Innovations Extra- The $200,000 SCG Open Series, Hot Standard & Legacy Decks

SCG 10k St. Louis Offers First Chances to Qualify for the 2010 StarCityGames.com Invitational!
Tuesday, December 8th – Patrick “The Innovator” Chapin brings us an extra article this week, sharing Standard and Legacy decks, looking forward to the StarCityGames.com $200,000 Open Series – including the SCG 10K St. Louis this weekend!

When I was competing in the Indianapolis StarCityGames.com $5,000 Standard Open a few months back, I couldn’t help but wonder what would be the implications of over 400 people consistently showing up to independently-run Magic tournaments. I asked Pete, president of StarCityGames, what would come next if the community continued to support the $5K tournament series.

“If players keep showing up like this, we could be looking at a pretty big expansion, with even better tournaments.”

I guess he wasn’t kidding.

Heads were definitely turned when it was announced that the StarCityGames.com $5,000 Open tournament series had been greatly expanded for 2010. An amazing year-end $50,000 Invitational tournament was also added!

I am definitely excited to see such a huge increase in opportunities to play large Standard and Legacy events. In this article, I have included the decks I would most likely play in the St. Louis $10,000 Open tournaments this weekend, both Standard and Legacy, if I was anywhere near the area.

By request, Pete had upped the amount of Legacy tournaments this year, maintaining that if players kept coming out and supporting them, he would continue to hold more events in this increasingly popular Eternal format. In a huge show of support to the Legacy community, it was announced that in 2010, every single StarCityGames.com Open weekend would contain both a Standard event (on Saturday) and a Legacy event (on Sunday)!

Seriously? That is pretty insane, and it’s to StarCityGames.com credit that they are holding the events, Sanctioned and without proxy, as they care about the longevity of the format. The Legacy community has come out in legion to make this possible, and it will be exciting to see what they do with it. This is going to be the year that pros can no longer say “Legacy is busted, but no one is has enough incentive to break it,” as $75,000 says they do. You think Legacy is busted? Put your money where your mouth is. I am excited to see what incredible technology emerges as the Pro community and the Eternal Community collide with $75,000 on the line… plus there’s those important invites for the StarcityGames.com $50,000 Invitational!

That’s fifteen Legacy events, with $5,000 in prizes for each. Of course, the prize is actually so much more than that. With the announcement of the year-end StarCityGames.com $50,000 Invitational, the prize for each tournament is actually a fair bit higher than the immediate cash prize.

You see, the end of the year Invitational tournament has no entry fee, but it pays out better than a Grand Prix.

1st: $10,000
2nd: $8,000
3rd-4th: $4,000
5th-8th: $2,000
9th-16th: $1,000
17th-32nd: $500

That’s right. That’s the highest-paying independent Magic tournament of all time, with a payout second only to the Pro Tour.

So, how do you get invited?

The event is invite only. The way to win your invited is to earn a total of at least ten qualifying points by playing in StarCityGames.com Standard and/or Legacy Open events throughout the season. Points are cumulative all year, and are awarded at each event.

1st: 20 points
2nd: 15 points
3rd/4th: 10 points
5th-8th: 5 points
9th-16th: 3 points
Participation: 1 point

Hit ten points for the season, and you’re in!

And that’s not all… The day before the Invitational, there will be a series of 32-player single-elimination “last chance” grinders. The winner of each “last chance” grinder will qualify for the Invitational (held the following day), but if other high-placing finishers earn enough points to reach their cumulative 10-point threshold, those players will also end up qualifying. Points in the “last chance” grinders will be awarded as follows:

1st: 10 points
2nd: 4 points
3rd/4th: 2 points

There’s also the prospect of winning Invitational byes. Players who earn a total of 10-19 points qualify for the Invitational. Players who earn 20-29 points also qualify, and they receive a first-round bye. Players who earn 30+ points earn their invite plus two byes at the event!

The 2010 Open Season runs from December 12, 2009 until the final “last chance” grinder finishes the night before the StarCityGames.com Invitational. All points reset next year.

This means that even if you don’t win, or make Top 8, at these StarCityGames.com Open tournaments, never fear. Your finishes still add up. You even get a point for simply competing in each event, meaning that showing up to a $10,000 Open weekend ensures you two points. That means that all the grinders that are out supporting the scene, participating in a number of weekends throughout the year? You should automatically earn your invite to compete in the year-end Invitational. All you have to do is attend five of the $10,000 Open weekends, and play on both days, and you will automatically have enough points to make in to the Invitational. This is obviously a pretty amazing payday itself.

Still, it is important to put the effort into these events if you are serious about this circuit, because obviously not everyone can make it to five $10,000 Open weekends. Besides, if you hit twenty or more points, you’re earning byes for the Invitational. As anyone who has ever competed in a Grand Prix knows, byes are amazing, as they give you a huge advantage at an event. At a Grand Prix, there are a ton of people with byes. The number of byes handed out at the StarCityGames.com Invitational will be much lower, and with such an incredible prize payout they will be especially valuable.

The schedule for the 2010 StarCityGames.com Open series is as follows:

December 12-13, 2009: StarCityGames.com Open: St. Louis
January 2-3, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Los Angeles
January 9-10, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Dallas/Fort Worth
February 27-28, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Richmond
March 13-14, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Indianapolis
March 27-28, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Orlando
May 1-2, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Atlanta
June 5-6, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Philadelphia
June 12-13, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Seattle
June 26-27, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: St. Louis
August 21-22, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Denver
August 28-29, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Minneapolis
October 16-17, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Nashville
October 30-31, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Charlotte
November 6-7, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Boston
November 20-21, 2010: StarCityGames.com Open: Baltimore

December 3-5, 2010: StarCityGames.com Invitational (Richmond)

That’s right, there are fifteen huge double-tournament weekends, each leading up to the final showdown in Richmond, the week before the World Championships. The Invitational will undoubtedly set the Worlds metagame. You can also tell that careful planning went into the construction of this schedule, as none of the tournaments conflict with Pro Tours, U.S. Nationals, or U.S. GPs.

