Aftermath of German Nationals 2018
This past weekend, 548 Mages met in Marl, Germany in order to decide on the 2018 German national champion and which two players would join the pro point leader to earn glory at this year's World Magic Cup. Andifeated was there and tried to earn his spot on the team and tells you everything about one of the biggest National Championships in the world.
The Return of National Championships
First off, I'd like to express how much I LOVE the return of National Championships to Magic. They are incredibly fun events to me. When I first started to participate in rules enforcement level competitive tournaments back in 2011, two unfortunate things, at least from my perspective, immediately soured the experience for me.
National Championships were removed and in 2012, the last German Grand Prix Event was held in Bochum since German gambling laws conflicted with Wizards ability to have equal prize payout for each event.
They decided, therefore, not to do any Grand Prix Events in Germany until the situation changes. I still went to Grand Prix Events in other countries and participated in most world Magic Cup Qualifier Events in Germany, but they never felt more special than your random Saturday Pro Tour Qualifier with 150-200 players and Germany began to lack larger events.
When the return of National Championships was announced I was so excited for the opportunity to finally participate in those events as well. My friends who have been playing tournaments for way longer than me always told me epic stories about the German National Championships of past days and I was excited to have them back.
In 2017, 474 players met in Frankfurt, to decide on the new German National Champion and Philip Krieger managed take the title at the third biggest National Championship in the world! Only Japan (619) and USA (599) had more players.
I went 8-4 and placed 72. I remember regretting my bad Standard prep, especially because of how knowledgeable I was in Hour of Devastation Draft. For Standard, I just copied the stock Temur Energy decklist and hoped for the best. With more balanced preparation, I felt like I could've done better.
My Draft preparation was as good as last year. I drafted a lot of the Core Set and felt like I knew the environment pretty well – Playing Draft is just a natural thing to me. For Standard, things looked a bit different. I unfortunately didn't succeed at meeting my goals from last year's nationals , only playing in three Standard Tournaments this year, and, in addition, I didn't even play any games between Grand Prix Birmingham, Copenhagen, and Regional Pro Tour Qualifier Szczecin.
To be fair, I tested some Grixis and UB Midrange, Turbo Fog, and Esper Control and finally settled on something between Arne Huschenbeth's Top 8 List from GP Brussels and Sascha Schwarz's most recent MTGO 5-0 List, but I could've tested Storm and Red-Black as well and tuned and practiced my list more. The deck felt good though and I think it has a positive win rate against Red midrange and Turbo Fog, which I expected to make up 50-75% of the expected Metagame. As it turned out, the deck choices varied more than other recent Standard tournaments, which surprised me since I thought that a multiformat tournament would lead players to grabbing a known best deck or a cheap and easy red aggressive deck.
Marc Tobiasch won with Blue Storm, a deck I think I would enjoy and not trying it was probably my biggest preparation mistake. The decklist I submitted was fine though, I had experience with the cards and the archetype is definitely in my comfort zone anyway:
|4Drowned Catacomb||3Teferi, Hero of Dominaria||1Cast Down|
|4Fetid Pools||2Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin||1Commit // Memory|
|2Field of Ruin||4Torrential Gearhulk||4Disallow|
|3Glacial Fortress||3Essence Scatter|
|4Irrigated Farmland||4Fatal Push|
|2Island||1Forsake the Worldly|
|4Isolated Chapel||3Glimmer of Genius|
|1Cast Down||1Chromium, the Mutable||2Duress|
|1Essence Extraction||3Glint-Sleeve Siphoner||1Infernal Reckoning|
|1Jace's Defeat||2Negate||1Sorcerous Spyglass|
|1The Eldest Reborn||1Vizier of Many Faces|
As I think turn by turn descriptions of matches are boring, I will go quickly over my matchups and what key interactions I faced and most importantly, what we can learn from my experience.
Round 1 Standard Blue Storm: 1-2
I won a quick game one after trading for the two Paradoxical Outcomes he drew and resolving Teferi quickly when he was low on handcards. I believe Control needs to take the Aggressor role in this matchup as Storm will overpower your lands and counterspells in the late game and have decent chances to win counterwars postboard due to Negate, Metallic Rebuke and the Mana-advantage Inspiring Statue creates. In game two I fell prey to an early Sai, Master Thopterist, be aware of that must-deal-with threat at all times!
The third game was another loss again after I tapped low in order to cast Teferi, Hero of Dominaria with only 13 Lands and therefore lost the counter war for his Paradoxical Outcome on my end step. I was able to cast two Disallows and Negate, but that wasn't enough.
Round 2 Standard Red-black Midrange: 2-1
I believe this matchup is quite good for Esper and it's the reason I think the deck is good right now. If they don't cast threats every turn and stumble for a bit or draw some removal spells Esper will catch up, clear their board, and start to outclass them in card quality and advantage pretty easily. A curve of Bomat Courier, Kariv Zev, Skyship Raider, Goblin Chainwhirler and Chandra, Torch of Defiance is hard to beat, though! Keep fast and interactive hands.
Round 3 Standard Flame of Keld Red: 1-2
This deck is hard to beat for Control strategies. They are faster and have more late game reach in form of Wizard's Lightning and Flame of Keld in order to capitalize on the clunky behavior of Control decks. It didn't help that my opponent, Rosario Maij, cast turn one Bomat Courier, turn two more copies of Bomat Courier in two of our three games!
