As you might have noticed, I have not produced an article or a video in the last couple of weeks with the reason being quite simply – it’s been Pro Tour
time! I have been spending quite a lot of time not only preparing for the PT, but also mentally recovering from it. The weeks around these important
weekends are especially draining; I really felt I couldn’t give you guys interesting insight without at least partially revealing some of our testing. But
since I’m back, I will recall some of the more interesting moments of the past couple of weeks, which included not only the Pro Tour, but also the Grand
Prix in Atlanta.
I had enjoyed working with my team (Elaborate Ruse) for Pro Tour Born of the Gods, but as it goes, not everyone was as happy, so we had to deal with a
couple of enforced changes. Stanislav Cifka, Lukas Jaklovsky, and Ivan Floch departed to test with other Czech qualified players while Simon Goertzen,
Ludvig Londos, and Elias Watsfeldt did not manage to re-qualify. This meant that from the previous team, we merely had me, Olle Rade, Denniz Rachid, and
Joel Larsson. Although it was still a formidable set of players to prepare with, we still needed a couple of reinforcements. In Valencia, I had already
talked with Slovenian Robin Dolar. I had wanted to test with him as I believe he has huge potential (he reminds me of a young Ivan Floch.) He let me know
his countryman Andrej Rutar was qualified, and these two joined the team bringing us to six players. Fortunately, I managed to convince my friend Róbert
Jurkovič to test with us after he got to the Top 4 at GP Vienna and was willing to use his Silver-level invite in Atlanta. Rookie of the Year candidate
Rasmus Bjorklund was also added to give us more experience after his fantastic year with two GP Top 8s. In addition, I got to work with German Thoralf
Severin, who always brings a good mood wherever he was goes. Then we had Fabrizio Anteri from Venezuela, who was working in London. He had good finishes at
Grand Prix, but couldn’t quite make it to the PT stage. Lastly, we had support from Swedish Mikael Magnusson, who wasn’t qualified but wanted to come to
Atlanta anyway. He was great to have around.
It’s great having such a talented group of individuals around you, and even though we aren’t recognized as a team all that much, I felt for this particular
tournament, we had great chemistry and a good work ethic throughout the team. We started discussions as soon as Journey into Nyx was spoiled for
Constructed and Limited alike, and most of us met up in Warsaw for the Grand Prix there the week before the Pro Tour.
Unlike the others, I was on coverage duty, but I was really happy about it. I got to see a lot of Magic being played this way, got a lot of card
evaluations from good players, and was able to refine my pick orders which would prove to be helpful for me and my teammates. It was also particularly nice
that a teammate actually won the Grand Prix! Congratulations again to Fabrizio Anteri who now has a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
place at GPs in a fifteen-month span!
After travelling back home on Monday, I was really looking forward to travelling to Atlanta to fine-tune our Constructed decks. To my surprise, at the
airport, I found out I wasn’t travelling on Tuesday, but on Wednesday! One less day of live testing would be a huge problem, but I tried to recover by
double-queueing on Magic Online the whole day, trying one last time to find the optimal U/B/x decklist while also drafting a lot.
After getting to Atlanta, the whole team settled on the same deck except two people and this is what we came to battle with:
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- 1 Polis Crusher
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 3 Voyaging Satyr
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
There were small changes between our versions, but nothing major; mainly just the Reprisal slot in the main and sideboard and the composition of burn
spells. Joel also cut one Elspeth for an additional burn slot.
– We underestimated the amount of people on BUG and overestimated people on Esper. We didn’t find a list of either of these decks that we were happy with.
This led to our version being tuned more against aggressive decks.
– We thought a lot of people would play Mono-Black aggressive decks, and our version did well against those as well as other aggro decks. This meant that
while being fine on Day 1, we didn’t have enough game 1 firepower against BUG decks that were rampant on the better tables.
– There were several versions of Naya at the tournament, and I feel we could have done better in trying other versions. We were one of the few with so many
copies of Polukranos maindecked. Again, we had the creature decks in mind, but Xenagos and Polis Crusher were also great 4-drops that could have probably
done an even better job.
Overall, the deck performed average for us. It was a bit inconsistent and I mulliganed way too much for my liking, but that is the nature of the 3-color
decks in this format. You have great ways to punish opponents for slow draws, decent answers to all kinds of permanents, and heavy-hitting finishers.
