Double Or Nothing: Pick ‘N Mix

After round six rounds of OBC on Day three of Worlds, nine players had achieved the amazing feat of a 6-0 record.. Which means that a lot of people will be trying to copy those decks. Let’s look at a few things you should look at before you pick up an”undefeated net deck,” including their opponent’s win/loss record and their matches.

How do you pick a net deck to play?

I realise that that sentence alone will have half of Star City’s readers clicking straight on the ‘back’ link in their browser, but it’s an important question. Do you look at a recent tournament and take the winning deck? A whole host of people do. Do you look at the most popular deck in the format and take a deck that beats it? There’re a bunch of guys ‘n gals that do just that.

After round six rounds of OBC on Day three of Worlds, nine players had achieved the amazing feat of a 6-0 record. On any day at Worlds, that’s a record worth it’s weight in gold – but since we’re nearing the end of the OBC season, when players are scrabbling about for the latest technology and the most reliable decks, those nine deck lists are 24-carat gold bullion bars.

In this article, I’m going to look at a few things you should look at before you pick up an”undefeated net deck,” expecting to head to PTQ: Houston…. And instead, heading home with your tail between your legs.

The nine players who, six rounds later, would stand tall as the masters of OBC started the first round of the third day (round 13) in the following positions:

  • Dave Humpherys. 52nd place with 22 points.
  • Amiel Tenenbaum. 57th place with 21 points.
  • Jeroen Remie. 80th place with 21 points.
  • Leonardo Uzcategui. 91st place with 19 points.
  • Gary Wise. 108th place with 18 points.
  • Tomi Walamies. 170th place with 15 points.
  • Dario Minieri. 184th place with 15 points.
  • Yujian Zhou. 205th place with 12 points.
  • Arvi Limpadanai. 230th place with 10 points.

All their decks can be found on The Sideboard – but for reference, the deck types they played were:

  • David Humpherys: U/G Threshold.
  • Amiel Tenenbaum: U/G Madness.
  • Jeroen Remie: U/G Madness.
  • Leonardo Uzcategui: U/G Madness.
  • Gary Wise: Mono Black Control.
  • Tom Walamies: U/W Quiet Speculation.
  • Dario Minieri: U/G Quiet Speculation.
  • Yujian Zhou: Mono Black Control.
  • Arvi Limpadanai: W/G Madness.

The important thing to remember about all of these decks is that they all went 6-0 at the toughest tournament on the planet. All of the top Pros and all of the best players in each country played. Almost any of the decks played on day three would probably do well in any PTQ around the country… But these all won out. With such a high standard, how can we possibly tell which one really is the best?

Maybe we can’t – but we can certainly have a look at who they played, how good their opponents were and which, if any, decks they managed to avoid.

Below are a list of each player who went 6-0 and who they played, what their opponents’ played and their opponent’s OBC record on the day.

David Humpherys.

  • R13: Komanicky, V. W/G Madness. 9 points.
  • R14: Fabiano. G. U/G Quiet Speculation. 6 points.
  • R15: Draxler. R. Mono Black Control. 6 points.
  • R16: OMS, S. U/G Quiet Speculation. 9 points.
  • R17: Mowshowitz, Z. U/G Threshold. 9 points.
  • R18: Van de Logt, T. Mono Black Control. 12 points.

Opponent total points: 51, average: 8.5.

David started day three the highest of all the players who went 6-0 – and as such, you’d expect him to play against the best players. What you have to remember, though, is that he’s playing, primarily, against players who’ve got this far playing Standard and Limited: They might not be as good at OBC.

Only one of David’s opponents managed a better-than-even record (Steve OMS) on day three – although at Worlds, getting an even record is no mean feat and three of David’s opponents managed that, giving his opponents a respectable average of 8.5 points.

David played against all of the deck types you’d expect, except for the newer U/W Quiet Speculation deck. If I was thinking of taking David’s deck, I’d make sure I tested against U/W and checked that I had a good sideboard against it just in case.

Amiel Tenenbaum.

  • R13: Chatsios, D. W/G Madness. 6 points.
  • R14: Boeken, N. Mono Black Control. 6 points.
  • R15: Hegstad, B. Mono Black Control. 12 points.
  • R16: Law, A H. U/G Threshold. 12 points.
  • R17: Davis, B. U/G Quiet Speculation. 9 points.
  • R18: Levy, R. U/G Threshold. 6 points.

Opponent total points: 51, average: 8.5.

The second of the two U/G Threshold decks that went undefeated, Amiel also played some good OBC players – and some who had a bad day, too, giving his opponents a respectable 8.5 point average.

As with David’s deck, Amiel played against all of the deck types apart from U/W Quiet Speculation… Maybe there’s something in that after all. U/W vs. U/G Threshold looks like it needs a good test before you take the deck. Even so, either of these U/G Threshold decks looks like a good bet against a rounded field.

