mtgUK 2015 Eternal National Championships Picture Diary Part 1: Vintage
As many of you will know, the weekend of the 23rd to 25th May brought about the inaugural edition of the mtgUK Eternal National Championships. This involved the Vintage, Legacy and Modern Championships on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday respectively. With 160 entrants across the three formats this would be largest ever event held by Manaleak and would turn out to be amongst the biggest ever individual Legacy and Vintage events in the UK, as well as prizes totalling over £1500 the participants would be playing for these:
I arrived bright and early on the Saturday at the Angel Centre to be greeted by this:
A sight for sore eyes having been up for far more hours than I’m used to at this stage in the morning. Inside the hall I came across these pristine rows of tables.
which soon filled up as players started to arrive, greeting old friends as well as making new ones.
We had our friends form 7th City Collectables turn up to sell some singles, with a rather impressive display case full of cards for the Vintage, Legacy and Commander enthusiasts and we were happy to host them on both Saturday and Sunday.
We were also pleased to see local alterist extraordinaire James Griffin turn up to do some painting over the weekend and sell some of his breathtaking pieces of work.
Which also included this little Delver of Squeakrets which one of our Vintage players commissioned him to paint on Saturday.
More on this chap later…
I also found these gentlemen loitering around on the balcony, setting up an impromptu recording studio.
Throughout most of Saturday the Legacy Breakfast Stu’s were gathering content for a podcast, interviewing people playing in the Vintage tournament and brushing up on their Legacy for the Sunday, where both of them would be trying to take down that leg of the tournament.
After some initial technical difficulties we eventually got going with 42 players registered, with players having come in from across the country and even further beyond with players coming from Edinburgh, Ireland, Sweden and Spain.
A hard fought Game One saw both of us trading resources, throwing counterspells around and trying to get a threat to stick. with the life totals at 12-9 in my favour I cast a Monastery Mentor only to see it instantly eat a Lightning Bolt on Simon’s turn. I tried to save it with a Force of Will but he Force of Willed back. This then really hit me as to just how much better than Young Pyromancer Monastery Mentor is as the next turn I stormed off and
cast a lethal Tendrils of Agony attacked with my token for about 15 points of damage.
Unfortunately Game One had eaten well into the clock and Game Two ended in a draw. 1-0
As a side note, is it just me who’s noticed that Wizards of the Coast seem to be printing the Storm mechanic as a front end thing these days, first with Young Pyromancer then with Prowess in Khans of Tarkir. Its a good way of creating the combo-type decks that everyone knows and “loves” from days gone by but still making them relevant to creature combat.
But enough of that aside and on to Round Two where I faced Jim Brophy and his Workshops deck.
Jim is a passionate Vintage player and had a beautiful deck that left my own looking a little lacklustre. However, I was determined not to be phased by it and put in a good show. This was not to be the case though as I got thoroughly outplayed in our three games winning one more through luck than judgment. 1-1
So on to Round Three, where I come across my long-time Magic Archnemesis: Gaz Hirst. For those of you who don’t know about this, Gaz is both a solid sounding board for some of my more sensible Legacy deck ideas and someone who always rips bombs against me. Would today fare any different?
Game One revealed him to be on Red/White Hatebears, a fact that he’d already informed me of prior to the tournament. Fortunately being on the play and having Moxen in my opener enabled me to go off fairly quickly with a Monastery Mentor and nick that one, but Game Two proved more difficult.
A Turn One Thalia, Guardian of Thraben into a Chalice of the Void (or possibly the other way around, I forget) followed by a Stony Silence stopped me from ever getting into the game and a well placed Wasteland meant that my hopes of casting Supreme Verdict were out the window. Fortunately more lands and being on the play in Game Three saw me home, though not without another troubling Stony Silence to make life difficult. 2-1
This round definitely showed me that I had built my manabase wrong. I did not need two blue basics and was definitely short a white source. Whether that should have been borrowing a third Tundra or just a basic Plains I’m unsure, but I found myself repeatedly against creature decks having to protect my white sources very carefully.
In Round Four I came across a gentleman with a fantastic taste in rugby teams.
This was another Monastery Mentor mirror, again with much jockeying to and fro as we fought for the upper hand. The games seemed very similar in the way that they played out, with us both trading cards for cards until one of us exhausted the other and got a threat to stick, winning very shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, the “winning shortly afterwards” bit wasn’t quite quick enough for me in the third game as I feel that I had managed to get it pretty close to locked up but didn’t have quite enough time to win. 2-1-1
And so on to Round Five. I came up against Steve running an Elves deck that I was very wary of. A Skullclamp fueled draw engine got him off to a flier and I was soon down to just six life. However, a Monastery Mentor is a powerful win condition and yet again saw me home.
Game Two was a little more one sided as I drew four sideboard cards to shut the deck down. Having seen Dryad Arbor in Game One and knowing that his bombs would likely be Natural Order and Green Sun’s Zenith I brought in a Grafdigger’s Cage alongside Supreme Verdict, Holy Light and my sideboarded Swords to Plowshares (I used a Conspiracy one as my sideboard copy rather than the Duel decks ones in my main deck so I knew which was which), all of which served to buy me plenty of time to dig for my Monastery Mentors and effectively combo out again. 3-1-1
This left me in 8th place overall, needing to win to reach the top 8 but being a guarantee if I did win. I sat down for my round opposite Victor. I knew I was in trouble when he said that he’d travelled from Spain just for the weekend to play some Magic.
