Pop-a-Lot #5: Report

Pop-a-Lot is here!

Pop-a-Lot Super Series is back again, and it’s standard this time which is my favourite format at the moment. I am still battling with my awesome Naya Midrange deck, which I have made a few changes to since the last event I reported on (found here). I have not had a chance to play any magic since the Grand Prix Trial due to a combination of the flu and the release of Overwatch, so I wasn’t feeling too confident going into the tournament.
We made the two hour trip down the freeway and arrived right on time. We’re super happy to see there was forty-six players total which meant there would be six rounds of action. It turned out that about a quarter of the field were players from my local area, which was a great turn out, and odds were that some of us would put up some good results – as long as we didn’t knock each other out too early. Here is the decklist I registered for the event.

Planeswalkers (4)
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Chandra, Flamecaller

Creatures (19)
Sylvan Advocate
Duskwatch Recruiter
Tireless Tracker
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Archangel Avacyn
Linvala, the Preserver
Dragonlord Atarka

Spells (11)
Radiant Flames
Oath of Nissa
Silkwrap
Stasis Snare
Lands (26)
Forest
Plains
Mountain
Canopy Vista
Cinder Glade
Evolving Wilds
Needle Spires
Battlefield Forge
Fortified Village

Sideboard (15)
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Deathcap Cultivator
Den Protector
Duskwatch Recruiter
Radiant Flames
Declaration in Stone
Tragic Arrogance
Quarantine Field
Hallowed Moonlight

I have changed the sideboard a bit since last time, but have not had any time to test these changes. Hopefully I don’t regret them too much.

Round 1 – Rob Lui, GW tokens
Game 1: Rob has a great curve of Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Archangel Avacyn. I am able to barely hold on just long enough to deal with each of his threats and stabilize at three life. Dragonlord Atarka teams up with my own Archangel Avacyn to finish him off.
Game 2: Rob has the same curve again but adds a Sylvan Advocate on turn two. This time I have no chance of keeping up and quickly get crushed.
Game 3: Once again Rob has the exact same curve, but this game I manage to put up some resistance. I am able to ultimate my Nahiri, the Harbinger after Rob makes some bad attacks into it. Dragonlord Atarka comes down to finish off his Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. Rob plays an Evolutionary Leap which means I have to keep the board pretty clear. My life total is a bit low, so it takes me a while to finally finish Rob off, but Chandra, Flamecaller shows up and manages to push through lethal.

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Round 2 – Michael Klose, Dark-Dweller Interlude
Michael’s deck was a super spicy brew focusing around the interaction of Goblin Dark-Dweller and Eerie Interlude. Watch out for a sweet deck tech in the next few days on this deck.
Game 1: I mulligan to six cards, four lands and two spells. I somehow draw five more lands and die to his Thought-Knot Seer and Wandering Fumarole.
Game 2: This game goes a lot better for me as I am able to play three Sylvan Advocates which Michael’s deck has a hard time dealing with. I see a lot more of his deck this time though and some of the interactions seem great. I am able to power through when I hit six lands, and my creatures get a lot bigger.
Game 3: This game I don’t have a fast start but I am able to chain multiple Tireless Trackers together and an Evolving Wilds gets me several clues. However, Michael is able to keep my board contained with Reflector Mage and Thought-Knot Seer combined with an Eerie Interlude. I crack my clues and I am able to gain too much card advantage. I also make my one remaining Tireless Tracker huge. Thanks to my card advantage I have removal for his board and my giant Tireless Tracker crashes in for lethal.

Round 3 – Lachlan Chant, Mono Blue Brains
Game 1: I have a reasonable curve of my creatures, but he has a turn two Brain in a Jar. With this he is able to cast three Engulf the Shores which buys him enough time to cast enough instants and sorceries to make a massive zombie army with Rise from the Tides and kill me.
Game 2: I am able to resolve an early Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and hope to ride it to victory. I have a Quarantine Field for his Brain in a Jar and he can’t cast enough spells before I kill him.
Game 3: This time Lachlan doesn’t have a Brain in a Jar so his mana is pretty strained. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar comes down again and makes an army of tokens to constantly pressure him. I am also able to present threats while holding up Hallowed Moonlight just in case he is able to resolve a Rise from the Tides. However, he can not keep up and I finish him off with my army of creatures.

