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When in Rome... - Worlds Report *9th*

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This article originally appeared on cmus.cz and forms part of the Blackborder.com cmus.cz partnership.

Adam Koska
Adam Koska

About Adam Koska

Adam is an experienced player from the Czech Republic who has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:

  • 9th at Worlds 2009
  • 9th at Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
  • 32 Lifetime Pro Points
  • Top 32 GP Vienna 2008
  • Top 64 GP Krakow 2007
  • Two times Czech Nationals Top 8

When in Rome...

Well, here I am, sitting in my room, fresh off a second 9th place finish on breakers in as many PTs I played this year. Some may call me unlucky, but that's not at all how I feel. Instead, I feel like I've been given a chance.

Let me introduce myself. A few things were already said in the “About Adam Koska” section but I want to give you more details. I've been playing Magic for more than nine years now. Since 2004, I've had around one or two PT appearances a year, pretty much always finishing around 326th place or so. In autumn of 2008, I decided to slow down with MtG a bit, stop grinding the PTQs and focus on other things, mainly school, as I was about to graduate from my university soon. After a couple of months without Magic, I found out there's a PTQ to be held at my local store, and since it was sealed, I decided I might as well show up to play, primarily to meet some friends. I ended up winning that PTQ and qualifying for Kyoto, but as I said earlier, I didn't really take Magic as seriously as I'd used to and I mainly wanted to have fun in Japan, going there for more than two weeks with my friend Petr Brožek, travelling through most of Japan from Hiroshima to Nagano. Instead of extensive preparation, I just picked up a deck I liked and most of my testing was done in a bar in Hiroshima where we stayed overnight with Petr drinking saké, when we accidentally missed our last train to Osaka.

What was quite interesting, though, was that this kind of "preparation" paid off. I finished 9th on tiebreakers after going 7-0 on day two and I couldn't stop wondering how that was even possible. It didn't feel like I was extremely lucky, mulling to 4 and 5 on numerous occasions, but looking back, I guess the reason was that I played an ok deck and in addition to playing relatively well (I threw away one game against Shouta Yasooka though), I got reasonably lucky in moments where it mattered.

Flash-forward eight months. I've taken another break from Magic after Kyoto, missing PT Hawaii and Austin, since I had already arranged my program for spring-summer and I didn't really want to change it. Besides, the method of not playing Magic for several months and then showing up to PT to score a good result worked for me last time, so I had no intention to "change a winning horse". This time, it would be Worlds in Rome, though. Not playing for half a year meant I retained my post-Kyoto rating and qualified quite easily. All that was left to be done was picking a deck for Standard and Extended, playing a couple of drafts and travel to Italy.

As for my preparation for Standard, I actually did test a few decks. However, the whole testing wasn't about picking various decks and testing against each other, but more the "catch me if you can" style with everybody trying to beat Jund. I don't really like to play the "deck to beat" with a big target on its forehead. So I tried to consistently beat Jund from various angles, but failed to do so repeatedly. In the end, I just decided to join the dark side and play Jund, since after all; it was the deck I had played by far the most practice games with. I knew everybody and their brother would be prepared for Jund, but even when people think they can beat it, the Jund deck would just get some stupid cascades and turn around "unwinnable" games over and over again.

Here's my list, for reference:

Jund by Adam Koska

Tags: 
Black
Red
Green
Colors
Gold29
Green2
Land25
Red4
Converted Mana Cost
14
27
312
46
53
63
Type
Basic Land10
Creature15
Instant10
Land15
Planeswalker2
Sorcery8

This decklist forms part of my latest feature article:

When in Rome... - Worlds Report *9th*

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Broodmate Colosseum
Sightseeing in Rome...

Deck Comment

The maindeck is as old and unoriginal as it gets (I actually think it is the list you can find in a Magic-League trial a couple of days after Zendikar was released), but I really didn't like any of the new cards people were bringing in (Siege-Gang Commander, Slave of Bolas, Master of the Wild Hunt, Thornling...) and also had no idea what to cut. Putrid Leech, the card that was usually cut first when the "innovating madness" started, was doing a really good job for me, attacking Planeswalkers of Eldrazi Green on the first few turns, and he even wasn't that bad in the mirror, being bigger than most of the usual Jund creatures (Bloodbraid Elf, Sprouting Thrinax, tokens from Garruk Wildspeaker). You could even trade him for one half of Broodmate Dragon himself.

