osh Rider was two of this tournament's pleasant surprises. The first was that he showed up and played. Despite being only one year removed from the glory of being the Canadian National Champion, Josh has found that between school and other demands on his time, he has had precious little of that commodity left for Magic. Josh is one of the most endearing personalities on (or off) the Pro Tour and it is always good times to have him around.
The other pleasant surprise has been his blue/red control deck that he is hoping will be renamed Cheesequake. "We passed the town of Cheesequake coming here and that seemed odd enough that I wanted it to be the deck name." Yes, as if there weren't enough things about New Jersey to make fun of, it also has a town that is inexplicable named Cheesequake.
"Actually, I just call the deck blue/red control," grinned the affable Canadian.
The deck's origins actually go back to GP Orlando, when Mark Zadjner and Andrew Pacifico both made Day Two with the unusual construct that has good match-ups against Affinity and Big Red--although not always in Game 1.
"Half of the deck is good against Affinity and the other half is good against Big Red. Unfortunately if you draw the wrong half, Game 1 can be challenging. You are feel very good in games two and three."
To put in old school terms, the deck plays like Rack-Vise. Rider laughed, "You just side out Rack or Black Vise based on which deck you are playing."
After his just-out-of-the-money-finish in Orlando, Zadjner made some alterations to the deck and piloted it to a Top 4 finish at a PTQ in Montreal last week. He gave the list to Rider (and a couple of other Canadian players) on Tuesday, Rider borrowed the cards on Thursday, and on Sunday morning he was one of only four, out of close to a thousand players, to finish with undefeated records. He took his first loss of the weekend against Eugene Harvey in the eleventh round when he double mulliganed and mulliganed again in Game 2 against the TOGIT Affinity deck.
The deck has been much maligned all weekend by the top Pros and they have not been shy about letting Josh know what they think of his deck. Kai Budde watched the match with a skeptical gaze. After it concluded, he picked up the deck and flipped through with a sneer and quickly put it back down with a shudder. Antonino DeRosa has rarely passed up on an opportunity to bash the deck. "That deck is sooooooo bad. I played Mark like fifteen games in Orlando and I think I went 13-2. It is very bad."
Despite the criticism, JoshR was still upbeat about the deck, "Why wouldn't I be? I am 9-1-1. A lot of people are going to owe me apologies." He was not as upbeat to hear that countryman Jesse Moulton won another round playing the almost identical list.
"He cut a land to play a Megatog--a six casting cost guy--and I double mulligan?"
Josh Rider - 8-0-1 record Day One
Mirrodin Block Constructed