Jeroen Remie.

  • R13: Odegaard, O. U/G Quiet Speculation. 9 points.
  • R14: White, J. U/G Madness. 6 points.
  • R15: Ishida, I. UZI. 10 points.
  • R16: Cleeman, Jonas. Mono Black Braids. 12 points.
  • R17: Schneider, O. Mono Black Control. 9 points.
  • R18: Rubin, M. Mono Black Control. 12 points.

Opponent total points: 58, average: 9.7.

Jeroen (playing U/G Madness) had the highest opponent point average, with only one of his opponents failing to get an evens or better record. He didn’t play against the U/G Threshold decks, nor the U/W Quiet Speculation decks and so those would need a good test, but it seems that his deck eats black control – as he managed to beat three of them in a row and an UZI deck too!

If you’re expecting a mainly mono-black field, take this deck!

Leonardo Uzcategui.

  • R13: Snepvangers, B. R/U Madness and Threshold. 4 points.
  • R14: Maher Jr., B. U/G Quiet Speculation. 6 points.
  • R15: Dougherty, R. U/G Threshold. 13 points.
  • R16: Malherbaud, P.U/G Madness. 6 points.
  • R17: Nadebaum, R. U/W Quiet Speculation. 10 points.
  • R18: Ruel, A. U/G madness. 7 points.

Opponent total points: 46, average: 7.7.

Leonardo’s is the second U/G Madness deck undefeated, and he ran into U/G deck after U/G deck – but given how different his and Jeroen’s decks are, you can’t assume one will do as well as the other in certain match ups. Leonardo’s has Living Wish – how good is that against mono-black? Do Jeroen’s maindeck Circular Logics give him an edge that Leonardo’s deck lacks?

I’d certainly test this deck out against mono black before I took it to an OBC tourney, especially if I thought it would be the main deck… But if I though U/G in all its forms was going to be more dominant – move over, Jeroen, I’m taking Leonardo’s deck!

Gary Wise.

  • R13: Tang, K C. U/G Madness. 6 points.
  • R14: Johanen, T. U/G Madness. 9 points.
  • R15: Smith, A. U/G Threshold. 9 points.
  • R16: Shvartsman, A. U/G Quiet Speculation. 6 points.
  • R17: Ishida, I. UZI. 10 points.
  • R18: Okamoto, J. Mono Black Control. 9 points.

Opponent total points: 49, average: 8.2.

Gary had a respectable opponent point average as well – and as you can see, his version of mono black certainly seems to do well against U/G in all its forms. Gary didn’t play any decks with White in, though, and G/W may prove to be its Achilles heel – so that would get top billing in my testing. Next up, I’d make time to test against U/W Quiet Speculation. If I don’t draw Mutilate, do I lose? If so, what can I do about it? How bad are Divine Sacraments for me?

Even so, it’s one of only two MBC decks that went undefeated… And if I had to choose between them, Gary’s opponent average of 8.2 is a lot better than Yujian Zhou’s 7-point average.

Tomi Walamies.

  • R13: Papp, G. Mono Black Control. 6 points.
  • R14: Brown-Santirso, J. R/G Madness. 9 points.
  • R15: Rybalchenko, A. U/G Threshold. 6 points.
  • R16: Boeken, N. Mono Black Control. 6 points.
  • R17: Wiegersma, J. Mono Black Control. 9 points.
  • R18: Lippert, C. U/G Quiet Speculation. 12 points.

Opponent total points: 48, average: 8.

Tomi’s deck is a favourite where I’m playing at the moment, and the only U/W Quiet Speculation deck to go undefeated. His opponents put up a good average, though not as good as you’d like – but then he started off lower in the field, and you’d expect him to be playing against worse opponents.

He played against all the major deck types except U/G madness, but he managed to beat U/G Threshold and U/G Quiet Speculation. He also managed to beat Mono Black control for half of his day – maybe Gary and Yujian were lucky not to run into a U/W Quiet Speculation deck after all!

Dario Minieri.

  • R13: Lee, S-R. U/G Quiet Speculation. 12 points.
  • R14: Roth, D. Mono Black Control. 0 points.
  • R15: Betshart, A. W/G Madness. 6 points.
  • R16: Tomcani, J. U/G Madness. 6 points.
  • R17: Gomersall, S. U/B Braids. 9 points.
  • R18: Kearney, D. U/G Quiet Speculation. 3 points.

Opponent total points: 36, average: 6.

Even with an opponent average of 6, Dario didn’t play the worst players on day three; Sam Gomersall won three matches and S-R Lee won four. Here’s where the opponent average can be a little misleading, as one of Dario’s opponents looks like he’s dropped out – either that, or he really did lose six matches on day three.

That said, Dario did play players that put up worse records than all but one of the other undefeated OBC players. He also played every deck type apart from U/W Quiet Speculation, and was the only player to take U/G Quiet Speculation to a 6-0 record!

