One of These Days – A Pro Tour Charleston Report *Top 4*

The Cak, teamed with Gadiel Szleifer and Chris “Star Wars Kid” McDaniel, recently took the Pro Tour by storm with a Sunday performance in Charleston. While they fell in the final furlong, their powerful run through the Swiss rounds proved the strength of both their decks and their play. After Gadiel’s firecracker of a report on the proceedings, John’s more sober reflection on the highs and lows of the Pro Tour is rather refreshing…

I’m sure you’ve read about this story before, and if not, let me refresh your memories for a second.

“One of these days, one of us is going to win one of these things.” Those were my exact words to Ruud

Warmenhoven at Worlds last year, when we played at 1-2. Ruud went on to Top 8 an individual Pro Tour and Top 4 the next

Grand Prix. Now this. Maise.

First of all, Gadiel, Chris, and myself knew we were teaming together for a while before this tournament, but there

were still some uncertainties going into the Pro Tour. How do you even begin testing for a block tournament in which you

can’t play more than four of a card between three different decks? None of us really had experience testing like

this for a tournament before, but who has?

A couple weeks before the Pro Tour I decided to build some decks on Magic Online, just to see if there was anything

out there that stood out to me. The first couple of decks looked solid, but nothing really stood out to me as the

“best deck”. For about two weeks I tested with Gerry Thompson, Rasmus Sibast, Nikolas Nygaard, Cedric

Phillips, and Ben Lundquist’s team. We figured out a couple of things about the format from these two weeks, which

were; control decks were far better than random aggro ones, and there needed to be a Rolling Spoil control deck in one of

the seats.

The next step was going to be trying to find the best Green/Black/X deck, which was probably going to be

Blue/Green/Black or Green/Black/White. At this time I had also discovered that Boros could possibly be good, through

talking to Gerry and watching some matches. The problem with Boros is that it could easily lose to a turn 3 or 4 Rolling

Spoil, but we figured because the odds of playing against Rolling Spoil was 1 in 3, it was worth the risk. After some

fine-tuning, this is the list I ended up running for the Pro Tour.

For the record, Randy, I did test my deck quite a bit before the Pro Tour. And no, I didn’t need Gadiel’s

help to figure out that Belfry Spirit made bat tokens. Come on.

The maindeck is pretty solid, except for that there should be a forth Demonfire in the place of a Frenzied Goblin

probably. I would say 75% of my games were won with burn to the face, dome, nugget, or whatever you call it. Demonfire

is the card you want to draw in the late game, no matter what you are playing against. It also disrupts mana

early by killing Birds of Paradise, and even removes Firemane Angels from the game. The sideboard, on the other hand, is

pretty loose. The Cloisters and Parallectric Feedbacks were solid throughout the tournament, and I think I boarded in the

Sunhome in 90% of my matchups. Against the Rolling Spoil decks, you want to bring it in because if they hit a Garrison,

you are in deep trouble. The extra land in your deck helps out a lot. The Sunhome also gets boarded in against random

aggro decks when you board in the Cloister/Fetter’s package. The Hunted Dragon was a complete joke, however. You

never want to give your opponent a win condition, and the dragon does just that. He always just gets Putrefied or

Mortified, but can be surprising to opponents who don’t see it coming. I would suggest a third Bathe in Light over

him if you want to play this deck seriously.

Disco Inferno

Also if you notice in the Top 8 profiles from Charleston, you can see that the MVP of my deck was Boros Garrison. The

Garrison is great for many reasons. First of all, it fuels late game Demonfires, which won me multiple games. Second, it

lets you easily keep sketchy two-land hands on the play with multiple Solifuges or something. It does have its drawbacks

though. If it gets killed, you are set back at least a turn or two, but that’s only if it gets hit early in the

game. It also doesn’t combo very well with Frenzied Goblin and Scorched Rusalka, but it rarely hurts you enough to

matter that much.

What about the other aggro decks, like Gruul or Rakdos? They don’t have flyers. I can’t even tell you

the amount of times I flew over 2/5 walls or Hierarchs against Green/White/Black control decks. In testing, Gruul just

couldn’t force through any damage with creatures, and I couldn’t possibly see myself playing Hit/Run and Dark

Confidant in the same deck because I’d be taking sixteen real fast. That made Boros an easy choice for me, although

my teammates didn’t agree with my decision. However, if I was confident with the deck, they were comfortable

letting me play it. This is very important in team play, because trust and confidence between team members is so


How to Sideboard

Sideboarding with this deck is hard, because none of your cards are terrible against any of the decks out there.

