Super League Championship

Posted in Feature on November 10, 2015

By Randy Buehler

Magic Online and Twitch are a marriage made in Magic player heaven. This killer combo allows us Magic fans to watch Magic (and hang out with fellow Magic players) just about 24/7, instead of just on weekends. The Super League is an ongoing series of Magic tournaments featuring the biggest personalities in the game playing against each other and then taking turns doing commentary on each other's matches. The show streams live on on Tuesdays starting at 6 p.m. Pacific Time, and all the matches get posted on YouTube as well.

Tonight, the field for the Super League Championship will be cut in half. Twelve players earned invitations to the SLC during the last six months of Super Leagues, across Vintage, Standard, and Modern Constructed formats.

Two weeks ago, they began the Group Stage of this final event; three randomly selected groups of four play a round-robin schedule (similar to a soccer tournament), and now we've arrived at the final week of the Group Stage. After tonight, the top two players from each group will advance to next week's playoff show, and the two group winners with the best records will get byes straight into the semifinals. I'm particularly excited to see what Standard decks those players will choose to bring next week, now that the metagame has twisted and turned its way through a couple of Grand Prix in addition to Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar.

But first, there's the small matter of seeing who qualifies!

I'm going to run through all the sweet matchups that are on tap for tonight's show and lay out the scenarios each player needs to make the playoffs. The stakes are pretty big, too, as first place wins a full premium foil playset of Standard on Magic Online. That's four premium foil copies of every card from Khans of Tarkir, Fate Reforged, Dragons of Tarkir, Magic Origins, and Battle for Zendikar! (Second place wins two regular copies of every card in Standard.)

You can see all decklists from the group stage here.

Gaby Spartz vs. Patrick Dickmann

Gaby may only have 1 lifetime Pro Point, but she was an easy inclusion into the streamer group for the most recent Standard Super League, and she's actually lifetime undefeated in Super League matches. She went 3-0 in that SSL group with an unexpected Goblins deck, and then won both her playoff matches and thus the SSL crown (using Mardu Dragons). For the SLC, she made another unexpected but brilliant metagame choice, opting for an Eldrazi ramp deck that has looked tremendous against a field full of midrange decks. If she can win her eighth straight Super League match tonight over Patrick Dickmann, she'll win her group again and probably earn another bye as well. There is one scenario where she can still miss the playoffs, though: If she loses 0-2 and Shaun McLaren wins 2-0, she would find herself on the wrong side of a three-way tie at 2-1. If she wins even a single game against Patrick, however, then she clinches advancement to the playoffs for herself. (A single-game loss from Shaun also clinches things for Gaby.) Patrick, meanwhile, can win the group by defeating Gaby, but it would be a major upset if he can beat Eldrazi with his Bant Megamorph deck. His more likely advancement scenario is to back into the playoffs with a loss by having Kenji knock off Shaun.

Shaun McLaren vs. Kenji Egashira

Kenji, who streams regularly as NumotTheNummy, has proven to be a very popular addition to the Super League. He was voted into the Last Chance Qualifier as a Fan Favorite and took full advantage of the opportunity, rattling off the wins he needed with Jeskai before then running the deck back in the main event as well. Unfortunately for Kenji, he hasn't won since, and his 0-2 mark (plus weak tiebreakers) means he can't make the playoffs even if he does win this week. Meanwhile, his opponent is Modern Super League champion Shaun McLaren, who must win and get a little help from either Patrick or Gaby losing 0-2 while he wins 2-0.

Cedric Phillips vs. Randy Buehler

Cedric has played a pair of super-close three-game matches, but he's come out on the losing side both times. Those game wins do mean he can still potentially advance, though, if Cheon beats Efro and Cedric wins the showdown of Weekend Commentary Warriors against, well, me. If that happens, there will be a three-way tie at 1-2 that would Ced win if either his match or Efro's match finishes 2-0. Efro would win the tiebreaker if both matches are 2-1.

Meanwhile, I was thrilled to win the rematch of the most recent Vintage Super League final (which I also won) in what I perceived as a bad match-up against Efro's Dark Jeskai, but I lost the allegedly easy match against Paul Cheon last week—and I lost it 2-0, so my tiebreakers aren't good either. I have to both beat Cedric and get a little help from Paul if I'm going to make the playoffs. (This group could actually come down to a Pro Point tiebreaker if there's a three-way tie at 2-1, but I would lose out to both Paul and Eric. Maybe I should have played more than 12 PTs before retiring to join Wizards of the Coast.)

Paul Cheon vs. Eric Froehlich

Paul has actually already clinched advancement to the playoffs (at 2-0 with decent tiebreakers), and he needs just a single-game win to clinch first place in the group. Eric, meanwhile, needs to win to secure his own spot in the playoffs, and would ideally like a 2-0 win so he wins the group and has a shot at a bye. (Eric can also back in with a loss should Cedric beat Randy.) As a Hall of Famer and the No. 4–ranked player in the world, Eric has to be considered one of the favorites to win the whole championship event. But his back was firmly against the wall last week when he dropped Game 1 to Cedric, and just one more game loss would have actually eliminated him from contention before this week's games even started.

Paul Rietzl vs. Josh Utter-Leyton

Paul Rietzl may be 0-2, but he can in fact still potentially make the playoffs if this group ends with a three-way tie at 1-2. He needs to beat Josh and then also have Chris lose 0-2. Josh, on the other hand, needs to win and have Chris lose (by any score).

Lee Shi Tian vs. Chris Pikula

Lee Shi Tian has already clinched a spot in the playoffs thanks to his pair of 2-0 wins, but he'd very much prefer to have a first-round bye in next week's playoffs. Chris needs a win to clinch a spot in the playoffs, and can top the group with a 2-0 win. (There's also a chance for Chris to back into the playoffs with a loss, but only if the loss is 1-2 and Paul bests Josh.)

Once the dust settles from this week's matchups, we'll have a Top 6 (which is just like a Top 8, except two players get free quarterfinals wins—also known as byes). All five playoff matches will be shown in their entirety on next week's show. Then, on the November 24 show, the Vintage Super League returns and takes over your Tuesday nights for the next three months or so.

It should be a great night of Magic. We'll see you there!

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