I’m sitting within the event corridor on the finish of 16 rounds of Swiss ready to go to dinner with some former The Pantheon teammates (Huey, Jon Finkel, Reid Duke, Kai Budde), and rapidly the scorekeeper for the event might be heard over the loudspeaker saying, “Matt Sperling, please report back to the primary stage” or one thing to that impact. My eyes go a mile large and I take a look at Kai like, “WTF is occurring?”
Kai and I’ve spent a number of minutes discussing the straightforward mathematical proof for why I’m not going to make Prime eight until a miracle occurs. The standings math is pretty simple right here:
- I’ve 36 match factors, with wonderful tiebreakers.
- 6 gamers have been in a position to attract into 37+ match factors, and did so.
- There have been four gamers with 34 or 36 factors that couldn’t draw, making two matches by which the winners who would have 37+ factors.
- Subsequently, my solely two paths to Prime eight can be the 34 vs. 34 match leading to an unintentional draw, or a disqualification of a number of gamers with 37+ match factors.
In the event you play sufficient, you’ve seen this one million occasions. There shall be a “clear minimize” the place tiebreakers don’t think about. And somebody all the time says, “Until somebody will get disqualified…” when describing their or your possibilities, however no one believes that may truly occur.
So I’m going as much as the scorerkeeper and he says, “We simply needed to be sure to’re nonetheless right here. Don’t go anyplace within the subsequent 20 minutes.” He tells me this information with a reasonably good poker face, however I’ve recognized Nick for 20 years and regardless of his greatest efforts he looks like the cat who ate the canary. Or is that simply wishful considering? My head is spinning. I inform him, “I actually hope you aren’t teasing me.” They don’t name anybody else up. Simply me.
Again at camp, my former teammates are correctly telling me to not get my hopes up, and I’m telling myself the identical factor. Humor is my bridge over awkward/nervous waters, so I simply begin saying how I’m assured both a Prime eight or the worst sluggish roll/dangerous beat story in Professional Tour Prime eight announcement historical past.
The minutes are passing by so slowly at this level, you’d assume Gabriel Nassif had a Jace in play throughout the desk from me. After a lifetime of those minutes go by, teammates who’re on Twitter begin to see stories that Yuuya Watanabe might have been disqualified from the event for marking his sleeves. Subsequent, a member of the protection employees comes over to once more make sure that I’m nonetheless right here, then one other, and I now permit myself to simply accept that a miracle has actually occurred. Then they collect eight of us collectively for the announcement and stroll up. It’s assured.
Protection employees congratulates me on my third lifetime Mythic Championship Prime eight (which I managed to tug off in solely the second Mythic Championship ever held—fairly spectacular).
Let me cowl the complete story in two elements. At present partially one I’ll go over qualification and preparation, and a deck tech with sideboard selection rationalization for the Affinity deck I performed. Partially two I’ll give a event recap/report and a totally detailed sideboard information. Search for the second half within the subsequent few days.
Qualification and Preparation
The story of my Mythic Championship II expertise begins right here with my qualification by means of an MCQ win when the Grand Prix circuit stopped within the Bay Space (the place I reside). I snagged an invitation with U/R Phoenix.
I’m not on a professional workforce or enjoying professionally, so my decisions are to hitch a workforce, type a staff, or check alone. I’ve accomplished all three in years previous when getting ready for various Professional Excursions, so I wasn’t confused about it. Paul Rietzl requested the Final Guard and Genesis guys in the event that they needed to deliver me on, however defined that I couldn’t journey to the occasion early or do any in-person testing. Provided that constraint, and the truth that they have been getting ready with a couple of gamers I used to be not as shut with, they handed.
Paul determined to step away from their testing to be able to put together with me as an alternative. In my final Professional Tour, Paul and I didn’t check collectively and it was agonizing as we speak on a regular basis however couldn’t speak concerning the prep. It made the entire affair rather a lot much less enjoyable for each of us, so we determined not to try this once more. However nonetheless, it was extraordinarily type of Paul to step away from among the best groups on the earth to organize with me and solely me.
Our strategy to Restricted preparation was that Wizards of the Coast wasn’t permitting us to organize for Restricted prematurely in any straightforward approach, so we must desk that and cram later.
Trendy was a unique type of factor. We might play on Magic On-line as a lot as we needed, however Magic On-line on the time didn’t use the London mulligan rule, which was a defining aspect of this Mythic Championship. So we beginning testing to see what decks we appreciated and in addition theory-crafted concerning the impression of the mulligan rule on the varied decks.
We knew Tron would get higher, however would Dredge get higher? Sure, you’ll be able to mulligan very successfully with the deck, however Frank Karsten revealed an article about how for those who put 4 Leyline of the Void in your deck, the brand new mulligan rule would make it extraordinarily doubtless you possibly can discover one. So the place would that depart Dredge within the post-sideboard video games? We didn’t know.
