Wrapping Up the BYOS Season
|by Nafiz Erman
Hello dear readers and welcome back to Rogue Play. The first season of BYOS (Build Your Own Standard) has finally ended and we now have a champion. But before I get to the details, here's a quick link for those who don't know what BYOS is:
Rogue Play: Self Service
That's an old article of mine in which I explained what BYOS is, the rules of it, banned list, where to play it etc... If you're not familiar with the format I suggest you to check that article because it's a useful guide to BYOS. In this article I will assume you know what it is and that you know everything about it.
The first season of BYOS was equal to sixteen weeks. After each tournament, each player received points based on their accomplishments in that tournament. And at the end of the sixteenth week, the top twenty four players of the season were invited to play in a "Season Finale" to battle for the title.
I was also one of those invited players and before I get to that final tournament, I would like to share with you the story how I get there.
BYOS SEASON ONE - WEEK EIGHT
This was the first week I played in a BYOS tournament. Before entering the tournament, I examined the Top-4 decks of previous seven weeks (that list can be found here) and saw that Aggro was the dominant deck style. And to beat Aggro, I brought this below deck to the table:
I went though all the five rounds and emerged victorious in my very first event with this deck after a successful 5-0 record. But I must tell you that it wasn't easy.
I played against a Storm Combo deck in round one and won the game just because of my Ravenous Traps. My opponent was playing a Mirrodin based deck called "French Eggs" and he was constantly sending his artifacts to his graveyard and was constantly bringing them back with Second Sunrise. I met the same player during the semi final round and won once again only because of my Ravenous Traps.
Then my Kor Firewalkers saved my butt in one other game. Mono Red can get out of control pretty quickly and it can deal you tons of damage in no time; unless of course you do something about it. After winning the first game easily, my opponent was a bit frustrated to lose the next two to a 2/2 creature alone. My Kor Firewalkers kept me alive and my Baneslayer Angels did the rest of the job.
I was very happy after the tournament as you can imagine. Winning a five rounds tournament isn't easy especially if it's your first time playing that format. I liked the sweet taste of glory and that pulled me deeper into the format.
But for my second appearance I had to wait several weeks.
BYOS SEASON ONE - WEEK ELEVEN
This was a very interesting week. The attendance was very high and instead of five rounds (three swiss rounds + two rounds Top-4), this week we had six rounds due to the high number of players. And just because I love Control decks, I brought another one to the table that week and went once again all the way up to the final with it.
Surprisingly the majority of players that week were playing Control decks. After going 5-0, I played against a Mono Blue Merfolk deck in the final and sadly lost the game 1-2. I never thought of playing Merfolk in BYOS simply because of the lack of Aether Vial. You can't select MRD as one of your blocks simply because it doesn't give you anything useful other than Aether Vial. But apparently I undervalued Ice Age and especially this two:
Mystic Remora single-handedly destroyed me in that final game. I was playing a lot of non-creature spells and no, I wasn't paying an extra for them. And thus my opponent was filling his hand constantly and was keeping me at bay with his free counterspell.
All in all it was a nice tournament and I was satisfied with the second place.
BYOS SEASON ONE - WEEK TWELVE
The next week I was very determined to win the event and brought yet another Control deck to the tournament with one exception: My deck was a Control deck surely but it had no counterspells in it. As a matter of fact, it didn't even had Blue in it. That week I played the following deck:
This was one of the most exciting and challenging weeks ever. Every player in the tournament had perfect decks and every single game was a big challenge for me. During the swiss rounds I faced a Countertop deck which was also my opponent in the final. It was a real challenge but my deck was too unpredictable for my opponent. And no, he didn't have any seven cost card on top of his library when I played my Angel of Despair and destroyed his Counterbalance.
Oh that, and Control has difficulties overcoming a second turn Luminarch Ascension.
Then I faced a CHK block based Greater Good / Gifts Ungiven deck and that was my first loss during swiss rounds in my entire "career" in BYOS tournaments (not the last though). He won game one because my deck wasn't designed to fight graveyard manipulation. Then I won the second game after adjusting my deck accordingly. But in game three he was very fast and he locked me with a recurring Yosei, the Morning Star before I could do anything and won the match.
