Invitational Weekend

Written by Tim Bachmann on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern, Standard

Invitational Weekend

Tim Bachmann

Hailing from northeast Pennsylvania, Tim has been playing since Mirrodin, and has been playing competitively since Dragons of Tarkir. With aspirations of playing on the Pro Tour, Tim plays in as many PPTQs and GPs as he can.

This past weekend I played in my first SCG Invitational event. This was the culmination of all of last year’s efforts. That was my main goal last year after all, to qualify for this event. It took until the end of the year, but we finally qualified.

I spent a lot of time focusing on Modern, as the format was in a state of upheaval after the ban of Splinter Twin, and with the entrance of the Eldrazi menace which caused the banning of Eye of Ugin, and I didn’t have a deck to play. I ended up landing on Jund. I did love Splinter Twin a ton, but I remembered that when I looked to build a Modern deck, the reason I chose Splinter Twin was because I read that it was the best deck somewhere, so I decided to just settle on whichever was considered the best deck again.

Now, that was only half of the battle at the Invitational. As you may know, it’s a sixteen round, split format event. Eight rounds of Modern and eight rounds of Standard, four of each on each day. I ended up with Bant Company, for a lot of reasons. It was the deck I played since halfway through the Oath of the Gatewatch Standard season, so I felt pretty comfortable with the deck and most of its interactions. I performed pretty well with it also, I top eighted every event I played with the deck over the past year at a competitive level (IQs and PPTQs), I had a decent day one at GPNY earlier in the year with the deck, and it was considered the best deck going into the Invitational, even through the ton of hate pointed at it after the Pro Tour.

So in the end, I did my best to prepare for Modern, and I felt pretty comfortable in the format. I had just top four’d and made the finals of my last two Modern PPTQs. As with when I played Splinter Twin, I found that some matchups seemed a bit different than was reported by the general populace. For instance, I feel like while I have the cards to beat Infect, but it’s really a crap shoot of a matchup. We both have hands that are just unbeatable, and a lot of the matchup depends on which threats the Infect player draws and which spells the Jund player draws. However a lot of people claim that it’s a favorable matchup for Jund.

Also in the end, I underprepared for Standard. I should have maybe played a different deck, and focused more on that format. However, it was sort of in the back of my mind since the PPTQ season is Modern, and this is my last Standard event until Kaladesh’s PPTQ season, which is post rotation.

Anyway, on day 1, I ended up going 2-2 in the Modern rounds, which was a bit disappointing since I felt like I prepared really well for the format. I played exceptionally well in Modern I thought. I even took a game off of Jim Davis on Jeskai Nahiri in round 1 (who is a really cool dude btw, I wouldn’t mind battling against him in the future). I lost to him though, as I believe I drew nothing relevant for about seven turns after having grinded through all of his cards, leaving him hellbent. I ended up losing to Jeskai Nahiri and Bant Eldrazi (which is sort of a throwaway matchup, I decided that I would just lose to this matchup going into the event), and beat the mirror and Bogles.

My goal coming into the weekend was to day 2 either the Invitational or the Modern Open. Having gone 2-2 in my stronger format didn’t bode well for me, as I knew I had more than my hands full in the following four Standard rounds. I only had one match to drop to make day 2. My venture wasn’t helped when I lost my first round of Standard to the mirror, meaning I had to go 3-0 for the rest of the day in order to day 2.

We did it though, playing amazingly well in games 1 and 3 against the mirror in round 6, beating U/B Zombies handily in two games, and beating the Demonic Pact/Harmless Offering deck in three games. We were on the board. Myself and my two teammates in the event all day two’d the Invitational. Two of us (myself included) went 5-3, and one of us went 6-2. This was a much bigger deal for me than it was for them. I don’t get to attend many Grand Prix or Open events, my buddies Ryan and Joe go to far more than I, and generally perform well at them, where day 2 is their standard. However, at the beginning of this year, one of my goals was to make day 2 at an event, and that was my expectation coming in.

