Season Grand Finals – Tournament Report and Afterthoughts
- Kristof Prinz
One week ago the Season Grand Finals concluded with Austin Bursavich winning the title. It was headlined by a lot of Omnaths and a few pigs. I went 6-6 there, good for 15th place and $6,000. Now I want to try to figure out what I got right, what I got wrong, and how to improve my process.
I played a lot of fine folks, some of them even twice. After reviewing all of my matches on stream (you can find the whole thing here) I want to share some of my core insights with you. I also want to give a rough sketch of the tournament inself. I'm going to start with the report session.
I played the decks and decklists from my last article: Jund Trail in Historic and Four-Color Adventures in Standard. Above you get to see all my matches, opponents, and their decks in order, so let's get to it. I will discuss every match briefly, with additional discussion reserved for interesting spots.
Day 1, Round 1–3, Historic
While I believe the Rakdos Arcanist matchup to be slightly favorable for Jund Food, their nut draws of Thoughtseize into Dreadhorde Arcanist are on such a high power level that you can easily lose to them. While I lost to just such a draw in the first game, I came out ahead in the other two games due to my sideboarded graveyard hate and Larsen having mana issues — which, to be fair, is not suprising because the deck does not have great mana.
The matchup against Omnath Ramp is not great, but fortunately we'll not have to deal with it anymore after last week's banning. I was able to win one game, in which I was on the play and had turn two Mayhem Devil and turn four Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, but got beaten quite handily in the other two.
Against Jund with Collected Company I believe to be slightly ahead, playing a slightly bigger version of the same archetype. Still one can easily lose to good hits off of an early Company. This match was probaly the most interesting one I had all weekend. I had a very interesting spot in the first game, which I'll discuss after showing you the picture below. In addition I won one game, because I could burn Brad out with the help of his own Midnight Reaper, of which he had three in play.
This was the first game, I was on the draw, and was presented with a few options.
Second option: Do nothing. This is not really an option, we fall super far behind on the board for no reason.
Third option: Cast Claim the Firstborn targeting Mayhem Devil. This is pretty much a bluff, because we have no tool to get rid of the Devil after we steal it. I think this can sometimes be a reasonable line, but I think we have a better one available.
Fourth option: Cast Claim the Firstborn targeting Priest of Forgotten Gods. This gives Brad two options, similar to the third option. He can either sacrifice his board and kill mine, so that I am unlikely to be able to activate the Priest, or he can let it happen. If he does sacrifice his creatures to kill mine, I think that is fine with me, because at the end of it he'll only have a Priest of Forgotten Gods and I will only have a Mayhem Devil, which is not a great spot to be in, but better than all the other options presented so far.
If he does not sacrifice the Priest, I will do the following: I will tap my Gilded Goose for mana, which gives him a Mayhem Devil trigger. In response to that trigger, if it targets Cauldron Familiar I will activate Priest, targeting both players. This will leave him with Mayhem Devil and me with five mana and an extra card in hand. So at that point I could resolve Korvold and his main deck does not have any clean answers for that.
I believe I should've taken this fourth option, and I did, but only partially. I forgot to target myself with the Priest, which meant he got it back and could get rid of my Korvold. Good riddance.
Day 1, Round 4–6, Standard
My first of five mirrors during the Standard portion of this tournament. I believe I threw multiple games here. One time I decided to play Omnath, Locus of Creation — rather than kill Lotus Cobra with Stomp and bounce my opponent's Lucky Clover with my Petty Theft — and I got severely punished. My other mistake was missing lethal on a board were he had a face-up Negate and I didn't realize I had enough mana to put Fae of Wishes into my hand, cast Lucky Clover, cast Granted for Kazuul's Fury plus Negate, and cast both. He was at 13 life, my Beanstalk Giant began the turn at 13/13, and if you counted along, this sequence cost a total of thirteen mana … Always check for lethal!
My second mirror match, nothing spectacular happend. I had more Clovers and accumulated a bigger mana advantage and could this in turn into game wins.
I believe the matchup against Gruul to be relatively even, and after Emma mulliganed to five in the first game, I thought I'd be in a good spot to win. But she navigated the game quite well, while I missequenced a bit and was a bit too greedy with my Escape to the Wilds. I eventually found myself at 12 life, facing a 10/10 Kazandu Mammoth with double strike and trample from Embercleave while only having 7 points of thoughness on the board. I died. We then split the other two games, the third one being really close and with me drawing a few too many lands.
