Meet the Pros: Andrea Mengucci

Hello Andrea and thank you for taking your time with me today! With the Pro Tour coming up, a lot of attention is on Standard. Looking at Standard from the outside these past few years has not been a pretty sight. What is the state of Standard right now in your opinion?

Standard is in a good place right now. It has quite few tier 1 decks, and they represent all the strategies of Magic:

  • Aggro: Mono Red
  • Midrange: Temur
  • Control: Blue/Black Control, Blue/White Approach
  • Combo: Gift

Those are all good decks that can be qualified as tier 1, so the format is definitely healthy. It isn’t Modern or Legacy where you have tons of different decks, but it has never been in the history of Standard. So I feel like this Standard is good and it is what it should always be.

A few months ago Wizards of the Coast announced Modern’s return to the Pro Tour in 2018. What was your first reaction to this?

I’m a little bit biased about the Modern Pro Tour because I hate Modern. It’s my least favorite format and I never play it – in fact last time I played it was World Magic Cup 2016. So I’m pretty sad about it and won’t test a lot of Constructed for the event, since the format is super stagnant and you can play any deck and go 10-0 or 0-10. But I can easily see Modern lovers standing up and shouting at me now, and I’ll be fine with that.

Everyone who follows you on social media and appreciates the great job you’re doing at ChannelFireball knows your passion for Legacy. Now all of a sudden you get to play your favorite format on the Pro Tour in 2018. Tell us why Legacy means so much to you.

I’m obviously very happy to show my Italian black bordered dual lands at the Pro Tour stage! But I don’t want this to be a thing that happens every Pro Tour or even once a year. The Pro Tour is good for innovations. You get an edge by inventing new decks in Standard and having a better strategy in Draft, but with stagnant formats like Modern and Legacy this goes away and that skill is less rewarded.

It seems like team tournaments will be a higher focus in competitive Magic moving forward. To me it is natural because you usually test as a group and root for your friends anyway. Do you feel the same way or would you rather play on your own all the time?

I really dislike where Grand Prix are going. I dislike that you have to be in a team of people to go to Grand Prix nowadays. What if you are good, but live in a environment where there are only bad players? You can just never spike.

For me Magic is an individual game, not soccer or basketball. It’s designed to be played 1 vs 1. It’s okay if sometimes you play 3 vs 3 because it’s more fun, but I feel like the 2018 Grand Prix schedule has way too many Team Grand Prix that punishes those who want to break through.

Lastly I want to hear about your personal expectations for the season. I know you’re representing Italy at the World Magic Cup. When we talk again at the end at the season, which accomplishments do you hope to tell me about?

I hope we’ll do well at Pro Tour Albuquerque, though it’ll be hard since Standard and Draft are already solved so variance will be huge once again and same for the World Magic Cup. I also have four Grand Prix coming up, so I hope to get my first top 8 in one of those, since it’s getting pretty late and I still haven’t achieved that goal in my Magic career.

To wrap up this interview, feel free to share your Twitter, thank your mom or give a shout out to sponsors. Thank you again for this interview!

Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Channel Fireball where I make two videos per week (Legacy and Vintage) and where I write one article per week (generic topic).

Also if you want to have daily tweets about Magic follow me on Twitter.

Beating Legacy #1

November 5th there is a huge Legacy tournament in Copenhagen called “Danish Legacy Masters“. As this is a tournament with great tradition and players coming in from not only all parts of Denmark, but also from Sweden and Germany, I can’t wait to play.

I have four top 8‘s with one win and one finals split in this tournament series over the years, and I’m hoping to add to my resume this time around. But I’m getting way ahead of me because in order to win, you need to prepare! So tag along as I try and break down the most relevant decks to prepare for. Welcome to “Beating Legacy“!

Storm

Storm uses Dark Ritual, Cabal Ritual, Lotus Petal and Lion’s Eye Diamond to accelerate out Ad Nauseam or Past in Flames either natural drawn or found with Infernal Tutor. The tutor makes sure you can end your turn by searching up a lethal Tendrils of Agony. To clear the way of pesky counter magic, a total number of 6 or 7 Cabal Therapy and Duress are included.