Thankfully for me the Gifts player got paired with the Countertop player at the semi final and lost, and I won the final against Countertop (2-0 this time) and also won the event.
BYOS SEASON ONE - WEEK FOURTEEN
After a one week break, I returned to the format for more glory and fame and fortune! And as expected, my deck choice was once again a Control deck; a very good one this time:
What I did here was simple; I took my already proven TE Block Tradewind Awakening deck and tweaked it for BYOS. Tenth Edition gave me my manlands, my Yavimaya Coast but more importantly it gave me Seedborn Muse which automatically replaced Awakening. Then Lorwyn / Shadowmoor block gave me Flooded Grove and Jace Beleren (among other things).
Long story short, it was one other very successful tournament for me and after a satisfying 5-0 record, I managed to win it once again. I faced almost only Aggro decks and against them my anti-creature package was more than enough. I even won against a crazy Elves! deck which even actually surprised me as well (considering the speed of that deck).
BYOS SEASON ONE - WEEK SIXTEEN
This was the last week of the normal season and I once again joined the event even though my previous achievements already secured my place in the final invitation only tournament. This time I played another "big" deck but my choice for that week was not something one would normally expect from me.
What happens if you combine the Jund deck we know with White for more crazy cards and give it Ravnica's perfect mana base? Well, that above is the result! I mean really, life is too easy if you have access to the dual lands.
All in all this was another fun tournament and I once again managed to go 5-0. And this record includes a Control, a Blightning discard, a Midrange deck with Armageddon back up and an Elves! deck.
PREPARING FOR THE SEASON FINALE
And that above was the story of how I got to that big day. I played in five tournaments out of sixteen and managed to win four of those five and came second in the other. Those accomplishments gave me lots of season points and I ended up at the third spot on the season table.
For the final tournament I was undecided for a long time. The options in BYOS are almost limitless and each is better than the other. I had four criteria for my final deck:
1- It had to be a Control deck (with or without counterspells).
2- It had to be a really good deck. I mean, a really good one.
3- It had to be a multicolored deck. Why? Because I love multicolored cards and decks, that simple. I loved Kaleidoscope because of the same reason. As you may (or may not) remember, last year these days I was writing nothing but Kaleidoscope articles.
4- Above all, I had to have fun while playing the deck.
I went through my options many times and decided to chose INV block as one of my main blocks. There are four blocks which has tons of multicolored cards (INV - RAV - LRW (the Shadowmoor part of course) - ALA), and I liked the options INV block was offering me. Especially these two:
For the second main block I was undecided for a long time. ALA was giving me Maelstrom Pulse and Elspeth, Knight-Errant, LRW was giving me Thoughtseize and a good mana base (which was very important), and RAV was giving me a couple of good cards but more importantly a perfect mana base.
Of course I tested all of the possibilities carefully, even gave ZEN block a shot in the meantime but my final decision was RAV mainly because of the perfect manabase it provided me. I combined my two blocks with M10 as my core set and came up with this deck below:
I was expecting the field to be dominated by Aggro decks and therefore I build my maindeck to fight them. I added tons of lifegain and tons of removal; my anti-aggro package was enough to deal with them. Then I build my sideboard especially to deal with Control. I added a total of eight cards to fight that strategy (Duress and Gerrard's Verdict). I also added one more Faith's Fetters and two Routs to my sideboard in case of an emergency against Aggro decks and my final choice for my sideboard was another obvious one; Leyline of the Void to fight graveyard manipulation.
Right at this point a special thanks to Flippers_Giraffe for lending me those three Leyline of the Voids I was missing.
Oh and a side note: Before the tournament we were chatting with Flippers and he was furious because he prepared a deck with Rise of the Eldrazi cards but that set was not legal in the final tournament. And what made him furious was the fact that he didn't know that. So he had no deck to play and there were like twenty minutes for the tournament to start.
We were talking about alternatives and he said he could play his Standard vampires deck. I liked the idea and made a few suggestions to make it even more powerful. Apparently it became something way more powerful than I first thought but we will come to that later.
And so I was ready for the final battle. And here's the story of how things went in that tournament.
