Master of Storm - Ross Merriam

Posted in Event Coverage on June 11, 2016

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Grixis Delver, Miracles, and Eldrazi sit atop the Legacy metagame as we enter Grand Prix Columbus. Legacy isn't quite as subject to the whims of tournament results as other formats, though. Many players have a particular deck that they've been playing with for years. The number of complicated interactions and plays that can occur in Legacy is mindboggling. Oftentimes, familiarity is more important than positioning.

Decks get better and worse, but a slight format shift is rarely reason enough to stop playing a deck one has grown comfortable with. Some players stick with a single deck for long periods of time and develop a level of comfort where they can masterfully manuever themselves through situations that others would deem unwinnable. These are the masters, the players that know their deck better than anyone else. Players that can pilot a deck that is seemingly awful in a given format to a stellar finish.

Ross Merriam knows his way around Legacy Storm. Last year, Merriam Top 4ed two separate Star City Games Legacy Opens playing Storm and there wasn't much that could convince him to play anything else this weekend. Merriam knows the deck and understands how to win with it.

Ross Merriam

Why is Storm a powerful strategy? What are the best and worst matchups for Storm? How has the deck changed in the last year? I sat down with Ross Merriam to learn all about a classic Legacy combo deck with someone that knows their way around a ritual.

Merriam explained that combo decks in Legacy are defined by resilience and speed. Storm is among the best decks in terms of sheer velocity; the deck is capable of winning on the first turn and often wins on the second turn. Unlike other turn one decks, merriam explained, Storm is resilient; the blue cantrips allows the deck to sculpt perfect hands to avoid being at the whim of starting hand selection like Belcher and hand disruption clears the way for the big finish.

When asked what matchups he was worried about, Merriam quickly lamented the difficulty of his Eldrazi matchup.

“There are three ways that opponents try to interact with Storm. There's hand disruption, countermagic, and permanents like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. The hardest to deal with are the permanents. Most of the permanents people want to play against us cost two mana, meaning that they're not necessarily fast enough on the draw. A deck like Eldrazi can play Thorn of Amethyst or Chalice of the Void on the first turn and back it up with a very fast clock. That's definitely not good for Storm.”

The biggest innovation for Merriam's deck is Chrome Mox, which allows him to forego a guessing game in terms of sideboarding by increasing his deck's speed for the second game. Besides that, the deck hasn't changed much.

Storm Master Ross Merriam is ready to show off his abilities this weekend at Grand Prix Columbus. Will Storm make a big impression this weekend? Stay tuned for continuing coverage of Grand Prix Columbus for all the action as it unfolds.

Ross Merriam's Storm - Grand Prix Columbus

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