Finally Got There – GP Santiago *Top 8*

Hello there!

I must say that I am very excited to come here share a few notes about my GP Santiago Top 8. This is something I’ve been pursuing for a long time now.

A few weeks before the event, I started my preparation at a local GPT. PT Theros had not yet happened, so the field was still unsettled. I did expect a lot of mono-red decks and a few Esper, and ended up playing what Adam Yurchick had defined as the “new Jund” in the form of a BRW midrange concoction. I ended up losing in the finals due to mana screw against an Esper deck played by enzoreal. All and all, that meant I had 0 byes to the event unless I could win a GPT Friday at the site.

After the PT, I tweaked the BW list from Team SCG, and my MTGO clan and I (Small talk big play) were winning a good number of matches with it. I kept optimizing the deck list until Thursday evening, when the list looked way more like a mono-black deck with a small white splash than an actual BW midrange deck.

In the meantime, GP Louisville saw Sam Black again Top 8 with mono-blue, and it was clear to me that the deck was a real deal. Adding to his results the fact that _megafone_ wouldn’t stop winning with it on MTGO, I decided to give it a try.

Besides winning a high percentage of my matches, I decided to play BW at a GPT to Buenos Aires because it was what I felt more comfortable with at the time, and I ended up winning the whole thing (so I’ll be there in March!).

I spent my last week of preparation switching between both decks and even could afford some desperation trying other decks (UG “ramp”, UB Master, RG aggro), but none of them made me feel comfortable enough. Meanwhile, Malteko kept telling me play mono-blue…

I decided I would play a few GPTs on Friday of the event with both decks, and grabbed the cards thanks to team “Brasília’s on the Jungle”—then I would decide based on that. At the airport, however, my friend Paulo Martinelo told me that a friend of his would pick us up at the airport and we would go straight to Viña del Mar and Valparaiso on Chile’s coast. It felt like an opportunity I couldn’t miss. In the end, I wish I had just gone to the event—It was just some regular, far away beaches with not much special, and expensive and not-so-tasty food.

I felt BW was a very good metagame choice, but with 0 byes I figured I needed something more proactive to put my opponents under pressure and force them to make a few mistakes. I decided to go with mono-blue (aka “new Faeries”), as I had tested the deck and had a good sideboard guide thanks to Sam’s article. I made a few changes to my final list with contributions from Melissa and my clan mates, and was ready to battle. This is my final list:

[deck]Main Deck
4 Nightveil Specter
4 Frostburn Weird
2 Bident of Thassa
4 Tidebinder Mage
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Mutavault
4 Master of Waves
20 Island
4 Thassa, God of the Sea
1 Rapid Hybridization
4 Judge’s Familiar
4 Cloudfin Raptor
2 Cyclonic Rift
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
3 Gainsay
1 Rapid Hybridization
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
2 Domestication
1 Dissolve
1 Bident of Thassa
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Negate
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Mizzium Skin
1 Dispel[/deck]

I will go through some sideboard tips for those you haven’t read Sam’s article. Against heavy removal decks, your devotion won’t be high, so there’s no point in keeping cards like [card nykthos, shrine to nyx]Nykthos[/card] or [card]Cyclonic Rift[/card]. Remember that [card]Rapid Hybridization[/card] can give you an edge killing your own creature in these matchups, and drawing cards with [card]Bident of Thassa[/card] is crucial. Against decks with board sweepers you must try to not overcommit the board, and win on card advantage thanks to [card]Bident of Thassa[/card] and Jace—remember that Jace doesn’t work much when your opponent has [card]Hero’s Downfall[/card] in his deck, and it’s not worth wasting a whole turn playing it. Against hasty decks with big creatures like RG aggro, I sideboard them out too.

But the matchup I want to talk the most in here is the mirror match, because a few of my opponents did sideboard poorly against me, which definitely helped me get there. These matches are mainly won via card advantage—[card]Nightveil Specter[/card]s, [card]Master of Waves[/card], [card jace, architect of thought]Jaces[/card], or [card]Cyclonic Rift[/card]s. But that doesn’t mean the rest isn’t important. If you are giving away cards like [card]Frostburn Weird[/card] to their [card]Tidebinder Mage[/card]s, you are not winning the game! Either one of those must be kept in for your devotion count, but keep the better one! There are no targets for [card]Judge’s Familiar[/card] to shine anyway. Cards that don’t affect the board state like [card]Bident of Thassa[/card] are bad in this matchup, because you are already lowering your creature count enough that Bident would only be advantageous if you also have Thassa out.

At the end of the tournament, I’d played against 1 BUG, 2 RG aggro, 1 RG devotion, 3 Mono-U, 1 UW Master of Waves, 4 Esper, and 2 mono-red decks during the tournament. I lost a mirror match and to the UW list that made Top 8 during the first five rounds, which put me at a 3-2 start. Yes, I did end up winning my next 9 rounds, and able to draw with Carlos Davi into Top 8. Intriguingly, I haven’t played against any mono-black decks…

I must congratulate the team that made the coverage and hope you enjoyed it. My Top 8 match can be found here and the game that took me to Top 8, here.

Some important theory that helped me get there: choose a deck you can play properly even when you are tired/nervous, and play each game at a time. After my poor start, I began many games at 0-1, but knew I could still turn the tide. Notably, the tournament was extremely well organized! The place was great in my opinion, and there were plenty of judges. There was a bit of delay in between rounds, but that’s not something the organizer can ignore to make it go faster. Hope this article helps you get there too! Have fun, always!


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