THE SEASON FINALE
His deck was actually the usual Zendikar vampires deck but he was also using White for Day of Judgment and also for Ghostly Prison from CHK. CHK block also gave him Sensei's Divining Top and made his deck even better.
In the first game he first destroyed my hand with a Mind Sludge and then killed me swiftly with his vampires but I managed to win the second game. The third one was undecided for some time. I destroyed his hand with Gerrard's Verdict (twice if I'm not mistaken) but then he played not one but two Malakir Bloodwitches one after another. My Baneslayer Angel helplessly watched them attack, and I failed to draw neither my Pernicious Deeds nor my Routs. I played two Loxodon Hierarchs in a row but those life gains weren't enough.
And that was a sad start to the tournament for me. This was really not what I was hoping for.
There were three more rounds to go before the tournament cut to Top-4 and if I wanted to be in it, I had to win all my next three games.
Black and Red is a very dangerous combination especially if you don't have a way to gain life. He was using LRW and ALA as his blocks and started very fast with a Thoughtseize and two Blightnings but right at that point I played the last card in my hand which was thankfully this:
All of a sudden all those cards he made me discard were once again at my disposal and winning from there was easy.
The second game was even faster but this time I was the one who was pushing the pressure. My opponent played his discard spells and played again his Stigma Lasher and other disturbing creatures but I mana ramped pretty fast with Farseeks, stayed alive with Loxodon Hierarchs, filled my hand with my Phyrexian Arena and finished the game with my angels.
That was more like it. There were two more rounds to go and there was absolutely no place for mistakes.
Playing: Discard Aggro
Owlman was playing a similar deck to my opponent in the second round but he was using ZEN and he was using Bloodchief Ascension too. Blightning once again crippled my hand and his Hellspark Elementals backed up by his burn spells lowered my life total pretty fast but I emerged victorious in both of the games. As I said above, life gain against this archtype is crucial. Loxodon Hierarch was the key card in this match. Thanks to my second turn Farseek I was casting him on turn three and not only was he giving me four life but he was also very good at holding the ground with his fat 4/4 body.
There was one more round to go. Everything was depending on this next round for me.
Ranth is one of the best BYOS players and he finished the season at the first spot after sixteen weeks. He almost never missed a tournament and there was almost no tournament he didn't end up in the Top-4. He was playing the same Kithkin deck he played all season and from our previous meetings in previous tournaments, I knew how deadly that deck was.
One other aspect that raised the tension in our match was the fact that both of us were 2-1 at that point. So the winner was going to be in Top-4 and the loser was going to be eliminated. As you can see, there was no place for any mistake for both of us.
I won game one thanks to my Pernicious Deeds and Loxodon Hierarchs. One kept the table clear and the other kept me away from the danger zone. Ranth did everything to stop me but eventually failed.
Game two was very exciting and just when I thought that I had everything under control, he ended the game with one single strike as shown below:
So we moved onto game three but it ended very quickly to my favor.
Double Gerrard's Verdicts killed his entire hand and Pernicious Deed killed what he had on table and Ranth conceded on turn eight.
And so I was in Top-4. The tournament started as a nightmare for me but I managed to win all my next three rounds and ended the swiss rounds at the third spot.
And so the swiss rounds ended. The top four players were me, Flippers_Giraffe, Fliebana and bluedragon123 who is also the host of the weekly BYOS tournaments. Fliebana was my opponent in the first round and he was playing vampires. Flippers was also playing vampires. Bluedragon123 was playing a very good Sea Stompy deck with lots of cheap and efficient creatures backed up by counters and burn. The decklists by the way, you'll see at the end.
After a short break the pairings have been announced and it was me against Flippers, and Fliebana against bluedragon123.
Playing: Vampires w/Hatred
Flippers also had a bad start to the tournament. Just like me, he lost his first game (against Ranth's Kithkin) and then managed to win the next three matches. Then there was also the fact that we knew what each other was playing. I was the one who suggested him Hatred and on the other hand he watched enough games of me during the swiss rounds and had a clear idea what I was doing with my deck.
Our first game started and ended in light speed. I ended up with no in front of me with two Pernicious Deeds, one Farseek and one Loxodon Hierarch in hand. I just sat like a duck and waited to be killed.
