Even with No. 3 Reid Duke out of the tournament, his influence is still seen all over the place, including with Andrew Cuneo, the final remaining undefeated player.
"I asked Reid to borrow a deck and said I'd play whatever he loaned me," Cuneo.
While true, it either sells Cuneo a little short or underplays Reid's knowledge of his friend's skill. Cuneo has been playing and tweaking Elves for about a year and, though he doesn't stray too far from the stock list, how he plays it and the small touches make it very much his deck.
As far as different cards go, he only has a few (look for the full decklist when we post Day 1 undefeated lists later in the day). He has a main deck Scavenging Ooze that most don't play and a very spicy Worldspine Wurm in the sideboard that we'll get to in a moment.
Yup, that's a Worldspine Wurm
The Ooze has been a strong addition to the deck, even if it seems a bit off theme.
"I think it's the only inexpensive creature worth Green Sun's Zenithing with," Cuneo said. "It's good because I can generate a bunch of mana to activate it. In one match against Dredge I played it and activated it five times the following turn."
Much of the deck's mana prowess comes from Gaea's Cradle, an absurdly powerful card that only Elves is equipped to take advantage of. The Legendary Land, in turn, allows Cuneo to power out the true strength of the deck, Craterhoof Behemoth.
You see, despite the deck being capable of comboing off with Glimpse of Nature, that's not really how Cuneo plays it.
"The deck can do that, but you really don't need to draw that many cards with Craterhoof," Cuneo says. "I don't think I've gone off even once this tournament."
That's also why he doesn't even bother with Regal Force. Why draw cards when you can just kill your opponent?
He also dismissed Ezuri, Renegade Leader as an option that other lists are packing. With both trample and a built-in way to combat removal, it seems like a fine addition. But Cuneo disagrees.
"It doesn't help you in any of the hard matchups, it doesn't do anything," Cuneo said. "You can't beat the deck with just one-for-one removal. You have to have sweepers."
He also said that decks either needed to be very fast or be able to lock him out.
However, two of those very types of decks fell to Cuneo in Rounds 11 and 12 as he knocked out both Sneak and Show and MUD despite some strong draws from both, including a game where Cuneo actually faced a Turn 1 Emrakul (he lost that one). He won the second, however, thanks to that Worldspine Wurm, which he got to play off Show and Tell and force a trade with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.
"I think it's still a bad matchup," Cuneo said of both MUD and Sneak and Show. He also counts Reanimator as a bad matchup, but said just about everything else was fine to good. Tarmogoyf decks, he added, are pretty easy to beat.
"From my perspective, it's basically the same card as Perish."
And now at 12-0, from everyone else's perspective, Cuneo's starting to look a lot like the most likely player to make the Top 8, and the deck absolutely no one wants to face.