Infect with Oliver Polak-Rottmann

Posted in Event Coverage on November 26, 2016

By Chapman Sim

Six months ago, Oliver Polak-Rottmann played Infect at Grand Prix Prague 2016 and maintains that he fell in love with the deck ever since. A few hours later, sixteen-year-old Clay Spicklemire took down Grand Prix Columbus 2016 with the very same archetype. The story of him dealing 22 trample damage with Noble Hierarch to steal the title against Joe Lossett is one that will be forever remembered within the Legacy community.

Clay Spicklemire, Grand Prix Columbus 2016 Champion

Last week, at the 2016 World Magic Cup, Polak-Rottmann also brought Infect to the Team Unified Modern rounds as the captain of Team Austria and piloted it to a cash finish. In addition, the 2016 World Magic Cup was won by Team Greece and one of the top moments of the event features a turn-two kill in the finals, with Infect no less!

Team Greece, 2016 World Magic Cup Champions

Well, that's definitely what Polak-Rottmann came here to do. In addition to four Grand Prix Top 8s, the Grand Prix Utrecht champion certainly doesn't mind another victory. Showing up with a modified 75 in anticipation of the metagame, he shared with me that he expected Miracles, Eldrazi, Storm, Shardless Sultai and Blue-Red Delver to be the five most popular decks of the weekend.

Oliver Polak-Rottmann, Grand Prix Chiba Champion???

“There is sure to be a lot of Miracles in the format and Infect is slightly favored in that matchup. Infect is also generally very good against Shardless Sultai because the only way they can kill Inkmoth Nexus is Wasteland because their removal spell of choice is Abrupt Decay. As for the other matchups, it is about even and it boils down a lot to the die roll, the sideboarded games as well as play skill.”

Despite running the exact same creature base as the Modern version, the composition of the deck and the way it plays in Legacy is vastly, vastly different. For starters, there are about eighteen pump spells in the Modern but only eight in the Legacy version. What is the reasoning for this stark contrast? Isn't the idea to still attempt to deal ten Poison damage?

“In Modern, you have Might of Old Krosa, Vines of Vastwood, Become Immense, Mutagenic Growth and also a mix of Blossoming Defense and Distortion Strike. However, in Legacy, we only play 4 Invigorate, 1 Become Immense, 1 Vines of Vastwood and 2 Berserk.

Wow, that's one of the reprints found in Conspiracy: Take the Crown which makes the deck a lot more affordable than before. No matter, Polak-Rottmann is a man of style and showed up with Beta versions anyway.

“Haha, I personally prefer the old art to the new art. It's a classic iconic card that's known for high damage output and it is also the exact reason that the Legacy deck plays way less pump spells.”

The way things work is that in combination with either Invigorate, Vines of Vastwood or Become Immense, it is always lethal with the Berserk. They are no two-point or three-point pump spells in the format which means your lowly 1/1s are always going to be at least 5/5, which is exactly lethal when you double its power. So, is Invigorate the best card in the deck? I mean, in a deck that ignores giving your opponent life, it has to be the most awesome free spell ever? Almost instantly, Polak-Rottmann burst my bubble.

“No way. Gitaxian Probe is. You always want to know what is in your opponent's hand to decide if you should go for the kill. Sometimes, you have the Glistener Elf on the board and your Invigorate and Berserk in hand but you don't know if you're going to win for sure. This is Legacy and there are a lot more cards that can disrupt you. In Modern, it is clear that you're going to win, but in Legacy, it is much less clear. This is why information is so important. There's also not many blue cards to pitch to Force of Will and it being a blue card helps out greatly in times of emergencies.”

This is something that is worth thinking about because Infect is a deck that is capable of killing on turn two whether it is being played in Modern or Legacy. Another difference is that the Legacy Infect deck is capable of playing slightly longer games. With the help of Brainstorm, Ponder and Sylvan Library, it is possible to sculpt your hand before

“In Modern, you don't have Brainstorm and Ponder to find the cards you need. Sometimes, you don't even have a creature but looking at three extra cards does help you find that creature. The protection is also better. Instead of Vines of Vastwood, Apostle's Blessing and Blossoming Defense, we now have Force of Will, Daze and Spell Pierce. Since most decks in Legacy don't play that many lands in the first place, that makes Daze and Spell Pierce not completely irrelevant even if the game goes to turn four or five.”

Another very powerful tool in Polak-Rottmann's arsenal is Crop Rotation which is one of the ways that Infect can come out of nowhere to kill from an empty board. You simply cast Crop Rotation to look for Inkmoth Nexus during an opportune window and then... well... do your thing.

“Crop Rotation is also great because I play a single Wasteland in the main. Sometimes I need to get rid of annoying lands such as Maze of Ith or The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. Occasionally, you can also mana screw your opponent or destroy their final mana so they can't disrupt you. In addition, I also have Karakas and Bojuka Bog in the sideboard and that helps me out against the unfair decks.”

However, the most special tweak Polak-Rottmann has is the addition of white in the sideboard. It's not difficult to splash a third—or even a fourth—color in Legacy thanks to fetch lands and “damage free” dual lands so the cost of adding a third color is minimal. The upside is huge though, because Polak-Rottmann really wants Swords to Plowshares and Rest in Peace in the sideboard.

At the time of writing Polak-Rottmann was at a 5-1 record and going strong. Let's hope that his modifications and deck choice will assist him in having a good result this weekend!

Oliver Polak-Rottman's Infect

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