Day 2 Grand Prix Washington D.C. Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on November 17, 2013

By Wizards of the Coast

Welcome back to Grand Prix Washington, D.C. We've worked our way through the largest Day 1 field for a North American Legacy Grand Prix, and Sunday promises to offer a field packed with players slinging spells from the whole of Magic's history.

235 players met the 7-2 threshold to return for a run at the Top 8, including seven players with pristine 9-0 records: No. 20 Craig Wescoe, Andrew Cuneo, Mike Nyberg, Ted McCluskie, Chas Hinkle, Wayne Polimine, and Rudy Briksza. Dustin Droggitis and Denis Ulanov also maneuvered through the field with nary a loss, clocking in at 8-0-1.

But there's no Rest in Peace for any of them, as there are plenty of top pros nipping at their heels. No. 4 Shahar Shenhar is the highest ranked player left, with No. 10 Sam Black, No. 13 Eric Froehlich, No. 16 Brian Kibler, No. 22 Owen Turtenwald, and No. 25 Christian Calcano all making the cut as well. Other notable names to make the cut include Chris Pikula, Todd Anderson, Gaudenis Vidugiris, and Tomoharu Saito.

But with a wide-open field, nary a dominant deck to be found, and six rounds in front of us, it's just about anyone's game. Follow along all day as we bring you all of the action on video and text right up till the point where we crown a champion of Grand Prix D.C. 2013.

Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

by Blake Rasmussen

Craig Wescoe—Death and Taxes

Download Arena Decklist

Andrew Cuneo—Elves

Download Arena Decklist

Michael Nyberg—Shardless BUG

Download Arena Decklist

Ted McCluskie—Shardless BUG

Download Arena Decklist

Charles Hinkle—Sneak and Show

Download Arena Decklist

Wayne Polimine—MUD

Download Arena Decklist

Denis Ulanov—Team America

Download Arena Decklist

Dustin Droggitis—Esper Stoneblade

Download Arena Decklist

Rudy Briksza—Esper Deathblade

Download Arena Decklist


Round 10 Feature Match - Wayne Polimine vs. Dustin Droggitis

by Blake Rasmussen

I love the smell of new decks first thing in the morning.

Staff of Nin

While Legacy MUD isn't a new deck per-se, it certainly is a rarity to spot it at a tournament these days. And it's even rarer to see it sitting near the top of the standings this far in to a tournament like this. But that's exactly where I found Wayne Polimine this morning, playing Cloudposts, Wurmcoil Engines, and freaking Staff of Nin in Legacy.

Appropriately enough, Polimine is in construction. He's a metalworker. You cannot make this stuff up. Well, you could, but in this instance, I'm not, as I learned when Polimine sat down to share the story of putting a screw through his foot this week.

He's hoping to put the screws to his opponent, Wayne Polimine. Polimine didn't quite slip through Day 1 with 9 wins, but his 8-0-1 record was, as the kids say, pretty good. Piloting Esper Stoneblade, Droggitis had Force of Willed his way through the field to the top of the standings.

Droggitis had all the tools to dismantle Polimine's artifact-heavy list, but the MUD mage had plenty of bombs and disruptive measures to make life difficult.

Game 1

Both players started off with a little disruption, some discard and creature removal from Droggitis and some Wastelanding from Polimine.

But Droggitis fought through the land destruction and landed a Stoneforge Mystic for a Batterskull, one of the benefits of only needing two lands to operate.

Polimine, on the other hand, needed quite a bit of mana to operate, mana he found at the bottom of a Cloudpost and a pair of Vesuvas. Soon he was able to make as much as 20 mana, which should have been devastating.

Except he didn't do much with it. Anything, really. While Droggitis was casting Planeswalkers and attacking with Germ tokens, Polimine was passing the turn with a million mana available.

The calm didn't last long, much to Droggitis' chagrin.

"Tap 8," Polimine said, as if it was the most natural phrase in the world. "Sundering Titan."

The Titan crashed onto the battlefield, destroying three of Droggitis's lands and gumming up the board for the time being. Jace could bounce it out of the way, but it would be an ineffective half measure that would simply result in Droggitis losing more land. For the moment, the board was at something resembling parity, if board stalls with Jace, the Mind Sculptor in play count as parity.

