Tomorrow is another day and another tournament. Bright and early, players will be returning to the Convention Center to upgrade to Vintage, where the real power lies. From Black Lotuses to Ancestral Recalls, the decks will be fun to watch, and the strategy will be intricate. Check back in the morning as Chris Pikula and Randy Buehler stream live video coverage of the Vintage Championships here at Eternal Weekend from Philadelphia!
Richard Q Nguyen
Osyp Lebedowicz, 2-1
Greg Price, 2-1
Ari Lax, 2-0
Micah Greenbaum, 2-1
Osyp Lebedowicz, 2-0
Ari Lax, 2-0
Ari Lax, 2-0
by Nate PriceFinalsOsyp Lebedowicz (UR Delver) vs. Ari Lax (Death and Taxes)
by Nate PriceQuarterfinals RoundupRichard Nguyen (RUG Delver) vs. Micah Greenbaum (Death and Taxes)
Osyp Lebedowicz (UR Delver) vs. Brad Jarman (RUG Delver)
Matt Tocco (Ad Nauseam Tendrils) vs. Greg Price (Legacy MUD)
Paul Lynch (UWR Miracles) vs. Ari Lax (Death and Taxes)
by Nate PriceTop 8 Decks
by Nate PriceTop 8 Profiles
by Nate PriceSaturday, 5:45 p.m.Playing "Fair"
by Nate PriceSaturday, 4:30 p.m.Eternally Supportive
by Nate PriceSaturday, 3:30 p.m.Legacy Guidebook
by Nate PriceSaturday, 12:00 p.m.Legacy Championships at a Glance
by Nate PriceSaturday, 9:30 a.m.What's in a Name?
by Top Deck GamesInfo: Fact Sheet
|1. Ari Lax|
|2. Osyp Lebedowicz|
|3. Micah Greenbaum|
|4. Greg Price|
|5. Brad Jarman|
|6. Mark Tocco|
|7. Richard Nguyen|
|8. Paul Lynch|
pairings, results, standings
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – What's in a Name?
One of the biggest pieces of news coming into Eternal Weekend, especially for the Legacy Championships, was the November 1 release of Commander 2013. While geared primarily towards the casual Commander format, cards from Commander 2013, as with Commander before it, are legal for play in Eternal formats. We have seen in the past the effect that this can have, as Commander's Scavenging Ooze and Flusterstorm had a definite impact on the complexion of Legacy upon their release. Commander 2013 is no different, boasting a powerful new addition to the Legacy format: True-Name Nemesis.
Potentially a powerhouse, True-Name Nemesis is going to be one of the biggest question marks this tournament. It is extraordinarily resilient, susceptible to only global removal spells and sacrifice effects. From the moment it hits play, it is a virtual Lightning Bolt a turn, which is capable of quickly ending games. That said, it's also a creature, and one that costs three, to boot. In Legacy, when people tap three mana for a creature, it's usually Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Paying three mana for something that doesn't effectively end the game on the spot is a risky proposition, yet True-Name Nemesis still has people buzzing.
In the proper shell, the card can be absolutely devastating. So far this weekend, I have seen it in Stoneblade, Shardless BUG, and, of course, Merfolk. It serves as a wonderful clock for control decks, ending the game in short order once the game has been locked up. But it truly shines in Merfolk. In a deck that is already packing a number of ways to both aggress and be disruptive, True-Name Nemesis provides an extra boost, supplementing the already strong core of the deck. Merfolk has been somewhat out of favor in recent months, though, as it has appeared ill-prepared to deal with the bulk of the Legacy format despite its strength against the currently-dominant combo strategies. It will remain to be seen whether or not True-Name Nemesis is able to breathe a little life into this deck, carve a niche for itself in the shell of another deck, or simply remain a role-player in this star-studded Legacy field.
Another of the interesting Commander 2013 cards that will likely make a splash this weekend (perhaps a larger one than True-Name Nemesis) is Toxic Deluge. It's rare that a cad comes around with the ability to completely sweep the board, skirt even protections as strong as True-Name Nemesis, kills creatures both large and small, and does so for only three mana. When investigating the most sought-after cards of the weekend, True-Name Nemesis came up quite a bit, but only half as much as the black sorcery did.
It's easy to see why it's powerful, but let's look at what it does in the context of Legacy. Contrary to popular opinion, Legacy isn't just teeming with gigantic, nigh-unkillable monsters. Yes, Sneak and Show and Reanimator have been both very powerful and consistent recently. But they overwhelming majority of the decks in Legacy involve beating people up with cards like Delver of Secrets, Tarmogoyf, and Arcbound Ravager. As creature decks make up the majority of the field, idealized mass removal like Toxic Deluge is very important for any decks packing the mana to cast it. In addition to killing all of the little guys, Toxic Deluge even has the ability to kill the largest of monsters. Sure, it comes at great cost, but even Emrakul, the Aeons Torn falls prey to the Deluge.
It will be interesting to see whether these cards have a noticeable impact on the fabric of Legacy, although it appears early on that they will.