Whereas I had gained the MCQ with U/R Phoenix and continued to do nicely with it on-line, I suspected that the mulligan rule would harm U/R Phoenix greater than it helped it. A deck with 20 cantrips doesn’t actually mulligan lots and the sideboard is far more incremental enhancements than haymakers in comparison with different sideboards. Plus, individuals have been beginning to actually work out the way to strategy the Phoenix matchup. So I didn’t need to play Phoenix in London, however would type of have it someplace within the record of backup plans if nothing else labored out.
Then, they introduced a few new wrinkles that modified our preparation course of. The primary was that we might have the ability to check the London mulligan on Magic On-line beginning April 10th. The second was that deck lists on this event can be shared together with your opponent previous to the beginning of every spherical.
With the ability to check the London mulligan on Magic On-line modified every little thing. Tron was certainly very highly effective, however there have been some dangerous matchups, like Cheerios and Advert Nauseum that may additionally enhance and find yourself fairly troublesome to counter. Tron would find yourself on my brief record of attainable decks, however I regarded it as a backup plan since I wasn’t completely crushing with it, and other people would anticipate it and over-prepare for it.
Paul and I began utilizing a strategy of elimination for getting decks off our radar and narrowing our focus. We referred to as eliminating a deck “scrapheaping” it, “sending it to the heap,” or if the testing was so clearly unfavorable, we’d merely sort “heap” within the chat log. The spreadsheet containing a operating listing of heaped decks was fairly humorous. It stated, “Deck – Junk, Heaped? – Sure, Heaped by – Matt.” after which we wouldn’t check Junk anymore.
Across the finish of testing we had heaped every little thing besides Tron (which I had gained lots with), Inexperienced-Black (which Paul had gained so much with), and Affinity (Paul had heaped Thoughtcast Affinity early within the course of however I needed to attempt Frenzy Affinity earlier than scrapping each and I began to win quite a bit with it).
Typically a deck would hit the scrapheap when faring poorly in a league or two—small pattern sizes inevitably crop up in Trendy testing with a 2-person workforce, however you haven’t any selection however to make use of small pattern sizes and your instinct about what’s going on. It’s harmful to discard a deck after going 2-Three in a League, nevertheless it’s additionally very harmful to waste time, and extra harmful nonetheless to start out counting your 2-3s as “Nassif 5-0s,” which means “I went 2-Three, however I punted one match, I timed out one match, and one of many losses was to a fringe deck no one performs, so principally I went 5-Zero.” (Each a part of this text may have a Nassif beat, I assume—sorry Gab).
Different occasions, a deck would get heaped in our 1v1 testing vs. the recognized, most related decks (Phoenix, Tron, and so forth.) if it simply couldn’t grasp with a number of of these decks. That is how Hardened Scales received heaped. It wasn’t beating U/R Phoenix, Trendy’s hottest deck. It wasn’t crushing the remainder of the sector badly sufficient to beat this important weak spot, so off to the heap it went.
Again to the subject of 5-0s, regardless of all of the Leagues we have been enjoying, our familiarity with Trendy, and our general fairly good lifetime win charges on-line, we didn’t have a single 5-Zero trophy within the format, which was type of discouraging. We joked that if Paul managed to 5-Zero sooner or later with a ham sandwich, I’d instantly be ordering sliced ham from the ChannelFireball net retailer to deliver to London.
Ultimately that 5-Zero trophy got here in perhaps my fifth or sixth League with Arcbound Ravager, Experimental Frenzy, and associates. The Phoenix matchup right here was totally different than it was with Hardened Scales. 4 Galvanic Blast primary deck gave you some completely crucial counterplay to Factor within the Ice in recreation 1, and Relaxation in Peace and Dispatch have been surprisingly efficient in sideboarded video games, as was Experimental Frenzy. As an alternative of hoping to race U/R Phoenix or run them out of solutions, you might merely run them out of threats. Pyromancer Ascension and Arclight Phoenix will not be actual playing cards towards Relaxation in Peace, they usually don’t have a simple solution to get the Relaxation in Peace off the board. 4 Galvanic Blast and two Dispatch, together with three Experimental Frenzy, meant that discovering Factor within the Ice solutions was not that onerous. Add in a pair Etched Champion to assist block a flipped Factor, and you may play a 15-turn recreation towards U/R Phoenix, because the management participant, and bury them in card benefit.
Even earlier than we received that trophy, my report with Affinity was higher than our document with another deck. The 5-Zero was the straw that broke the camel’s again and we locked in. Paul didn’t even hassle ordering playing cards for his backup plan of G/B Midrange. We have been enjoying Affinity, and had every week left to tune the 75 playing cards and have a sideboard plan versus every deck.
