PPTQ At Axion Now (MTG Amersham & Chesham): Saheeli Combo – The Grind, with Jack Copestake
Welcome to my third and most exciting yet PPTQ blog, I’d like to start by thanking many of you that messaged me with kind words about my articles (which I highly value). I was also pleasantly surprised to meet two Magic players who have been reading my blogs at this PPTQ event. First off, I would like to start by saying how awesome the Pro Tour in Dublin was this weekend. I was lucky enough to fly out and meet some of my idols of the game we love, get some advice and tips in between rounds, and also drink with them till the early hours of Saturday morning.
So after last week’s disaster I was even more determined to do better at this event. Going into the event, I had heard much about Axion Now events and heard nothing but great things about the top players that play there. So, armed with a slightly different deck and sideboard tech, I headed to the event Sunday morning after flying back from Dublin on the Saturday night. Here is the list I took – and take note of the added cards in the sideboard, as one is particularly spicy and effective.
Amersham MTG Centre
1 Hill Avenue
Bucks HP6 5BQ
Tel: 01494 728181
Text: 078 990 34266
Febuary 6th 2017: PPTQ Amersham & Chesham
Deck: Saheeli Combo
[d]4 Aether Hub
2 Wandering Fumarole
4 Prairie Stream
4 Inspiring Vantage
4 Spirebluff Canal
3 Felidar Guardian
3 Torrential Gearhulk
2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
4 Saheel Rai
4 Glimmer of Genius
1 Oath of Chandra
4 Harnessed Lightning
1 Dynavolt Tower[/d]
2 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Linvala, the Preserver
1 Torrential Gearhulk
1 Quarantine Field
2 Blessed Alliance
3 Spell Queller
2 Brutal Explusion
1 Flame Lash[/d]
The trip to Axion Now and the venue
Preparation for this event was fine, I had enough sleep and was well fed before heading out so no excuses for misplays or any silly mistakes were viable. Getting there was easy enough, however, I recommend that a train trip would be far easier as there is a station literally down the road from the shop. Upon entering the shop I instantly knew good things were ahead, because I could simply tell the level of organization and effort that had gone into the event. All this was clear because of three things before even stepping into the actual venue itself.
- Labels and Instructions – A whole DCI rooster was visible on the door entrance noting all players who had registered and also anyone who had not instructions on what to do and who to see.
- Toilets were marked off and inside kept clean and tidy with provisions to keep you smelling fresh throughout the day.
- Setup – Tables and seats were all clean and clearly marked, making it easy to locate your table.
Upon reading the DCI list I have to say 60 players is the biggest event in the UK outside a GP I have ever played in, and reading some of the names on the list there were some really good players such as David Calf, George Channing, James Allingham (eventual winner of the event) all members of Team Axion Now and also other players such as Dominic Gates, Joao Choca, Ross Broxup and many more. As I entered the main area of the shop I was greeted warmly by Liz and Francois who instantly made me feel welcome and valued as a customer and a player. Without any delay and like clockwork the first round was started and all briefs given beforehand via microphone, which made for clear and easy listening. I would also like to give Francois a big well done because he also injected his own bit of humor and spin on the introduction which helped calm the nervous atmosphere in the room.
Round 1: Jund
First round was a loss as my opponent played too many threats and put me under considerable pressure with [c]Verdurous Gearhulk[/c] and [c]Walking Ballista[/c] and also [c]Voltaic Brawler[/c] which, left unchecked, was a force to be reckoned with. The second game (after stabilizing the board with some of my removal and [c]Fumigate[/c]) I took with ease, but it took the majority of the time of the game up and with only less than 1 minute left on the clock and round 2 as a win for me we shook hands and wished each other luck.
The play of this match for me was using [c]Dynavolt Tower[/c], which counted as a extra removal spell because it is able to tap and deal 3 damage to opponent or creature, which helped me pick off the threats such as [c]Tireless Tracker[/c] before it got too big.
Round 2: Tezzeret Deck
I lost both games due to mass threats placed on the board and my opponent playing a [c]Noxious Gearhulk[/c] to deliver a clear opening for the many cell tokens he had created with an unanswered [c]Tezzeret the Schemer[/c], which proved to be a menace. The second game I was killed off by my opponent doing a combo to deal me 14 damage in one hit.
For that, I give my opponent the play of the match, as the combo was very smartly made after putting enough bodies down to use most of my removal and counterspells on, thus leaving his pieces of the combo untouched. This combo was a mixture of the cell made by [c]Tezzeret the Schemer[/c] and the ability of [c]Marionette Master[/c] to force the opponent to lose life when an artifact is put into the graveyard.
