Six of the players who made top 8 at Grand Prix Hong Kong 2013 have returned for another shot at top honours. We caught up with them to tap their expertise on Theros Limited. This first part includes conversations with Ng Soon Lye, Lu Xiaoshi and Denny Dunsford.
How do you think the Theros Limited format has evolved from release to date?
Soon Lye: The Monstrosity mechanic has definitely grown in importance. Games tend to reach the late game, so you want to have the beef to dominate when it does. It is possible to play the quick game with RW, but otherwise, beef!
Xiaoshi: I agree beef is important in Sealed, where it is about bombs and having the largest creature on the board.
Denny: Agreed and agreed. In fact, because of the dominance of green in Sealed, I would go so far as to say Hunt the Hunter is a standout card. It's still a sideboard card, but has a huge impact in games where it's relevant and it's relevant more often than not.
Focusing on Draft now...
Xiaoshi: I think we've come to realise red is not as strong as we initially thought and UG is stronger. Sideboard cards have also become a little more important.
Importantly, the possible strategies and overall skill level have also matured. So players have decks with better synergy and are less likely to make mistakes like misreading cards. The impact is it is more difficult to consistently do well in the current environment.
Denny: Green has gotten too slow. I used to be able to do well with mid-range green decks, but players are now drafting streamlined heroic BW and UW decks that do very well. You need to have a good suite of ramp if you want to do well with green.
Soon Lye: I would say the path to victory is to find your core colour in the first five picks and have the discipline to stick with it. Pick up a secondary colour based on what's under drafted.
It's interesting Denny mentions streamlined heroic BW. That's essentially the deck Tom Martell rode to victory at Grand Prix Sacramento last week... and his deck in relative terms had a noticeable absence of bombs. Not a single rare, with Whip of Erebos and Insatiable Harpy in the sideboard.
Denny: I agree with the decision to sideboard the Whip. It doesn't really help him close the game quickly and that's what his deck wants to do. Not so sure on the Harpy. It is a really good card.
Xiaoshi: Yes. A few of us followed Tom's drafting and he had very good strategy. He had a spot of indecision when considering which cards to cut but I think his decisions were right. The decision to keep Whip and Harpy in the sideboard might also have to do with double black in the cost. Tom's early drops were white with a few double white in the casting cost like Phalanx Leader and Wingsteed Rider, so he might have wanted to ensure he had smooth mana. I'm not sure I personally would have had the courage to sideboard a bomb like Whip of Erebos.
Soon Lye: Tom's deck had excellent synergy. Wingsteed Rider was the MVP and Whip fits better in GB.
Born of Gods is going to be released soon. What do you think it's impact on Limited would be?
Soon Lye: RG will make a comeback. Fanatic of Xenagos, Xenagos, God of Revels and Flame-Wreathed Phoenix are really strong. The format probably get a little faster.
Xiaoshi: It's still going to be about beat down. Especially given the Tribute mechanic, where decisions for your opponent become more difficult when he has lower life.
Thank you for sharing and good luck!