Saturday, 12:00 p.m. – Legacy Championships at a Glance
More than any other format in Magic, Legacy is all about the decks. With access to over 13,000 cards, there are a tremendous number of options for players, including a number of interactions that were undreamed of when the cards were originally designed. You get decks like Sneak and Show, which take advantage of Sneak Attack and Show and Tell to get Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play, usually ending the game soon thereafter. You have the various Delver of Secrets decks that are an updated and deepened riff on the Delver of Secrets decks that ran rampant in Standard for over a year. Speaking of modified Standard stalwarts, how about the Stoneblade decks that are derivatives of CawBlade, one of the most stifling decks Standard has ever seen. You have Elves combo decks hoping to avoid reanimated Elesh Norns. You have decks like Ad Nauseam Tendrils and Belcher, which feature virtually no lands, and Lands, which features virtually no spells. In Legacy, you really can do it all.
As it has garnered more and more player and organizer support over the last few years, Legacy technology has grown by leaps and bounds. It doesn't quite move as quickly as Standard does, but it moves and shifts quite a surprising amount for a format that sees such a small relative change in its card pool on a regular basis. There are certainly trends to track, and information to be aware of if you have any illusions of doing well at a high-profile Legacy event.
Coming into this event, the biggest mover and shaker has certainly been Sneak and Show. Show and Tell decks have been a force to be reckoned with ever since the release of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Able to end the game in effectively one fell swoop, the deck is capable of killing opponents before they get more than one permanent into play, or wiping the board clear against those that do. It has been doing incredibly well recently, helping a number of players to top finishes at some high profile Legacy events.
Here in Philadelphia, things are a bit different. First, here is a look at the metagame breakdown from the Grinder run yesterday:
|Ad Nauseam Tendrils||1|
As you can see, that is an incredible amount of variety. 22 players, 15 different decks. Welcome to Legacy. As expected, the only real concentration of decks played is in the Show and Tell variant, though it's a different deck than expected. Considering the performances of Sneak and Show in the preceding weeks, it was interesting to see the Omni-Tell variant, which relies on getting an Omniscience into play either via Show and Tell or Dream Halls, before killing with a cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. The variant is one of the other major decks to use the Show and Tell engine, though it has seen far less success than Sneak and Show. Even more interesting, there were no Sneak and Show decks at all in the Grinder.
Ultimately, it was Keith Blackwell's Shardless BUG deck that ended up taking the Grinder down. This is a deck that has been around in force since last year, where it served to keep the dominant Stoneblade decks in check. The deck also comes equipped with reasonable answers to the Sneak and Show deck, between Liliana of the Veil and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, as well as a boatload of permission and discard.
Taking a glance around the room during the third round, the breakdown of the Legacy Championships itself looks a little different than shown by the Grinders. A random sampling of ten matches from around the room showed the following breakdown:
|Sneak and Show||1|
|Death & Taxes||1|
This sampling is fairly representative of the field around the room. RUG Delver of Secrets and Shardless BUG are clearly the two biggest decks in the room. Both decks feature aggressive cores backed up with divergent strategies. RUG tends to follow the effective Lightning Bolts of Insectile Aberration and Nimble Mongoose with actual Lightning Bolts, while BUG rocks more of a control shell, featuring cards like Ancestral Visions and Hymn to Tourach to cascade into.
Other than those big decks, the things to note are the relative lack of Sneak and Show enrichment. As decks tend to do well, players key into this and there tends to be an enrichment at following tournaments. We saw it with the rise of Monoblack Devotion and Colossal Gruul at Grand Prix Louisville, one week after they made Top 8 of the Pro Tour. Legacy tends to avoid this effect, though. With the richness of the format, players tend to find one or two decks they like and simple tweak them to deal with variations in the metagame. As such, seeing the relative lack of Sneak and Show isn't a complete surprise. What'll be surprising is if it doesn't end up with a presence in the Top 8. It is the favored deck of many of the top Legacy players, making it likely to have at least one representative in the elimination rounds.
For those of you unfamiliar with Legacy, many of these names will be rather foreign to you, despite the fact that Legacy tends to be one of the more direct in naming its decks. As such, I'll take a look through these breakdowns here in a little bit and give you the skinny on what these decks tend to do.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. – Legacy Guidebook
As promised, here's a brief run-through on some of the biggest decks in the tournament, with special attention paid to the decks mentioned in the previous metagame breakdown. There are about a dozen other major players in the format, but these are the biggest decks for this event that might be misunderstood by the uninitiated.
Omni-Tell – Almost always mono-blue, Omni-Tell centers around having Show and Tell or Dream Halls slip an Omniscience into play. Once in play, the powerful enchantment allows the pilot to cycle through the deck using cards like Brainstorm and Ponder, culminating with Enter the Infinite or just the shortcut to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. In a pinch, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn can substitute for Omniscience, riding Show and Tell into play.
