Super League Last Chance Qualifier

Posted in Feature on October 6, 2015

By Randy Buehler

The biggest and (arguably) best Super League is heading toward its climactic championship series, and you can help pick the last few players who get to participate.

First, a brief introduction is in order for those of you who might be new to the Super League. It's a show that streams on most Tuesday nights and features Magic celebrities playing Magic Online. A typical season lasts several months and features preliminary rounds followed by a playoff. One of the coolest parts of the show is that the players take turns doing commentary on the matches, so not only do you get to see all the cards in every player's hand as they make their decisions, but you also get to hear some of the best Magic players in the world explain what they're thinking about as they analyze these games. Meanwhile, there's a laid-back camaraderie amongst the players, which creates a fun atmosphere and gives players the freedom to brew up some crazy decks as well.

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The Super League Championship series began in July, and has now worked its way through three different formats. Before we get into the details of what happened in each of those seasons, let's take a look at the big picture. Ten players have earned spots in the upcoming SLC:

The last two spots in in the Championship will be determined by a last chance qualifier—a single-elimination Standard tournament to be broadcast on October 20. Four of the eight spots in that LCQ were awarded to high finishers in the last three Super Leagues. The other four spots, however, are up to you to determine!

Here are your choices. The top four vote-getters from amongst these ten players (all of whom have previously appeared in Super Leagues) will get the chance to earn a spot in the Super League Championship through next week's LCQ. Simply click below on the player you'd most like to see play, and we'll tally the results!

The first-ever Super League used the Vintage Constructed format, and the current Championship series kicked off with a three-week mini-season of Vintage as well. Magic Online has been a great place to play Vintage ever since the release of Vintage Masters introduced the Power 9 to the platform last year, and VSL Season 4 is queued up to begin on November 24.

The winner of the VSL mini-season that fed into the SLC was, well, me. I played a Grixis deck featuring the tremendous synergy between Young Pyromancer and Cabal Therapy. (You can see all the decklists here.) The deck was initially designed by fellow Hall of Fame pro Olle Rade, and was also used by Rade's teammate Magnus Lantto when Lantto won the Magic Online Championship back in May. I thought the card advantage from Snapcaster Mage and Cabal Therapy would be good against all the blue decks I expected folks to run, and I also hoped that the Pulverizes in my sideboard would be good enough to help me beat any Mishra's Workshop decks I might face. I suffered a Round 1 loss to Tom Martell, but the format was double-elimination and everything worked out pretty much the way I hoped it would from there. I got revenge against Martell with a spot in the Championship on the line, and then I managed to beat the No. 1-ranked player in the world, Eric Froehlich, twice in a row to win the whole thing.

You can catch up on all the matches on YouTube, but here's one to get you started (and give you a chance to see Pulverize in action):



Several interesting things have happened to Vintage since then. One thing directly relevant to my deck is that Hangarback Walker has been widely enough adopted by Mishra's Workshop decks that Pulverize is no longer a great sideboard plan. (Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.) More importantly, Dig Through Time and Chalice of the Void just got restricted while Thirst for Knowledge got un-restricted. Personally, I love what (I think) this does to the format: Workshop decks were a bit too good but should be weaker now, and Thirst just isn't nearly as strong as Dig, so that swap makes a lot of sense. I don't know if the Control-Slaver decks of yore can make a comeback now that they can play four Thirsts again, but it should be fun to see them try. I'm quite interested to see what happens when VSL returns on November 24!

Our second "mini season" was Standard, and it featured twelve players divided up into three groups of four that each played a round robin before then sending their top two players to the playoff bracket.

The only player who went undefeated in the Group Stage was Gaby Spartz, who crushed her competition with a Goblin deck that relied heavily on Obelisk of Urd (check out all the decklists here). Gaby continued crushing in the playoffs, as her Mardu Dragons deck first took down 2012-13 Player of the Year Josh Utter-Leyton and then Hall of Fame pro Paul Rietzl.

Once again, you can catch up on all the matches on YouTube (here is the playlist). If you only want to watch one match, however, I would direct you to one in particular. The video below shows two of the best players in the game right now playing Magic at an absurdly high level:



Standard will also be the format used for the LCQ and the SLC itself. However, Standard is totally changing as I type this, of course, with Battle for Zendikar upending everything we thought we knew. Super League players will actually get three shots at building decks for this new Standard: First in the LCQ that takes place two days after the Pro Tour, then new decks will be used for the Group Stage that begins a week later, and finally a third set of decks will be in play for the final playoff show on November 17.

The third format we used is the one that just finished in the debut season of the Modern Super League. Pro Tour Valencia champion Shaun McLaren was victorious in the end, but he actually abandoned his trademark Jeskai colors and played a Jund deck. If even Shaun doesn't think he can win with a blue-based control deck right now, that's got to be a really bad sign for the archetype in the current metagame.

The finals was actually a rematch of a Top 8 match from the Modern Pro Tour that Shaun won, as Splinter Twin innovator Patrick Dickmann once again came up short against him. Patrick may not have won, but check out the Bounding Krasis tech in his deck. It's a much better Pestermite if you have green mana in your deck anyway, and it even helps back up your Tarmogoyf beatdown plan.

Decklists are here and the playlist is here.

There are a bunch of matches worth checking out. This one is particularly well-played (as was the final), but the one that was the most fun is probably this here.

Now it's time for all these winners to get together and play Standard. First prize is a foil playset of Standard too (that's four copies of every card in Standard, all in foil) so if anyone has any good suggestions for what I should be playing, I'm all ears. The format will be the same as the recent SSL mini-season: Three groups of four will play round robin and then send the players with the two best records to the playoffs. This time, however, the groups will be determined randomly.

It should be a ton of fun to watch. Don't forget to vote on who gets those last four spots in the LCQ on October 20, and then tune in to watch then and the next four Tuesdays in a row. Meanwhile, if you miss the live show you can always watch the games on YouTube. They're uploaded within a few hours of the end of the show.

See you guys then!

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