gpdet13

McClain's Pod Plays Cop in Detroit

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The letter W!ith a deck built to be part machine, part creature, and all combo, Josh McClain brought a third victory for the Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Birthing Pod deck in as many Grand Prix. After falling in defeat to Reid Duke in the finals of Grand Prix Miami, McClain had his revenge and policed the Jund menace that put six decks into the Top 8. While Melira-Pod was a constant threat throughout the weekend, it was only at the end of the event it mattered most.

Duke's Jund was one of many flavors found over the weekend, and the dominating presence of Deathrite Shaman and Lightning Bolt was felt throughout. Modern is a format alive with diversity. Day 2 alone featured thirty-seven different types of decks, with those among the top tables drifting from combo to control to midrange and back again. In the end it was Jund that took the most top slots the longest despite Melira-Pod's final performance.

As we move on from Detroit, we know it won't be long for amazing Magic to happen again. With the Theros Prerelease and release events coming soon, everyone can get in on the action. After that, we'll revisit Modern in Oklahoma City to find out if Theros can push new decks to the top of the format.

Farewell from Detroit. We'll see you next time!




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Adam Jansen   Ben Moir, 2-0        
8 Ben Moir   Reid Duke, 2-0
       
4 Reid Duke   Reid Duke, 2-0   Josh McClain, 2-1
5 Marcelino Freeman    
       
2 Alex Majlaton   Josh McClain, 2-1
7 Josh McClain   Josh McClain, 2-0
       
3 Ben Stark   Ben Stark, 2-1
6 Willy Edel    








EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION

  • by Adam Styborski
    Top 5 Cards
    Of GP Detroit

  • by Marc Calderaro
    Finals
    Josh McClain (Melira-Pod) vs. Reid Duke (Jund): The Revenge

  • by Adam Styborski
    Semifinals
    Reid Duke (Jund) vs. Ben Moir (Jund)

  • by Marc Calderaro
    Semifinals
    Josh McClain (Melira-Pod) vs. Ben Stark (Jund)

  • by Adam Styborski
    Quarterfinals
    Adam Jansen (Jund) vs. Ben Moir (Jund splashing White)

  • by Marc Calderaro
    Quarterfinals
    Josh McClain (Melira-Pod) vs. Alex Majlaton (Affinity)

  • by Marc Calderaro
    Quarterfinals
    Marcelino Freeman (GB Rock) vs. Reid Duke (Jund)

  • by Adam Styborski
    Quarterfinals
    Ben Stark (Jund) vs. Willy Edel (GB Rock)

  • by Adam Styborski
    Top 8
    Profiles

  • by Marc Calderaro
    Top 8
    Decklists

  • by Adam Styborski
    Top 16
    Decklists

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1 Blog
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet
 1.  Josh McClain $3,500
 2.  Reid Duke $2,300
 3.  Ben Moir $1,500
 4.  Ben Stark $1,500
 5.  Adan Jansen $1,000
 6.  Alex Majlaton $1,000
 7.  Marcelino Free $1,000
 8.  Willy Edel $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Top 16 Decklists

    by Adam Styborski








  • David Caplan - Splinter Twin
    Modern




     

  • Top 8 Decklists

    by Marc Calderaro











  •  

  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Adam Styborski


  • Benjamin Moir

    Age: 18
    Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Being better than William Blondon

    What deck are you playing?
    Ajundi

    Why did you choose it?
    Only deck I've played with in Modern

    Is there anything you would change about your deck this weekend?
    More Chandra, Pyromaster. One wasn't enough.

    What's the most exciting thing about Theros you've seen so far?
    Magma Jet




    Reid Duke

    Age: 24
    Hometown: Sugar Loaf, New York
    Occupation: MTG


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Seven previous Grand Prix Top 8s - two wins. 2011 Magic Online Champion.

    What deck are you playing?
    Chandra Jund

    Why did you choose it?
    No clear weaknesses; I have experience and enjoy playing with it; I was excited to play with Chandra, Pyromaster.

    Is there anything you would change about your deck this weekend?
    I would prepare more for BGx mirrors.

    What's the most exciting thing about Theros you've seen so far?
    The Gods!




