Alright, when we left, our hero (me) was in a state of complete shock as he had managed to, for the first time in his career, make it to gold status in anything other than frequent flier programs (specifically a Pro Tour Players Club Gold member). Does that mean that his inner fire had died down, that maybe there were only a few embers left? Read on to find out!
The Dutch Kill
Milling with Teferi
The end-of-year finish line was in sight, but before that a few Grands Prix were on the calendar. First up was GP Brussels the weekend after the Pro Tour. I hadn’t played much Standard since PT Dominaria in early June, where I played UW Control to an 8-2 finish. I was perhaps a bit burned out after testing Legacy and having so much fun the week of the Team Pro Tour. So I figured I might as well run back UW Control, seeing how the breakout deck of the PT, David Williams’ Turbo-Fog deck, seemed like it could be a good matchup based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever other than historic precedent that control decks beat combo decks. This notion was especially ridiculous this time around, as my UW deck from the PT didn’t play any win conditions besides making the opponent miserable and/or the “Dutch Kill”, i.e. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria tucking itself to the bottom of the library to ensure your opponent ended up being milled out (hence, the “Dutch Kill”).
I tried to make room for an Approach of the Second Sun, but in a genius last minute effort (again, with zero testing), I removed it to avoid having any cards in the maindeck that didn’t actively help me with the misery plan and/or the Dutch Kill. I would somehow come to regret that decision.
I went 10-4-1 with the deck (since the format is obsolete by now, I will refrain from boring you with another decklist and I don’t have the decklist written down anyway). Highlights of the tournament included:
- Getting a draw in round 4 (first match of the day) against UW God-Pharaoh’s Gift where I won an extremely long game 1 and was fighting all game 2 to lock it up, but he managed to kill me on the 2nd extra turn after time was called.
- After that, I played against two RB Aggro decks, one GB Snake deck, and 8 UWx/UBx decks, which prompted the new nickname for my deck: UW “no lunch” Control, since, you know, there wasn’t time for lunch.
- In round 6, I played against Turbo-Fog and realized that if he played smart and kept 7 cards in hand after Teferi emblem (or even if he didn’t play smart and just couldn’t cast any of his cards after I exiled all his lands), I still couldn’t win since he could recycle Nexus of Fate over and over again by discarding to hand size until the game ended in draw. So yeah, I basically couldn’t beat one of the most popular decks of the format in game 1 with my particular maindeck configuration. Fortunately, I only played against it twice (and lost easily both times)!
While I was glad to escape the tournament with one beautiful pro point, the best thing about GP Brussels was definitely the perfect logistics. With 3 byes going into the GP for only the second time in my life* , Michael Bonde and I were able to score plane tickets for Saturday morning with arrival at the GP half an hour before the start of round 4. We both made day 2 at 6-2/6-1-1 respectively, and round 8 finished just in time for us to make our dinner reservations at the fancy restaurant atop the famous Atomium monument right next to the event site.
Then, we overslept on Sunday and rushed to make it just in time for round 9, and 7 grueling hours of control mirrors later, I finished round 15 at 16.10, giving me ample time to sign up for the 2HG tournament that started at 15.30. The side event staff graciously allowed me to join under the strict instruction that I wouldn’t get any extra deckbuilding time. Thankfully, 2HG is my no. 1 format, so I built our two decks in 10 minutes and still had time to sleeve them up before my teammate had even arrived. A swift 3-0 later, and we were in an Uber back to the airport for the flight home. Not a moment wasted!
(*interestingly, the first time I had 3 byes was Grand Prix Copenhagen 2008, where I borrowed and misplaced a Tier1 deck and didn’t realize until round 4, after which I promptly lost, you know, I didn’t have my deck, and then had to drop from the tournament at 3-1 – and I still had to replace the deck!)
Teferi comes to Prague
After Brussels, it was time to refocus on Modern and UW Control with Grand Prix Prague two weeks later. I talked a lot with el campeón del mundo, Javier Dominguez and PT Rivals of Ixalan champion Luis Salvatto (who would join Michael, Andreas and I for this particular excursion, as he was chasing Player of the Year) and in the end we couldn’t come to a consensus decklist, so Luis played UW Miracles (and Michael copied him after some late night schooling), Javier ended up playing Jeskai and I played UW Wraths.
My UW deck was this:
UW Control by Thomas Enevoldsen
I couldn’t figure out if Terminus (Termini?) was better than a standard 4 mana wrath package. Surely, I thought, the times you miracle it at the right points even out by the times you draw it at an inopportune time (including, but not limited to, your opening hand) and you must wait for 6 mana instead of casting it on turn 4 (which is generally the difference between winning and losing in Modern). So while I acknowledge that a lot of people have posted great results with a 4 Terminus-version, I was still not convinced at the time and thus decided to go with the trusty old school wraths build, even if their unfortunate graveyard interaction left something to be desired.
Javier obviously top8’d the tournament because he is el major jugador del todos, and I finished a respectable 12-3. Highlights of the tournament included:
- Playing against midrange for 9 out 12 rounds, including 4 times Jund and 3 times Mardu Pyromancer. Piloting UW Control against those types of matchups is some of the most fun you can have in Modern, at least if you manage to suspend an Ancestral Visions on turn 1.