I arrived in Rome one day earlier to do some sightseeing (I guess you really can't skip this part in Rome) and was pleased to find out the temperature was a mild 22°C and the weather was sunny and pleasant. The next day, I met some friends of mine, Petr Brožek and Jarda Bílek.

A quick side note on Petr: if you were following the coverage on the mothership carefully, you've noticed this guy lurking near the top of the standings all three days. You might have also noticed his Burn decklist is among the top Standard lists and read the feature match about him playing Andre Coimbra in the Extended portion of the tournament - again playing Burn. That's not a coincidence. Petr played red in all tournaments in the last two years, including all drafts he has done. His results? Two money finishes in GPs (in as many GP attempts), a Nationals win last year and 22th place at worlds in Memphis last year. Some people have preferences for certain colors. In Petr's case, it's his lifestyle!

Standard

We got up quite early on Thursday, found out that the terrace of the hostel is nice, but way too chilly to eat breakfast outside, and went to the tournament site to play some Standard. I won't go into the details of how my rounds went, since in Jund's case, when you win, it's because you cast a bunch of 2 for 1 spells (and to be honest, that's what most of Jund's spells do) and when you lose, it's usually because of mana issues or running out of removal for your opponent’s "Badass Angels". I played the mirror twice, losing both times (though it really felt like a coin flip, not much more), once in the very first round, which didn't really help my tiebreakers at all. This is how my rounds went:

  1. LL       - Carlos Wong Honores - Jund
  2. WLW  - Filips Kamkins - GWb
  3. LWW  - Mateusz Kopecz - GWb
  4. WW   - Tine Rus - Cruel Control
  5. LL     - Oliver Monbailly - Jund
  6. LWW - Rob Dougherty - monoWhite aggro

The monoWhite deck, piloted by Rob Dougherty, was quite an interesting brew and I must admit I was a bit perplexed when he showed me the Kor Skyfisher - Kor Hookmaster tandem in the first game. You can see his deck in the "video decktech" in Wizards' coverage, if you're interested in his build.

Zendikar Draft 1

Friday at Worlds is traditionally reserved for drafting and it wasn't different this time. If you had asked me about my color preferences before the tournament, I would have said that Green is bad, but not that bad and if nobody else wants it, I will gladly be the Green drafter at the table. Also, I believe Black is a bit too overdrafted at the moment, which means black first picks have a little less value for me than Red, Blue and White ones. Of course I don't mind drafting Black, but I don't want to be fighting for it with my neighbors for no reason.

My first pod has Brad Nelson and Ben Lundquist among the more notable names, Nelson sitting to my right. I start with Kazandu Blademaster and Kor Skyfisher from two rather unexciting packs and am looking for a second color, but the packs dry up quite fast, so the 5th pick Heartstabber Mosquito pretty much rounds out my first booster. The second pack is almost the same, there's not much in terms of quality and I find myself struggling for playables. The third booster averts a large-scale catastrophe and gives me some much needed black and white cards, but I'm still short on playables and register this list:

Worlds Draft 1 by Adam Koska

Tags: 
White
Black

This decklist forms part of my latest feature article:

When in Rome... - Worlds Report *9th*

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Caravan Hurda
Versions:
Zendikar (Foil)

Deck Comment

The biggest weakness of this deck is definitely the lack of removal (or any way to push damage through blockers). Nimbus Wings are actually quite ok in this deck (if your opponent kills a Mindless Null carrying Nimbus Wings, you can't really call it "2 for 1"), but of course I'm not proud of cards like Caravan Hurda or Pillarfield Ox.

Round 7: Jacek Skyba - R/B

My first round opponent shows me a good red-black deck, featuring Hideous End, Marsh Casualties and good creatures, which is more than enough to beat my Zero-Hurda draw in the first game. I go to Paris three times in the second and am never really in the game.

4-3

Primal Bellow
Versions:
Zendikar (Foil)

Round 8: Reinhold Kohl - U/G

The first game takes forever, as I'm racing his Grazing Gladeheart / Frontier Guide combo with some flyers and Surrakar Marauder. Eventually, I slam down a Heartstabber Mosquito to kill his Frontier Guide, but he finds a second one soon after and kills me with a 12/12 Baloth Woodcrasher, pumped by Primal Bellow to trample past my Giant Scorpion for about a million damage.