Boros is focused to kill very quickly, so you don’t want to disrupt your deck too much by taking out and adding

cards. Lets look at the sideboard again.

3 Bottled Cloister
1 Frenzied Goblin
1 Hunted Dragon
3 Parallectric Feedback
4 Faith’s Fetters
1 Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
2 Bathe in Light

Green White Black control, or 5-Color control: I brought in the Sunhome, the Frenzied Goblin, and 2

Bathe in Lights for the Seal of Fires. I also brought out more one-toughness creatures against decks that had more board

clearly effects like Pontiff and Rolling Spoil. I also brought in Parallectric Feedbacks against any deck featuring

Skeletal Vampire or Simic Sky Swallower while shaving off more one-toughness guys in the deck.

Firemane Control: In come the 2 Bathe in Lights and 3 Bottled Cloisters, and out come 3 Frenzied

Goblins and 2 Boros Guildmage or Mistral Chargers. This matchup is definitely not in your favor, but it isn’t the

worst thing you could be facing. Scorched Rusalka is the most important card because it prevents your guys from getting

locked down by Faith’s Fetters and prevents the life gain, which is very important. Giant Solifuge can be deadly if

they have nothing to deal with it, and Demonfire does remove Firemane Angels from the game for good or turns into

uncounterable damage in the late game. Parallectric Feedback is another card to look at in this matchup, but you

don’t want to slow your deck down, and the Cloister’s are definitely better than Feedbacks.

Other Aggro decks: I didn’t get a chance to play against many aggro decks during the

tournament, which was probably a good thing since Boros is weaker in aggro on aggro matchups. I would board in the

Sunhome, the 4 Faith’s Fetters and 3 Bottled Cloister for 4 Char and either Scorched Rusalkas or Frenzied Goblins.

Bathe in Light is another card to look at because it can act as a finisher as well as a way to counter their Lightning

Helixes, which is the most important card in the aggro mirror.

The random land destruction decks are pretty much a bye unless they draw multiple Rolling Spoils or get the nuts on

the play. Killing a land doesn’t quite compete with a 4/1 haster that can’t be targeted.

That’s pretty much it for sideboarding with this deck. Let’s move on to the actual tournament.

Going into the Pro Tour, we didn’t know what Gadiel and Chris were going to play, although I was almost certain

that one of the decks had to be Green/White/Black control. We came across Rasmus Sibast and asked if we could use his

Green/White/Black control and Green/Red/Blue control lists. He and Das Hopper reluctantly agreed, so we scrambled to get

the cards for the decks from one Michael Purn. He actually lent us all of the cards for our decks the day before the Pro

Tour. Thanks again to Purn and The Sea Beast.

Day 1

We arrive at the site, which looked exactly like the site from Honolulu because of the banners they used. The

player’s lounge did have a putting green and ping-pong table this time though, which was a nice addition. We

scramble to get our deck list filled out and prepare for the unexpected.

Round 1: Manamaze.com

This team was featuring some of the best players playing Magic now, and probably the best all Dutch team at the

tournament. I’m also good friends with Rogier, Julien, and Wessel, so we were in for quite the match. Did I

mention that I’m something like 90% Dutch also? I was paired against Julien playing a variant of Green/Black/White

control splashing blue for Sky Swallower I believe. This matchup was in my favor also. Both games were rather

anti-climatic, as I played burn spells and attacked with creatures with flying and haste. Chris won a close game 3 with

Wessel, and Gadiel blocked a Halcyon Glaze with Drift of Phantasms, so we win 3-0.

Record: 1-0

This round gave us confidence in our decks and team. I don’t think anyone knew what to expect from this

tournament, so a first round win was a great way to start.

