MTG Reporter - No Concession Stand, Only Winner's Circle [Karttik Patel]
This past weekend I took part in a Standard PPTQ in Waco, Texas and ended up in 11th place. Not the most impressive finish, but I felt like I learned a lot and wanted to provide a tournament report. I ended up playing the exact 75 that Reid Duke took to his second place finish at the recent SCG Invitational in Richmond. I had written about it last week and felt that it was the strategy I personally had the most practice with. I also had done some testing and I really dislike RG Aggro because it is pretty soft to Mono Red and can get stonewalled by cards like Hornet Queen fairly easily. Anyway, here’s my tournament report.
Round 1 - Sultai Whip
Game 1: To my surprise, I played the mirror. I was excited to see how this deck could perform against itself and just how grindy the matchup could be. Unfortunately, my deck had other plans as I mulliganed to 5 and lost to a turn 6 Hornet Queen.
Game 2: I was on the play in game 2 and after falling behind to my opponent’s myriad of removal spells and my opponent resolving a Whip of Erebos, it all seemed over. However, I drew one of my best cards in this spot, Pharika, God of Affliction. This allowed me to control both graveyards and neuter my opponents ability to use his Whip. Eventually, I am able to get some damage in and my opponent scoops.
Game 3: We head to game 3 with only 4 minutes left on the clock. Since we were the last ones playing, there was a large crowd at this point and most people upon hearing that we were so low on time many just shook their heads. As we get into the game, my opponent mulligans to 6 and I look at my hand and realize that I might actually have a shot at finishing this game. I play a turn two Caryatid followed by a Satyr Wayfinder and a Windswept Heath into Tasigur, the Golden Fang. My opponent uses his main phase to Hero's Downfall my Tasigur. I follow up with Torrent Elemental on my turn. He responds with a Whip on his turn. I then proceed to kill everything he whips back to stop his attempts at lifegain and end up with the victory just before turns.
Round 2 - Esper Control
As I wrote in my article last week, I didn't think that Control was a good matchup for Sidisi Whip and on the whole my suspicions were confirmed here.
Game 1: I kept a hand that would have been good against any creature deck and got punished by an almost creatureless opponent. My hand was light on threats and I couldn't get any traction before an Ugin, the Spirit Dragon took over the game.
Game 2: I kept a much better hand. After playing a Sylvan Caryatid early I had a critical turn where I could Thoughtseize and take away something and follow up with a Tasigur. I Thoughtseized and saw Silumgar's Scorn, Dragonlord Ojutai, Ojutai's Command, and Hero's Downfall. It’s worth noting that my opponent had just tapped out for Narset Transcendent. I took the Hero's Downfall because I figured he would play his Ojutai to hold off the inevitable Tasigur I would resolve this turn. This was a relatively risk-free line assuming I draw a land which allows me to play Whip next turn and hold up a counterspell for any draw spells he might have. However, after bricking on lands for 5 turns straight I got buried by two copies of Dig Through Time.
Round 3 - RG Aggro
Game 1: I am on the play and although he has an aggressive start I am able to stonewall his offense with some big fliers and resolve a Whip to stabilize. I cast Hornet Queen and quickly get the concession.
Game 2: On the draw, I chose to keep a removal-heavy hand that lined up really well against his slower all-dragon draw. I resolved a Dragonlord Silumgar to seal the deal.
Round 4 - Jeskai Aggro
Game 1: He keeps his 6 and proceeds to miss on red mana for 5 turns. Curious, I Thoughtseized him on turn 5 and saw 6 red spells. He eventually is able to cast a few threats but I immediately slam a Hornet Queen and prompt the concession.
Game 2: I keep a rather greedy hand of removal and a Caryatid but nothing to do with my mana. I end up stabilizing but am at 2 so any burn spell kills me. On the turn before I can deploy my Whip and gain some life my opponent drew a Dig Through Time and that was that.
Game 3: My opponent tanks for a while and decides to go to 6. We have a fairly uneventful game where he misses his 3rd land drop and I play a turn 3 Sidisi, Brood Tyrant.
Round 5 - BR Dragons
I try to get the concession from my opponent as he was x-2 but his tiebreakers were good and he was convinced that he would make top 8 if he won. I was not convinced, and so we played. I’m glad we did because his deck was sweet and it was refreshing to play against something new.
Game 1: I keep a hand that is risky but fairly powerful. My opponent plays a turn 2 Dragonlord's Servant and follows it up with a turn 3 Thunderbreak Regent. I play a Caryatid and miss on land. On turn 3, I play a Courser of Kruphix and still miss on lands. After missing on a Satyr Wayfinder and 5 more draw steps, I decided we should go to game 2.
Game 2: I keep a similar hand to game 1 and am immediately Thoughtseized on turn 1. After he takes my Caryatid my hand starts looking pretty bad. But as if to make up for game one, the universe decides to give me another Caryatid as my first draw step. I proceed to play out my threats and eventually a Dragonlord Silumgar to clean up.
Game 3: We played a fairly even game where I played out a Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and he played out a couple of dragons. It was all looking good until he cast his Crux of Fate naming non-dragons and absolutely destroyed me. A dashed Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury sealed the deal and just like that, my hopes for top 8 were crushed.
The biggest dagger came when he in fact got 9th.
I learned a lot during this PPTQ and felt confident in my ability to play the deck. The biggest takeaway for me was that even though I was pretty upset at the time and was fairly incredulous about my opponent not conceding to me, it 's important to remember that he had no reason to concede to me. He thought he could make it and regardless of how I felt or what I thought was morally just, he made a decision and I should’ve respected that. I think my friend Jeff Sheng put it the best when he told me to "win next time because no one owes you a top 8”. Hopefully this weekend I WILL win.
Until next time,