High Tide – Another mono-blue deck, High Tide centers around its eponymous instant, the mana-generating engine High Tide. Once the first High Tide has resolved, cards like Turnabout and Candelabra of Tawnos to amplify the mana generated, culminating with one massive Blue Sun's Zenith to finish things off.
Punishing "X" – The Punishing tag is associated with versions of typical archetypes featuring the Punishing Fire/Grove of the Burnwillows engine. This can be found in traditional midrange decks like Jund and Naya, all the way to more controlling decks like Life from the Loam-based decks. This engine gives the decks a long-term, crushing inevitability, as well as some up-front protection from all of the aggro decks in the field.
Maverick – One of the less descriptive names in Legacy, Maverick and its variants are essentially GW-based creature decks, relying on the central Stoneforge Mystic engine and the versatility of a Green Sun's Zenith toolbox to present an incredibly resilient front. Capable of defeating creature decks thanks to Umezawa's Jitte, combo decks with Gaddock Teeg, and Reanimator strategies with Scavenging Ooze, Maverick has an answer to everything, and threats to end the game quickly.
Pox – Pox decks utilize a resource denial strategy, relying on the unholy trinity of hand destruction, land destruction, and man destruction to ensure that opponents can't do anything, much less win a game of Magic. Cards like Smallpox, (big) Pox, Innocent Blood, Hymn to Tourach, and Sinkole keep opponents under lockdown, while Bloodghast, and eventually Tombstalker, finish them off.
12 Post – So many posts! 12 Post is the Legacy version of Modern's Tron decks, a big mana deck that does big mana things. Between Cloudpost, Glimmerpost, and Vesuva, this deck is capable of spewing out an unreasonable amount of mana, especially when aided by Primeval Titan and Candelabra of Tawnos. In the end, this tremendous amount of colorless mana leads to a dealer's choice of Eldrazi.
Ad Nauseam Tendrils – ANT is the prototypical Legacy storm deck. With access to all of the mana accelerators in Magic's history, ANT uses a myriad of tutor effects to put together a massive turn, often involving Ad Nauseam, culminating with a massive Empty the Warrens or Tendrils of Agony. Since most of the deck costs zero or one mana, Ad Nauseum provides a glimpse at virtually the entire deck, making it quite easy to assemble the pieces.
Shardless – Most commonly a BUG deck, Shardless decks are so named for Shardless Agent, notable primarily for being a three-mana cascade spell. The Agent provides a number of beneficial two-for-one effects thanks to cascade, from Hymn to Tourach to Ancestral Visions to Tarmogoyf. The aggression in the deck is generally relegated to Tarmogoyf, Agent, and Deathrite Shaman (that two life adds up), and the deck surrounds that with a shell of permission, removal, and discard.
Elves – A rare creature-based combo deck, Elves is one of the most unique decks in the format. Thanks to Glimpse of Nature, Elves is able to turbo through its deck, generating absurd amounts of mana through a combination of Nettle Sentinel and Heritage Druid. Quirion Ranger and Wirewood Symbiote provide a stream of creatures, ensuring that the deck keeps going. Eventually, it uses that massive creature base and mana production to either drop a lethal Craterhoof Behemoth or an Ezuri, Renegade Leader, into play. Opponents don't usually last much longer.
Painter – This vein of decks generally focuses on the Painter's Servant/Grindstone combo, where you make all of the cards in both decks the same color, allowing a single Grindstone activation to mill an opponent out. There are variants of the deck featuring Imperial Recruiter as a method of searching for Painter's Servant or Goblin Welder to help assemble the combo. When in doubt, the deck is still capable of a large amount of mana production, and it can use it to power out a fast Wurmcoil Engine.
Dredge – At one point in history, it was impossible to play Legacy without dedicating half of your sideboard to dealing with graveyard-based strategies. Dredge is the reason. Using the powerful dredge mechanic to fill the graveyard up, Dredge bypasses most of the "standard" parts of the game, just dumping cards into the graveyard before returning Flayer of the Hatebound to play with Dread Return. This is usually accomplished by sacrificing Narcomoebas that came into play for free, meaning that mana is not an issue. Combined with copies of Bridge from Below in the graveyard, Flayer of the Hatebound ends the game in a flurry of triggers. Nowadays, there is considerably less hate around for the graveyard, but its utter reliance on dodging hate has kept Dredge from reaching the pinnacle in recent months.
Death and Taxes – Effectively a Legacy White Weenie deck, D&T relies on not allowing opponents to do anything, all while pressuring them with an increasing army of creatures. The myriad of creatures available to D&T provide all sorts of versatility to the deck. Phyrexian Revoker functions as an attacking Pithing Needle. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Ethersworn Canonist are nightmares for combo decks. Aven Mindcensor is just good against all of the various fetch lands and tutors running rampant in Legacy. At the heart of everything, the deck relies on Stoneforge Mystic and Mirran Crusader to provide the finishing punch.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. – Eternally Supportive
Here in Philadelphia, Eternal is the name of the game. There are no frills, no strings attached, no distractions...just good old school Eternal Magic. Players have come from all over the world for their crack at the title and the one-of-a-kind prizes: blown up versions of trademark cards from the formats, each with recommissioned artwork. Among the players vying for their chances to win are some of the biggest names in each of the formats. After fortuitously finding them paired against each other in Round 5, I had a chance to speak with one trademark representative of each community.
