After hearing about the shitshow that was GP Charlotte, I’m glad I stayed home. For those who missed it, the tournament software crashed, caused a three hour delay after round four, and from then on rounds were paired randomly. Randomly as in someone 8-0 could play someone at 0-8, which is  unprecedented at any level of sanctioned Magic. Though StarCity was willing to let people drop out of the main event and play in free side events, the fact that Wizards doesn’t have functioning tournament software at the point is baffling to me. I digress, I’ll be talking more about GP Charlotte in a bit.

Since I didn’t attend GP Charlotte, I stayed home and battled two local PPTQs. A sealed event at Batter Up in Tewksbury, MA and a Standard event at Toy’s N Things in Danvers, MA. I was especially excited to play sealed as I hadn’t gotten the opportunity since the SOI Prerelease.  I was even more excited to arrive at Batter Up to a 20 person event, especially given that the norm here for PPTQs is six rounds. My excitement was stifled after receiving my sealed pool with a bunch of rare lands and not much else. I had delirium enablers but no payoff cards, no madness enablers but plenty of cards with madness, two Rise from the Tides with a pretty convincing lack of other playable spells. I ended up in Mardu—actual three colors and not two with a splash— in order to support Burn From Within, Mindwrack Demon, and Odric given they were the best cards in the pool. I lost four matches in a row. Luckily for my sanity and Planeswalker Point status, I got a bye in the last round. This was the worst I’ve done in a tournament that I can ever remember.


Standard the next day was considerably better. I played Grixis Control, having never picked up the deck before, and managed to go 3-1-1, drawing into the top eight before losing in the semis. Here is the list and a brief recap:

Grixis Control

Lands (26)
Evolving Wilds
Foreboding Ruins
Shivan Reef
Smoldering Marsh
Sunken Hollow
Wandering Fumarole

Creatures (14)
Dragonlord Silumgar
Goblin Dark-Dwellers
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Spells (20)
Fiery Impulse
Grasp of Darkness
Kolaghan’s Command
Radiant Flames
Read the Bones
Ruinous Path
Transgress the Mind
Ultimate Price
Chandra, Flamecaller
Sideboard (15)
Dark Petition
Dragonmaster Outcast
Infinite Obliteration
Ob Nixilis Reignited
Radiant Flames
Silumgar’s Command
To the Slaughter
Virulent Plague

I played Kensuke Kato’s exact 75 from GP Tokyo with the sole exception of taking out one Kolaghan’s Command for an additional Transgress the Mind. While Kolaghan’s Command is obviously busted when you can buyback a Goblin Dark-Dwellers and then flashback the Command, I knew that K. Command can be a little clunky and I wanted an additional piece of early disruption.

ROUND ONE—Bant Company (1-2)
ROUND TWO—Five Color Eldrazi? (2-0)
ROUND THREE—BW Control (2-1)
ROUND FOUR—Bant Rites (2-1)
QUARTERFINALS—Bant Company (2-1)
SEMIFINALS—Mono Red Eldrazi (1-2)

I was definitely a little loose throughout the day given my unfamiliarity with the deck. In my first match I missed a Kalitas trigger, sequenced my lands incorrectly, and probably misboarded. However, as I played more games I felt more confident with the deck, though I certainly played less than optimally. As for the deck itself, it’s pretty incredible. Though Reality Smasher, Secure the Wastes, and Ormendahl are problems for the deck, especially if you aren’t prepared for them, the deck has a strong proactive plan and I felt that I was advantaged any game that went long.

Anyway, I guess Standard is okay. Now let’s talk about Modern.