Polimine even found a Loadstone Golemn the following turn to make Droggitis's life that much more difficult. His options reduced and his mana diminished, the Esper player was forced to start throwing creatures in front of Sundering Titan just to keep Jace...and his hopes...alive.

But Jace did what Jace does and eventually delivered, digging up enough land to let Droggitis start playing spells. He made what seemed like an odd play, however, when he used Snapcaster and Swords to Plowshares to remove the Titan when he could have just played True-Name Nemesis to block it indefinitely. In the process, he cost himself two lands, though he was able to get the board back at a state relatively in his favor. Especially once Polimine was forced to simply play lands and pass every turn with something around 40 mana at his disposal.

Jace and Dustin Droggitis teamed up to take down Game 1.

Eventually, Droggitis decided he needed to start winning and began using Jace's plus ability to control Polimine's draws again. Now armed with a hand of two Force of Will and a Swords to Plowshares, Droggis was betting that he could ultimate Jace before Polimine could resolve something relevant.

A few turns and a Force of Will later and that was exactly what came to pass as Polimine was never able to cut through the resistance.

"The hand I kept was atrocious, and I just kept drawing lands," Polimine said. "But I had a turn two Trinisphere, until you played Inquisition of Kozilek."

Droggitis 1 – Polimine 0

Game 2

Sometimes you have to comb through a game to find a key turning point, an important moment that turns the match or defines the pace of the game.

And sometimes MUD plays turn one Chalice of the Void on one and follows up with a Trinisphere and a Lodestone Golem and their opponent doesn't play a single spell.

So that happened.

Droggitis 1 – Polimine 1

Game 3

Now pressed for time, both players hurried to avoid a tie. Polimine was forced to mull to five, but found himself with a hand that threatened a turn two Wurmcoil Engine. Thoughtseize and a Meddling Mage naming the 6/6 stopped that sequence, but a Lodestone Golem stepped in admirably to tax Droggitis painfully.

Kuldotha Forgemaster kept the hits going as Droggitis stared at a hand full of Snapcaster Mages and Spell Pierces. Pithing Needle kept it from going crazy, but wouldn't stop it from simply attacking.

The Spell Pierces were unfortunate cards in this matchup. Necessary to try and stop early plays like Chalice or Trinisphere, they quickly became dead cards as the match moved to the mid- and late-game.

Even a mulligan to five couldn't stop Wayne Polimine's artifact monsters from taking Round 10.

With time called and Polimine down to just his two artifact beaters, Droggitis desperately tried to stay alive by throwing Snapcaster Mages under the bus. However, without enough mana to operate and facing creatures he couldn't profitably block, the Esper player found himself lacking a way to stay in the game.

And with no time and no turns left, Polimine was able to deal exactly lethal on exactly the final turn.

Polimine 2 – Droggitis 1


Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – Deck Tech: MUD with Wayne Polimine

by Adam Styborski

If you were watching the stream in Round 11, you probably saw something pretty impressive next to the name Wayne Polimine.

Facing down Andrew Cuneo's Elf deck, Polimine went positively infinite—with Staff of Domination.

It's not a sight typically seen in Legacy, and it's even rarer at the top tables, but Polimine and his MUD deck have been proving people wrong all weekend and making other deck's low curves look silly by comparison.

Wayne Polimine now finds himself under the spotlight quite often now that he's near the top of the standings with MUD.

Look for the full list when undefeated decks are posted later in the day, but suffice to say the deck is a colorless Metalworker deck, with Cloudpost and Vesuva helping out with the mana as well. From there, Wurmcoil Engine and Sundering Titan do a lot of the heavy lifting.

At its core, Polimine built his version of the deck as a Prison deck, seeking to lock out opponents as early as the first turn with Chalice of the Void, Trinisphere, and Lodestone Golem. Other versions try to combo out with Lightning Greaves and Kuldotha Forgemaster, but Polimine set that idea aside for a list that's far more likely to lock someone out of even playing a spell.

And yet, the whole reason Polimine is playing the deck is because of a certain 6/6 lifelinker, an attachment many of us can understand because we have our own similar stories.

"I started playing in Zedikar/Scars and I really liked Wurmcoil engine. When I found out there was a Legacy deck, I built it and thought it was really cool," Polimine said.

Wurmcoil Engine
Sundering Titan

For me, I started playing in Alliances, and Balduvian Horde will always hold a special place in my heart. Everyone has their own version of the first card that captured their imagination.