Some opening hands allow for quick kills where others need to set up a later kill with the numerous cantrips. Gitaxian Probe provides free information about the opponent’s hand, while Brainstorm and Ponder do their usual job of digging for what you need.

In order to give yourself the best chance of beating Storm, you need to fight them on several axis. In my experience, if you can attack Storm on at least two of the following areas, you are in good shape:

1) Clock. The faster you can get them low on life, the better. The damage also interacts favorably with Ad Nauseam.
2) Counter magic. Counterspells are good, and Flusterstorm is the best of the bunch.
3) Discard spells. Going for their hand is good for obvious reasons and provides information on how to play out your hand.
4) Graveyard hate. Attacking the graveyard means that Ad Nauseam or Empty the Warrens are their only path to victory.
5) Hateful permanents. They will only have a few answers to permaments in their deck, so getting one into play around their discard spells is important.


Grixis Delver

Many color combinations of Delver decks have come and gone through the years, but in 2017 it’s all about Grixis. Deathrite Shaman is too good not to play and needs black mana, and your removal spell of choice – Lightning Bolt – can finish off players and still kill most of the creatures in the format. Furthermore, red offers some great sideboard options while also adding Young Pyromancer to the threat base. Speaking of which, their different threats can’t be dealt with by the same cards, so keep that in mind.

They usually run a full playset of Deathrite Shaman and Delver of Secrets and then a mix of Young Pyromancer, Gurmag Angler and True-Name Nemesis. While Fatal Push and Lightning Bolt take care of the first two, and True-Name and Pyromancer die to various -1/-1 effects, the Angler is very resilient to non-Swords to Plowshares removal. The difficulty of dealing with its creatures is one of the deck’s greatest strengths.

Playing and hopefully winning against Grixis Delver demands that you can navigate around some of their most important disruptive cards. Let’s go through them one by one.

“Can I afford to play around Wasteland?” is the most important question you have to ask your self. I’ve seen my share of players who played around Wasteland and as a result weren’t able to cast all of their spells. Don’t be that guy. Sometimes you need to make them have it and power through it, and sometimes you need to bridge a gap between two turns where you are immune to Wasteland. Storm and Sneak and Show are the most common decks for these situations with turn 1 basic Island and a cantrip.

Daze raises different questions than Wasteland, but they have their similarities. Early in the game you have to take stand to whether you can play around Daze all game or you’re going to run into it eventually. Keep in mind though, that waiting one turn to boost your odds of resolving a spell can backfire against a tempo deck like Grixis Delver. Wasteland, Cabal Therapy and Force of Will from the top of their library can punish you for sandbagging spells in fear of Daze, so I suggest you cast your spells on curve the majority of the time unless it’s a crucial one.

Playing around Cabal Therapy can be a few things. You need a lot of knowledge about what your opponent is most likely to name depending on the situation, which can be very hard. You should make sure not to have two of the same card in hand if you can avoid it. Aside from Brainstorm and Ponder, another way to do this is playing out the card you have two copies of if you have to decide between two spells for the turn. For example, if you have two Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and one Stoneforge Mystic in hand, chances are you should be playing out the Thalia regardless of what the best play would be in respect of the Therapy.

Stifle in combination with Wasteland can really mess up your plans. In some scenarios, fetching out a nonbasic before the opponent has mana for Stifle, even though they run 4 Wasteland, can be the correct play. Sometimes you need to play out fetch lands and cast no spells and make your opponent keep up the mana long enough for the Stifle to be irrelevant or until they decide to make a move. Since they run relatively few lands, chances are that they will not be able to advance the board while keeping up Stifle. Be proactive if you don’t have the ability to keep making land drops or wait it out – your deck will typically be better in the long game.

That will do it for the first installment of Beating Legacy. Next week I will be back with some more tips and tricks for a few relevant Legacy matchups. In the meantime please add your best advice for beating Storm and Grixis Delver in the comments on facebook, twitter, reddit or where ever you are reading this.

