Round 16 Roundup!

The final round saw Team SCG return to their winning ways, for the most part.

Sam Black: L
Patrick Chapin: D
Matt Costa: W
Reid Duke: W
Jon Finkel: L
Bob Maher: W
Tom Martell: W
Zvi Mowshowitz: L
Gabriel Nassif: D
Brad Nelson: W
Josh Ravitz: L
Gaudenis Viduguris: W
Jelger Wiegersma: L

Patrick Chapin took an ID into Top 50, while Nassif did the same in order to secure Top 16. Tom Martell won playing for Top 16, a pretty strong following to his Pro Tour Gatecrash performance.

The big story of the round was Reid Duke. Reid could draw into Platinum for the next year, but a win would also send him to the Player’s Championship and give him a significant cash boost… but a loss would mean Gold. On the live camera he dueled for all those marbles, and came up a winner!

The players’ performances over the Constructed portion:

Reid Duke: 8-2
Tom Martell: 8-2

Gabriel Nassif: 7-2-1
Matt Costa: 7-3

Bob Maher: 6-3-1
Zvi Mowshowitz: 6-4
Brad Nelson: 6-4
Sam Black: 6-4

Patrick Chapin: 5-4-1
Josh Ravitz: 5-5
Jelger Wiegersma: 5-5

Jon Finkel: 4-6
Gaudenis Viduguris: 4-6
Andrew Cuneo: 4-4

Owen Turtenwald: 2-2
David Williams: 2-3

Paul Rietzl: 0-4

And lastly, their finishes!

9th Reid Duke
12th Tom Martell
13th Gabriel Nassif
31st Matt Costa
40th Patrick Chapin
85th Bob Maher
90th Zvi Mowshowitz
91st Sam Black
93rd Brad Nelson
101st Josh Ravitz
109th Jelger Wiegersma
140th Jon Finkel
155th Gaudenis Vidurgiris

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Round 15 Roundup!

Round 14 has finished and it was one heck of a round!  First, let’s go over the results:

Sam Black: W
Patrick Chapin: W
Matt Costa: W
Reid Duke: W
Jon Finkel: L
Bob Maher: L
Tom Martell: W
Zvi Mowshowitz: L
Gabriel Nassif: W
Brad Nelson: W
Josh Ravitz: W
Gaudenis Viduguris: L
Jelger Wiegersma: W

The player to watch is Gabriel Nassif.  His match against Ken Yukuhiro was quite the affair but two topdecked copies of Angel of Serenity (one from a cycled Azorious Charm and the other from the final activation from a Jace, Architect of Thought) allowed Nassif to not only claw his way back into the match but actually win it.

ON THE FOURTH TURN OF EXTRA TURNS!

Now he stands one win away and some interesting tiebreaker math breaking in his favor between his tenth Pro Tour top eight. He’s paired against David Sharfman for the final round of the day, who’s San Diego Zoo deck has taken this tournament by storm and may wind up as the constructed deck with the highest win percentage.

Can Nassif defeat the Pro Tour: Nagoya champion and add another Sunday to his vast list of accomplishments? We’ll know shortly!

Round 14 Roundup!

This round saw the bell toll a few times.

Sam Black: L
Patrick Chapin: L
Matt Costa: W
Andrew Cuneo: L
Reid Duke: L
Jon Finkel: L
Bob Maher: L
Tom Martell: W
Zvi Mowshowitz: W
Gabriel Nassif: L
Brad Nelson: L
Josh Ravitz: W
Gaudenis Viduguris: L
Jelger Wiegersma: W

Team SCG’s Top 8 hopes are basically dashed at this point, but there’s still plenty on the line. Reid Duke, for example, is hunting for Platinum with a Top 25 finish, while Tom Martell is holding on for dear life to retain captaincy of the US World Magic Cup team. Only a couple more rounds are left before it’s all settled.

