The #SCGPC Is Here!

CVM has been there, done that. So how do you prepare for something like the #SCGPC? Simple: you don’t. This tournament is one of a kind, and CVM explains what he expects to see this weekend on SCGLive!

The #SCGINVI in Las Vegas has come to a close, and much like Seattle last year, it was exciting right down to the last game.

Caleb Scherer came into the weekend a bit short on points after dedicating so much of his time over the last couple of seasons to traveling and grinding for Open points to try and qualify for the #SCGPC in Roanoke. At one point he was sitting at 3-3 needing to win out the last two rounds to even make Day Two.

I’m sure that a lot of us would have felt pretty defeated at that point, wanting to give up even. It’s really easy to look at the long road ahead of you and let it affect you to the point that you just can’t go on any more.

A mantra that I try to live my Magic playing life by is “One game at a time.” I try to focus on the game that’s in front of me and not worry about the rest. I may have to win nine rounds in a row to have a shot at Top 8, but all that matters is this game right here, right now.

Caleb’s performance this last weekend is that mantra to a tee, and I salute him for it. Vidianto Wijaya is a very powerful Magician who was running through the entire tournament, but through all the game 3s and game 5s that Caleb had to endure, he was not going to go down without a fight.

In the end, Caleb managed to take the finals from Vidi and go on to earn his spot in the #SCGPC. Looking at how the points all fell in the end, it’s a good thing he did win, as getting second place would have still put him just a few points shy of Tom Ross and on the outside looking in.

Now he gets to prepare for a fun, yet extremely stressful event. Last year while preparing for the #SCGPC I learned quite a bit about Magic preparation, and was a bit surprised at just how different preparing for an event like this was.

For the event, BBD and I had already said ahead of time that if we were to qualify, that we would work together for the event. We sat down and put to paper what we thought everyone would likely play in each format given their past history/preferences and what we thought the majority of other people would put each other on.

This is going to be a little more difficult since the #SCGPC is all three formats now rather than just Standard and Legacy. Being all three formats and making it tough to prepare 100% for any given format without sacrificing in the rest, I think that it’s likely for most people to stick to what they are comfortable with. I also think it would be reasonable to focus on what the first bracket play and elimination rounds are so that you can try to make it into Day Two, which are Legacy and Modern, respectively.

Brian and I also decided that it would probably be best if we didn’t play the same deck, at least in the Standard portion, which was the first portion. We knew that we couldn’t be in the same bracket, since we were both season point champions who would be split up, but we also didn’t want to both be on the same deck and have it turn out that we picked the wrong deck.

I can also say that I felt like (at least for myself) that I didn’t put in nearly enough time or effort to prepare for the event. The year had been long, and I had spent the entire year grinding as many events as I could, and honestly, I was just pretty wiped out. BBD did go on to make the Top 4, but I lost in the second batch of elimination rounds.

I think that the most important format is going to be Legacy in the first batch of group play. If you’re able to make it out of your first batch of group play in either first or second, then you get to go onto the next round with a secure slot for day two and battle for a bye in the second day.

The bye is definitely nice, but just getting an express pass to day two will help with nerves and make it easier to focus on the tasks at hand. The second portion of the first day will be Modern. Since the two groups will be playing for byes or their entire tournament life, Modern can be almost worthless, or the most important thing.

With Standard only mattering once you make it to day two for the final bracket play, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see most players just run back their #SCGINVI deck for that portion and pour the majority of their effort into Legacy and Modern.

Much like last year, I’m pretty sad about the fact that there are going to be a handful of players who will be out of the event before they get to play all of the formats, but I’m not sure if there is a cohesive way to set it up so that everyone gets to play all three formats before any elimination.

This format does, however, make Legacy extremely important, which is something that I can get behind. I love the format, and am very excited to see what comes from it. Most players have a deck that we can probably associate their past with, but as we saw last year with Joe Lossett coming to the party with an innovative new take on Reanimator as opposed to his tried and true Miracles deck, that anything can happen.