My Constructed rounds went as follows:
Round 4 – Loss to Ken Yukuhiro (Naya)
Round 5 – Win against Vinicius Karam (Mono-Black)
Round 6 – Win against Makoto Onizuka (Mono-Black)
Round 7 – Win against Roberto Berni (Mono-White)
Round 8 – Loss to Elie Pichon (U/B Inspired)
Round 12 – Loss to Brad Nelson (Naya)
Round 13 – Win against Noham Maubert (Junk Constellation)
Round 14 – Loss to Tobias Heinrich (Mono-Black)
Round 15 – Loss to Ben Stark (BUG Control)
Round 16 – Win against Maxime Gilles (Junk Midrange)
I was quite unfortunate in the two mirror matches by not only having a version that wasn’t at its best in the mirror, but also mulliganing/losing die
rolls, both of which are quite crucial. I felt I should have won all three of my Mono-Black matchups, but struggled a bit against fast starts fueled by
back-to-back Mogis’s Marauder for lethal a couple of times.
Limited was something that I felt pretty confident about after doing around twenty drafts total before the Pro Tour while also having played a lot of
drafts of the previous formats. By adding just one set to the draft pool, some things certainly change (the format is slower and heroic creatures get a
little bit worse), but some of the main things about the format remain true.
In my first draft, I jumped into U/R which is not my most popular draft archetype. Fortunately, I did have a pretty decent curve with highlights being Hour
of Need, Sea God’s Revenge, and Sudden Storm, along with the usual flyers and burn. I managed to put together a 2-1 record, defeating U/G in the hands of
Nicolair Herzog and Tung-Yi Cheng’s U/R deck, but losing to Yuuya Watanabe’s U/B control deck, which was simply a bad matchup.
In my secon draft, I was sat to the left of Ivan Floch who I knew liked to draft U/G, but because of our different pick orders, we did not cooperate as
well as we would have liked. As a result, I was again in U/R unfortunately and with a very mediocre deck to boot (my most important cards were by far
Sudden Storm and Aerial Formation). I was very lucky to 2-1 with the deck, first losing to Ivan’s B/R aggro deck, then defeating Roberto Berni’s W/R deck
in three games-I punted horribly in Game 2–then getting there against Ryan McCamishes’ U/G deck.
– U/G is the best archetype and probably the only one you could even try to force as both colors are fairly deep and can do powerful things on all points
of the mana curve. In addition, most of U/G can lead you to a nice aggressive and synergistic deck while other archetypes sometimes struggle with getting
passed cards that don’t always work in those color combinations. For example, being already in B/W Heroic and only getting passed the black devotion cards
or white defensive cards.
– You can make any color combination work, but you need to draft it with a big regard towards the overall strategy of that archetype and not just stick to
the general pick orders that get posted. Your curve is super-important, and you don’t want to get stuck with way too many 5-drops. This is true for every
– As with other formats, it’s best if you read signals properly and be flexible for the first couple of picks. You really need to get into colors that you
are getting playable cards from because if you try to force a color combination that is not open, you will wind up with having to play bad cards, which is
not a good idea in a world of Heroic, Bestow, and heavy-evasion.
– Some of the cards which I found most divisive were Sigiled Starfish, Supply-Line Cranes, Bladetusk Boar, War-Wing Siren, Satyr Grovedancer, and Feast of
Dreams. While I rate the first four very highly, the last two I don’t care about that much. However, I’ve seen people pick Satyr Grovedancer over
everything but Golden Hind and even rate Feast of Dreams as the best black common.
– I’m a huge fan of blue and especially the high board impact cards such as Sea God’s Revenge, Sudden Storm, Archetype of Imagination, and bounce spells in
general. It also provides a lot of flyers that work well with every blue-based strategy of the format.
After finishing a dismal 9-7 at the Pro Tour, I finished in 105th place, just a few positions short of the Top 100 which would have given me an
extra pro point. Even without it, I have hit Gold just by attending PT Journey into Nyx thanks to my 35 pro points! I’m already way beyond the expectations
that I had for this PT season, so I’m happy to have hit that and to still be in the lead for Slovak National champion, though only by eight points. With
Manchester, Milan, and Worcester still coming up, I would love to pick up some extra points to put myself in a better position for the PT in Portland in
just two months.
It was certainly funny that the most asked question by people was if I had Top 16’d as that has become the norm for me it seems. I may not have this time,
but I will try to in Portland.
I’m off to Manchester, but once I come back, I will make a video with my deck of choice for that GP!
See you soon!