In the second game, I beat Reinhold down to eight life with some flyers, but he stops my offense with double Sky Ruin Drake and Merfolk Seastalkers. He starts to charge back with a 5/6 Wurm and it seems like the game is lost again. At one point he casts some random creature and passes. I put my hands on my lands, start to make the move to untap them, but before I do so, I remember to ping my opponent for one with Blood Seeker. Reinhold says he's not sure if didn't start my turn already, so we call a judge. After a debate between six judges or so, the ruling is that I get to ping my opponent, because nothing happened since the trigger. My opponent appeals to the head-judge, who gives the same ruling and the only result is that Reinhold is on 7 instead of 8, we have ten extra minutes and I'm as unlikely to kill him as I was ten minutes ago, since he still has total control of the game. Or maybe not. I don't know if it was caused by disrupted concentration or the head judge's ruling, which my opponent might have taken as unjust, but two turns later, he taps down some of my blockers in his mainphase and goes for an all-in attack with one green mana up. I block with everything I have, he casts Primal Bellow, I go to one, untap and swing back for the win. That was very odd. I ask him what happened and he tells me he overlooked one blocker. We run out of time and the match ends in a draw.

4-3-1

Round 9: Lars Dam - B/G

My good cards finally decide to show up and I beat my opponent pretty fast twice with a flurry of Kor Aeronauts, Kor Skyfishers and other assorted critters.

5-3-1

Worlds Draft 2 Adam Koska

Zendikar Draft 2

In the second draft, Johan Sadeghpour feeds me from my right and after I first pick Hideous End, I'm quite surprised to see a Sphinx of Lost Truths in a booster with a missing common. I take that as a signal and also start to be cautious about Black being open, since pretty much the only common I can imagine being taken over a Sphinx is a Hideuos End. However, it seems like Black is quite open with a sixth pick Giant Scorpion, so I end my first booster with an U/B deck with some white cards (Kor Skyfisher I took 3rd over some mediocre black card). Johan ships me more blue gifts in pack three as well, namely Rites of Replication 2nd and 3rd pick. It seems like my deck has a reasonable lategame plan, so now I have to make sure I survive long enough.

I have essentially two options when constructing my deck. Either I can go straight U/B, which means I have to play some sub-par cards like double Cancel and double Spreading Seas, or I can splash White for Kor Skyfisher, Makindi Shieldmate and Kor Cartographer. The second option might sound totally retarded (who would want to splash for cards like that?), but that's what I chose to do in the end and I still believe it was the right way to go. First, I had three Refuges (2 UW, 1 UB) and a Khalni Gem to help fix my mana, so the sources were actually quite ok (9-9-6 with 18 lands and the Gem), second the three white cards might look bad, but they were in fact exactly what my deck needed. Kor Skyfisher is very solid on his own and I had some nice little tricks that combo well with him (Spreading Seas, Kor Cartographer...), Kor Cartographer helped me a lot to accelerate into the 7-mana Sphinx of Lost Truths and 9-mana Rites of Replication (provided I wanted to kick them) and Makindi Shieldmate helped me to stall the ground and boost my two Nimana Sell-Swords. Also, I didn't have to make any big concessions to fit in White - my manabase was still very solid. This is what my final build looked like:

Worlds Draft 2 Adam Koska

Tags: 
White
Blue
Black

This decklist forms part of my latest feature article:

When in Rome... - Worlds Report *9th*

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All in all, I was pretty happy with the deck. It had some removal, good defense and very good late game cards that also do something early on.

Round 10: Saul Agado - U/G

The first game is not very interesting, as I mull to five, get stuck on mana and Saul just walks over me. The second game goes a little longer and I manage to kick Rites of Replication (thanks to a Khalni Gem) to get five 6/6 Umara Raptors. In the decider, he is a little light on mana (and Spreading Seas doesn’t help) and doesn't apply any pressure. When I reach nine mana, I replicate his Territorial Baloth and that's game.

6-3-1

Gigantiform
Versions:
Zendikar (Foil)

Round 11: Johan Sadeghpour - R/G

Johan starts with turn 1 Burst Lightning on my Vampire Lacerator, turn 2 Plated Geopede, turn 3 land + Plated Geopede... and has only two cards left in his hand at this point, because he mulliganed down to five. I play some random 2 toughness guy and he never attacks again with the Plated Geopedes, since he doesn't draw another land. My flyers end the game in short order.