July 2017 Modern Data

Two premier events were played this past weekend on Magic Online, and today I will dissect the results for you guys. On Sunday, the top 250 digital magic players battled in the Magic Online Championship Series in eight rounds of Modern. Since you needed a record of 6-2 to quality for the playoff event, I have included all decks with that record or better. On Monday it was PTQ time with nine rounds of swiss before the top 8. I’ve chosen to include decks with a 7-2 or better record from this tournament even though not all of the players with two losses made ind into the top 8. I feel like I’ve talked about Death’s Shadow variants for a month in a row, so today I will focus on some of the other sweet archetypes in Modern. Here are the hard numbers in the two tournaments combined:

7 Grixis Death’s Shadow
7 Affinity
6 Titan Shift
3 Tron
3 Dredge
3 Storm
4 Other Death’s Shadow
2 Eldrazi Tron
2 G/W Humans
2 Lantern Control
2 Burn
2 U/W Control
1 Bant Eldrazi
1 Amulet Titan
1 KCI Combo
1 Counters Company
1 Faeries
1 Slivers
1 Bogles
1 B/W Midrange
1 B/G Midrange

Which archetypes underperformed?

Where were you last night?

BG/x Midrange decks were at an all time low this weekend. Only former player of the year, Jeremy Dezani, and loyal archetype afficionado slash streamer Jaberwocki decided to sleeve up the best planeswalker in Modern and convert that into a result. Whether this is a financial matter, has to do with the superiority of Death’s Shadow variants or something third, it’s a talk for another day.

Not quite good enough.

Control decks also disappointed me a lot. In a metagame defined by Death’s Shadow and Affinity, you’d think that Control could exist and succeed relatively easy. The problem for various Control decks is not beating 4-5 different decks; the problem is beating 15 different decks. Holding a Negate when you play vs. aggressive creatures or a Supreme Verdict vs. spell combo is a very difficult problem to solve without Brainstorm to filter dead draws in certain matchups, which every Legacy Control mage know all about. My article next week tries to solve the problem for Control decks in Modern, and no, it’s not Brainstorm.

Which archetypes over-performed?

The boys are back in town!

 

 

This weekend marked the official return for “oldschool” Tron, which has been on a long hiatus thanks to people playing Eldrazi Tron instead and overall bad positioning in the format. Two out of the three pilots made some adjustments to combat Death’s Shadow by adding either white or black to their deck to support Fatal Push or Path to Exile and Blessed Alliance. Having a cheap way of removing a Shadow while ramping to your 6+ mana cards seems like a great choice for the archetype moving forward. If this deck gets back to its old metagame share, I would expect Fulminator Mage to see more play in people’s sideboards and Ghost Quarter decks to pick up steam.


Go big or go home.
Titan Shift matches up terribly against Death’s Shadow and still had a very nice weekend. Why? Other than matching up poorly vs. Death’s Shadow, it’s also very bad against spell-based combo like Storm and Ad Nauseam. The good thing is that main deck Relic of Progenitus solves the Storm matchup and that Death’s Shadow has made Ad Nauseam almost extinct as this point. People realized that boardstate decks are good vs. Death’s Shadow, so Titan Shift is now left with positive matchups like Affinity, Eldrazi decks and Collected Company variants. It also dismantles most Midrange and Control decks quite handily, because you’re so threat dense, you don’t need to resolve a big spell and the natural Valakut triggers will grind down your opponent. I like Pia and Kiran Nalar in the four mana slot instead of Chandra. Three chump blockers is valuable in a lot of matchups, Shadow variants and Affinity in particular. The thopters even fly and can block a huge Etched Champion to buy you a vital turn.

Titan Shift players should be worried about the comeback of Tron. Last time the two decks were top decks at the same time, the opposition adapted by having access to 4 Fulminator Mage combined with Surgical Extraction in their sideboards. If Tron fails to keep the engine running, I like Titan Shift leading up to Grand Prix Birmingham next month.

To the bench you go!

https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/690492#online
https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/691338#online

MTGO user WilliamRegal took Burn to great finishes in both events as the lone wolf this weekend. Looking at his deck list, the first thing you see is that he cut the Eidolon of the Great Revel and chose to play black instead of green as his splash color. I suspect that he removed the Eidolon’s from the deck entirely because he didn’t want to sideboard them out vs. various creature decks all day, as they’re quite bad vs. Affinity, Humans and Eldrazi – especially on the draw. I’m quite surprised not to see them in his sideboard, since Storm is still a deck. I like how, after Affinity’s homecoming party at Las Vegas, he specifically prepared for Affinity by sideboarding Stony Silence, Wear // Tear and Smash to Smithereens. I highly doubt that he lost a match against the robots all weekend.

