PPTQ Modern: Report

Rough Times Ahead

It’s modern season once again, but I’m not loving the format as much as I used to. Modern used to be really diverse with many different strategies all being viable, but lately it seems as if every deck is just goldfishing and hoping their opponent doesn’t draw one of their few cards to interact with you. Combo is king in modern and the only way to beat the latest combo deck is to find an even more degenerate deck. This leaves my beloved Jund falling further and further behind. It is just too hard to try and have enough “hate” cards for all the degenerate decks at the moment.

My preparation for this event was very poor. I did manage to get some testing in thanks to my awesome friends and testing team. This article was meant to be a report on two PPTQs that I was going to attend, but I had to miss the first one due to poor health. I was barely able to sleep for the days leading up to the event and I actually got zero sleep the night before the tournament – but I did not want my poor health to once again ruin a shot at getting on the Pro Tour. So I put on a brave face and headed down to my local store ready to play some magic. Here is the list I registered:

Lands (24)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Blood Crypt
Stomping Ground
Overgrown Tomb
Raging Ravine
Verdant Catacombs
Bloodstained Mire
Wooded Foothills
Swamp
Forest
Mountain

Creatures (15)
Dark Confidant
Tarmogoyf
Scavenging ooze
Huntmaster of the Fells
Grim Lavamancer
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Planeswalkers (4)
Liliana of the Veil

Spells (17)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Lightning Bolt
Thoughtseize
Abrupt Decay
Terminate
Maelstrom Pulse
Kolaghan’s Command
Sideboard (15)
Feed the Clan
Painful Truths
Kitchen Finks
Fulminator Mage
Ancient Grudge
Creeping Corrosion
Duress
Kolaghan’s Command
Grafdigger’s Cage

The PPTQ

I arrive at the event and I’m still feeling a bit down after the past few days. I run in to a few friends and they definitely help raise my spirits a bit and make me feel a bit more confident about my prospects for the day. There ends up being 35 people registered in the event, so it’s six rounds with a cut to Top 8. This is one of the biggest PPTQs that has been held in the Newcastle area so I’m very proud of our growing community. I was also able to get almost a complete meta game break down. Unfortunately, two people dropped before I was able to find out their decks so I got 33 out of 35 decks. Here are the numbers:

Grixis Control – 4
Jund – 3
Infect – 2
Merfolk – 2
Naya Burn – 2
Abzan Company – 2
Dredge – 2
UR Storm
4 Colour Allies
GR Tron
8 Whack (Goblins)
Suicide Zoo
Aurora Ramp
4 Colour Gifts
Mardu Stuff*
Elves
Ad Nauseum
Blue Tron
Living End
Junk 
Green Stuff*
Jeskai Prowess
Abzan Evolution
*2 players were new to competitive and just registered their EDH decks.

Round 1: Callum, 8 Whack (Goblins)
Game 1: We have a nice chat before the match starts. Callum is new to competitive play and just wants to make sure he doesn’t make any mistakes. He starts off the game with Mountain into Raging Goblin and swings for 1. My heart starts racing. Raging Goblin was one of the first ever cards I fell in love with when I started magic. I used to think it was completely broken and it makes me happy to see the little guy getting some tournament play. I am able to line up my removal pretty well and pick off his biggest threats and I feel confidant enough to attack with my Tarmogoyf, but a Goblin Chieftain off the top pumps up his two tokens and hits me for six. I play another Goyf and sit back to defend. Callum draws a Goblin Rabblemaster off the top and swings in for a huge amount. I make some blocks and feel like a have a slight chance, but another Rabblemaster off the top combined with the Goblin Grenade in his hand is enough to finish me.
Game 2: This game gets to a board stall pretty quickly but a Thunderbreak Regent comes down and I have no answer to it. I line up a super bizarre line and go with it. I attack with everyone and Callum blocks with a token even though he is at a very healthy life total. This then lets me use Grim Lavamancer to kill another token and then use my Liliana of the Veil to force him to sacrifice his only creature – the Thunderbreak. After wiping his board I quickly win the game.
Game 3: This game is all about the curve. I play Scavenging Ooze, Kitchen Finks, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet all on curve and they do a good job holding back his growing army. Callum makes a large attack and I put him on having some number of Goblin Grenades in hand. I use Feed the Clan to gain 10 life which puts me way ahead in the race and I quickly win with my giant lifelinking Kalitas.

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Round 2: Rhys, Naya Burn
Game 1: Rhys leads with a Wild Nacatl which gets killed by my Lightning Bolt straight away. He then follows it up with another Nacatl and a Goblin Guide. I bolt the second Nacatl and play a tap land. He plays an Eidolon of the Great Revel. I use Maeltrom Pulse to take it down but I take a lot of damage doing it. He untaps and kills me with a flurry of burn spells.
Game 2: This time I am able to disrupt his game plan with an Inquisition of Kozilek which also grows my Goyf out of Searing Blaze range. I drop a Scavenging Ooze to gain me some life and add an extra threat to the board. We trade life totals and it all comes down to a single top deck. All Rhys needs is two damage to kill me or I kill him on my turn. He draws… a fetchland! On to the next game.
Game 3: Once again I use inquisition to disrupt his plans and grow my Goyf. Rhys has all spells and no creatures to threaten me with. I have a Feed the Clan in hand but my Goyf is only a 3/4 so I’ll only be able to gain five life, but its better than nothing so I hold up my mana for it and try to play around Skullcrack and Atarka’s Command. Eventually Rhys has to unload his hand, and in response to him tapping out for a Skullcrack I am able to play Feed the Clan and put myself ahead in the race. Goyf gets bigger and is joined by a Scooze and a Lavamancer which is just enough damage to win it.

Round 3: Chris, Abzan Company
We start this round off with a deck check so we have some time to kill. We have a nice chat about how Chris is trying to qualify for the Dragonball Z TCG World Championships. Chris doesn’t get to play much magic anymore because DBZ takes up most of his time. It’s always interesting to me to learn about other TCG tournament systems. Eventually the judge returns our decks and luckily there was nothing wrong so we are free to play our games.
Game 1: I have some discard to look at his hand. He has multiple Collected Company and a Chord of Calling. I take a Chord of Calling and play a Scooze to control his graveyard, however I have to tap out and Chris is able to play the first of his Companies and hits a Kitchen Finks and Eternal Witness to return the company. I play a Dark Confidant and get ready for the next two turns of Chris playing a company. They hit some decent creatures, but I have plenty of removal for them thanks to Bob – and my Scooze is getting huge. Bob helps me draw more threats while Chris starts flooding out. Eventually, I am able to swarm him with my army of Goyfs.
Game 2: Chris takes a mulligan and doesn’t look happy to keep his 6. I hit him with discard and leave him with Birds of Paradise and a bunch of lands. He plays Path to Exile on my Scooze, but I am able to play another one and a Bob to generate some card advantage. Chris just keeps drawing lands or mana dorks while I’m only drawing great cards. Huntmaster of the Fells comes down and starts transforming to kill off the few creatures he has. A Company off the top gives Chris some chance but I am able to swing with everyone and then use multiple Bolts to finish him off.

Round 4: Nathan, GR Tron
I know I’ve got no chance in this match up so I jokingly congratulate Nathan on his bye. We have a good laugh and play some very quick matches.
Game 1: He has a slow start by Tron standard but he is able to use Oblivion Stone on turn four to wipe my board and then has a bolt for my Raging Ravine and I scoop them up.
Game 2: I mulligan to six and Nathan apologies for keeping his seven. I Thoughtseize and see he has natural tron with tonnes of threats. I take a Karn Liberated and laugh as Nathan plays a turn three Wurmcoil Engine and then a turn four Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. That’s enough for me and I ask Nathan to please be more gentle with me next time as that was quite the beating.

I am 3-1 now and have some time to kill so I finish off working out the meta and I am able to grab a fruit salad for lunch. I am lucky that I am not too tired yet and my spirits are pretty high. Turns out friends are pretty good at cheering you up.

