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Grand Prix Calgary 2013 Day 2 Coverage

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The letter S!ix rounds of Standard sounds like such a sweet way to spend a Sunday.

Just over 120 players at Grand Prix Calgary seem to agree, as they return to vie for a Top 8 berth and the rewards that come with it. Jund is leading the way, but aggressive Gruul decks, flashy Blue-Red-White decks, and token-heavy Black-White Humans decks are all putting opponents through their paces.

Five players start the day with pristine 8-0 records—Travis Towns, Stephane Gerard, Melissa DeTora, Ahmad Dhanani and Ryan Zawalsky—but a whole host of players will be looking to knock them off their perch and climb over them on their way to glory. Among those looking to leapfrog the leaders are some pretty dangerous players, including Alexander Hayne, Gaudenis Vidugiris, Matt Nass, Sam Pardee and Jacob Wilson. Every one of them has tasted high level success and each will be looking to leverage that experience today.

Stay tuned all day as we bring you the highlights on the way to the Top 8 and the crowning of the champion of Grand Prix Calgary.













 

  • Day 1 Undefeated Decks

    by Josh Bennett




  • Travis Towns - Black-White Humans
    GP Calgary 2013 - Day 1 Undefeated






     

  • Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • After one day of throwing dozens of deck types against one another, we have a much clearer picture of what decks, strategies and card choices could withstand the mettle of eight rounds of a Grand Prix. With a relatively diverse field in a format recently shaken up by M14, questions abound as to what decks were set to rule the new roost of Standard.

    The answer, it turns out, is Jund.

    After making up about 14 percent of the Day 1 metagame as the most played deck in the field, Jund actually improved on its share of the field for Day 2, clocking in at about 23.7 percent of the players who managed to hit the 18 point threshold. Twenty-nine of the 91 Jund decks made the cut, or very nearly a third of everyone who played the deck. The field as a whole converted closer to 20 percent making the cut to Sunday.

    Jund wasn't the only deck to improve its standings after the first eight rounds, but before we dive into the rest of the numbers, here's the full field by archetype playing today.


    Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

    As you can see, the top of the chart looks relatively similar to the top of the Day 1 metagame with one pretty big exception: BW Humans fell off the face of the earth, going from 23 copies on Day 1, or nearly 4 percent of the field, to just two copies on Day 2. Granted, one player with BW Humans did manage to go 8-0, but that's a pretty steep drop-off for a deck that had a lot of hype coming into the weekend.

    Also notice that Bant Hexproof improved on its showing from Day 1 as well, going from just under 8 percent of the field to nearly 11.5 percent. With 14 copies playing today, Bant Hexproof put about 29 percent of its players into Day 2, a conversion percentage nearly as good as Jund's.

    Gruul, meanwhile, stayed pretty steady at about 9 percent of the metagame, while UWR Flash had a slight uptick from 5 percent (34 copies) to just over 7 percent (9 copies) on Day 2. Its 26 percent conversion percentage was also above average.

    A few notes before moving on to the bigger picture. The Aristocrats is actually a pretty diverse moniker. In this instance, I used it to refer to any White/Black/Red deck with Cartel Aristocrats, Doomed Traveler, and Tragic Slip, but the differences ended there. Some utilized Xathrid Necromancer, some did not. Some had Falkenrath Aristocrats, some did not. Some had Boros Reckoner and Blasphemous Act, some did not. And one enterprising fellow paired his Xathrid Necromancer and Blood Artist with Thatcher's Revolt. For a deck with just five copies on Day 2, that's a lot of significant variety to how the decks actually play out, despite sharing a theme and colors.

    A few other random observations: The Nearly Mono Black decks are very similar, splashing Green for Scavenging Ooze and Thragtusk, while using Disciple of Bolas, Mutilate, and Desecration Demon. There weren't many of these in the field on Day 1, so the fact that two made Day 2 is significant.

