Pushing the Envelope… Just Out of Reach

It all started in Vegas. And what happens in Vegas…

…has severe consequences in our lives.

I reached Silver, which meant that I was qualified to go to Kyoto and Albuquerque. Kyoto was a no-go due to the time frame of the invite (1 month), which meant that tickets were already $2,200. The total cost of the trip would be over $3,000, and I thought it was “a bit” too much.

I really like Modern and some of my friends postponed their Silver invites to Bilbao, but with the induction of Martin Juza to the HoF, I knew that was something I didn’t want to miss. Being invited to join Team Cardhoarder Brazil was also decisive.

I didn’t want to wait for Ixalan spoilers to start working on Standard, and have been playing with Rogue Refiner ever since it was printed (best Standard card, in my opinion) so I knew where to start. Keeping track of results and reading some articles and tweets, I was struck by MJ’s Temur Scarab God deck from an online PTQ, which he insisted was the way to go, though he fell short of the Top 8.

I wasn’t and am still not fond of this amount of splashing, so I kept my eye out for black cards. That way, I would be able to play Sultai Energy, with all of the cards I felt necessary. Then came Ixalan and Hostage Taker, and I knew that I was on the right path.

Nationals was first, and with it, Draft. I knew I could gain an advantage, since there are not a whole lot of Drafts going on here—it costs 60,00 in our currency. I did quite a few Drafts on MTGO and kept tuning my Sultai Energy deck. Willy Edel was also playing the deck and gave me his blessing to keep going. In the last two weeks prior to the event, he stopped playing Standard for a while, but I gained the help of Kenji Tsumura, who crushed me in a mirror match but was willing to discuss card choices—and I went to thank him at the PT:

I ended up playing this list:

The tournament was four rounds of Standard followed by three rounds of Draft on Day 1, and three rounds of Draft plus two rounds of Standard on Day 2, and then Top 8.

In the first portion I went 3-1, losing to Jund Energy. I drafted this sweet U/G Merfolk deck:

—and lost round 1 of Draft, putting me at 3-2. I had to win out to Top 8, which ended up happening. The 2nd Draft was a medium U/R Pirates deck:

That took me there, and I managed to secure my spot among what can be called the best Brazilian Nationals Top 8 ever. All the Platinums made Top 8. One former and one current Silver. Two underdogs.

In the Top 8, I faced my teammate and good friend, former Silver player Artur Villela with Pedro Carvalho’s updated B/R Aggro deck. I managed to beat him with his poor draws, and was onto the semifinals. Platinum Pro Lucas Berthoud showed me the difference between his status and mine, and dispatched me 2-0 with his U/B Midrange deck. I ended up beating Thiago Saporito for 3rd, which meant nothing. +1 Pro Point, -1 blue envelope.

With nothing much new coming out of USA Nationals in the same weekend, I had a soft lock on Sultai for Pro Tour Ixalan and focused the next few weeks on playing more Drafts, because I knew that I wasn’t in the same League as other PT competitors, and there was still GP Phoenix beforehand.

I opened a mediocre Sealed pool that I could only take to a 6-3 finish. As Pro Points matter, I kept going. A 1-2 in the first Draft (don’t recall the deck) disappointed me, and proved that I needed even further Limited knowledge to do well in the Pro Tour. I managed to 3-0 my second Draft with U/R Pirates to go 10-5 and get another Pro Point.

The week started off with teams Cardhoarder Brazil and Hareruya Latin, and both teams’ manager Thiago Rodrigues, meeting in Albuquerque to approach the first sun.

I had never experienced testing or doing anything with a personal coach. Thiago handled almost everything and we could focus solely on testing. It was a blast, I must say. I would advise all teams to have a personal coach.

Over the following days, with Team Hareruya Latin settled on Temur, and our team split between three decks, our main focus was drafting. We all agreed to play three rounds, and at the end of it we would curve out decks in the position they were drafted and recap the draft and matches in an organized manner. It went smoothly and was very interesting. I learned quite a lot. Pappa Willy taught us an exercise and helped us finish our Sultai deck, which Marcos Paulo De Jesus Freitas and I ended up playing:

I went 7-3 for the Standard portion and wouldn’t change a thing in my deck list. I went 2-4 in Limited.

Now I realize that I focused too much on Draft—my play was far from optimal, and cost me 4 Pro Points. I was really happy to see my boy John Rolf Top 4’ing the PT.

It was very unfortunate that Bernardo Santos and Eduardo Vieira got paired last round, wrecking our team expectations. Congratulations to WotC, who managed to put together the Team Series. It was so exciting to be part of it and to be even more united with my friends. We hope to qualify among the Top 16 teams, but after the PT we only had two players qualified to go to Bilbao.


There wasn’t much time to soak up, as we were one week away from Modern RPTQs (and is the main reason I’m putting all this together in only one piece). Just getting home from Albuquerque, real-life obligations meant that I wouldn’t be able to make the trip to São Paulo for the RPTQ as I had to work and “chose” to play online on the 18th, which gave me two weeks to prep. Team effort was crucial for this. The first week started off with B/G Traverse treating me well.

—until the MTGO PTQ where I went 1-2 with it and ditched the deck. Interestingly, Thiago Rodrigues put up a good result, falling short of the Top 8 due to a Magic Online bug with a nice brew of Blue Moon. With three team members attending our real-life RPTQ, we had high hopes. Guilherme Merjam did qualify with Humans.

After my poor performance with one of my standbys, I returned to a second: U/W Control. First, I tried Dezani’s list. He was winning quite a lot with it.

I only lost.

Then I moved to something I was more familiar with:

I still couldn’t win. Time to move on. In Albuquerque, I saw Salvatto battling a couple of games with Kanister’s Lantern Control deck, which I’ve always been fond of and had played in the past for a while.

I kept losing. Meanwhile, Thiago insisted that I try his updated Blue Moon list. I was sure that I would lose some more. But no. The deck was insanely well positioned and I went 4-1 in several Leagues I played on MTGO. I was settled.

After some discussion and considerations, this is the list I ended up playing:

I played in order: Affinity, Faeries, No-White DS, Bogles, Storm, Abzan Coco, Affinity, and Dredge, losing rounds 2 and 8.

This is how it ended:

I am “a little bit” tilted as of right now, as this is the 9th blue envelope I’ve lost in the last round, and especially because I have the fire sparkling in me and it will be almost four months without tournaments. Yes, it sucks to live in Latin America. The next premier event we have is GP Santiago on March 10th/11th, followed by the RPTQ two weeks later.

Modern is a fun and diverse format and you can play whatever deck you like. The resurgence of Blue Moon and Infect is living proof of it.


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