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Round 5: Chris, Jund
Me and Chris are very good friends and almost every tournament we attend we end up facing each other eventually. In fact about 5% of all my matches in tournament magic are with Chris. We are both pretty unhappy that we might knock the other out of contention for top 8 and also we hate playing the Jund mirror as it usually comes down to luck and chance.
Game 1: We exchange a few discard spells and then use removal to keep the board clear. Eventually Chris gets a Kalitas on board, but it’s being held back by my 3/3 Scavenging Ooze which could grow to a 4/4 if I eat the last creature in the graveyard (my Bob). I don’t eat it straight away in case I draw a Kolaghan’s Command to get it back. We start top decking and all we are hitting are lands, but I am the lucky one and hit a Lily to kill his Kalitas and then start swinging with my Scooze. Chris only finds lands and I find some Goyfs. I quickly swing in for lethal after that.
Game 2: This game is very similar. We trade removal and discard spells, but Chris has more creatures on board than me. I’ve also had to take a lot of damage from my lands this game. The board eventually becomes stalled and we have to start the top deck war again. This time it’s me who only draws lands while Chris hits nothing but creatures. I can’t deal with the swarm of Goyfs and we move on to the next game.
Game 3: Fair warning, this is the luckiest draw I have ever got in the Jund mirror: Inquistion takes his Lily. I play Bob which he doesn’t have an answer for. I play a Lily of my own to kill off his Goyf and then play a Huntmaster to protect my Lily. Dark Confidant does his job and draws me Terminate and a bolt which is just too much for Chris.
I feel bad for having such an exceptional draw and me and Chris have a chat with some friends to take our minds off the match. It looks like I am locked for Top 8 now. I just need to hope my opponent wants to draw in the next round. Standings go up and I’m the third seed! I am super happy with my results so far – especially considering I’ve been up for about 24 hours at this point.

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Round 5: Thomas, UR Storm
Thomas is the second seed, so I offer him the intentional draw because the lowest he can drop to is 3rd seed. He refuses saying he would rather try to get a better seeding. I don’t agree with his logic here and I grumpily shuffle up and present my deck.
Game 1: I keep two lands on the draw. I don’t have any discard spells, but I have a Lily to eat away at his hand. Unfortunately, I can’t find my third land drop and he starts storming off. The judge is sitting with us so I ask the judge if he can take my spot while I use the restroom. The judge obliges and when I comes back it turns out I died.
Game 2: This one starts off better. I tear apart his hand with my discard spells, but he top decks a Blood Moon and slams it down. This cuts me off black completely. I then have to sit there and wait for him to set up before he eventually takes a ten minute turn and finally kills me.
I am pretty salty and tilted now. UR Storm is my most hated deck in magic and losing to it in such an annoying way has me acting like a bit of a dick. Thomas is a very good player and I didn’t show him the respect he deserved and I apologise for that. I now have to wait and see if that knocks me out of Top 8 or not. We all gather around for the Top 8 announcement. I manage to sneak in at seventh place. The mighty Tyler scrapes in on tie breakers in 8th place. This cheers me up immensely. Then I realise I’ll be versing a tough match up of Burn in the quarters.

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Quarter-final: Regan, Naya Burn
Game 1: This was definitely a blink and you’ll miss it first game. Regan started off with a Goblin Guide and then played two Monastery Swiftspears. He then played an Atarka’s command and I just conceded as I had no chance of competing with that kind of draw.
Game 2: I play a Scooze on turn two but it dies to a Searing Blaze. Kitchen Finks gains me some life and I try to play another one but Skullcrack stops me gaining any life. I feel okay if I can untap and cast Feed the Clan but I have taken some damage from lands and Regan is able to double Boros Charm me for exact lethal and it’s all over.

I am a bit disappointed to have my tournament end so quickly, but I congratulate Regan on his victory and wish him all the best in the rest of the Top 8. Regan actually goes all the way and wins the whole thing. Congratulations to him. He is a hard working local player who is finally rewarded for his great performances. Good luck at Regionals!

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In the End

Looking back on the day, I am fairly impressed with what I achieved. After being awake for over 24 hours, I was able to make it as far as the quarter-finals. I was also happy with my technical plays which is something I have been working on improving for a while now. Up next for me is my final PPTQ of the season on September 3rd and then the weekend after I will be stepping into the commentary booth to cover Pop-A-lot #9. Be on the look out for a few more articles from me in the coming month.

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