Restricted testing didn’t occur till we obtained our account credentials for the MTG Area streamer and mythic competitor early entry occasion, the place you bought a #sponsored account with all of the playing cards and the power to play Sealed deck, however not Draft. Paul feels fairly strongly that probably the most rewarding factor to do with Restricted time is study the playing cards. Studying how you can draft flows from studying the playing cards, and being a Draft grasp is unattainable with out the elemental information of which playing cards are good during which archetypes.
So we initially got down to simply play video games nevertheless we might. Principally that meant enjoying Sealed deck towards random opponents, which was high quality. However we additionally went into the Constructed portion of Area and constructed 60-card decks (it gained’t allow you to construct 40-card decks) that have been mockups of Draft archetypes. We assigned Paul the primary 5 guilds alphabetically, and I obtained the final 5. The decks we constructed might use as much as two of any widespread and as much as certainly one of any unusual, uncommon, or mythic, however wanted to include precisely 25 lands, 21 commons, 14 uncommons, 7 rares, and three mythic rares. That is arbitrary stuff, however identical to with small pattern sizes in Trendy, you need to surrender on getting good knowledge and attempt to harvest some helpful knowledge. We performed these 10 decks towards one another at random and discovered issues like, “This 1/Three that allows you to scry each time you forged a noncreature spell is actually good, and it doesn’t even require instants and sorceries! Any noncreature spell will do.” It appears apparent now, however it wasn’t apparent purely from studying the spoiler since there’s a lot information in a spoiler that you simply inevitably miss some particulars or assume a brand new card is identical energy degree as comparable playing cards up to now, even when it isn’t.
David Williams was not testing with us but as a result of he was not planning to attend the event, however when he ended up reserving a last-minute flight, we looped him in and began speaking Restricted. Once we all acquired to the registration corridor on Thursday, the night time earlier than the event, we came upon that each one gamers have been getting 9 boosters of Warfare of the Spark in order that they might apply. Paul nonetheless felt like his return on funding can be greater enjoying extra Sealed deck on Magic On-line, so he went to his lodge room to take action. Dave and I assumed that the distinction between one or two actual Drafts and Zero might be giant (personally, I by no means really feel like I do know what’s going on in my first couple of Drafts however I catch up shortly). So Dave and I stayed on the website and did a few Drafts with 6 different gamers who have been close by.
Paul ended up going 6-Zero in Draft, and the three of us went a mixed 12-Three. The shortage of prep time truly helped us as a result of we aren’t the “do 100 Drafts” varieties anyway, so if everybody does fewer than 10 actual Drafts and different execs have to leap by way of hoops to do Dice-style Drafts, we come out barely behind these execs—however not that a lot behind—and we truly come out forward of PTQ winners who’ve restricted time and expertise to attract upon. These gamers are fairly screwed.
Deck and Sideboard Decisions for Trendy Affinity
The 75 Paul and I each performed:
four Darksteel Citadel
four Inkmoth Nexus
Three Spire of Business
four Arcbound Ravager
1 Grasp of Etherium
four Sign Pest
four Metal Overseer
four Vault Skirge
four Galvanic Blast
four Cranial Plating
2 Experimental Frenzy
four Mox Opal
four Springleaf Drum
2 Welding Jar
2 Historic Grudge
2 Damping Sphere
2 Etched Champion
1 Experimental Frenzy
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Relic of Progenitus
2 Relaxation in Peace
Let’s undergo every card and clarify what its function is.
These playing cards are grouped collectively as a result of their most necessary shared function on this deck is that they allow damaged attracts the place you play 7 to 9 playing cards onto the battlefield within the first two turns of the sport, typically even on the primary flip. Mox Opal is the star of the present, and the cardboard on this deck that the majority advantages from the London mulligan rule. However the different playing cards listed here are key enablers of Mox Opal, Cranial Plating, and Metal Overseer, none of that are all that highly effective should you’re curving out 1, 2, Three like a standard deck with no zeros.
Just like the zeros, however slower. Okay, it’s not fairly that straightforward. And sure, I understand that Vault Skirge is technically a 2 by CMC, however the historical past of Phyrexian mana is that it may be ignored when figuring out your curve.
Springleaf Drum is a element of explosive begins and in addition a provider of 5 colours of mana. It’s not as highly effective as Mox Opal, however it’s essential to the deck and a welcome sight in most opening arms.
Sign Pest is what it’s—one of many weaker playing cards within the deck however nonetheless able to pitching in early and late into the sport.
The lifelink on Vault Skirge might be essential on this deck. It’s undoubtedly higher than Sign Pest on this deck should you ever needed to shave considered one of one thing.
Galvanic Blast is simply an enormous benefit this deck has over different creature decks. Lightning Bolt is one among Trendy’s strongest and in style playing cards. This can be a very related 33% extra injury for a similar worth, offered you fulfill a situation that’s extraordinarily straightforward to fulfill on this deck. Nevertheless it isn’t simply summary principle or comparability to Bolt—that is the suitable time and place for Galvanic Blast, because of Factor within the Ice’s four toughness.
The primary three you in all probability know and love, and are untouchable staples, however Grasp of Etherium typically will get minimize for Etched Champion or one thing else. The primary Etched Champion is fairly good in the primary, however we anticipated a number of too many non-interactive opponents to need it. In a special anticipated metagame, there’s nothing improper with it, and it frees up a sideboard slot.
Experimental Frenzy is so good. It’s higher than you assume it’s. For instance, the important thing to the U/R Phoenix matchup is to comprehend that Frenzy is so robust towards them, regardless of their capacity to bounce your entire workforce with Factor within the Ice, which you could play management after sideboard. The previous 4 Ornithopter management deck. That’s how highly effective Experimental Frenzy is.
Don’t forget that sacrificing Frenzy for 3R could be very related. You may need accrued three zeros, a land, and a Plating throughout a few draw steps and/or opposing bounce results. For those who sac the Frenzy, the opponent may be lifeless on the spot. Don’t miss these kills.
Once I seemed up inventory lists of Frenzy Affinity, some had one Mountain with no different fundamentals, and a few had one Mountain one Island. Each appear horrendous to me. Path to Exile is barely much less common than regular, however Area of Destroy and Ghost Quarter are far more widespread than traditional, and Murderer’s Trophy is related because it often can be such a strong card. The 2nd primary enables you to sideboard costly playing cards like Karn if you wish to, for particularly these Area of Break-type matchups the place issues go lengthy and you find yourself with additional mana.
Glimmervoid sucks. Individuals truly play Shatterstorm and you may truly win after they forged it. You typically need to shove onto a Nexus. It’s simply not well worth the life you save over Spire of Business.
Chopping a Nexus or a Citadel to make room for Ghost Quarter appears loopy to me, so I need to admit I’ve by no means tried it. These lands are so good. Ghost Quarter isn’t dangerous, nevertheless it isn’t a Nexus or a Citadel.
There merely weren’t sufficient Stony Silences round to warrant Put on // Tear for my part. When you all the time play with worry, you turn out to be blind to what outcomes are literally almost certainly and which you’ll be able to truly impression most. Even an opponent who does sideboard Stony Silence won’t draw it, may lose to Etched Champion, or may beat you simply after you Put on // Tear it, making your sacrifice elsewhere so as to take action a wasted effort. As with most of the alternatives, Put on // Tear has a time and place, and this wasn’t it.
A crucial software versus Tron and Amulet (and infrequently Storm).
Completely superb effectivity that, as I’ve mentioned above, allows you to play from the management aspect of the matchup when your opponent is making an attempt to make use of Factor within the Ice or Darkish Confidant to outmaneuver your Experimental Frenzies.
You continue to typically see lists with 4 Etched Champions within the 75. I really feel that’s overkill, as the primary is lots higher than the second, and an excessive amount of costly stuff can clog Frenzy, however look, the cardboard could be very highly effective and when you play extras, they may have utility too.
You need extra 4s particularly versus anybody with Path/Trophy. It may be two Frenzy however there’s clearly extraordinarily sharp diminishing returns (Karn is perhaps one among your greatest reveals the flip following a Frenzy, whereas a second Frenzy can be among the many worst). Karn is a reasonably clear 2-for-1 or higher vs. the U/W and B/G decks. Towards a deck like Burn it could actually change their means to kill every part, and there are video games that play out that method (particularly if they’ve Grim Lavamancer). Karn isn’t superb and isn’t near a should play, nevertheless it did simply sufficient to get the nod this time.
Relaxation in Peace was a completely important device for us towards each Phoenix and Dredge. The second you draw is lifeless versus Phoenix so we hedged and performed one Relic, however I’m unsure that’s right. And equally, I’m not assured you don’t simply need three RIP and one Relic within the PT metagame since Dredge was current in numbers as we anticipated. However there isn’t room for every little thing.
I really like Thoughtseize in comparison with different interactive choices like Spell Pierce, Cussed Denial, Unified Will, and so forth. When you’re flipping by means of your deck with Frenzy you get to maintain going, and that issues, however you can also use this flip 1 or 2 and never have to go away mana up each flip. Cussed Denial and Spell Pierce additionally fail to understand that the cardboard you care about is Primeval Titan a good portion of the time. So we favored Thoughtseize in testing and I nonetheless do.
I’ll be again partially II of this report with a full sideboard information and a event report of all of the loopy stuff that occurred between the beginning of the occasion and my eventual second place end. I don’t know but how I’ll undermine my friendship with Gabriel Nassif in that second half, however I’ll attempt to discover one thing.
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