Tournament report Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan
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Tournament report Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, February 2-4th 2018
Written by Stealth
Hi all! My name is Kurt Vooys and you may know me from some earlier tournament reports I posted here. I play for team BoM at some GPs. Last year, I won the Sunday PTQ at GP Metz, which qualified me for the Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan!
Most people know me as someone who does not prepare for tournaments at all, but for the Pro Tour I decided to prepare at least a little bit.
Before selecting a Modern deck, I tried a variety of decks I liked: UW Control, Storm, Knightfall and TitanShift. None of these decks felt very powerful and though I had a positive record with UW Control, none of the matchups felt very favoured and I thought I would lose too many matches to the unfair decks like Storm when playing UW. UW Control is also a very hard deck to build perfectly when you do not know what the meta will look like, as many of the flex-slots are basically a coinflip between creature interaction and other interaction.
I briefly considered Lantern (which I have played before, quite a while ago) and Grixis Shadow (which I have never played) but felt that I would be too inexperienced with these decks, and would therefore be unable to gain a significant edge in the PT. All was not lost however, when Wessel gave me his Abzan CoCo to practice on Magic Online. After the first Modern league, it became obvious to me that Abzan CoCo is a ridiculous deck, as I went 4-1 while making infinite mistakes. This is because:
1) People have no respect for the combo
2) The opposing deck plays very little interaction (like Bogles, Gx Tron, Eldrazi Tron, Affinity, Titanshift)
3) The opposing deck is also a non-interactive combo deck, so you are basically two ships passing in the night. Abzan CoCo is one of the few decks that can actually combo kill on turn 3, so your ship is favoured.
The main downside of a deck like this is that it loses a lot of percentage points against the heavily interactive decks (basically all Ux Control, GBx and Shadow). While I expected a lot of pros to pick up one of these decks, I have always felt comfortable with creature-combo decks, so I decided to stick with Abzan CoCo.
Modern decklist can be found here:
On the flipside, boosterdraft is a format I have never been very comfortable with and I rarely play it, but I tested it a little bit. My (very inexperienced) conclusions were that tribal synergies are still good, especially with the lords, but some off-tribal color combinations were playable now, too (like GB and UW). Splashing for bombs is better now since the format is a bit less aggressive than just Ixalan, and has more and better mana fixers. On MTGO I did not manage to win a single draft, so this did not bode well.
My first Draft pod had some extremely experienced players in it, like Marcio Cavalho and Kentaro Yamamoto. My draft went horribly awry and I am still not entirely sure where it went wrong. I went into black early, because my first three picks were good removal spells, but then saw a lot of good green as well. I got semi-rewarded because I received two Jungle Creeper
s very late, which meant
looked open. In the second pack, there was almost no playable black, and literally no playable green, so I went into blue, picking up a few Sailor of Means
and a Deadeye Brawler
(a card I really like) to see if I could maybe splash for high-power cards later. These cards never came unfortunately and I ended up being just short of playables for straight
, which meant I had to go with a Sultai midrange deck (but with fairly good mana).
The first match was against Yamamoto and I got annihilated within 20 minutes, but I managed to at least go 1-2, winning a match against an extremely greedy Naya dinosaur deck that had literally no fixing in it.
At this point I was not feeling too good about my chances for making day 2, but I like Modern a lot better than draft, so I didn’t count myself out yet. My first Modern opponent played GR Tron and kept a turn 3 Karn hand. I was on the play and he didn’t kill my Devoted Druid
, which meant he never survived to his turn 3. Welcome to Modern!
Most Modern matches were not really interesting to talk about, defeating Affinity because of the power of the sideboard cards (Qasali Pridemage
, Reclamation Sage
, Kataki, War's Wage
, multiple Path to Exile
s) and losing the mirror because they had better sideboard options (Thoughtseize
instead of Tidehollow Sculler
, more disruption in the form of Abrupt Decay
s and the always spicy Linvala, Keeper of Silence
My final opponent of day 1 was Tomoharu Saito, whom I did not recognize at first until I saw his name on the deckbox. This was one of the more interesting matches, as he is an extremely talented player and played UW Control. Game 1 lasted half an hour, as he was busy countering my Collected Company
s while I was grinding through all 4 Eternal Witness
es to eventually find a combo finish. Game 2 was a lot less exciting and I could safely attack him multiple turns with tiny boys and a Selfless Spirit
in play while he was super flooded. The CoCo mirror was the only match I lost, so that means 5-3, good enough for day 2!