Ari Lax is one of the best Legacy players on the planet. Over the course of three or four major events in the past couple of years, I can count the number of losses I've seen him accrue on one hand. He contends that this is because I've only seen him at events where he was playing ANT, a deck with which he has become synonymous. Still, his numbers and performances tell the tale of a player very confident with the format. Interestingly, Lax opted away from the ANT deck which has afforded him his greatest success, choosing instead the aggressive Death and Taxes deck for this Championship. It has served him well so far, as he entered Round 6 an undefeated 5-0.
His defeated opponent, Raymond Robillard, is the very example of a pillar of the Vintage community. Over a decade ago, Robillard began a tournament known as the Waterbury in Waterbury, Connecticut. Since its inception, this quarterly Vintage tournament has steadily grown in popularity and esteem, fueling the fire for hundreds of Vintage players across the east cost of the US. After getting married, Robillard had to let organizing events fall by the wayside, but his influence has still made a major impact on an entire generation of Vintage players.
So how does it feel to be here at Eternal Weekend, with both the Legacy and Vintage Championships being showcased in a stand-alone event rather than part of some larger event?
Robillard – I think it's awesome. I've alweays wanted to participate in it, but never had the chance. I went to Gen Con every year for a few years there, and sporadically as time has allowed recently. I would always plan to do all of these cool things! I'm going to do this or do that! And then I would spend all of my time in the Magic room and not make it out. It's nice having it be separate now, because I could focus on Gen Con at Gen Con, and I can focus on this now.
Raymond Robillard and Ari Lax
Lax – I am very happy. I love traveling to Indy, I think it's a great place to hold tournaments, but I hate Gen Con. I'm not really into a lot of the other gaming experiences. I play Magic for the competitive aspect, and that doesn't really exist outside of the tournaments at Gen Con. A lot of the other stuff there doesn't really appeal to me. At Gen Con, it can be kind of expensive having to purchase a badge, and you have to jump through hoops sometimes to get the tickets you need for events... I just want to play in a Magic event, and I get to do that here. It's also about nine hours less driving for me, so I'll take that.
Robillard – On a personal level, I'm also really good friends with Nick Coss, the TO for Eternal Weekend. He's a Vintage guy through and through, and he really understands what Eternal players want. I think he's doing a bang up job here.
Eternal formats tend to be the most misunderstood formats in Magic. People just hear Vintage or Legacy and assume that it's all about doing something absurd and an utter lack of interaction between players. How would you guys respond to that?
Lax – From a fundamental standpoint, Vintage is way harder than any other format. Not only are you presented with so many options for cards, but Vintage also has all of the restrictions placed on it. Other formats have decks with like twenty individual cards. Vintage has that many one-of cards, tutors with an infinite number of options...every one slot matters so much, and every part of the game matters so much because there are so many plays that can cascade into a win so quickly. If you think this card is going to matter and it doesn't, you can just lose... If you battle a well-fought game, it can be incredibly interesting.
Robillard – I think the biggest difference between Vintage and Standard is that they are really two sides of the same game. It's like in golf. There is the long game and the short game. Standard is like the long game—whack the ball as hard as you can. You play this huge guy then I play this mythic then you play this huge mythic... Vintage is more about precision. If you turn your wrist ever so slightly when putting, you find yourself missing completely. It's the same thing in Vintage. If you misstep one little bit (pun intended), it's all over.
How do you feel about the state of Legacy right now?
Lax – I'm pretty happy with it. I mean, the big hype right now is that Show and Tell needs to be banned, right? This is the same Show and Tell deck that we ran out of the metagame like a year and a half ago. I'm not sure why people are complaining so much about it now.
Robillard – Until they produce a card that says "counter target spell," Show and Tell is going to be dominant. Oh wait! There are a million ways to do that!
Lax – Yeah, we dealt with this deck and caused it to fade out about a year ago. It's good, but it's not stellar. There are a bunch of issues with Show and Tell as opposed to some of the other combo decks, specifically mana mobility with your combo turn. Whereas Storm or High Tide can set up these sequences where they force opponents to really consider what's important to worry about, Show and Tell simply plays Show and Tell. You know it's what's going to kill you, you should probably counter it.
Robillard – Wait, you do have a Counterspell? Ok. I guess you got me.
So are you guys looking forward to Vintage tomorrow?
Lax – I'm probably not going to play. I don't own any power, and I didn't want to go through the hassle of borrowing someone's power, playing with it and being responsible for it. If I did have access to some that I knew I could get easily, I would have loved to play more of the format to prepare for tomorrow.
