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Summer Championship Finals: A Report (Part III)

September 6, 2012

(This is the third and concluding part of my report about the Summer Championship Finals. You can find part one here, which includes my Standard deck for the event, and part two here.)

After a quick lunch break, it was time to duke it out in the Top8.

Quarterfinals Vs. RUG Ramp

This is another matchup that I didn’t have much experience with as historically I have usually been on the other side of the matchup. However, Sun Titan into a bunch of Phantasmal Images have traditionally been a pretty good plan against Wolf Run so I didn’t feel too scared about facing it here.

My opponent was the same as the guy as I faced in round 7 and apparently I continued to run good against him as he once again was plagued with a couple of mulligans in the first and third game.

He didn’t really do too much scary things in the first game and I could fairly quickly snag the win with some angelic beatdown. Like versus the Heartless Summoning deck I played against in round 6, I took out my Blade Splicers and opted to go for a more controlling route. Winning with quick beats didn’t seem feasible against a deck with a bunch of Thragtusks. Surely, Blade Splicer is pretty good at holding Thragtusks at bay but so are Phantasmal Images. The aforementioned Blade Splicers were cut along with Gut Shots and the Dismember for Day of Judgments, Gideon Jura, Oblivion Ring, Sever the Bloodline, Dissipate and the 4th Phantasmal Image. I thought about bringing in Jace as well but couldn’t really find a card I wanted to cut for it at the time. In hindsight, cutting a Restoration Angel or a Mana Leak would probably have been appropriated.

The second game was looking really good for the longest time. I had a Gideon Jura in play which forced him to make awkward attacks and I had just dropped a Sun Titan on the board. Then suddenly, he miracled a Temporal Mastery AND played a Karn, Liberated on the same turn. Due to the extra turn essentially nullifying the +2 ability of Gideon and double activation of the -3 ability of the Karn left me dead in the water in the blink of an eye.

The third game was much like the second, except I had more copies of Sun Titan on the board and he had started the game on just 5 cards, so it was looking even better. Nevertheless, there was a turn where a miracled Temporal Mastery would yet again doomed me or even if he plucked a Karn could theoretically swung the game around but this time it didn’t happen and I could marsh my titans to victory.

Semifinals Vs. HeroDelver

While Delver is definitely a matchup were you have to really have to play to your best ability to be victorious, I was nevertheless quite content with playing against it. At least I wasn’t in for any surprises…or so I thought.

We didn’t get to look at each others decklist beforehand, but I knew he was on casting Delver of Secrets. What I didn’t know was that he was on version with Hero of Bladehold instead of the more conventional Restoration Angels. This lead me to play game 1 a bit differently than I would have probably done if I knew to expect Hero of Bladeholds.

I had to take a key decision on his turn 3, where he played a Gitaxian Probe for life before making a landdrop for the turn. Here I thought long and hard about just simply Mana Leaking the cantrip. I had a Phantasmal Image in my hand so I wasn’t particularly worried about him playing a land and then a Geist of Saint Thraft, which seemed likely would be his next move. Mana Leaking a cantrip always feels a bit sketchy but I was worried that this might be the last opportunity I would get to play Mana Leak and get some value out of it because he already had a Cavern of Souls in play naming “Human”. In the end I decided that despite letting him know I had a Mana Leak, it was okay as I probably would be able to get an Restoration Angel with it at a later stage. Now, if I had known that he did indeed had Hero of Bladehold in his deck instead of Restoration Angel, I would have just said no to his Gitaxian Probe as that Mana Leak wouldn’t in a million years stop a Hero of Bladehold resolving because he already had that Cavern of Souls in play.

I got to Doom Blade his first Hero of Bladehold that he slammed down on turn 4 but the second one got me.

In the second game I was a bit behind all the time on life totals but the overall game was going pretty well for my side. I had a Blade Splicer beating down while having some answers in hand. It ended up being a really close race with me having lethal damage on the board but he on his final turn managed to play Vapor Snag and then flashing it back off a Snapcaster Mage to deal me the last couple points of damage to do me in.

And like that, my run was over. Losing of course always sucks but I can’t be too disappointed by finishing at third place and collecting the equivalent of roughly 110$ in prize money. It also seemed fitting to lose to a Delver deck as I had “handicapped” my deck a little in this particular matchup beforehand by taking out Lingering Souls and adding the clunky Gideons instead to combat the expected field.

As for the deck goes, I think it preformed admirably. That 2 of my 3 loses with the deck over the course of the weekend was to Delver wasn’t too surprising because of the aforementioned reasons but the matchup really is quite okay. It might also happen to be that some of the best players I faced during the weekend were playing Delver so I reckon that had something to do with the outcome of those matches. I liked the deck and wouldn’t fault anyone for picking up the deck for the remaining few couple of weeks of this Standard format. It’s very interesting to play as it allows you to play each game in many different paths and games rarely ends the same way. Another interesting feature I noticed was the very few people actually knew how to sideboard against me, as they couldn’t really figure out how aggressive or controlling I would play each and every game, so there is that. When it comes down to the wire though I can’t really say with good faith that Esper Midrange is simply better to be playing than say Delver or any other of the tier 1/2 decks right now, but it’s certainly a valid choice in my opinion.

Moving on I would consider dropping Gideon Jura and a Mana Leak from the main deck to fit in 2 copies of Lingering Souls to fight a more normal meta. I would also like to add a second copy of Cavern of Souls in the main, probably in exchange for the Ghost Quarter and then swapping a Glacial Fortress for a Isolated Chapel to accommodate the additional need for black mana. For the sideboard, I would like to fit in an extra copy of Gideon and Jace, but I’m not 100% what I would like to cut. Duress have been the weakest cards in the sideboard from my experience, so those could be cut. That said, with one less Mana Leak in the main deck I would also like to have another counterspell effect in the board, like an additional Dissipate or a Negate…

As for thoughts about the tournament as a whole, clearly I’m very biased in saying this but I really liked the it. It was well organized, there weren’t any delays to speak of and the prize pool was sweet. If there was something I didn’t like was that I felt that the attendance fee for the finals were maybe a bit too expensive (250 SEK which is about 37$). Of course I understand that a higher attendance fee increases the prize pool but I feel like the high fee might have scared away several players who couldn’t justify paying that much to attend to the event, which is a shame if that’s the case.

Not to forget to mention either is the splendid work of the coverage team. Lately Dragon’s Lair have started to stream matches of their bigger events a la Star City Games style, although of course at the moment in a much more budgetized form. You can find their channel on twitch.tv here. If you are reading this fairly soon after publishing, you can probably find archive footage from the event on their channel. If you want to see me play specifically, I was featured during round 2, 9 and the semifinals.

Before wrapping up this report, I’d like to offer a shoutout to Niklas Ramquist, who beat me in the semifinals and eventually ended up taking down the whole event, and to Eskil Myrenberg, who is the guy who has been organizing the whole Summer Championship series and has been the leading drive force behind Magic increasing popularity in Stockholm just in general. Hat off to you, sir!

This report ended up being quite a bit longer than I had originally planned but at least you guys got plenty of stuff to read. I hope you enjoyed it and I’ll catch you guys later.

Bernhard

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