng Yu Xu]
[Creatures]
4 Emry, Lurker of the Loch
4 Goblin Engineer
3 Goblin Welder
4 Painter’s Servant
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Arcum’s Astrolabe
1 Ensnaring Bridge
4 Grindstone
1 Lion’s Eye Diamond
3 Lotus Petal
1 Mishra’s Bauble
3 Mox Opal
3 Oko, Thief of Crowns
3 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Soul-Guide Lantern
2 Veil of Summer
[/Spells]
[Lands]
3 Ancient Tomb
1 Great Furnace
2 Misty Rainforest
3 Scalding Tarn
1 Snow-Covered Forest
1 Snow-Covered Island
2 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Taiga
1 Tropical Island
1 Volcanic Island
2 Wooded Foothills
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Echoing Truth
2 Karn, Scion of Urza
3 Lightning Bolt
1 Pithing Needle
2 Return to Nature
1 Sai, Master Thopterist
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Trinisphere
1 Veil of Summer
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Third Place: Dhaliwal, Harvey and Van Vaals

Pioneer

[Deck Title= Dimir Inverter – Shawn Dhaliwal]
[Creatures]
4 Inverter of Truth
3 Thassa’s Oracle
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Dig Through Time
4 Fatal Push
1 Hero’s Downfall
4 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
2 Mystical Dispute
2 Narset, Parter of Veils
4 Opt
3 Thought Erasure
4 Thoughtseize
[/Spells]
[Lands]
3 Choked Estuary
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Fabled Passage
1 Fetid Pools
6 Island
3 Swamp
4 Watery Grave
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Cast Down
2 Damping Sphere
1 Doom Blade
2 Hero’s Downfall
3 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Legion’s End
1 Mystical Dispute
1 Narset, Parter of Veils
1 Thassa’s Oracle
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Modern

[Deck Title= Amulet Titan – Dominic Harvey]
[Creatures]
3 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
4 Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
4 Primeval Titan
4 Sakura-Tribe Scout
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Amulet of Vigor
1 Ancient Stirrings
4 Once Upon a Time
1 Pact of Negation
1 Primal Command
4 Summoner’s Pact
[/Spells]
[Lands]
2 Breeding Pool
4 Castle Garenbrig
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Field of the Dead
2 Forest
1 Ghost Quarter
2 Golgari Rot Farm
2 Gruul Turf
1 Hanweir Battlements
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Radiant Fountain
4 Simic Growth Chamber
1 Snow-Covered Forest
2 Tolaria West
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Vesuva
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Aether Gust
2 Beast Within
1 Bojuka Bog
3 Dismember
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Flashfreeze
1 Force of Vigor
1 Ghost Quarter
2 Mystical Dispute
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Legacy

[Deck Title= Sultai Zenith – Michael Van Vaals]
[Creatures]
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Dryad Militant
2 Gilded Goose
4 Ice-Fang Coatl
3 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
2 Noble Hierarch
1 Plague Engineer
1 Questing Beast
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Arcum’s Astrolabe
4 Brainstorm
1 Force of Negation
4 Force of Will
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
3 Oko, Thief of Crowns
1 Sylvan Library
[/Spells]
[Lands]
1 Bayou
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Karakas
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Polluted Delta
3 Snow-Covered Forest
2 Snow-Covered Island
1 Snow-Covered Swamp
1 Tropical Island
1 Underground Sea
3 Verdant Catacombs
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Carpet of Flowers
1 Collector Ouphe
1 Fatal Push
4 Leyline of the Void
1 Mindbreak Trap
2 Nissa, Vital Force
1 Pithing Needle
2 Plague Engineer
1 Veil of Summer
1 Vendilion Clique
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Fourth Place: Duong, Luciow and Ablack

Pioneer

[Deck Title= Sram Auras – Dap Duong]
[Creatures]
4 Alseid of Life’s Bounty
3 Aphemia, the Cacophony
2 Dryad Militant
4 Hateful Eidolon
4 Sram, Senior Edificer
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 All That Glitters
4 Cartouche of Solidarity
4 Ethereal Armor
3 Gryff’s Boon
4 Karametra’s Blessing
4 Sentinel’s Eyes
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Caves of Koilos
4 Concealed Courtyard
4 Godless Shrine
1 Mana Confluence
6 Plains
1 Swamp
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Apostle of Purifying Light
2 Damping Sphere
2 Dead Weight
1 Deafening Silence
2 Gideon of the Trials
2 Hushbringer
2 Tomik, Distinguished Advokist
1 Trial of Ambition
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Modern

[Deck Title= Burn – Andrew Luciow]
[Creatures]
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
4 Goblin Guide
4 Monastery Swiftspear
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Boros Charm
4 Lava Spike
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
4 Rift Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
4 Skewer the Critics
[/Spells]
[Lands]
2 Bloodstained Mire
3 Inspiring Vantage
5 Mountain
2 Sacred Foundry
4 Sunbaked Canyon
4 Wooded Foothills
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Deflecting Palm
2 Kor Firewalker
2 Path to Exile
2 Rest in Peace
3 Skullcrack
3 Smash to Smithereens
1 Wear // Tear
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Legacy

[Deck Title= Eldrazi Stompy – Muk Ablack]
[Creatures]
4 Eldrazi Mimic
3 Elvish Spirit Guide
3 Endbringer
4 Endless One
4 Matter Reshaper
1 Phyrexian Revoker
4 Reality Smasher
4 Thought-Knot Seer
2 Walking Ballista
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Chalice of the Void
3 Once Upon a Time
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Ancient Tomb
1 Blast Zone
4 Cavern of Souls
2 City of Traitors
4 Eldrazi Temple
3 Eye of Ugin
1 Forest
1 Karakas
3 Wasteland
1 Wastes
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 All Is Dust
1 Karakas
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Ratchet Bomb
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
3 Thorn of Amethyst
2 Warping Wail
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Congratulations once again to Daniel Fournier, Elliot Tzaneteas and I guess myself from everyone at Face to Face Games on their outstanding performances this past weekend! Before I leave you for the week, I’d like to also extend a special thank you to both our judge staff and our sponsor Ultimate Guard for helping us put on a great event.

