MCQ Madrid Report with Izzet Phoenix

Mythic Championship Qualifiers are the premium events everyone wants to win these days. In this article, Rodrigo dives into his experience at MCQ Madrid, from the deck he chose to the preparation and tournament experience he had. Let's dive in and take a look at what happened.

Hello everyone! Today, I'll be diving into a report of my performance at an MCQ in Madrid. I want to make sure I remember everything well, so I'm diving straight into the details.

Prep Time

In a world crowded by Teferis, Narsets, Chandras, Lilianas and their friends, I thought a linear deck not full of Planeswalkers like Izzet Phoenix would be no match. It surprised me though, proving itself as a real competitor against the sea of midrange decks, so I decided to give it a chance – especially since it was the only tabletop Standard deck I could reasonably build

Izzet Phoenix by Rodrigo Martín, MCQ Madrid at Ítaca Freak Shop 

I'm not here to tell you about my amazing performance that resulted in a clean first place victory, even though I'd love too. I did okay, but I was overall very happy with my decision making and preparation for this tournament. I prepared more than I usually could thanks to Arena.

My plan was simple; I religiously followed the winner lists and the sideboard guide from the guy that won the MCQ in Valencia, who I want to thank for the article he wrote (Jose Luis Velázquez). You can find it here; though it's in Spanish. Google translate does a reasonable job though if you're dedicated to reading it.

Next, I tested in MTG Arena as much as I could; trying to internalize every card interaction and learning which role I needed to adopt in various matchups as the deck switches based on the matchup and state of the game.

Finally, I prepared everything in advance, the day before the tournament I wrote down the deck list card by card, and then the sideboard guide on a single sheet of paper. Lastly, rather than test to the last minute, I chose to take a break and let everything settle overnight before the event.

A reminder about the new additions from War of the Spark: Finale of Promise is a significant improvement to the deck, since you can bring back your Arclight Phoenix with only one spell. In order to do so, is important to have at least a variety of instants and sorceries in the graveyard, that’s why we run a couple of Lighting Strikes to pad out our instant count.

Saheeli, Sublime Artificer is great at creating an army of 1/1 Servos either to pressure opponents or to defend your life total and with her ability, she can copy your Crackling Drakes or Arclight Phoenixes to attack in the air and close out games.

Finally, Narset, Parter of Veils is a hoser in mirror matches and against archetypes like Esper and Nexus.

Narset, Parter of Veils Saheeli, Sublime Artificer Finale of Promise

The Tournament

I woke up early, had a good breakfast, and came to the tournament venue in advance. My mantra was that I should play each round totally focused and separate from each other round. I wanted each round to be a fresh start, while also making notes on new things I learned from each match.

Round One: Bant Planeswalkers

Game one saw me keep my seven and win a quick game after curving out with Goblin Electromancer, Saheeli, Sublime Artificer and double Phoenix on turn four. He was a bit stuck, so he scooped before I knew what he was on.

I sideboarded as though I was paired against Bant Midrange as he had only played Llanowar Elves and Arboreal Grazer. In game two, I kept a four lander and was crushed by Narset followed by Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Teferi , Time Raveler, so I conceded in order to sideboard properly.

In the last game, I mulliganed to five since my first hand was a one lander and the second one had six lands. I kept a decent five but the card disadvantage was too hard to fight. I shocked his turn one Elf and then Baby Teferi came out on turn three to shut me down. I played a long game, trying to attack his walkers with my Phoenixes but they got exiled with Prison Realm and I flooded a bit too much to recover.

Result: 0-1.

Sideboard:

IN: 3 Negate / 1 Spell Pierce / 1 Disdainful Stroke / 2 Sorcerous Spyglass

OUT: 2 Lava Coil / 2 Radical Idea / 2 Tormenting Voice / 1 Beacon Bolt

Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Round Two: Gruul Midrange

In the first game, I was on the draw and chose to mulligan to six cards. He starts aggressively with a Gruul Spellbreaker followed by Domri, Chaos Bringer and Nullhide Ferox. I play defense, killing each walker on the battlefield and trading my Crackling Drake with his creatures. I end up at one life and I hold on with two Drakes until they become lethal and my opponent concedes.

Second game was pretty straightforward. My opponent mulliganed to five and I kept my seven. Llanowar Elves bit the dust against my Shock and then I played very conservatively, eventually finding double Lava Coil with my Discovery // Dispersal. Then, on turn six, I brought back double Phoenix plus I play a Drake to end the game.

Result: 1-1.

Sideboard:

IN: 2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun / 1 Lava Coil / 1 Disdainful Stroke

OUT: 1 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer / 2 Tormenting Voice / 1 Radical Idea

Nullhide Ferox

Round Three: Gruul Midrange

I got paired against the same archetype twice in a row and what’s more, my rival was my previous opponent’s girlfriend so it's payback time! She went first and I kept my seven. She curved out two Gruul Spellbreakers while killing my Electromancers. I try to respond by Beacon Bolting one and shocking her Paradise Druid but a third Spellbreaker sealed the deal and we moved onto the next game.

An Augur of Bolas on turn two found me Lightning Strike. On turn three, I played Electromancer. It died immediately. Turn four, I hard-casted Phoenix and she killed it. I slammed Crackling Drake and start attacking and she couldn't find the answer.

In the decisive game, I mulliganed to six despite my first hand being functional. I did this mainly because I had no removal in my opener. I kept double mountain, double Shock which killed her turn one Llanowar but after, I got stuck on two lands and lost to a couple of uncontested Spellbreakers.

Result: 1-2

Sideboard: same as before.

Gruul Spellbreaker

Round Four: Mono Red

After losing two games, my chances of making Top 16 were very low, considering the event had 226 players. Nevertheless, I kept playing, as I wanted to see how far I could get.

I got paired against Mono Red, mulliganed to six on the draw and found a reactive hand with multiple shocks to deal with early threats. On turn four I casted Crackling Drake, which promptly died, followed by my opponent playing Chandra, Fire Artisan. After a second Drake on my side followed by three spells, bringing back double phoenix, I was able to quickly close out the game.

Game two, I played defense, making land-drops, killing a Viashino Pyromancer but an Experimental Frenzy I can’t counter threatens my life total. Luckily for me, he drew poorly, only having lands on top,  so I had enough time to kill him with my creatures.

Result: 2-1

Sideboard:

IN: 1 Entrancing Melody / 2 Fiery Cannonade / 1 Niv-Mizzet, / 1 Lava Coil / 3 Negate / 1 Spell Pierce

OUT: 3 Radical Idea / 3 Goblin Electromancer / 2 Tormenting Voice / 1 Discovery // Dispersal

Chandra, Fire Artisan

Round Five: Esper Midrange

Halfway through the tournament, I was paired against one of the few Portuguese players that came all the way to Madrid for the tournament.

My first hand was two lands, double Shock, Tormenting Voice, and Opt. We fought a very rough game one. He resolved three Basilica Bell-Haunt, getting up to twenty nine life while I went down to one life. I killed several planeswalkers including Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria thanks to my hasty Phoenixes. I managed to finish off my opponent thanks to a humongous Crackling Drake that managed to avoid death.

Game two, my hand was three Crackling Drakes, two lands, Shock, and Negate. I kept since I have answers to both little Teferi and Hero of Precinct One. A Thought Erasure on turn two gets rid of one of my drakes and I draw the fourth, making impossible to my opponent to deal with all of my flyers and I advance to the next round.

Result: 3-2

Sideboard:

IN: 2 Negate / 1 Spell Pierce / 1 Disdainful Stroke

OUT: 2 Radical Idea / 2 Tormenting Voice

Basilica Bell-Haunt

Round Six: Mirror Match

I kept a decent hand with turn two Goblin Electromancer that immediately died to Shock, giving the me the intel I needed to know I was in the mirror. After stopping both our early plays, I found double Phoenix and killed his solitary one, which led to a concession on his part.

Second game, my deck curved out perfectly with Goblin Electromancer on turn two followed by removal for his own Electromancer. Then, after some work with hard casted phoenixes, recurred phoenixes and some Saheeli action, I managed to close out the game and finish up.

Result: 4-2

Sideboard:

IN: 2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun / 1 Lava Coil / 1 Negate / 1 Spell Pierce / 2 Narset, Parter of Veils

OUT: 3 Radical Idea / 2 Tormenting Voice / 2 Shock

Beacon Bolt

Round Seven: Sultai Midrange

Game one, I played an uncontested Goblin Electromancer on turn two. A Bond of Flourishing finding Nissa made me think I was up against Four Color Dreadhorde, which was a pretty substantial error. After a few turns meandering with some lands and Explore creatures, he concedes.

Game two, I sideboarded the wrong way, adding counter magic and Sorcerous Spyglass which I play on turn two to see a hand with Duress, Cast Down, Hydroid Krasis and Kraul Harpooner, realizing my mistake, but naming Vraska, Golgari Queen to try to save the day.

While he failed to find black mana, I attacked with my hard-cast Phoenix who died to Cast Down turns later. After pressuring his life total to nine, he found Wildgrowth Walker plus Merfolk Branchwalker and went back to fifteen. I got rid of the merfolk with a Lava Coil, but didn't have enough gas to pull the two Phoenixes from my grave.

On the crucial turn, I drew Beacon Bolt with enough lands to Negate my first Beacon and then play the jump start to summon my Phoenixes from the graveyard, stealing the game.

Result: 5-2

Sideboard: the good one

IN: 1 Lava Coil / 1 Disdainful Stroke

OUT: 1 Radical Idea / 1 Tormenting Voice

Sorcerous Spyglass

Round Eight: Esper Control

I probably faced my toughest opponent in this round. I was unsure if I would make it into the money if I won, so I played without worrying about that.

He went first and Duressed me on turn two, discarding my Chart a Course. I play an Augur of Bolas that misses on turn three, and then he proceeds to play Narset and also misses. The game goes really long and involves several planeswalkers including Liliana and Teferi combined with an active Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin. My game plan was to ignore them since there was an Oath of Kaya on the battlefield. I focused upstairs, but he managed enough incremental life gain to stay alive, leading a game one loss.

In game two, I kept my seven card hand, consisting of Niv-Mizzet, Parun, Chart a Course, Arclight Phoenix and four lands. He again discarded my Chart a Course with his Thought Erasure. A turn three Augur finds a Discovery// Dispersal and he plays a Little Teferi to bounce my creature.

I killed it with my Phoenix but then on his fifth turn he slammed a Lyra Dawnbringer that completely wrecked me since I only kept one Beacon Bolt. Luckily, I drew it immediately but I don’t have enough instants and sorceries in my graveyard to kill the Lyra. By the time I could get rid of her, he could play a second one. He countered my jump-started Beacon Bolt, so I ended up at Lyra's mercy, shaking my opponents hand a couple turns later.

Result: 5-3

Sideboard:

IN: 2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun / 3 Negate / 1 Spell Pierce / 2 Narset, Parter of Veils / 2 Sorcerous Spyglass /
1 Disdainful Stroke

OUT: 2 Lava Coil / 2 Tormenting Voice / 4 Shock / 2 Radical Idea / 1 Crackling Drake

Thought Erasure

The Aftermath

If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading. In the end, if I had won the last round, I would've made the top 32. Still, I felt very happy with my performance, especially mentally. I took great notes during the round, I stuck to my plan, and had a lot of fun.

I hope that this helped you in your preparation for future events and, as always, leave your comments below or hit me up on my shared Twitter account.

Until next month!

Rodrigo Martin.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.

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