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SCG Open Denver
Place: 3rd

Starcitygames Open

Hey everyone, itís been a while since Iíve written a tournament report or much of anything else except facebook spam so I figured it would be a good idea to update everyone. This past weekend starcitygames help an open tournament here in Denver and originally I wasnít going to bother showing up, not because I wasnít confident in doing well but because I honestly didnít feel like grinding away a full day in a room full of sweaty guys during the summer time. The only real reason I considered showing up was that it was being held at Invesco field with a bunch of added perks like a free lacrosse game and a showing of back to the future on the actual field itself not to mention it was being held on my home turf so I felt obligated to defend it from outsiders taking the trophy.

My basic idea going into the tournament was to try and beat the mirror match since Caw-Blade is by far the best deck in the format and I expected to see it in large numbers especially for a competitive tournament. My prediction was that the first 1-3 rounds would be random garbage decks/strategies that attempted to beat the deck before the cream rose to the top and the last 3 rounds would consist of slugging out the mirror match. Since the deck destroys all the other decks I wasnít really concerned about facing them and wanted to make sure I had a solid main deck for the mirror match while trying to have a sideboard that could deal with the field (what a revolutionary idea). The main deck luminarch ascensions came about from this thought process, they were originally in the sideboard but I felt they were powerful enough to earn a slot in the starting 60 because they have the ability to just win the control mirror match if your opponent doesnít answer them/know how to play around them. Also they ended up taking the slot designed for spell pierce which is bad in the same decks luminarch ascension is bad versus so it wasnít really giving up too much to fit them in. Spell pierce is almost dead versus vampires, mono red, and Naya or any other creature based strategy much like the ascensions.

Since Denver is notorious for players attempting aggro strategies I spent the night before play testing the deck to make sure it could handle aggro match ups even with maindeck luminarch ascensions and it went pretty well so I tried my best to get some sleep even though I stayed up until about 3 am. I woke up at 6 feeling like shit so I showered and tried to shake the cobwebs but it didnít help so I decided to get ready and head to the tournament site to make sure I was there by 8 am to be safe. Obviously the tournament didnít start until 10 am so I felt like jumping off a cliff but tried to pass the time talking with friends and sizing up the competition. Other than the regular Denver grinders the competition looked like a bunch of tomato cans so I felt confident going into the first round

Round 1

It started with my opponent playing a turn 1 hedron crab into turn 2 hedron crab, inquisition taking my dismember. On turn 2 I played a mystic and he played an archive trap and the game quickly evolved into a race with him trying to deck me and me trying to kill him. I got him down to 1 card in hand and dead on board but he drew for his turn and played a land and his freshly drawn archive trap to mill me out. I shook my head and congratulated him on his draw thinking about how miserable the rest of the day was going to be if the rest of the games mirrored that one. The second game I beat him down with equipment and squadron hawks (I made sure not to search because I had a feeling he was sandbagging multiple traps) sure enough turn 5 he had to hard cast an archive trap but I killed him shortly after that. Game 3 I took out the hawks and brought in the ascensions I had incorrectly boarded out. This game started similar to the first one with a t1 crab followed by inquisition taking my dismember. I played the ascension turn 2 and he misread the card thinking that once it hit 4 counters I could remove a counter to make a 4/4 angel. The ascension slowly ticked up and I cast a jace the turn before ascension was going to go live in an attempt to bait his into the roil if he had it, sure enough he bit and the ascension went live and I made 3 angels and killed him.