Robillard – I have a funny story considering that I'm considered a big Vintage guy. I'm actually running a deck with no power tomorrow. I have always played in proxy tournaments, and for years, I had two full sets of power. Then I decided I wanted to marry my wife, and those two sets of power basically paid for the wedding. I've collected all sorts of other cards since them, but I've never gone back and collected the power since I've always just been able to proxy it. I always feel a little nervous about playing with someone else's power, so I just opted to play unpowered. If I'd known that there were going to be such strong security measures here, I might have considered it. It's great. I had a set of power stolen from me at Gen Con a couple of years ago, and Brian DeMars helped me get it back. It was an eye-opening experience for me, both in terms of how much it can hurt to lose something so valuable, but then the sense of goodness in the world that there are people that would help me get it back.
How important have proxy tournaments been in helping to grown Vintage, especially considering the difficulty some players face in acquiring the cards to play sanctioned events?
Robillard – I think the proxy tournaments have helped to grow the environment, but they also created a situation where it can be tough to go back to sanctioned. They bring people in, and they create an opportunity for people to play Vintage, which is great, but those same people lose the incentive to actually acquire the cards needed to play in sanctioned tournaments if they can just play in proxy tournaments. I think it's been a weird catch-22. I think proxy tournaments are necessary to have a vintage scene, but as long as there are proxy tournaments, there won't be as strong of a sanctioned Vintage scene. Those are really the two options. Do you want a proxy Vintage scene or no Vintage scene at all? I'll take the proxies.
Let's close by telling us your favorite things that you can do in your respective formats!
Robillard – I'm going to have to go with being able to kill someone on turn one. There is nothing that compares to that feeling—it's one of a kind. I think that it creates a real sense of excitement for players and spectators alike. There are players who complain that, without Force of Will, you can't possibly compete. That doesn't happen all the time. Both players should be coming in with that attitude, that they might both be able to pull of this turn one-kill. Sometimes I'll get it, sometimes they will. We can both get our rush. The slightest thing could mean the match. It's very unforgiving, but I mean that as a compliment. There's just so much strategy there.
Lax – I've got two very different things that I find really exciting. First is the one that everyone would expect from me—casting Diminishing Returns. That card is sweet, you never know what's going to happen. Never tell me the odds. You just flip your cards, and you're like, "Ok, I win this time." The other one that I had happened today. I had a Mirran Crusader with a Sword of Fire and Ice and an Umezawa's Jitte on it. Trying to figure out how much damage that does on the first swing is impossible. I love that.
Saturday, 5:45 p.m. – Playing "Fair"
Legacy is synonymous with big plays and overpowered cards. I mean, one of the biggest decks coming into this weekend is a deck capable of paying three mana to put a 15/15 creature with protection from more or less everything. Yet despite the obvious power in this format, the most-played decks in this format are centered around creatures. Decks like the various Delver of Secrets decks, Jund, Shardless BUG...they all seem to want to play...well...fair.
"I mean, I wouldn't call this deck fair," Ari Lax said about his Death and Taxes deck. Based around an army of white creatures that all have some sort of ability that is detrimental to opponents, Lax's deck is a perfect foil for the various powerful combo decks in Legacy. Between Ethersworn Canonist and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, it's very difficult for decks like Storm and High Tide to get any traction. Mangara of Corondor and Fiend Hunter are great answers to Sneak and Show decks. Phyrexian Revoker is ideal against the myriad of Planeswalkers throwing their clout around, as well.
"It's just not fair," Lax laughed. "You just make your opponent not play Magic, then you somehow kill them. They just sit there and say, "Man, none of my cards did anything." And you get to ask them why they didn't build their decks better. I mean, I'm playing creatures with powers and toughness."
Creatures with power and toughness less than three, even! The smalles creatures seem to go in Legacy is the 3/2 Insectile Aberration, so seing Lax doing so well (he's 7-0) with a deck filled with two-powered creatures is such a wakeup call. Yet despite the fact that he's just playing stupid little creatures and attacking with them, he contends that his deck isn't playing fair.
"Your game plan is to get a Sphere of Resistance into play and then just destroy their lands with Wasteland and Mangara," he explained. "The difference is that your Sphere of Resistance gets to attack them. You want to negate your opponent's strategy, but not like a control deck does, where you are looking to have all of the right answers. Here, you want to have all of the right threats to make their cards effectively do nothing. That's why it's not fair. They don't get to play Magic."
Another player "playing fair" this weekend is Pro Tour champion Osyp Lebedowicz. His deck of choice for the Legacy Championship was a strictly UR version of Delver of Secrets. Unlike most versions of the deck, which tend to dip into three colors, Lebedowicz's version of the deck is less vulnerable to two of the most powerful disruptive spells in the format: Wasteland and Blood Moon.
"Being able to fetch out a first-turn basic Island is so good in many of the matchups here," Lebedowicz said. "Especially against the other Delver of Secrets decks, having Stifle up and not being vulnerable to Wasteland makes a big difference."
