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Team Grand Prix And A Bit Of The Pro Tour

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Elias Watsfeldt
Elias Watsfeldt

About Elias Watsfeldt

Elias is a Gold level player from Sweden, who started playing Magic in 2003 alongside most people in his school class. He generally prefers to play control decks, both in Limited and Constructed. Some of his accomplishments include:

  • Gold Pro Player
  • 44 Lifetime Pro Points
  • 4th GP Ghent 2012
  • 5th GP San Diego 2011
  • Top 16 GP Gothenburg 2010
  • 30th Worlds 2011
  • 20 PTQ Top8s (2 wins)

Team Grand Prix and a Little Bit Of The Pro Tour

Good greetings, fellow Planeswalkers.

I have recently returned home after having participated in four large premier events. The first two, and the most interesting ones, were Grand Prix San Jose and Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in Seattle. In San Jose I teamed up with two competent players, namely Kenny Öberg, also known as Kenny O-berg, Kenny X-and-O-berg or “The Tezzerator”, and Ludvig Londos, who went 7-0 in PT Amsterdam after winning the Last Chance Qualifier. Going into the Grand Prix, we had done several practice sealed decks versus the other Swedish team, featuring hall of famer Olle Råde, Denniz Rachid and Martin Lindström, and had a good clue on how to build our decks. Ideally, we wanted the Cult of Rakdos to be present, as we considered that to be the strongest archetype. Apart from Rakdos, we did not have too strong preferences, although I guess we preferred The Selesnya Conclave over the remaining guilds.

To our pleasantness, we got passed a pool with strong Rakdos cards, so strong we actually could give our Golgari deck the Stab Wounds without actually decreasing the power level of our Rakdos deck. Our Golgari deck was very clunky, but the late game power of Korozda Guildmage, Rogue's Passage, scavenge and a splashed Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, among others, made it possible for the deck to consistently beat Selesnya and Golgari. The last and the worst of our three decks was Azorius with only one single creature with power more than two. With not so much time to spare, we registered our decks and played the ones we had in front of ourselves.

Kenny Öberg joined the Cult of Rakdos.

Ludvig Londos opted for the Azorius Senate.

I went for the combined strengths of the Golgari Swarm and the Selesnya Conclave.

Throughout the day, we experienced two trends, the first being that Mr. Öberg was having an extremely bad day, and the second, that I was having a very good one. I kept getting paired against Selesnya and Golgari, the games went seemingly long and Rubbleback Rhino, with the help of Rogue's Passage, got the job done. Kenny, on the other hand, kept only a few seven-card hands over the course of the tournament. In round 8, at a record of 6-1, our match came down to a very interesting board state in game three of the Rakdos mirror. Both sides of the board contained a bunch of creatures, all but one (on each side) being unleashed. With the help of Traitorous Instinct and a creature with scavenge in our graveyard; we wanted to kill our opponent in two turns. We correctly called our opponents last card to be a blank, and the play we came up with would win even if the top card of his library would be either a creature or a removal. Sweet! We used scavenge to put two +1/+1 counters on our opponent’s Gore-House Chainwalker, making his entire team unable to block. The following turn, we are able to cast Traitorous Instinct on either creature he casts, or one of the unleashed ones. Sadly, he drew Launch Party, which allowed him not only to sacrifice the creature we targeted, but also to kill a blocker and attack for exactly lethal. Sigh.

We ended up 8-3, with the other two losses being against respectable Platinum teams,
Floch - Cifka – Jaklovsky and Gräfensteiner - Holzinger – Köstler.

Sure we had one real bad beat, and yes, our best deck (Rakdos) barely had positive results. Despite all this, I still had a great time. It was great to take home three points, even though I lost after taking 40 points of damage from Hypersonic Dragon over the course of two games. Furthermore, in the course of the event, I got to ultimate Loleth Troll, that is, dumping my entire hand on turn three and riding it to victory.

All in all, I believe we are satisfied with our performance. All of us are probably attending the team Grand Prix in Utrecht, though then we will be playing in three different teams. :)

We prepared well and did our best. Even though we did not make day two, we did way better than the other Swedish team!

With the same Swedish team, we took off to Seattle on Monday to meet up with the newly arrived limited expert Joel Larsson, Grand Prix Finalist Oscar Almgren and Poya Nobari, who describes himself as rugged and gloomy. Most people were already set on decks, so the majority of the time was spent drafting, arguing and eating.

I was set on Scapeshift, a deck I had tested thoroughly, a deck I really thought was the nuts. Game one on the play it crushed everything. The matchup versus Jund and Affinity was great. However, this is not a story how I crushed the constructed portion.

This is the deck I registered for the Pro Tour:

IPA Scapeshift

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Scapeshift
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Morningtide (Foil)

This is a combo deck. The Scapeshift deck in the top8 of the ProTour on the other hand leans a bit more towards being a control deck with Scapeshift as a win condition instead of Cruel Ultimatum or Grave Titan. The deck is easily dividable into three sections.