Game two was more challenging and I experienced no mana problems even though Flippers hit me with Wasteland. The game went back and forth but at the end my Baneslayer Angel plus my Loxodon Hierarch ended the game.
Game three started very good for me and at some point I was so sure that I was going to win. Then I started drawing totally unnecessary cards and things started going downwards. To be exact I drew land, land, land, Baneslayer Angel (destroyed on sight), land, land, land and Farseek. Of course things immediately changed and Flippers played very wisely and didn't waste that opportunity.
And this was the end of the road for me. After the game we talked with Flippers and I whined about getting mana flooded for like five minutes or so. Flippers patiently listened while I was acting like a sore loser but then I pulled myself together and wished him the best of luck in the final.
Players: Flippers_Giraffe vs. Bluedragon123
Playing: Vampires w/Hatred vs. Sea Stompy
This was a close match but the ending was exceptional. Flippers played patiently and finally his patience payed off and he caught bluedragon123 fully tapped. Flippers attacked with his tiny 2/1 Bloodghast while his opponent was at fifteen life and ended the game right there. How, you ask? Below is how:
Bluedragon123 never saw it coming.
And so we had our champion: Flippers_Giraffe!
DECKS DECKS DECKS
You saw my deck above. Fliebana was the other player who reached the Top-4 and got eliminated at the semi final. Here's his deck:
This isn't the best vampires deck I have ever seen but it was enough for Fliebana to find himself a spot in the Top-4. Actually the deck's main strength is its eight mass removal spells. In a tournament so full with Aggro decks, they were very efficient.
Then comes bluedragon123's Sea Stompy deck:
This deck begs for Tarmogoyf and for better numbers for some cards especially for the lands section but it did get the job done. Bluedragon123's problem was that he couldn't do any scouting during the swiss rounds. He was already busy with hosting the tournament which requires a lot of time and apart from that fact his games were also ending after everybody elses. So he didn't have a chance to watch Flippers. And maybe that fact alone cost him the title.
And now it's time to see the deck of the champion. Here it is in all of its glory:
And this above is the winner of season one.
I must say that I am very happy that the winner is from the PureMTGO family. If you count me too, then we can say that two players from the PureMTGO family ended up being in the Top-4 and that is also making me happy. I am also happy that the winner is someone I know (sadly I don't know every member of the PureMTGO family (but hey, it's a big family)). And I am extra happy that I also helped him building his deck even though my help was only 1% at best.
Regarding my own performance; well what can I say? I ended up winning four of the five tournaments I played in during the season and ended the fifth one at second place. Then I reached the Top-4 during the "Season Finale". I think I should be happy.
There are a few decks and players I must mention here. The first one is Ranth and his famous Kithkin deck.
This is actually the winner of the season. Ranth finished the season at the first spot with this deck. I played against it several times and I know how it works. Early game it performs as a regular Kithkin deck but unlike normal Kithkin decks, it has long game plans too. Also Mirrorweave alone can turn the tide of a game single-handedly.
Then there is this below deck:
Evolver3 made this deck his signature deck. He entered every tournament with it and rarely stayed outside of Top-4 and even won a few tournaments. I like this deck a lot because it reminds me of one thing: Expensive cards and fancy decks are good of course but sometimes something as simple as this one is enough to win a tournament.
Speaking of simple but efficient decks, I think I must mention this one too:
This isn't anything too fancy or mindblowing and yet it was enough to earn its pilot a spot in the final invitational season finale. Owlman is also a player who likes to play the same deck each week (most probably because of budget reasons) and this above deck performed very well during the whole season (which was sixteen weeks long).
And I must say that evolver3 finished the season at fifth spot and owlman finished it at sixth spot with the decks you see above.
And so the first season has ended. Flippers_Giraffe is our champion. And now we have a whole new season ahead of us, which leads me to...
NEXT WEEK ON ROGUE PLAY
Your Guide to BYOS Season Two
Next week I will once again write about BYOS. The second season is starting this coming weekend and I will prepare you a very detailed guide which will include tons of useful information. If you would like to participate but don't know what to play, then do not miss next week's Rogue Play.
Thanks for reading.
See you online
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman