Against The Odds – Making Top 8 at Pro Tour: Kobe (Part 3)

Kenji dissects his final draft at Pro Tour: Kobe… But more importantly, he gives you his Top 10 common picks from every color! (He promised you just the top 5, but he couldn’t stop himself.)

Hello everyone! Now this Pro Tour: Kobe report will be finally over.

This time I will share with you what I was thinking during the drafting, and give you the top 10 commons from every color. I know, I said top 5 in the last article, but I would like to share more information with you.

First, remembering the final draft, I will give you what I was thinking.

Final Draft:
In the first pick, I had two good cards: Errant Ephemeron, and Sporesower Thallid. The day before I made 6-0 by playing Blue, so I didn’t think twice about this, and picked Errant Ephemeron. If I made a mistake in the draft, this would have been it, I think.

I asked many people “Which color do you like?” and everyone answered, “I like blue.” Besides, Green is the color everyone hates. If you wanted to draft under a circumstance where you had to make 3-0, which color would you want to play? Probably very few people would answer “Green.”

So I should have picked Sporesower Thallid? But that’s not entirely correct. The problem is the lack of consideration when I picked Errant Ephemeron.

If I draft in the same situation, I will pick Errant Ephemeron again, but I will make more consideration in whether I should do.

The second pick saw two good cards: Dark Withering and Assault / Battery. I thought, “That Aetherflame Wall in the last pack will come back to me,” and then, “I prefer Blue/Red to Blue/Black”, so I picked Assault/Battery. But actually, I didn’t see Aetherflame Wall again in that pack, and saw three black cards instead.

Third pick, there were no cards I should pick other than Duskrider Peregrine. We estimate this card high, so I thought, “Third-pick Duskrider means that I may play White.” And I picked Cloudchaser Kestrel, which was the only decent White cards, for my fourth-pick. But my right neighbor was drafting White, so pack 1 ended horribly for me.

In the second pack, there was nothing except Castle Raptors.

There I thought, “I believe in the third-pick Duskrider Peregrine.” so I decided to keep on picking white cards. And then, in pack 2, I met Momentary Blink and Viscerid Deepwalker – and I picked the Deepwalker, because I rate the mechanic “Suspend” so high. But non-Japanese players rank Momentary Blink much higher than the Japanese do! I thought, “I’ll see Momentary and pick it again somewhere” – but as I learned, this line of thinking was incorrect.

In third pack I continued to draft White, following my estimation of cards.

Though I picked Teferi’s Moat at 8th pick from pack 2 and Celestial Crusader late from pack 3, I couldn’t get the bounce spells or Temporal Isolation that this deck needed.

So I think this deck is graded around 60 to 70 on a scale of 1-100.

Here’s the quarterfinals report. The details are written in this coverage, and you have Live Video, please read this or watch it if you would like to know about the game. I think there was nothing that seems to be a mistake here, so I would like you to think about what you would have done while you watch this video.

The Top 10 Commons From Every Color!
Next, I will share my estimation of commons. My personal color-ranking is this:

  • 1st Blue
  • 2nd Red
  • 3rd White
  • 4th Black
  • 5th Green

Many people were surprised to see me choose Red as the second-best color. I think Red has strong removal spells such as Lightning Axe or Rift Bolt. Keldon Halberdier, Orcish Cannonade, Coal Stoker, Subterranean Shambler, and Flowstone Channeler; they are nice, mid-level cards and I like those. The main difference between Black and Red in terms of “colors that have removal” is that Red doesn’t care what its second color is. And indeed, Black is strong, but Tendrils of Corruption needs a lot of Swamps, and if you can’t flash back Strangling Soot it is completely worse than Red’s removal.

I estimated Green as the fifth-strongest color…. But you know the finals of Pro Tour: Kobe were U/G versus G/R, so it’s okay if you pick Green first to take advantage of its disfavor.

Okay! Let’s see the top 10 commons from every color.