Section number one, mana:

Now this is a lot of mana, 42 mana sources to be precise. But you must not forget that this is a combo deck, and lands are one piece of the combo. With 42 mana sources, the mana base obviously works fine and you can usually bounce Blood Moon with Cryptic Command. Though there are at least two issues with the mana. The first is the lack of green sources, which sometimes forces you to take unnecessary mulligans. A case could be made for cutting 2 Farseek for 2 Wayfarer's Bauble, or even 2 Farseek for more lands. The second issue would be a slight lack of Mountains, which did cost me one game at the Pro Tour. Again, you can remove 1 Farseek in favor of 1 Mountain. Moreover, Kodama's Reach would not be there, if it were not for Liliana of the Veil.

Section number two, disruption:

Fog was a last minute addition, which allowed the deck to beat RUW, Affinity and Infect on the draw. It also had applications against Splinter Twin and gave you one more top deck against Jund. I think I only saw Fog once or twice, and I will come back to that moment.

Both Cryptic Command and Remand do a great job at slowing your opponent down, while being able to protect Scapeshift, while drawing a card.

Clutch of the Undercity
Versions:
Ravnica (Foil)

Section number three, combo:

The card that stands out here is Clutch of the Undercity. This is a card worth splashing. Not only does it find Scapeshift 100 % of the times you transmute it, unlike Peer Through Depths. It also provides protection against Blood Moon, Liliana’s ultimate, Cranial Plating kills etc. After sideboard it allows you to tutor up Slaughter Games or Creeping Corrosion. The loss of life is also relevant, since you often are dealing 18 damage.

In the first match of the tournament, I faced Stephen Mann equipped with Jund. I remember loosing game one, despite him mulliganing down to four. I simply did not draw Scapeshift or Clutch of the Undercity. I then sideboarded in the normal package against Jund, containing 2 Plains, 4 Leyline, and out went 2 Farseek, 2 Fog and 2 Harrow. In game two I remember getting to a point where I cast Remand on Blightning, so I can untap and cast Scapeshift for the win. Instead of winning, I draw Steam Vents off of Remand, and Steam Vents on my turn, leaving me with too few Mountains in my deck to win. Granted, if I would have played 10 Mountains instead of 9, I would have had better chances of winning that game.

That first match left me a bit stunned. Those two scenarios should not appear that often and I just began my tournament with two losses of that kind.

Match two left me a bit stunned as well, but for other reasons. I faced UW, and everything went according to plan game one. Your plan is to jump in front in mana, maybe use Cryptic Command or Clutch of the Undercity to bounce lands, and then cast Scapeshift with some backup. The only cards that really interact with Scapeshift pre sideboard are Cryptic Command and Vendillion Clique.

In both game two and game three, my opponent did cast double Aven Mindcensor. I felt kind of hopeless at that point.

RUW was next up, and everything went according to the plan. I managed to stay at four life with the help of Fog and Sakura-Tribe Elder and finish him off with Scapeshift. In game two, he got some pressure on and killed me with Lightning Bolt. In game three I kept a loose hand, containing 2 Kodama's Reach, 1 Scapeshift, and 4 Lands on the play. My first two draw steps were land, into Kodama's Reach number three. Though this time I got lucky, since my opponent curved Serum Visions, into Serum Visions and Spell Pierce (target Kodama's Reach, lucky I have two left). If that would have been two Delver of Secrets I would probably have been toast. When I was about to kill my opponent with Scapeshift, I simply put all my lands into play untapped, not thinking it would matter. He then took the opportunity to call of judge, arguing that I should lose two life per dual I took. First of all, I don’t even have the choice of paying two, and secondly, it was a rather scummy move, since I had let all his un-announced Steppe Lynx triggers go through.

My next match started horribly, as I missed my third land drop when my opponent, piloting Jund, had Liliana of the Veil with four counters. Fortunately, he did not have any more pressure, and when Liliana went up to six, I had Clutch of the Undercity ready for it! I am not really sure what happened in the other games(s), but I walked away with three points.

Round 5 was kind of eventless. I played against storm, we split the first two games and I managed to win the third by remanding the first ritual. His lands at the time: 3 Island 1 Mountain. If I would have mulliganed into Leyline of Sanctity, I would have won also.

Going into the draft, I was satisfied to have won three straight matches, but was also eager to win three more. My first pack offered me Trostani, Selesnya's Voice, and guess what? I took it.

And as most drafts I had done up until that point, I ended up in the same guild as my first pick. My next few picks were mediocre indeed, Keening Apparation, Keening Apparation, Concordia Pegasus. I promise, I did not pass any good cards in either color, the packs were just empty. I ended up with a horrible Selesnya deck, or at least it would be horrible if I did not have my Ethereal Armors. My 5 Ethereal Armors. With those I managed to start off 2-0 in matches, before losing to a rather decent Rakdos deck.

Worth noticing is that I did not win a single game without Ethereal Armor, and would not have won a single one if you would exchange those for any card you realistically could pick up 7th+ pick. I also played Trostani zero times.

Thanks for reading. In my next article, I will bring you day two of the Pro Tour and try to analyze Scapeshift thoroughly. Hopefully I can write a little about how I won GP Bochum (not that likely though). :)

Cheers

Elias

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