Round 2: Krumb Kicks Puppies

Another round paired against more friends on the Pro Tour. This team featured Grand Prix Champion Michael J. Krumb,

Billy Big Timing P, and Gerry Thompson, a sometime test partner. In the end, Gerry’s team decided to not play Boros

and instead chose to run Firemane control. Krumb was playing a Glare of Subdual variant, and Gerry was playing

Blue/Green/Black control. Game 1 started off pretty good for me, until Billy started Copy Enchantmenting Faith’s

Fetters on my creatures and eventually gained control of the game. At one point, I could have drawn a burn spell to go

with the Demonfire in my hand for the win, but I didn’t so we moved to game 2.

Game 2 saw me able to keep one mana up with Scorched Rusalka for a while to prevent him from gaining life, and

eventually just finished him with burn and Giant Solifuge. Game 3 is another close game, with him getting Angels in the

yard early, but I had applied a lot of early pressure. I Helix my own guy to prevent him from gaining more life, but he

clears my board the turn after. On my turn, I can draw any burn spell besides Demonfire – or a land – to win with the

Demonfire in my hand. I draw the land and play the uncounterable, unpreventable Blaze for exactly enough. Maise.

Record: 2-0

Round 3: D-25

Gee, another team with solid players on it. They also eventually made it to the Top 4 with us, so this round was no

laughing matter. They were running Green/Black/White control, Blue/Red/White No-Angel control, and Green/Black/Red land

destruction. Japanese teams are always scary to play against at team events, because you never know what to expect.

I am paired against the Green/White/Black control deck and get rolled in about 10 minutes to his Rolling Spoil on turn

4 both games. He killed a Garrison in the first game, and a Mountain plus a couple of creatures the next. Sometimes it is

easy to avoid losing to Rolling Spoil, but you need to maximize the use of your cheap burn spells like Char and Lightning

Helix. If you don’t draw either of those cards and your mana is being attacked, odds of you winning the game are

very slim. Chris ends up winning his matchup against the land destruction deck in game 3, and Gadiel wins with Rumbling

Slum and counter backup. We move to 3-0.

Record: 3-0

We beat a good American team, a good Japanese team, and a good European team. Confidence is at an all-time high going

into round 4. Round 4 we are paired against another solid European team.

Round 4: 1700.3

This team consists of Pierre Canali, Wilfried Ranque, and Sylvain Lauriol. Pierre is running a pretty straightforward

Rakdos deck, Wilfried with a strange Blue/Red/Black control deck with Izzet Chronarchs, and Sylvain was running

Green/Black/Red land destruction.

This matchup is heavily in my favor unless I get Rolling Spoiled out, which didn’t happen so I won my match

easily 2-0 on the back of Giant Solifuge, Lightning Helix, and Char. Chris ends up losing to Canali’s Rakdos deck

built to beat control, but Gadiel manages to pull out the win in game 3 against Wilfried with the Rumbling Slum plus

counter backup combo, so we move to 4-0.

Record: 4-0

At thus point we are already guaranteed Day 2, because of the fact that 4-3 automatically made the grade, giving me my

second Day 2 at a pro tour out of 47 tries. Quite impressive, no?

Round 5: Double Shu Desu

This team features a couple of the best Japanese players in Shuu Komuro, Shuhei Nakamura, and Ichirou Shimura. Shuhei

was running Green/White/Black control, Shuu was equipped with a Green/White/Blue control deck, and Ichirou was playing

Rakdos. Unfortunately I was paired against the Rolling Spoil deck, and preceded to get Rolling Spoiled out of the first

two games in about five minutes. Chris and Gadiel both got rolled also in what seemed to be pretty bad matchups for us.

Record: 4-1

Round 6: Jomesy is PERFECT!

This team features Max Bracht who Top 8’d Honolulu this season, and what can I say about Hans Joachim Hoeh that

hasn’t been said already? I’ve lost to German teams in previous Pro Tour experience, but hopefully Jomesy

wouldn’t come close to perfect this round. Hans is running the Green/White/Black control deck, Max is playing

Firemane control, and the last guy is playing Gruul. Chris actually won his match in less than five minutes, due to the

fact that Gruul is terrible. Game 1 of my match against Hans went as planned, as he did not have the Spoil early on and I

just finished him with burn and a Skyknight Legionnaire. Game 2 his draw was a little better, but he lacked an important

color of mana, which hindered his ability to put pressure on me. On my last turn, I can draw a burn spell or land for the

win otherwise I lose. And just like against Billy P earlier in the day, I “peel” the land. Our team moves to

5-1 on the day.

