For one of the "Quick Interview" questions that appears on the front page of the coverage, I asked several pros what the "third best" deck in Odyssey
Block Constructed was. The assumption was that mono-black and blue/green were the two best decks, but what was the third? Several people answered some version of green/white, others said aggro black/blue, and a few even named combo-ish decks like Solitary Confinement
's Wake/Time Stretch
But was none of them said was blue/white Birds. Bird decks have been kicked around on the Internet ever since Judgment was released, mostly due to the cards Battle Screech and Soulcatchers' Aerie. But Scandinavia's top pro Magic team, Team Punisher, has come up with the best version of the deck to date—a version without the Aerie.
The deck was originally designed by Jussi Pekala and Mattias Jorstedt, and Jorstedt won a PTQ with it in Sweden, going 9-1 over the course of the tournament. The other Scandinavians were so impressed with the deck that they are playing it at Worlds; all three members of the Finnish team are running it, as are all three members of the Swedish team, plus Jens Thoren and Australian Rob Nadebaum, who was one of Punisher's playtest partners.
The deck certainly worked. Tomi Walamies went 6-0 with it, Finland's Tuomas Kotiranta used it to cinch a Top 8 spot, and Anton Jonsson was one win away from the Top 8, and had he used his Spurnmage Advocates correctly against Ken Krouner, he would have pulled it off.
Walamies shared his thoughts on the deck. "The Spurnmage Advocate
s let you beat green/blue, almost by themselves. You just win in the air. And against black, you get to be the control deck because you have Deep Analysis
. It's like Counter-Rebel in that way. One Divine Sacrament
is enough to keep the pressure on black to force them to kill whatever creature you play. We expect to be able to win 60% of our matches, which no other deck in the format can claim."
Quiet Speculation offers some interesting choices—Deep Analysis for cards, Battle Screech for creatures, or Prismatic Strands for damage prevention. The Strands are vital to winning races, and are basically more versatile versions of Moment's Peace.
The most interesting card in the sideboard is Sphere of Truth, which is only good against the mirror. "We thought everyone would have this deck," said Walamies, "If you practiced, you would have seen how good it was."
So how did they do? Overall, only about 50/50. While that may not be the percentage they were after, it at least shows that their deck is on par with the two juggernauts of the format, mono-black and blue/green.
Below are Walamies' and Jonsson's versions of the deck. Jonsson eschewed main-deck Envelops and went with Breakthrough instead to get threshold faster. Their sideboards also differ by a few cards.
Worlds 2002 (OBC): U/W Quiet Speculation
2002 Worlds (OBC): W/U Speculation