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

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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 Shadowspear as my first pick. I take it over a Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Acolyte of Affliction, 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 Rise to Glory from it hoping to move into Orzhov which is one of my favourite draft archetypes. 

Third pick I take a Chainweb Aracnir out of yet another weak pack. Fourth pick I take a Fateful End, 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 Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis which I take, being fine with a switch to Boros for the power level. Tectonic Giant is my second pick and I am extremely happy. Third pick I take a Gallia of the Endless Dance because I have a few Satyrs and it’s the best card in the pack. Fourth pick I take a Dreadful Apathy, 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 Wings of Hubris, which allowed me to get in two large attacks followed by a Fateful End. Game two I got Grey Merchanted a bunch and died pretty convincingly. Game three I curved two-drop, into three-drop, into Tectonic Giant 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 Shadowspear for as long as possible, eventually having my Nylea’s Forerunner revoked from existence. The turn after Shadowspear 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!


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 Thassa’s Oracle in hand. I lead on Thoughtseize, taking one of the two Oracles. Then I cast Dig Through Time to find another Thoughtseize for the other Oracle and a Fatal Push to take out the Inverter because I had used a Fabled Passage that turn. Game two the game was long and I eventually died to an escaped Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath. Game three went long and despite an early Deathrite Shaman from my opponent, I was able to stick two planeswalkers in the form of Jace, Wielder of Mysteries and Jace, Telepath Unbound. Eventually I managed to play an Inverter of Truth 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 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet 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 Fatal Push 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 Underworld Breach and he did it. Game 2 I managed to stick a Damping Sphere and win fairly easily. Game 3 I got an early Damping Sphere 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 Damping Sphere. 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 Thassa’s Oracle is much better than Jace, Wielder of Mysteries because it’s a cheaper way to combo. Going forward I will likely have three copies of Damping Sphere 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 Damping Sphere 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 Damping Sphere in play. Allen casts Granted for Natural State with one mana up and I respond with a Dig Through Time with six lands in play. He then attempts to Mystical Dispute my Dig, but I tell him that he can’t because of Damping Sphere. So I know two of the cards in his hand and I take a Thoughtseize and Inverter of Truth off my Dig to join the Thassa’s Oracle that I was holding onto. I draw for turn and quickly realize I’m dead because of the Mystical Dispute 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 Thoughtseize and am able to stick a Damping Sphere 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 Damping Sphere in play, knowing that the only way to get around it is Blast Zone

Huey draws a Sylvan Scrying for turn and puts Blast Zone in play but my plan is to go for the combo next turn. I play Inverter of Truth turning my library into three cards with an Opt and Censor in my hand. I target myself with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries having zero cards in my library. When Huey goes to put a counter on Blast Zone, I cycle Censor 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 Fatal Push. I was on the play thanks to being fourth seed and lead with Island and passed. Corey lead out with Thoughtseize 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 Thoughtseize’d on turn one from Corey. There was a turn where I cast a discard spell and took a Jace over a Dig Through Time 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 Pack Rat 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.