Record: 5-1

Round 7: Two-Headed Giant

If we wanted to keep the Top 4 dream alive, this was a must-win match for us. I don’t know how this team came

to be, but it consisted of invitational competitor Mike Flores, Steve Sadin, and Paul Jordan. Paul is playing the greedy

5-color deck splashing for Simic Sky Swallower and Savage Twister. Steve was running Firemane control, and Mike was

playing the Black/White midrange deck with all the good Orzhov cards and Belfry Spirit. Game 1 of my match is going fine

for me, until he Savage Twisters away my board and I lose shortly after due to my lack of burn. The game may have been

different if I knew he was playing Twisters beforehand, but these things happen. Chris had already lost game 1 to Mike,

but Gadiel was looking good in game 1. I board in the Parallectric Feedbacks, Bathe in Lights, and the Sunhome for a

combination of Seal of Fires and Mistral Chargers. Game 2 goes a lot better for me, as his draw is pretty slow and I

start to apply pressure very early on in the game. He starts to make a comeback, but burn takes care of that. Gadiel had

just gotten Demonfired out of the first game, and Chris’s match was not going so well.

I kept my deck the same for game 3, and my draw is very good to start the game. Eventually we get to the point where

I have Scorched Rusalka out to his nothing. He has to Ribbons the Rusalka, but I Feedback the Ribbons and sacrifice the

Rusalka so he doesn’t gain life or draw a card. I untap and finish the game with more burn. By this time Gadiel

has won game 2, and is looking good for game 3. Gadiel resolves a Slum with double Remand and double Voidslime in hand

later in the game, so we win a nail-biter and move to 6-1.

We end the day third in the standings with fairly good tiebreakers… and let me tell you something about

tiebreakers at a Pro Tour. In Charleston, teams 8-14 all had 30 points with GG Jirou coming in eighth place and receiving

$7,500 or $2,500 each. Witness the Thickness came in 14th and received $3,150 for their efforts, which would be $1,050

per person. Or how about teams placed 19th through 33rd. 6 of them made money because of tiebreakers, and the other 8

got nothing. There isn’t much you can do about your tiebreakers in any given tournament, but they are something

that you should pay attention to.

We head to the site next morning confident after our Day 1 performance, and more importantly, Gadiel still had a good


Round 8: Why Would You Do Zis (Feature Match)

We are paired down this round against a scary team featuring Rich Hoaen, Anton Jonsson, and Johan Sadeghpour. If you

want to read more in depth about this round, you can go here. I was paired against Johan who was playing a

fast Red/Black controllish deck. Gadiel was paired against a Green/White/Blue Glare deck, and Chris was facing off

against land destruction. My match against Johan was over in 10 minutes, with me losing to Fall in game 1, hitting

Lightning Helix and Demonfire and missing land drops in game 3. Chris managed to win against Rich, but Gadiel could not

take down Johan’s Glare deck, so we lose the first round of Day 2 1-2.

Record: 6-2

Losing the first round of Day 2 is always rough, especially after an x-1 finish day 1. However, they were a very good

team so we still had confidence that we could win the next couple rounds.

Round 9: Servus

This team was featuring some solid European Pros including David Brucker and Helmut Summersberger (big burgers).

Brucker was running some Green/White/Black midrange deck, Sebastian was playing Firemane control, and my opponent, Helmut,

was equipped with Green/Blue/Red control. This is another great matchup for me, because while his spells are doing their

job trading with my creatures, he is still taking damage from them because of the haste factor. This is exactly how the

first game plays out, with me finishing him with some burn spells and creatures with haste. Game 2 he gets heavily

flooded and I eventually build up a hand with 3 Parallectric Feedbacks and win when he casts a spell. Star Wars Kid

dispatched Brucker early on in the match, and Gadiel also managed to pull it out giving us the much-needed win.

Record: 7-2

Nerves are running high and so is Thee Ambien, making this the most important round up until this point.

Round 10: GG Jirou

This team consisted of some young Japanese players, one of which was Shades, a legend amongst money drafters on the

Pro Tour (or maybe just Zajdner). I was paired against Shades himself, who was playing Blue/Green/Black control. The

other two team members of GG Jirou piloted Blue/White/Black control and Saito’s Boros/Rakdos deck respectively.

