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By: NVOtosReborn, John Mayer
Mar 29 2018 12:00pm
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Hey again! I'm back with another tournament report from a recent Standard PPTQ. I've got some more Modern videos in the queue as well, so stay tuned for more content, hopefully I'll be able to produce now on a steady schedule, things got kind of busy for me for a while. 

I usually only play Modern and other eternal formats because those are the only cards I own in paper, and I've disliked Standard for a long time now. I tried some RG Pummeler online, played a MOCS with Temur Energy, and really hoped I could make a control deck (read: Approach) work, but nothing was playing out well, so I gave up. 

I noticed a bunch of cards were banned, and I read EFro's article about his UB Control deck and I was mildly interested. I didn't have all the cards online, and I didn't want to spend 20 tickets to buy what I was missing, because I assumed the format was still awful. 

Around this time, I also looked into more details about how the team event for the 25th anniversary Pro Tour was going to work. I learned that not everyone has to qualify, and people can bring two members to join their team. So, I made a Facebook post in my local group. I'm basically a nobody outside a very small group of people I know locally, since I play in person maybe 4-5 times a year. I asked to join a team, if it was available, and as expected, no one responded. 

I got to talking to one of said members that I know locally, who said he had a friend that was looking for a third to join his team. This was completely unexpected, and I wasn't even looking to have that type of conversation, I was asking to borrow a full 75 for an upcoming PPTQ so I could just try and win my own invite. Long story short, I got both the full 75 to borrow, AND locked up a spot on the team for the RPTQ. Sometimes you run hot, I guess. 

I picked up the deck on Saturday morning on my way to the PPTQ, it was complete, missing only basic lands. I copied EFro's list, card for card. I deliberated on a couple of things, but no one had any idea what the local metagame would look like, and I didn't want to mess around. 

This is what I played: 

I sat down and registered my deck, sleeving as I went. Someone was sitting next to me just hanging out and watching me. Naturally, he was my round 1 opponent. 

Round 1 vs Bant Approach 

He played some ramp crap and I had no idea what was going on. I used Field of Ruin to kill his Maze of Ith Compass Flippy-Thingy so I could chip away with Gearhulks. He wiped up with Fumigate, then played Approach. My hand was full of Fatal Push and for the next 6 draw steps I found more lands and useless removal. Against a UB Control opponent with 14 untapped lands and 7 cards in hand, my opponent fearlessly cast Approach again, and I scooped up. 

Game two I played Nezahal and slapped my opponent a couple times with it. Game. 

Game three I cast Duress in the late game and my opponent's hand was several Baffling End and Fumigates with an Approach. I took Approach and shrugged when he tried to Baffling End my Gearhulk. He was rather baffled when it didn't work out, and I had more Hulks to use Disallows to counter his Fumigates. Blood Fast was drawing me plenty of gas, and I flipped it while at 4 life so I could commence utter shenanigans with The Scarab God. By shenanigans, I mean I'd sac a Gearhulk, gain 6, make a token with SG, use the token to nab a Disallow or some such, use the life bonus with my other Blood Fast to draw more cards. He boarded in Carnage Tyrant, but I was able to Commit it and use Field to send it packing. I was unable to close and we were about to draw, but I demonstrated my plan of using Fast to gain life and make tokens, I showed him another copy of Gearhulk in my hand with another Disallow and asked for the concession, and he realized that he indeed would lose within a couple of turns if I had a little more time.  

1-0 

Round 2 vs Mike Warren on Grixis Control 

I usually get worried when I sit down from people that I know, because I get almost "starstruck" in a sense, and my nerves tense up. I know Mike is a great player and we've bumped into each other numerous times at tournaments, but I actually had some confidence this time around.  

Game 1 we did the fun dance of land go for a while, with Mike using Champion of Wits to dump some lackluster garbage. I made two sloppy plays this game, mostly due to nerves, but also just basic lack of knowledge of the format. Mike tapped his Field of Ruin to cast something, and I flipped my Azcanta, and played my own Field. I said "go", and then immediately said "wait, hang on a sec" and used my Field to kill his. It was a mistake I caught immediately, he hadn't untapped or drew a card yet, but it was just a sloppy interaction. When I realized this game would come down to decking after we had killed off all of the Gearhulks and Scarab dorks, I was ahead. Mike cast a Commit on my unflipped Azcanta, I dropped a Disallow on the table, and picked it back up. I don't know why I thought he was casting Memory, but just another sloppy interaction. He conceded to save time, knowing he would deck first and that I had a counterspell for his Memory. 

