Grand Prix Antwerp Day 1 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on October 26, 2013

A whopping 1600 players made the journey to Belgium's beautiful city of Antwerp, making this one of the largest Modern Grand Prix of all times. They had to fight through 9 rounds of Swiss today, with only 4 players remaining undefeated at the end of the day: Fabrizio Anteri, Ron Cadier, Alexandre Bonneau and Rasmus Björklund, sporting the established archetypes Tron, Jund and Living End (both Bonneau and Björklund).

Still, many other players that want to show that there's still room for innovation in the diverse Modern format that spans almost 10 years of Magic history are in hot pursuit. Among them France's Raphael Levy who is bringing the Merfolks to the table. Also still in competition are household names Shahar Shenhar, Louis Deltour, Michael Bonde, Arjan van Leeuwen as well as Lino Burgold, all sporting respectable 8 - 1 records. So things will definitely get interesting again tomorrow.

The other big story of the weekend is the newfound team spirit among the Belgian and UK communities. It's been a while since Belgium made bigger waves on the major event stage, but a new group has formed to tackle this problem. Players from the UK, on the other hand, seem to be one step already, having sent a well-prepared delegation of Brits over the English Channel to represent their country with pride.

Who will rise to the occasion tomorrow and make the second cut to the final 8? Which deck will ultimately leave the opposition behind and emerge victorious as the new champion of the Modern format? Make sure to check back tomorrow when we'll have all the answers to these questions and more in our live coverage of GP Antwerp!





EVENT COVERAGE

Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – GP Trial Winner Decklists

by Tobi Henke & Oliver Gehrmann
 

Peter Kleisinger - UWR Control

Christian Schneider - Kiki-Pod

Robert Wilbrand - RG Tron

Staks Bram - Hatebears

Dmitriy Butanol - Jund

Martyn Benschop - BW Tokens

Lennart Lindeman - Affinity

Myrddin Hermans - Affinity

Daniel Ballestin - RWU Midrange

Theodoros Liaratis – Jund

Koen Braspennincx – Melira Pod

Steven Noessens – Tron


Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – The Modern Compendium

by Oliver Gehrmann
 

The current Modern format is one of the most exciting formats in Magic history. Many popular decks have been tweaked and tuned over the course of the past months, leaving us with a number of established archetypes that we expect to see again this weekend - among them the Jund, Junk, Melira- and Kiki-Pod and Affinity decks, just to name a few.

It's quite a challenge to come prepared for such a diverse field and quite a few players that I spoke to yesterday had to admit that they don't know about the best ways to counter some of the many viable strategies. Fortunately for them, 4-time Pro Tour Top 8 player Marijn Lybaert prepared a presentation where he explained the strategies of 19 (!) of the more popular decks that will most likely show up this weekend. I took some notes so I could pass on what I learned.

Jund

Jund is of course the premier deck to disrupt opposing strategies. Cheap hand destruction like Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek help you strip your opponent from finding an answer to your Dark Confidant, which will then start to help you pull ahead, providing you with much-needed extra cards.

If you want to go for an alternative strategy, follow up the disruption with a Tarmogoyf, which often happens to be a 3 / 4 as early as turn 2 (thanks to the synergy with your fetch lands and the hand destruction). That means it will even survive a Lightning Bolt, which - according to Reid Duke - happens to be "the best card in the format". While Marijn wasn't sure whether he wanted to go this far, he still admitted that Jund is a force to be reckoned with and that it's very hard to counter.

Speaking of vulnerabilities, Marijn pointed out that extremely aggressive decks have quite a good shot since the deck often takes up to 10 damage from its own effects, putting it well within reach of most burn decks.


Marijn's presentation helped players prepare for this weekend's event!

Junk

Instead of highlighting the inner workings of the Junk deck, Marijn cut this part of his presentation short, explaining that "Junk is basically Jund without Red". He then shared some insight knowledge regarding the Junk vs. Jund match, pointing out that "you should side in 4 cost cards so they can't get discarded by Inquisition of Kozilek". While this slows the deck down to some degree, you can still gain an edge in this close match-up.

One of the cards that help you against Jund in particular are Lingering Souls, since they work great against Liliana of the Veil, one of the defining cards of both archetypes.

Melira-Pod / Kiki-Pod

Both of these decks want to end the game with a bang, going infinite in one of two possible ways; either they gain infinite life, making it impossible for their opponent to ever finish them off, or they deal infinite damage. Both of these combos revolve around Birthing Pod, which makes the deck somewhat vulnerable to Jund and Junk, being able to discard the most important combo piece from the Pod player's hand before things get messy.


Marijn explained the inner workings of the most popular Modern decks.