Round 4 Standard Blue-White Gifts: 2-0
The blue-white midrange-combo deck featuring God Pharaoh's Gift is easy prey to control strategies. The only thing you need to make sure is that the powerful artifact never hits the battlefield. All other plans of the deck are not fast or potent enough to put enough pressure on Esper. Just make sure to counter all copies of Refurbish and Gift and you'll be just fine. Also keep in mind that they can mill you with Ipnu Rivulet so save your Commit//Memory for that job.
Round 5 Standard White-Green Midrange: 2-0
I wasn't familiar with that deck and that cost me some Edge for sure.
After I won a quick game one against his Knight of New Benalia and History of Benalia, I expected the deck to contain some good targets for Fatal Push, but it didn't. It was full of expensive Angels and Planeswalker cards and I should've boarded out all Pushes to make room for more generic answers.
The First Draft
The first deck turned out decent in my opinion. This is exactly the kind of deck I enjoy playing and with so much premium removal, the deck was certainly capable of grinding out all expected archetypes and win long games with sheer card advantage. I first picked Metamophic Alterations which I think is a very powerful card and received the second copy like 5th pick which I think is insane. The card is certainly better in control decks which limits its flexibility but in the worst case it turns your opponent's best creature into an irrelevant one and in the best case, it's a two mana, haste copy of your best creature and brute forces a quick win when ahead.
Round 8 Draft Green-White Auras: 2-0
Normal-sized Creatures and Aura cards are easy prey to removal heavy decks in this format. If they don't commit their Enchantments to the battlefield, their attacks won't bring them anywhere and you can save your removal for two-for-ones or to hit their premium targets.
Round 7 Draft Red-Green Aggro: 2-1
My opponent brought aggressive creatures and Vine Mare to the table. To top off the pain, his deck even had Lava Axe. I definitely needed some luck in order to trade my Alterations for his Vine Mare and keep my life total high enough to survive the late game.
Round 8 Draft Blue-Black Control: 2-0
These were the sweetest games! They take forever since most cards are not relevant to the game state and the board will be quickly stalled so nobody has good attacks. It's really all about the fliers and other creatures with evasion and unbeatable bombs. Make sure to save your Cancel for their Planeswalker and keep track of the number of cards in libraries. Maybe you need to stop casting your Divination and stuff in order to not deck yourself first.
After posting a 75% win rate on the first day, I was happy for sure. I thought I would need to 5-0 the second day if I wanted to make it to the top 8 playoff and went to bed nervous because I was confident that another 3-0 Draft would be doable, and it would all come down to the last two standard rounds if I had some good fortune on Sunday morning.
Day Two and Draft Two
The second Draft went even better than the first:
This deck is almost perfect. I got passed second and sixth pick Sarkhan's Unsealing and forced Green-Red fatties from that point on. I managed to hate pick most Disenchant effects in my pod and was very confident that this would lead to a 3-0 sweep in a lot of cases. The only thing that bothered me was the lack of flexible removal to catch up and some more early game action. A second Druid of the Cowl or even a single copy of Lightning Strike would've solved the only large failing of the deck which is to get run over too quickly.
Round 9 Draft Green-Black Midrange: 1-2
I managed to win a quick game one with the power of Prodigious Growth against an opponent who did not draw a Removal or Deathtouch creature. In the second game he ran me over because I kept a clunky draw and he found Lich's Caress to deal with my Ghastbark Twins I needed to enchant with Growth in order to stabilize the battlefield.
My opponent curved out another time in the third game and I had no time window to cast Sarkhan's Unsealing before Pelakka Wurm to steal the win. The deck's only weakness cost me quite early. I was a bit disappointed to be out of contention for top 8 but wanted to top my result from last year and was in good mood again quickly.
Round 10 Draft Blue-Black splashing Nicol Bolas: 2-0
My opponent's deck wasn't fast and did not pressure me before I was able to cast a lot of creatures, bad draws and lots of mulligans didn't help him either.
Round 11 Draft Blue-White Tempo: 2-0
I knew a Cleansing Nova was passed around the table and since I saw no other white decks so far, I expected my opponent to have access to this powerful effect that was particularly dangerous for my deck. As it turned out, another player hate picked the card in order to not play against it and the small creatures a Blue-White Flyers deck usually brings to the table were not backed up by enough removal to withstand my midrange assault.
Round 12 Standard Grixis Midrange: 1-2
I wanted to play this deck myself when I saw Nicol Bolas, the Ravager for the first time but when I tried it out I wasn't satisfied with the Manabase and to many matchups felt unfavorable preboard. I lost a very close sideboarded game and shortly before time was called, we both raced through game three in order to complete our match before time was up. I flooded a bit too much and couldn't defeat my opponents quick draw backed up by disruption.
Round 13 Standard Red-Black Midrange: 2-1
I had to face my friend and cardmarket sponsored player Jan Stadler in order to achieve my goal to improve my record from last year. We had close and fun games and in the end I was able to convert my risky hand with only two lands into a win by buying enough time to draw out of my misery and cast two Torrential Gearhulk to turn the corner.
I'm very happy with finishing 54th of 548 players and posting a 69 % winrate in a field as strong as our national championship. Germany has lots of great players and we're earning more and more pro points in recent years. Since Marc Tobiasch won the tournament, and Christian Hauk will be our pro point leader almost for sure, our team for the world magic cup is very accomplished this year and hopefully they can improve our result from last year again. With two Gold-Level Pros and David Joachim, who has made it to the top 8 at Grand Prix Utrecht 2015 and had a decent finish at his Pro Tour invite I think we have pretty good chances again.
Next year I'll be better prepared and make a run for the top 8 playoffs. Until then, tell me how your national championship went, how good your World Magic Cup Team is this year and which Country will take it all down.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.