"Pyromancer has been a very good card," he told me. "It's basically taking the place of Tarmogoyf in this deck. Against the decks that are trying to play fair, like other Delver of Secrets decks or BUG, it can just kill them in three turns if they don't deal with it. Against the unfair decks like Sneak and Show, Tarmogoyf isn't going to get any bigger than two-power anyway, so the Pyromancer actually packs more punch. Being able to cast it with Force of Will and Daze in hand, getting you four power on the second turn, is so powerful."
Lebedowicz also tested out the newest addition to Legacy: True-Name Nemesis. It has been quite a divisive topic thus far this weekend, as it seems just a touch too slow in many matchups to really shine. It has been taking the place of two-drops for much of the weekend, which has led to more than one lost match. As Hall-of-Famer Randy Buehler said during his commentary, "If you aren't impacting the board on turn two, it's really hard to win in Legacy."
"One of the biggest reasons I wanted to play this deck here was that Chris Pikula wanted me to test out True-Name Nemesis before Grand Prix DC," Lebedowicz laughed. "So far it's actually been pretty good. Again, it's really good against the fair decks, where they have to have an answer soon or it just kills them. It's a bit worse against the combo decks, but it isn't completely useless. If nothing else, you can always pitch it to Force of Will."
Top 8 Player profiles
Greg PriceAge: 32
Hometown: Columbus, OH
Customer Service Manager Previous Magic Accomplishments:
None. What deck are you playing in the Legacy Championships and why?
MUD. Chalice of the Void for 1 wrecks a good portion of the field. Also I've been working on the deck for two years. How did you prepare for this event?
I watch and play a lot of Legacy. Team Mythic and Fog of Dusk have helped me improve a lot. What is your favorite thing about Legacy?
Being able to play a Chalice of the Void on one or a first-turn Trinisphere. What Legacy card would you most like to own a full-size, alternate art version of?
Metalworker or Sundering TitanWhat card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
Chalice of the Void
Ari LaxAge: 23
Electrical Engineeer Previous Magic Accomplishments:
2 PT Top 16s, 6 GP Top 8s, demonstrated ability to count to ten. What deck are you playing in the Legacy Championships and why?
Death and Taxes. It seemed reasonable, so I had to test it for Grand Prix DC. How did you prepare for this event?
I borrowed a deck and played nine rounds with it today. What is your favorite thing about Legacy?
Cheap spells = intricate sequencing decisions. What Legacy card would you most like to own a full-size, alternate art version of?
Lion's Eye DiamondWhat card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. It's good against creatures and noncreatures.
Osyp LebedowiczAge: 33
Hometown: New Brunswick, NJ
Marketing Research Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Last place 2004 Magic Invitational What deck are you playing in the Legacy Championships and why?
UR Delver of Secrets. Chris Pikula suggested a RUG shell that could support True-Name Nemesis. How did you prepare for this event?
Listened to Chris Pikula and was insulted via email by Eric Berger. What is your favorite thing about Legacy?
There's a lot of decisions to make and little room for error. What Legacy card would you most like to own a full-size, alternate art version of?
Astral SlideWhat card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
Micah GreenbaumAge: 33
Hometown: Duxbury, MA
Cleaning Solution Magnate Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 8 SCH Open, SCG Baltimore Legacy Champ, Day 2'd a Grand Prix What deck are you playing in the Legacy Championships and why?
Tiny Pickles aka Death and Taxes. It has a good Show and Tell matchup, I'm comfortable with it, and it has no Brainstorm. How did you prepare for this event?
Played SCG Indy Open last weekend. What is your favorite thing about Legacy?
Almost any deck is good, and I've had success. What Legacy card would you most like to own a full-size, alternate art version of?
Life from the Loam or Mother of Runes. What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. She's done tons of work in conjunction with Wasteland and Rishadan Port.
Richard NguyenAge: 24
Hometown: Lancaster, PA
Poker player Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 8 GP Charlotte, Top 8 SCG Philly, Top 8 SCG DC, Top 8 SCG Baltimore, Top 8 SCG Richmond, Top 8 SCG Edison What deck are you playing in the Legacy Championships and why?
RUG Delver of Secrets. Getting ready for GP DC. How did you prepare for this event?
Practiced with #TeamPanda What is your favorite thing about Legacy?
Nothing. This is my second Legacy tournament. What Legacy card would you most like to own a full-size, alternate art version of?
Undying Evil. What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
Paul LynchAge: 30
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Drafting Manager Previous Magic Accomplishments:
SCG Baltimore Open champ, 18th GP Providence 2011, multiple SCG Open Top 8s What deck are you playing in the Legacy Championships and why?
UWR Miracles. I have lots of experience and I think it's well positioned right now. How did you prepare for this event?
Testing at Brewpoint Games with the Baltimore Legacy crew. What is your favorite thing about Legacy?
The diversity of the format and the complexity of the decision-making skills needed. What Legacy card would you most like to own a full-size, alternate art version of?
Meddling Mage. It's my fav! What card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
Vedalken Shackles in the maindeck, and Pyroclasm in the board.
Brad JarmanAge: 30
Hometown: Newark, DE
Credit Analyst Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Top 32 GP Atlantic City, several PTQ Top 8s, undisputed pauper EDH World Champion What deck are you playing in the Legacy Championships and why?