    Adam Jansen

    Age: 32
    Hometown: Zion, Illinois
    Occupation: Diener


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Junior Division Pro Tour Top 8SCG Legacy Open Winner

    What deck are you playing?
    Jund

    Why did you choose it?
    It was reasonable matchups against the field

    Is there anything you would change about your deck this weekend?
    No

    What's the most exciting thing about Theros you've seen so far?
    Murderbore [Hero's Downfall]




    Josh McClain

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa
    Occupation: Student


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Grand Prix Miami, Second place

    What deck are you playing?
    Melira-Pod

    Why did you choose it?
    I've been playing Melira-Pod since Grand Prix Lincoln, so it's the deck I am most comfortable with.

    Is there anything you would change about your deck this weekend?
    I would try and find room for Linvala, Keeper of Silence main.

    What's the most exciting thing about Theros you've seen so far?
    The red god card. [Purphoros, God of the Forge]




    Alex Majlaton

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Lanham, Maryland
    Occupation: Statistician


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Five other Grand Prix Top 8s

    What deck are you playing?
    Affinity

    Why did you choose it?
    I never tried it before and it looked fun!

    Is there anything you would change about your deck this weekend?
    I would add more burn because it's kinda cold in the D.

    What's the most exciting thing about Theros you've seen so far?
    Magma Jet and the new mini Magma Jet.




    Marcelino Freeman

    Age: 25
    Hometown: Puebla, Mexico
    Occupation: Transfer Pricing Project Manager


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Won my national in 2010 and some PTQs

    What deck are you playing?
    GB Rock

    Why did you choose it?
    I tested it online, my friend Daniel Romes showed me the list (thanks!) and my Zubera team helped to tune some aspects of it.

    Is there anything you would change about your deck this weekend?
    A fourth Scavenging Ooze

    What's the most exciting thing about Theros you've seen so far?
    The Hammer of the Red God; I forget the name. [Hammer of Purphoros]




    Ben Stark

    Age: 29
    Hometown: Tamarac, FL
    Occupation:


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Winner Pro Tour Paris, Grand Prix Indianapolis; 4 Pro Tour Top 8s, 12 Grand Prix Top 8s, Pro Tour Hall of Fame-elect

    What deck are you playing?
    Jund. It's the best deck in Modern.

    Why did you choose it?
    (See above.)

    Is there anything you would change about your deck this weekend?
    I would sideboard more removal, but my list is good. Probably 1 Terminate and 1 Deathmark

    What's the most exciting thing about Theros you've seen so far?
    Two common bounce spells and Divine Verdict.




    Willy Edel

    Age: 34
    Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Occupation: Store Owner

    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    4 Pro Tour Top 8, 6 grand Prix Top 8, 5 Nationals Top 8, World Team Top 8

    What deck are you playing?
    BG (Rock)

    Why did you choose it?
    It didn't have any real bad matchups (besides Affinity), and it's great against RWU and Tron, which I think would be the two more popular decks.

    Is there anything you would change about your deck this weekend?
    One more Gaze of Granite in the sideboard. The card is great.

    What's the most exciting thing about Theros you've seen so far?
    My new God of devotion, Purphoros, God of the Forge.




     

  • Quarterfinals - Ben Stark (Jund) vs. Willy Edel (GB Rock)

    by Adam Styborski

  • Both Ben Stark and Willy Edel are used to the Grand Prix spotlight. Playing among the top tables all weekend, each being featured in matches during regular round, both players were prepared to battle. After playing it out in the last round, they faced each other again. Edel won that encounter, and he'd have to do it again to press onward for a Grand Prix title.

    It's a feather in Edel's cap to take a Grand Prix title from underneath a Pro Tour Hall of Fame-elect.

    Stark had brought Jund to ensure he had a consistently powerful deck to disrupt opponents. Edel has likewise done the same with green-black rock. Both had their plan: take out the opponent's valuable resources, and slowly climb into the dominant position.

    It would be less of an uphill battle for one than expected.

    Game 1

    With a first turn Deathrite Shaman, Edel ramped his way through Scavenging Ooze and several discard spells to keep Stark off of any action. It's a game over in the blink of an eye.

