The Diary of a Pro Player: Living End in Detroit

I don’t often get to drive to a Grand Prix, but when it’s being held within 12 hours from me, there’s at least a car from Quebec City willing to do it. This time, I had a sweet plan in mind to make it seem even shorter.

My week leading to GP Detroit was full of adult responsibilities, making it close to impossible to test at all. Fortunately, I had already played a huge amount of the format recently, so I wasn’t clueless. After discussing the deck with some people in Houston, I soft locked myself into Living End until something could prove that it wasn’t good enough.

Here comes the plan. My car was scheduled to leave Thursday and get in to Detroit Friday morning. I was able to test all day, but it wasn’t enough.

There was a wall plug in the car for my laptop. I called my phone company, told them to add 2 GB of data to my plan, turned on my WiFi Hotspot, and I was ready to play Magic Online for 12 hours.

I got to play 17 rounds of League and solidified my choice—I was locked on Living End.

Of all the combo decks I tried against Eldrazi, they were all a favorite until Thought-Knot Seer hit the board or sideboard games. Living End is so redundant that Thought-Knot Seer isn’t as game-breaking, and I have built-in anti-graveyard-hate cards with Beast Within.

My 75 stayed the same for a long time. It felt untouchable—I was only unsure of how to fill the graveyard hate slot.

I knew that my deck was soft to Melira because of their sacrifice outlets, and I wanted a card for the mirror. Leyline seemed like the way to go, but that’s the high-risk high-reward option, whereas Faerie Macabre is less impactful but more versatile and easier to draw into.

After a discussion with Michael Simon, a Living End aficionado, I went to sleep with these 75 registered:

Living End

The split between Copperline Gorge and Grove of the Burnwillows is a nightmare for anyone who is a perfectionist like me. I couldn’t justify one being better than the other—I would need to put in so many games to figure it out. I originally had 2 of each, but after adding the 4th Simian Spirit Guide because the format is so fast, it made sense that I wanted more of the lands that are great early game.

I didn’t want Shriekmaw main deck because when it is bad, it is really bad—same for Ingot Chewer. You can’t cycle them or even evoke them because when they come back, they’ll destroy one of your things when you don’t have a target. If I were going to play against Eldrazi 50% of the time, I would want them main, but I didn’t expect that many. Until the bannings, you might want to do that.

Ricochet Trap is a great sideboard card against blue decks, but those are almost nowhere to be seen, which is why I can only afford 2 slots for them.

Slaughter Games is good against many random decks you can’t beat otherwise, such as Ad Nauseam.

Jund Charm was my last slot as a trump in the mirror, but also a versatile post-Living-End board wipe for Affinity, Elves, and other small creature decks’ second wave.

  • Eldrazi
  • Chord Decks
  • Living End
  • Infect
  • Lantern
  • UW Control
  • Merfolk
  • Affinity

In no particular order (except Eldrazi of course), these are the decks I expect to face roughly 80% of the time.

I’d be happy to play against any of them except Melira Chord and UW Control .

My actual tournament didn’t go so well—I lost to Storm, 2 UW Eldrazi, RG Eldrazi, and Esper Midrange (with a bunch of Surgical Extractions and Relic). I also drew against UW Control, but he conceded after realizing he didn’t want to be in the draw bracket with his deck.

All of my Eldrazi matches were obviously close since there was a reason I wanted to play Living End—Living End beat Eldrazi more than 50% in testing, I swear. That they drew 2 of their 4-5 sideboard cards was a factor, and that I didn’t draw Fulminator Mage was another.

Another X-5, another Pro Point. That’s a disappointing result since I’m now capped on GP points (Pro Points within a year only count your 6 best Grand Prix finishes). Yet, I’m still in a good position for Platinum with 33 points so far, plus I have the added value of an extra Lifetime Pro Point, putting me at 137. 150 allows me to vote for the Hall of Fame! We’re getting closer.

Going forward, I don’t want to give you any advice on what I would change in the deck because it is very obvious that there will soon be changes to the format. Hopefully, I don’t have to play such a linear and boring deck like Living End ever again. Even though I enjoyed the consistency, I would much rather play something more versatile and skill intensive in GPs.

P.S.: I’d like to send a shout-out to Eduardo Sajgalik, whom I picked up in Montreal last minute because I told him I had UW Eldrazi to lend him… Great player + great deck = Top 8. Good job, Eduardo!


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