Game 2 he kept 2 lands on the play. He Negated my Blood Fast and passed with no land drop. He scooped after I Duressed him on 4, and saw that the coast was clear for Scarab dork on my turn 5, with him still having only two lands in play.  

2-0  

I apologized profusely after the match, as it's very uncharacteristic of me to play so messy. I could tell he was a little tilted, I can't blame him, but he just told me to tighten up moving forward. 

Round 3 vs BUG Snake 

He was playing BUG, I had no idea why he would play blue in his Winding Constrictor deck. I killed his snake, countered his green Gearhulk, blocked his Servant of the Conduit with my own Gearhulk, and cleaned up from there.  

Game two he played a Hadana's Climb that gave counters and flipped into a land that made his creature turn into Superman. I took 8 from a smash, used Field of Ruin, and played a Gearhulk to use another removal spell on his other guy. He used a (Thrasing Brontodon) to Naturalize my Gearhulk.

"You've activated my trap card!" As he triggered revolt for my Fatal Push, taking out his Jadelight Ranger doofus and then Scarab God took the reins from there. 

3-0 

I drew twice into the top 8 and birded some matches. I wanted to see what I was up against, and I had a good idea about what everyone was on. 

3-0-2 

The top 8 was: 

RB Aggro (Who won the pair-down in round 5, he wasn't able to draw, but locked up top seed)
UB Control (Yours truly)
Mardu Vehicles (Drew with him in round 4)
UW Gift (This guy leapfrogged my round 3 opponent, who had the same amount of points as him, AND lost to him earlier in the swiss. I have no idea how that happened.)
UW Tokens (Drew with him in round 5)
RG Monsters (Didn't know this)
Grixis Control (Mike Warren)
Some Mono Black Aggro Deck (Played Bontu and Marionette Master and other stuff.) 

I knew what 7/8 people were playing, and I had the choice of play/draw against everyone, basically. Naturally, I sat down across from the one person who I didn't know what he was playing.  

Quarterfinals vs Joseph Marro on RG Monsters 

Game one he played some things, I killed said things, and played Gearhulks to counter extra things and kill other things. Basically, UB Control did what it does best against what I feel to be one of the deck's best matchups.  

In game two, he played a couple of explorers, revealing a Carnage Tyrant and a Blossoming Defense on top, both of which he kept. I was really worried about the Tyrant, as I didn't have the copy of Bontu's Last Reckoning that I boarded in, nor did I have a copy of Commit in my hand. When he missed his 5th land drop and cast a couple of Rekindling Phoenix, I felt like this was my window to take over. I countered one of the Phoenix, and used two kill spells on the other, and cast The Scarab God. There was an interesting situation where my opponent cast a Deathgorge Scavenger and attacked into my 5/5 reanimator machine after tapping out. He had four cards in hand, two of which I knew to be Blossoming Defense and the Carnage Tyrant. I had just cast Scarab and had a couple of mana available, but no action in my hand. 

"Is he trying to punk me? Does he have land plus Magma Spray? There's no way he left in Spray after board, right?"  

I said out loud, shrugged a few times, and blocked. He binned his guy and passed.  

Yeah, so, blocking there was assuredly wrong, I was at 16 and could easily afford to take 4 damage there. Even if there's a very slight chance that he DOES have Spray, losing Scarab on an otherwise empty board with tons of gas in the graveyard is just silly. It turns out he DID have land + Spray, but his land was Sheltered Thicket, not Rootbound Crag like he thought it was. He didn't even play the land post-combat. "I fully committed to my failure" as he put it. Oops. Magic is hard. 

After nabbing a couple of his Rekindles, he was forced to play a Glorybringer on defense, which traded with a Phoenix Zombie (that's just totally weird, isn't it?), and came back to fight on my side. I guess one way to beat Blossoming Defense and Carnage Tyrant is to hope your opponent never makes their land drops, and Blossoming can't target dorks in the graveyard, thankfully! 

My opponent asked if I would go to the RPTQ, and I said yes. He was asking for a concession, and while I hate to play the role of dreamcrusher, I simply could not scoop him in. Sorry bud. 