Round 2

I sized up my opponent before the match started and could tell he was a grinder so I put him on the best deck in the format and kept a 6 land stoneforge hand. He played a mountain turn 1 and then goblin guide, the guide revealed a dismember the next turn after he attacked I killed it then on my second turn I grabbed a batterskull with the mystic. He had the removal and another goblin guide which revealed jace into Gideon and I overwhelmed him. Game two I boarded in the firewalkers, 2 flash freeze, the celestial purge and sword of war and peace, taking out the ascensions, mana leaks, 2 jace, and sword of feast and famine. Game two I played a turn 2 mystic to test his hand, and he shook his head and dismembered it. I had a feeling this meant his hand was light on burn/removal so the next turn I played a firewalker and found out I was partly right. He shook his head and said ďshould have bolted the mystic instead of dismemberĒ and the firewalker with sword of war/peace went the distance.

Round 3

I was playing another solid player, this time he had u/b which I was very happy to see. I kept a light hand and he inquisitioned me taking my squadron hawks, my jace got mana leaked and he played his own and I didnít draw anything else and he just ultimated it and killed me. Game two I boarded in the purges for 2 day of judgement and a batterskull. This game I got a turn 2 ascension and it went active killing him shortly after that. Game 3 was a total battle, we exchanged jaces and some attacks but eventually I got a consecrated sphinx to stick after he tapped out for a wurmcoil engine. He attacked with the engine and creeping tarpits to knock me pretty low. The next turn I played a Gideon killing his engine and leaving up a tectonic edge to kill one of his creeping tarpits, he attacked Gideon and I blocked his lifelink wurm with the sphinx but Gideon died, he also top decked the inquisition to get my celestial purge for his second tarpit. The next turn I thought I needed to draw a tectonic edge or purge or I was going to die to the creeping tarpits and instead I drew a Gideon and realized that was going to be good enough. The sphinx drew me into a mystic on his turn and on my turn I played it grabbing batterskull and eventually equipped the sphinx which gained me 8 life which was well out of creeping tarpit range.

Round 4

I played in a fake feature match against mono red. Game 1 I got completely smashed because I assumed again my opponent would be playing Caw-Blade since it was the later rounds of the tournament. Game 2 I got a firewalker to stick and gained life and eventually killed him with Gideon and stoneforge mystics. Game 3 was more of the same except I ended the game at like 24 life despite missing around 8 triggers off of double kor firewalker. My opponent complained when I played Gideon and said ďDidnít you get the memo, heís not good anymore all the good Caw-Blade players cut himĒ I just shrugged and said ďIt beat you didnít it?Ē and walked off

Round 5

I was playing versus a birthing pod deck. That sentence should pretty much sum up the round. The guy had just finished up doing deck tech with the coverage team so he was pretty confident. The truth is he was never really in any of the games although Iím sure he felt like he was. Game 1 he got a fauna shaman and searched up a vengevine before I killed it with dismember. He got an active pod going and slimed one of my equipments I think. I had a Gideon that was completely destroying his board though and eventually played a consecrated sphinx. He had the metamorph to copy the sphinx and on my turn my favorite play of the day happened. I had drawn 5 lands off my turns and the sphinx and had nothing going on at all. On my draw step he chose to draw 2 with his sphinx, I chose to draw 4, he chose to draw 8 and I chose to draw 16, he chose to draw 16 as well. In my cards I was pretty much just digging for jace and played it, bouncing his metamorph and attacked with Gideon, the sphinx and a hawk to kill him exactly. Game two he mulliganed to 6 and kept a land light hand and I resolved an early mystic and just tore him apart. He started getting pissy towards the end of the match complaining that I was his best match up and I should never win and I was so lucky etc etc. I just shrugged and thought to myself ďitís all over except for the cryingĒ and turned in the slip.

Round 6

I played versus a vampires player and game 1 was really tough. He actually had me dead on board at one point. I had a batterskull and a sword of feast and famine and a jace but he had a highborn, viscera seer, manic vandal, and a lacerator. I was at 9 life so all he had to do was attack with his guys and whichever one I blocked he could just sacrifice it so I donít gain the life instead he passed and I was able to attack with my guy and gain 6 going up to 15 and from there the game was all over. Game two he mulliganed and kept a 1 land hand on the play. He played a pulse tracker, I played a land, he missed a land drop and played a viscera seer. I played a land and then a stoneforge mystic grabbing batterskull, he drew a comes into play tapped land and couldnít attack, I put the batterskull into play and the game was more or less over. I forced his creatures to attack into my two batterskulls with Gideon and then outright killed him the next turn.

