Stark defeats Rietzl to win Pro Tour: Paris

Ben Stark

Team Fireball pro Ben Stark wins Pro Tour: Paris!

In a top 8 featuring several of the games greats, Ben Stark and his Caw Go build defeated Pro Tour: Amsterdam winner Paul Rietzl and Boros 3-1 in the finals. Stark’s UW deck featured the innovative Stoneforge Mystic Sword of Feast and Famine package that was the talk of the tournament.

The Pro Tour win is Stark’s first and comes on the tail of a Grand Prix: Atlanta finals appearance last month. It was the third Pro Tour Top 8 of his career.

Ben Stark’s Caw Go


56 thoughts on “Stark defeats Rietzl to win Pro Tour: Paris”

  1. Yeah, he definitely played SoFaF based on the coverage though so I suspect the maindeck of the list here should be SoFaF with SoBaM in the sideboard.

  2. @Brady
    It’s rather good actually. It kept him in one of the games in the final if I recall correctly.

  3. A well deserved win, and a commanding lead in the PoY race. 66 points is more than the “average” number it should take to win it, just because Brad went crazy last year and Guillaume really only caught up at worlds. But 33 points halfway through February is going to be a tough lead to lose. I’ll be in his corner.

  4. I was on board with sword from the beginning…I don’t know why people were so down on it. Body/mind is much worse than feast/famine (outside of limited…in limited/cube, the milling alone just kills them). Do people not understand the concept that card advantage+double mana = yes? Definite congrats to Ben for his victory, but I don’t understand why stoneforge+equipment is considered an ‘innovative’ package…to me, it sounds about as novel as Jace+blue sources…it’s pretty damn obvious that they go together.

  5. Also, @ Brady:
    The Lifestaff was there to stall the games against Boros, RDW, Kuldotha Red, etc… And let me tell you: it worked.

    @ Harrison Hite:
    66 is actually below average. Watanabe and Saito both got over 70 points in 2009. The year Olivier Ruel was trying to win it (and lost), he got about 80 points.
    —-Brad and Guillaume only got 66 as the playoff value because neither was a “road warrior.” The only true “road warrior” last year was Saito.

  6. @ Jessica:
    It wasn’t that Stoneforge+Equipment is innovative. It’s the part about putting that type of toolbox in a control shell that’s innovative.

  7. @Crawdizzle:

    I guess that makes some sense…(current) standard definitely isn’t used to aggressive cards in a control shell. The format I feel most comfortable with is legacy, and Tarmogoyfs have been carrying Jittes backed up by swords to plowshares and countermagic forever in that format, so it doesn’t seem abnormal to me to have a tempo shell surrounded by aggressive 2 drops.

  8. @Lenney

    well the Boros matchup is fine if you
    A. always draw at least 1 oust opening hand
    B. draw 2 day of judgement
    C. your opponent mulls a bunch and doesn’t hit koth/hero to pressure you

    3 of the 4 games

  9. Great stuff, that match with Tom Martell sounded epic or at least incredibly interesting ( nothing that lasts 3 hours is uninteresting…with the exception of Titanic). Yet another PT domination by team fireball isn’t that 5 pt’s in a row with at least one member in the top 8.

  10. @Crawdizzle Pop: Sure, being road warrior helps a lot, but you seem to forget that we have only 4 Pro Tours per year now – a few years ago it was 5 or even 7.

  11. The svlvok lifestafe is good against vamps and boros that is y it is main. And yes he ran sword of feast and fam. It is a mst have in a control deck if u wanna have ur lands untaped for counterspell defense

  12. @Josh
    I think that’s exactly what happen.

    So stark has 1/2 the points needed to be considered player of the year and has more than 3/4 of the year to do it. So here for hopping an American starts this decade off with POY.

    Congrats to Ben and Brad.

  13. Lifestaff is amazing. A hawk wielding one will kill a goblin guide and gain you a lightning bolt worth of life in the process.

  14. @ Spike:
    Last year there were only 4, and the year before that there were only 4.

    But we still have 20 GPs this year. That’s a LOT of points.

    2009: 4 PT, with 78 at 1st and 66 at 2nd.
    2008: 4 PT, with 70 at 1st, and 58 at 2nd (and 3rd)

  15. Well deserved win indeed, agree about the concept of the aggressive package in the typical control shell.
    Congrats Ben

  16. Idk why everyone was saying that caw go/blade is a good matchup for boros, as after board they have 4 doj, 4 oust, 2 banesalayer, 3 gideon, + creatures and sylvok lifestaff. I know Reitzl had a lot of unfortunate mullagains but if anything he was the under dog in the finals. Also the mulls were not just bad luck for paul, as that deck requires frequent mull agains while caw go hardly ever has to due to its incredible consistency

  17. I wish trolls would stop talkin Sh!t and leave it be…you reading these articles for a reason…please dont hate…cuz you just disrespectin yourself….BECAUSE you just plat FMN ….GET off here and step your game up!… thanks for the free lit…..congrats on the good showing!!!!

  18. Congratulations!

    On the discussion why the sword is innovative, don’t forget the pro-black. It helps alot against vamps & UB. That’s why its so much stronger then body & mind.

    The pro-black + the discard is just a awesome CA machine against control.

