Lessons from the Grinders

Posted in Event Coverage on November 14, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

There is a certain beauty is statistics. And when it comes to Magic, players love to decipher those statistics to glean any knowledge they can. Whether it's about building mana bases or calculating the odds of your combo, Magic players love numbers.

So fear not, we have plenty of data from the Grand Prix Atlanta grinder decklists to break down as the tournament begins its march toward the Top 8.

The Numbers

There are a few unanswered questions coming into the weekend. Does green — much maligned in draft — fare better in Sealed? Is there a preference toward another color in Sealed? We can begin to answer those questions by looking at the colors played in the grinder-winning decklists.

Blue: 11 (69%)

White: 10 (63%)

Black: 8 (50%)

Red: 5 (31%)

Green: 3 (19%)

There's some pretty strong indicators there that, if nothing else, players have learned toward blue and white in Atlanta. The reasons for the inclinations are easy to understand — both colors offer flexible options for deckbuilding, whether it's a traditional white-blue fliers deck, a blue-based Devoid deck utilizing Mist Intruder and Benthic Infiltrator, or a white-based Allies deck playing the aggressive role.

The other colors — it would seem green especially — don't offer the same variety of options. While green can be used to easily splash other colors, a lack of power cards within the color itself led players to look toward other options this weekend.

While it was far and away the least-played color, that's not to say there wasn't there wasn't some success to be found in green for players who didn't let its reputation in Draft scare them away.

Erik Landriz's Naya — Grand Prix Atlanta

While a trio of high-impact bombs in Greenwarden of Murasa, Woodland Wanderer and Oran-Rief Hydra undoubtedly led Landriz into green, it takes far more than a few cards to carry the load, and it was the supporting cast of Tajuru Beastmaster, Tajuru Stalwart and even Natural Connection that helped Landriz find his way to the grinder victory. There's also value to the mana-fixing green provides for Sealed, with Lifespring Druid and even Natural Connection making appearances throughout the green decks.

Looking at blue, the top color in the weekend's earliest results, it would seem that a pair of Awaken cards led the way. Among the undefeated decks using the color, every single copy of Clutch of Currents and Coastal Discovery that was opened, was played. The flexibility of those cards was the key, with the option of casting them cheaply or holding onto them to Awaken for value leading successful players to jam as many of each as they could.

Another common theme among the decks was playing a third color, usually a splash but occasionally a full commitment. Of the 16 undefeated decks, seven of them played at least one card of a third color, with someone going more deeply into the splash than others.

Justin Epstein's Bant — Grand Prix Atlanta

All in all, while there are certainly some trends in Battle for Zendikar Sealed that lead toward success, there are no hard-and-fast rules for a talented player with the right deck. Will these trends continue throughout the weekend, or will we see the conventional wisdom challenged by the end of Grand Prix Atlanta?

There's only one way to find out.

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