In the second game, it's my turn to be stuck on mana (four lands), but he is flooded quite badly, so I attack with a Niman Sell-Sword, while a 3/6 Makindi Shieldmate holds off his attackers. That is, until I tap out to play a freshly drawn Khalni Gem plus something else and Johan answers with a kicked Gigantiform! He attacks me for 19, I chump with the Makindi Shieldmate to stay out of burn range, untap, kill his two gigantic guys with Hideous End + Paralyzing Grasp and a couple of turns later (and a couple of additional lands for my depressed opponent), my flyers bring it home.

7-3-1

Round 12: Naoki Shimizu - monoBlack

Not much to say here, the first game was a race won by my evasion guys (though he shrinked my kicked Aether Figment with a Vampire Hexmage), in the second game my two Cancels I sided in instead of Hideous End and Spreading Seas proved to be crucial.

8-3-1

Petr finished the day at 5-1, drafting monoRed both times (though with a touch of Black once), Spire Barraging and Zektar-Shrining his opponents all day long. The standings looked really promising after day two, with two Czech players and one Slovak among the first eight places and the Czech national team sharing the first spot with Brazil and Japan in the team competition. What worried me a little, though, was that I still had no idea what to play in Extended. A friend of mine lent me cards for "Rubin-Zoo", but since I had played zero games with this deck (or any Extended deck), I was looking for something faster and dumber. I proxied the Martin Juza version of Zoo, goldfished with it a little and decided to either play it tomorrow, or something else my friends would give me. I've seen Lukáš Jaklovský - member of our national team - play the All in red deck in the team portion of the event and it looked quite stylish, so I set my mind on trying to borrow this deck tomorrow morning and went to sleep.

Extended

After arriving at the site Saturday morning, I was asking around to see if somebody had a better deck to play and fortunately a friend of mine was willing to "trade" his All in red for my Zoo. I didn't hesitate, signed the decklist, tried about five sample hands and went to play my first game ever with this deck. For reference, this is the list:

AIR by Adam Koska

Tags: 
Red
Colors
Artifact8
Hybrid8
Land18
Red26
Converted Mana Cost
08
14
24
314
44
58
Type
Artifact8
Basic Land18
Creature14
Enchantment4
Instant8
Sorcery8

This decklist forms part of my latest feature article:

When in Rome... - Worlds Report *9th*

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Deus in Rome

Round 13: Weng Sheng Wong - Dragonstorm

I keep a six-card hand with a turn 1 Magus of the Moon and hope my opponent doesn't play many basic lands. He goes Steam Vents - UW Storage Land - discard Remand and I'm trying to remember which storm cards didn't rotate out of Extended. One turn later, he draws a third land, sweeps my board of Magus of the Moon and Simian Spirit Guide with a Firespout and two turns later kills me with a Dragonstorm. An interesting moment was when he Peered through Depths for a Ravenous Trap - I gave him an awkward look and he said it was the only card he could take from the Peer... and that he wanted to be prepared against Dredge maindeck. A turn later, he imprints the Trap to Chrome Mox to fuel his lethal Dragonstorm.

I open game two with a first turn Deus of Calamity and think there's no real way to lose this one, but my opponent draws, says "I'm so lucky!" and casts a Rite of Flame into two Lightning Bolts for my Deus. From this point, the game drags on a bit, untill I cast a Demigod, which deals him 15 damage (and bounces back to my hand a couple of times via Echoing Truth). On the last possible turn, he sacrifices his Lotus to play Dragonstorm for one and searches for Karrthus. The Dragon stares down my Demigod for a couple of turns, but I draw a Deus of Calamity and eventually kill him. After the game, I ask him why he didn't search for a Bogardan Hellkite instead of Karrthus, since four swings of a Hellkite was everything it would take to reduce my life total from 20 to 0 with no Demigod standing in its way and he replies he wanted to be able to cast his Hellkites in case he drew them, while he couldn't have cast the Karrthus from hand.

In the third game, I ritual into Deus and this time my opponent doesn't find an answer.

9-3-1

Round 14: Conley Woods - Zoo

Conley seems to be a little startled from the last round, where he lost to Petr, who mulliganed to three to Conley's seven. Conley apparently tries to go for the same trick against me, but stops at five. Nevertheless, I win the die roll, Chalice him for one on the first turn and summon a Demigod on turn two.