    Also, Junk Aristocrats, once the darling of the format, only had one player make Day 2 despite eight players playing it on Day 1.

    Now let's look at the top archetypes versus the field. Yesterday we drew the line at 15 copies played out of the field of 615, or about 2.5 percent of the field to qualify. That line today would put it at all decks with three copies, but gives us a dozen or so decks. So, to keep things simpler, I took the top five archetypes against the field, which conveniently provided a significant dropoff in number played. So the top five archetypes versus the field would look like this:

    Jund Midrange 29
    Bant Hexproof 14
    Gruul Aggro 12
    Naya Midrange 11
    UWR Flash 9
    Everything else 47


    Here we see a major shift from Day 1, where "Everything else" made up more than half the decks in the field, even against counting the top nine archetypes. After winnowing things down, we now have a metagame that is more than 60 percent covered by just the top 5 major archetypes.

    Jund Midrange, Bant Hexproof, Gruul Aggro, Naya Midrange, and UWR Flash—meet your new Standard overlords.

    This week at least.




     

  • Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – Quick Question: What M14 card has impressed you the most this weekend?

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • Gaudenis Vidugiris: Probably the Kalonian Hydra. It kills really quickly. It's a two-turn clock out of a five-drop.
    Melissa DeTora: Xathrid Necromancer. I think that Black-White deck is really bad, but if it draws the Necromancer, it's unbeatable.
    Sam Pardee: Probably Scavenging Ooze. It's very versatile, it's a must kill threat, and against some decks it's completely insane.
    Jacob Wilson: Scavenging Ooze. There're a lot of cards that involve the graveyard, and it's big by itself.
    Matt Nass: Primeval Bounty if you remember the triggers. Enchantments aren't easy to deal with, especially in the Jund Mirror.
    Alexander Hayne: Mutavault. It has won me a couple matches. It's good defensively and aggressively, and it often trades a land for a real card.



     

  • Round 10 Feature Match - Travis Towns vs. Ahmad Dhanani

    by Josh Bennett

  • Towns's Humans Defeat Dhanani and the Boogeyman 2-1

    In Brief

    In game one, Towns Black-White Humans could only watch helplessly as Dhanani, playing Jund, flipped and reflipped two Huntmasters of the Fells. He summed it up saying "Too many monsters, too little removal" as an army of wolves marched over his depleted forces. That proved to be the story for Dhanani in game three, after dropping a quick game two to mana troubles. He had Ooze and Huntmaster, but no Bonfire of the Damned to deal with a swarm of tokens.

    The Match

    Dhanani was on the play, and got the jump on things with a turn-two Farseek. That let him drop Huntmaster of the Fells on turn three, roadblocking Towns's opening of Doomed Traveler, Gather the Townsfolk. Towns played a Champion of the Parish and another Gather, but Dhanani had a second Huntmaster. Towns not only had no removal, he still didn't have black mana. He spilled out more creatures, making his Champion a 5/5 and hitting Dhanani to fourteen. All Dhanani needed to do was pass his turn and flip both his Huntmasters. He killed off two smaller monsters then finished the big Champion with Tragic Slip. He flipped them back with Rakdos's Return for one and Liliana of the Veil, getting still more wolves. Towns's swamp showed up too late, getting him Xathrid Necromancer that was simply killed by the Huntmasters. Kessig Wolf Run ended things in a hurry from there.


    Travis Towns

    The second game was a mana struggle for Dhanani. He had a pair of Blood Crypts and a Dreadbore for Champion of the Parish, but nothing else. He watched as Towns marched over with a pair of Cartel Aristocrats that were backed up by double Blood Artist. Bonfire of the Damned off the top only cleared out the small fry and cost Dhanani four more life.