The next stop on the F2F Tour is coming up this Saturday, March 7 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island where we’ll be hosting Modern! Make sure to pre-register and we’ll see you on the battlefield!

WPNQ Prelim Recap: Sultai dominated in Pioneer

It took us a few events, but I think we’ve found the grindy midrange deck Toronto players love to play in Pioneer. Sultai Delirium dominated our WPN Qualifier Showdown this past weekend by putting four copies in the Top 8.

But even that kind of domination wasn’t enough to stop Lucas Worrell and his beloved Spirits deck. He was able to overcome Ishkana and friends on his way to a Showdown victory on Sunday.

Your Showdown champ, Lucas Worrell.

It’s funny, because despite Spirits being a traditionally favourable matchup for Sultai, Lucas was able to tear through the deck on the way to his win. Including absolutely destroying me in the semifinals. The kid is a great competitor and loves this deck and it’s obviously no surprise to see him take down another Showdown and move up the leaderboard towards the top slot. He defeated Pete Smith on Sultai in the finals.

As for the dominance of Sultai itself, I think there’s a few reasons for that. First, it’s just a know phenomenon at this point that Toronto players gravitate towards this kind of deck. Midrange is always popular in the city and this deck is no exception to that rule. Edgar Magalhaes and I were both in Top 8 with the same 75 and I can confidently say that a major reason we chose to pilot it is that it’s extremely fun (while also being pretty good).

The second reason is the way Dimir Inverter has impacted the format. The combo control deck struggles a little against aggressive decks but has been putting up great results lately in Pioneer. So, the natural next step for competitive players is to build an interactive deck that beats aggro and has game against Inverter — which is why many people have arrived at Sultai.

Joining us in the Top 8 was Massimo Gordillo on Mono-Red Aggro, Daniel Fournier playing Inverter, Bill Irons rounding out the suite on Sultai Players and Robert Chalkey on Izzet Ensoul.

This event on Sunday was one of four total WPN Preliminary events that will lead up to our WPN Qualifier. In short, the Top 8 from each of these four prelims will battle it out in a 32 player event at the end of the season to qualify for the Players Tour.

Congratulations to Lucas Worrell on his finish this weekend that qualifies him for our upcoming Ultimate Showdown! He and the rest of our Top 8 qualified for our upcoming 32-person WPN  even that will have a Players Tour qualification on the line and also picked up some valuable points towards their qualification. Notably, his Top 8 finish pulls Daniel Fournier into second place on our Showdown leaderboard behind Omar Beldon. It’s still an uphill battle if anyone is going catch Beldon, but at least someone else has crested the 200 point mark. If you’re interested in your Showdown point total, check out our tracker here.

This upcoming weekend at Face to Face Games Toronto we’ll be hosting our second consecutive WPN Qualifier Showdown, but this time it will be Standard! Make sure to pre-register and we’ll see you at the shop!