But what Polimine discovered after playing with the deck some was that he was actually winning pretty consistently. Originally envisioned as a side project to play for fun, it quickly became Polimine's favorite deck over the last year. And when the Grand Prix came around, his friends—rightfully, it would seem—told him to play what he knew.

A big part of the advantage Polimine has gained this weekend comes from the fact that players aren't used to playing against the deck.

"We noticed in testing that people could beat me in games 4,5,6, but I had the advantage in the first few games as they tried to figure out how to play against it," he said.

Part of learning to play against it is dealing with the Prison pieces that cause so much consternation. Polimine's package includes:

3 Sundering Titans
4 Lodestone Golems
4 Chalice of the Voids
4 Trinispheres

That's quite a bit of disruption. Why so much?

"People get greedy," Polimine said. "It's the same reason Wasteland is good."

Polimine had plenty of examples. He said against Ad Nauseam Tendrils he had a Turn 1 Metalworker into a pair of Lodestone Golems on Turn 2. That's tough to beat for any deck, but virtually impossible for a deck that tries to cast a lot of spells all in the same turn.

Then, again, against a BUG player he cast a Turn 1 Trinisphere off Grim Monolith and his opponent never cast another spell. Similarly, I watched him lock out his Esper Stoneblade opponent in Round 10 with Turn 1 Chalice of the Void, Turn 2 Trinisphere, Turn 3 Lodestone Golem.

"A lot of times an early lock piece is just game over for most of the field," Polimine said.

The deck isn't perfect, however, despite the awesome and amazing scenarios presented. Polimine said it doesn't mulligan well and that it can be something of a coin toss against Sneak and Show. Dredge, though not a popular deck, is also a weak point for the deck.

And Elves, while typically a strong point, proved to be Polimine's undoing, as he ran into a player who was just as hot as he was. Andrew Cuneo, deftly piloting his Elf deck around multiple Chalice of the Void, eventually won that match where Polimine went off with Staff of Domination, taking the final two games through some severe resistance.

Still, at 10-1 and well positioned against the format—and the players playing the format—don't be surprised if the Top 8 has MUD all over it. Or at least in one spot.


Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

by Adam Styborski

Round after round two facts about Grand Prix Washington D.C. have become clear: High finishing decks from recent events are out in force, and Legacy is still the most diverse Constructed format in Magic. Coming into Day 2, this is what the metagame looked like:

Day 2 Metagame

Death and Taxes, Elves, Sneak and Show all appear, trailing behind the clear leader in RUG Delver of Secrets. Decks we saw frequently in feature matches throughout Day 1 and in the undefeated bracket at its end include Esper Deathblade, Shardless BUG, Ad Nauseam Tendrils, and Counterbalance. But one other fact is readily apparent: Just over 40% of the field isn't highly represented. In fact, most these "top played decks" are themselves small fractions of the Day 2 metagame.

Archetype Count
RUG Delver 39
Death and Taxes 18
Elves 16
Esper Deathblade 13
Shardless BUG 13
BUG Delver 11
Ad Nauseam Tendrils 10
Counterbalance 9
Sneak and Show 9
Reanimator 8
Omni-Tell 7
UWR Delver 7
Esper Stoneblade 6
Jund 6
Merfolk 6
Affinity 5
Dredge 5
Junk 5
U/R Delver 5
Bant 4
Goblins 4
Tezzeret 4
UWR Stoneblade 4
U/W Stoneblade 3
BUG Control 2
Burn 2
Legacy MUD 2
Sneak Attack 2
Charbelcher 1
Hive Mind 1
Infect 1
Lands 1
Monoblack 1
Monored 1
Painted Stone 1
Scapeshift 1
Show and Tell 1
U/G Delver 1

The fractions become clear when looking at across every deck. Individual players chose to play decks that weren't featured recently, and those players did so en masse. Even if we group flavors of archetypes together, half the field is still something else.

Archetype Percent Count
Delver 27% 63
Blade 11% 26
Sneak/Show 9% 21
Other 53% 125

Of course, even these grouped numbers can be nudged in different ways. Splicing and hybridizing decks isn't uncommon in Legacy where decks share ubiquitous, powerful cards such as Brainstorm and their manabases. The minutiae of what sets similar decks apart is an exercise much larger than what these stick counts can answer.