    Ben Stark 0 - Willy Edel 1

    Game 2


    Ben Stark

    Although Stark aggressively cast two copies of Thoughtseize against Edel, the Brazilian found ways to keep Stark's creatures off the board. It prevented an early Deathrite Shaman and Dark Confidant from doing their job. Although initially short on lands for a few turns, Stark begins to eat away at the graveyards thanks to Scavenging Ooze and a steady stream of removal. Without enough blockers to bar the way, Edel quickly fell.

    Ben Stark 1 - Willy Edel 1

    Game 3

    The final game played out much like the second.

    "You just drew too many lands," Stark said as Edel extended the handshake.


    There was often little Edel could do against Stark's advances.

    Like before, there was the usual give and take of creatures and removal, but while Stark's removal kept feeding his Scavenging Ooze, Edel failed to find the lethal spells or blockers to stop the onslaught.

    A humble Lightning Bolt cleared the way for Stark's finishing Scavenging Ooze.

    "It's the second time that's happened like that," Edel sahred, talking about an earlier loss.

    "You already had a lot of removal, but you should draw an Ooze or a Goyf and it's a good game there. Draw a Bob and a Goyf and it's a very good game there," Stark said.

    Edel just shrugged in agreement

    Ben Stark 2 - Willy Edel 1




     

  • Quarterfinals - Marcelino Freeman (GB Rock) vs. Reid Duke (Jund)

    by Marc Calderaro

  • Marcelino Freeman had made his first Grand Prix Top 8. As one of the preeminent players in Latin America, Freeman had come close to this point but this was a first for him. And though he was qualified for Pro Tour Theros, this second qualification was very big for me. But this ascension into international Magician status, was met head on by the new reigning king of international wizardry, Reid Duke. Duke's preeminence preceded him, and with his calm, even tones he was a presence in the match. Freeman was hoping to get his name even higher, but over-coming Reid proved too strong challenge today. And it was even harder because of a deck technicality that started Freeman from behind.


    Marcelino Freeman

    This entire year Reid Duke has been an unstoppable force, and though the Mexican national tried to overcome it, Duke calmly dispatched of the rising player. Duke said the GB matchup, is generally favorable for him, though there is only so much you can do in this much of a mirror match. How Duke said, "the Lightning Bolts make a huge difference." Freeman had to agree; his deck was replete with land destruction, but in this matchup that was not as much of an advantage as in others.

    Freeman played the control—playing removal and discard to blunt Duke's multi-Tarmogoyf assault. Thanks to Inquisition of Kozilek, he had a good idea of what he was facing—Blightning, Lightning Bolt, Deathrite Shaman, and Tarmogoyf. The most important turn for Freeman was when he decided to go on the assault and flip the script. He cast Scavenging Ooze and Dark Confidant to join his Liliana of the Veil, leaving him hellbent. He placed his elbows on the table.


    Reid Duke

    The scores were tied 16 a piece, and Freeman was nervous staring down the two cards left in Duke's hand. And one of those cards was Reid Duke's signature Jund flourish—Chandra, Pyromaster. It took down the Bob, and helped Tarmogoyf kill Freeman's Liliana. Freeman's counter-assault had been countered as well.

    The two traded blows back and forth after that; the board went back to empty repeatedly as did the players' hands—removal and discard from both decks can do that to a board state. Deathrite Shamans from both players sent the life totals up and down. But it was the Pyromaster, that only lived for a few precious turns that turn Freeman's offensive gamble into a suicide squeeze, and Reid Duke was able to take the match fairly easily from that moment.

    Reid Duke advances to the Semifinals 2-0.




     

  • Quarterfinals - Josh McClain (Melira-Pod) vs. Alex Majlaton (Affinity)

    by Marc Calderaro

  • These two decks are the pacers cars of the format. Affinity has the fastest consistent natural clock, and was Alex Majlaton's specialty. Melira-Pod is the pacer of intelligence. When playing against it, you have to know inside-and-out what the deck is capable of and when it can win from seemingly nowhere. If you don't keep up, you can lose without even knowing it. And it can also combo out turn three, which is just about Affinity's best clock. Here, both decks showcased their prowess in the first two games and it was the third grinding slog that dragged both players through the mud and tested each player's meddle.

