The Aftermath of Worlds

Wednesday, December 22nd – Looks like U/B Control is top dog in Standard after Worlds, and Dan Jordan is looking ahead to strategies and decks to beat the new menace. Check out his updates to RUG and U/B Control!

Worlds 2010 is over, and a champion has been crowned. Pro Tour San Juan finalist Guillaume Matignon took it down with U/B Control.

Now, it’s no shocker that Worlds was won by U/B Control, as it filled up more than half the Top 8! I think the last time that we saw a deck that prevalent was in 2008 at Pro Tour Berlin where Elves took the field by storm, but that’s neither here nor there.

Since Worlds, I’ve been brewing up new versions of R/U/G in order to adapt to the current format, and I think I’ve found a good list for the metagame.

At Worlds, the format was mostly filled with Valakut Ramp (Thanks a lot, Gerry!), but due to the recent performance that U/B Control put up at Worlds, we can definitely expect more of it in the future. It’s a very strong deck that has very few weaknesses, but in my opinion, R/U/G is one of those weaknesses. Before the new U/B lists came out, I really enjoyed my matchup against them because you had all the same cards that they had, but you could get them out faster using Lotus Cobra, Oracle of Mul Daya, or Explore. Now the U/B decks have Inquisition of Kozilek to get rid of an early Explore or Lotus Cobra, which gives them a better edge in the matchup. I don’t think that they’re favored in this matchup anymore, but I also don’t think we are either, so I would have to say that we are right around 50:50 or maybe even 55:45.

With every positive, there comes a negative. While I still wouldn’t mind playing the U/B matchup, I still think that the Valakut Ramp matchup isn’t in my favor. Prior to the StarCityGames.com Invitational, I used to like my matchup against Valakut Ramp a lot, but I think that’s because I never really had a large sample size of games against it. Valakut Ramp just has too many cards that you can’t answer: Khalni Heart Expedition, Overgrown Battlement, Avenger of Zendikar, and Summoning Trap. The reason why these cards are such a problem is that once a Khalni Heart Expedition goes off, it puts them out of Mana Leak or Spell Pierce range. Overgrown Battlement can never be countered out of fear of Summoning Trap, and you have to have two Lightning Bolts to kill an Overgrown Battlement or an Avenger of Zendikar. For the time being, I’d have to say the Valakut Ramp matchup is a 40:60 matchup in their favor.

Now let’s take a look at what Guillaume played in Standard, which I believe is the deck to play right now.

In the current Standard metagame, this version of U/B Control is going to be the deck where everyone with a passion to play Jace, the Mind Sculptor will start. The real question is why Guillaume Matignon version won Worlds instead of the other four versions of U/B Control.

Let’s fast forward to
the semifinals

where we saw Guillaume battling against big-time pro, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. Game one should’ve been Paulo’s game to win on paper, but it didn’t turn out that way.

Their maindecks are the same aside from the fact that Paulo has an extra Sea Gate Oracle and Inquisition of Kozilek, while Guillaume has an extra Jace Beleren. Given these facts, we watched Paulo draw a lot of the cards that are very bad game one: Doom Blade, Disfigure, and Consume the Meek. While Disfigure can take out a Creeping Tar Pit and a well-timed Consume the Meek can kill some Grave Titan tokens, Doom Blade is just a stone-cold blank. The only thing Doom Blade does is kill Sea Gate Oracle, which obviously isn’t getting you anywhere.

Now the big key difference in Guillaume and Paulo’s decks are in their sideboards. Throughout the Top 8 of Worlds, we often saw the competitors sideboard in their Memoricides in the U/B Control mirror. The main reason behind this is because the only game finisher that U/B has is Grave Titan. Once you get rid of your opponent’s Grave Titans via Memoricide, the only way they can win is through using Jace, the Mind Sculptor’s ultimate ability or Creeping Tar Pit beatdown. You have your own Jace, the Mind Sculptors to stop their Jace, the Mind Sculptors and Tectonic Edges along with Spreading Seas to stop opposing Creeping Tar Pits.