Does this line up with what you would have expected for the weekend? I asked Pro Tour Hall of Fame member and current Legacy standout William "Huey" Jensen what he expected to find this weekend.

This Pro Tour Hall of Fame player has been winning well in recent Legacy tournaments.

"What I think about Legacy is a lot of time you have StarCityGames Opens and Invitationals where a few pros with card access will switch around decks, a lot of players just have their deck," Jensen explained. "While people feel like there's these big metagame shifts I don't think in practice it works out that way, unlike Standard. I expected a really diverse field."

What did he think of the Day 2 numbers? "RUG Delver of Secrets seems to jive with what I think. It's been around for so long a lot of people just have that deck. The field seems diverse, and Delver of Secrets strategies are popular as they have been in every format. I'm guessing Sneak and Show isn't as prevalent as people thought," said Jensen. "I've found despite it getting a lot of buzz online, not a lot of people actually play it in the tournaments I've been in."

What does this mean for the race to the Top 8? "I know Cuneo is 11-0 with Elves and he's a favorite to make Top 8," said Jensen. "Based on the numbers you've shown me I'd think a RUG Delver of Secrets deck would sneak in too. Legacy has a lot of parity, and like any format play skill is very important. In Legacy I think you can learn the ins and out of a deck against the field and you're almost always going to be better off playing what you know. I would play Sneak and Show tomorrow, but I wouldn't tell Owen or Reid to play it," said Jensen referring to his teammates Owen Turtenwald and Reid Duke, the number 22nd and 3rd ranked players in the world.


Round 12 Feature Match - Andrew Cuneo vs. Chas Hinkle

by Blake Rasmussen

This early in Day 2, it doesn't get much bigger than this. The final two undefeated players squaring off in the feature match area playing two very different decks.

Andrew Cuneo was proving Elves to be a force in the metagame, defeating even his bad matchups on his way to 11-0. He has been playing the deck for about the last year, and has adeptly demonstrated his ability with the little Green creatures.

Chas Hinkle had also racked up 11 wins, but with Sneak and Show, a deck that had recently crested in popularity. His goal was to get Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Griselbrand in play and attacking as fast as humanly possible.

Game 1

Normally we don't like to go into detail on every single maneuver in the game down to the minutia, but I'm going to break from that to tell you every moment of this game.

Hinkle, on the play, played Ancient Tomb and Lotus Petal, tapping both for mana and cast Show and Tell. Cuneo revealed Wooded Foothills. Hinkle revealed Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

Show and Tell
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

The end.

"Oh wait, you're at 18, all right!" Cuneo said. "That's the first time that's happened to me."

Hinkle 1 – Cuneo 0

Game 2

Hinkle, aware of the hate lofted at him out of most decks, started with a Leyline of Sanctity in play an a Show in Tell in hand. He lacked the Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, but now that he was protected from discard, those cards weren't going anywhere anyway. He also had a pair of Force of Will to rely on should the need arise.

He also had a Pyroclasm, which he used to clear out a trio of elves from Cuneo's side of the board.

And when he found Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to go with his Show and Tell, it looked like the game was all but over.

And it was, but not how you would think.

Chas Hinkle seemed to have it all: fame, power, turn one 15/15 Eldrazi. Everything. Until he met a Wurm he couldn't match.

Placing his card face down, Cuneo revealed his trump—A Worldspine Wurm that would get to attack first and could trade profitably with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Suddenly, Hinkle's trump looked like his downfall.

The mighty, mighty Eldrazi traded with the Worldspine Wurm, leaving behind three 5/5s for Cuneo, more than enough to win on Cuneo's next turn.

It seemed like Cuneo had it locked up, but an Echoing Truth off the top of Hinkle's deck stayed his sentence for several turns and left the Elf mage attacking with his motley crew in an attempt to win before Hinkle recovered.

"That was my god draw, having Worldspine Wurm in hand," Cuneo said, grinning as they shuffled up for the final game.

Cuneo 1 – Hinkle 1

Game 3

Sneak and Show giveth, as in Game 1, and Sneak and Show taketh away, as Hinkle found out as he mulled to four this game. And it wasn't even a good four, as Hinkle found himself staring at Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, Griselbrand, Force of Will and Ancient Tomb.

