Breaking In – PTQ Liverpool 1st Place Tournament Report: Jund (Modern) by Andrew Quinn
Hi everyone! Welcome to my tournament report for PTQ Liverpool!
As the title has undoubtedly given away, this was a tournament that I ended up winning and this will be the first time I’ve written a tournament report for such a successful tournament on my behalf. So then, let’s get cracking
Play with what you know
My PTQ journey this year started with Chesham, just before Christmas. I had high hopes for the tournament and chose to play a [card]Scapeshift[/card] list that was teched out to the max! I love the archetype and I chose to run a traditional blue/red/green version, with [card]Pyroclasm[/card]s to help win aggro matchups, a [card]Desolate Lighthouse[/card] to help with board stalls, and a whole host of sweet inclusions, like [card]Electrolyze[/card], Meloku in the sideboard and all sorts of nice goodies. However, the deck didn’t play out exactly as I had planned and I ended up with a 3-3 record with 2 rounds left to go. I was also on tilt after some pretty harsh losses and chose to drop and recoup my thoughts. Despite this disappointing result, I learned a lot from the tournament itself about my own play skills and about the modern format as a whole!
First of all, I learned that I’m probably not good enough to be playing a grindy counterspell-heavy deck. In round 5 I played against noted British player and Channel Fireball writer Quentin Martin. Quentin was playing a U/W control deck and whilst I lost game 2 due to a poor mulligan decision followed by an unfair amount of mana screw, game 1 was hard fought and I was completely outclassed in the mirror match of [card]Cryptic Command[/card]s! I’m notably not a particularly great control player and in this case, the Magic veteran clearly had an advantage over me in this area.
Secondly, I played 6 matches of Magic and didn’t want counterspells in 4 of them! I was very surprised by how often I was wanting to sideboard away my [card]Remand[/card]s and Cryptics in favour of removal spells and life gain spells. This made me realise that being reactive in a format that has so many aggressive midrange decks in it is probably not a good idea, so being proactive is probably a lot stronger!
So, back to the drawing board I went.
Luckily, I am part of a playtesting team so I was able to gather up some guys to do some brainstorming with. I tried putting together a whole host of decklists including RGB Scapeshift which replaces counterspells with more removal and discard spells, Red/Black burn, Bant midrange with [card]Cold-Eyed Selkie[/card] + [card]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/card] and all sorts of others. Whilst my friend and teammate David Inglis was set on a 4-Colour [card]Mystical Teachings[/card] list, I felt like I couldn’t learn the deck to a high enough standard having never played it before. Similarly, Pro Tour competitor Aaron Biddle was sold on Kiki-Jiki [card]Birthing Pod[/card] combo, but once again I felt I wouldn’t be able to learn the deck well enough before the tournament.
I put this predicament to my Facebook page and the large majority of people suggested I just play Jund. It has everything I want to play in it and I’ve been playing it forever! [Editor: no lie, he has literally been playing it forever…] Whilst I was reluctant to pick up the best deck in the format and have to play around whatever hate cards people had brought for me, with only a few days left before thr PTQ, I wanted to just play a good deck and see how I went with it.
So, based on the high number of Red burn, Zoo and Jund decks at the Chesham PTQ, I figured that the Liverpool crowd would be similarly biased and opted to stick to a 3-colour Jund list (not playing white) that used [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] in the maindeck over the newly popularised [card]Lingering Souls[/card] or [card]Geralf’s Messenger[/card]s.
My hope was that [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] would help give me an edge against these decks by making aggressive trades with creatures and gaining me life at the same time. [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] also does a great job of making [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] even worse against me, since both halves of him can trade off with the Geist himself. In addition, I made a concession that the following deck may very well be in attendance:
4 [card]Slippery Bogle[/card]
4 [card]Gladecover Scout[/card]
4 [card]Kor Spiritdancer[/card
4 [card]Daybreak Coronet[/card]
4 [card]Ethereal Armor[/card]
4 [card]Hyena Umbra[/card]
2 [card]Keen Sense[/card]
3 [card]Path to Exile[/card]
3 [card]Spider Umbra[/card]
4 [card]Spirit Mantle[/card]
4 [card]Razorverge Thicket[/card]
3 [card]Temple Garden[/card]
4 [card]Misty Rainforest[/card]
4 [card]Verdant Catacombs[/card]
2 [card]Dryad Arbor[/card]
3 [card]Horizon Canopy[/card]
This monstrous concoction of Hexproof creatures and massive auras looked like a pretty rough matchup since not a single piece of good removal can interact with it. The [card]Hyena Umbra[/card]s protect against dying to blocks, Wrath effects and more whilst the [card]Rancor[/card]s and [card]Spirit Mantle[/card]s make profitable blocks impossible.