[Deck Title= First Place, Bant Spirits – Lucas Worrell]
[Creatures]
4 Mausoleum Wanderer
2 Spectral Sailor
4 Rattle Chains
4 Selfless Spirit
4 Supreme Phantom
2 Brazen Borrower
4 Empyrean Eagle
4 Nebelgast Herald
4 Spell Queller
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Collected Company
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Botanical Sanctum
4 Breeding Pool
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Island
2 Plains
4 Temple Garden
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Rest in Peace
4 Mystical Dispute
1 Settle the Wreckage
2 Damping Sphere
4 Deputy of Detention
2 Devout Decree
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Second Place, Sultai Delirium – Peter Smith]
[Creatures]
1 Walking Ballista
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Ishkana, Grafwidow
2 Courser of Kruphix
1 Nimble Obstructionist
1 Murderous Rider
1 Tireless Tracker
4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
1 Lazav, the Multifarious
1 Scavenging Ooze
2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
4 Satyr Wayfinder
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
1 Assassin’s Trophy
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Grapple with the Past
3 Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 Thoughtseize
4 Fatal Push
[/Spells]
[Lands]
2 Forest
2 Swamp
1 Ipnu Rivulet
1 Island
1 Watery Grave
3 Fabled Passage
1 Botanical Sanctum
4 Breeding Pool
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Blooming Marsh
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Damping Sphere
1 Noxious Grasp
1 Assassin’s Trophy
3 Mystical Dispute
1 Notion Thief
1 Nimble Obstructionist
1 Hostage Taker
1 Reclamation Sage
3 Leyline of the Void
2 Languish
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Third Place, Sultai Delirium – Keith Capstick]
[Creatures]
4 Satyr Wayfinder
4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
1 Murderous Rider
2 Courser of Kruphix
2 Tireless Tracker
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
1 Walking Ballista
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
1 Eat to Extinction
1 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales
2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
2 Abrupt Decay
3 Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 Fatal Push
4 Thoughtseize
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Breeding Pool
1 Watery Grave
1 Opulent Palace
3 Fabled Passage
2 Forest
2 Island
1 Swamp
1 Ipnu Rivulet
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Leyline of the Void
3 Unmoored Ego
3 Mystical Dispute
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Sultai Charm
1 The Scarab God
2 Tireless Tracker
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Fourth Place, Izzet Ensoul – Robert Chalkey]
[Creatures]
4 Bomat Courier
4 Gingerbrute
2 Hope of Ghirapur
4 Skilled Animator
4 Stonecoil Serpent
2 Emry, Lurker of the Loch
1 Hangarback Walker
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Ensoul Artifact
4 Ghostfire Blade
1 Shadowspear
4 Shrapnel Blast
2 Wild Slash
2 Metallic Rebuke
[/Spells]
[Lands]
3 Steam Vents
4 Spirebluff Canal
4 Shivan Reef
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Mutavault
3 Spire of Industry
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Experimental Frenzy
2 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Hangarback Walker
2 Lava Coil
3 Mystical Dispute
1 Stubborn Denial
1 Bonecrusher Giant
3 Damping Sphere
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Fifth Place, Sultai Delirium – Edgar Magalhaes]
[Creatures]
4 Satyr Wayfinder
4 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
4 Urp, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
1 Murderous Rider
2 Courser of Kruphix
2 Tireless Tracker
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
1 Walking Ballista
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Abrupt Decay
3 Traverse the Ulvenwald
4 Fatal Push
4 Thoughtseize
1 Eat to Extinction
1 Tamiyo Collector of Tales
2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Breeding Pool
1 Watery Grave
1 Opulent Palace
3 Fabled Passage
2 Forest
2 Island
1 Swamp
1 Ipnu Rivulet
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Leyline of the Void
3 Unmoored Ego
3 Mystical Dispute
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Sultai Charm
1 The Scarab God
2 Tireless Tracker
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Sixth Place, Sultai Delirium – Bill Irons]
[Creatures]
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Walking Ballista
4 Satyr Wayfinder
4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
1 Murderous Rider
2 Courser of Kruphix
1 Scavenging Ooze
2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Brain Maggot
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Fatal Push
3 Traverse the Ulvenwald
2 Grisly Salvage
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Thoughtseize
2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
[/Spells]
[Lands]
1 Botanical Sanctum
1 Watery Grave
1 Opulent Palace
2 Island
2 Forest
1 Swamp
3 Fabled Passage
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Breeding Pool
4 Overgrown Tomb
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Disdainful Stroke
2 Damping Sphere
3 Unmoored Ego
1 Notion Thief
3 Mystical Dispute
2 Sultai Charm
1 Chanweb Arachnus
1 Duress
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Seventh Place, Mono-Red Aggro – Massimo Gordillo]
[Creatures]
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Soulscar Mage
1 Zurgo Bellstriker
3 Eidolon of the Great Revel
2 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider
4 Bonecrusher Giant
4 Goblin Rabblemaster
4 Torbran, Thane of Redfell
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4 Wild Slash
4 Lightning Strike
[/Spells]
[Lands]
2 Castle Embereth
14 Mountain
4 Ramunap Ruins
4 Mutavault
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Abrade
1 Eidolon of the Great Revel
2 Fry
2 Lava Coil
2 Collective Defiance
3 Rampaging Ferocidon
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Hazoret the Fervent
1 Rending Volley
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Eighth Place, Dimir Inverter – Daniel Fournier]
[Creatures]
3 Thassa’s Oracle
4 Inverter of Truth
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Thoughtseize
4 Fatal Push
4 Opt
3 Thought Erasure
1 Censor
1 Narset, Parter of Veils
2 Hero’s Downfall
4 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
4 Dig Through Time
1 Mystical Dispute
[/Spells]
[Lands]
2 Choked Estuary
4 Drowned Catacomb
3 Fetid Pools
4 Watery Grave
3 Swamp
6 Island
3 Fabled Passage
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Mystical Dispute
2 Narset, Parter of Veils
1 The Scarab God
2 Legion’s End
4 Pack Rat
1 Cry of the Carnarium
1 Negate
1 Doom Blade
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Phoenix Rising: a Players Tour Top 8 tournament report (Day 2)

Alas, it’s time to start Day 2 of competition.

I have a tough pod ahead of me that consists of Edgar Magalhaes, Brandon Pascal and Logan Nettles. After snagging a quick morning breakfast and coffee at Starbucks, I made my way to the tournament area. All four of us are passing to one another. Edgar is on my right and Brandon and Logan are to my left. 

I begin the draft as anyone would like to, with a [Card]Shadowspear[/Card] as my first pick. I take it over a [Card]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/Card] and [Card]Acolyte of Affliction[/Card], so I can assume Brandon is going to be taking one of those. Edgar passes me a relatively weak pack, but I happily take a [Card]Rise to Glory[/Card] from it hoping to move into Orzhov which is one of my favourite draft archetypes. 

Third pick I take a [Card]Chainweb Aracnir[/Card] out of yet another weak pack. Fourth pick I take a [Card]Fateful End[/Card], trying to consistently be taking the best cards out of the pack while looking for a signal. I take a few more red and green cards and I receive a last pick red card which I assume is Edgar signalling to me that I should be in red. Why else would you take a basic land over a normal card? Well… I would later find out the person to Edgar’s right took the basic land and left Edgar with two red cards and Edgar was in Izzet.

Pack Two yields me a first pick [Card]Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis[/Card] which I take, being fine with a switch to Boros for the power level. [Card]Tectonic Giant[/Card] is my second pick and I am extremely happy. Third pick I take a [Card]Gallia of the Endless Dance[/Card] because I have a few Satyrs and it’s the best card in the pack. Fourth pick I take a [Card]Dreadful Apathy[/Card], unable to commit to either colour. From there I see no white and solidify myself into Gruul. Here is the end result:

My Day 2 Draft deck.

Theros Beyond Death Draft #2

Round 9 – David Olsen (Win) 6-2-1

Time for me to exact my revenge! My opponent was playing a Dimir deck with a lot of countermagic. After a long grindy game one that almost got away from me, I was able to snag the match in two games with a nice satyr draw from my deck featuring Gallia. 