Team SCG’s Bant Control in Block

As you now well know, many members of Team SCG are playing Bant Control. What you might not know is that all of them are! For the first time, all 17 players are locked in on the same archetype at the Pro Tour.

So how did they land on this particular archetype? I sat down with Brad Nelson to figure it out.

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“Testing started with everyone in ‘free play,’” Brad explained. “Zvi on a Zvi deck and Sam on a Sam deck. I started as ‘the enemy’ and I liked where the Sphinx’s Revelation decks were.” The mythic rare is one of the defining cards in San Diego, so that’s no real surprise. Their brews sounded far more interesting! “Zvi worked on a Dark Simic deck and Sam on Hidden Strings combo. They were cool decks, but there wasn’t enough time and the metagame punishes inconsistent decks.” Looking around, the success of G/B/W disruptive decks and the Florida G/R/W certainly echo that sentiment.

Still, Zvi’s deck showed a lot of promise. “Dark Simic was the most promising deck until we all got on Bant.” The shift to Bant began with Brad’s flight out to test. “When I landed, I was really into U/W/R, but I found that Voice of Resurgence was way more powerful than even I thought—and I thought it was insane. The deck just didn’t perform against Selesnya, which was enemy number one.”

Brad moved on from the deck, abandoning it when he failed to get that matchup up to snuff. “I saw an old shell of a Bant deck from RTR-GTC Block, and ported it over. I cut all the bad cards and added Voices.” The 2/2 changed the game significantly. “The thing Bant does is have the best Jaces in the format. We can protect our Jaces and defeat theirs—Voice and Smiter force their Jaces to tick up or die, and ticking up is the worst thing to do in the control mirror.” That gave Team SCG the room to lean on the card advantage of Jace, while their Esper opponents were on the back foot.

Voice didn’t stop there. “Against aggressive decks, you can throw out guys and tick down Jace safely. It puts them in an awkward spot where they often have to decide between attacking you or Jace.” With a potent two-drop, Bant started to look sweet. “Bant plays a really good game starting on turn 2. If aggressive decks stumble, you can be aggressive. Supreme Verdict isn’t the end-all, be-all—you have to interact with them before that.” Now, Bant could—it didn’t have to worry about Rootborn Defenses, Golgari Charm, or Boros Charm ‘countering’ Supreme Verdicts. It could just play Voices and Smiters to match their game.

“That’s where I was at, with a very tap-out version of the deck, and everyone on the team was just not interested. Once Reid, Zvi, Chapin, and Finkel gravitated toward the deck, Syncopates and Plasm Capture made it into the main.” Brad had initially excluded counterspells, preferring a midrange strategy, but these teammates had seen their power. The Plasm Captures especially were an incredible addition, making the Esper matchup a complete blowout. “If you put pressure on Esper, force them to react in the early game with Voice or Smiter, then Plasm Capture just wins the game.”

Frequently, the Bant deck leans on these early creatures for incidental damage. The Esper player can’t commit a defense to the board that early, and they usually wind up casting Supreme Verdict, Jace, or an early Revelation. Plasm Capture on any of those cards—even the Supreme Verdict—is a massive mana advantage that turns into a tempo advantage. “You play Fish until you counter the one pivotal spell that matters… then play Aetherling!”

A turn 5 Aetherling with mana up is nearly impossible to defeat in the format.

“Once Chapin and Duke were on this deck, the correct shell got built and the deck was unbeatable,” Brad admitted. The team went to work honing the numbers, cutting the chaff, and arrived at the configuration that is serving them so well.

Overall, Team SCG’s Bant Control deck did about 60% on Day 1, a fine rate across 17 players. Only Gabriel Nassif went undefeated, with five players behind him on four wins.

Round 13 Roundup!

Round 13 is in the books and we’ve got updates:

Sam Black: W
Patrick Chapin: L
Matt Costa: W
Andrew Cuneo: W
Reid Duke: W
Jon Finkel: W
Bob Maher: W
Tom Martell: W
Zvi Mowshowitz: L
Gabriel Nassif: W
Brad Nelson: L
Josh Ravitz: L
Gaudenis Viduguris: W
Jelger Wiegersma: W

Gabriel Nassif and Patrick Chapin had to battle last round with Nassif coming out on top to keep his top eight dreams alive. Reid Duke also kept his top eight aspirations in tact by finding an end to Hao-Shan Huang’s overly complicated maze. The rest of the team looks to be out of top eight contention but with plenty of pro points and cash on the line, I expect to see quite a few awesome matches over the next three rounds.

Round 12 Roundup!

The team managed a full split this round, but with the losses coming in some key matches.

Sam Black: W
Patrick Chapin: L
Matt Costa: W
Andrew Cuneo: L
Reid Duke: W
Jon Finkel: W
Bob Maher: W
Tom Martell: L
Zvi Mowshowitz: W
Gabriel Nassif: L
Brad Nelson: L
Josh Ravitz: W
Gaudenis Viduguris: L
Jelger Wiegersma: L

Reid Duke and Tom Martell were paired, resulting in only one of them advancing ahead on three losses. Patrick Chapin and Gabriel Nassif both dropped their matches, falling to three losses and leaving the Top 8 in a much cloudier situation for the Team. It’s not #PTGTC in San Diego, but with three rounds to go there’s still plenty of glory (and cash and Pro Points) left up for grabs.

Round 11 Roundup!

The drafting portion of Pro Tour: Dragon’s Maze is complete. We’ve got lots of updates, but let’s begin with what happened in round eleven for each team member:

Sam Black: L
Patrick Chapin: W
Matt Costa: W
Andrew Cuneo: W
Reid Duke: L
Jon Finkel: W
Bob Maher: L
Tom Martell: W
Zvi Mowshowitz: W
Gabriel Nassif: W
Brad Nelson: L
Josh Ravitz: L
Gaudenis Viduguris: L
Jelger Wiegersma: W

Next up is their record in the second draft:

Sam Black: 1-2
Patrick Chapin: 3-0
Matt Costa: 2-1
Andrew Cuneo: 1-2
Reid Duke: 2-1
Jon Finkel: 2-1
Bob Maher: 0-3
Tom Martell: 3-0
Zvi Mowshowitz: 2-1
Gabriel Nassif: 2-1
Brad Nelson: 1-2
Josh Ravitz: 2-1
Gaudenis Viduguris: 2-1
Jelger Wiegersma: 2-1

And finally, their collective records as they move back into constructed:

Sam Black: 6-5
Patrick Chapin: 9-2
Matt Costa: 6-5
Andrew Cuneo: 6-5
Reid Duke: 8-3
Jon Finkel: 7-4
Bob Maher: 6-4-1
Tom Martell: 8-3
Zvi Mowshowitz: 7-4
Gabriel Nassif: 9-2
Brad Nelson: 7-4
Josh Ravitz: 6-5
Gaudenis Viduguris: 6-5
Jelger Wiegersma: 6-5

Chapin and Nassif lead the pack at 9-2 and are incredibly happy moving back to constructed. Nassif, in particular, has not lost a game with #TeamSCG’s take on Bant this weekend. Martell and Duke both sit at 8-3, but are coming off very different experiences in round eleven. Martell won an incredibly tense game three with some timely topdecks to keep his top eight dreams alive while Duke lost an uneventful game three to Pro Tour: Nagoya champion David Sharfman to slow down his fantastic start.

Another player who has slowed down dramatically is Bob Maher. Entering the day at 6-1-1 and very pleased with how his draft went, Maher lost all three of his matches to wind up 6-4-1 and out of top eight contention. Things really can change that dramatically in just three hours.

As the players enjoy their lunch break, it will be fun to chat with them about their state of mind moving forward. These last five rounds are pressure filled and seeing how they handle it will be the difference between a top 50, a top 25, or a top 8.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@Starcitygames) as we bring you up to the minute action on all of the matches taking place! It’s been fun so far and it’s only about to get better!