One deck in particular that I think could be well-positioned for the #SCGPC that we might end up seeing is Lands. Chris Andersen and Jarvis Yu have been proving in every event that they can play in that the deck is extremely powerful, and in a small event like this where you have a bit more control over reading the metagame due to the small player number, I think that getting a good Lands list and an effective sideboard could be a great way to go.

The biggest hurdle that I see with this plan is the number of players that have the potential to be on Storm. If there is a way to shore that up without sacrificing too much, then we could likely see anyone who decides to go with Lands do very well.

Looking over the lists from the Legacy Classic that was this weekend in Las Vegas, we see something pretty interesting. Storm and Grixis Delver are both all over the place, but we also see a little throwback.

I’ve all but written this deck off as being dead, but Taylor Crosby thinks otherwise. Dig Through Time being gone, for me, meant that this deck just wasn’t even playable, but Taylor has just replaced Dig Through Time with Ancestral Memories. Once you are comboing off with Omniscience on the battlefield, the casting cost of the card isn’t important, just the effect.

We saw this with cards like Enter the Infinite seeing play in the original builds of Omni-Tell alongside Dream Halls. When the switch to Dig Through Time was made, it was incredible. Having a combo piece that was actually castable in addition to being just extremely powerful card on its own. Ancestral Memories gives us the same effect once we actually have Omniscience on the table, but up until that point it seems more like Force of Will fodder.

That being said, the rest of the deck is just so powerful, that there will be times that you just get to Show and Tell an Omniscience or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn onto the battlefield early enough that it just doesn’t matter.

The other interesting deck from the Las Vegas Classic is Maverick.

This style of deck has been around forever, but took a huge backseat when all of the delve spells were introduced. With Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time gone, it’s slowly climbing its way back into the Legacy metagame. With early pressure combined with disruption, this strategy gets better as the payoff for cheap cantrips gets worse.

Storm and the various Delver decks are popular right now, which puts Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in a good spot. I even played Sudden Shock in the sideboard of my Sneak and Show deck from #GPSeaTac, and that was mainly as an answer to Thalia, Guardian of Thraben through a Mother of Runes.

I also really like the sideboard options that the Maverick deck gives you. Choke is very powerful, as are Containment Priest and Armageddon.

I’m not 100% sold on Courser of Kruphix, but we do know that it’s a powerful card in grindy matchups, and it does serve as an enchantment against an opposing Tarmogoyf. That said, I can see the lifegain being important, especially if we have a Knight of the Reliquary online.

I wonder though, if it’s better to splash for some number of Retreat to Coralhelm to add a combo kill. The Stoneforge Mystic and equipment package kind of seem just thrown in and might be cuttable. I think it might be worth trying out.

With Legacy being so important in the first portion of play I don’t think that we’re going to see anything too experimental. I imagine that we will see all the usual suspects: Storm, Infect, Miracles, Grixis Delver, Sultai Delver, Temur Delver, Shardless Sultai, Sneak and Show, Lands, and Death and Taxes.

I think that the players who were able to make it back for a second shot at the #SCGPC title will have a little bit of an advantage over the newcomers. This type of tournament is not something you can mentally prepare for outside of just playing in the event. Every single match is worth so much, and everything is on the line in almost every match. It’s very nerve-wracking but quite fun and exciting at the same time.

I’m going to be glued to my computer the whole time waiting to see just what people bring to the table and how the “group” dynamic will play out. Brad, Todd, and Tom are all very good friends, but where does that lead them in this sixteen-player tournament with such a top heavy prize structure? Joe and Caleb are teammates, but does that mean they are going to work together for this event? Same goes for Jim Davis and Danny Jessup.

$20,000 is a lot of money, and I can’t wait to see some of the best players on the SCG Tour® battle it out for the right to come back again next year for all them buckaroos!