Round 10 – Brandon Pascal (Win) 7-2-1

I passed Brandon his entire deck and knew that this was going to be my toughest match yet. He was Golgari with at least three Gray Merchants. Game one I was able to cheese out a victory thanks to [Card]Wings of Hubris[/Card], which allowed me to get in two large attacks followed by a [Card]Fateful End[/Card]. Game two I got Grey Merchanted a bunch and died pretty convincingly. Game three I curved two-drop, into three-drop, into [Card]Tectonic Giant[/Card] and the game pretty much ended on the spot. He was light on removal which was good for me.

Round 11- Faraz Abounorinejad (Win) 8-2-1

Faraz was on Boros Aggro. I think I was naturally favoured in this match because I’m nearly as fast but my creatures are just a bit bigger. This is generally just true about aggro mirrors in Limited. Game one we raced a bit before I fell behind and had to go on the defensive. I was able to stabilize at two life and hold him off before closing out the game with some big creatures. Game two I slow rolled [Card]Shadowspear[/Card] for as long as possible, eventually having my [Card]Nylea’s Forerunner[/Card] revoked from existence. The turn after [Card]Shadowspear[/Card] came down and the game was pretty much locked up from there.

Overall I thought my deck was solid and I was anticipating a 2-1. But with a little bit of luck and a few great rares I managed to 3-0 the pod and move forward feeling good into Pioneer!

[Deck Title= Dimir Inverter – Pete Ingram]
[Creatures]
4 Inverter of Truth
3 Thassa’s Oracle
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
2 Omen of the Sea
2 Censor
4 Dig Through Time
4 Fatal Push
1 Hero’s Downfall
2 Mystical Dispute
4 Opt
1 Thought Erasure
4 Thoughtseize
[/Spells]
[Lands]
6 Island
2 Swamp
2 Choked Estuary
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Fabled Passage
2 Fetid Pools
4 Watery Grave
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Damping Sphere
1 Pack Rat
1 Hero’s Downfall
2 Mystical Dispute
1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
1 Agonizing Remorse
2 Cry of the Carnarium
2 Legion’s End
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

Pioneer with Dimir Inverter

Round 12 – Charles Wong – Sultai Inverter (Win) 9-2-1

I started out my constructed rounds in Day 2 in the feature match area. Game one I managed to pull out the win in clutch fashion. Charles went for the combo with double [Card]Thassa’s Oracle[/Card] in hand. I lead on [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card], taking one of the two Oracles. Then I cast [Card]Dig Through Time[/Card] to find another [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card] for the other Oracle and a [Card]Fatal Push[/Card] to take out the Inverter because I had used a [Card]Fabled Passage[/Card] that turn. Game two the game was long and I eventually died to an escaped [Card]Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath[/Card]. Game three went long and despite an early [Card]Deathrite Shaman[/Card] from my opponent, I was able to stick two planeswalkers in the form of [Card]Jace, Wielder of Mysteries[/Card] and [Card]Jace, Telepath Unbound[/Card]. Eventually I managed to play an [Card]Inverter of Truth[/Card] and win the match. 

Round 13 – Nathan Calvin – Mono-Black Aggro (Win) 10-2-1

Game one I managed to disrupt my opponent and kill a few things before executing the combo fairly early. Game two I was falling behind but I managed to stick [Card]Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet[/Card] and thankfully my opponent didn’t have an answer. There was a pivotal turn where my opponent decided he had to go for it even if I had a removal spell. I had a [Card]Fatal Push[/Card] and was able to kill a creature and block with a Zombie token and Kalitas and the game ended quickly after.

Round 14 – Matt Nass – Lotus Breach (Win) 11-2-1

I had made it this far without playing against the breakout deck of the tournament. I wasn’t looking forward to having to battle against the deck, but also someone who is very well known for playing these kinds of strategies. Game one I disrupt Matt’s hand a few times and he bricks on draws. I set up the combo and gave him a turn window to draw an [Card]Underworld Breach[/Card] and he did it. Game 2 I managed to stick a [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card] and win fairly easily. Game 3 I got an early [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card] in play but Matt was able to kill it. So on a turn where Matt was tapped out I pretty much had to Dig into my second [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card]. I cast Dig, looked at the top seven and hit! From there it was fairly easy to win the game after getting very lucky throughout this match.

This matchup is one where you need to mulligan aggressively and try to be as proactive as possible. This is also a rare matchup where [Card]Thassa’s Oracle[/Card] is much better than [Card]Jace, Wielder of Mysteries[/Card] because it’s a cheaper way to combo. Going forward I will likely have three copies of [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card] in my sideboard because I suspect this deck is going to be popular. 

Round 15 – Allen Wu – Lotus Breach (Loss) 11-3-1

Another Lotus Breach match against a player that I haven’t had much experience against, but seems to consistently crush tournaments. I have two win and ins for Top 8 at this point and I’m looking to lock it up immediately. Game one I die pretty fast to the combo which is how most game one’s are going to go in this matchup. Game two is very long and drawn out. I stick a [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card] but Allen answers it and I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose my first win and in for Top 8. I manage to go for the Combo in a turn and he surprisingly has nothing and we head to game three.

We had another long drawn out game where I have a [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card] in play. Allen casts Granted for [Card]Natural State[/Card] with one mana up and I respond with a [Card]Dig Through Time[/Card] with six lands in play. He then attempts to [Card]Mystical Dispute[/Card] my Dig, but I tell him that he can’t because of [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card]. So I know two of the cards in his hand and I take a [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card] and [Card]Inverter of Truth[/Card] off my Dig to join the [Card]Thassa’s Oracle[/Card] that I was holding onto. I draw for turn and quickly realize I’m dead because of the [Card]Mystical Dispute[/Card] in his hand. A heartbreaking loss after battling back game two.