RUG Delver of Secrets. All I want to do in Legacy is counter broken spells and apply constant pressure. RUG Delver of Secrets lets me do both. How did you prepare for this event?
Playing in local events and talking theory with my teammates Tommy Evaristo and Andrew Flemming. What is your favorite thing about Legacy?
There's a large variety of decks and you can play with old cards. What Legacy card would you most like to own a full-size, alternate art version of?
StanggWhat card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
Rough // Tumble from the board
Mark ToccoAge: 27
Hometown: Dirty Jersey
Retired Poker Dealer Previous Magic Accomplishments:
Winning a bunch of unimportant Legacy tournaments What deck are you playing in the Legacy Championships and why?
~10 years of Legacy practice. What is your favorite thing about Legacy?
BRAINSTORMWhat Legacy card would you most like to own a full-size, alternate art version of?
BRAINSTORMWhat card has been the most impressive for you this weekend?
Top 8 Decks
Richard Nguyen (RUG Delver) vs. Micah Greenbaum (Death and Taxes)
Nguyen's Delver of Secrets deck came out strong against Greenbaum's Death and Taxes deck, getting an early Delver of Secrets into play and transforming it. He was also able to stifle (but not Stifle) Greenbaum's early development with a Wasteland that killed a Karakas, stranding Greenbaum on one land.
"That Wasteland was pretty good," Nguyen said after the game. Greenbaum had an Æther Vial that he was able to get into play, but it was far too slow to keep up, especially when Nguyen added a 4/5 Tarmogoyf to his side. Two turns later, and Greenbaum packed his cards in.
Richard Nguyen vs. Micah Greenbaum
In the second game, Nguyen desperately tried to avoid Greenbaum's Crackdown. Yes, you read that right. Against Nguyen's Delver of Secrets deck, Crackdown would effectively keep all of his creatures tapped down, alleviating a great deal of pressure. If, that is, they ever reached three power. Nguyen tried to dodge hitting threshold and failed to reveal a card for his Delver of Secrets to transform it in an effort to keep his offense alive.
In the final game of this match, things went incredibly well for Greenbaum, but only after they had gone incredibly poorly. After getting his Æther Vial countered with Force of Will and his KarakasWastelanded, stranding him on one mana, Greenbaum was able to rally, drawing the cards he needed to not only get himself back into the game, but prevent Nguyen from winning. It took drawing the perfect set of cards, including a Swords to Plowshares for an Insectile Aberration, as well as Nguyen being unable to get his Nimble Mongoose into threshold. Eventually, Greenbaum found a Stoneforge Mystic and a Batterskull, eking out a very close game to take the match.
Osyp Lebedowicz (UR Delver) vs. Brad Jarman (RUG Delver)
Lebedowicz thought he had the advantage in this matchup, as his mana is much better than that of Jarman's RUG Delver of Secrets deck. While that may be the case, it was Lebedowicz's aggression that carried the day in the first game, quickly overrunning Jarman with creatures.
Brad Jarman vs. Osyp Lebedowicz
The second game featured a bizarre moment where Lebedowicz accidentally played a second land at one point. Things were very confusing between multiple Dazes from both players, but it was all fortunately caught on camera. These days are long, and it is easy to make mistakes at the end of them, and the judges were willing and able to rewind the clock to before that point and progress from there. Rather than take that, however, Lebedowicz chose to concede the game, admitting that he shouldn't be allowed to win this game if he had made such a big mistake. That wonderful display of sportsmanship sent things to a tense Game 3.
With everything in the balance, Lebedowicz managed to get the aggressive start he needed to put himself in the driver's seat. Holding a Lightning Bolt at the end of the game, Lebedowicz played it safe rather than go for the throat, giving Jarman an extra turn to draw out, but it didn't end up mattering in the end, as Lebedowicz was able to hold on and burn Jarman out.
Matt Tocco (Ad Nauseam Tendrils) vs. Greg Price (Legacy MUD)
Tocco's first game in the Top 8 was anything but standard. Since this is Legacy, that should be a good thing. Unfortunately, he found himself in an unfavorable situation in an unfavorable matchup. Price's MUD deck comes equipped with a number of potent answers to Tocco's storm deck, including a full set of Chalice of the Void and Trinispheres. Even with that on his side, Price didn't need them. He had a terrific starting hand, with a Darksteel Colossus and the Metalworker needed to power it out. Faced with this dead end, Tocco took to his deck in an attempt to go off. He was missing a few of the pieces required to power to victory, but he had the eponymous Ad Nauseum, which he used to reveal card after card. And as the cards peeled off, he grew even more desperate, failing to find the kill card needed to actually win as life slipped away. Before he actually drew a kill condition or a way to go find one, he drew himself out of life, essentially killing himself before Price would get the chance.
