TEAM SEALED WITH BRAZIL'S BEST

Posted in NEWS on May 31, 2014

By Josh Bennett

When your team has the two best players in your country on it, one of them a Hall of Famer and the other currently #23 in the Top 25 Player rankings, you start the tournament with a target on your back. Their third, Allison Abe, is no slouch. He's a Pro Tour semi-regular, Top 8'd the 2009 Grand Prix São Paulo, and joined Edel on Brazil's 2013 World Magic Cup team. They got their product and waited for the signal to begin.

The first order of business for our trio was cutting the unplayables from their pool while giving it a once-over. Edel flashed his teammates some good news - a Prognostic Sphinx next to a Bident of Thassa. Soon they were laying out the individual colors, trying to get a sense of the strenghts and weaknesses of each. Black had a standout King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, but overall seemed to lack focus. Blue had a host of powerful cards but an uneven curve. Green was deep with plenty of aggressive creatures. Red had an aggressive bent but its casting costs would demand a heavy commitment to mountains. White had a thin heroic skeleton but was short on tricks.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Allison Abe, and Willy Edel

They settled on working from bases of Green, Blue, and Red, and tried out a Blue-Black control build. Unfortunately, Black couldn't provide the defensive early-turn plays the deck needed, so it was quickly swapped out for White. The Black offered nothing to the Green deck, so they sent it over to the Red. It gave that deck a few more early aggressive plays, and some powerful tricks, but at the cost of an unstable mana base.

They shoved the Black aside. It looked like there wouldn't be a home for it. It couldn't stand on its own because its best cards didn't play well together. Gnarled Scarhide and Bloodcrazed Hoplite wanted nothing to do with Read the Bones and Drown in Sorrow. Even worse, its bomb rare King Macar could not be splashed.

They shuffled cards between the three bases, trying build after build. Soon they had hit the halfway mark and were no closer to a solution. They tried some radical alternatives. What if the depth of Green could support two decks? This led to a Green-White heroic deck and a Blue-Green tempo deck, but still no real complement to the Red cards. Well, they had Xenagos, God of Revels sitting to the side. They moved a few single-Green cards over to the Red base to fill out its curve. It was functional, but hardly compelling.

They returned to a Blue-White pairing. It still refused to be an aggressive deck, meaning that it wasn't making the best use of a pair of Sudden Storms. Maybe those could go over to the Green deck with some other tempo tools? Was that better than the current plan of just splashing a handful of White cards including a pair of Hopeful Eidolons? It would also mean fewer tools for the four Green heroic creatuers, and pulling those left the deck looking mediocre.

As the clock wound down they confirmed their three decks: Edel with the Red deck splashing a few Green cards including Xenagos, PV with Green aggro splashing White, and Abe with Blue-White control. They divided the sideboard cards quickly, giving Edel the Black cards so he could transform into a removal-heavy deck if needed, and finalized the registration sheets.

Once they were done I managed to ask how they felt about their chances. "I was just saying that I think we'll be happy to just Day 2," said Edel. "These decks are just not very good. They're worse than the decks we played in a practice event yesterday, and worse than the decks our opponents had. I think a lot of it will come down to what decks we face in each seat. For example, the Green deck can't lose to an aggro deck with its big creatures and Hopeful Eidolons. The Red deck is too fast for a control deck. So, we'll see."