Round 16 – William Jensen – Lotus Breach (Win) 12-3-1

This is it, for all the marbles. Game one I lose in typical fashion and I can just feel that sinking feeling come over me, but I snap out of it because I realize that this is my shot and that feeling certainly isn’t going to help me. Game two I mulligan and lead off with a [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card] and am able to stick a [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card] while Huey draws a bunch of air. I assemble the combo and we go off to game three. Game three goes long and comes down to a turn where I put a second [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card] in play, knowing that the only way to get around it is [Card]Blast Zone[/Card]. 

Huey draws a [Card]Sylvan Scrying[/Card] for turn and puts [Card]Blast Zone[/Card] in play but my plan is to go for the combo next turn. I play [Card]Inverter of Truth[/Card] turning my library into three cards with an [Card]Opt[/Card] and [Card]Censor[/Card] in my hand. I target myself with [Card]Jace, Wielder of Mysteries[/Card] having zero cards in my library. When Huey goes to put a counter on [Card]Blast Zone[/Card], I cycle [Card]Censor[/Card] and win the game.

I shake Huey’s hand and wish him the best of luck into making into the Top 8 despite losing which I believed to be very likely (Spoiler alert, he did). I’m still in disbelief as I stand up and am greeted by applause and high fives from many friends. I did it, I Top 8’d my first PT.

After filling out the Top 8 forms and doing my interview, I headed back to the Arrogant Butcher to join up with friends. After a nice dinner, I decided to be a great friend and pay for everyone’s dinner. And by that I mean I lost the credit card game, a loss that I took with a smile on my face. 

After dinner, I went back to the hotel with Eli Kassis. He and Edgar were gracious enough to offer to help me practice some games for my quarterfinals match against Corey. I played a few games against Edgar on Magic Online and then went to bed as I was extremely tired after a very long and stressful day. 

PT Phoenix Top 8. (Courtesy Wizards of the Coast)

Top 8 – Corey Burkhart – Dimir Inverter (Loss) 12-4-1

I woke up and headed to the site to get ready for my match with Corey. I had my sideboard plans pretty much locked up as I had a pretty good idea of what Corey was going to do in the matchup. I kept a marginal hand game one that had lands, cantrips and most importantly: zero copies of [Card]Fatal Push[/Card]. I was on the play thanks to being fourth seed and lead with Island and passed. Corey lead out with [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card] which is never a good sign. The game went on for a bit but Corey pulled ahead with Jace and it was off to game two. 


Game two was similar to game one. I kept a marginal hand and got [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card]’d on turn one from Corey. There was a turn where I cast a discard spell and took a Jace over a [Card]Dig Through Time[/Card] which may have been incorrect in retrospect. I knew I was cold to the Jace, but it’s possible I could have taken Dig and left mana open going into Corey’s fourth turn which he would be hard pressed to jam Jace into. I landed an Ashiok which did virtually nothing and eventually Corey landed a Jace. Then a [Card]Pack Rat[/Card] came down on Corey’s side which was the final nail in the coffin. Congratulations to Corey for being a stand up player and for taking down the tournament!

As for me, I think I learned a valuable lesson this tournament: Never count yourself out. Now, I’m in a great spot for Rivals and I’m fully reinvested into Magic which feels good. I feel this need to prove myself further, so I’m going to put my all into the Players Tour Finals in Houston in April.

Courtesy Wizards of the Coast.

Thanks to everyone who gave me support throughout this tournament, it really meant a lot.

You can check out my updated Dimir Inverter list and sideboard guide on the Team BCW Patreon! www.patreon.com/teambcw.

In Phoenix with No Hope: a Players Tour Top 8 tournament report (Day 1)

When I left for Players Tour Phoenix I really had no hope to do well. 

It was Wednesday night and I was wavering on what deck to play:

*Ding* *Ding* *Ding*

In the right hand corner, coming in at 150 lbs, we have Dimir Inverter: Lean, mean and I’d tuned the deck enough to be very confident in the list. 

[Deck Title= Finalist PT Brussels, Dimir Inverter – Piotr Glogowski]
[Creatures]
4 Inverter of Truth
4 Thassa’s Oracle
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Thought Erasure
4 Thoughtseize
2 Censor
4 Dig Through Time
2 Drown in the Loch
4 Fatal Push
4 Opt
2 Omen of the Sea
3 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
[/Spells]
[Lands]
2 Choked Estuary
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Fabled Passage
2 Fetid Pools
6 Island
3 Swamp
4 Watery Grave
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
2 Cry of the Carnarium
1 Damping Sphere
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Legion’s End
3 Mystical Dispute
1 Noxious Grasp
1 The Scarab God
1 Thief of Sanity
1 Ultimate Price
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

In the left hand corner, coming in at 200 lbs, we had Sultai Delirium coming off a fresh 4-1 in a league where the only thing I learned was that I wanted a second [Card]Murderous Rider[/Card].

[Deck Title= Winner PT Brussels, Sultai Delerium – Joel Larsson]
[Creatures]
2 Courser of Kruphix
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
3 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Murderous Rider
4 Satyr Wayfinder
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Tireless Tracker
4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
1 Walking Ballista
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Thoughtseize
3 Traverse the Ulvenwald
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Fatal Push
2 Grisly Salvage
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Blooming Marsh
1 Botanical Sanctum
4 Breeding Pool
1 Castle Garenbrig
3 Fabled Passage
1 Forest
2 Island
1 Opulent Palace
4 Overgrown Tomb
1 Watery Grave
1 Swamp
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Vivien Reid
1 Sultai Charm
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Noxious Grasp
2 Mystical Dispute
3 Leyline of the Void
1 Hostage Taker
1 Duress
2 Disdainful Stroke
1 Cast Down
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

My record with Dimir Inverter, despite winning SCG Richmond with it, was 10-6 so I wasn’t super confident in it and I also knew that it would have a huge target on its back going into the weekend. However, I knew the list I’d prepared was good and I didn’t know where to begin or end with Sultai Delirium, especially with so little time before decks were due. 