But that doesn't mean things were going to be easy for Cuneo, necessarily.

Hinkle actually drew well, finding a land and a Lotus Petal over the next few turns to go with the Sneak Attack he also drew. In fact, he was just about set up to kill Cuneo on his fourth turn...

However, they let Cuneo play Magic during those first few turns when Hinkle was doing nothing. True story. He used that time well, casting a few elves and firing off a small Glimpse of Nature on his third turn to get ahead. Still, it looked like Hinkle might get his opening to activate Sneak Attack.

Andrew Cuneo. You wouldn't like him when he's Green. (Yes you would, Andrew Cuneo is an exceptionally likeable guy. He's just difficult to defeat.)

Then Cabal Therapy, naming Force of Will.

"I think you're dead," Cuneo said, doing some math in his head.

Thanks to the mana from Gaea's Cradle and some Quirion Ranger untap shenanigans, Cuneo was able to hard cast a Craterhoof Behemoth and attack for the win—with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Griselbrand sitting forlornly in Hinkle's hand.

Cuneo 2 – Hinkle 1


Sunday, 12:30 p.m. – Deck Tech: Elves with Andrew Cuneo

by Blake Rasmussen

Even with No. 3 Reid Duke out of the tournament, his influence is still seen all over the place, including with Andrew Cuneo, the final remaining undefeated player.

"I asked Reid to borrow a deck and said I'd play whatever he loaned me," Cuneo.

While true, it either sells Cuneo a little short or underplays Reid's knowledge of his friend's skill. Cuneo has been playing and tweaking Elves for about a year and, though he doesn't stray too far from the stock list, how he plays it and the small touches make it very much his deck.

As far as different cards go, he only has a few (look for the full decklist when we post Day 1 undefeated lists later in the day). He has a main deck Scavenging Ooze that most don't play and a very spicy Worldspine Wurm in the sideboard that we'll get to in a moment.

Yup, that's a Worldspine Wurm

The Ooze has been a strong addition to the deck, even if it seems a bit off theme.

"I think it's the only inexpensive creature worth Green Sun's Zenithing with," Cuneo said. "It's good because I can generate a bunch of mana to activate it. In one match against Dredge I played it and activated it five times the following turn."

Much of the deck's mana prowess comes from Gaea's Cradle, an absurdly powerful card that only Elves is equipped to take advantage of. The Legendary Land, in turn, allows Cuneo to power out the true strength of the deck, Craterhoof Behemoth.

You see, despite the deck being capable of comboing off with Glimpse of Nature, that's not really how Cuneo plays it.

"The deck can do that, but you really don't need to draw that many cards with Craterhoof," Cuneo says. "I don't think I've gone off even once this tournament."

Glimpse of Nature
Craterhoof Behemoth

That's also why he doesn't even bother with Regal Force. Why draw cards when you can just kill your opponent?

He also dismissed Ezuri, Renegade Leader as an option that other lists are packing. With both trample and a built-in way to combat removal, it seems like a fine addition. But Cuneo disagrees.

"It doesn't help you in any of the hard matchups, it doesn't do anything," Cuneo said. "You can't beat the deck with just one-for-one removal. You have to have sweepers."

He also said that decks either needed to be very fast or be able to lock him out.

However, two of those very types of decks fell to Cuneo in Rounds 11 and 12 as he knocked out both Sneak and Show and MUD despite some strong draws from both, including a game where Cuneo actually faced a Turn 1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (he lost that one). He won the second, however, thanks to that Worldspine Wurm, which he got to play off Show and Tell and force a trade with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

"I think it's still a bad matchup," Cuneo said of both MUD and Sneak and Show. He also counts Reanimator as a bad matchup, but said just about everything else was fine to good. Tarmogoyf decks, he added, are pretty easy to beat.

And though he was told about the existence of Toxic Deluge the morning of the Grand Prix, he isn't terribly worried about it.

"From my perspective, it's basically the same card as Perish."

And now at 12-0, from everyone else's perspective, Cuneo's starting to look a lot like the most likely player to make the Top 8, and the deck absolutely no one wants to face.


Sunday, 1:30 p.m. – Round 10-12 Metagame Recap

by Adam Styborski

While the Day 2 metagame is still incredibly diverse, those battling among the top tables look a little different. I pulled the archetypes represented across the Top 25 tables from rounds 10, 11, and 12, then charted those with at least three players.

