"Gotta Catch Kai" (Pustilnik, Shvartsman, Mowshowitz) first deck construction

Posted in Feature

By Rui Oliveira

As the registration got underway and the big names strolled into the tournament site, the Palastrampa, you could easily imagine players taking a guiding tour of who-is-who is European, and even World, Magic. Amongst the top teams in the game one team stood out: Pro Tour Champions Mike Pustilnik and Zvi Mowshowitz and Alex "Broken in Grand Prix" Shvartsman looking to improve his record eleventh Grand Prix Top 8. They team is aptly named "Gotta catch Kai" as they are all still theatrically in the race for Pro Tour Player of the year that the German behemoth leads. Zvi's situation is even funnier since he belongs to the same deckbuilding team as Kai, so he gets to work on decks that Kai Budde might use to win the Race! Not that he minds since there is no I on team.

Choosing what team to watch during deck construction was hard due to the high quality and sheer number of Pro teams. Nevertheless we tracked down Zvi, Alex and Mike to see how these three great players worked as a team. But first a message to their families: they are alright but couldn't call because the phone in their room is broken.

When they were finally allowed to open their card pools there was a lot of head shaking:

Zvi - "We have problems."
Alex - "This is not the best set of cards I have ever seen."

Mike silently started double-checking the registered cards, something that you should always do to avoid any problems. They then split the cards into the good and bad card piles while commenting on what they found, namely that there was no Green beef. A quick analysis named 5ColorDraco, Blue-Black and Red-Black as the three more obvious builds at the moment. Each of the players took the responsibility of building one of the decks: Alex took the Blue-Black cards, Zvi the Red-Black and Mike the Green base for the five color deck.

"We suck but I think we can squeeze it out," one of them murmured as casting cost-index piles of creatures and spells grew and shrunk. After a few minutes they had the skeleton builds with these cards being the highlights:

Blue-Black: 2 Cavern Harpy (synergizing with Hunting Drake and Phyrexian Bloodstock), 2 Recoil, 2 Repulse, 1 Fact or Fiction and 2 Probe.

Red-Black: Terminate, Shivan Emissary, 2 Pouncing Kavu, Lava Zombie, 2 Soul Burn, Assault/Battery, 2 Exotic Curses and Mire Kavu.

5ColorDraco: Draco, Questing Phelddagrif, Canopy Surge, 2 Quirion Trailblazer, 2 Harrow, Samite Pilgrim, Angel of Mercy, Hobble and 2 Gerrard's Command.

After this first build they looked up and took the time to see each other's decks. Since the Blue-Black had a insane amount of bounce they considered moving some to the 5cDraco and the Exotic Curses went back and forth between the other two decks. Despite their reputable Magic skills and great list of accomplishments there were no egos involved with everyone pitching in ideas and opinions. A closer look at the leftovers sadly did not produce any surprises: this was what they had to work with, like it or not.

They toiled away with the card pool and after some traded comments about their decks Mike and Alex decided to trade places since they would both fill more at ease in the other's seat. Alex deconstructed and reconstructed the five color deck turning it from a true five color build into a Green-White splash Blue (getting a Rushing River from the Blue-Black) deck. For a few minutes the Draco was in the brink of oblivion with Alex trying to push into the sideboard and Zvi and Mike fighting to keep it in. In the end the big flyer earned a permanent spot in the constantly tweaked maindeck.

The silence returned to the table and with frowning faces they again dove into the strain of eking out all that they could from the card pool. "Something is amiss here", Zvi proclaimed shortly before deciding the splash Green. A third color not only gave him a Horned Kavu, Thornscape Battlemage and a Darigaaz's Charm (all newly acquired after Alex's reconstruction of the third deck) but also got some extra mileage out of his Assault/Battery and two Thunderscape Apprentice.

This seemed to signal the end of the deck shifts. With Mike still agonizing over the Blue-Black deck both Alex and Zvi began registering their decks and sideboards, after reviewing the cards. The Pro Tour Los Angeles Champion took a few more minutes to finish and then grabbed his registration sheet to close the deckbuilding ordeal.

Zvi Mowshowitz

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Michael Pustilnik

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