My only real goal for my first Pro Tour was to make day 2, so I was already super happy. Then I saw day 2’s draft pod, which again featured Kenharo Yamamoto, apparently my nemesis for this tournament. Fortunately I managed to dodge him this time. This draft went wrong as well, but I’m quite sure this was my own fault somehow. I again started in black (picking up Ravenous Chupacabra
, Moment of Craving
and an Impale
), but then saw multiple Forerunner of the Empire
come along in otherwise empty packs. This meant I quickly jumped ship to
Dinosaurs, picking up a lot of good dinosaurs, but unfortunately not a lot of removal. I ended up with the not-so-classic 18 creature, double Forerunner deck. I went 2-1, highlights of which were the games where I did not attack at all and killed my opponent with a whole lot of Enrage
triggers of Sun-Crowned Hunters
Modern was a bit tougher today, and I lost against Burn and Martin Juza’s Traverse Shadow deck, which felt like an absolutely awful matchup. The “old” CoCo decks would sometimes create racing situations against GBx style decks, where you would find multiple Voice of Resurgence
for instance, but the current Abzan CoCo deck has so few creatures that can actually attack that these games were never close.
The final match was pretty unique. It was another UW Control matchup, which meant game 1 dragged on a bit. My opponent had resolved 2 Supreme Verdict
s and a Wrath of God
, a Runed Halo
on Walking Ballista
, had a Gideon of the Trials
emblem, Gideon of the Trials
and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
, about 15 tokens in play and was happily digging away with his transformed Search for Azcanta
. I knew I could never win this game anymore in a realistic manner, but there was not much time left on the clock and I did not expect to win two games quickly if I conceded this game. I decided to play to the following, somewhat interesting out:
1) I found an opportunity to gain infinite life while my opponent was tapped out. Because of the Gideon emblem, this does not actually win me the game in this matchup, but it means the game will last until my deck is gone, at which point I will lose.
2) I then need my opponent to draw his entire deck, he gets to make the perfect 7 card hand but also has to discard all other interaction.
3) I cannot deploy any threats until then in fear of a slow-rolled Supreme Verdict
or Snapcaster Mage
, but I had to somewhat balance this as I still wanted him to dig with Azcanta for answers (getting him out of cards quicker). I also had to time the play of Scavenging Ooze
to eat all wrath effects.
4) When he was out of cards, I still had about 15 cards left in the deck. Thanks to Eternal Witness
es and playing conservatively, this meant I could set up multiple ways to make an X/X Walking Ballista
, grinding through his 7-card hand.
5) This forces Gideon of the Trials
to always plus on Walking Ballista
, as I can otherwise kill all the tokens and the Colonnades on defense.
6) Then I need a few turns to kill both Gideons (which were now at high loyalty) while killing all tokens.
This was a pretty cool plan and I apparently sold it pretty well as I got my opponent to dig 5 more times with Azcanta, so for a while I thought it was going to work. Unfortunately, the final Vizier I needed for the final infinitely large Ballista was in the bottom three cards of my deck, which meant I did not have enough time to attack the Gideons before the clock ran out and my final match ended in a fascinating 0-0-1. This means a 9-6-1 record, good for 5 additional Pro Points!
At some point I should probably learn to draft, but going 3-3 in draft at the Pro Tour is way more than I could have hoped for, so this gives me incentive to postpone learning to Draft even longer. Overall I was quite happy with the Abzan CoCo deck and the sideboard, but in retrospect I would have not played the Scavenging Ooze
maindeck. The card was always embarrassing and is really only good against Storm, which the meta was 100% prepared against, so almost nobody played Storm anymore. I would have really liked the Qasali Pridemage
in the maindeck instead of the sideboard, as it is nice to have as a Chord target in a lot of different matchups: Affinity, UW Control, Lantern and some of the more obscure decks (Titanshift with Prismatic Omen
, KCI combo).
1) Almost all my opponents were very friendly and fun to play against
2) Learning a lot from after-match discussions
3) Meeting lots of new people
4) Making day 2 together with Leon
5) Eating with some of the Dutch & Belgian pros
1) The food. Having to wait until 8pm before you can find actual dinner is one thing, but none of the restaurants I tried were good. The breakfast and lunch options are also extremely unappealing, as they all consist of sloppily prepared sandwiches.
2) Poor WiFi everywhere
3) Not being able to test more because of work the weeks prior
Thank you for reading, and hopefully until next tournament!