The average is across just the three rounds played so far on Day 2, as you can see from the data.

Archetype Average Across Rounds Round 10 Round 11 Round 12
Esper Deathblade 5.67 6 6 5
RUG Delver 4.67 5 3 6
Shardless BUG 6.00 4 7 7
Ad Nauseam Tendrils 2.67 3 3 2
Esper Stoneblade 3.33 3 3 4
Sneak and Show 2.67 3 3 2
Death and Taxes 2.67 2 3 3
Dredge 2.67 1 3 4
UWR Stoneblade 2.33 2 3 2
Elves 2.00 1 2 3
Other 20.00 26 16 18

The trend lines tell the tales of victory and defeat.

Dredge, Shardless BUG, and Elves headlined by undefeated through Round 12 Andrew Cuneo have all been on the rise through the rounds. Other archetypes look relatively stable, and you can see that is was the players standing along with their deck making room for more popular choices: The all other decks group fell dramatically between Round 10 and Round 11.

Also important to note is that RUG Delver of Secrets was far and away the most represented deck overall for Day 2, but the numbers by Round 12 show it's relatively tied for being among the top tables. The biggest winner compared to the overall totals on the day is Shardless BUG. It jumped up in representation going into Round 11 and held onto it for Round 12.

Why would you play Shardless BUG this weekend? I talked to Frank Skarren, winner of the massive Gatecrash Limited Grand Prix in Charlotte earlier this year. "I originally chose it because Gerry Thompson said it's the best deck in the format," said Skarren. That was 5-6 months ago, and I've just played it at every Legacy tournament since. It's not the kind of deck where you opponent makes their turn 1 play and you're like 'Alright. I got this.' but there are very few decks there they make their turn 1 play and you just lose. It's a deck that rewards good play, and there isn't a deck you don't have game against."

Even though Frank Skarren lost in Round 13, he was in good spirits to continue on with Shardless BUG.

What did Skarren run into playing through the rounds? "It's very diverse. I've only played against the same deck twice; The usual suspects. I also played against the Oops All Spells deck: It wasn't a deck that I thought people would actually play this weekend."

Would Skarren choose a different deck if he could go back? "I wasn't in love with Shardless BUG. I played it because it's the one I'm most comfortable with," Skarren said, echoing the words of Pro Tour Hall of Fame player William Jensen. "I knew Sneak and Show might be popular and I like that matchup, but it ended up not as popular as I thought. But I wouldn't have played the deck if I thought it was a bad choice."


Round 14 Feature Match - (4) Shahar Shenhar vs. Glenn McIelwain

by Blake Rasmussen

Somewhat embarrassingly, I didn't realize that reigning World Champion, current 4th-ranked player and all around all-star Shahar Shenhar made Day 2. I had somehow convinced myself that he had been caught up in the late-round bloodbath that befell a number of ranked players, causing them to miss Day 2.

But that's how Shenhar gets you. Quiet and unassuming, one of the youngest players on the train is also one of the best, and he's put together yet another tournament run that has him angling for a Top 8. At 11-2 he doesn't have much room to maneuver, but he also doesn't have much further to go to get there.

Also at 11-2 and needing a win to stay live for the single-elimination rounds is Glenn McIelwain, his opponent and a deft RUG Delver of Secrets player. RUG Delver of Secrets has been one of the more popular choices over the weekend, even as people seek out alternatives to Tarmogoyf and Nimble Mongoose, often in the form of True-Name Nemesis. But McIelwain stuck to his guns and has been rewarded so far.

The question remains if those rewards will take the form of a solid finish worth some bragging rights and a few dollars, or if either of these players can etch their names in the Top 8 of GP D.C.

Game 1

McIelwain did some things, sure, but mostly this was a story of Shenhar failing to draw any Black mana while staring at a hand full of Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Liliana of the Veil. There was a minor attempt at a Deathrite Shaman to help fix his mana, but a pair of Lighting Bolts, one blocked by Daze, kept that from mattering much.

No. 4-ranked Shahar Shenhar couldn't do much in game one as Black mana just wasn't forthcoming, even in the hands of a World Champion.