1st: Temporal Isolation
2nd: Amrou Scout
3rd: Castle Raptors
4th: Benalish Cavalry
5th: Ivory Giant
6th: Amrou Seekers
7th: Zealot il-Vec
8th: Momentary Blink
9th: Fortify
10th: Icatian Crier

I love Rebel mechanic, so I pick Amrou Scout earlier than everyone. Ivory Giant is awesome when you are playing mono-White (or close to it), but it is not very good when you are not. When you pick a card, you need to remember what you drafted before.

1st: Errant Ephemeron
2nd: Looter il-Kor
3rd: Fathom Seer
4th: Crookclaw Transmuter
5th: Spiketail Drakeling
6th: Viscerid Deepwalker
7th: Temporal Eddy
8th: Snapback
9th: Slipstream Serpent
10th: Cancel

Errant Ephemeron or Looter il-Kor – which do you pick?” That’s a question I got asked a lot at Athens. I answered “Looter il-Kor” then, but now? I’m sure I pick Errant Ephemeron.

Fathom Seer is estimated too high at third, you may think, but this guy is really awesome. Whether you have this creature or not sometimes changes the number of lands you run, so you can’t fail if you pick this.

The sixth and seventh picks show my bias – I love suspend mechanic because it’s very good, and a deck without suspend is not desirable. I think Temporal Eddy is also worth a high pick. It is difficult to decide which is better, Snapback or this, but I never saw a player play Snapback without paying, and Temporal Eddy creates advantage, so I prefer this.

1st: Tendrils of Corruption
2nd: Strangling Soot
3rd: Dark Withering
4th: Corpulent Corpse
5th: Gorgon Recluse
6th: Trespasser il-Vec
7th: Urborg Syphon-Mage
8th: Assassinate
9th: Feebleness
10th: Mana Skimmer

Tendrils of Corruption is better than Strangling Soot!?

Yes. I think there is only one combination in this environment that you must not play… And that is Black-Red. As the game goes very fast, so to aim flashback by splashing a color is not my idea of a good game (or perhaps I simply estimate Tendrils of Corruption a little too high).

When you play black, it is difficult to decide the balance of cards with madness and the ways to discard those madness cards (like Trespasser il-Vec) So if you open one but not the other, your deck likely to be very weak. Gorgon Recluse is good even when it’s not played without madness – and if you can play it with madness, it will bring you advantage at high rate, so it is worth high-pick. Compared to the madness, the Trespasser il-Vec or Urborg Syphon-Mage are ranked less because you should pick cards with madness first.

1st: Lightning Axe
2nd: Rift Bolt
3rd: Keldon Halberdier
4th: Subterranean Shambler
5th: Coal Stoker
6th: Orcish Cannonade
7th: Grapeshot
8th: Flowstone Channeler
9th: Flamecore Elemental
10th: Empty the Warrens

My fourth and fifth choice are often picked late, but both are awesome. Subterranean Shambler is one that you should especially pick. It is so strong that you should hate-draft it if you see this late. Flamecore Elemental may be ranked too low, but I hate echo creatures, so I don’t think it is wrong.

1st: Durkwood Baloth
2nd: Penumbra Spider
3rd: Herd Gnarr
4th: Gemhide Sliver
5th: Search for Tomorrow
6th: Nantuko Shaman
7th: Strength in Numbers
8th: Thallid Germinator
9th: Thallid Shell-Dweller
10th: Greenseeker

I’m not sure about Green (at least compared to my ranking of the other colors), but it is correct from first to fifth. The card you should pick always changes depending on what you drafted so far (like the fact that you should high-pick Thrill of the Hunt), but this varies especially with Green.

By the way – the top 10 commons from every color is over!

The report of Pro Tour: Kobe is finally over. This time, I owe my result at top8 in Kobe, to Grand Prix: Sidney and Grand Prix: Athens. In those Grand Prixs, I got many people’s opinions, and rethought my estimations. Especially Sebastian Aljiaj and Aaron Brackmann; I could listen to very useful stories from them. I think I won thanks to everyone like those two.

I would like to show my acknowledgement to everyone. Thank you very much!

I think I am still unskillful in the format, so I think these rankings will most likely change after a lot of practice… Though I would be happy if this ranking at this time helps you to make your own ranking.

Okay, see you again in some GP or PT! Thank you for reading a lot!

Kenji Tsumura

(Translated by Naoki Shimizu)