Game two, I go to six cards and play a Blood Moon turn two, followed by a Deus. I can't attack, because my opponent already has a Tarmogoyf, Wild Nacatl and a 1/1 Blood Mooned Kird Ape and a higher life total, so we again play a little staring contest (which Conley interrupts with Tribal Flames that take me from 14 to 13). Eventually, I draw a Demigod and get there.

10-3-1

Round 15: Alain Simon Martin - Dredge

I win the first game on the back of a good draw with Empty the Warrens for eight goblins on turn one, but the fact, that my opponent's first six dredged cards are five lands and a Hedron Crab, doesn't hurt either.

In the second game, the probability comes back from vacation and my opponent dredges some business cards this time after Thoughtseizing the only card that actually does something from my hand and leaving me with just a bunch of rituals.

The third game is where things start to get interesting. I mulligan to six and keep a hand of 3x Simian Spirit Guide, Desperate Ritual, Empty the Warrens, Ravenous Trap. Basically, I'm hoping to slow him down with the Trap and pray to kill him with my four goblins without meeting an Echoing Truth. If he has the Truth, I can't really win. He has it and I almost pack it in, but then I decide to wait a couple more minutes and see if there isn't a way out of this corner. My opponent plays a Hedron Crab, Drowned Rusalka and starts to dredge some business cards. Two turns later, he has a reasonably full graveyard, Hedron Crab, Rusalka and a zombie token in play to my two Mountains and two cards in hand. This is where he decides to commit suicide. He sacrifices his only three creatures in play to Dread Return a Flame-Kin Zealot and tries to bring six Zombies into play. One Ravenous Trap later, he has no creatures in play, no graveyard and two cards in hand. I land a Blood Moon, shutting down his non-blue sources and the game comes down to a draw-go mode that eventually ends with me drawing a Deus and riding it to victory.

11-3-1

Round 16: Florian Pils - Scapeshift

Not much to write about here. I get one good draw and then mulligan twice into two mediocre draws, which Florian can handle with ease.

11-4-1

Round 17: Shintarou Ishimura - monoRed Burn

I start the first game (on the play) with a Chalice of the Void for one on turn one and am eager to see if it is a hit or miss. My opponent starts with a Mountain, Mountain Keldon Marauders, so Chalice indeed hurts him quite a lot and I manage to finish him off with a Demigod of Revenge before he draws enough Shrapnel Blasts.

In game two, he is way too fast for my sub-par draw and we go to the rubber game. I open with a turn-two Empty the Warrens for ten tokens and still almost lose to his blazing fast start. Fortunately, he was a couple of points short of killing me before the goblins did him in.

12-4-1

Round 18: Tomoharu Saitou - Zoo

This was a covered feature match that you can find in the official coverage. In the first game, I ritual into ten goblins on turn two and still only win thanks to a topdecked "backup Empty the Warrens" two turns later. In the second game, Saitou ships back his first two hands and has a terrible draw, only casting a Umezawa’s Jitte and Path to Exile for the whole game. You can read in the coverage that after he Paths my first Deus of Calamity, the second and third Deus come to mess with his manabase right after that. What you can't read in the coverage, though, is that the "backup" Dei (is that the plural?) came right from the top of my deck and without them, I was pretty much cold to any Jitte-bearers Saitou would draw (I was only holding Firespout to deal with the first one). How. Incredibly. Lucky.

13-4-1

Well of course, I wasn't that lucky in the end, finishing 9th on tiebreakers and all, so I guess I can call things even right now. At this moment, the two 9th places mean that I can go chase more top9s in San Diego and San Juan (with my level 3 status). In addition, I can still play PTQs for San Juan and Amsterdam and if I manage to cross the 25 points threshold (combined from the 09 and 10 season) until mid-June, I can go to Amsterdam and Chiba as well. It's not like being on the train yet, but it's as close as it gets. I feel like this is my chance to try and find out if I can do well on the tour consistently, if there's a place for me, and I might not be given this chance again in the future. I'll try to stay on the train this season and hopefully pick up a couple more solid finishes to stretch my run to 2011 as well. But for now, that's a distant future and who knows what will happen.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them in the comments.

Cheers

Adam

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