Day 2, Round 7–9, Standard
More mirrors! Luck(y Clovers) was (were) on my side during this match.
More mirrors!! My main-deck copy of Negate was quite good in this one.
More mirrors!!! Here I missplayed one turn, when I chose to play Bonecrusher Giant and keep up Negate over casting Granted to grab a Redcap Melee and kill Omnath. When I negated his Lucky Clover, Aaron punished me severely, going Fertile Foodsteps into Escape to the Wilds.
Day 2, Round 10–12, Historic
An actual mirror, with both players bringing Trail of Crumbs but my opponent notably running four Priest of Forgotten Gods in the main-deck spots I used for Thoughtseize. I drew more Mayhem Devil, which is the best card in the mirror, and more Claim the Firstborn, which is the most efficient removal spell in the mirror, and won because of it. Also there were two spots were I got to kill a Korvold in response to it's trigger, which is something you don't want to have happen to you.
This is most likely a win-and-in match for the Top 8. There is a chance this matchup — against the Sultai deck with Yasharn, Implacable Earth — is even worse than against Four-Color Omnath. I still nearly got it, but my Bolas's Citadel didn't deliver.
I get paired up. If I lose, Aaron makes the Top 8; if I win, I get an extra $3,000. I actually have a fast goldfish hand in the first game and am in quite the good spot in the second one: I have Korvold, Woe Strider, and Gilded Goose on the board against Aaron's nothing, seven lands, and three cards in hand. My last card in hand is Bolas's Citadel. He plays his eighth land and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, to whose −5 ability I can respond by drawing two cards and scrying twice. I draw nothing special but land the Citadel with my land drop for the turn still available. I have one of my last two Claim the Firstborn on top and pass after playing my land. Aaron resolves a Genesis Ultimatum that gains four life thanks to Omnath, Locus of Creation. Unfortunately my Citadel does not deliver a second time, and I die.
The third game I lose due to Aaron drawing three Aether Gust in slightly under 30 cards, which all target my Korvold in response to its sacrifice trigger. Remember what I wrote about the match two rounds earlier? Yeah, you really don't want to be on the receiving end of your Korvold getting killed in response to its trigger.
Finish and Thoughts Regarding Deck Choice
At this point, I am 6-6, with a 3-3 record in both Standard and Historic, going 3-2 in the mirror and 0-1 against Gruul in Standard and 3-0 against decks without Yasharn, Implacable Earth and 0-3 against decks with it. This is good for 15th place and an extra $2,000 on top of the minimum cash prize for this event.
Under different circumstances, I would use this spot to give you updated versions of my decks, but one of them got banned the following day. As for Jund Sacrifice, I think my version was quite good, but against so many Yasharns you should just play another deck. Now with Omnath being suspended in Historic, I think the number of Yasharns will drop, but until Four-Color Turbo-Pig is driven out of the format, if that is possible, I would still advise you not to put Witch's Oven into your deck.
Thoughts Regarding My Process
I underestimated the Omnath deck in Historic and got punished for that. I do not think I could've realistically estimated Four-Color Turbo-Pig being a deck though. My Standard deck was quite good but could've been a bit more refined. What would've been even more important was to get more reps in, specifically for the mirror. That probaly would have won me three, maybe four games. Considering I did huge portions of my preperation on my own, I think this is a fine finish.
However, I should have tried harder to get other people to help me. Not testing with anyone who also played the tournament and had similar stakes in it hurt quite a bit.
Thoughts Regarding the Tournament in General
I was quite happy I got to compete in this year's "world championship." But despite getting a care package and a bunch of stuff from Wizards, this still felt a bit off.
I believe the tournament structure to be quite fine, I actually liked that people got to play less if they won eight times. I saw people comment on how you should concede people in or intentionally draw with them to construct the Top 8 in a way you want it to look. That being a thing is a significant downside in my opinion. My last comment is just this: Why do intentional draws exist in MTG Arena tournaments?
I hope you had fun reading and I'll see you either on my stream or in the next bigger tournament I'll compete in, which is the next Red Bull Qualifier!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.