Grinding At The StarCityGames.com Orlando Open

Chris VanMeter has been steadily climbing the levels of the SCG ladder and is almost on his way to Level 8 in the Player’s Club. He piloted Team America to a 1st-place finish at the Legacy Open in Orlando. Can he run it back in Louisville?

It’s game three, and it’s a “win and in.” I’m way ahead in my worst matchup. My opponent is at ten with only three lands in play. I
have a Tombstalker, a Dark Confidant, a Phyrexian Revoker on Aether Vial, and a Tarmogoyf (4/5) in play. On my upkeep, my Tombstalker gets Submerged
with the Bob trigger on the stack, putting me at eight. I attack him to two and then… cast the Tombstalker again. Images of a second Submerge
knocking me out of the Top 8 flash through my head. Could I have really done this? I played this entire match extremely tightly until this point.
Staring at my cards, I slowly lift my eyes to my opponent trying to get a read. Does he have it? Thankfully he frowns, draws his fourth land, and can
only cast a Sower of Temptation and dies on my next attack.

This last weekend, I attended the StarCityGames Open in Orlando, Florida. It was an interesting tournament for me, but this story really goes back to
Charlotte. Charlotte was bittersweet for me. I had a great time with some great people. I got to meet up with one of my long-time friends from high
school and stayed in a room with AJ Sacher, who made the finals of the Standard Open and won the Legacy Open, hitting Level 8. Unfortunately for me,
the five points I got from placing in the Top 16 of the Standard Open, paired with the one point for participation in the Legacy Open, left me with 49
points—one point short of Level 5 and having two byes. Ironically enough, I skipped playing Legacy in Kansas City.

In Florida, I met up with Ryano at the airport, and after dodging a potential missing bag situation, we ended up taking a cab to the hotel; 45 dollars
later, we were there. Walking into our suite was exactly like every other time I’ve stayed with Ryan; the rooms are always insane. This one
wasn’t extravagant by any means, but two separate bedrooms, with a pullout couch, a full kitchen, and flat screens in basically every
room were pretty sweet.

Obviously, being in Orlando and having this awesome room would lead us to do some awesome things while waiting for Julian Booher to arrive right?
Actually, we just napped, and it was glorious! Eventually, Julian arrived (paying $45 for his own cab), and we watched the basketball game and relaxed
after devouring some Chinese delivery.

Gerry called us to see where we were staying and was going to walk over with Drew. An hour later, he called back after hitting multiple Residence Inns
on the way. It seems we gave him the wrong street, and there were approximately a million hotels with the same name in the area. Gerry and Drew
arrived, finally, and we went over his Darkblade list. After getting everything sorted out and shotgunning cards, they headed back to their room with
the Hollands, and we went to sleep.

Armed with what was definitely the best deck there, I had a very uneventful Standard showing after losing to Ben Stark and his Primeval Titans and
getting Splinter Twinned off the top. A bit tilted, I dropped at 2-2 to get some trading done, as my forte is actually in the trading game. This was
definitely wrong, and I should have just kept battling. Next time, I’ll just take a walk and chill out. I probably should have went and talked to
someone and let them talk me out of dropping that early, but I just decided to be mopey and sulk with my trade binders.

Saturday night, none other than JVL, Lewis Laskin, Megachu, and Nick Spagnolo joined us in our room. After failing to get a cube draft going, Lewis and
I ended up brewing a Team America deck with two Tombstalkers in the main with Dark Confidants. It was definitely greedy, but I couldn’t decide if
I wanted to play Stalkers or Bobs, and when Lewis said to just play two 5/5s, it just made sense. Here’s the list I ended up going with:

Even though the Sylvan Library ended up being pretty good in a couple games, it probably should have just been a third Jace.

The Stifles were useless. Even though I wanted to be aggressive with my disruption, Stifle still just didn’t do enough.

As far as Tombstalker goes, he was amazing every time I cast him, and I only flipped him to Bob once; however, he was Submerged once with a Bob trigger
on the stack.

The only sideboard card I never brought in was the Relic of Progenitus, as it’s used for Dredge, and I didn’t play against it.

Against the Rock/Bant decks, you just have so much spot removal to go with your disruption, and against the control decks, your disruption pairs very
well with Bob and the quick clocks of Goyf/Tombstalker.

In the tournament, I played against a variety of decks. Against Zoo, Mental Misstep was just insane. Countering their turn 1 Wild Nacatl or Grim
Lavamancer just puts you so far ahead, and your removal gets to just play cleanup.

Against Bant, all of your removal is just so good. Misstep also lets you counter Brainstorms in response to your Hymns and allows you to stop Swords to
Plowshares and hinder their fast mana like Noble Hierarch and Green Sun’s Zenith.

Merfolk is still a tough matchup; however Misstep gives you game against the Vial draws, and Deed, Llawan, and more spot removal helps, but you still
have to play tight.

Gerry’s U/W Standstill deck is not a very good matchup as it stands either. In the semifinals, Drew got pretty unlucky, bricking on getting his
fifth Island to win the game, and I was able to stick a Sylvan Library by playing my land for the turn after walking a Goyf into a counterspell. Moving
forward, we’ll definitely need something in the sideboard to bring in against this style of deck. Mental Misstep has so much game against the format
that it’s warping cards. Twos become better, which makes Spell Snare better. Being able to 1-for-1 their turn 1 play on the draw, Snare their turn 2
play, and then drop a Standstill with Force in hand is just so much better than most other things you can do right now.

For a more controlling type of BUG deck, I’d suggest something like Josh Jacobson’s Top 8 list:

With the win in the Legacy Open, I now stand at 70 points. Hopefully, I can level up in Louisville and make some ground towards Level 7 and catch up to
Drew. While the prize for winning Rookie of the Year doesn’t have too much value money-wise, it would be pretty neat to be the first
StarCityGames.com Rookie of the Year. I’m sure we’ll make it exciting for everyone throughout the year!

I’d like to say thanks to all of the grinders. Being unknown at the start of this season and becoming friends with everyone so fast has really shown me
just how cool everyone can be. Loaning cards, chopping rooms and travel, sharing card ideas and decklists, and just hanging out in general has really
been the best part of traveling to these events. I can’t wait for the rest of the year! See everyone in Louisville!

Chris VanM{e}t{e}r
[email protected]