Here’s where the problem lies with Paulo’s list in the mirror matchup. He doesn’t have Memoricide in his 75! In my opinion, this made Paulo a big dog in this matchup after game one because, if at any time, were Guillaume to resolve a Memoricide against Paulo, the game would soon be over. Although we never saw Paulo get Memoricided, I can only imagine how it would’ve gone over. The other key difference in sideboards was that Guillaume had seven discard spells after sideboarding whereas Paulo only had five. Having the advantage that Matignon did, we soon saw him in the finals facing off fellow countryman, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, where Matignon would become victorious over him in four short games.

Given the changes that the Standard metagame is going to face, here’s what I would play.

This version of U/B Control has some minor tweaks in order to adjust to the metagame right now. The way to beat the mirror match is to destroy their hand with Inquisition of Kozilek or Duress and land one of your power cards in the form of Grave Titan, Jace Beleren, or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The biggest thing that Inquisition of Kozilek and Duress do for you besides stripping your opponent’s hand is getting all-important information from your opponent’s hand. Once you know what’s in your opponent’s hand, you can form a well-sculpted plan to resolve a planeswalker or a Grave Titan.

The other thing that adding the new discard spells does is make our Valakut Ramp matchup even better. Valakut Ramp has no way to win if they’re always playing Primeval Titan on turn 6. What makes Valakut Ramp so good is the fact that they get lands so quickly that they’re often casting a turn 4 Primeval Titan with Summoning Trap backup. But if we’re using Inquisitions of Kozilek and Duresses to destroy their hand, they’re always going to be behind.

Where the U/B Control deck struggles the most is in its aggro matchups. While we do have cards like Doom Blade, Disfigure, and Inquisition of Kozilek, which are very good against them, the rest of the deck doesn’t do all that much against them. The good news is that the only aggro deck that’s doing very well at all is B/R Vampires, and they’re barely making it into the top five decks in the format as it is. Although Guillaume did beat B/R Vampires in the quarterfinals with ease, I don’t think it’s that great of a matchup. They can come out very quickly with a multitude of Grizzly Bears, and if we don’t draw a Grave Titan then things will get very tough for our side of the table.

I hope that this helped everyone with any future Standard tournaments that they plan on attending. I have to say that I have a really good feeling about U/B succeeding in the future, even though I would really like to see R/U/G break out into the format once again, but that’s life.

Also I would like to congratulate some of my friends who performed well at Worlds this past weekend:

Calcano- 15th place! Way to go, bro! Anthony Eason ain’t got nothing on you.

Ali Aintrazi– Congrats on your 19th

place finish. This definitely shows that you’re a force not to be messed with in the future.

Gerry Thompson– Sorry about not leveling up, but at least you made it in the money. Congrats!

Korey McDuffie– Good job qualifying for Paris, and I’ll see you there.

Corey Baumeister– You’re still the nut!

Jason Ford– Could you run any worse? Ending the season with 19 Pro Points is like losing the credit card game to Brian Kibler. It should just never happen. Sorry about your misfortune at Worlds, and good luck the rest of next year.

Now for the past few weeks, I’ve been leaving some inspirational messages at the end of my articles, so why should this week be any different?

Over the course of these past few months, I’ve been reexamining myself as a Magic player and even more so as a person. For the past three months, I’ve experienced quite a bit of success in Magic and have made thousands of dollars through the Pro Tour and the StarCityGames.com Opens. I feel like all my hard work has finally paid off.

Every day, win or lose, I feel myself getting better and better, and it won’t be long before I’m holding a trophy with a large check. With all the success though, sometimes people tend to forget about what it took to get them there in the first place. It took a few years for me to get to the level where I’m at, and I did that through hard work, determination, and with the help of some really amazing friends.

Often, when someone becomes good at Magic, you watch as they begin to develop into the biggest jerk in the world, but my friends were real with me and let me know what I was doing wrong. During my recent streak, I would sometimes see myself neglecting my friends in order to hang out with the other pros and semi-pros in Magic, which is something you should never do if you’re a true friend. So even if you’re a bit of an icon when it comes to Magic: The Gathering, you’re still just a regular person in the real world, and you sometimes need to step back and recognize that. After having some good conversations with some close friends of mine (you know who you are), I feel like I’m developing into a professional Magic player while maintaining a good friendship with the people who were there before all my success.

Well I hope this article will help you in your next Standard tournament (StarCityGames.com Open: Kansas City *cough cough*), and remember to keep it real with yourself, and remember who you are. Tell me what you think in the forums.

See ya later…
Dan Jordan