The black splash adds a few tools to the R/W core of burn. Bump in the Night is another Lava Spike that gets around Worship as a nice little bonus. With Fatal Push running rampant, it makes sense to only play the haste creatures and a few Lavamancers to try and strand removal spells in the opponent’s hand, even though creatures are your only repeated source of damage. Topdecking a burn spell is much better than topdecking a Wild Nacatl when you’re trying to finish off your opponent. Hidden gem Rain of Gore teams up with Skullcrack to try and combat pesky lifegain.

Even though I’m pretty excited for Modern moving forward, next week I have some suggestions on improving the format even more. In the meantime, feel free to follow me twitter and tune in my twitch channel, if you like.

Editorial Note: What is your experience with modern? Let us know in the comments!

Snapcardster #LEGACYKIEL

I’m incredible happy to be a part of the organizing team for this tournament. Big shout-out to the judges and to you – the players.
Peer Richelsen, TO

It’s been months of hard work. Software development for the app, financing, funding and legal-advices to make sure everything works out for the first Northern Germany cash tournament. After this exhausting trip I’m very glad everything worked out like a charm.

36 players joined us in our #startupsh office to play our most favourite format: legacy. After switching from a team tournament (which was the first stupid idea, tbh) to 1vs1 plain old legacy we were ready to go. Well, I thought so. About three weeks before the tournament the e-mail server, which was receiving the preregistrations, stopped doing it’s job; without me noticing. Luckily everything worked out and we were able to switch to an alternative preregistration method.

Follow us on Instagram for more impressions.

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Winner Profile

Frederik Pape

 

What was your deck choice for this tournament and why?
Dark Bantblade. A lot of my friends put up very good results with the deck so I gave it a try a few weeks ago and it deck is just insane.

How did your deck perform? Would you change anything in maindeck or sideboard?

The deck is very versatile and capable to find answers to nearly all threads. Even though that i think it is close to perfect as it is I want to try cutting one Abrupt Decay from the maindeck to add the Swords to Plowshares from the board to squeeze a Collective Brutality into the sideboard.

What’s your biggest achievement in magic? What’s the farthest you’ve traveled for magic?

I guess winning this tournament 🙂 The farthest I traveled was the Legacy GP in Chiba last year. It was a blast 🙂

How long have you been playing legacy competitively?

Hard to say, maybe 7-8 years with a few longer breaks in between.

What’s the next tournament you’re heading to?

As im quite busy in the next few month I think the next bigger tournament I will be going to will be the MCM Series in Hamburg

Top8

1. Frederik Pape Dark Bantblade
2. Marcel Jørgensen Elves
3. Hans Jacob Goddik RUG Delver
4. Jan Stadler Death and Taxes
5. Tim Borostowski Grixis Delver
6. Anders Thiesen Not Quite Miracles
7. Anders Rune Jensen Omni Sneak
8. Christian Böhnke Elves

Meta

With 22,9% Tempo/Aggro, 34.3% Combo and 42,9% Control the Snapcardster Legacy meta seems very healthy. The most played deck was Dark Bantblade with 16,67% meta share followed by Elves with 13,89% and Grixis Delver with 11,11%.

Deck Amount Share
Dark Bantblade 6 16,67%
Not Quite Miracles 2 5,56%
Death and Taxes 2 5,56%
BUG Control 1 2,78%
Hawk Blade 1 2,78%
Human Stompy 1 2,78%
BUG Food Chain 1 2,78%
Deathblade 1 2,78%
Control 15 41,67%
Elves 5 13,89%
BR Reanimator 2 5,56%
ANT 1 2,78%
TES 1 2,78%
Belcher 1 2,78%
High Tide 1 2,78%
Omni Sneak 1 2,78%
Combo 12 33,33%
Grixis Delver 4 11,11%
UR Delver 2 5,56%
Goblins 1 2,78%
RUG Delver 1 2,78%
Burn 1 2,78%
Tempo/Aggro 8 22,22%