Looking In on Nine Deck Tech Videos

Posted in GRAND PRIX BRUSSELS 2015 on November 15, 2015

By Frank Karsten

On Saturday morning, several well-known players were kind enough to lay out their Standard decks for the video coverage team and talk about their choices on camera. You may have seen these pre-recorded deck tech pieces if you tuned in to the live stream on twitch.tv/magic over the weekend. Below, you can find their deck lists along with some quick words on unique card choices. The players are sorted alphabetically by their last name, still you shouldn't miss out on Pieter Vieren's crazy deck at the very end.

Jérémy Dezani

2014 Player of the Year Jérémy Dezani chose Eldrazi Ramp for this event. "I like to play a deck that can come back from behind and that has a decent matchup against Jeskai," he explained.

The distinguishing feature of his list was the inclusion of black sweepers: two copies of Languish and three copies of Crux of Fate. Victoriano Lim already played a similar list to a 7-3 record at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, but we haven't seen this approach recently. Dezani's explanation was as follows: "If you play Abzan against this deck, then you can't hold back—you have to try and win as soon as possible. So a sweeper from the ramp deck can completely wreck them." The black splash also offers nice sideboard options like Duress, and the double-black cost of the sweepers is handled via a large number of dual lands.

Jérémy Dezani B/G Eldrazi Ramp – 9 match points on Day 1 of Grand Prix Brussels 2015

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Steve Hatto

Steve Hatto, who finished second at Grand Prix Copenhagen earlier this year, opted for Green/White Megamorph with two Archangel of Tithes and one Secure the Wastes in the main deck, along with Knight of the White Orchid to ramp into them and additional copies of those cards in the sideboard.

So it was reminiscent of the list that Autumn Burchett piloted to a 9-1 record in Standard at the Pro Tour, but Hatto's version additionally had access to the combo of Secure the Wastes plus Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. "A bunch of tokens at instant speed along with a Gideon emblem is the key to beating Ugin, the Spirit Dragon," he explained. "Archangel of Tithes is also important to have because it's so good against any token or red aggro deck."

Steve Hatto's G/W Megamorph – 15 match points on Day 1 of Grand Prix Brussels 2015

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Joel Larsson

Pro Tour Magic Origins champion Joel Larsson opted for Esper Control in the spirit of Reid Duke and Patrick Chapin. However, Larsson's version had a few interesting card choices in Fathom Feeder and Surge of Righteousness.

Why Fathom Feeder? "It can trade with a creature in the early game, and then you have something to return with Ojutai's Command. This is particularly important when you hold up mana for Ojutai's Command, they cast a planeswalker instead, and you want to cycle the Command but don't care about the four life," Larsson explained.

Why Surge of Righteousness? "I wanted another early-game removal spell, and most decks have targets for Surge of Righteousness. Even Esper decks have Shambling Vents. And you can always loot it away with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy."

Joel Larsson's Esper Control – 24 match points on Day 1 of Grand Prix Brussels 2015

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Raphaël Lévy

Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy chose Abzan, but with Skyrider Elf instead of Hangarback Walker. "I don't like paying two mana for a 1/1 in an aggro deck. A 2/2 flier is a better threat on turn two, and it has the upside of filling every part of the curve. When you get to turn four, you get a 4/4 flier which can block Mantis Rider or effectively attack Gideon, Ally of Zendikar."

Another interesting choice was Woodland Wanderer over Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. "Too often, Gideon is nothing more than a 2/2 for four mana that gains you four life or a four-mana emblem that doesn't do all that much because the creatures in the deck are already so big. And once you're splashing blue, getting double white is hard. I prefer Woodland Wanderer as a 4-drop."

Raphaël Lévy's Blue Abzan – 21 match points on Day 1 of Grand Prix Brussels 2015

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Andrea Mengucci

Pro Tour Journey into Nyx Top 8 competitor Andrea Mengucci won his World Magic Cup Qualifier several months ago with Abzan, and he stuck with the same colors after the rotation. His list featured a few small tweaks compared to Kazuyuki Takimura's Pro Tour winning staple list. First of all, Mengucci had a second Murderous Cut over the fourth Dromoka's Command. "Command is a bit worse than before because there is no more Stoke the Flames or Courser of Kruphix in Standard right now."