Victor was playing an Abzan Hatebears deck with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyfs and Thoughtseizes. He also ran Deathrite Shamans and Elvish Spirit Guides as way of accelerating his threats out, a theme that seemed popular throughout the unpowered players to help keep up with the Moxen and Loti. You’ll notice that this isn’t the deck he’s playing in the picture though, as the one I took of him wasn’t great.
I kept a risky hand on the play to get a turn 1 Mentor out via Black Lotus, misplayed it and got wrecked by a Thoughtseize. I eventually got edged out of that game due to mana denial and small beatdown creatures and then got blown out of the water in game two by not starting anywhere near strongly enough.
Still, this quick loss gave me a great opportunity to walk around the tables and see some other silliness happening. Here I had a look down the top tables at some great Magic being played.
This is one of my favourite pictures of the day as Alastair Kennedy calculates just how much trouble he’s in as his opponent Jordan Griffin resolves an Oath of Druids trigger.
In this one we see Ancestral Recall being used by Ben Cabrelli for its alternate mode of forcing your opponent to draw three cards. As you can see, at this point Ben’s opponent has a nicely stocked library, but where is Ben’s? In his hand? Why, he’s playing Bomberman of course, or should I call it by the new name of Bananaman as it now uses Tasigur, the Golden Fang as an engine for part of its win condition.
and then you get to cast all of the Ancestral Recalls you could ever wish to cast targeting your opponent.
When the round was over we were left with the top 8 players. As you can see, the two opponents I lost to both made top 8, a feat made all the more impressive by Victor who won the £100 prize for the best unpowered deck in the Swiss (unpowered being a list that included Bazaar of Baghdad, Library of Alexandria and Imperial Seal alongside Power 9 and a few other high cost cards).
I got a barrage of texts from friends after posting the top 8 list of Facebook congratulating me on making it, leaving me a little confused until I remembered that Chris Cooper had made top 8 with his Dredge deck (as opposed to me being registered as Christopher Cooper on my DCI card). This isn’t the first time that this has happened as I also got a barrage of texts when he top 8ed a PTQ a few months back.
There was also a prize for 9th place Lee Brook, who won a From the Vaults: Annihilation to help him annihilate his opponents more successfully in the future. This prize was kindly supplied by Wizards of the Coast, who also supplied us with Modern Masters Boosters as spot prizes and a Modern Event Deck which was given away at the Modern Event on Monday. But more on that later.
Remember that Delver of Squeakrets I teased you with earlier? Well, he’s back and in the top 8 with Ben Shirley’s UR Delver deck up against the Mono-Blue Belcher of George Foley in the quarter finals. George took the first game with a fairly slow win. Ben was never able to get any pressure to stop him and George went critical with a Candelabra of Tawnos and Tolarian Academy to generate all the mana he could ever need.
Game Two saw a “Do you have it?” hand of Black Lotus, Grim Monolith into Goblin Charbelcher meet a Force of Will. Ben’s mouse was beating in for a point a turn but George couldn’t find what he needed to go off. 5 turns of draw go from both players finally came to an end when the Delver of Secrets flipped, an Ingot Chewer came to the party and ate a Time Vault and George had no answers to the threats Ben posed.
Game Three saw a similar pattern of George’s threats all getting answered and Ben’s Delver just getting in there for enough. George thought that he’d finally got there when he managed to land a Tolarian Academy at 4 life, but a Steel Sabotage sabotaged his Goblin Charbelcher and Ben took the match.
In the semi finals I decided to watch the match from the other half of the bracket, matching up Robert Elkin’s Shops with Mark Greene’s Delver. Unfortunately for Mark, Rob’s deck worked as efficiently as it had done for the rest of the day, chewing up greedy Vintage manabases and spitting them out when they couldn’t establish themselves.
Mark got buried under a mountain of Lodestone Golems, Chalice of the Voids and Phyrexian Revokers, while in Game Two a Crucible of Worlds enabled a Wasteland lock which Mark never looked like getting out of.
This left us with a final of Rob Elkin vs. Ben Shirley.
In Game One a Turn One Smokestack from Rob made things interesting as a Turn Two Young Pyromancer from Ben allowed him a chance to keep pace with the triggers from the Smokestack. However, a Crucible of Worlds ensured that Rob would always be winning that race and a brace of Lodestone Golems proved too much for Ben to handle.
An aggressive start from Rob in Game Two turned out to be his downfall as a Turn Two Ingot Chewer handled his board position of a Crucible of Worlds off a Black Lotus having Wastelanded Ben’s Turn One Volcanic Island. Rob was unable to land another significant threat and Ben squeaked home with his Delver.
Game Three was the closest of the match, with Robert playing out his big spells and Ben having just the right answers for them. Unfortunately for Ben he started to run out of gas a little and had to Gush whilst Rob made some Mishra’s Factorys. Ben was put on the back foot by this and couldn’t get off it as the Factories attacked each turn until Rob lifted the trophy.
Your 2015 mtgUK Vintage Champion, Rob Elkin!
All of which concludes pat one of my photo diary of the Eternal Weekend. I’ll have the Legacy portion up soon, followed by the Modern shortly after that. For those of you interested here is my decklist from the Vintage portion of the event below. You can also find the complete mtgUK 2015 Vintage National Championships Top8 Deck Lists here.
Mentor Control, a Vintage deck by Christopher Cooper
1 Swords to Plowshares
3 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Containment Priest
2 Hurkyll’s Recall
1 Ravenous Trap
1 Pithing Needle
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Holy Light
3 Ingot Chewer
Community Question: What is your most memorable moment of the mtgUK 2015 Vintage National Championship?
Thanks for reading,