  19. Having protection from black is ‘good’, but, again, does it qualify as ‘innovation’ when there wasn’t a viable pro-black card in the format before the sword was printed (OK, white knight, but you get my point)? I’m not pretending that I could have just as easily brewed and piloted this thing to a win in Paris, but all of the features described as ‘innovation’ are apparent and inherent to the card. I consider ‘innovation’ to be cards that no one expected to be good, and, in all seriousness, any literate magic player can tell that feast and famine is awesome and will see play in every non-vintage format (and it might see limited play in fish decks in vintage..I don’t keep up with the metagame very well).The ‘innovative’ feature I see is the sylvok lifestaff…that’s a random scars common that was seeing exactly *no* play, and he showed that it’s a pro-tour level card in the right deck. When I saw sword in his deck, I thought “Yeah, that makes sense,” when I saw lifestaff I thought “WHAT!?!?”

  20. Sometimes it takes one card to make a deck exciting. Just never thought “Lifestaff” would be that card lol. Its kinda funny to think how many ppl tossed it aside before the PT, will now be main-boarding it.

  21. Awesome win sooo deserved! I had played the finals match a bit but my op had a much nastier board for me full of koth and ruin-blasters and it honestly felt quite bad, worse than older UW builds. I think just moving some counters to the board for more MD removal would help a lot, you really only want all those pierces for control. You just cant stumble against boros and Paul had some unfortunate draws vs your solid ones. Playing with lifestaf a bit I didn’t especially like it, and it acutely caused me to get blown out a few times from bolts as I equipped. I guess the tutorabilty with mystic makes it nice, but wouldn’t that gain 8 life spell work nice as well? Good luck in your player of the yea race!

  22. Is it possible to use swords uptap mana ability to make a double white sun zenith? in response to combat damage or something 😛

  23. It’s not so much a matter of being innovative as it is a matter of being open-minded to brand new concepts. Which deserves just as much, if not more kudos IMO. CawGo as a whole breaks the mold for U/W. The 2.0 version really breaks the mold for U/W. The untap mechanic in Sword of Feast or Famine is actually absurdly powerful, especially with the cheap, reliable evasion of Squadron Hawk. The ability for a control deck to play their threats AND keep mana up for counterspells is quite good, and basically results in ramp decks being ripped to shreds. (I suspect that CawGo 2.0 feasted on Valakut all week)

    It’s probably an entirely different metagame now, as ramp will have a hard time of things I think.

  24. Donzo:
    Rietzl never drew his best post-DoJ followups (Koth or Hero of Bladehold). I don’t know how the games would have played out if he did, but it’s worth noting.

  25. Originally when I saw the Sword of Feast and Famine, I was completely unimpressed as a Legacy player. I generally play CounterTop or Junk and Taxes. So, to me it was no Fire and Ice or Light and Shadow for Junk and Taxes, but the use of it in a control deck is amazing: being able to use mana in your first main phase AND during your opponent’s turn plus card advantage is absurdly powerful.

  26. if reitzel’s 2 PT finals appearences though 5 months within each other, werent on ether side of the new year, hed be unbeleivably far ahead for poy 2011

  27. Donzo is right, look at the semis mirror of Boros, several mulligans in that match. Just the way the deck is.

  28. wheresmyhundychapin?

    I had the honor of being owned by Ben at GP Boston last year (maybe 09?) We were in a bit of a stalemate when i played Platnum Angel. After a couple of turns, he Doom Blades my Angel and then Rises it from the grave…Grats on the win sir!

  29. I mean sure the deck mulligans a fair bit, but Oust can often save 8 damage and kill a mid-game draw step its only going to be in ~50% of your openers for t1/2 so hitting 1 3straight games is a pretty big swing in Starks favor, especially having Wrath every time too

    also I think when Ben was saying the match up is bad, he was focusing on best of 3, the game 1 win% for UW has to be awful, but gets a lot better after side, so the match up is much more manageable in best of 5

  30. An American won the GP too, so USA kind of dominated the entire weekend. Don’t forget LSV in 10th, missing out on top 8 by one match. So yeah, CFB had a really strong showing this weekend. GG team CFB and good luck in the new year.

  31. POY, last year Nelson, this year Stark. I guess it is getting scrubbier each year. 🙂
    I do have to admit, he shuffles the decks really well. 🙂

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  33. @ Crawdizzle: In legacy the sword reads ‘protection from goyf’ since he’s in basically every deck that wins by attacking. Body/mind wasn’t all that good for legacy since a 2/2 dork, where not irrelevant, isn’t nearly as good as drawing a card and doming them with SoFI, and the mills can backfire in a big way considering loam decks, stax decks, pox decks, and random Jotun grunts/lavamancers, all of which see play and like having goodies in the graveyard…and there’s also dredge. Feast/famine, on the other hand, allows a random noble heirarch to bash past goyf, net a card, and untap your lands for the big N.O. – Progenitus finish. I would definitely consider digging a slot out for it in a pro-bant counter top build (I don’t know your list, but if you’re still using war monks, you could swap them out for 3 stoneforge 1 sword and be able to drop a sweet equipment toolbox into the main or side…though that does decrease your blue card count for FoW tosses)

  34. @Milna Yes and no. You may tap your lands before the damge phase, but only if you have an effect like omnath’s(i don’t know if there is any other like his on mtg), but you can’t do so without him

  35. sword will never be that good in any other format than standard, because there are swords and path to exile there, and the reason it is good in standard is that once the creature is equiped its hard to kill it instantly, since the best remooval is go for the throat ….

  36. @ Milna:
    Depending on what format you’re playing, Upwelling would be the card to use (or Omnath like Dudaseifert said).

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