I realize that the title gives away the result of the Grand Final to anyone who might not have seen it yet, but I want to take the time to highlight my favorite moments and team mates in this article to round out the season. And of course I will link to the VOD at the end, so you’re not getting snubbed of the sweet Modern action!
Getting a Spot in the Tournament
With only 8 teams in the tournament and a huge amount of interesting Magic top players and celebrities out there, it’s safe to say that we felt blessed to get the spot to begin with. As I have mentioned a few times on air, this tournament only has winners regardless of the outcome of the matches, and I stand by that. Our mindset was from day one to put on a good show, celebrate Modern as a format and then try to win – in that exact order of priorities. A huge thank you goes out to Randy Buehler for not only believing in our ability to entertain and be competitive, but also for his passion for Magic and organizing Super Leagues until now and in the future.
25 Different Decks
Before our round one match, one of us mentioned in the chat that winning the event with 25 different Modern decks would be an epic storyline and be a challenge for ourselves while also being awesome for the viewers of the show. What started off as half a joke quickly started to become a narrative surrounding our team which gave us even more motivation to dig deep in the tank. To make things a little easier for us, we had the pleasure of playing with Modern Horizons on the first match day and playing out the Grand Final less than 48 hours after the banning of Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis and Faithless Looting – not to mention the unbanning of Stoneforge Mystic. These fortunate timings made it a lot easier to come up with new, interesting decks just in time for the show because let’s be honest; we were almost out of options at the end. I hope you enjoyed our display of Modern as much as we did. Here is a list of the 25 decks that we submitted for the two swiss rounds and three playoff rounds:
- Hogaak’s Bridge
- Blue-White Control
- Devoted Druid
- Grixis Urza
- Boros Burn
- Mono Red Phoenix
- Esper Shadow
- Mardu Pyromancer
- Eldrazi Tron
- Hardened Scales
- Bring to Light Scapeshift
- Izzet Phoenix
- Gifts Storm
- Bant Spirits
- Esper Control
- Living End
- Green Tron
- Abzan Midrange
- Esper Urza
Different Players, Different Sets of Skills
I want to devote this segment to my awesome team mates who made this win possible and give a sneak peak into how we work together leading up to a given match day. My own role was mostly to research the format, pitch ideas about decks and tweaking the maindecks and sideboards to beat the decks we expected from the opponents. I’m miles behind both Thomas and Michael when it comes to decision making in the matches, but I try my best to make up for that by being a thorough researcher and doing some dirty work behind the scenes. The fact that I’m not as well-rounded also meant that I got to play my favorite decks which I know I can play at a high level rather than having to learn new decks and play suboptimally.
Thomas wants to play Magic and beat his opponents by continiously making decisions that boost his chances of winning the game he’s playing. He has a strong psyche and very firm opinions which can be a bit intimidating unless you know him very well. In practice that means that all lose ideas Michael and I had during preparation would be “bullsh*t checked” by Thomas, the necessary tweaks would be made and the outcome would become better overall. This method is only viable if we are willing to listen and adapt rather than get into stubborn discussions. That being said if we were persistent enough, Thomas would say something like “Even though I don’t like it on paper, I trust you enough as a player to run it”. Thank you Thomas for always calling things the way you see them.
Aside from being a hilariously funny entertainer and positive when talking about Magic (can be a rare sight these days), Michael has an awesome approach to Magic. He loves all kinds of Magic from Vintage to Sealed deck and is never afraid of a new challenge when it comes to decks. For some of the weeks, Michael had other obligations like spending time with his girlfriend and daughter and travelling to Las Vegas for the Grand Prix, and he made up for it by being extremely flexible and was always happy to play whatever deck he was presented with. Thank you Michael for playing all the complicated Midrange and Combo decks while I relaxed with decks like TitanShift and Burn.
My Favorite Moments From the Season
The League was run in the midst of what will most likely be refered to in the history books as Hogaak Summer, but the deck itself had a horrible record in the League itself. Its poor showing was due to a combination of variance and a bucket load of opposing hate, but I still appreciated that we were able to deliver a diverse format with multiple succesful decks to the audience while Hogaak proceeded to dominate every major table top tournament in the meantime.
I have a long history of playing Scapeshift strategies in Modern to a reasonable success. I’ve been blessed that Scapeshift accidentally has been a good strategy just when I needed it the most – at Grand Prix Madrid where we placed 2nd and at the 25th Anniversary Pro Tour where we finished 23rd in particular, but also for the Team Modern Super League Grand Finals where I expected Midrange and Control decks built around Stoneforge Mystic would be popular. For this particular season, I had the pleasure of playing and winning with both Bring to Light Scapeshift and Red-Green TitanShift while winning the event alongside my two best Magic buddies. You can’t really ask for more, right?
Commentating with Legends
Mostly the players talk about strategic decisions, interesting game states and amazing comebacks on Twitter or in articles, but for me I like the commentating part just as much. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing Magic against the toughest opposition out there, but getting to spectate a high level match with full information in great company is breathtaking for me. I hope all the viewers enjoy this part as much as I do, because I think it’s the backbone of the show that you get to have competitors do the coverage. This way you get to see emotions like this one (Thank you, Brad Nelson!).
After my decision of not travelling to Magic tournaments anymore and shifting my focus to Magic Online and content, I’ve felt way less stress in my life while still getting my competitive needs covered – a conflict I experienced regularily while travelling ten times a year. I now appreciate the gift of playing this beautiful game and am more relaxed about my performance which I’m sure has helped me out a ton results-wise as an additional bonus aside from the mental aspects where I improved. The system encourages players to play a lot and chase a certain threshold, but players are generally not well equipped to put down the clamps and think about their mental state. I wish there were more tools available to help players make great choices for themselves while still being able to compete at the highest level of their ability. If you feel like I’ve been partially describing you in this paragraph, feel free to reach out and I will happily talk to you about the topic. While I’m no medicine man from the deep jungle, talking to someone who faced similar difficulties can always be helpful. Take care of yourself and enjoy this beautiful game!