So it didn't much matter what McIelwain did, but his Nimble Mongoose and Delver of Secrets were more than enough to push Shenhar to the brink without breaking much of a sweat. There was a minor scuffle over a Swords to Plowshares that might have kept Shenhar alive for an extra turn, but a Force of Will, Spell Pierce, and a Daze were just enough to force through lethal damage.

McIelwain 1 – Shenhar 0

Game 2

This time Shenhar was positively swimming in Black mana, even opening with a basic Swamp to protect his ability to force discard. And when a Wasteland set McIelwain back on mana, Shenhar had the early-game advantage he was looking for on the play.

The two players parried over a pair of Deathrite Shamans for the first few turns—the first fell to Lightning Bold, the second was neutered by Pithing Needle—but the important stuff came immediately after.

McIelwain, operating on just one land for much of the game, resolved both a Nimble Mongoose and a Delver of Secrets that flipped and immediately started attacking. Shenhar, on his end, got a True-Name Nemesis to stick in order to gum up the ground.

McIelwain, however, wasn't concerned with the ground. He was happy enough attacking for three every turn, and Nemesis couldn't do much about the flying 3/2.

Glenn McIelwain has proven himself to be heads and tails above the field with RUG Delver of Secrets, and at 12-2 is within striking distance of the Top 8.

It seemed like Shenhar might wrest the game back under his control with a Liliana of the Veil, but McIelwain had both Spell Pierce and Force of Will to fight through Shenhar's Flusterstorm and prevent the Planeswalker from changing the math at all.

But the fight and the turns in between left Shenhar at a meager three life when he finally found an answer to the flying beat-down he was receiving. Swords to Plowshares removed the threat of Insectile Aberration, but it couldn't do anything about the Lightning Bolt McIelwain was ready with on his very next turn.

McIelwain 2 – Shenhar 0


Sunday, 3:00 p.m. – Round 13-15 Metagame Recap

by Adam Styborski

If I said the last few rounds of a Grand Prix are "like a crucible heated to forge a Top 8" you might say I was being dramatic. That's because I would be. But it's dangerous to understand their importance: If you haven't been hovering among the top tables by the end of Swiss rounds, you aren't in any contention for a top finish.

But those battling among the top tables really are under the heat to perform. It's why the last few rounds are so interesting to look at for decks. Updating the data through the last three rounds, I kept all of the previously noted decks that had a round with that lease three players playing it among the Top 25 tables, and added new decks that cropped up.

If it looks like there's a strong upward trend for RUG Delver of Secrets, you'd be right. It's easy to see in the full chart.

Archetype Average Across Rounds Round 10 Round 11 Round 12 Round 13 Round 14 Round 15
Esper Deathblade 5.33 6 6 5 5 5 5
RUG Delver 7.00 5 3 6 8 10 10
Shardless BUG 5.00 4 7 7 3 5 4
Ad Nauseam Tendrils 2.17 3 3 2 2 1 2
Esper Stoneblade 3.33 3 3 4 3 5 2
Sneak and Show 3.00 3 3 2 3 3 4
Death and Taxes 2.33 2 3 3 2 2 2
Dredge 2.50 1 3 4 3 1 3
UWR Stoneblade 2.17 2 3 2 2 3 1
Elves 2.67 1 2 3 4 3 3
BUG Delver 2.17 1 1 2 4 2 3
Counterbalance 2.33 2 2 2 3 2 3
Other 10.00 17 11 8 8 8 8

RUG Delver of Secrets had fallen to just three players among the Top 25 matches in Round 11. From there, whether by sheer numbers or a result of the metagame coalescing tighter (The all other decks category stabilized at just eight of the fifty top decks after Round 12.), it looked like William Jensen's prediction for one slipping into the Top 8 was possible.

The darling deck of Round 12, Shardless BUG, immediately crashed for Round 13 and stabilized there. Esper Stoneblade peaked in Round 14 before crashing to its lowest Top 25 table count on the day for Round 15, and Sneak and Show snuck up on everyone, peaking for the final round of Swiss.

While the differences from the all-in counts for Day 2 are still withstanding, the overall metagame among the top tables was surprisingly stable. Esper Deathblade, Death and Taxes, and Counterbalance held steady, and the ups and downs of other decks didn't upend the lay of the land: None of the decks fell off the map either.

All that remained from the Swiss round of Day 2 was the Top 8, and that's something in control of only the players themselves.

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