- Playing against RG Land destruction in round 8 and not being able to keep more than one land on board for the first 8 turns despite drawing almost nothing but lands, but seeing them all destroyed at the hands of my opponents. What can a man do against such reckless (agricultural) hate?
- Having to catch a flight at 17.45 with round 15 starting at 16.10 and the GP site being 30 minutes from the airport. I played against Infect and even managed to lose the first one, so I just boarded in all my creatures and got there in two quick games, then immediately ordered an Uber and told Michael he had 5 minutes to win his match (which he did) before sprinting outside to catch our ride and arrive “safely” at the airport 30 minutes before take-off (thankfully there was no security line).
Last ride of the season
Modern again at GP Stockholm
With 3 more lovely points in the bag, it was time to look ahead at the last event of the season, Grand Prix Stockholm. I once again put my faith in UW Control. This time though, I decided to try my luck at some Termini and played a 2-2 split of Terminus and Supreme Verdict. What a daring move! Other than that, I only made minor alterations to optimize a few angles for the expected metagame (heavy on Bant Spirits, Storm and UWx variants), and of course as always ensure that my sideboard book was up to date.
Changing a few card slots can severely alter your plans for games 2 and 3 against certain matchups, so it is always a good idea to revisit the Book for every tournament. This also gives you practice in assessing the various game plans you (and your opponents) are trying to execute in a given matchup and helps you theorize on which cards you need to emphasize etc.
I played this list to 11-4. Highlights of the tournament included:
- Drawing in round 4 of the tournament (again!) in the UW mirror, but the opponent offering to scoop because he felt a draw was the same as a loss at that point (which is true for day 1, but less so for day 2). Shoutout to Vjeran Horvath for that gesture, I was happy to see he made day 2 in the end.
- Seeing the pairings for round 9 after knowing that 5 of the 8 other 8-0 players (subtle brag about starting out 8-0) were on UWx Control and getting the dream pairing of RG Scapeshift, promptly lose game 1 to a surprise Primeval Titan through a “Breach” of some sort but taking the W in games 2 and 3.
- Beating Jeskai Control in round 10 in 3 long games with an adjusted sideboard plan for game 3, putting in Baneslayer Angel since I had shown him Spell Queller for game 2 and thus expecting him to take out his Path to Exile and only keep Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix as removal. It worked!
- Starting out 10-0 before falling to UW champion Joel Larsson, then subsequently losing the next two matches to Storm and Bridgevine to immediately fall out of top8 contention (and finally losing the, admittedly slim, chance of Danish captaincy). I guess that’s not really a highlight but it gets a spot anyway.
- Seeing Luis Salvatto making top8 to force a tie in the PoY race.
- Learning a fun little between-the-rounds game that Martin Dang brought along, called “Insider”. The game is basically a cross between 20 questions to the Professor and Werewolf.
The game “Insider” basically works like this:
- The goal of the game is to guess the secret word and then guess who the “Insider” is.
- You have one person who is the “Professor (called the “Master”)”, who knows the secret word that the others must guess.
- The others can ask the Master as many yes/no questions they want in the allotted time (roughly 3 minutes) and the Master must answer truthfully. Normal chain of questioning is something like: “is it a person”, “is it a thing”, “is he alive”, “can I hold it in my hand” etc.
- The non-professor players are either “commoners” or the “Insider”. Only one person is the Insider. The Insider gets to know the word ahead of time, but also participates in the questioning and guessing part. The Master does not get to see who the Insider is (they look at the word to be guessed separate from each other).
- After the word is guessed, the players (including the Master) vote on whether the person who got it right is the Insider (has to be unanimous).
- After that, if the guessing person was not deemed the Insider, the players discuss who could be the Insider based on each person’s line of questioning and general activity during the question portion of the game. Keep in mind that the Insider loses if the word is not guessed, so it is in their best interest to guide the other players/”commoners” in the right direction and guess the word. But how do to that without giving away that you know the word all along is the interesting part.
The game comes with word cards and role cards, but you can easily play it without any game pieces, as long as you can write down the word so only the Master and the Insider can see it (e.g. by using a phone). Topics can be anything, so the Master can just determine it each time the game is started. Just a suggestion to take along for your next GP trip to kill time between the rounds while those pesky UW Control players finish their mirror matches.
A new season with new and old allies
And with that, my 2017-2018 season ended with 41 pro points. My only regret is losing out on the promo value of the many Mutavault I forgot to pick up at the GPs I attended, but on the bright side, I didn’t risk any unfortunate incidents involving double-promos or similar trickeries but kept my foulkus on the task at hand.
This new season brings exciting prospects as I get to team with my old comrades in Team Snapcardster x MTGMintcard as well as cooperate with my new friends in Team Hareruya Latin. I hope I can continue this stream of good fortune and good results while having fun and travelling the world with my some of the best people I know. See you at the tables or in my next article!
This article was written by Thomas Enevoldsen in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com