Pro Tour after Pro Tour, I keep saying that it’s important not to fall into the trap of trying to break the format, and how playing safe decks is the key to success in modern Magic.
Our team broke Standard at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary. Raphal Levy discovered Turbo Fog and he, Lee Shi Tian, and Wing Chun Yam had good results at the PT. We also had a solid Standard finish in the hands of Christian Calcano, but he chose a safer path in Mono-Green Stompy.
After seeing how great Fog was at that event, I really wanted to play it at the upcoming GP Brussels. I didn’t have much time to test it though because I would be back home on Tuesday, and I would only have two days to prepare.
I watched plenty of Gabriel Nassif and Matthew Foulkes streams, and both had great results with the deck. I played two Leagues, facing one red-black and zero green. I went 4-1 twice, dismantling all of the control decks I faced.
My teammates told me that control was the hardest matchup and that red-black and green were close to a bye.
That, plus my testing, made me super confident about the deck and I was ready to roll at GP Brussels!
Andrea Mengucci, GP Brussels
The tournament was another story.
I barely squeezed into Day 2 after beating Esper Control, Mono-Red, G/u Stompy, and losing to two Red-Black. I thought my two losses came out of poor draws from me post-sideboard. My opponents drew multiple Duresses and Doomfalls, and I was flooded. That’s what I told myself before starting Day 2, anyway.
On Day 2, I played Red-Black three more times and I won only once. Yes, I got Insult // Injury’d twice, but the deck just didn’t function.
I definitely needed Manglehorn or Reclamation Sage, since not having an answer to Bomat Courier was huge. Every time my opponent would play a Bomat Courier, I knew that 4 or 5 turns later I would lose the game, or find myself in a position that would be very hard to come back from.
My opponents were too prepared for me, with lots of sideboard cards and many bad matchups (Grixis Midrange and B/G Snakes are hard to beat). That made my deck choice for GP Brussels the worst Constructed deck I’ve played in a very long time.
Is Fog really a favorite vs. R/B?
That’s what everyone said after Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, and I had a small discussion on Twitter about this topic.
I firmly believe that Fog was a favorite at PT M25, when people didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know which card to take with their Duress (an example was seeing Root Snare selected over Teferi, Hero of Dominaria), and they didn’t have some sideboard hate.
Now that matchup is still favorable for Fog main deck, but gets way worse post-sideboard.
What did I learn from GP Brussels?
Nowadays GP players are too good, and they aren’t that much worse than PT players. I already know that from seeing my GP history. They are smart, they can read PT results, and adapt accordingly.
Playing the best deck from the Pro Tour at the GP the week after isn’t going to work anymore because it will be on everyone’s radar and you will be the target of sideboard hate. Your bad matchup will be more popular.
How and why I would like the GP Day 2 cutoff to change
I love playing Magic. It’s not only my hobby, but what I do for a living, and I can’t express how blessed I am for this.
I love playing Magic at any time, whether it be Cube Draft with my friends, playing local Legacy events, or playing Grand Prix and Pro Tours. I also love playing side events on GP Day 2 if I missed the 6-2 needed to play in the second day of the main event.
Nowadays, Grand Prix are a wonderful experience not only for those who want to Top 8 the GP and qualify for the Pro Tour, but also for those who love Magic and love to play in EV+ events, which GPs are not.
At GP Brussels I traveled with a friend of mine who lives in my town, and who only plays Limited. He played six Sealed side events in the course of three days in Brussels, and came back home with three boxes, basically the same amount of value earned by a Top 64 competitor in the main event.
When Pros see me playing all of those side events at GPs, they always are amazed that I would do such thing. The reason is because I love Magic. I have an enormous amount of fun playing Two-Headed Giant with my friend at 3:30 on Sunday after busting in Day 2, or playing the Modern Challenge at 6:30 on Saturday right after winning my win-and-in for Day 2.
With that said, I would love to see the GP Day 2 cutoff brought back to 7-2. Making Day 2 smaller means that there will be more people involved in playing side events—people who get to enjoy their GP experience more than by playing with a 6-3 record.
I understand that not everyone likes side events, or is willing to spend 25 euros to play a Double-Up at 10 a.m., but I would have loved to do that if I had gone 6-3 on Day 1.
I know that I come from a privileged point of view, seeing as how I’m qualified for every Pro Tour. I’ve already tasted that Professional REL that you only get from playing a GP on Day 2. And I know how happy people are to play in their first Day 2 or when they win their first Pro Point.
This might seem a stupid point to raise, but I really believe that bringing the cutoff back to 7-2 would offer a better experience to everyone. Playing from 6-3 means that you have to go 6-0 to make the effort reasonable, since often a 5-1 doesn’t even earn you any money.
The next event for me will be GP Prague, which will be Modern, a format that I don’t get to play very often and that I don’t particularly enjoy. Though I will have 40 sleeves at the ready for my beloved side events!