The explanation of the strategies of these decks gave Marijn a good excuse to talk a little about Kitchen Finks, one of the most important cards of the format. It can provide decks with a lot more reach, providing them with some much-needed extra life that can counteract the ill-effects of the dual lands and the many other effects that make you pay life.

While the Kiki-Pod deck might appear like a 1 trick pony - not featuring an alternate win condition like Melira-Pod (Gavony Township) - it should still not be underestimated. All it needs is a 1 and a 2 drop, 4 mana and 8 life and that will be enough to win the game.

Another big strength of these decks, the Kiki-Pod deck in particular, is the versatile sideboard with many 1 of's that can counter the other powerful decks and which are searchable through the tutors.

Affinity

"The Affinity Deck won 2 Modern Grand Prix' and it's still not receiving the respect it deserves from the players" - Marijn had my attention right after that opening statement. Apart from unprepared opponents, it also tends to do rather well against Jund and Junk, which can be expected to make up a large part of the field.

The power cards in the deck? Cranial Plating, Arcbound Ravager and Etched Champion. It's biggest vulnerability? According to Marijn, that would be, in many cases, the pilot of the deck. He shared that he's seen plenty of players coming close, but messing up the maths, which ultimately meant that their oppoent would get to live with 2 health and turn the game around in the following turns. "Do the maths one turn before you want to go all in!", Marijn recommended. That is, in his opinion, the best way to make sure you'll end up dealing lethal rather than coming short.

 

Scapeshift

While Scapeshift can be considered a combo deck, it can play like a control deck until it hits 7 lands. At that point, all you need to do is cast Scapeshift, which will often be enough to deal lethal damage. This is one of the big advantages of the deck: The set-up is increadibly easy, you don't need a lot of cards to pull off your big combo.


Marijn always had a decklist at hand to go over the most important cards of each deck.

The "Plan B" of the deck is casting a Primeval Titan that is incredibly hard to deal with. The third power card apart from Primeval Titan and the namesake Scapeshift is Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

RG Tron

This deck wants to assemble the Urza lands as fast as possible so it can then bring out a Karn Liberated as early as turn 3. There are different variations of the deck, sometimes the pilot prefers a more controlish approach where he relies on counterspells while assembling the Urza engine, but the general strategy always involves big colorless creatures like Karn Liberated or a Wurmcoil Engine.

One of the big advantages of the deck is the fact that it tends to have more mana than the control decks, making it easy for it to deal with many of the troublesome cards. Two of the important cards that help it dismantle opposing strategies are Relic of Progenitus and Pyroclasm.

Naya Midrange

This deck has several things going for it, most notably the fact that it tends to do pretty well against Jund and Junk decks. While people are usually very fast to talk about Knight of the Reliquary, Noble Hierarch and Domri Rade, Marijn instead wanted to put the spotlight on Loxodon Smiter, a card that is a crucial piece in the puzzle that is Naya. "It won't get discarded and it survives Lightning Bolt - that's huge in this format!"

Woolly Thoctar

Considering that Knight of the Reliquary is no longer as good as it used to be, courtesy of Deathrite Shaman and Scavenging Ooze, Marijn shared that he would instead play Woolly Thoctar over it. "It's a 5/4 for 3, it doesn't get much better than that."

Considering that the card isn't dependant on the number of lands in your graveyard, it might be a much better choice for the weekend.

WG Midrange

This deck is very hard to answer, thanks to the resilient Mirran Crusader that serves as a great answer for Tarmogoyf. Other key cards in this deck's strategy are Leonin Arbiter and Baneslayer Angel that can't get discarded.

An important 1 of in many lists is Crucible of Worlds that can counter disruptive opposing strategies.

Mono Red Burn

This deck aims for a somewhat simplistic approach: Smash face as fast as possible. Some players discard it quickly because of the simple game plan, but it is a real competitor in a format where most decks deal between 4 and 10 points of damage to themselves, shortening the race that the burn player wants to win dramatically.

Marijn didn't have to think long when asked about a reason why he would want to play this deck: "It plays 4 Goblin Guide! 4 Goblin Guide?! That's reason enough!", he explained. The other important cards in the deck are Lava Spike and Flames of the Blood Hand, providing the deck with enough reach to come out successful in close games.

Marijn then went a little faster over Through the Breach, Splinter Twin and UWR Control before settling a little longer on

Infect

The strategy of this deck is as straightforward as it gets - it plays 1/1s and 2/2s with Infect. The one thing it has going for it is that it's the only deck in the format that can kill on turn 2 and for that reason alone, it shouldn't be underestimated.


Infect

The big problem of the deck is that it's not very well-positioned against Jund and Junk, which know plenty of ways to deal with the early aggression. The 3 most important cards for this deck are