Old Man Control, A Top 8, And SCG CON Baltimore

Shaheen Soorani rebounded on Sunday at SCG CON Syracuse to make the Modern 5K Top 8. See the tweaks he made to his deck and why he’s looking forward to SCG CON Baltimore.

Rest in Peace
Rest in Peace, illustrated by Jarel Threat

The Modern metagame continues to impress me with each passing competitive event. I continue to spread the format’s diversity gospel, since there are over a dozen viable decks that can win any given tournament. Four-Color Control (Yorion) won the Modern 30K at SCG CON Syracuse in the hands of the player who delivered me my first in-paper loss to that archetype. I started off the Modern 30K strong, with a 5-0 record and only dropping one game. Unfortunately, my lack of artificial energy (specifically espresso) resulted in the wheels falling off hard in the final three rounds of the event.

Counterspell Prismatic Ending

I felt unstoppable with Azorius Control (Kaheera) once again, easily smushing opponents with a list that has not changed much since the recent introduction of broken disruption. Each round featured a different matchup, except for Izzet Murktide, which I played against twice.

After the loss to the eventual winner in Round 6, I punted left and right to miss Day 2. It was not the deck’s fault, and I did not plan on playing in the Modern 5K the next day. With a ten-hour car ride ahead of me, I was planning to have a night with friends and family there, then hit the road bright and early Sunday morning. It was a good thing my buddy who rode with me made Day 2 in the final round, so I submitted Azorius Control (Kaheera) once again.

A Superior Sunday Result

Talking with my teammate and closest pal Eli Kassis, I was thinking about switching to a different deck for the Modern 5K. There is little experience to be gained with further Azorius Control (Kaheera) reps; however, I wanted to prove that the deck is as busted as advertised. I swapped out the one-of Field of Ruin (which did me no favors in one of my losses) for a Breeding Pool and cut the maindeck Rest in Peace for the singleton Spreading Seas. These changes did not heavily impact my performance in the Modern 5K, but I believe them to be correct moving forward.

While the Modern 30K Top 8 consisted of eight completely different decks, the Modern 5K had three Azorius Control representatives (with a fourth competitor missing Top 8 on breakers). As with the Modern 30K, I breezed through the early rounds and picked up my first loss in Round 5 when I was unable to draw. My loss was to classic Jund, a matchup that was highly enjoyable for both parties. The back and forth with these two historic decks never gets old for me, and my opponent was also a delight to battle. The successes in the early rounds were against similar matchups that I faced in the Modern 30K, reinforcing the consistency of Azorius Control (Kaheera) in Modern.

Let It Burn

Rest in Peace

I finished with a positive record against the biggest names of the format, using strategies I laid out last week. The Rest in Peace plan only failed me once, against the Modern 30K champion, and that was due to a failure to hit land drops. The core of Azorius Control (Kaheera) is constructed in a way that handles the biggest threats of the format, while having an out against some of the slightly weaker villains of the past. For example, my first-round matchup in the Modern 5K was against Boros Burn, a deck that I have zero dedicated sideboard slots against. If you were to tell past me that I would enter a tournament without Burn-specific defense, I would never believe you. This is a matchup that I never want to lose, even if I must re-employ Kor Firewalker.

Chalice of the Void

In the Boros Burn matchup, I mulliganed the first game and kept a mediocre start on the play. My opponent crashed in with a Goblin Guide, I revealed Chalice of the Void, and then he lost on the spot the next turn. Chalice of the Void is the security system that Azorius Control (Kaheera) now has, a card that prevents the blitz aggro decks from taking advantage of our slower disruption and reduction in sweepers. With the third Chalice of the Void in the sideboard, this matchup quickly flipped to favorable. Even after casting Archmage’s Charm as my first spell in Game 2 on the draw, I defeated the Boros Burn player with a 2-0 sweep. I took his Goblin Guide before combat, prevented an attack with his Eidolon of the Great Revel, untapped, cast Chalice of the Void for one, and eventually won the game at one life.

Supreme Verdict and a Scattered Metagame

Supreme Verdict

Chalice of the Void and Supreme Verdict are polarizing cards that Azorius Control (Kaheera) requires in order to fend off a scattered metagame. My theories of the metagame continue to hold true, with players locked in on the decks they own and/or love. The diversity we currently have speaks to that, and I do not expect it to change in the foreseeable future. With a card pool this deep and the powerful spells that continue to be added, I will continue to brew potential masterpieces as long as I play the game.

Azorius Control (Kaheera) is my rock, but my heart lies with the combo possibilities that the format has to offer. In the meantime, it is very unlikely that I leave the winning team with SCG CON Baltimore right around the corner.

A Brief Top 8

After making the Top 8 of the Modern 5K in Syracuse, I had enough evidence that Azorius Control (Kaheera) is my solid choice for Baltimore next month. My first-round opponent in the Top 8 was Bryce Morgan, a young man with the same control passion I have. He was excited to split the prize of this event with me, regardless of the outcome of our match, and we had a great conversation leading up to our playoff battle. I decided that the ten-hour drive ahead of me was not worth the five or six hours of Top 8 playtime, so I extended my hand and conceded to the up-and-coming control star.

He may be misled with his undying love for Snapcaster Mage, but I respect his decision. I told him he had to win with me out of the picture, and he did not disappoint. Azorius Control, without any companion, took down the tournament. He defeated players I beat in the Swiss, and I was confident that one of the Celestial Colonnade folks was taking this one down.

Preparing for SCG CON Baltimore

With a nice chunk of change and a reestablished confidence in my deck choice, all energy is now dedicated to preparation for SCG CON Baltimore. The main event is a team competition, easily my favorite of all possible events. Being the captain of Team BCW, a title awarded solely due to old age, I have the pleasure of teaming with two of my favorite people in the world. Corey Baumeister and Eli Kassis have joined the weathered control veteran to take down the cash and title next month in Baltimore.

Modern: Shaheen Soorani

The last team event I played with the BCW crew resulted in an easy trophy, with an Azorius Control deck missing all the good cards. Killing all the creatures with Path to Exile was a hassle, one that I do not miss. I will be in the Modern seat, where I continue to put up powerful finishes. With a 5K, SCG Invitational, and 30K Top 8 within the last year, the Modern gods have been very kind to me.

Legacy: Eli Kassis

Eli will take Legacy, a format that he is very strong in. I can’t only give him props there, as he will win in any format he is placed in. Legacy is simply the best fit for him, as he continues to brew, develop, and win with decks outside the mainstream metagame.

With Legacy, there are very few live events to accurately identify a competitive metagame. Modern has an entry barrier with price, but Legacy puts that amount to shame. When it was widely played in competitive paper events, the metagame was regional. People played what they owned, and that rarely changed. With most new Legacy theory developed through Magic Online (MTGO), I will be excited to see what the folks in Baltimore have lying around to shake up our predictions.

Pioneer: Corey Baumeister

With Eli on Legacy and me on Modern, that leaves Corey on Pioneer. Corey continues to kill it, streaming events on MTGO and MTG Arena with high viewership. People tune in mainly for the jokes and personality, but the boy can also play. He initially wanted to play Modern, but knows where my expertise lies these days. If I were playing Pioneer, I would fire off Esper or Azorius Control without much hesitation. My reps in that format are nowhere near what they are in Modern, so he signed off on the switch.

Control decks are great in Pioneer, but broken in Modern. Winning team events is about putting your teammates in the best position to win. Corey continues to showcase newer formats; while he wins a ton in Modern, Pioneer is where he fits best.

With our current setup, I am confident that we can win at SCG CON Baltimore and produce another trophy for Team BCW.