GP Charlotte

The top eight looked like this:

Ad Nauseam
Domri Zoo
Abzan Company
Collected Bant
Death’s Shadow Zoo


My biggest takeaway as a combo enthusiast is that Ad Nauseam took down a GP. While the deck has had reasonable success in the past, this is the biggest profile win the deck has had to date. While Ad Nauseam has been dismissed at various points because it’s a bit soft to hand disruption (Jund is a rough match-up) and it’s a full turn slower than many of the combo decks of the format (Infect is much faster and also insane against Ad Naus). However, because Ad Nauseam operates at instant speed, it’s pretty fantastic against blue based control decks, and because it has eight incidental “anti-aggro” cards in Angel’s Grace and Phyrexian Unlife, it’s very good against decks like Zoo, Burn, and Affinity. I also enjoy the fact that the deck doesn’t need to use the graveyard as a resource and doesn’t care about the plethora of Grafdigger’s Cage and Leyline of the Void floating around. The pilot, Andreas Ganz, also opted to include a second win condition in the form of Laboratory Maniac which beautifully circumvents Abzan Company’s ability to gain infinite life.  Ultimately, I’m a big fan of Ad Nauseam in an unknown meta though if you expect a lot of Jund or Infect, I would probably sleeve up something else. Here is Ganz’ deck for reference:

Ad Nauseam-1st Place-GP Charlotte

Lands (22)
Darkslick Shores
Gemstone Mine
Seachrome Coast
Temple of Deceit
Temple of Enlightenment

Creatures (5)
Laboratory Maniac
Simian Spirit Guide

Spells (35)
Ad Nauseam
Angel’s Grace
Lightning Storm
Pact of Negation
Serum Visions
Sleight of Hand
Spoils of the Vault
Lotus Bloom
Pentad Prism
Phyrexian Unlife
Sideboard (15)
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Hurkyl’s Recall
Leyline of Sanctity
Pact of Negation
Slaughter Pact

GP Los Angeles

My biggest takeaway from GP LA was  not the decks in the top eight but rather the impressive coverage from Channel Fireball. The teams of William Jensen/Marshall Sutcliffe and Gaby Spartz/Luis Scott-Vargas exceeded my expectations in the booth. The commentators were knowledgeable while also presenting information in a way that was digestible for those unfamiliar with the format. Though I think we have a long way to go with diversity in the coverage booth, I’m happy with the strides taken in the past few months to bring new folks into the fold. While I don’t hate Randy Buehler or BDM, now seems like the time to reinvigorate the coverage team with people who can follow the lines of play a bit better, have clearly defined roles in the booth, and can occasionally crack a joke.

In terms of the top eight, we have this:

Eldrazi Aggro
Abzan Company
Grixis Control


If we combine the top eight of GP LA and GP Charlotte, we get a pretty good sense of the metagame. Abzan Company and Affinity are still top tier contenders despite the increased presence of sideboard hate as of late. Jund continues to be an excellent choice given its reasonable match-up against most decks in the format. Most importantly, the field is open enough to allow for a variety of decks to do well, including traditionally tier two decks like Merfolk, Ad Nauseam, and Death’s Shadow. There is also still room for innovation as well, Pascal Maynard made the top four of a GP with a sweet Eldrazi list that found a way to cast early Eldrazi despite the banning of Eye of Ugin. Maynard played some mana dorks alongside Eldrazi Temple to power out Though Knot Seer, Reality Smasher, and Drowner of Hope. This list looks sweet:

Bant Eldrazi-3rd Place-GP LA

Lands (24)
Breeding Pool
Cavern of Souls
Eldrazi Temple
Ghost Quarter
Hallowed Fountain
Temple Garden
Windswept Heath
Yavimaya Coast

Creatures (28)
Birds of Paradise
Drowner of Hope
Eldrazi Displacer
Eldrazi Mimic
Matter Reshaper
Noble Hierarch
Reality Smasher
Thought-Knot Seer

Spells (8)
Ancient Stirrings
Path to Exile
Sideboard (15)
Eldrazi Mimic
Engineered Explosives
Fracturing Gust
Grafdigger’s Cage
Stony Silence
Stubborn Denial
World Breaker

While I wish I could jam some Modern events this weekend, it looks like I’ll be spinning the roulette wheel and hoping for a good Sealed pool at a PPTQ on Saturday and playing Standard on Sunday. It will be close but if I have a reasonable showing at both, I should hit the points needed for my second bye. Thanks for reading!

In terms of Magic, Shawn Massak is a Modern enthusiast, with a penchant for tier two decks, counterspells, and pre Eighth Edition frames. In terms of life, Shawn lives in Brighton, MA where he works as an employment coordinator for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and spends his free time reading comics, complaining about pro-wrestling, and wishing his apartment allowed dogs as pets.

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