As defending World Magic Cup Champions, Denmark had high expectations for themselves in the wake of last years' performance. The two Martins—Martin Dang and Martin Müller—had phenomenal seasons, with Müller part of last year's winning team, this time backed by Daniel Lind and Christoffer Larsen. Team captain, Martin Dang, has had a fantastic 2015, winning both Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir in Brussels and Grand Prix Liverpool. His teammates also had five historical Grand Prix Top 8s and 15 Pro Tour appearances between them.
The team began deck building with the basics: sorting by color, colorless, and land (including a Bloodstained Mire Expedition!). They then divvied up the colors between each of the players; Dang on blue, Müller on Red, Larsen on Green and Lind on Black, with white unattended at first.
Danish justice: opening an expedition in your first Team Sealed pool after winning last year's World Magic Cup.
The team first stripped out the unplayables and sideboard cards, and then started forming the fundamental archetypes of Battle for Zendikar Limited; a Devoid deck, an Ally deck, and an aggressive red deck, with the colorless and gold cards spread out in the center of the table.
Dang laid out the blue cards by mana curve in front of him and the team discussed the merits of a base-blue Devoid deck supported by a couple of Mist Intruders but missing any Benthic Infiltrators. A Herald of Kozilek and Ulamog's Nullifier were under consideration, sitting on the sidelines.
A Canopy Vista and Shambling Vent led Larsen to lay out a base-green Ally deck with Eldrazi support at the top end, with Conduit of Ruin able to search up a variety of big finishers. Müller experimented with an aggressive Red-Black Devoid deck utilizing Dust Stalker, but the lack of support from the black cards caused concern.
Dang sifted through the pile of white cards, stripping out the Mist Intruders in his deck and building a White-Blue Fliers deck with early Fortified Ramparts and a number of Awaken cards, including Planar Outburst. The team discussed options, then took out white and tried a Blue-Red Devoid deck instead.
"Blue is our deepest color," said Dang, "But combining it with red takes away too much from the other archetypes. White has good cards, but is very shallow."
The team returned to a White-Blue Flyer/Awaken deck. Larsen and Müller stripped their decks apart, with Larsen then building a Red-Green Landfall deck with a lot of two and three-drops. The team quickly agreed that this build seemed to even out the power levels far better. Müller then began rebuilding the Abzan deck, with the flexibility to both go big with Eldrazi scions into massive monsters, or wide utilizing Swarm Surge. The deck kept the white splash for three gold Allies; Drana's Emissary, Grovetender Druids, and the powerful Veteran Warleader.
Team Denmark attempts to assemble the best possible combination for three different decks.
Next began the deck tuning. The team briefly discussed whether it was worth using the Bloodstained Mire to splash the Dust Stalker in the landfall deck, but eventually talked themselves out of what could be an overly greedy approach.
By the forty minute mark, the team felt confident about their overall decks and fell to tuning, mainly for curve and further synergy considerations. Time was spent discussing which big colorless finishers belonged to the White-Blue deck or the Abzan deck. At the last minute, the team swapped the Deathless Behemoth from the White-Blue deck to the Abzan deck, where it could make the most use of From Beyond. After the main decks were settled, sideboarding began.
"With these three decks, there is very little overlap, so each deck will have its own cards," explained Dang. "But in a format like this, where there are specific deck themes and people committing to those themes, sideboard cards become more important. For instance, knowing there will be lots of decks looking to go wide with scions or other 1/1s, the Red deck having access to Boiling Earth is great."
Denmark found themselves one of the first under the Feature Match spotlights in Round 1, up against China. Denmark won 2-0, and I caught up with the team afterwards and asked how they felt their deck building went.
Denmark's Team Sealed efforts paid off in Round 1, where they took the match 2-0 against China.
"We almost made a mistake with our Eldrazi finishers," confessed Larsen, "But our correction, swapping the Deathless Behemoth into the Abzan deck, made a big difference."
"It's not a strong pool." Müller said.
"Yes, our pool is one of the weakest, but our decks are not; we built the best decks we could out of it," replied Dang.