Return to Ravnica Pro Tour Qualifer results: Nagoya, Japan 7/29

Pro Tour Qualifier poster

Today was my first ever Pro Tour Qualifier and hopefully not my last. I actually was pretty lucky to even be able to participate today. I did not pre-register for the event (which was done online on a Japanese only website. This was because room was limited), but I showed up early around 9:30 and signed up on the reserve list in hopes that somebody would cancel.

Well, not only did somebody cancel, but 18 people ended up not attending the event. There were about 40 people who had the same idea as me, but luckily everybody was selected by randomly choosing a land card with the Japanese symbol for “bingo!” on it. I was the last person in line, but actually got one of the last 6 spots. Those that didn’t get the bingo card the first time had one more chance and a few others made it in after me.

I went in with my UR Titan Control deck thinking I’d have a chance to get a few wins (I wasn’t fooling myself, this was going to be a learning experience more than anything else). I had talked over some tactics with my friends and decided to take out a few things from my deck, especially my sideboard. The Frost Titan was gone, a Pillar of Flame, a Devastation Tide, Karn, and a few other cards, and in their places I put 2 Combusts in my sideboard (great against Angels), a 3rd Zealous Conscripts that I found for 210 yen ($3), and a Jace, Memory Adept for control match ups. In the Frost Titan spot I put an Augur of Bolas.

Augur of Bolas

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that THIS guy is going to be the future of control. Not just because Ponder will be rotating and this guy is better than Index, but because he does what control needs in this current environment. He gets you a card and puts a body on the board to block. There are so many nasty 1 and 2 drops in the meta right now (Strangleroot Geist, Delver of Secrets, etc) that you need somebody to stop or slow down that damage. A 1/3 wall on turn two will give you the extra turns you need set up a counter attack, plus he helps you to choose a useful instant or sorcery. Against Zombies it could be something like Pillar of Flame. Against control it could be a Negate, or against UW Delver it could be a Whipflare.

I think you’ll see 2-3 of him in some decks in the future, especially the more defense minded ones.

Going back to the PTQ, 105 people was the final total of players for the event. There were some very interesting builds at the event (including my own of course ^_^). I saw a Mono Green Elf deck that was all about mana acceleration and using the Elvish Archdruid to get a Craterhoof Behemoth out as soon as possible. He seemed to do pretty well for himself and I saw the Behemoth on multiple occasions. It was a very interesting build. There was also a Mono black infect deck, a WGB Gavony Ramp deck, BR Zombie Pod, and even Grixis Control. But none of the rogue decks managed to crack the top 8.

That’s not to say that the top 8 was what you think it was either. I think you’ll be surprised with who made it.

  • RUG Delver
  • Naya Pod
  • BR Zombie
  • UB Tezzeret
  • Solar Flare
  • WB Control
  • UW Planeswalker Miracle Control
  • RUW Control

That’s 1 Delver deck and 1 Naya deck. If you add in the BR Zombie deck, that’s 3 Aggro decks to 5 control decks. I was about to write about how difficult it is for control to gain a foothold in the current environment, but from the looks of it things are just fine. Well, they are fine if you have a Day of Judgment and a Terminus. Other control decks are still having problems well . . . controlling.

Terminus

Terminus is gaining a lot of fans in the current meta because of what it can do. It doesn’t destroy, doesn’t return, and doesn’t put anything in the graveyard. It puts them at the hardest to reach spot in the metagame; the bottom of the library.

The top 3 finishers were:

  1. Solar Flare
  2. UW Miracle Planeswalker Control
  3. RUG Dryad/Delver

Delver did see a lot of play today (I went up against this RUG Delver guy in the first round, and another UW Delver deck in the 3rd round). To counteract Delver and other Aggro decks, these control decks ran a full playset of Day of Judgment and Terminus and it seemed to work pretty well for them. Most control decks were also running a full set of Wurmcoil Engines to stay alive against the more aggressive beatdown decks. The Wurmcoils ended up being great finishers for these decks after the board was cleared.

My Results:

Going into my first ever PTQ I was hoping for at least 3 wins, but my final record was 2-5. I placed 81st out of 105 participants but hey, at least it wasn’t last. With a few tweaks I can do better! Here’s a list of the decks I played and some information about them:

  1. Game 1RUG Delver – (lost 0-2) This was a tough loss. I kept the first game close after mulliganing to 5, but couldn’t draw any good cards late on in the game and lost. The second game went really quick with a turn 2 Quirion Dryad that become a 3/3 before I knew it and was out of range of my Pillar of Flames. It was a race, and I lost. I’d like to note that this guy ended up placing 3rd in the entire tournament and is the top player in Aichi prefecture. Tough draw for game 1!
  2. Game 2UW Delver – (lost 1-2) Well, might as well get all of these Delver games out of my system. Lost quickly in the first game when I couldn’t draw any kill spells and his Delver flipped. Put in my Combusts and maxed out on Whipflares in game too and scorched his side of the table each turn, quickly filling his graveyard with a few Geists of St. Traft and Delver of Secrets. I ended up tapping him out with my Dungeon Geists and then swinging each turn with them and won the second game. In game 3 I didn’t have the amount of Whipflares in the last game, and I was done in by a Geist of Saint Traft with a Spectral Flight on it. I’d like to note that this player’s name was Nakai Sunao, one of the members of Team Japan for the 2012 Magic World Cup. Talk about your sucky match ups. But hey, at least I got one win! (See Brian David-Marshall talk about team Japan and the other World Cup teams here – http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/article.aspx?x=mtg/daily/twtw/204 )
  3. Game 3Solar Flare – (lost 1-2) I actually won the first game. Whipflares and counters kept the board clean from any Lingering Souls, brought out Augur of Bolas and he kept pinging away at the player until he was in Red Sun Zenith range. He sided them out in game 2 though, while I sided in for them. He went into hard counter mode and ran with just his Sun Titans and Phantasmal Images which ended up being my undoing since I couldn’t deal with 2 6/6 Creatures with Whipflares. Sided in a Blasphemous Act in the third game and killed his Titans and Images, but still lost the game of attrition with him.
  4. Game 4UB Control – (lost 1-2) Talrand, Sky Summoner, was an absolute BEAST in the first game. Player kept Vapor Snagging my creatures and putting in Drake tokens and before I knew it I was overrun. Won the 2nd game by taking Talrand out early and tapping his other creatures out with Dungeon Geists while countering and hitting him for 6 damage each turn. Last game was just unlucky. He had first turn Delver, 2nd turn flipped it and cast a Treacherous Pit Dweller, and I was dead by turn 4.
  5. Game 5UB Zombies – (lost 0-2) Yep, Blood Artists suck. Was overrun easily with no Whipflares or Pillar of Flame in my hand. Didn’t stand a chance. Came close one time when I had a Batterskull and Wurmcoil Engine in play, but player managed to kill me by sacrificing his Geralf’s Messengers to his Bloodthrone Vampire. Sucky . . .
  6. Game 6BR Control – (won 2-0) Remember all those Red Sun’s Zeniths and Pillar of Flames I didn’t draw in that zombie match up? I got them all here. This player was using Olivia Voldaren, Vampire Nighthawk and lots of kill spells, but I had hardly any creatures and just keep removing his creatures from the game. At one point I had a Inferno Titan and 3 Red Sun’s Zeniths in my hand. I kept on dealing 8 damage a turn with the Zenith’s and that was it. 2nd game was pretty much the same. Good card drawing this time.
  7. Game 7BR Zombies (won 2-0) I was smart this time and only kept hands with red burn spells. Opening hand was a Ponder and Red Sun, drew a Pillar of Flame and kept his zombies off the board for most of the game. Ended up bringing out an Inferno Titan to kill him around turn 7. The second game was a little dangerous. He had me down to 5 life from Gravecrawlers and Mortorpods, but I fought back with my Batterskull and followed the next two turns with two Wurmcoil Engines and gained all of my life back before he called it quits.

And those are the results from my first ever PTQ. I had a good time, saw a lot of people I knew and met some high level players. I also learned quite a few things about the metagame. For starters, if you’re going to play control you need either board presence or a way to get rid of the board. White does this with Day of Judgment and Terminus, red with Slagstorm or Whipflare, black has Mutilate and Black Sun’s Zenith, and to a lesser extent blue has Devastation Tide . . . I really think that Augur of Bolas establishes that board presence for blue decks and I will run more in the future.

It’s a fact that Aggro decks outnumber control decks. When building your deck you must take this into account and have a way to deal with all of those creatures on the board. You also need removal. There are going to be things that you can’t leave be on the board. You’ll need an Oblivion Ring, a Karn Liberated, or some other way to get rid of those pesky permanents. It’s a constant fight to get the right balance.

And lastly I’d like to point out some cards to watch in the metagame in the coming weeks. I expect these cards to gain in value and become a big part of the metagame.

  • Quirion Dryad – In UG Delver builds this thing is just scary. With some Gitaxian Probes you can have it out of Whipflare range by turn 2. It’s best in the Delver build right now, but you might see it in other decks in the future. The price in Japan has already gone up from 100 to 300 yen.
  • Talrand, Sky Summoner – more and more people are using him in control decks, especially UB control. He fits perfectly there I think. Lots of ways to keep him safe and tons of ways to put 2/2 tokens into play while taking out your opponent’s creatures. He’s seen brisk sales lately as well and reached the 800 yen range lately. I could see him getting up to 1000 in the next few weeks.
  • Trading Post – it’s not just UB Tezzeret decks that have found the Trading Post/Ichor Wellspring combo effective. It’s great for any deck that needs card draw but has trouble getting it. I can see this card going from the 100 yen range to about 300 in the next month or two as people find more uses for it.
  • Bloodthrone Vampire – I saw this being used in Zombie decks and I think it’s a great way to sacrifice all of your creatures quickly, better than Killing Wave even. With 2+ Blood Artists in play, a few Gravecrawlers, and this card, you can quickly kill the opponent that you’re having problems attacking. When Mortarpod rotates, this will have a spot in Zombies I think.

And that’s a wrap. This post was a doozy. Hopefully it will hold you over for a few days until I can finish my SCG articles. I’m working on two at the moment, and I’ll be doing another one after Game Day next weekend. Busy busy busy! Be sure to check them out when you have the chance.

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