I figured the deck would be a nightmare to play against and thought that having [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] in my maindeck would at least help against that matchup while not being a bad card by any stretch. I also included some [card]Golgari Charm[/card]s in my sideboard to help deal with it. So, with all of this in mind, I came up with the following list, which I registered the following morning.
The Deck: Boring Jund by Andrew Quinn
4 [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]
4 [card]Dark Confidant[/card]
4 [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]
4 [card]Kitchen Finks[/card]
3 [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]
Other Spells (13):
2 [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]
3 [card]Inquisition of Koilek[/card]
4 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]
4 [card]Blackcleave Cliffs[/card]
1 [card]Blood Crypt[/card]
4 [card]Marsh Flats[/card]
1 [card]Overgrown Tomb[/card]
4 [card]Raging Ravine[/card]
1 [card]Stomping Ground[/card]
1 [card]Treetop Village[/card]
1 [card]Twilight Mire[/card]
4 [card]Verdant Catacombs[/card]
1 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]
2 [card]Fulminator Mage[/card]
2 [card]Golgari Charm[/card]
1 [card]Jund Charm[/card]
2 [card]Obstinate Baloth[/card]
2 [card]Rakdos Charm[/card]
2 [card]Slaughter Games[/card]
1 [card]Sword of Light and Shadow[/card]
So yeah, if you’re no stranger to the wonderful world of Modern magic, I don’t think anything in this list is bound to surprise you. For those of you less clued up on the format, here’s a quick rundown of the important pieces in the decklist:
[card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]/[card]Dark Confidant[/card]/ [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]
The standard suite of Jund creatures which probably should never change from this configuration. They are hands down the best creatures in these 3 colours and are the very core of the deck! Kitchen Finks goes along with them here and I’ve already explained my reasoning behind him. [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] has become questionable thanks to cards like [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and [card]Rest in Peace[/card] being able to control his size, but there’s no way he’s leaving the deck any time soon! He’s just too good!
So, Jund was a good deck before this card was printed but this is the card that pushes it WAY over the edge. In my honest opinion, this is the best card in not only this deck, but in the whole modern format. Jund has always wanted to play some sort of mana guy on turn 1, whether it was a [card]Noble Hierarch[/card], a [card]Birds of Paradise[/card] or something else, which could allow for crazy turn 3 Bloodbraid Elves, but alas, including such creatures in your deck makes cascade a lot worse and hence these have ever been played in Jund. However, cascading onto [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] is a whole other story, since once he’s in play, he dominates the board!
He will be able to kill the opponent, stop you from dying, accelerate you, shut off graveyard interactions like [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] and [card]Eternal Witness[/card], help control the sizes of opposing creatures like [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s and [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card]s and probably a whole load more! Not to mention he is also a 1/2 and can ATTACK if needed! He also doesn’t die to [card]Gut Shot[/card]s, [card]Darkblast[/card]s or [card]Golgari Charm[/card]s… What else is there to say? This guy is effectively better than a 1-mana Planeswalker and is just incredible.
My advice to anyone reading this looking to take down the next PTQ in Milton Keynes is PLAY DEATHRITE SHAMAN!
[card]Lightning Bolt[/card]/[card]Abrupt Decay[/card]/[card]Terminate[/card]
Every midrange deck needs a suitably diverse suite of removal spells and that’s exactly what we have here. [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] has been the best red spell in existence ever since it was first printed in Alpha and justifiably so. [card]Terminate[/card] is a catch-all kill spell which will destroy everything it can possibly target, which sometimes you need to do if [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] won’t do the trick (for example against [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s, [card]Restoration Angel[/card]s, [card]Primeval Titan[/card]s and so on).
[card]Abrupt Decay[/card] is a sweet one from Return to Ravnica too! A lot of Modern’s creatures cost 3 or less and so [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] is often just a green/black [card]Terminate[/card] that can’t be countered, but the reason it isn’t just more [card]Terminate[/card]s is because, whilst the uncounterable clause is often irrelevant, [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] catches a lot of permanents that would otherwise be tricky to deal with, such as [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], [card]Jace Beleren[/card], [card]Daybreak Coronet[/card], protection Swords, [card]Cranial Plating[/card] and all sorts of other things!
