Rone's MKMS Zaragoza Modern Main Event

After an amazing weekend of magic in the city of Zaragoza, it's time to talk about the last MKM Series stop of the year, with a particular focus on the Modern Main Event. Rodrigo walks you through his experience during the weekend.

What's up everyone! Recently, the last MKM series event of 2018 took place in Zaragoza, Spain, and I was definitely not going to miss it. Besides being an Insight content writer, it was also the perfect opportunity to meet with some friends and enjoy a weekend full of Magic, while also watching Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica during the matches.

Before even getting to the venue, I'd already planned the whole weekend, as far as I was concerned at least. For me, it would be Modern, Modern and more Modern. Despite the variety of formats available between Side Events and Main Events, I wanted to devote my time to the format that I've been the most invested in lately. So, let's get started with the event itself:

Venue, Vendors, And Tournament Organization

Overall, my thoughts on the event itself is positive, the Hiberus Hotel in Zaragoza played host to the tournament, being both modern and very close to the train and bus station. Undoubtedly, the best decision of the weekend was to make a reservation in the hotel itself, giving you the ability rest between rounds, while having all your stuff nearby.

The tournament was located in one of the event rooms, where there was enough space to house the tables for the events, as well as the vendors.

The tournament schedule was simple and varied, trials for different formats on Friday morning and afternoon, Modern and Limited Main Events on Saturday and Standard and Legacy on Sunday, accompanied by side and on demand events.

This was my first experience in the MKM Series circuit, and I have to say that I was very happy with the overall tournament organization, though not quite as much with the prize structure though, but I will talk about it later on.

Venue

Friday Modern Trial and Deck Configuration

My preparation leading up the event made it clear that I would be sleeving up Hollow One, which really broke out in 2018 as a top tier contender. The list was also very straightforward card by card and ended up being similar to the list that would eventually be at the top of the tournament:

Hollow One by Rodrigo Martín:

Benjamin Cottet (who made Top 8 at the tournament) decided to pack the same version which Martin Juza, who made Top 8 in GP Atlanta the week before. The changes compared to my list are:

Main Deck:

-2 Collective Brutality

-1 Gurmag Angler

+2 Fatal Push

+1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Sideboard:

-1 Engineered Explosives

-2 Grim Lavamancer

+1 Ancient Grudge

+2 Liliana of the Veil

It seems that these small tweaks worked out well for them. Personally, without testing this exact configuration, I wasn't 100% sure about losing the Brutalities, given an expectation for at least a few Burn matchups.

In retrospect, I admit that I barely took the Lavamancers off the sideboard, but I still think they are MVPs against Humans and Spirits. On Friday, I arrived at the hotel at 6 pm, just in time to participate in the last Modern Trial, trying to win a bye for the next day. During the four rounds, I was paired against a rouge aggro deck, Burn, Tron and Dredge, winning the first two 2-0 and losing the last two 0-2 which made clear to me that the Dredge match-ups is really tough with its new configuration featuring Creeping Chill.

After having some pizzas and seeing a bit of Day 1 of the Pro Tour, we went to bed to face the Modern tournament fully rested.

Modern Main Event Tournament Report

We got up early, had breakfast and arrived at the venue at 9 am, waiting for round 1 pairings and ready for some Modern action:

Round 1: Mono Blue Spells

My opponent seemed to be quite asleep, much like my deck, which forced me to mulligan to four on the play. The first three hands had no lands, so my hand was forced. I put some early pressure with a Flameblade Adept, but my opponent sequenced one basic island after another and with counterspells like Cryptic Command and a resolved Torrential Gearhulk, I chose to concede.

In game 2, I mulliganed again, though only to six this time. My hand, however wasn't explosive enough and my opponent played two early Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror for which I have no answer and turns later I lose my first round in record time. Quite a bad start but it didn't discouraged me at all.


Sideboard: -1 Burning Inquiry -2 Lightning Bolt // +3 Thoughtseize


Overall Record: 0-1

Thing in the Ice

Round 2: Jeskai Midrange

Jeskai is normally somewhat unfavorable, but I started aggressively on turn one with Flameblade Adept into Hollow One on turn 2. My opponent played Opt into Wall of Omens, Bolt, Snapcaster Mage and Restoration Angel, but I put so much pressure on board that in the end his life went low enough that my own Lightning Bolt finished the job.

In game 2, my discard package was very helpful alongside my early threats in the shape of Flameblade and Gurmag Angler. On turn 3, I casted Thoughtseize, taking his Path to Exile and leaving him with Supreme Verdict and Snapcaster Mage as relevant cards. Eventually, he succumbed to the powerful recursion available from my Bloodghast and Flamewake Phoenix.


Sideboard: +3 Thoughtseize +2 Engineered Explosives // -2 Lightning Bolt -2 Burning Inquiry -1 Gurmag Angler.