Day 2 had me starting white hot, going 3-0 in the first rounds of Modern against Jeskai Nahiri, and two Infect opponents, before the implosion began, losing in three games to my third Infect opponent in a row. After that, we gave up two losses in Standard to the mirror against Kurt Spiess and U/G Crush against Zac Elsik before dropping for the day, realizing we were no longer live for cash.

At the end of the day, our lack of preparation in Standard ended up biting us. And that’s as a group. My friend Joe doesn’t get to play as much as he’d like between his work and family commitments, and my friend Ryan and I just didn’t put as much work into Standard as we should have. I felt like I did fine in the Modern portion, my loss to Jim Davis was based on poor luck, and I had a poor pairing against Bant Eldrazi. I was actually very proud of how well I played in Modern despite my slightly above 50% record. I feel like if I played any other deck in Standard, I probably could have performed better overall.

Anyway, after the Invitational, I have one thing left on my checklist for the year. To win a dang PPTQ. There are two local PPTQ events left for this season, before we switch over to Standard, and the last PPTQ season of the year. So I only have a handful of shots left. But I’m going to do it. I’m going all out to do it. And I have extra incentive to really become an expert at the Standard format because of Grand Prix Providence in October which is also Standard. My goal there is to make day 2. I would love to cash, and I would be elated if I ended up going 13-2. That’s the dream record. However, I do know that we have to make baby steps here, especially with my limited time to focus on the game, so my only goal remaining for the year is to win a PPTQ.

Now, I want to talk about some sleeper cards that are either not seeing play at all, or are only seeing fringe play in either Modern or Standard.

At the Modern open this weekend, the folks of Team Metagamegurus that weren’t able to play in day 2 of the Invitational, ended up playing a Grixis colored Bedlam Reveler deck. This card has legs. It’s essentially a four for one, right? It’s essentially Treasure Cruise with a Bolt-proof body that plays even better with Snapcaster Mage, since you don’t have to Delve any cards. The only downside is that you should try to do this as the last spell you cast so that the discarding your hand bit is minimally impactful. Miles Rodriguez top eight’d the Invitational with two copies of this card in his standard maindeck as a way to refuel his hand, and it also has some synergy with Fiery Temper.

I expect this card to break out in Standard post rotation if it doesn’t happen before. The card is just too absurdly powerful to not see play. Heck, U/R Fevered Visions is on my shortlist of decks for week one of the new standard format, featuring this card. In Modern, it probably is good enough as well. Again, having the synergy with Snapcaster Mage, and having is still allow you to cast Delve spells means it will probably be good enough to be built into the Grixis delver deck, or as its own build around card.

The other card I wanted to talk about is Voldaren Pariah. I have a feeling that after Dragons and Origins rotate, and with them Collected Company, madness cards will have a second life. Voldaren Pariah, while being played in the zombies deck now, is the truth! The card is actually insane. Being to cast it at almost instant speed thanks to Madness, and then also having a pseudo board clear attached to a big beefy creature has a lot of promise.

This happened to me online once, and I am now always cautious when my opponent has a discard outlet, three creatures, and three black mana, just because the card is absurdly powerful with its effects. This card is a bit trickier though, since it’s probably not Modern playable, and Archangel Avacyn exists in the format, so activating the Pariah’s flip ability into five open mana doesn’t seem very safe.

So my takeaways from the Invitational? I would have better preparation for Standard. Modern is the eternal format of choice now, so it’s going to change far less than Standard. Once you’re locked into a deck for Modern, and you’re pretty comfortable with it, it just takes a few games to get back in the groove. Where Standard is a point of contention all the time, with the new quickly moving rotations.

Also, if you’re not comfortable in a format, don’t play the best deck. I know that for a few weeks, maybe months, I’ve been touting the best deck of the format. It’s the best for a reason and all that, but if it’s obviously the best deck, and it’s going to be the most played deck, and you’re expecting a lot of mirror matches, it’s probably not a good idea to try to play against people who are on the same strategy and probably have more practice both with the deck in general and in the mirror match.

Well that’s it. Overall I’m pretty happy how my weekend went. I’m excited to play in the season one Invitational for 2017, and I’m also super excited for GP Providence in October. I’m also super excited for Standard rotation, I think most everyone is getting really sick of Collected Company.

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