Round 3: Saheeli Combo
In this match I felt confident enough in the mirror, however, I fell behind straightaway from a super aggressive [c]Saheeli Rai[/c] played on turn 3 from my opponent, again a planeswalker left unanswered is a serious issue for this deck so going into game 2 I did the exact same thing given the chance and managed to combo off myself to tie things up. Game 3 I forced my opponent to play into my hands by getting him to tap out and make my card drawing spells like [c]Glimmer of Genius[/c] easier to cast with the chance of being successful. I also noticed my opponent’s change of face and pace of which he played which told me he was struggling for lands, so I played my trump card in the mirror match ([c]Dynavolt Tower[/c]) which when it sticks is a game winner and ultimately increased pressure on my opponent. I won the game through him attacking me with his [c]Torriential Gearhulk[/c] and leaving himself open to an attack by both of my [c]Wandering Fumarole[/c]s for the win.
Play of the match was the timely invention of animating both my [c]Wandering Fumarole[/c]s as he only had 2 life left, and after the game he admitted he did not realise I had a second. I also think playing [c]Saheeli Rai[/c] super aggressively when possible on your turn 3 is a real game winner as she gives you that extra card knowledge and ability.
Round 4: BG Delirium
This was my favorite game of the day and it almost went to a draw, it was a game of both of us playing really good Magic and timely spells. Game 1 I took with a combo and Game 2 he took with [c]Ob Nixilis Reignited[/c] and [c]Liliana, the Last Hope[/c] dominating the battlefield. Game 3 was so close and it went down to turns, but by turn 3 he had enough creatures and threats that given an extra turn after turn 5 he would have beaten me, so I decided to shake his hand and do the gentlemanly thing of conceding, as both of us drawing would do nothing for either of us and since he had me beat it did not feel right to go for another draw. Thus, pushing him onto his quest for top 8 and me playing for pride against the players left.
Play of the match was the fashion he stole game 2 from right underneath me – he played [c]Gonti, Lord of Luxury[/c] and using his ability of taking a card and casting decided to take [c]Shock[/c] in case I had the combo. I did have the combo, thus playing into his trap of using my own [c]Shock[/c] against my [c]Saheeli Rai[/c] mid combo which we both had to laugh at.
Round 5: BG Delirium
This round was not even close, my opponent literally just swept me aside as I did not draw any of the cards I needed and even with [c]Glimmer of Genius[/c] being cast twice it simply was not my day, however looking back I feel I did not shuffle my deck enough. The threats I did pose were not credible enough for me to get a foothold on the battlefield. My opponent took this advantage and – credit to him – made me pay.
Round 6: Mono Red Aggro
Now I may be wrong in what this deck actually is, as the first game he mulled down to 4 cards and played 2 lands and 1 creature before I got the combo in and game 2 was even worse, as he cast an [c]Inventor’s Apprentice[/c] turn 1 and hit with that and just that for 9 turns with no reply as I literally kept drawing land after land. Eventually I managed to get a few spells and a [c]Torriential Gearhulk[/c] and close the game up but it was definitely a match to forget. Afterwards we had a chuckle about how poor the match was and reflected on the day and moved onwards.
I decided after a month of trying to get the combo to work, and with the Pro Tour that the Saheeli Combo just is not the type of deck for me. I spoke to Michael Majors and Ben Rubin at the Pro Tour and they agreed the deck was bad and to simply play a deck I enjoy to play. I spent some time also with Mike Sigrist who said the same thing and advised to me stick to decks I feel confident and play well with regardless of the meta as positive results will come. The main weakness of this deck I found was me piloting the deck wrong. I am far too aggressive and enjoy being able to win the game with a variety of options on the battlefield and I was also convinced by David Calf’s impression of a [c]Walking Ballista[/c] with counters being removed with the added *pew pew* noise. So all that said, I am happy I placed 12th out of 60 players at Axion, as the playing field was competitive and some real good players were there. Going 2-1-3 when really I maybe could have gone 3-3 kept me in good spirits.
I would like to mention the hard work and effort Liz and Francois put in as they ran side events throughout and the comedy value Francois put on the event was priceless. I also admire the program/planner they have for young aspiring Magic players as one of my main goals is to get the UK on the Magic: the Gathering scene as a real competitor against our friends across the pond and close by. I would also like to congratulate the UK players at this year’s Pro Tour and especially Kayure Patel and Niels Molle, who built a deck which reached the Top 8, and also both had a pretty good finish at the Pro Tour, a real credit to the UK Magic scene and aspiration to myself. Additionally, a special mention to Eduardo Sajgalik, who had a fantastic run and made it into the Top 4! Although he now plays for Canada, he was England captain at the WMC last year and has been an inspiration to a lot of aspiring English pros.
You can read Francois post event summary here.
Hopefully you’ve all enjoyed my third article and the next one to look forward to is the PPTQ at Manaleak.com on the 19th of February (Standard PPTQ Kyoto Manaleak.com Birmingham 8 Boxes & Discounts!). I look forward to your comments and messages and if anyone ever meets me at an event be sure to come and say hello or if you would like to ask me anything please leave me any questions and I will get right to you as soon as I can. Finally I will leave you with this question. What have you learnt about yourself or your game from my articles?
Take care planeswalkers!