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Round 4 – Ben Tudman, GB Aristocrats
Game 1: I think myself lucky when I drew my singleton Radiant Flames but Ben has two Zulaport Cutthroats which prevent me from wiping his board without dying to the triggers. Before I am able to deal with them, he finds the Nantuko Husk he needs and drains me to death.
Game 2: Ben has a super fast start powered by Cryptolith Rite, but I am able to slow him down by exiling the enchantment with Nahiri, the Harbinger. Linvala, the Preserver comes down to give me a boost in life and two large flyers. Ben is able to transform his Westvale Abbey into Ormendahl, Profane Prince and hits me for over half my life total. I manage to Silkwrap his large flyer but another Zulaport Cutthroat comes down and is enough to drain me for exactly lethal damage.

Round 5 – Alex Li, Grixis Control
Game 1: I have to take a mulligan and can never keep up. He has too much card advantage and pulls ahead. I can’t handle the combination of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Goblin Dark-Dwellers and quickly die.
Game 2: This time I am able to keep up with his card advantage by using my planes walkers and Den Protectors to get them back. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar creates an army of tokens and forces through lethal damage.
Game 3: We trade some early resources as we both try to control the board. I land a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and start to look pretty far ahead. Alex plays a Dragonlord Silumgar to steal my Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. I have to chump block with my Knight Ally tokens just to stay alive. I hit my seventh land drop and slam down Dragonlord Atarka to kill his Dragonlord Silumgar and get back my Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. I get in for eight damage then protect my board with an Archangel Avacyn and swing for lethal.

Round 6 – Intentional draw into top 8
The top tables were all able to cleanly draw into the top 8, so there wasn’t much high stakes magic to watch this round. I checked in on my friends and got prepared for yet another top 8. I managed to get the 4th seed this time around which let me avoid most of my bad match ups.

Pop-a-Lot Action

Quarter-Finals – Tommy Pieszko, Sultai Delirium
Game 1: I get to finally be back in the feature match area where I feel most confidant. We both have a slow start but I start playing my high impact spells and Tommy can’t keep up. Nahiri, the Harbinger is able to fetch me up a Dragonlord Atarka to kill his Mindwrack Demon and swing in for eight. Archangel Avacyn saves it from removal and then next turn swings in for lethal.
Game 2: Unfortunately Tommy has to mulligan and keeps a land light hand. He has a slow start and gets stuck on three mana. I am able to build my board presence up and eventually I use Declaration in Stone to get rid of his Hangarback Walkers and swing in for lethal.

Semi-Final – Justin Chueng, BW Control
Game 1: This time it’s my turn to mulligan. I keep a one land hand and somehow manage to flood and hit my first nine land drops. I don’t have much action and I give Justin too much time to set up and gain control of the board. I finally land a Dragonlord Atarka to deal with his Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Sorin, Grim Nemesis but he casts a huge Secure the Wastes and uses a Gideon emblem to power them up and kill me.
Game 2: Justin takes the mulligan this time but I know his deck has enough card advantage to recover from it so I try get on the board early. He kills my only threat and I begin flooding with lands. This gives him plenty of time to draw out of his mulligan. He establishes some threats and Dragonlord Atarka comes down again to kill two planes walkers, but Justin is able to cast two Secure the Wastes for six over consecutive turns then uses a Gideon emblem to once again kill me.

End of the Day
This is my fifth top eight in a row now. That is quite the hot streak of results. I am super happy with making the semi-finals and my only losses on the day were to the two players that ended up meeting in the finals (Justin won in the end). I wasn’t able to get a complete meta breakdown for this tournament as I was pretty busy during the rounds, but it is definitely something I will try to do going forward. I was also able to do a deck tech with my round two opponent Michael Klose and his sweet Eerie Interlude deck. That should be out in the next few days. I don’t have many events coming up as most stores are focusing on Grand Prix trials, and I no longer need the byes, so I am gonna be helping my friends prepare as much as possible. Let me know what you would like to see me cover in future articles as I want to help the community in any way I can. You can also find the top eight decklists from the event here.

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