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Takeaways from Columbus

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

Takeaways from Columbus

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 was the SCG season one invitational in Columbus, Ohio.  Along with only being the second week of the newest Standard format, it was really the first large event to showcase Modern after both the Splinter Twin and Summer Bloom banning, as well as the Eye of Ugin banning (and Sword of the Meek and Ancestral Vision unbanning).  There was a lot of stuff to watch for this weekend, with a Standard and Modern split main event that is the Invitational, a two day Standard Open, and a Modern and Legacy classic event.  It was a great preview of the Pro Tour that is happening next weekend, and there were a lot of takeaways.

  • Bant Company is Busted

    Now I’m not sure if this is because Jim Davis and his play group did exceptionally well with the deck the week before, having three of their players make the top 16 of the Standard Open in Baltimore, but the idea that three color decks would be near unplayable without ally colored fetchlands was proven to be a fallacy.

19 of the top 32 decks of the Standard open this weekend were Bant Company, mimicking the shell that Davis won with the week prior, while three of the top 8 lists at the Invitational for Standard were Bant Company.  It was also the most played Standard archetype at the Invitational, followed by White Humans variants.

Something has to be said of the power level of this deck right now.  Keeping in mind that this is still only week 2 of this Standard format, and there are plenty of weeks to go until our next set is even on our radar, and the Pro Tour next week could shift everything around and point us in a new direction, Bant was absolutely the deck to beat this past weekend.  I expect it to be next weekend also.  I don’t think that the decks that beat the Bant deck have favorable matchups against the White Humans decks that also lurk around each corner, and that’s why I think decks like Ramp, which look to have a favorable Bant matchup, might still not show up.

If you’re looking to go to the SCG State Championships for Standard this weekend, as I am, you better be prepared for not only the White Humans decks, but the Bant Company decks, as I guarantee that you’ll play it at least twice if you’re on the winning side of the matchup brackets.

2.)        Gerry Thompson and Craig Krempels still “got it”

These Magic greats of the past still showed this weekend that they have the chops to hang with the new blood.  A lot of people already know of Gerry Thompson.  He’s been a content provider for Star City Games for a long time now, has been showcased at numerous Pro Tours and (especially) Grand Prix, is an active streamer within the community, and is a great deckbuilder that can put up results.  He’s a good dude and is a very smart Magic player, and many people know this.
A lot of people I’ve talked to, however, don’t know Craig Krempels outside of the SCG coverage booth.  While I only recently personally met Craig, and he is a splendid gentleman, his Magic career didn’t begin at the start of the year doing Magic coverage.  Craig grew up in New Jersey, playing alongside the likes of Patrick Sullivan, Eugene Harvey, Mark Herberholz, and Gerard Fabiano.  Back in the day when I was watching coverage, before my University break between Lorwyn and M15, Craig was a National Champion.  A Pro Tour regular.  This performance he put up this past weekend, getting second place at this approximately 700 people event is simply a return to form for the veteran.

We all know Gerry can play, and the fact that he can play his (tournament) unproven brews to victory over and over again is a great reason to be a fan of the man.  Many people didn’t know Craig is a really fantastic Magic player as well, and it seems that his sails are full of very strong winds, and I would expect him to ride that momentum forward to future events.

3.)        I was wrong about Sword of the Meek

Last week, I wrote an article about how I wasn’t very excited about Sword of the Meek being unbanned, and didn’t expect it to be a huge player in the format going forward.  I was more excited about playing with Ancestral Vision.
Last week, after SCG Baltimore’s Modern Classic event, it looked like I was on the right track.  Grixis lists were running Visions all over the place, and Thing in the Ice were being melted in Modern, and I was happy.

Who else but Gerry Thompson could prove that all to just be hype.  He may not have been the first person to play it, brew it, or even write about it, he was really the first household name player to pilot the deck successfully at a major event.

Taking the deck to a top 8 at an Invitational is a great achievement.  The combo looked very strong.  I didn’t realize how absurdly powerful it was until a friend battled me with it.  After I played against it, and after seeing Gerry winning with it, I’m convinced that this is a legitimate strategy in Modern moving forward.  I guess though that if a silly enough deck as Lantern Control can exist, almost anything may happen in Modern.

4.)        Standard may not be as wide open as you may think

This is a touch depressing to admit, but I miss Khans of Tarkir.  I remember a lot of my articles last year talked about there being a best deck in the format, and how I preferred that style of format over what we had when Khans of Tarkir was the flagship set in Standard.

I was wrong.  I miss the days when any deck could have a just about equal shot at top eighting.  I liked my Jeskai deck.  I liked my Abzan deck.  I liked knowing I could play against Mono Red, or Mardu, or Esper Dragons, or any other number of things, and that the matchup would come down to play skill for the most part, and not just who had the better cards.

We saw this happening last season with Rally.  There were other decks that were strong, sure.  Jeskai Black, Abzan, Abzan Blue, Bant Company, Ramp.  These were all decks, but Rally was kind of getting too big for its britches and keeping other decks from actually playing Magic.

Now that all of these creatures with a mana cost of three or less have all of this inherent value, like bouncing guys, tapping or untapping blockers for defense or offense, drawing cards from playing lands, making your creatures cost less to cast, casting spells like Collected Company from your graveyard, and picking creatures out of the top three cards in your deck, as well as being able to play with Archangel Avacyn in this same deck, it kind of makes other decks not so great.

Well, I for one have become accustomed to what Khans did for Standard.  I’m a Lightning Bolt and Brainstorm kind of guy.  Those are just the kind of decks I like to play.  I really have fun when I play those decks.  Coupled with the fact that I’m not great at combat math, and don’t have the time to commit to practicing these long protracted Bant Company mirror board stalls means that I am planning on playing the Blue Red Goggles deck this Standard, or whatever variant of the deck is found at the Pro Tour to do well.

This is one of the reasons I moved off of Rally last season.  That mirror is just horrendous and not fun.  Playing against Rally at all wasn’t fun, but at least when I was playing Bant Company, I interacted a lot and could overwhelm my opponent, and I didn’t feel like a slime ball for doing it.

I’m not a fan of playing mirror matches in general, just because I tend to practice those less than other matchups, and am therefore poorer at playing them.  But when you get mirror matches for gross decks like Bant Company or Rally, there’s nothing there that is appealing to me.

Whatever you decide to play in the coming weeks, make sure it beats Company and Humans.  That’s pretty much it.  Worry about the other stuff after you’ve covered these two matchups, because they are going to be the bulk of the format for the coming months, regardless of what innovations come out of the Pro Tour this weekend.

5.)        Moving forward

Where do we go from here?  To States of course!  My next few weekends are booked, and I’ll be looking to play as much Magic as I can while I prepare for Grand Prix New York.  My goal there is to Day 2, and hopefully pick up my first Pro Point.  However, I love large events like Grand Prix anyway.  It’s like a huge Magic convention, and you get to see a bunch of people just enjoying their favorite game.

With State Championships this weekend, a PPTQ next weekend, and a lot of practice in the lead up to Grand Prix New York, I plan to have a lot of reps under my belt.  Hopefully I’ll be rewarded for playing my favorite color combination, and hopefully I find a way to consistently beat the creature decks in the format with the Goggles deck.
Feel free to tweet me @bachmanntim, and maybe we can meet up!

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