If you’re expecting a diverse field, this looks like a good bet.

Yujian Zhou.

  • R13: Perez, A. Mono Black Braids. 9 points.
  • R14: Papp, G. Mono Black Control. 6 points.
  • R15: Herzog, N. W/R Beatdown. 0 points.
  • R16: Gardos, G. Mono Black Control. 12 points.
  • R17: Zhong, D. U/G Quiet Speculation. 9 points.
  • R18: Rubin, B. Mono Black Control. 6 points.

Opponent total points: 42, average: 7.

Yujian was the second player to take MBC to 6-0 and, as you can see, he owns the mirror match, beating four decks built around the nasty Black cards.

Although Yujian played against W/R Beatdown earlier in the day, Yujian didn’t play against G/W or U/W Quiet Speculation either – and that alone has me wondering how match-up dependant the format is. At PT Osaka, the mono Black decks that did well managed to avoid mono Green… And mono Green has morphed, thanks to Judgment, into a better deck in G/W Madness.

If you take mono black, I’d be ready for the mirror match and I’d spend a long time working out how to beat G/W reliably.

Arvi Limpadanai.

  • R13: Kim, K-S. W/G Madness. 6 points.
  • R14: Johannsson, G. W/G Madness. 3 points.
  • R15: Krejsa, T. Mono Black Braids. 6 points.
  • R16: Ortega, A. U/G Threshold. 3 points.
  • R17: Nassif, G. Mono Black Control. 6 points.
  • R18: Wolf, A. Mono Black Control. 6 points.

Opponent total points: 30, average 5.

The last of the 6-0 players, and Arvi’s opponents put up the worst average of the bunch, without a single player winning even three matches.

Interestingly, Arvi was the only W/G deck to go undefeated – and look! He beat three black-based decks…

He also won the mirror twice, but avoided playing U/G Madness, U/G Quiet Speculation, and U/W Birds. Our testing shows that those matchups can be hard for G/W unless they see Glory early on, so I’d test those over and over until I was happy.

Once again I’d like to emphasize that all of these decks, never mind their opponent’s point average or their matchups, are very good. All of them did something most people can only dream of: Winning six matches in a row at the hardest tourney in the world.

Picking out a good deck and identifying matchups that might turn out to be its weak spot is not the only thing to keep in mind when picking a net deck; firstly, and most importantly, you should pick a deck you are comfortable with. There’s no point playing Mono Black Control if you hate playing control and can’t concentrate for seven hours straight. Similarly, there’s no point taking G/W Madness if you hate decks that have no real control and can’t manipulate their draws because you’ll get frustrated.

Secondly, you need to test.

Then you need to test a bit more.

Then, after all that testing, you need to test even more.

Finally, once you’ve done all that testing you should try playing games sideboarded! Too many players test and test and test and don’t play decks after they’ve been sideboarded. One of the biggest stepping-stones to cross on the way to getting better is learning what to put in and what to take out of each deck, for each matchup.

Whenever you test you should get the hang of the deck with a few games and start playing real tournament Magic. Shuffle properly, sideboard in after the first game, and out when you win or lose. Don’t let players take back mistakes, and don’t tell players what they’re doing wrong – at least not during the game.

The last point is an important one: If you tell players what they’re doing wrong during a game, they’ll win a lot of games with their new net deck and they’ll start to get cocky. Then they’ll head over to a tourney, get their ass handed to them, and wonder what went wrong.

Let them lose, let them feel bad and then – and only then – show them what they did wrong, show them how they could have got out of the mess they were in. That way they’ll learn how to win, but will remember that they did lose and won’t get too full of themselves.

Net decks can’t just be picked up and played, they really can’t. If you think you can look at Worlds for a moment. Dave Humpherys’ pick-up deck aside, an awful lot of people turned up with decks their friends and colleagues had given them for formats they were unprepared for and a lot of people did very badly – and they’re the Pros!

If Pros can’t do it, and again and again we see that the best Pros test for weeks on end, then amateurs like you and I don’t stand a chance. Honest.

This weekend I’m off to Grand Prix: London to play OBC for the last time. We’ve been testing G/W, U/W Quiet Speculation, U/G Threshold, MBC, Mono Red Beats, Red/Black Land Destruction, UZI and even Solitary Confinement decks! I’m happiest playing an aggro-control deck and so the U/G Madness decks cry out for my attention. Even so, I feel that Mono Black – if I can avoid G/W Beats – or Tomi Walamies‘ U/W Quiet Speculation deck might be the right deck to take.

I’ll choose on Wednesday night and get a few days testing just that deck until Saturday morning when all the fun starts. Hopefully, next week there’ll be a two-part GP: London article…

Cheers, Jim.

Team PhatBeats,

Team Diaspora and

Level 2 DCI Judge.