Some people are opting to play spells like [card]Go for the Throat[/card] or [card]Doom Blade[/card] over [card]Terminate[/card] to make it easier on the mana, but I’ve never been one to care about such a thing! [card]Terminate[/card] is the best removal spell available, so why not use it? The number of times you’ll be hindered by playing a weaker spell vastly outweighs the number of times you’ll have [card]Terminate[/card] and not be able to use it, especially with [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] around to help you!
[card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]/[card]Thoughtseize[/card]/[card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
This is the proactive nature that I was talking about before, since if you’re not running counterspells, you need some way of beating the various combo decks that go around Modern, such as Storm, [card]Splinter Twin[/card] and Eggs and discard is how Jund chooses to do this. Liliana also doubles up as a removal spell which is extremely useful.
I chose to go with 2 [card]Thoughtseize[/card]s and 3 Inquisitions despite many decks choosing to go the other way around. My reason for this was that even though I felt I wanted 5-6 discard spells and I wanted an even split of these two, [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] was marginally better than [card]Thoughtseize[/card] in this environment due to the expected number of midrange and burn decks. It was my hope to try and stop losing so much life in game 1 against these decks before getting a chance to board out the discard spells.
[card]Raging Ravine[/card]/[card]Treetop Village[/card]
“Manlands” are exactly the reason that this deck is able to run 24 lands with such a low curve. Late game, your excess land drops become a lot more useful if you have a [card]Treetop Village[/card] or [card]Raging Ravine[/card] waiting in the wings to finish off your opponent with. I opted to go for 4 Ravines and only 1 Village because I believe that [card]Raging Ravine[/card] being able to fix your mana better is more relevant than [card]Treetop Village[/card] animating for less mana and having trample. I also think that [card]Raging Ravine[/card] becoming bigger with every attack is more useful than [card]Treetop Village[/card]’s trample ability. Ravine often gets very big (about a 7/7 before killing them) and is pushed out of burn spell range even quicker!
I personally wouldn’t change these numbers, but I can certainly see adding more Villages or doing a different split. Whichever way you prefer, you can’t go wrong with some number of these!
[card]Marsh Flats[/card]/[card]Verdant Catacombs[/card]
Fetchlands are extremely important and make up the very core of this manabase! They are able to find each of my Ravnica shocklands and basics if I need to. They’re also extremely important for maximising the potential of [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], meaning he can rarely not produce mana when you have him in play. [card]Verdant Catacombs[/card] is capable of finding every basic and shock in this deck and I went for 4 [card]Marsh Flats[/card] over any of the other fetchlands, since black is the most prevalent colour in the whole deck and being able to cast a [card]Thoughtseize[/card], Inquisition or [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] on turn 1 off of a basic swamp is extremely important in some matchups, which [card]Marsh Flats[/card] enables!
[card]Golgari Charm[/card]/[card]Rakdos Charm[/card]/[card]Jund Charm[/card]
Yes, I’m playing every multi-coloured charm in the available colours! They’re just the best sideboard cards in existence! In a format like this where you can easily name about 15-20 playable archetypes (I played against 10 over the day and missed a few very notable ones too!), the key to a good Jund sideboard is having a variety of answers. [card]Smelt[/card] is a good sideboard card for example, but [card]Rakdos Charm[/card] does exactly the same thing, whilst also being amazing against Storm decks (exiling their [card]Past in Flames[/card] or killing them outright after an [card]Empty the Warrens[/card]), [card]Splinter Twin[/card] and a whole host of other decks!
[card]Pyroclasm[/card] would be sweet, but again, [card]Jund Charm[/card] just makes more sense, being an instant and having the versatility to be played in more ways against more decks! [card]Golgari Charm[/card] is a newer addition to the Jund sideboard though, as an almost completely dedicated slot against the G/W Bogles deck that I alluded to earlier, but being able to kill [card]Dark Confidant[/card]s, goblin/spirit tokens, [card]Memnite[/card]s/[card]Vault Skirge[/card]s and so much more, made it a breakthrough all star from my sideboard that I didn’t expect to be so impressive when I put it in the list!