    Dhanani mulliganed to start, and after a turn-two Scavenging Ooze and a Dreadbore on Champion of the Parish missed his fourth land drop. Towns played Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and gave himself an emblem, letting his Cartel Aristocrat attack past the 3/3 Ooze. Dhanani hit his land to get out Huntmaster of the Fells and secure the ground, but Towns had Lingering Souls to get himself four 2/1 fliers. Dhanani needed Bonfire of the Damned urgently, but his deck refused to co-operate. He flipped his Huntmaster and killed off Sorin and a flier but took nine from Towns's next attack. Another miss on Bonfire and he was done.


    Ahmad Dhanani

    Towns on Humans

    Black-White Humans jumped into the Standard discussion following AJ Sacher's win at the SCG Standard Open in Richmond. I asked Towns why he went with his specific build of it, and about the matchup against Jund. "The deck has a lot of really powerful starts. I looked at a lot of different versions, and the biggest difference I saw was playing either Skirsdag High Priest or Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, and Sorin's just more powerful. Against Jund, your biggest problems are Olivia Voldaren and Bonfire of the Damned, but even Bonfire's not so bad so long as you don't have to overextend." I asked him about his choice of only a single Intangible Virtue. "The thing about Virtue is that it's bad in multiples. The first one's good, but you really don't want to draw more than one, and it doesn't work with all your cards. In most cases, Sorin is just better."

    Dhanani on Jund

    I asked Dhanani about his choice of Jund this weekend, and what cards he considered important for the maindeck. He laughed at this, saying "I mean, obviously the most important card is Farseek. But the thing about Jund, the reason I think it's such a good deck, is its sideboard. I think it has the best sideboard of all the decks out there. Game one you're pretty good against most decks, but after sideboarding you get these very powerful answers and your deck becomes this targetted machine to defeat your opponent."




     

  • Round 11 Feature Match - Ryan Zawalsky vs. Travis Towns

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • Mulling to 5 in games two and three isn't typically the recipe for continuing your run as the only undefeated player left in the tournament.

    Olivia Voldaren, on the other hand, very much is.

    Thanks to three copies of the legendary vampire in game three, Ryan Zawalsky finds himself alone atop the standings after Round 11, narrowly holding off Travis Towns and "that human deck that's been taking all these other decks down all weekend," as Zawalksy put it.

    Now, it's all but one.


    Ryan Zawalsky stands alone atop the standings after Round 11

    Zawalsky, who has been playing a fairly standard Midrange Jund deck all weekend, took the first game with relative ease. Towns, who has waded through several Jund decks to get to where he was, had a slow start to the match when his double Doom Traveler Mutavault start was quickly overshadowed by Huntmaster of the Fells, Bonfire of the Damned, and a pair of Thragtusks.

    The game was not close.

    In the second game, Zawalsky was punished for his embarrassment of riches in the first game when he mulled to five.

    Those five cards? Two lands, Farseek, Huntmaster of the Fells and Olivia Voldaren. Basically, the nuts against Towns. He even drew the fourth land immediately.

    However, Towns draw wasn't bad either. He gathered some townsfolk and cast a Lingering Souls to flood the board with tokens, all of which were pumped by a Sorin, Lord of Innistrad emblem. He looked like he might even be able to fight through Olivia.

    Then Rakdos's Returned cleared out Towns' hand and killed Sorin. Things looked grim.

    But Towns had a fortunate draw of his own with Intangible Virtue. From there, the flashbacks on two Lingering Souls (one was discarded to Rakdos's Return) were enough to sneak past for lethal.

    For the final game, Zawalsky was, once again, forced to mull to five cards. Once again, he found himself rewarded for throwing back his first two hands when he saw two lands, Farseek, Olivia Voldaren and Tragic Slip staring back at him.

    This time, he missed on his fourth land for a turn and was forced to take some damage. He did, however, draw a second Olivia, allowing him to trade the first for a 4/3 Champion of the Parish to save some life.

    Tragic Slip, alongside some suicidal Lingering Souls tokens, took care of the second Olivia and made it look like Towns would continue his streak with the underappreciated WB Humans deck.

    But then Zawalksy drew the third Olivia Voldaren.


