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The Quest for Gold: GP Toronto

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I attended Grand Prix Toronto last weekend in my quest to try to hit gold-level pro status.

It was a whirlwind of an adventure, as I actually ended up playing three completely different formats.

In Toronto, they decided to run eight different single-elimination trials for the Super Sunday Series Top 8 Draft (scheduled to be at 6:00 P.M. on Sunday). On Friday, I entered the Legacy event to practice some for Grand Prix Columbus with the following deck:

Quite shocking that I would choose to play this again, right? I actually had a few tournaments in which I tried R/G-splash-black Lands (for main-decked Abrupt Decay and Bojuka Bog), but the mana bases didn’t really jive with me. Dark Confidant was a really strong sideboard card, and having Abrupt Decay for Counterbalance is a huge bonus, so I might still go back to trying it in preparation for Columbus.

Abrupt Decay
It was a single-elimination tournament with thirty-three players and six rounds, so interestingly, in Round 1, only two people were paired for a single match.

Round by round:

Round 1: Bye

Round 2: Shardless Sultai (2–0)

Round 3: Punishing Fire Jund (2–1)

Round 4: Miracles (2–0)

Round 5: Food Chain (2–0)

Round 6: Miracles (split and concession because he did not care about the Draft on Sunday and almost exclusively plays Eternal formats)

I don’t think there were that many interesting gameplay situations that came up in the Legacy event.


In the main event, I chose to play B/G Husk:

I played against a diverse selection of decks, including:

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

  • 0–2 vs. White Weenie
  • 3–0 vs. Goggles Ramp
  • 3–1 vs. G/W Tokens
  • 0–1 vs. Grixis Control (Oliver Tiu)
  • vs. B/G Husk
  • vs. W/B Midrange
  • One matchup I am forgetting

The deck is incredibly strong and has a lot of difficult decisions (mostly about how to play around opposing copies of Archangel Avacyn and sweepers). Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is certainly the strongest silver bullet against this deck, and the fact that Oliver Tiu had one on turn four against me in Game 1 certainly helped him win that first game in decisive fashion.

Going forward, to address the difficulties against Kalitas- and Languish-based control decks, I’m borrowing a fair amount of technology developed by my teammates on East-West Bowl, playing the four-color version of Cryptolith Rite: Reality Smasher.

This card is just incredible right now. Most of the black-based control decks only have Ruinous Path as an answer, so Reality Smasher is the perfect follow-up to Languish to hit the opponent for 5 and force the player to use two cards to answer a Reality Smasher.

After the Swiss rounds of Grand Prix Toronto ended, I still had one last format to play/conquer: Shadows over Innistrad Booster Draft.

Stensia Masquerade
Before the Pro Tour, we had a lot of discussions about drafting Shadows over Innistrad, but the main takeaways were:

  • There’s not really a clear pick order—the synergy-based decks have such drastically different evaluations of cards (and even commons). A good example of a card like this is Sanitarium Skeleton. It’s excellent with Call the Bloodline, Mad Prophet, and other similar cards (Merciless Resolve, etc.). It’s not very good in a beatdown deck.
  • For the most part, blue-based decks had an under-45% win rate, but that is confounded by the data we had at the beginning—people didn’t have a great idea how to draft U/R all-spells or G/U Clues. U/B posted the overall worst win rate as a Draft deck, however.
  • If you don’t draft a synergy-based deck, you are far better off drafting a low-to-the-ground beatdown deck. Cards like Uncaged Fury and Rush of Adrenaline are quite good here, as is the unassuming Stensia Masquerade.

Going into the Super Sunday Series Top 8 Draft, I also knew that three people qualified off Standard, three people qualified off Sealed Deck, one person qualified off Modern, and I qualified off Legacy. Therefore, I wanted to either draft a super-aggressive beatdown deck or a synergy deck.

My opening pack had a Graf Mole—and not much else good—so I decided to take it.

I was then passed a pack with Pack Guardian and the rare missing from Top 4 Grand Prix Competitor Doug Potter. Pack Guardian is an absurd card in Limited.

After that, and opening Mindwrack Demon in pack two and being passed Soul Swallower, Call the Bloodline, and Sanitarium Skeleton made it much easier for me to build this B/G delirium deck:

I played against R/x aggro all three rounds of the Draft, which led me to believe the aggro plan was (relatively) overdrafted given the deepness of aggro cards in our packs.

Soul Swallower
Round 1 was against R/G aggro, Round 2 was against R/W aggro, and Round 3 was against R/W aggro (Doug Potter).

I managed to win all three rounds of the Draft with some absurd occurrences happening.

  • In Round 2, Game 1, I managed to bring Soul Swallower up to an 18/18 on a stalled board.
  • In Round 3, Game 1, my opponent passes after I played Duskwatch Recruiter on turn two. I then played three creatures (after attacking with my Recruiter) and transformed it back.
  • In Round 3, Game 2, I assembled Call the Bloodline and the Skeleton, but he had too much pressure for the lifelink Sprout Swarm to take over.

All in all, I was thankful to show up to Grand Prix Toronto again, improve my pro point total by 1 point (now 29 of 33 for gold-level status), and requalify for the Super Sunday Series Championship in Seattle again next year.

I look forward to running back B/G Husk in Grand Prix “New York” (actually located in Secaucus, NJ) in my #chasinggold quest.

Thanks for reading, and I welcome any comments here or on Twitter.

Jarvis


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