    As Alex Majlaton perused his opponent's decklist, he asked "So, Josh, is my handwriting all right?" He smiled. Majlaton had been joking most of the weekend because he had been running hot the whole time. In his player profile he wrote that he played Affinity because he'd "just picked it up and thought it looked fun." Anyone who knows Alex Majlaton is aware that three of his five Grand Prix Top 8s are due to him playing Affinity. This isn't close to his first rodeo. But this is a difficult matchup for him. As Majlaton admits, "the only easy way to win is a Cranial Plating on Etched Champion," he continued that after the board, Lingering Souls from the Pod deck can easily spell his doom.


    Alex Majlaton

    The first game was the showcase of Melira-Pod. From the opening hand with the turn-three infinite-life combo, it would have been hard for him to lose. "Ready to rock?" Majlaton asked. Josh McClain tried to contain his enthusiasm. Majlaton came out of the gates quickly, but McClain went Deathrite Shaman, then Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Viscera Seer turn two, and a Birthing Pod turn three. Majlaton just shrugged and shuffled for the second game.

    In game two it was Alex Majlaton's turn to show off. He opened with a Thoughtseize and saw he had some breathing room for his robots to work their mojo. Nothing impeded his Cranial Plating on an Inkmoth Nexus, and as quickly as the first game had ended, the second game had evened the scores.

    "Now this one's going to be the marathon," said Majlaton. And he was right. This game was back and forth as Majlaton strained hard to outrace, then keep pace with the Melira-Pod on the defensive. Though Majlaton drew multiple business spells, the Melira-Pod deck blunted the early assault and then just took its time, keeping adding creatures to the board, and overwhelmed the brown deck.


    Josh McClain

    The two turns that won the game for McClain was when on turn three he cast Harmonic Sliver to kill a Steel Overseer, then made two tokens Lingering Souls to stop two Vault Skirge with a ready-and-willing Cranial Plating. Without the Overseer, the Skirges could not survive attacking into 1/1 flyers. McClain had successfully stopped the robot onslaught (or "robonslaught"). The rest was just finding a way to win.

    With a deck full of creatures, that was fairly elementary.

    Josh McClain and his Melira-Pod had outlasted Alex Majlaton and his artifact friends to make it to the Semi-Finals.




     

  • Quarterfinals - Adam Jansen (Jund) vs. Ben Moir (Jund splashing White)

    by Adam Styborski

  • Neither Adam Jansen nor Ben Moir have played in a Grand Prix Top 8 before. Thought both had clinched an invite the flight to Pro Tour Born of the Gods in Valencia, Italy.

    You wouldn't have known it by their demeaner.

    Both Jansen and Moir were quiet, neither talking or sharing throughout the match. It was a quiet intensity that shared how both players approached the games.

    Like another Top 8 matchup, both players had brought consistent, powerful decks to disrupt their opponents. Jansen's included the spicy Bonfire of the Damned, used to great effect clearing away two copies of Knight of the Reliquary to knock Brian Kibler out of Top 8 contntion. Moir included Ajani Vengeant and other white spells, which is a widely known tweak to the standard Jund package. Repeatable removal and locking of lands ensure Ajani Vengeant always had a function.

    Both would appear during the match, though only one would work as intended.

    Game 1

    Moir ripped out of the gates thanks to Thoughtseize and Liliana of the Veil clearing out Jansen's threats. An early Ajani Vengeant and Liliana of the Veil put Moir into a commanding position Jansen struggled valiantly against. Once Moir's Raging Ravine went to work, Jansen's struggle ended.

    Adma Jansen 0 - Ben Moir 1


    Adam Jansel took to his sidebaord carefully for Game 2.

    Game 2

    While Jansen managed to keep an early Dark Confidant, Moir's Fulminator Mage kept Jansen off mana for a few turns as Moir developed his board. With a Dark Confidant of his own, Moir revealed Thundermaw Hellkite, and it forced Jansen to react with his own Fulminator Mage.

    The Hellkite would have to wait.