Game 1 goes very well for me, as he gets a slow start and I put on some early pressure with Skyknight Legionnaire and

Mistral Charger. He manages to clear my board, but as you guessed it, burn finishes the job. Gadiel went down in the

first game against the Rakdos/Boros deck, but Chris took his first game from the Blue/White/Black control deck. Game 2 is

a massacre for him, as I get two-for-oned with Rolling Spoil. Skeletal Vampire finishes the job soon after. In the

meantime, Chris had lost game 2, but won a close game 3 to put us up in the match record.

My draw for game 3 is fairly solid, but his is also strong. I start with a Scorched Rusalka that gets in a few

points, which is followed up by a Skyknight Legionnaire. His draw gives him a Rolling Spoil that killed a Boros Garrison,

followed by Skeletal Vampire. Eventually, the game gets to a point with me having zero creatures and four lands to his

full board. However, he is at four and I’m holding Demonfire, one mana short of killing him. I untap, draw, sigh,

and then realize the Helix I drew still does it. I point both spells at him, and that was game. Another really close

round, but we manage to pull it out and move to 8-2.

Record: 8-2

Still in Top 8 contention, every round now turned into the most important round of the tournament.

Round 11: Schere Stein Papier

I wasn’t too familiar with any of the players on this team, except for Simon G. who I have played in matches

that don’t matter in previous Pro Tours. My opponent, the other Simon, was playing a Green/White/Black control

deck, while the other members of their team were playing Firemane and Green/Blue/Red aggro respectively. My match against

Simon was rather quick, as game 1 he played two Civic Wayfinders as creatures, but not much else. He does manage to kill

my flyers later on, but a well-timed burn spell ends things. Gadiel has lost his game 1, while Chris and Simon G were

still battling valiantly. Game 2 does not start well for me as I miss a couple of land drops, and Rolling Spoil sends me

back even further. However, he is mana flooded and I eventually draw a Boros Garrison to fuel the spells in my hand for

the win. Gadiel goes down in 2 games, so it is up to Chris to pull out game 3 against Firemane control.

The beginning of the game looks very good for us, but Simon pulls out of a deep hole with multiple Faith’s

Fetters and Copy Enchantments. Skeletal Vampire plus a lot of mana helps Chris out, but Simon is gaining too much life

via Firemanes and Fetters. At any point in the game, a Crime / Punishment just gives us the win, but it doesn’t

show so we get a draw.

Record: 8-2-1

The Top 8 is slipping out of sight, but a win this round would put us right back on track.

Round 12: Raaala Pumba

This team consists of some pretty random Brazilian players, excluding Paulo Vitor, who is making a run at the Player

of the Year title. I have played against Celso before at Grand Prix Minneapolis, while I have never heard of Big Edels

before. Gadiel’s opponent this round was playing some sort of Zoo deck, leaving Celso with Green/Black/Blue control. I

am paired against Paulo, who was running Orzhov control, and our match was over in 5 minutes. This is my first time

playing against Black/White on the weekend and I was battered. That’s how bad the matchup is. One thing I

regret doing is playing fast against this team. My opponent was clearly the leader of the team, and by playing fast, I

allowed for him to help his teammates out when they needed it. Gadiel’s opponent “forgot” to take

damage from Sacred Foundries twice in one game, and in the next game he “forgot” to take mana burn from a

Karoo land twice. Then to top it off, he tried to cast a Rumbling Slum without two Green mana. Sketchy? Perhaps. You

look at it the way you want to, but this is exactly what people get away with on the Pro Tour these days. Chris ends up

losing anyway, so it didn’t matter… but it could have.

We end up losing 0-3, and in the process move to 8-3-1 and out of Top 8 contention. Or so we thought…

Record: 8-3-1

Round 13: Shows up with dip. Dips

I think I just lost the will to live.

This team features a couple of the top players on the Pro Tour right now, although they don’t seem to show up to

many tournaments anymore. I am referring to Ben Rubin, Jeff Cunningham, and Morgan Douglas. I am paired against Ben this

round, who’s running a Green-based 4-color control deck, while his teammates were running White/Black control and

Green/Blue/White Glare respectively. Ben ends up Rolling me in five minutes, with Rolling Spoil game 1 and the combo of

Dark Heart of the Wood plus Skullmead Cauldron in game 2! Chris ends up drawing the nuts for three games in a row against

Morgan, losing one of those games, and Gadiel wins a very close game 3 due to ffeJ’s inability to draw Selesnya

Guildmage. With that win we move to 9-3-1, hoping to win next round to make some more money and pro points.