    It's the third Olivia Voldaren that kills you, as Travis Towns now knows all too well.

    "Wow," was all Towns could muster. He had an early lead, but he had drawn air and no way to handle the third copy of the legend.

    Sill, Zawalsky was empty handed and extremely low on life. It was conceivable even Olivia might not be enough.

    But his deck wasn't done rewarding him just yet, as Thragtusk leapt onto the battlefield and pushed Zawalsky up to a relatively safe seven life.

    A few attacks later, and Ryan Zawalsky stood as the last player with a zero in his loss column.




     

  • Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – Nearly Mono Black with Trent Douglas

    by Blake Rasmussen

  • I happened to be looking for Jacob Wilson to ask him a question, so I started wandering the floor looking for him. He was still playing, so I scoped out his table number, and walked over to bird his match. I can't say I exactly expected what I saw.

    Wilson was struggling under the thumb of a Primeval Bounty, a limited bomb, to be sure, but not anything I had heard anyone talking about coming into the weekend.

    The player piloting the six-mana enchantment was a first-time Grand Prix player named Trent Douglass out of Alberta, Canada, but at 8-1 at the time, he was proving he was no slouch.


    Nearly Mono Black brought Trent Douglass all the way to 10-2 after 12 rounds.

    And when he finished off Wilson that round and Melissa DeTora the following round with his take on Nearly Mono Black—splashing a few choice Green cards—I knew we had to sit down and talk to him about his deck.

    The deck started as many Mono Black decks do, as a way to take advantage of Corrupt and Mutilate. Though only Mutilate made the final cut, the deck has retained its nearly-mono black flavor all the way to the top of the Grand Prix standings.

    Tuned along with his friends Rob Biggs and Ori Hommy, the deck splashes for Thragtusk, Abrupt Decay, Scavenging Ooze and Vraska the Unseen in the main, with several choice splashes out of the sideboard, including the aforementioned Primeval Bounty.

    It also includes the super combo of Thragtusk and Disciple of Bolas, a pairing that received a lot of press coming out of M13, but never lived up to its billing. Scavenging Ooze and Desecration Demon also don't mind getting sacrificed to Bolas' less-played acolyte from M13.


    In fact, Douglas credited one of his game wins over Wilson to a Disciple of Bolas actually outdrawing Wilson's Sphinx's Revelation.

    The Lifebane Zomies also helped the archetype out in M14, offering Douglas another way to deal with Thragtusks, but also important information as well as an unblockable threat. In his round against DeTora, he was hit by a Rakdos's Return that left both he and DeTora with just one card in hand.

    His was a Lifebane Zombie. Hers was a Thragtusk. He won that battle.

    After those major players made the deck, the group of friends fine tuned the list. Vraska the Unseen was their "catch all" in the first week of a new set, Abrupt Decay replaced a few Doom Blades, and what was a pair of Deadbridge Chants became Primeval Bounty when they found Chant underperforming.

    The rest, so far, is Grand Prix history. At 10-2 Douglas still has some work to do, but is very well positioned to make a run at the Top 8. He lost in Round 12 to a Gruul Aggro deck, and lost in resounding fashion. Given the number of those decks here and in contention this weekend, that could bode ill for the Alberta native.

    But even if he falls just short, this list is going to inspire a lot of Mono Black aficionados the world over.





     

  • Round 13 Feature Match - Jacob Wilson vs. Marinko Pavic

    by Josh Bennett

  • Pavic started things of Farseeking into Temple Garden. wilson's Augur of Bolas got him a Supreme Verdict, and Pavic took the opportunity to stick a voice of Resurgence. Wilson mainphased Think Twice, played an island and passed. Pavic resolved Garruk Relentless and wasted no time killing the Augur and flipping him into Garruk, the Veil Cursed. Another island and a mainphase Restoration Angel from Wilson, who was stuck with just one white mana.