Round 7-8 ID into top 8

Quarterfinals

I played my opponent from round 2 except this time I got the pleasure of knowing I was playing versus a red deck and we also swapped deck lists. Game 1 was a complete blowout, I was close to stabilizing with a batterskull but he got a shrine up to 13 or 14 (no exaggeration) and killed me the turn before I could swing to go up to 17. The next game I kept a kor firewalker hand which bought me enough time to stabilize with sword of war and peace. He had 3 shrines going at one point which was awkward especially after the first game but he had to waste them on creatures and didnít have much else going on. Game 3 was similar to the second game except he didnít have the shrines and didnít really have much going on except for drawing land after land. I played firewalkers and batterskulls and just ended it.

Semifinals

I was playing an almost exact carbon copy of the round before except his sideboard was a little different. Game 1 I died to a shrine before I could case a day of judgment. Game 2 I played two kor firewalkers and all 4 squadron hawks and just attacked him to death. Game 3 was quite a battle and I should have won but I made two decisions that ended up being wrong and costing me, if I would have made the other decision in either case I would have easily won. I got an early kor firewalker but he had the early shrine, I declined to attack forcing him to either waste a turn using the shrine to kill it so he could attack or make it so he couldnít attack for the turn which saved me some damage. He chose the first option. He kept beating down with an ember hauler and spikeshot elder. I cast a day of judgement then I played a stoneforge mystic grabbing a sword of war and peace. My hand already had a batterskull and I figured if I played the sword of war and peace I could bait out his artifact removal since the game looked to be going long enough that I could bounce the batterskull. Sure enough he had manic vandal killing it. I tapped out to play the batterskull and he took the token with act of aggression and then killed it with a dismember after attacking me for 4. My next turn I had an interesting choice, I cast a preordain and saw mystic and Gideon on top but I only had 5 lands out (one was tapped for the preordain) so I had to either take the Gideon and not do anything on my turn or take the stoneforge and either shuffle away the Gideon or fail to find (I had no equipment in my hand) in hind sight I should have just played it and failed to find and then the next turn played Gideon killing his creature and stabilizing. Instead I searched and shuffled it away. The manic vandal kept eating away at me and eventually I had to try and equip an inkmoth nexus with batterskull to try and gain life and put him on a 2 turn clock but his last card in hand was burst lighting (it would have killed me the next turn so itís a good thing I got it out of his hand) He attacked and played an ember hauler which threatened to kill me next turn. All I could do was replay the batterskull for a token and he drew a spikeshot elder to kill me. The problem I was having at the end of the game was not being able to equip my colonnades because it was so expensive so if I would have waited and baited his artifact removal on my batterskull I would have had my sword which is much more manageable to equip and I probably would have won the game as well. This isnít as definitive as the Gideon/stoneforge play because he would have still had his act of aggression and the dismember so itís still a toss up.

In the end my friend with vampires beat my semifinals opponent in the finals so the standard trophy stayed here in Denver. Congrats to Brandon Montoya for winning the whole thingÖIím sorry I didnít win my match, it would have been a pretty sweet finals plotline since we would have both been undefeated at that point and guaranteed the trophy stayed here. Congrats to Tom Ma (I know youíre from Wyoming but we consider you family!), Brett Piazza (I knew you were too good of a player to not win something this weekend so Iím glad you took down the draft challenge) and Branson Mitchell (Sorry I forgot to congratulate you in person at Enchanted grounds last night I was really tired) In the end every trophy/plaque ended up staying here so it was an awesome weekend all around and underscores just how far Denver magic has come.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions hit me up on facebook or AIM: Howlucky4

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