This tournament series has garnered so much attention and support that there will actually be coverage of all of the events. Bill Stark, Rashad Miller, and the folks at GGsLive will bring live video coverage of the events all weekend long, ensuring that every advance in Standard and Legacy will be available to viewers eager to learn of the newest breakthroughs.

If I can make it to the StarCityGames.com $10,000 Open tournaments in St. Louis this weekend (and if I’m foolish enough to avoid playing Jund, which I am), I would probably play something like this:

For a White deck, there is a surprising amount of card advantage, plus a lot of life gain to combat those annoying Red aggro decks. Overloading on Baneslayer Angels, Felidar Sovereigns, and Walls of Reverence helps ensure that even someone with a lot of removal is going to have a hard time killing all your insane life gain creatures, let alone win before Emeria, the Sky Ruin takes over. Devout Lightcaster main is simply because I am sick and tired of Jund, and I’m willing to play a Grey Ogre if it means beating G/B/R (plus someone will play Vampires…).

This deck is a little shy on card draw, but there is definitely some potential. The sideboard will have some givens, such as Celestial Purge, but the rest is a matter of tuning to what you expect to face, such as Day of Judgment or a few more copies of so many of the maindeck two-ofs.

Of course, I played the following control deck this past weekend in States. It isn’t bad, but I definitely don’t recommend it. I like Cruel Ultimatum more than probably anyone on Earth, but even I might have to pass on it next time.

Sideboarding is very important here, with the most important aspect being adjusting your creatures to fit the match-up. Sphinx of Lost Truth is particularly good in game 1, since you have situational cards that may be bad in some match-ups. You might not know what creature you want for game 1, but you always want to draw more cards.

After boarding, look to bring in Malakir Bloodwitch against any White deck (except maybe Boros Bushwhacker). This includes White Weenie, Mono-White Control, Bant, G/W, Turbo-Fog, and R/W/U control. The Baneslayer Angels and Sphinxes of Jwar Isle should be your creatures of choice against Jund. Remember, you don’t have to take out all three Sphinx of Lost Truths merely because you are bringing in more guys that cost five mana.

This is essentially my Worlds deck, with updates based on what I have recently learned from playing Wafo-style. It is definitely more powerful than the Wafo style, but the fourth color brings a certain level of mana inconsistency. It is also slightly slower. Still, Wall of Denial, Esper Charm, Ajani Vengeant, and Baneslayer Angel are exceptionally powerful cards, so the allure is certainly understandable.

For what it’s worth, I am planning on piloting something like the deck below at the first StarCityGames.com $5,000 Legacy Open event in which I can compete. If I can make it to St. Louis this weekend, I will probably play one of the following decks:

This is an update of my Entomb-Hulk, a deck I first discussed when Entomb was first unbanned in Legacy. I’ve been talking with Doug Linn and the rest of the Meandeck guys, and I think that this has the potential to be one of the strongest archetypes in the format. On raw power, it is rivaled by few, with the major downside being the prevalence (at times) of graveyard hate in the format.

I have a new idea on how to combat the hate, employing one of my favorite combinations in Vintage: Helm of Obedience and Leyline of the Void. I play The Deck (Five-Color Control) in Vintage, and sometimes I run into situations where I cannot defend against some strange strategy for which I had not prepared. My solution? Board into the Helm-Line combo.

I want to use Leyline of the Void in whatever deck I play in Legacy, and the Helms seemed to be a better transformational plan than Tarmogoyfs, Tombstalkers, or Negators. It is not a particularly fast combination, especially in my deck, but it completely dodges the graveyard hate. Against the opponents where you are likely to bring it in, you won’t mind slowing down the deck a touch anyway.

For those unfamiliar with the combination…

If you have a Leyline of the Void in play and activate a Helm for 1 on your opponent, you will exile their entire library (since Helm is worded in Oracle to say that it keeps milling until a creature goes to the graveyard, and Leyline means one never will).

Obviously when you board in this combination, you are going to be boarding out most or all of your creatures, reanimation spells, and some Entombs, and boarding in most (or all) of your sideboard. Most of the opponents you will face at the StarCityGames.com $5,000 Legacy Open in St. Louis this weekend will not be expecting the Helm-Line combo. In fact, your opponents will probably slow their deck down to incorporate half a dozen pieces of graveyard hate, giving you even more time to set up the combo. If you face someone with no graveyard hate, simply board the original combo back in.

If I didn’t play Entomb-Hulk, it would probably be because I’d be piloting another Brainstorm / Force of Will / Entomb deck…

This is a classical Reanimator deck which, rather than kill the opponent immediately, figures that one of its monsters will essentially be game over. A big advantage to this style is that it has fewer dead cards, and more ways to cash them in. The downside is that if your monster is not good enough to win, you have almost no way to fight back (beyond discard, bounce, and Force of Will).

I think it is worth considering the Helm-Line sideboard here too, but I wanted to showcase a different possible direction to help spark ideas on what a deck like this can do to combat graveyard hate. For what it’s worth, if I played this deck, I would likely use Helm-Line in the board instead.

I hope everyone attending this weekend’s SCG $10K St. Louis has a blast. If any of you guys end up running these decks, let me know how they performed in the forums. Good luck!

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”