    With a little massaging from Deathrite Shaman, Moir kept his life total healthy. It was close for awhile, but the rail fell off for Jansen when his Dark Confident revealed Bonfire of the Damned.

    "That's not where I wanted to do that," Jansen said.

    Jansen waited a turn to add some mana, then used Bonefire of the Damned the hard way to clear out Moir's Dark Confidant and Deathrite Shaman. But it took tapping out to make it happen.


    Ben Moir

    With a flourish, Moir showed his Temple Garden and Thundermaw Hellkite. At just 4 life, all Jansen could do was extend the hand.

    Adam Jansen 0 - Ben Moir 2




     

  • Semifinals - Josh McClain (Melira-Pod) vs. Ben Stark (Jund)

    by Marc Calderaro

  • Ben Stark came into this match jovial. He discussed how happy he was to see that Josh McClain had advanced, rather than Alex Majlaton and his Affinity deck. "Well, it's not that you're an easy match-up either," Stark qualified, "but if Affinity gets any kind of a good hand, they just 'brown' me."

    The Jund deck was behind the eight ball in either potential match-up from the quarterfinals. McClain's deck, Melira-Pod makes Jund juggle too many balls—continuing pressure from many directions. Jund must manage the hand of the Pod player, the creatures so they cannot combo out nor attack for twenty, and also the non-basic land like Gavony Township. That Innistrad land could eventually turn mere mana accelerators into lethal Birds of a Deathly Paradise. However, if Jund can stabilize, they can win—Stark's deck has both Olivia Voldaren and Thundermaw Hellkite to get there, but Jund still, well, had to get there.

    Ben Stark came in the clear veteran here, with 11 Grand Prix and 4 Pro Tour Top 8s to his name. Josh McClain had been in this position once before in Grand Prix Miami, and even advanced to the finals. And though Stark's résumé still loomed over the table, Josh McClain's command of his complex deck vaulted him to his second Grand Prix finals. Even after mulliganing both games, he was able to sweep Stark—first, by a quick combo, and second by creatures plus a land-stall from Ben.


    Ben Stark

    Game 1

    Game 1 was all about McClain. His turn-two Birthing Pod started the party off right. And a Thoughtseize from Stark revealed Chord of Calling, Archangel of Thune, and Viscera Seer. It was as if McClain walked up to Stark and said "Ho Ho Ho! Now I have a machine gun!" All of the cards in his hand, Stark would have preferred in the graveyard. McClain was still able to use the Viscera Seer to start going up the chain. He didn't need any more searching that was already in his hand and board. The Seer became Wall of Roots, which became Spike Feeder. Paired with an Archangel of Thune, the board state has started to go infinite. Once the Spike Feeder removed counters to gain life, the Archangel would give it more counters. It was a symbiotic relationship indeed. McClain decided to stop his combo chain somewhere in the vicinity of 1,000,000 +1/+1 counters on all his creatures, and 1,000,000 life.

    Stark did little to stop the combo, and we were on to the second game.

    Game 2

    For the second game, McClain switched gears. He had mulliganed again and kept a very defensive hand. He was only able to get the win because Stark's stall on fourth land delayed his powerful Olivia Voldaren and his Harmonize. But Stark was still able to keep it extremely close.

    The veteran was the aggressor with early Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf as McClain used cards like Dismember, Lingering Souls, and Kitchen Finks to stem the Jund-inspired bleeding. McClain had an early Gavony Township, so he just held on to his life total as preciously as he could, riding out the storm, until he could just amass +1/+1 counters.

    Stark began sighing as the game when longer and longer. After stalling on his third land, he muttered, "Sad," to himself as he flicked his cards back and forth. McClain recalled later, "I though when I heard that, 'He's got something that can kill me on four." He did. Multiple Olivia Voldaren, Thundermaw and Harmonize would have been big hitters if they were able to land on time.

    McClain moved by inches, hitting for a couple points here, a couple points there. He never wanted to overextend into something he couldn't handle. Thundermaw Hellkite or Olivia Voldaren could pose potential problems.