Courtesy StarcityGames.

I settled on a Dimir Inverter list with Edgar Magalhaes, Jonathan Rosum and Dylan Donegan. We all registered close to one another’s list at around 1:30 am EST. The most important last minute choice I made was to add a second [Card]Damping Sphere[/Card]. 

Thursday rolls around and my Team BCW chat is popping off with several players saying their flights were delayed or canceled. I was worried because my flight was very late and basically one delay would leave me drawing dead to arrive on time. I was flying out of JFK which was lucky because the weather gods shined down upon me and all was well. I end up getting in at the hotel in Phoenix at around 1:30 am, and eventually fall asleep to wake up early the next morning to get cards and battle. 

At some point on Thursday I get a Facebook message from Edgar which leads to us making a pact where if we 0-3 Draft, we have to book a flight to play in SCG Philadelphia. I’m pretty excited by this, considering my lack of faith in this tournament and also I don’t want to fall behind in the PC race. More on this later.

Friday morning Eli Kassis, Brandon Pascal and myself grab a quick breakfast from our hotel and head to the site. Draft pods go up and I get inspired to throw my AirPods in and listen to “Neato” by Three Loco, a tradition that will now be something I do at every PT. I get to my pod, sit down and the Draft gets underway.

Pack one, pick one I am faced with a tough decision: [Card]Calix, Destiny’s Hand[/Card] or [Card]Elspeth’s Nightmare[/Card]. I chose Calix based on the fact that I have lost to this card handily before and I think pairing either colour off with black and splashing the other will lead to a great deck. Thankfully when asked, Mike Sigrist agreed with my pick. I second picked an [Card]Elspeth’s Nightmare[/Card] but see no other black cards and quickly fall into Selesnya. I end with a sweet looking GWbu deck:

I played 16 land in this deck with Labyrinth, two Dryads and an Omen, I think it was more or less fine. I thought my deck could have trouble finishing out games so I incorporated Eutropia. I absolutely love this Limited format because I think there are a large pool of playable cards which leads to very interesting deck building. 

Theros Beyond Death Draft #1

Round 1 – Nathaniel Knox (Draw) 0-0-1

Game one is super long and grindy. Nathanial has a sweet UGwb deck featuring [Card]Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath[/Card], [Card]Shatter the Skies[/Card] and a bunch of other really strong cards. I managed to narrowly win game one by running him out of cards. Game two looked like it would end in similar fashion, but his second to last card is [Card]Sweet Oblivion[/Card] which milled me out and forced a game three. With very little time on the clock I managed to get Nathaniel down to one life by turn four of turns, resulting in a draw.

Round 2 – Michael Flores (Win) 1-0-1

Flores was on an aggressive Boros deck that featured [Card]Shadowspear[/Card]. Thankfully I was able to outrace it in game one thanks to [Card]Mantle of the Wolf[/Card] and [Card]Alseid of Life’s Bounty[/Card]. I boarded-out blue going into game two because I didn’t think I would need it to win games against such an aggressive strategy. Game two I played Mantle again and it was just as great as game one against the aggro deck and I was able to take the match down.

Round 3 – Tom Ross (Win) 2-0-1

This match was extremely close. We both had similar decks although Tom was Golgari and we both had [Card]Elspeth’s Nightmare[/Card]. Game three Tom stumbled on lands and I was able to capitalize playing around both the removal spells I knew he could have on three black mana, which he did. Eventually Calix came down and that was enough to seal the deal. 

Pioneer with Dimir Inverter

Round 4 – Tyler Hill – Mono-White Heliod (Loss) 2-1-1

I won game one fairly convincingly but games two and three my opponent was able to get [Card]Gideon of the Trials[/Card] down and I couldn’t get it off the table before it and some other creatures beat me to a pulp.

Round 5 – David Olsen – Mono-White Heliod (Loss) 2-2-1

My opponent was on Mono-White Heliod again, this time with maindeck [Card]Leyline of Sanctity[/Card]. Game one a [Card]Gideon of the Trials[/Card] landed again and it was able to both lock me out of winning and beat me down. Game two I keep a [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card], [Card]Opt[/Card] and single land hand and my opponent mulligans to five and puts a Leyline in play which I completely forgot about. I boarded-in [Card]Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver[/Card] like a dope. I fail to draw lands and quickly get run over after drawing an Ashiok which is a fitting punishment for my stupidity. 

How quickly we fall. Reality had checked in at this point and my mindset was completely shattered. I messaged Cory Baumeister who sadly wasn’t able to make the event and asked him if he would like to team for SCG Philadelphia assuming I get my third loss and am eliminated. That degen flight was looking more and more appealing by the minute at that point. Like the great friend Corey is he informs me that I need to chill out and that I can still win the PT. Corey, you’re great and I’m truly thankful we’re friends. You’ve made my event experiences so much better this year. 

Round 6 – Eric Fox – Mono-Black Aggro (Win) 3-2-1

I lost game one but was able to battle back with the help of my sideboard cards. I’m having a tough time remembering what happened this match, however I do remember it being very close. 

