Preview: Duelist Team Challenge
- Alex Shvartsman
Over the last several years, this team tournament has
become one of the most colorful attractions for Magic players
at Origins and, quite possibly, paved the way for the sanctioned team
The premise is simple - a group of five players divides
the five belowmentioned formats among them. Each player goes on to
compete in his or her own format, with the final match record of 3-2
or better needed for one team to defeat the other. A wide selection
of formats offers plenty of variety and lets each team member contribute
in the format where he feels strongest.
An additional attraction of this tournament is the opportunity
to match your wits against Wizards of the Coast employees, who are
allowed to play since the event is not sanctioned. Sideboard editor
Monty Ashley and Organized Play manager Jeff Donais will be among
WOTC bigshots playing this year. [Editor's Note: Jeff Donais had
airline trouble, and arrived too late for the event]
Each format will offer something interesting this year.
Here are some of the predictions, per format:
There are very few serious type 1 (Classic) tournaments
out there, the most recent one being the Duelist Invitational
in Barcelona earlier this year. Because of this lack of organized
events, little "technology" has been developed since then. Combo decks
can be expected to be the most popular strategy. Tolarian Academy,
Time Spiral, Memory Jar have all escaped the ban. Although they are
restricted in type one, it is fairly easy to design a deck around
them that allows a player to win as early as turn 1-2. To combat this
strategy some players may go with U/R control decks, full of artifact
removal and countermagic. Perhaps the most effective will be Necropotence
decks, featuring enough disruption to combat Academy decks and able
to crush control strategies. Aggressive creature strategies are unlikely
to do well at this time.
The merits of Yawgmoth's Bargain in type 2 remain to
In Extended, the ways to abuse this card are painfully
obvious. A large amount of teams are expected to try out a Bargain
deck or metagame heavily against it, perhaps playing maindeck Arcane
Laboratory or Sphere of Resistance. Ultra-aggressive strategies that
are a good way to keep Bargain in check in type 2 may fail to do so
in Extended, where second turn kills are not only possible but likely
with this deck.
The format is wide open. Some players will bring their
best decks, while others may make the gambit of playing their second-best
in order to protect "tech" designed for the Nationals. It is a fair
assumption that the U.S.Open tournament held the night before will
have a large impact upon the metagame of the type 2 bracket.
Rath Cycle Sealed
In my humble opinion, this format is pretty random.
Unfair buyback spells and excessive amount of evasion creatures allows
a less experienced player to pull off wins he normally would not achieve.
If I were to compete in the Challenge, I'd suggest that the weakest
player on the team is to play this format.
Urza Cycle Sealed
Players are used to Saga-Legacy sealed already.
Although any combination of colors may be possible, green-black is
usually the desired color scheme. Destiny may change that,
balancing the colors a bit. Urza sealed is a lot more skilled based
than its Mirage and Rath counterparts. It requires a solid
player to build the deck correctly and offers plenty of opportunities
for a stronger strategist to outplay his opponent.
The new rules will also be a major factor in this event.
A player who understands Sixth Edition rules well is automatically
at an advantage against someone who isn't used to them yet. This is
not to say that I expect players to rules-lawyer each other - they
may simply miss out on a lot of opportunities and plays that weren't
possible under the previous set of rules.
It is impossible to predict the winner, especially since
we do not have many team rosters available at this time. Since the
event is held on Thursday, some Nationals competitors could take time
off from last-minute playtesting to enter the challenge. I expect
that the event will be won by a team of players familiar on the Pro
Tour circuit. [Editor's Note: The event was, in fact, won by Team