    Josh McClain

    The turn that sealed it for McClain was when a 4/3 Ranger of Eos attacked into a 4/5 Tarmogoyf. McClain had the mana to activate Gavony Township to trade with the green beast, but he never wanted to go a turn without pressure. So instead, he let his Ranger die, then cast Deathrite Shaman and Murderous Redcap, finishing off the Goyf. The result was Stark's board wiped and three additional power of attackers were ready to come in the next turn. Though pumping the Ranger of Eos would have saved cards in the short term, McClain knew his advantage was in his pressure, so he clamped on the cooker tighter, and continued turning up the heat.

    Stark eventually got the land necessary, but was just a turn behind. He had also drawn the wrong lands, and couldn't use his Verdant Catacombs to get the mana he needed because he was on such a low life total. Stark died knowing that the cards he had in his hand, two Lightning Bolts and a Thundermaw Hellkite would've been enough to win the game.

    John McClain won 2-0 and set up a grudge match against his Grand Prix Miami finals opponent, Reid Duke. Duke's Jund had gotten the best of McClain then, but what about today?




     

  • Semifinals - Reid Duke (Jund) vs. Ben Moir (Jund)

    by Adam Styborski

  • Reid Duke was still out to prove himself. Despite a dominate performance at the World Championship and two Grand Prix titles already to his name, he carried himself with a deliberate air. It was the same for Ben Moir, who kept the same stoic countenance from his quarterfinal game. Both players were intent on moving on to the finals, and Grand Prix glory. Small talk wasn't going to get in the way.

    Again, two Jund decks faced off with the same goals: disable the opponent's options and overpower through planeswalkers and efficient creatures. It's a story that come down to the shades of differences between decks. Duke played with Chandra Pyromancer in the main deck, ready to take advantage of her 0 loyalty ability. Moir's brings a splash of white and Ajani Vengeant to repeatedly lock down to kill things as needed.

    And like another Jund on Jund match, one plan would work out much better than the other.

    Game 1

    Duke quickly ripped Moir's options away, leading Thoughtseize into Blightning into a second Thoughtseize. Though Moir took care of a lone Tarmogoyf, his Ajani Vengeant was in the graveyard as Duke brought Chandra Pyromancer to the battlefield. "Drawing" an extra card every turn, without having to play the life Dark Confidant requests, allows Duke to answer two copies of Liliana of the Veil from Moir. Without a way to kill Scavenging Ooze, Moir was eaten in just two turns.

    Reid Duke 1 - Ben Moir 0


    Duke's dual planeswalkers put him well out of Moir's reach.

    Game 2

    The second game was an interesting exercise in patience. Duke and Moir traded creates for removal throughout the early turns, setting up their attempts to use Olivia Voldaren. Both Duke and Moir were prepared for the legendary Vampire, but Moir let Duke keep a Dark Confident alive has Duke's life totla plunged. Turn after turn Moir traded to remove the larger threat, content to let Duke's Confidant do work for him.


    Moir was content to let Duke's Dark Confidant eat away life. But it wasn't enough.

    The tables turned was Duke dropped to just 2 life, be revealed Scavenging Ooze and two very full graveyards. With efficiency, and Duke's usual thoughtful pace, Duke climbed back up in life. With a low life total of his own, Moir folded in the face of superior cards.

    "I had the advance in the number of cards, but at a low life total," Duke explained. "He had a Raging Ravine which I had very few answers for. If he didn't cast another spell I'd pretty much have to chump block the rest of the game. I also had to worry about what else he could pull off the top of his library."


    Duke was thrilled to find a narrow path to victory.

    "I was really scared of Thundermaw Hellkite," the same card that took care of Adam Jensen in Moir's quarterfinal match.

    Reid Duke 2 - Ben Moir 0




     

  • Finals - Josh McClain (Melira-Pod) vs. Reid Duke (Jund): The Revenge

    by Marc Calderaro

  • So they meet again, and so soon. The last time Josh McClain and Reid Duke faced off was in Miami in the finals of the Grand Prix earlier this summer.

    McClain recalled the time saying "Yeah, last time we met, he beat me—and with Olivia Voldaren too.""Beat" was a nice way to put it. I believe some of the coverage terminology included McClain being "systematically torn to shreds." But this time Duke was not even running the maligned Legend, though often a staple in Modern Jund. Duke's metagamed Jund list he's been calling "Chandra Jund," has proven itself perfectly tuned and launched him to the finals with minimal difficulty. But McClain's Melira-Pod could make short work of Jund decks, like Ben Stark learned in the semi-finals. The avenues of attack from Melira-Pod are varied and can keep any Jund player on his toes.

    Duke played the aggressor in all three games. His fast, solid openings consistently set the pace, but McClain's deck wouldn't give up without a fight.

    When Reid Duke approached the finals table, he looked McClain in the eye and said, "Josh McClain, fancy meeting you here." Reid Duke gave a warm smile, extended his hand, and McClain shook it heartily. The two sat down for the rematch. McClain had already walked across the broken glass barefoot, and he was ready for Reid to die hard.

    Game 1

    Duke fired off quick, aggressive disruption. Jund came of the gates with two Deathrite Shaman, Dark Confidant, and an Inquisition of Kozilek revealing two Viscera Seer, Eternal Witness and Chord of Calling. McClain had stuttered early, and Duke, smelling blood, pressed the advance. He plucked Eternal Witness and passed the turn back.


    Reid Duke

    Duke's next play was the strike that gave him command of the game. With the two Seers now on the battlefield for McClain, Duke calmly laid a Liliana of the Veil and emptied McClain's hand of the final Chord of Calling. McClain had only two Viscera Seers and a Birds of Paradise to his name, accompanied by some unhelpful land.

    That turn Reid Duke made his opponent's board state exactly how Jund decks wants it—as empty as possible. It was elementary how two Deathrite Shaman and an unopposed Liliana of the Veil finished the match from there.

    Josh McClain was down 0-1. But in Miami, it was Duke who found himself behind after the first game but rallied the next two to victory. McClain began to flip the script.

    Game 2

    Duke again was able to control the board early. Deathrite Shaman into both Dark Confidant and Grafdigger's Cage set a major crimp in McClain's style.

    Since combo street was temporarily blocked, McClain tried the aggressive route. His early plays of Voice of Resurgence, Birds of Paradise and Viscera Seer built up the board. And once he added Qasali Pridemage, the Voice was beating in for three. And he kept the secret of a Shriekmaw and Murderous Redcap in his hand, waiting for the right moment to strike and blow Duke out of the water. Duke's secret was that after his initial aggression he had only lands left in his hands. There were manlands (Treetop Village and Raging Ravine), but that was not enough gas.

    Duke continued maximizing every inch. Though behind, he pushed and prodded, and even took the life-total lead when he used Thoughtseize to take the only way McClain had to deal with Duke's large Tarmogoyf. But it was just too slow. By that point McClain had cleared the Grafdigger's Cage, had a Birthing Pod, and chained up a Melira, Sylvok Outcast with the other combo pieces on the board.

    Reid slowed some ways McClain's deck could attack, but not all of them. Josh McClain has tied up the match. So if Josh were to have his revenge, this was his time.

    Game 3

    The audience was tense. By that point, all the spectators knew how much a win would mean to Josh McClain. Not only to win his first Grand Prix title against an incredible player, but against the very player snatched the title away from him the first time. Duke had been pressuring hard, and that didn't stop in the third game.

    Unlike McClain's semi-finals win again Ben Stark, Duke continually threw out the opening salvos and made the underdog follow his lead. Deathrite Shaman into Tarmogoyf was becoming an increasingly common sight for McClain. However this game, McClain was able to throw up a big stop sign early with a Birds of Paradise into Kitchen Finks.


    Josh McClain

    Duke was undeterred and had drawn his trump card—Sword of Light and Shadow. The turn it hit the board we all heard a resounding "thud." But, like last game, Reid's support in-hand was just land. McClain saw a chink in the Duke's armor.

    McCain decided to keep the Sword without a wielder until he could destroy the equipment itself. Dismember took out a Tarmogoyf as it reached for the sword, but the Deathrite Shaman picked it up and, unblocked, bought Duke some extra time. McClain had tapped his only available non-white blocker to cast the Dismember. So he watched the Tarmogoyf go back into Reid's hand from the graveyard and marked Reid's life total up three points. But the Dismember was the perfect play; it was all in McClain's plan.

    The next two turns Josh McClain showed Reid Duke, that not only did he have the goods, but he intended to use them to knock Duke right off his pedestal and tie their newly made rivalry.

    Qasali Pridemage came down and swatted the Sword of Light and Shadow out of the Shaman's hand. And the next turn, he cast Birthing Pod, and sacrificed a Kitchen Finks to make a Murderous Redcap take out the remaining Shaman. After those two plays, McClain was left with a huge board and Duke with nothing. All that remained for McClain to do was to untap and gain an impossibly large amount of life.

    Reid, for the second time in the match, extended his hand and said "You got me. Congratulations, Josh." The crowd erupted in applause. Josh McClain had defeated his rival to claim his first Grand Prix victory.

    As the applause died down, someone in the audience yelled out "Until the next one!" And he was exactly right. Though today was Josh's day, the lifetime series of Duke-McClain was still tied 1-1.




     

  • GP Detoriot - Top 5 Cards

    by Adam Styborski



  • 5. Thoughtseize

    With its triumphant return in Theros, the question of "Why wasn't Thoughtseize in Modern Masters?" has finally been answered. As a core card in both Jund decks of all flavors and the similarly situated green-black Rock decks, Thoughtseize serves as an answer to anything and an opening for information. Reid Duke used Thoughtseize to remove Ben Moir's Inquisition of Kozilek on the first turn of their semifinal match to avoid the potential disruption and protect his own information.





    4. Chandra, Pyromaster

    "It's so important. It's like getting to draw an extra card every turn." Ben Moir's victory over Adam Jensen on the quarterfinals didn't involve Chandra, Pyromaster, but the potential of "red Jace" wasn't lost on Jund players. Though Chandra was in Moir's sideboard, the quartet of Reid Duke, Owen Turtenwald, Huey Jensen, and Shahar Shenhar all included her in the main. Duke himself put her power to work against Moir in their semifinal match.





    3. Tectonic Edge

    There are many varieties of Jund-style decks floating around. Tectonic Edge is a big reason to play the BG Rock decks—the ones that vaulted Latin players Willy Edel and Marcelino Freeman to the Top 8. Without three colors to worry about, Freeman packed three Tectonic Edges and three Fulminator Mages, while Edel played a full four copies of the Edge, and even added a fifth uncounterable land destroyer in the form of Encroaching Wastes.

    Land destruction keeps decks off their win conditions (Celestial Colonnades, Raging Ravines, Treetop Villages), can strip away third and fourth colors, keep Scapeshift off the necessary land count, and all the while make Tarmogoyf larger and provide Deathrite Shaman more mana-acceleration food.

    Modern is a format that governed by fast, consistent color production thanks to non-basic lands. If you can control your opponent's lands, you can often control the game.





    2. Deathrite Shaman

    One of the most dominate decks of the weekend was Jund, followed closely by green-black Rock decks. Both rely heavily on Deathrite Shaman for a trifecta of utility: it can gain a crucial few points of life to stabilize a player, peel away life points from opponents in longer games, and it can even ramp a player ahead off of anyone's used fetch land. Josh Utter-Leyton proved how dominant and unanswered Deathrite Shaman is on the first turn: a second turn Thoughtseize into Dark Confidant was followed by a third turn Huntmaster of the Fells. His opponent was never really in the game after that point.





    1. Archangel of Thune

    This M14 standout is the newest addition to Melira-Pod's ever-growing arsenal of deadly toys. As if the deck didn't already have tons of ways to kill its opponents, the Pod-able combination of Archangel of Thune and Spike Feeder creates another infinite life-gain combo. But this one allows the Pod player to combo through graveyard hate. Because unlike the Kitchen FinksMelira, Sylvok OutcastViscera Seer combination, the Angel combo is purely on the battlefield. Grafdigger's Cage does nothing; Relic of Progenitus does nothing; the Null Rod does nothing.

    Eventual winner Josh McClain used this combo throughout the tournament as a alternative win condition, and specifically in the semi-finals to take out Ben Stark in short order. Melira-Pod is by far the most versatile deck in the format, and its versatility seems to only get larger.






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