Overall Record: 1-1

Restoration Angel

Round 3: Mono Green Tron

Despite having lost against the deck on Friday, I consider this pairing favorable. If we manage to put some early pressure, the match usually ends before they can do much. I went first and developed my board presence with Flameblade Adept and Hollow One in turns 1 and 2. Even though he played Relic of Progenitus, he only managed to exile a Faithless Looting as relevant cards and I finish him off with a Flamewake Phoenix from the hand and we move onto the second game.

This time around, my opponent chose to start and I casted 2 discards spells in a row, taking away Sylvan Scrying and Warping Wail. He still resolved an Ancient Stirrings, but only found lands and with no significant pressure, I finished him of shortly thereafter.


Sideboard: +3 Thoughtseize +2 Ancient Grudge // -2 Lightning Bolt -2 Burning Inquiry -1 Gurmag Angler.


Overall Record: 2-1

Karn Liberated

Round 4: Mardu Pyromancer feat. Arclight Phoenix

This is a match-up that I have tested quite a bit and with which I am comfortable especially in all pre-sideboard games. The first one is a beautiful resource fight in which my opponent discards my looting spell from my hand, throws removal at my Adept and on the third turn resolved Blood Moon, which cuts my black mana but ultimately didn't have any impact on the match. From that moment, we continued exchanging cards, but I was favored since my Flamewake Phoenix and Bloodghast are recursive threats and he didn't find any Young Pyromancer to fill his side of the battlefield with tokens. Onto game 2.

After side boarding, I was concerned about his Leyline of the Void, which I also included. On the very first turn, he made a key move, playing Inquisition of Kozilek and then Surgical Extraction to exile all copies of Goblin Lore, of which I had 2 in hand.

This play, while insane in terms of card advantage and positional advantage, ended up not eing too relevant, since he couldn't extract something more crucial to my gameplan, as he used it on Lore.

A few turns after, he deployed a Nihil Spellbomb but was constrained on mana and ended up being a little greedy, wanting to draw the extra card with the artifact, allowing me to resolve a Gurmag Angler.

Being low on life, he brought back two Arclight Phoenix after playing three spells but they were on defense against mode my Gurmag. Instead of attacking, I waited patiently to draw some removal or more creatures and finally flooded the board with double Hollow One and my own Phoenix, giving me the set.


Sideboard: +4 Leyline of the Void +3 Thoughtseize // -4 Burning Inquiry -3 Bloodghast


Overall Record: 3-1

Arclight Phoenix

Round 5: Blue Scapeshift

These games were perhaps the most intense of the tournament. My opponent played the deck perfectly, and the matchup is very bad for me. The first game went very long, almost until he ran out of cards in his library. I had to suffer double Anger of the Gods, fight to kill 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptors, but despite discarding a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle with my Burning Inquiry, denying his Scapeshift combo, a flipped Search for Azcanta / Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin gave him enough advantage to finish me off through direct damage.

In game 2, my hand was almost perfect; I opened with Flameblade and double discard. With my first Thoughtseize, I took away Anger of the Gods and with Collective Brutality, I discarded his sideboarded Madcap Experiment. When he was at 3 life, empty handed with 6 lands in play, he top-decked Snapcaster Mage to flash back Madcap Experiment, putting a Platinum Emperion for which I had no answer, leaving me down 2 games and the match.


Sideboard: +3 Thoughtseize // -1 Lightning Bolt -2 Bloodghast


Overall Record: 3-2

Platinum Emperion

Round 6: Death's Shadow Zoo

After 3-2, I was forced to win all the remaining rounds to attempt to get a prize, and the fight started in a match where speed is everything. Fortunately, I knew my opponent's deck in depth since I played it for a long time during the Gitaxian Probe era before its ban.

Fortune smiles at me and I start thanks to the die roll, putting a lot of pressure on the board with double Flameblade, Hollow One, and returning a Phoenix, while my opponent played Wild Nacatl, Steppe Lynx and Monastery Swiftspear, which I destroyed with a Bolt. After seeing himself low on life and with his fetch lands causing extra damage, he chose to move to the second game.

From the sideboard, I brought in two Fatal Push and especially Engineered Explosives, which are a real pain against this deck. He awkwardly plays a basic Forest, followed by double Nacatl and Swiftspear. I drew my first explosives and waited patiently until I could three-for-one him and delay his game for one turn. Then, he resolved a second Swiftspear which I tried to Fatal Push but he protects her with an unexpected Blossoming Defense.

A turn later, I resolved Gurmag Angler and fired off the second explosives to get rid of the red monk, leaving his board empty. Without access to more creatures or any scary Death's Shadows, my opponent conceded.


Sideboard: +2 Engineered Explosives +2 Fatal Push // -4 Bloodghast


Overall Record: 4-2

Wild Nacatl

Ronda 7: Mono Green Tron

This was the only match I repeated during the tournament, and after winning in round 3, I felt favored again, even more when I found out I was going first again. It's turn 4 and I have Gurmag and Flameblade, but he's assembled Tron.