Semifinals vs Mike Warren 

I told myself I'd tighten the eff up if I had to battle Mike again. Honestly, I was hoping to dodge, but ALL of my good matchups lost in the quarters. Great. 

Game 1 was a bit of the same back and forth, except he had Champion of Wits to really sculpt the trash out of his grip while I was forced to hold my (Moment of Cravings) and such. I cast Memory TWICE this game. The first time, my re-roll was utter trash. Tons of useless removal spells and nothing good from there. The second time, my hand was something absurd like double Scarab, Gearhulk, double Disallow, a land, and a Glimmer.  

"You know what would be a great topdeck this turn? Scarab God."  

As he casually flips over the top card of his deck into play. I had to use Gearhulk to Contempt it, but I was just super far behind and he had made tokens already. I had some defense, and I was at 12. He cycled Fetid Pools into Glimmer of Genius, cast Glimmer, drew Harnessed Lightning (with Glimmer giving him enough energy to kill my Gearhulk) and a Vraska's Contempt to lethal me. Must be nice. 

Game 2 I started to get advantage with a Blood Fast early on, but Mike had a Dreamstealer. As he was stealing my dreams, I was refueling with Blood Fast, but every card I was drawing was SO GOOD and I had trouble discarding any of them. Eventually, I slammed a Nezahal, and when you've got a Blood Fast in play, that thing can literally never die. Mike tried, but I dumped 6 cards without question to smack him to death. 

Game 3 we went a bit back and forth, I played Azcanta and Blood Fast again to start getting somewhere. I cast a Glimmer and saw Nezahal and a Field of Ruin. I kept both, made my 5th land drop, but then I got stuck there for a couple turns, even with Azcanta flips. To make matters worse, Mike was curving out and used a Commit to push my Azcanta two deep. My top card wasn't a land, and I knew I was in trouble. Eventually, I drew out of my mana issue and played Nezahal, and the game was over from there. That card is great. 

I was feeling pretty good about making the finals, and offered a prize split. My opponent wanted to split the packs and play for the invite, and I wanted more packs. I offered 1st gets invite, 2nd gets all the packs. He declined. I then offered 12 packs to 1st and 60 packs to 2nd. He declined again, just wanting to play it out.  

"I was just trying to get more packs cause I'm already locked for the RTPQ." 

Yeah, can't say stuff like that. Almost got DQ'd! It wasn't my intention to be malicious, but my phrasing in past-tense was what saved my butt there. I really had no idea, I wasn't trying to bribe my opponent, in fact, I was trying to tell him that I WANTED to concede the match!  

He said we could revisit a split after game one. I demolished him. I offered 0/72 again, he countered with 14/58, I countered back with 12/60, he accepted, I conceded the match, and we shook hands - which you should always do regardless. It's a show of respect, I always offer the handshake, win or lose. I even handshake when I intentionally draw with people. I dunno. I can see where someone might be a little weary about a winner offering a handshake, but it's just a friendly gesture. Would you rather the winner stand up and do a victory lap to rub it in your face? I've been no-sir'd on a handshake after winning once, and it makes me feel like I did something wrong by winning. (I resolved 3 Burning Earth against Esper Control at States. He took 9 to Detention Sphere them. Ouch.)  

Either way, I collected my credit and that was that! 

Deck played out really well, and I'm excited to battle some Team Unified Standard at the RPTQ!

3 Comments

Thanks for this article. UB by MichelleWong at Fri, 03/30/2018 - 07:03
MichelleWong's picture
5

Thanks for this article. UB Control is also my deck in Standard.

But I don't run any Commit to Memories. Do you have good or bad feedback about this card?

I think the card is alright, by NVOtosReborn at Fri, 03/30/2018 - 10:46
NVOtosReborn's picture

I think the card is alright, I cast it a few times throughout the tournament.
I never played against it, but it's one of the few ways you have to deal with Anointed Procession if it resolves. It's a clean answer to any Eternalize stuff, and when you're able to cast it on your opponent's end step with a Gearhulk, it's really solid to catch you back up if you have fallen behind. I'm not sure what I'd play over it, the card wasn't amazing by any stretch, but I likely lose to Carnage Tyrant without it.

Thanks for the feedback about by MichelleWong at Mon, 04/02/2018 - 03:23
MichelleWong's picture
5

Thanks for the feedback about this card, appreciate it.