Round 7 – John Rolf – Mono-Red Aggro (Win) 4-2-1

This match had razor thin margins and I narrowly escaped with a win. It came down to a pivotal turn in game three where I jammed [Card]Jace, Wielder of Mysteries[/Card] onto a board where I could die if his hand was good, but if he had to kill Jace I would likely win. Thankfully he had to kill Jace and from there I was able to narrowly maneuver my way into assembling [Card]Inverter of Truth[/Card] + [Card]Thassa’s Oracle[/Card] to win the game when he was hellbent. 

After this round, Eli, Edgar and I all had win and in’s for Day Two. However, we were all on the win and stay or lose and head to the airport for SCG Philadelphia plan. I sat next to Edgar as I had for a bunch of rounds because we were both in the draw bracket. Both of our final matches were against 5C Niv-Mizzet. We were both torn at which result we wanted more, to win and stay for Day Two, or to lose and have a very sweet story to make a deep run in SCG Philadelphia.

Needless to say, I’m very happy with how things ended up.

Round 8 – Adam Fronsee – 5C Niv (Win) 5-2-1

I won game one after opening on some early discard and resolving the combo a few turns later. Game two was very interesting. I had ripped my opponents hand apart with discard and was super far ahead. I could go for the combo, but I would lose to a few cards if my opponent top-decked one of their three outs. So I went for a safer play of playing Jace on an empty board and plussing.

My opponent played a [Card]Niv-Mizzet Reborn[/Card], acquiring a [Card]Slaughter Games[/Card] and a [Card]Bring to Light[/Card]. On my turn I was able to [Card]Thoughtseize[/Card] the [Card]Slaughter Games[/Card], but I was fairly certain he had a second copy. So I passed the turn and my Jace died to Niv and he [Card]Bring to Light[/Card]s for [Card]Slaughter games[/Card] on [Card]Inverter of Truth[/Card] and I go onto lose the game. I couldn’t help but feel like I threw this game away and now game three was for all the marbles. Game three he got stuck on lands and I pulled super far ahead and won by milling him out with [Card]Jace, Telepath Unbound[/Card]’s ultimate.

Eli, Edgar, and I all advanced to Day Two! So the SCG Philadelphia dream was dead, but we all had our eyes set on broader horizons. Afterwards a bunch of us went out to a lovely dinner at the Arrogant Butcher, where we would go on to runback the following day. 

That’s how my day ended. From no hope to win, to a Jace ultimate and a birth in day two. But as you know now, my work wasn’t done there. I went to bed with bigger goals in mind than jumping on a last minute flight to Philadelphia.

The story of Day 2 of Players Tour Phoenix, coming soon.

Showdown Recap: Is Omar Beldon ever going to lose?

This whole Omar Beldon winning every Showdown thing is getting pretty exhausting. Can someone please beat this guy! We’re going to have to put a bounty on all his matches if this keeps up!

This past Sunday we hosted another Pioneer Showdown and despite lending almost his entire Pioneer collection to friends attending the Players Tour in Phoenix, Omar Beldon won his FOURTH Showdown of 2020 with Five-Colour Niv-Mizzet. A deck that in his own words, “sucks” despite the fact that he also Top 4’d the our F2F Tour Hamilton event with it just a day earlier.

Omar Beldon.

Omar was able to take down Lizzie Harms and her sweet Orzhov Auras deck in the finals. Omar’s Niv deck was very popular about a month ago before Dimir Inverter and Lotus Breach popped up in the format. Previously Niv was preying on Aggro decks like Mono-Black and the midrange red decks by going over the top of them. Now, Inverter and Breach have made it really hard to play such a slow gameplan when you can simply die when you tap out for your five mana payoff.

Your Pioneer Showdown Top 8.

Joining them in the Top 8 was Connors Eilerson, Andrew Oyen and Jason Arsenault who all played the Golgari [Card]Hardened Scales[/Card] deck, Chris Ha playing Mono-Black Aggro, Matt Mealing playing a sweet mono-red dragons deck and Pete Smith playing Sultai Delirium.

An extra special shoutout goes to Mealing and Oyen on their finishes. Oyen remarked to me after the event “when Mealing and i top 8 with brew’s you know it’s casual old man land.” They both proved that when it comes to a spicy brew — age is just a number.

As for Pioneer at large, well this event looked like a bit of an anomaly to me. Zero copies of Inverter or Breach in the Top 8 is certainly a strange site after the results of Players Tour Phoenix and our massive F2F Tour Pioneer weekend. With that said, we all know how much Toronto likes to play fair. If you’re looking for some extra Pioneer data, check out our metagame breakdown from the event on Saturday:

I guess this is the part of the article where I’m supposed to congratulate Omar on his finish. But at this point him winning everything and the smug Facebook messages I get after the fact about having to write about his victories are getting old. So instead, I challenge all of Toronto to come out to our Legacy Showdown this weekend and try to beat him!

As I’ve said in previous weeks, this season, we’re going to closely following the Ultimate Showdown leaderboard each week and I’ll be giving you updates on the race as the results unfold every week in these recaps. This week Omar increased his points total to an astounding 430 and notably Lizzie Harms also secured her spot in the Ultimate Showdown. For the full leaderboard check out our ongoing tracker here.

This upcoming weekend Face to Face Games Toronto we’ll be hosting a Legacy Showdown. Make sure to come out and play one of the only formats that [Card]Oko, Thief of Crowns[/Card] is still legal in! You can pre-register here and we’ll see you at the shop!