My opponent then summoned Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and chose to exile my two creatures, putting me way behind. Luckily, on my turn, I drew Flamewake Phoenix that, alongside with Lightning Bolt in hand, and four mana in play, won me the game.

Moving onto the second game, it was quite reminiscent of the third round, where my opponent managed to gather around 9 or 10 lands in play but found few relevant spells. I had double Flameblade Adept. On the other hand, he resolved an Oblivion Stone and then a Karn Liberated that exiled my third land, which I used to destroy his stone with an Ancient Grudge.

The next turn, I cycled a Street Wraith to pump the adepts in order to kill Karn. He then resolved a Wurmcoil Engine that could have been game over, but the Grudge flashback saved me. A perfect Burning Inquiry discarded Phoenix and Bloodghast, leaving a lonely Hollow One in hand, so I put it into play, and my army was just large enough to lethal my opponent.


Sideboard: +3 Thoughtseize +2 Ancient Grudge // -2 Lightning Bolt -2 Burning Inquiry -1 Gurmag Angler


Overall Record: 5-2

Ancient Grudge

Round 8: Dredge

My opponent went first and played Wooded Foothills, and oddly enough, it made me think Dredge. My hand was medium and I started with an Adept, but I didn't have the second land so I was forced to play a Burning Inquiry, which fortunately didn't discard any dredgers to my opponent's graveyard. Despite the fact that we went into the late game, my threats were not enough to stop their Creeping Chills that made him stay above 17 life, so I felt it was the time to scoop.

Next game, I took mulliganed to five with double Leyline of the Void, which then I jammed on the battlefield. He then played an odd game by casting Narcomoeba from hand to attack me in the air but when I found my own threats he conceded. The final game, I mulliganed to 6 with no Leyline but I kept it. His start was not very spectacular and he didn't find a dredger even after double Faithless Looting.

The judge called for Turns after I played a Leyline on my turn 4 which was instantly destroyed by Nature's Claim, but my side was quite crowded and I aggressively attacked to get the victory on turn 5, defeating Dredge for my personal first time with Hollow One.


Sideboard: +4 Leyline of the Void +2 Thoughtseize // -4 Burning Inquiry -2 Bloodghast


Overall Record: 6-2

Creeping Chill

Round 9: B/W Eldrazi

Unfortunately, this was the worst round of the entire day. In addition to being a hard matchup, since it has dedicated maindeck graveyard hate in the shape of Relic of Progeniuts, I committed the worst misplay of the tournament: my opponent had a Tidehollow Sculler on the table exiling a Collective Brutality and proceeded to play a second one, while I was holding double Hollow One hand and Lightning Bolt in my hand.

Rather than making the correct move to kill the first Sculler with my removal and let him resolve, instead I decided to throw the red instant to the one being cast, as if it were a Kitesail Freebooter, forgetting that the card has 2 different triggers. In this way, I lost the Bolt and my opponent exiled a Hollow One that never came back. Turns after, I couldn't recover from the card disadvantage and the Eldrazi horde on the other side of the battlefield made me concede.

The second game was even worse; I could not play the aggressive role despite starting. My opponent played a total of 4 Relic of Progenitus alongside Path to Exile. They made it impossible for me to stick my big fatties, nor the Grim Lavamancer that I sided in to ping down their bears.


Sideboard: +2 Thoughtseize + 2 Fatal Push +2 Ancient Grudge // -4 Bloodghast -2 Burning Inquiry


Overall Record: 6-3

Tidehollow Sculler

Pros, Cons, and Looking Forward

The final result of 6-3 left me feeling good, although it was a pity that several of my friends, who made top 18 were outside the prize pool. This could potentially be improved at future events.

Since I don't want to extend this report any more, just a brief comment on Sunday: I played another Modern trial with Mardu Pyromancer and the new Arclight Phoenix, but I ended up unhappy with the deck's performance.

Overall, I think Hollow One is not the best choice in the current metagame dominated by Dredge. There is plenty of graveyard hate going around after all. The deck still has its explosive starts.

Selfie

Pros:

  • Enjoying a full weekend surrounded by great friends and playing good Magic games.
  • Perfect organization, very good tournament atmosphere, and venue selection.
  • Purchasing Arclight Phoenixes to try out in Modern.
  • A win against Dredge.

Cons:

  • The Tidehollow Sculler misplay (mistakes help you learn more than wins).
  • The Sunday Trial with Mardu Pyromancer (something to forget).
  • Stan Lee's death the following week.

About the rest of the year, I'm going to let the deck rest for a while and focus on Arclight Phoenix, one of the cards that I really want to play right now and which I did not take into consideration when I analyzed Guilds of Ravnica. I'll talk about it more in the next article.

If you want to know more regarding the event coverage and the Modern winner, just follow this link.

As always, thank you very much for reading and let me know what you think below.

See you in fifteen days.

Excelsior!

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

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