A Special Thanks From SCG Invitational Champion Eli Kassis!

Eli Kassis won the SCG Season Two Invitational to cap off a great year of Magic for himself and for the SCG Tour! Today he takes a moment to say thanks for the support!

2017 has been a stellar year.

I was invited onto Team Cardhoarder, which is not only filled with a lot of talent but also a rad group of fellows. I won an Open, won a Classic or two, won the Eternal Extravaganza for Legacy, had 3 Grand Prix Top 8s, six or so Open Top 8s, and made the Top 32 on the Pro Tour, where my good friend and fellow Cardhoarder member Shaheen Soorani also went 11-5 to win another invite. To say I had a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving is an understatement.

Then, in the final month of 2017, I got to top it off with my biggest prize yet.

I won an Invitational.

I’m used to hearing that I go rogue and play strange cards or odd quantities of staples. It’s been nice having a team like Cardhoarder at my back, keeping me on the straight and narrow. When I’m deckbuilding now, I can almost hear Shaheen over my shoulder, telling me, “Just play the best deck.” So when it came time to prepare for the Season Two Invitational, I selected the deck for each format that I think is the best and fairly straightforward. For Standard it’s Temur Energy. For Modern it’s Storm.

The Temur Energy maindeck is fairly stock except for a few card choices. Because of the double blue required for Vizier of Many Faces and Confiscation Coup, I wanted the second Island in the deck. Lightning Strike over Abrade was a metagame call that wasn’t overly significant for this tournament. In a wider tournament, I might rethink my decision. The Spell Pierce in the main was just too cute. I would have wanted a second Magma Spray.

The sideboard definitely got some pokes on coverage, but I actually really liked it. I don’t think I would change anything in the sideboard, strangely enough. For those thinking of trying this list out, make sure you come up with good sideboard strategies and I would advise you not to mix and match your strategies (stick with being the aggro or the control).

In Modern, other than the cards that are fairly stock for U/R Gifts Storm, I ran See Beyond in the space that’s usually reserved for Peer Through Depths. The cards operate similarly, with different ups and downs depending on the spot you’re in, but See Beyond allows you to shuffle back in your Platinum Emperion if you happen to draw it post-sideboard.

In the sideboard I ran the Madcap Experiment combo, which is not stock, but the majority of the rest of it is fairly stock. The Madcap Experiment was very solid against Burn and Affinity, although I did not bring them in against many other opponents. I would cut the second Empty the Warrens in the sideboard and also one Anger of the Gods due to infrequent usage. I’m interested in playing a couple of copies of Gigadrowse to combat the Jeskai control decks that are springing up.

In the Season One Invitational, I went 0-3 drop. I then played the Open to a second-place finish with Grixis Death’s Shadow. This tournament, I started out with a Round 1 loss and sort of began to expect a similar path to emerge. Luckily, I managed to go 3-1 in each of my four-round sessions, and that was enough to sneak into the Top 8 as the eighth seed.

In the quarterfinals I was paired up against Gerard Fabiano, and we were given the decklists to study overnight. Instead I gave his a quick glance and passed out immediately after dinner. Standard has not changed much since the last Pro Tour and the lists don’t have much room for innovation, so when you take into account the five- or six-card differences and plan for them, you are all set and ready to go. Our quarterfinal was not featured, and that’s probably for the best. Gerard’s hands were not cooperating at all and led to a quick 3-0.

The closest match in the Top 8 for me was in the semifinals. Sandwiched between professional Magic players Gerard Fabiano or Sam Black was fifteen-year-old Austin Collins. The Ramunap Red deck on the play versus Temur is a tough, tough matchup. I actually preferred the fact that we needed to play a set of five because it gave me more chances to get lucky and steal a game on the draw. And I needed it, as we had a close set of five games and I was very thankful to have slightly overdrawn Austin in the last game.

With that, the finals were set. I was up against the end boss himself, Sam Black. Luckily the cards were in my favor and, as they say, the rest is history.

StarCityGames.com ran a great event as always. Jared Sylva is an excellent tournament organizer, and the judge staff was on point and courteous throughout the event. The coverage folks were their usual top-tier selves. All of my opponents were class acts, and it’s been really nice to see the evolution of Magic in general. People have been making great strides at taking losses better; it’s really starting to show and improve things all around. The venue was pretty good and on-site food was actually quite good for an event venue.

After this victory, I am looking forward to the next Invitational and the Opens that I am able to attend in between. See you there!