Finally, just a couple of obvious omissions that you may have seen in other lists:
Whilst [card]Dismember[/card] is a very powerful removal spell, I felt it wasn’t right for this tournament for a couple of reasons. Firstly, for it to be better than [card]Terminate[/card], you have to be casting it for 1 mana and 4 life, yet in a format which I expected to be dominated by aggro, life loss was not among the list of things I wanted to be doing if I could help it. Secondly, the format is constantly shifting and there are a few creatures in the metagame that [card]Dismember[/card] can’t deal with, making [card]Terminate[/card] a better option, such as [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] and [card]Primeval Titan[/card].
Olivia has been a mainstay in the Jund sideboard ever since Yuuya Watanabe won the 2012 Player’s Championships with 1 in his sideboard. Olivia is obviously a very powerful card, but I don’t like her myself. Once in play, she requires a lot of work to be good and the decks that she’s good against have begun adapting to her presence and I feel that the format is a lot more hostile towards her now, so I cut her from my list in favour of life gain spells like [card]Batterskull[/card] and [card]Sword of Light and Shadow[/card] against the midrange decks!
Ok then, after debating with my teammates about various sideboard slots, including the [card]Olivia Voldaren[/card] and my idea of playing [card]Chameleon Colossus[/card] for the Jund mirrors I was probably going to face, I settled on my list and we began the tournament.
The Tournament Report
Round 1 vs. Ray Doyle (White Jund)
And so, my first mirror match of the day! This player was a liverpool local who I’d not met before but was very enjoyable to play against.
In game 1, I landed [card]Dark Confidant[/card] on turn 2 and he just stuck it out for the whole game. Turns out drawing two cards per turn is a huge bonus! A [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card] later found me another Confidant and after flipping double [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card] in one turn (yeah…), I eventually overwhelmed him with superior hand advantage and board presence!
In game 2, he had to mulligan and the discard spells I had left after sideboarding, combined with my removal made short work of the spells he did draw, but it didn’t take very long and I was off to a roaring start!
Round 2 vs. Richard Hagon (Red/Black Burn)
Yes, Mr. Voice of the Pro Tour himself! For those of you who don’t know, Rich Hagon is the one of the now many faces you will encounter if you watch the live coverage for the Pro Tour and Grand Prix circuit! Whilst this is his main commitment to Magic, it doesn’t stop him from playing and he still enjoys heading to English PTQs and is a delight to play against!
In game 1, it didn’t take long for me to see he was on a burn deck, since he wasted no time in hitting me with a [card]Lava Spike[/card] to the dome! I used an [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card] to take away another one from his hand, seeing a hand that was pretty heavy on lands. I soon landed a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and a [card]Dark Confidant[/card], which allowed me to capitalise on his lack of burn spells and abundance of lands. A few life gains from [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and a [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] later secured me the win.
For game 2, Rich pondered over his starting hand for a quite a while before deciding to keep it. He started off the same way, with a [card]Blackcleave Cliffs[/card] into a [card]Lava Spike[/card] to my face! I played out my usual [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] but just one turn later, it was obvious why he thought about the hand for so long. He had kept a 1-lander with a seriously impressive number of 1-mana burn spells, another of which he threw at my face before passing the turn! I carried on and on my turn 3, I was able to land [card]Obstinate Baloth[/card] with a little help from [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and Rich was still stuck on one land. I pressed the advantage further and just a few turns later, despite having about 5 1-mana burn spells and finally hitting his second land drop, there wasn’t anything Rich could do and the game was mine.
Round 3 vs. Alex Mitchell (R/G Tron)
As soon as I saw I was against a Tron deck, my heart sank. Tron is by far the worst known matchup for Jund and I knew that in order to win, I’d have to pull out all the stops!
Game 1 was over pretty quickly! He managed to land [card]Karn Liberated[/card] on turn 4 and despite me having a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] to kill it after he exiled one of my creatures, the damage was done and it wasn’t long before Emrakul was doing his job!
For Game 2, I brought in every possible hate card I had in an attempt to try and stem the flow of damage. On the play, I was able to use [card]Fulminator Mage[/card]s to keep him off the Tron lands necessary to cast his big spells and I followed it up with a [card]Slaughter Games[/card] to get rid of his [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]s! After this, I continued to push the advantage and beat him down, forcing home the win!