A more important change was that he included two Heir of the Wilds and one Silkwrap instead of three Hangarback Walkers. "Hangarback Walker doesn't perform well. You don't have much time to pump it, and it's too easily answered by Anafenza, the Foremost and Abzan Charm. Heir of the Wilds is the key to coming back in the mirror match when you're on the draw. Dromoka's Command and Abzan Charm don't work against it, and it can efficiently block an opposing Anafenza, the Foremost or Siege Rhino."

Andrea Mengucci's Abzan – 21 match points on Day 1 of Grand Prix Brussels 2015

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Martin Müller

No. 22 Martin Müller registered Four-Color Rally the Ancestors, a deck that was originally designed by Matt Nass for the Pro Tour. "I played the deck a lot and I think it's great against Jeskai, Esper, and G/W Megamorph," Müller said.

The main innovation in Müller's list was Abzan Ascendancy in the sideboard, which took a slot that had originally been occupied by Fleshbag Marauder. Abzan Ascendancy's main role was to be boarded in against Jeskai to offer protection against a good Mantis Rider draw. With multiple Mantis Riders, Jeskai players can easily race the Rally deck, but that doesn't happen when Nantuko Husk can transform random creatures into 1/1 flying blockers.

(22) Martin Müller's Four-Color Rally – 24 match points on Day 1 of Grand Prix Brussels 2015

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Branco Neirynck

Branco Neirynck, who made Top 8 at three different Grand Prix events in the last six months, registered Esper Tokens. "It's not great against Eldrazi Ramp, but I like the matchup against Jeskai, and it has game against every other deck. Sideboarding correctly is important with this deck; for instance, I always board out Knight of the White Orchid on the play but keep it on the draw."

Neirynck's list featured Stasis Snare because the instant-speed removal allowed him to set up a much better curve. "Against Abzan on the draw, I can Stasis Snare their Anafenza, the Foremost on turn three and then cast Gideon, Ally of Zendikar on turn four. It's much better than Ruinous Path." His list also included four copies of Wingmate Roc. "It's the best card you can play after your own Gideon and against an opponent's Gideon."

Branco Neirynck's Esper Tokens – 15 match points on Day 1 of Grand Prix Brussels 2015

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Oliver Polak-Rottmann

Oliver Polak-Rottmann, who made Top 8 at Grand Prix Quebec City just a few weeks ago, sleeved up Dark Jeskai once again. "The deck has a lot of card advantage, lots of card selection, and mana-efficient spells. It can easily out-value opponents, and I really like that."

The deck featured a few tweaks compared to the one that he had played in Quebec City. Most notably, he replaced an Ojutai's Command and a Dispel with a second Negate and a Duress. These changes wee mainly made with the rise of Eldrazi Ramp in mind.

Oliver Polak-Rottmann's Dark Jeskai – 21 match points on Day 1 of Grand Prix Brussels 2015

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Peter Vieren

Going into the weekend, Peter Vieren was already up to 18 pro points this season after a fourteenth-place finish at the Pro Tour. He has a tendency to brew up unusual Constructed decks. And his half-ramp, half-control deck doesn't disappoint. "Originally it was a dedicated Demonic Pact/The Great Aurora deck, but I eventually cut those cards down to two copies and added four Dark Petitions. This way, I can play a control game with removal and card advantage, but I still have the option to go over the top with The Great Aurora when the situation calls for it."

So what does The Great Aurora do for the deck? "It's a complete reset of the board, but I get to start with say ten mana in a deck with three Ugin, the Spirit Dragon and four Dark Petition to tutor for them." His deck looked like a lot of fun, he certainly had the surprise factor on his side, and I love the cleverness of Ugin's Construct to get rid of Demonic Pact.

Peter Vieren's The Great Aurora – 12 match points on Day 1 of Grand Prix Brussels 2015

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