    Pavic sacrificed his Voice to Garruk, tutoring up a Thragtusk and summoning it. Wilson played yet another island and killed Garruk with his Angel. This gave Pavic a window to swing in. He first played Gavony Township and Voice of Resurgence. This forced Wilson to tap out for a Sphinx's Revelation for three. Pavic hit for eight thanks to the Township, leaving Wilson at 11. Wilson hit back in the air for three before casting Supreme Verdict, but between Voice and Thragtusk it didn't sting as much as it could have. Another Township activation and an attack, and Wilson was down to just four.


    Marinko Pavic

    He fought hard to stay alive. Detention Sphere on the Beast Token and Ghost Quarter for the Township. Azorius Charm for the Voice token. But Pavic had Scavenging Ooze that quickly grew to 4/4 and Wilson was running short on cards. He used Restoration Angel as a Fog, and had to counter a lethal Bonfire of the Damned. Pavic simply miracled a second one off the top the following turn.

    Pavic 1 - Wilson 0

    Wilson mulliganed for game two, but faced no opposition until Pavic answered his fourth-turn Jace, Architect of Thought with Advent of the Wurm. Augur of Bolas soaked a hit to keep Jace around, and Pavic played Thragtusk. Wilson minused Jace and got to take land and Restoration Angel over Ætherling. Supreme Verdict left Pavic with just a beast token.

    Pavic miracled a Bonfire of the Damned for 4, and killed Jace with his beast token. The following turn he added Voice of Resurgence. Wilson responded with Restoration Angel. Pavic added Scavenging Ooze and passed. With the Angel in play, Pavic was forced to add more to his board, and soon he made a replacement Thragtusk.

    That turned out poorly for him, as Wilson had Clone in hand. He Cloned the Thragtusk, and then got to flicker it with Restoration Angel. The extra time allowed him to Supreme Verdict and then Revelation for five. That was soon followed by a Revelation for six and another Supreme Verdict to clear out Huntmaster of the Fells and Thundermaw Hellkite. His hand was simply too stacked for Pavic to fight. Still, the game took a long time, as Wilson dug and dug until he could find Ætherling.

    Pavic 1 - Wilson 1

    The clock was running down as they settled in for the final game. Pavic was the first to look at his opening hand, and couldn't stifle a grimace. He thought briefly, then nodded. Wilson was in the same boat. He was staring at a hand of two islands, two Augur of Bolas, Think Twice, Terminus and Azorius Charm. He thought hard, and with a shake of his head sent the hand back.

    I asked him about this decision afterwards. "I asked all my friends, and every one of them said they'd keep. I couldn't, though. This deck has a lot of card draw and hitting your lands is so important; I mulligan pretty aggressively. I've been down to five many times this tourney. I'd rather have a hand of five lands than that hand."

    He drew up his six, and had to send them back almost immediately: two land and no blue. He stayed on five, and they were off. Pavic led with a pair of Temple Gardens into a late Farseek on turn three, which Wilson Syncopated. He had no third land. This gave Wilson a chance do draw out of his predicament. He cycled Azorius Charm but had no fourht land.


    Jacob Wilson

    Pavic found Stomping Ground and used it to summon Loxodon Smiter. Still no play from Wilson, who took four and watched Pavic add another Smiter to the table. Wilson's deck took pity on him and served up the crucial fourth land for Supreme Verdict. Pavic replaced them with Boros Reckoner, which traded for Restoration Angel on his next attack. Wilson had continued to draw lands, and while Pavic was playing Scavenging Ooze, Wilson summoned an Ætherling.

    The Ooze was quickly 5/5 and attacking, and joined by another Reckoner, but Wilson was free to exile his Ætherling after combat and play another Supreme Verdict. Pavic still wasn't out of gas. He summoned Thragtusk. Wilson Cloned his Ætherling. Now he was free to block, then flicker and turn it into a Thragtusk. Time was called, but with two Detention Sphere in hand, Wilson easily finished Pavic off.

    Jacob Wilson defeats Marinko Pavic 2-1




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