Game 3 started off similarly. I was able to use a timely [card]Fulminator Mage[/card] to keep him off Tron for a while, and begin to apply pressure with a [card]Raging Ravine[/card] and a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]. Soon after, we reached a very awkward impasse when I had him on 1 life and he was finally able to get [card]Eye of Ugin[/card] online with enough mana to get a [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] on the table. At this point, my [card]Raging Ravine[/card] was a 6/6 and a 7/7 if I attacked with it, meaning that if he attacked me and gained 6 life, I’d be able to win on the counterswing.
Then to make things even worse, time was called on the round! All I could do was pass. He played out a land and passed back. Hoping for some sort of miracle off the top of my deck, I drew a Lightning Bolt for the win! He couldn’t believe it! He showed me his final land inhand and the Emrakul he could have cast with the mana it would give him! It was such a close game and all props to him, he was very humble in defeat!
Round 4 vs. Neil Rigby (Bogles…)
And of course, the fated Bogles matchup had to happen at some point! On one hand, winning would give me my first 4-0 record in a tournament ever! Losing would mean I have to win out to get a top 8 slot!
Game 1 was very easy since he kept a hand with only 1 aura in it and drew no more, but did manage to draw 8 lands in the process!
Game 2, the deck did what it was meant to with a [card]Slippery Bogle[/card] on turn 1 followed by a pair of 1-mana Auras on turn 2 and a couple more on turn 3 just for good measure! I tried to mount a defence whilst trying to apply some pressure, but thanks to a few stupid misplays (like forgetting a [card]Suppression Field[/card] was in play to stop me cracking my fetchlands), I couldn’t stop the Bogle’s onslaught!
Game 3 went a similar way! Neil managed to assemble a [card]Gladecover Scout[/card] and 2 [card]Ethereal Armor[/card]s to beat me down with! He ended up with no cards in hand and I felt like I might be able to block it for a while, thanks to drawing a pair of [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] and a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] to be attacking with, but he drew a [card]Rancor[/card] soon after to stop this plan from working, followed by a 3rd [card]Ethereal Armor[/card], making his 1/1 Hexproof creature now a 19/17 with Hexproof, First Strike and Trample… Needless to say I scooped up pretty much immediately!
Round 5 vs. David Inglis (4-Colour Teachings)
Well, this sucks! Having to play against a friend always sucks, but the fact that we worked together on testing for this PTQ and now one of us would be put out of top 8 contention! We discussed the possibility of an I.D. but we both agreed there was a good chance that having an I.D. this early on might put us both out of contention and wouldn’t do us any good! So, we settled on just playing out the game and seeing where we end up. We knew that regardless of the result, we weren’t going to be very happy…
Game 1 resulted in a land flood on my part which resulted in David taking advantage very quickly, hitting his [card]Pulse of the Fields[/card] and [card]White Sun’s Zenith[/card] to close out the game!
Game 2 was much longer, but with 2 [card]Slaughter Games[/card] in my opening hand being able to remove [card]Cryptic Command[/card] and [card]Mystical Teachings[/card] from Dave’s deck so very few of his draws ended up being live and I was able to ride my manlands and Goyfs home to go 1-1 in the match.
In Game 3, I kept a hand of 3 discard spells against his mulligan to 6 and Dave was left with nothing in hand very quickly. 2 [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]s helped me press the advantage even more and whilst Dave tried to hold me at bay, it didn’t last long enough and I went on to round 6 still alive for top 8!
Round 6 vs. Adrian Alvarez (Storm combo)
So, game 1 begins and I get off to a roaring start! I tear into his hand with some discard spells and even land a Liliana to seal the deal! But for some reason, he’s able to start comboing off with just 3 cards in his hand and having generated close to 30 storm, he finds the [card]Grapeshot[/card] he was looking for and kills me! Well that was pretty shocking and I wasn’t too confident moving into game 2!
To start us off, I was able to apply some pressure and land a [card]Dark Confidant[/card], then a [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] allowed me to hit [card]Slaughter Games[/card] on turn 3, naming [card]Grapeshot[/card]! However, I spotted an [card]Empty the Warrens[/card] in his hand and a bunch of rituals. A turn or so later, he began to combo off, but a well-timed [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] on his [card]Goblin Electromancer[/card] limited him to a storm count of just 7, rather than the 20 or so he could have gotten with a [card]Past in Flames[/card]! The following turn, I peeled a [card]Rakdos Charm[/card] off the top and shot him for 14 damage when he was already on just 12 life!
For game 3, I began ripping apart his hand again and once I began applying pressure, he decided to combo off early and managed to make 8 Goblins. I was on 14 life and was able to leave enough creatures back each turn to trade off with the Goblins profitably and a few turns later, he offered the handshake!