In the next game, Price did draw his powerful hate cards, landing both a Chalice of the Void for one and a Trinisphere. This would have been enough to lock up the game if it weren't for the pair of Abrupt Decays in Tocco's hand. This gave him a glimpse of light in an otherwise dark game, but the light was soon snuffed out. A second Chalice of the Void for one delayed Tocco just long enough that Price's Kuldotha Forgemaster was able to put out a hasty Sundering Titan, clearing Tocco's board.
Matt Tocco vs. Greg Price
The game seemed unlosable for Price, as Tocco had no cards in play and he was showing a lethal attack. Instead, Tocco managed to convert a single Underground Sea into tons of mana via Infernal Tutors and Cabal Rituals, thankfully in threshold. Eventually, thanks to Past in Flames, he was able to fetch out a Tendrils of Agony to steal the second game.
In the final game, Price once again found the right cards to deal with the situation. Lodestone Golem is very potent against the ANT deck, functioning both to slow them and to put a quick clock down. In addition to this, Price had a Phyrexian Revoker locking down a pair of Lion's Eye Diamonds. In the end, the combination was too much to bear, and Tocco folded to the pressure.
Paul Lynch (UWR Miracles) vs. Ari Lax (Death and Taxes)
Lax said earlier that his deck was about not allowing his opponent to actually play Magic, and he set up the first game of his quarterfinal match with that in mind. Against Lynch's Miracles control deck, Lax set up a pretty silly cycle with Mangara of Corondor and Karakas, where he was able to exile one of Lynch's lands every turn without losing his Mangara. With an Æther Vial on three counters, this was able to continue until Lynch had had enough.
Ari Lax vs. Paul Lynch
In the second game of their match, it all came down to one tense turn. Lax had managed to deal with all of the major threats that Lynch was able to play. The only thing left on Lynch's side of the table that wasn't a land was a seemingly useless Rest in Peace. On the final turn of the game, Lynch managed to find a Helm of Obedience, which would combo with the Rest in Peace to completely mill Lax out. When he went for it, Lax used Æther Vial to slip in a Flickerwisp, resetting the Rest in Peace and giving him the breathing room. Lax had a Sword of Fire and Ice for his Mirran Crusader, representing approximately a billion damage. Lynch took a swing with his Helm, looking for a creature that would allow him to block, surviving the turn and giving him the chance he needed to get to the Terminus on the top of his deck. Instead, he found a Wasteland. Game and match to Lax.
Finals - Osyp Lebedowicz (UR Delver) vs. Ari Lax (Death and Taxes)
It's rare in a tournament like this to have the two most accomplished players in the field meet in the finals. There are so many pitfalls along the way that it is almost a certainty that one will fall prey to them. Not so here at Eternal Weekend in Philly, though.
Osyp Lebedowicz, Pro Tour Champion and man-about-town, brought a UR Delver of Secrets deck that he was hoping to test before the upcoming Legacy Grand Prix in Washington DC. It is safe to say that his testing bore fruit. This was originally orchestrated as a chance for him to test Commander 2013's True-Name Nemesis in a RUG Delver of Secrets shell, though it ended up dropping the green for a better mana base. In the end, Nemesis ended up being an all-star against the fair decks, and Force of Will bait against the unfair decks (read: Sneak and Show and Storm).
In his way was Ari Lax, a stalwart and perennial top finisher at Legacy events, with multiple top finishes at the upper level of competition. Rather than his usual Ad Nauseam Tendrils deck, Lax opted for Death and Taxes, a mono-white aggro deck aimed at disrupting everything that opposing decks could plan on. It was interesting to see two "fair and interactive" decks playing against each other in a field that has previously been dominated by "unfair" Sneak and Show decks.
The Games (Kind of...)
Lax opened with one of the best possible cards in this matchup, or any matchup for that matter—Stoneforge Mystic. It was two Mystics, in fact, allowing him to search up not only an Umezawa's Jitte, but a Batterskull, as well. Lebedowicz had a Lightning Bolt to stop one before it could activate, but not the second. This let him get Jitte into play, dominating Lebedowicz's Young Pyromancer in the early stages of the game. Even with Lebedowicz's True-Name Nemesis presenting three points a turn, it was better served as a defender against Lax's equipped attackers. Unfortunately for Lebedowicz, Lax also had a Mother of Runes in play, allowing him a path past the Nemesis. This combination proved too strong for Lebedowicz, and when a Phyrexian Revoker shut down Lebedowicz's Engineered Explosives, he just packed it in.
The next game was even more quick and painless than the first. Lax had his first-turn Mother of Runes hit with Daze, setting Lebedowicz back a turn in mana, but eliminating the stupidly powerful protector from the game. Lebedowicz even had the Stifle to stop Lax's attempt at a second-turn Stoneforge Mystic, preventing it from searching out the game-winning Batterskull. When Lax simply tapped two mana and put the Batterskull that he already had in his hand into play, Lebedowicz laughed. When Lax followed that by Wastelanding Lebedowicz's second land, the laugh turned to a quick concession.
"That's about enough of that," he said, picking up his cards.
Ari Lax has defeated Osyp Lebedowicz in a quick two-game match to become the 2013 Legacy Championship winner!