Record: 9-3-1

Round 14: Nate’s a Jerk

This was a spicy team featuring some random Americans.

My opponent was running a Green/Blue/Red aggro deck, which was basically Gruul splashing some Blue for Plaxcaster

Frogling and Electrolyze. The other members of the team were playing Green/Blue/Black control and Green/White/Blue Glare.

While we were shuffling up for the first game, my opponent made some comments about how bad his deck was and about how

many times he had mulliganed. He mulliganed to five the first game, and I won easily on the play. Game 2 he mulliganed

to five again, but ended up drawing the nuts and I died to a couple of Burning-Tree Shamans. Gadiel had lost his match to

Nathan Waxer already, due to some poor draws, so Chris and I both had to win our matches.

My opening hand for game 3 was: Mountain, Boros Garrison, Skyknight Legionnaire, Lightning Helix, Seal of Fire, Giant

Solifuge, and Faith’s Fetters. In the middle of our game, Randy Buehler and a bunch of the R&D guys came over

and started watching our match, giving me the impression that we still had a chance to make Top 4. BDM later confirmed

this. My game 3 lasted about 2 minutes, with me winning with multiple Giant Solifuges and Faith’s Fetters.

It was all on Chris. He was already up a game and time was running out in game 2. There was a stall, with both

players having Skeletal Vampires out, but Chris ripped Debtors’ Knell to break the parity. We were afraid of Simic

Sky Swallower combined with Punishment, but it didn’t happen.

We pulled it out 2-1.

Record: 10-3-1

Apparently for us to make Top 8, three different matches had to go our way. Raaala Pumba decided to play it

out because they didn’t like their matchups in the last round, so they knocked out the Iowan team

“/wrist.” Schere Stein Papier also needed a single point to make Top 8 in the last round, but they were

defeated by the Japanese team Kajiharu80. atogslc.com was also paired down in the last round, and failed to get a point

by losing to Servus. We should have placed somewhere around 6th or 7th, but because of the rare outcome of those three

matches, we were able to make the cut to the final four.

We head over to “Sticky Fingers” for the first meal of the day at about 10pm. In the process we talk with

some other Pros about sideboarding strategies, which helped a little, but we still did not like our odds.

The Top 4

You can watch our entire match with Raaala Pumba in the Top 4 at MagictheGathering.com, or just read about it here in

the least amount of detail possible. Your call.

This is a rematch from an earlier round when we got 3-0’d, and honestly, we didn’t expect much. My

matchup is at least 25-75 in his favor, and that is being pretty generous. Gadiel has a hard time with cards like

Burning-Tree Shaman, Watchwolf, and Rumbling Slum. Chris probably had the upper hand in his matchup, with the amount of

creature removal in Celso’s deck. We were going to need a lot of luck to make it past the Semis.

In my game 1 I had to mulligan to a “sub-par” five-card hand, but was quickly demolished by Ghost Council,

Belfry Spirit, and Skeletal Vampire. We figured the night before that my only way of winning was to burn him as much as

possible, so it made sense to bring in Bottled Cloisters and Parallectric Feedbacks. I know these cards don’t work

very well with each other, but either one is capable of breaking the game open by itself. The Sunhome also came in, for 3

Frenzied Goblin and 4 Mistral Charger.

Game 2 starts off fairly well, with 2 Seal of Fires, a Boros Guildmage, Scorched Rusalka, and Bottled Cloister. On

the turn I cast the Cloister, I could have also held back with Parallectric Feedback mana. I chose to cast the Cloister

because he might not even have a Belfry Spirit of Skeletal Vampire to cast. I needed to draw as many Chars and Lightning

Helixes as possible. I end up drawing zero of each, in about twenty cards or so. Once again my match is the first one

finished, and had I played a little slower, Willy may not have made the play he did to win the match against Gadiel.

Oh well, we got very lucky to make top 4 in the first place. I know that we were all very happy with the finish.

Level 4 is not far out of sight…

Thanks for reading, and please post any deck tips or help on the message boards.

Cak out.