Round 7 vs. Scott Rainford (R/G Tron again…)
At this stage I began buzzing! Only once before had I ever been in a situation where just one more win would let me intentionally draw into a big top 8! I sat down and my heart dropped as I saw that I would be playing the same player I’d seen knock my friend Aaron Biddle out of top 8 contention! Whilst I guess I’d like some payback, I also knew he was on R/G Tron and as such would be an extremely hard match to win!
Game 1 was bizarre as both of us traded off haymakers for a while and were left with no cards in hand very quickly! From that point, I tried drawing out of the situation, but he kept drawing removal spells and finally an Emrakul to win the game with!
In game 2, I had an Inquisition on turn 2, revealing a hand of triple [card]Karn Liberated[/card], a [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] and the lands to hit them in just 2 turns’ time! Following that, I had a turn 3 [card]Fulminator Mage[/card] to keep him off Tron and then a turn 4 [card]Slaughter Games[/card] naming [card]Karn Liberated[/card] decimated his hand! Topped off by a turn 5 [card]Thoughtseize[/card] to remove the [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card], he had nothing left and didn’t draw anything else!
Game 3, predictably enough, started with a [card]Thoughtseize[/card] to see what my opponent has holding and to my surprise, I saw 2 [card]Ancient Stirrings[/card] and some lands, after his turn 1 play was just a land. So, I took one of the Stirrings and the following turn, his second Stirrings found him nothing of note and I hit the gas, beating down as fast as possible with my creatures! Much later on, he managed to resolve a [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card], but a [card]Rakdos Charm[/card] to kill it and a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] to dispatch the lifelinking token meant that my attack would connect without him gaining life back and the win was mine!
Round 8 vs. Jim Corwood (Junk Midrange)
Well this sucked! I was 6th in the standings with a 55% OMW and Jim was 8th with only 50%. Worse yet, if we IDed the match, Jim would most likely be 9th thanks to the X-1-1 players listed having better tiebreakers! So, we decided to just play it out and settle with the result. Better yet, the organisers announced this as their chosen feature match for the round, since the winner would top the standings and the loser would walk away with just a handful of boosters to show for it!
So, we had the camera set up and began the first game, where Jim led off with a [card]Birds of Paradise[/card] and it became clear he was on a WGB midrange deck of some sort, although I wasn’t sure if it was with [card]Birthing Pod[/card] or with [card]Wilt-Leaf Liege[/card]s or with something else. The game progressed until I was able to kill his [card]Birds of Paradise[/card] and [card]Terminate[/card] on his [card]Stirring Wildwood[/card] as he tried to block with it left him with very little mana and he was stuck, not being able to cast any spells and he conceded soon later!
The Top 8
And there we had it! My very first PTQ Top 8! Not only that, I was officially top of the standings, meaning I’d be on the play in every match I played in the top 8! At this point, I was pumped with adrenaline. I figured that with the advantage of going first in every match, I might actually have a shot at winning!
The top 8 consisted of a lot of midrange decks along with me and unfortunately for my chances, Neil Rigby and his Bogles deck also made it! Simply from looking at the top 8, whilst it would be very difficult to do so, I figured I had a shot at beating anyone in the top 8 other than Neil, so I hoped I didn’t have to play him straight away and that maybe someone else would beat him before I reached him! I figured it wasn’t worth dwelling on it. At this point, I’d already surpassed my own expectations and leaving this tournament I’d be happy no matter what the result! I had a mat and a booster box to show for it and I was ecstatic!
As a note, all of my top 8 matches were filmed, so I’ll give a very brief overview of each match and you can watch the coverage for yourselves when it’s available online!
Quarter Finals vs. Stephen Keenan (UWR Midrange)
I sat down with Stephen and he told me this was also his first PTQ Top 8, so just like me, he was happy whether he won or lost. Game was decided very quickly. I thoughtseized him turn 1 to see a bunch of 3-4 mana creatures and 2 lands, after which he drew no more lands and I piled on the beats with Bloodbraid Elves and Tarmogoyfs!
Game 2 was a little more fair, but I drew far too many cards from a Dark Confidant and very soon was left with a situation where Stephen had no cards in hand to my 4 or 5 and it didn’t take long to finish it!