[Deck Title= First Place, Five-Colour Niv-Mizzet – Omar Beldon]
[Creatures]
4 Niv-Mizzet Reborn
4 Bring to Light
4 Sylvan Caryatid
3 Gilded Goose
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Thoughtseize
4 Teferi, Time Raveler
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
2 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
1 Dreadbore
1 Utter End
1 Slaughter Games
1 Hour of Devastation
[/Spells]
[Lands]
3 Breeding Pool
2 Mana Confluence
2 Temple Garden
2 Overgrown Tomb
4 Fabled Passage
2 Temple of Enlightenment
1 Godless Shrine
1 Temple of Silence
1 Temple of Deceit
1 Temple of Epiphany
1 Temple of Abandon
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Woodland Cemetery
1 Stomping Ground
1 Mountain
1 Island
1 Swamp
1 Forest
1 Plains
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Thoughtseize
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Thought Erasure
1 Rakdos’s Return
1 Selesnya Charm
1 The Scarab God
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Deafening Clarion
1 Infernal Reckoning
1 Kamal, Consul of Allocation
1 Questing Beast
1 Enter the God Eternals
1 Cut // Ribbons
1 Collective Brutality
1 Mystical Dispute
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Second Place, Orhzhov Auras – Lizzie Harms]
[Creatures]
4 Alseid of Life’s Bounty
4 Sram, Senior Artificer
4 Karametra’s Blessing
3 Aphemia, the Cacophony
4 Hateful Eidolon
2 Adanto Vanguard
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 All that Glitters
4 Sentinel’s Eyes
4 Gryff’s Boon
3 Cartouche of Solidarity
2 God’s Willing
4 Ethereal Armor
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Concealed Courtyard
7 Plains
4 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Leyline of Sanctity
2 Gideon of the Trials
2 Rest in Peace
3 Brain Maggot
3 Hushbringer
2 Dead Weight
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Third Place, Sultai Delirium – Peter Smith]
[Creatures]
4 Satyr Wayfinder
4 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
2 Courser of Kruphix
2 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
1 Lazav, the Multifarious
2 Murderous Rider
1 Ishkanah Grafwidow
1 Walking Ballista
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Traverse the Ulvenwald
1 Cast Down
1 Assassin’s Trophy
2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World
4 Thoughtseize
4 Fatal Push
2 Grisly Salvage
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Breeding Pool
3 Fabled Passage
4 Blooming Marsh
1 Ipnu Rivulet
2 Watery Grave
2 Forest
1 Swamp
1 Island
1 Botanical Sanctum
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Mystical Dispute
2 Nimble Obstructionist
1 Noxious Grasp
1 Assassin’s Trophy
1 Vivien Reid
1 Hostage Taker
1 Reclamation Sage
3 Leyline of the Void
1 Tireless Tracker
1 The Scarab God
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Fourth Place, Golgari Hardened Scales – Connors Eilerson]
[Creatures]
3 Elvish Mystic
4 Hangarback Walker
3 Llanowar Elves
1 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Stonecoil Serpent
4 Voracious Hydra
4 Walking Ballista
4 Winding Constrictor
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
2 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
4 Hardened Scales
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Blooming Marsh
6 Forest
1 Karn’s Bastion
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Woodland Cemetery
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Blightbeetle
4 Fatal Push
2 Golgari Charm
1 Scavenging Ooze
4 Thoughtseize
1 Tireless Tracker
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Fifth Place, Mono-Red Dragons – Matt Mealing]
[Creatures]
4 Rober of the Rich
4 Bonecrusher Giant
4 Thunderbreak Regent
4 Glorybringer
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Chandra, Fire Artisan
3 Wild Slash
4 Draconic Roar
4 Heart of Kiran
4 Sarkhan, Fireblood
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Mutavault
2 Ramunap Ruins
4 Haven of the Spirit Dragon
15 Mountain
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Sarkhan the Masterless
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Ash Zealot
2 Fry
3 Alpine Moon
2 Magma Spray
3 Anger of the Gods
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Sixth Place, Golgari Hardened Scales – Jason Arsenault]
[Creatures]
3 Steel Overseer
3 Metallic Mimic
4 Stonecoil Serpent
4 Hangarback Walker
4 Walking Ballista
4 Winding Constrictor
3 Llanowar Elves
3 Elvish Mystic
3 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
1 Evolutionary Leap
3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
4 Hardened Scales
[/Spells]
[Lands]
1 Hissing Quagmire
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Woodland Cemetery
2 Llanowar Wastes
7 Forest
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Heroic Intervention
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Thoughtseize
2 Noxious Grasp
2 Fatal Push
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Golgari Charm
1 Animation Module
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Seventh Place, Golgari Hardened Scales – Andrew Oyen]
[Creatures]
4 Lotleth Troll
4 Winding Constrictor
4 Stonecoil Serpent
2 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
2 Slitherhead
3 Walking Ballista
2 Hangarback Walker
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
3 Assassin’s Trophy
4 Hardened Scales
1 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
3 Thoughtseize
2 Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Overgrown Tomb
1 Swamp
5 Forest
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Woodland Cemetery
4 Blooming Marsh
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
1 Inspiring Call
2 The Great Henge
2 Shaper’s Sanctuary
1 Thoughtseize
4 Lost Legacy
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Walking Ballista
1 Questing Beast
1 Reclamation Sage
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]

[Deck Title= Eighth Place, Mono-Black Aggro – Chris Ha]
[Creatures]
4 Bloodsoaked Champion
4 Dread Wanderer
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
4 Knight of the Ebon Legion
4 Murderous Rider
4 Rankle, Master Pranks
4 Scrapheap Scrounger
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Fatal Push
2 Grasp of Darkness
1 Liliana’s Triumph
4 Thoughtseize
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Castle Locthwain
1 Ifnir Deadlands
4 Mutavault
14 Swamp
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Aethersphere Harvester
3 Agonizing Remorse
1 Infinite Obliteration
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
3 Leyline of the Void
3 Self-inflicted Wound
1 Legion’s End
1 Liliana the Last Hope
[/Sideboard]
[/Deck]