I needed to be dragged kicking and screaming into enjoying Mono-Blue at Mythic Championship Cleveland. These sorts of mood tantrums are typically related to immaturity, however in my case, it’s taken lots of rising up earlier than I might even get thus far. It’s in my nature to go towards the grain, and I’m the proprietor of a nearly bottomless properly of stubbornness. So for me, “I’ll do it, however I don’t have to love it,” is progress in comparison with my normal, “I’m not doing that, finish of dialog…”
As some readers might know, I’ve the good fortune to be a member of one of the crucial skilled and profitable groups within the trendy period of Magic. Our group, which we name The Pantheon, has definitely had our share of strike outs through the years, however we even have a excessive price of displaying as much as massive tournaments with well-tuned lists of prime archetypes. This ranges from the comparatively apparent—Temur Power, Mardu Automobiles, Trendy Infect—to decks that have been legitimately damaged—Temurge at PT Eldrich Moon, Spirits at PT Darkish Ascension, and Bant Hexproof at PT Avacyn Restored.
I stated that “we’ve got a excessive price,” however what I actually imply is that my teammates have a excessive fee of choosing good decks. In far too many of those instances, I went maverick with some rogue deck of my very own, or stubbornly refused to play a deck as a result of I satisfied myself it had a deadly flaw. In doing so, I’ve left various Professional Tour match wins on the desk.
It’s taken years for me to start out overcoming this drawback. In fact, there’s Jon and Kai persistently teasing me about my love of truthful G/B decks. However the single largest cause I’ve succeeded in increasing my deck decisions is Owen Turtenwald. In my moments of self-doubt, Owen by no means fails to inform me that I’m ok to study any deck, even when it’s an unfamiliar archetype when time is operating brief. He encourages me to problem myself. And this time it paid off.
Now don’t get me flawed, I embrace my affinity for truthful G/B decks. It’s the kind of Magic I like to play, and any time I’ve an in depth selection, I’ll gravitate towards midrange. Because of this, I used to be excited on the prospect of bringing Sultai to the Professional Tour. On Day 1 I informed William Jensen, “Sultai is identical deck I’ve all the time needed to play, nevertheless it’s a very, actually good model of that deck.” A number of days later, after a very good apply session, I keep in mind considering to myself, “I’m going to win this Professional Tour with Sultai.”
Sultai was my frontrunner for fairly a while. I used to be profitable with it on stream, and I appreciated my matchups towards the highest decks. Once I met the primary half of my group in Cleveland, our preliminary outcomes confirmed White Weenie as top-of-the-line decks, and Sultai as one of many few decks with a great matchup towards it.
After which William Jensen confirmed up. He was liking Mono-Blue after some good outcomes on stream, and confirmed up with the deck sleeved up and able to go. I assumed I might humor him with a number of matches, simply to be a superb teammate, however I hoped we’d be carried out with the venture quickly. In any case, I used to be about as more likely to get on a spaceship to Mars as I used to be to register Mono-Blue for the event. It was a gimmick deck.
At the least, I assumed it was a gimmick deck. You can get your free wins with Curious Obsession, and provides a headache to the Nexus of Destiny decks. However when you began dealing with expert opponents with sufficient low cost playing cards to maintain tempo, you have been in for a actuality verify. That’s not even to say white and purple aggro decks tearing you aside like a humid tissue.
It turned out I used to be the one in for a actuality verify. William beat me 9 video games to at least one in our first set of Blue vs. Sultai. Duress, Forged Down, Kraul Harpooner—they weren’t almost sufficient to cease the bleeding. “Advantageous,” I stated, “Perhaps Blue beats Sultai, nevertheless it’s hardly an actual deck if we anticipate lots of white and pink on the Professional Tour.”
The actual turning level got here subsequent, once we performed towards white and pink. White was a fair matchup, with Entrancing Melody being an enormous beating within the post-sideboard video games. Pink was downright favorable as soon as we might usher in Surge Mares to carry the bottom and dodge the burn-based removing spells.
It was this revelation—that Mono-Blue was truly completely advantageous within the matchups that folks perceived to be problematic—that basically turned my world the wrong way up. For those who take 50/50 matchups towards purple and white, close to auto-wins towards Nexus of Destiny and different clunky decks, add a positive matchup towards Sultai, and sprinkle in no matter freebies you get from the Curious Obsession attracts, the calculus begins to turn into fairly clear.
It nonetheless took me a number of days of moping round the home earlier than I got here round. For some time I pretended I used to be going to play White Weenie, or Esper, or stack my Sultai sideboard with sufficient hate playing cards to place a band-aid on the matchup. However in the long run, it was crystal clear what deck I wanted to play. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t the kind of Magic I appreciated to play. It didn’t matter if I used to be missing expertise with the deck. Reluctantly, I registered Mono-Blue.
Reid Duke, third place at Mythic Championship Cleveland
four Merfolk Trickster
four Siren Stormtamer
four Tempest Djinn
three Mist-Cloaked Herald
1 Chart a Course
three Dive Down
2 Essence Seize
three Spell Pierce
four Wizard’s Retort
four Curious Obsession
As a staff, our major innovation was to extend the variety of Essence Captures. It’s a extremely environment friendly card for an aggressive creature deck, and since we believed that the Mythic Championship would focus on Tempest Djinn, Goblin Chainwhirler, Benalish Marshal, and Commemorated Loxodon, we needed entry to the impact in giant numbers.
My private affect on the listing was to foyer for the complete 4 Surge Mares. The one spot the place you actually need all 4 is Mono-Pink, however I felt that it was essential sufficient in that matchup to be value expending the sideboard actual property. There have been just one or two matches in the entire occasion the place I introduced in 4 Surge Mares, however they have been instrumental in profitable my quarterfinals match towards Alex Majlaton’s Gruul deck in 5 tight video games.
For all of the stress I had in studying Constructed, I used to be stored afloat by my Booster Draft preparation, which was going swimmingly. I used to be making sluggish and regular progress, I knew all the archetypes, I used to be agreeing with my teammates (moderately than butting heads with them), and I used to be profitable rather a lot!
For many units, I by no means even cease to note whether or not I “like” a Draft format or not. I take pleasure in enjoying Magic, and a brand new set will usually hold me sufficiently engaged till the subsequent set comes out a number of months later. Ravnica Allegiance is an exception: I’ve been loving it. Particularly, it’s a breath of recent air from Guilds of Ravnica, which I personally discovered missing in replay worth.
I consider that each one 5 guilds (plus a few area of interest archetypes) might be profitable in Ravnica Allegiance Draft, and most of the guilds have greater than only one fastened id. What I imply is: For those who’ve seen a few GRN Boros decks, you’ve seen all of them—you’re curving out with low cost creatures and hoping for a few mentor counters right here and there. A few of the guilds in RNA, then again, may be drafted in a variety of types. Azorius is a superb instance, and occurs to be what I drafted each occasions on the Mythic Championship.
Within the first Draft, I began with Sphinx of New Prahv, and Azorius was fairly open. Nevertheless it wasn’t the premium flyers that I noticed going round a lot because the removing spells and Sphinx’s Insights. I ended up with a extremely controlling deck that would reply all the opponent’s threats, and recycle itself indefinitely by way of two Clear the Thoughts.
That is an archetype I’d drafted a few occasions earlier than, and which a few of my teammates—Andrew Cuneo, for instance—had been liking. The cardboard draw and removing spells are robust, and should you ignore the prospect of attacking with creatures completely, you possibly can stick your opponent with lifeless removing spells. The finals of the Draft noticed my Orzhov opponent pointing Abstract Judgments at his personal creatures, since upgrading to an afterlife token was possible one of the best that card would ever do for him.
My second Draft was featured, and you may watch it right here. I used to be principally mono-blue in pack 1, and spent a lot of the Draft wavering between Simic and Azorius. Early on, I made observe of a Clear to Thoughts that did not wheel. That, mixed with the truth that devoted card drawing was scarce, made it impossible that I might repeat my deck from yesterday. Fortunately for me, three Sphinx of New Prahv have been opened, made it across the desk, and gave me a transparent plan and path to victory.
This was a extra conventional “Skies” sort of deck, the place I used defensive playing cards to carry the bottom whereas massive flyers did my soiled work within the air. The sport play turned out to be clean crusing as I had a flip four Sphinx in most of my video games, and my opponents not often had the proper solutions.
So I ended up going 6-Zero with two very totally different takes on the Azorius guild. The protection group appeared to assume that I’d homed in on Azorius Management as some sort of damaged technique. Mockingly, I’m simply as joyful to beat down with massive Gruul creatures as I’m to recycle my deck with Clear the Thoughts. On this case, Azorius was merely the course the playing cards pulled me, and it labored out properly that I’d had some follow drafting the area of interest Clear the Thoughts technique.
To make an extended story brief, I assumed my Restricted preparation was robust, and when mixed with good opens within the packs and good attracts within the video games, I used to be capable of convert it to an incredible end. As an apart: I don’t write about Restricted fairly often, however I’m considering of creating an exception for Ravnica Allegiance. Hold your eyes peeled within the coming weeks.
In Constructed, I earned seven wins, two losses, and an intentional draw. Mixed with the Draft rounds, that put me at a report of 13-2-1, ok for second seed going into the Prime eight.
My Swiss breakdown with Mono-Blue was:
- 2-1 towards White Weenie
- 2-Zero towards Sultai
- 1-1 towards Esper
- 1-Zero towards Nexus of Destiny
- 1-Zero towards Rakdos Midrange
My quarterfinals match can be towards Alex Majlaton and his Mono-Pink deck that splashed for Collision // Colossus within the sideboard. Alex was definitely well-prepared for the matchup, however there have been a few causes to be optimistic. First, this was in all probability the matchup I’d practiced probably the most earlier than the event. Second, I might get to go first in recreation 1 on account of being the upper seed. Third, we’d come ready with a full playset of Surge Mare to assist dodge Alex’s sideboard hate.
Recreation 1 of this matchup is fairly robust, and also you principally all the time lose if the Purple participant has turn-2 Runaway Steam-Kin on the play. However I felt that if I might escape the pre-board video games with a rating of 1-1, I had a really reasonable probability to take the match.
With just a few valuable hours of follow time, I made a decision to separate it evenly between the Pink matchup and my potential semifinals match, which might be towards the winner of a Mono-Blue mirror, and the place I’d profit most from the additional apply. Shahar Shenhar volunteered to be my opponent whereas Jon Finkel and William Jensen performed drill sergeant, yelling at me over my shoulder any time I’d make a nasty play.
Each matchups appeared razor shut, and I went to sleep feeling like all end result was attainable.
True to type, my match towards Alex and his Pink deck went to a really shut 5 video games. Simply as I’d hoped, we cut up the pre-board video games, and after a tough battle I used to be capable of take two of the three sideboarded video games.
My subsequent opponent was Autumn Burchett within the Mono-Blue mirror. I knew Autumn was a talented and skilled pilot, and we’d even taken plenty of inspiration from the deck Autumn had been grinding with as we finalized our personal construct of Mono-Blue.
But once more, we cut up the pre-board video games, with a Curious Obsession making for a lopsided recreation in every participant’s favor. The subsequent two have been gritty and complex, with Autumn lastly managing to edge me out in every case. Upon rewatching the match, I’ve discovered that if I’d merely jammed all of my spells on the first alternative, I might’ve had a terrific probability to win each video games. That stated, I hope you’ll have a minimum of just a little little bit of sympathy for me, because it’s a matchup the place discovering protected alternatives to resolve your key spells might be the distinction between victory and defeat.
In my line of labor, I’m often pressured to play massive matches towards Luis Scott-Vargas, William Jensen, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Marcio Carvalho, and Yuuya Watanabe. I’ve by no means for at some point in my life believed I used to be a greater Magic participant than these guys. The one method I make it by means of these matches is to inform myself that on any given day, with the correct preparation, and once I’m actually within the zone, it’s attainable for me to play higher in a single match. And I take nice delight in the truth that I’ve been capable of win one or two of these massive matches.
I like to think about Autumn Burchett’s victory as proof towards the reality of this idea. Whereas it might be a yr or two but earlier than I’m prepared to concede that Autumn is a greater Magic participant than I’m, they most undoubtedly obtained the higher of me in that match. And it wasn’t luck. Autumn confirmed that preparation and with the ability to convey out the perfect in your self are crucial weapons in a Magic event.
Autumn, you’re a really deserving champion. And thanks for reminding me that I nonetheless have so much to study.
On the subject of studying, this was an incredible occasion for my progress as a participant. I went outdoors my consolation zone when it comes to deck selection, and I used to be usually proud of my play all through the occasion. Though I performed on Sunday within the Professional Tour earlier than this one, Cleveland was my first time making out of the quarterfinals. I’ll be making an attempt my greatest to get one other shot at it, and hopefully I can enhance just a bit bit extra subsequent time.
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