Right next to our table, I noticed that Neil had lost his top 8 match! I now faces a top 4 of myself, 2 Haunted Zoo decks and 1 Affinity deck, so I figured my chances of taking home the Pro Tour Invite just increased dramatically!
Semi-Finals vs. John Malanaphy (Haunted Zoo)
Throughout this match, I had to play defensively, getting in free damage wherever I possibly could, but John very often piled on the pressure with [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card], burn spells and his own Tarmogoyfs. The main reason I won this match was the overwhelming advantage I gained from having Deathrite Shamans in play, whilst always having the removal to get rid of his! [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] was also huge! I lost game 1 as he managed to wait it out until he was able to attack with Geist to sneak in 4 damage in the air and double burn me.
In game 2, we reached a long impasse but I managed to draw a [card]Jund Charm[/card] to clear his entire board and attack with my [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] + [card]Raging Ravine[/card] for game.
Game 3 was extremely grindy, but [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] kept me alive long enough to draw just enough creatures to push through lethal damage and a bolt to the face finished it!
Finals vs. Alessandro Torresan (Affinity)
Game 1 was over pretty quickly. I kept 5 lands, a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] and a [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] and never drew another creature. I drew plenty of removal spells, but no additional threats to back it up and he was able to win pretty convincingly with a [card]Cranial Plating[/card] and lots of flying dudes.
In game 2, I applied pressure and drew a [card]Shatterstorm[/card] around turn 5 to clear his board and pretty much secure the win from there!
In game 3, an early [card]Golgari Charm[/card] cleared out his [card]Vault Skirge[/card] and [card]Steel Overseer[/card], followed by a [card]Rakdos Charm[/card] on his [card]Master of Etherium[/card] left him with only manlands to beat down with and a couple of creatures on my end finished the match pretty quickly!
And… there! I had not only top 8ed my first PTQ but also won it!
I couldn’t believe it and until I actually go to the Pro Tour, I don’t think it has a chance of sinking in! So many things shot through my head at the time like, oh, not only this, but I now have 2 byes at Grand Prix London so I might have a shot of getting to Day 2! It was my birthday the day before and this is possibly the best birthday present I’ve ever had! I have to learn how to draft!
I sat down for my quick champion’s interview and adrenaline was still pumping through me as I tried my best to answer each question without just smiling and especially without thinking that I had to drive home now… I gathered up my extremely patient driving passengers whom were kind enough to treat me to some fast food to keep me awake long enough to get us home. I ended up getting home at 5 in the morning, which is crazy enough, but I even decided to head into Worcester on the following Sunday for some Legacy madness!
Before I sign off, I figure there are a few people reading this, dismayed at the fact that Jund was won yet ANOTHER PTQ. To this date, Jund was won both of the UK PTQs AND all of the Magic Online ones which is insane! I’m a brewer by nature so I didn’t particularly want to play Jund. So, to redeem myself, I’d like to share this 4 Colour Cascade deck with you all which I played at the Legacy event!
Legacy – 4C Cascade Randomness!
4 [card]Baleful Strix[/card]
4 [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card]
4 [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card]
1 [card]Etherium-Horn Sorcerer[/card]
4 [card]Shardless Agent[/card]
2 [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card]
Other Spells (20):
2 [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]
4 [card]Ancestral Vision[/card]
1 [card]Coalition Relic[/card]
4 [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]
1 [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card]
1 [card]Academy Ruins[/card]
1 [card]Bloodstained Mire[/card]
4 [card]Misty Rainforest[/card]
1 [card]Polluted Delta[/card]
1 [card]Scalding Tarn[/card]
1 [card]Tropical Island[/card]
1 [card]Underground Sea[/card]
2 [card]Verdant Catacombs[/card]
1 [card]Volcanic Island[/card]
1 [card]Wooded Foothills[/card]
1 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]
3 [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]
2 [card]Slaughter Games[/card]
1 [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card]
1 [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card]
I built the deck pretty quickly :P
But I got a few sweet wins out of it and if I put some attention into it, I’m pretty sure it has a good shot at being competitive!
Finally, I would like to thank everyone for their very kind words of congratulations! They really mean a lot to me and I hope that I won’t let you all down at the Pro Tour! I’d also like to thank all of the guys at the Scythe and Teacup Cafe for putting on such an incredible tournament and I hope they continue to do so in future seasons! I would finally like to wish everyone participating in the last few PTQs of the season the best of luck and I hope that we can put up a good showing at Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze!