Friday, October 25, 2013

Grand Prix Louisville

Team Fanatix at:

JW Kingsley's debut article with Team Fanatix.

As some of you may or may not know, Hayden and I headed off to the Bluegrass State to participate in Grand Prix Louisville.  We met up with a couple of Floridians (Jonathan Marsh and Chris Fennell)    somewhere near the Alabama/Tennessee line we learned that Seth Manfield (2 time GP winner) and Steve Mann (PT Gatecrash Top 8 competitor) would be crashing with us at our hotel.  Fairly impressive array of company in 2 Gold level Pros and Seth who needed a top 32 finish to lock up Silver. 
Hayden had locked in on his deck earlier in the week and was going to play the Boros White Weenie deck that he had lost to at States.  I was fairly confident that I wound be playing Esper Control.  I had a list with no Azorius Charms and the Whip/Ozbedat Combo.  I also brought the Mono U build and all of the pieces of Mono Black just in case.

We arrive at the Kentucky International Convention Center, and notice that there are cubic metric ton of GR ‘Dinosaur’ Devotion decks and Mono Black Devotion decks.   Not much else was going on so we decided to leave downtown Louisville and skip out on eating as nobody was hungry.   After arriving to our room roughly 10 minutes away everyone decided that we should get some food.  This would prove to be a daunting task in the hills of Kentucky.  I am pretty sure that it wasn’t just my imagination that kept looping “Dueling Banjos” in the background.    After a bit we settled in to eat at a local Pizza Hut, it was right next to the Daycare/Car Show/Barber one stop store.  (Yes this one place was all three things in one) 
In Pizza Hut we discuss deck ideas and choices, its boiled down to Chris is playing GR Dinosaurs, I ask the group what does the mono Black devotion deck look like if you add 4 Godless Shrines and jam a couple of Blood Barons of Viskopa.  We discuss it a bit and head back to the room to jam some games.  Fennell and Seth favored playing Nightveil Specter over the stock Lifebane Zombie, I thought and argued that there was room to three-three split them.  They won out and we jammed some games vs the Green Devotion deck.  Black was getting hammered I do not think I won a game.  I suggested that we just make the Specters into Lifebane Zombies and run it back.  There was a stark change in the results and the matchup pulled back into a decent matchup.    Since it was getting late we sat down to try and put the final touches on everything and discuss sideboard options.
Seth ended up -1 Swamp +1 Devour Flesh,  +1 Erebos -1 Nightveil Specter, +1 Abhorrent Overlord over 1 Blood Baron in the main.  I decided to not play the Overlord and instead maindeck a Baron.  Overlord is an attempt to go bigger in the mirror, and is absolutely nutty with the whip.  I opted for the less flashy main deck hate card.  I know that Overlord did win Seth a match.  Ironic note Seth and I argued if the deck should run 25 or 26 lands, I pushed for 25 and Seth 26.  We both ended up taking the advice of the other.
This is the list that I sleeved up and played. 
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
4 Desecration Demon
1 Erebos, God of the Dead
1 Blood Baron of Viskopa
3 Nightveil Specter
3 Lifebane Zombie
2 Doom Blade
2 Ultimate Price
1 Devour Flesh
4 Hero’s Downfall
4 Thoughtseize
3 Underworld Connection
2 Whip of Erebos
4 Godless Shrine
4 Temple of Silence
2 Nythkos, Shrine to Nyx
2 Mutavault
14 Swamp

2 Durress
2 Glare of Heresy
1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
1 Lifebane Zombie
2 Sin Collector
2 Dark Betrayal
1 Erebos, God of the Dead
1 Pithing Needle
1 Wear//Tear
2 Pharika’s Cure

The Wear//Tear and Lifebane Zombie should have been Merciless Evictions.  The rest of the deck I was very much happy with.  With the list settled I went to sleep.  Bunking with Jonathan Marsh is supposed to be good luck, I guess I was going to put that superstition to the test.

We get up that next morning, pile six deep in a small little Honda and head out to the venue.  I always start getting a bit antsy during the players meetings at any tournaments I attend and they often carry over to that first game.  Luckily I have two byes at Grand Prix this season so after the player’s meeting I get a nice two hour break to go out and explore the area around the venue.  This lets me clear my head and work off some nervous energy.  It is always sweet to experience new cities.  Louisville has a pretty neat downtown area called 4th Steet Live, you should definitely check it out if you ever find yourself in the area.

RND 3 vs Talon Carrin (Junk) 2-0
Pretty uneventful match vs a really nice guy he had some color struggles game one and Thoughtseize made sure he did not cast anything other than a Voice of Resurgence.  Game two he had some pressure but had to scoop to Blood Baron, Grey Merchant and Whip.

RND 4 vs Stephen Horne (Dynacharge Red) 2-0
Turn one Thoughtseize showed me that I was in a battle vs the worst matchup.  Thankfully he had to mulligan to five.  Back to back Chandra’s Phoenix rips made game one close.  Game two was a battle as Lifebane Zombie showed my opponent had a Skullcrack in grip.  I forced him to have to blow the ‘Crack on his turn to blank my blocks with a Whip in play, allowing me to Merchant myself to safety on the previous turn. 

RND 5 vs  Matt Moscatel (GW Aggro) 2-1
A Merchant for 12 ended the first game on the spot.  Game two I stalled on lands while he had the dream draw and simply crushed me.  Game three Blood Baron came down and held the ground and finished out the game with a little help from a few Lifebane Zombies.

RND 6 vs Grant Christopher (BW Midrange) 2-0
Grant is a guy from the Atlanta area, we have seen each other around.  It’s always cool to play vs people you know from other areas.  Grant drew the wrong half of his deck game one trapped with several dead Doom Blades and Game two he mulled to five and had little chance to play the game.

RND 7 vs Gaudenis Vidugiris (Mono U Devotion) 1-2
Oh snap a former Pro Tour champ is my next opponent.  I took a moment on the walk to the table to calm myself and prepare for an opportunity to play vs one of the games better players.  I Thoughtseize Gau on turn three of game one to have a choice between Cyclonic Rift or Master of Waves.  I lacked a removal spell in hand to deal with the master that was going to come down with five water ponies, so I felt I had to take that than the rift that I really wanted to not have to play around.  On my next draw step I rip a Downfall.  Gua is on his third Master presenting lethal, I could Grey Merchant him for 10 while he is at eight life, he however still has that Cyclonic rift to return my Nightveil Specter to my hand and only take seven.  In the second game Gau ends up mulling to five and can’t answer Desecration Demon.  Game three I stall on four lands with an Underworld Connection in play.  I’ve battled to a position that if I could rip my 5th land drop in the next three cards I can start a chain of Grey Merchants and win the game.  Unable to rip a land I die to a Tidebinder and Frog Lizard Token in two turns.  Gau revealed the top eight cards of his library and they were all blanks and lands.  I got a little unfortunate, took the wrong side of a pretty close Thoughtseize call and still almost got there. 

RND8 vs Josh Dosher (RWB Control) 0-2
Not a whole lot to say here Game one I cast three spells they all got Chained to some Rocks and I die with lands a plenty.  Three spells to twelve lands makes for tough ways to try and win games.  Game two was more of the same except I was able to kill a creature then die quickly to double Desecration Demons.  I have to take a moment and gather myself as I really do not want to pull the 6-0 to 0-3 crash and burn from Day 2; especially not when Hayden is crushing things at 7-1.  Deck is good, I am good so let’s crush this last round and get there.

RND 9 do or die time vs Micheal Nyberg(GR Dinosaurs/Devotion) 2-0
And to finish the day off I have to beat the matchup I had hoped to dodge.  My turn one Thoughtseize reveals a hand of Voyaging Satyr, Burning Tree Emissary, Mountain, Forest, and a pair of Garruk, Caller of Beasts.  I quickly took the Burning Tree Emissary.  A couple of turns later I am in a show down vs Caller of Beasts, luckily for me his +1’s only net him one scary spell a turn (PolyK or an Arbor Colossus)  and I am able to dispatch them with removal or hand disruption while getting some damage in with Lifebane Zombies.  I am pretty sure my opponent threw game one away but not choosing to -2 his Garruk and put an Arbor Colossus in and monstrous it to kill the Desecration Demon I had in play.  Instead he cast it and I was able to draw the Doom Blade to kill it off.  Finished the game off with Demon/Lifebane .  Game two my opponent drew ultra poorly and never had any threats all dorks and lands.

Just like that I was on to Day 2 of GP Louisville.  Not a bad showing considering that I was building a deck at 1:30am the night before.  Hayden crushed day 1 losing only the WW Mirror to the undefeated WW player and finished 8-1.  4 out of 6 of our car made day two including Seth Manfield playing the same deck.

Thanks for reading.  I will finish out Day 2 and talk about where I think Standard is heading in a world full of Devotion in the second part of this report. 

 JW is a long time customer and supporter of Fanatix. He has written for Star City Games and topped numerous tournaments in recent years. He is one of the most traveled and seasoned players at Fanatix!


  1. Interesting that you had a match with a former Pro Tour champion. What made you decide to drop Obzedat in the list?

  2. We never considered running Ghost Dad. With only eight sources of white in the deck there would be concerns with actually being able to reliably cast him when needed. Getting the opportunity to play against talented players is one of the reasons to travel to these events.