Bant Company’s Death was Greatly Exaggerated

Posted in Event Coverage on June 5, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

Sometimes Brad Nelson and Brian Braun-Duin can seem attached at the hip. This weekend was only further proof. “We flew together; we slept in the same King-size bed together; we win together.” This is what eighteenth-ranked Nelson said about he and two-time Grand Prix winner Braun-Duin, even right after they met in the last undefeated match of the tournament. Giving Braun-Duin his first loss changed nothing.

(18) Brad Nelson and Brian Braun-Duin

“We knew White-Black Control was going to be more popular, 4C Rite less popular; and White Weenie would also probably be more popular.” To them that spelled some form of Bant.

Braun-Duin leaned towards Bant Humans, but Nelson was dead-set on Bant Company. Though he realizes his bias. “Truthfully, my argument for it was pure emotion.” He continued, “It's hard to be objective when your defending your favorite deck.” Nelson laughed, and Braun-Duin gave his trademark stoic nod.

Nelson “won” the argument, and the two showed up with a 75-card mirror of traditional Bant Company. Their decision clearly paid off, as they were both 9-0-1 going into the eleventh round.

“The deck might have been good earlier [than now] too, but people were stuck on Bounding Krasis.” Braun-Duin and Nelson said their the biggest innovation was to ditch the Green-Blue card and go with Tireless Trackers. A card that has been gaining steam in all formats, sans Vintage. Tenth-ranked Sam Black opined at Grand Prix New York that he was trying to brew Tireless Tracker decks in every format for the MOCS. It was only Legacy where he personally fell short.

“The deck is good because every card is good at every stage in the game,” Braun-Duin said. Nissa, Vastwood Seer is good on turn three to hit your fourth mana on time, “and it's a Planeswalker on turn seven,” Nelson added.

That made Bounding Krasis the odd man out. When it's good, it's real good. But when it's not, it's “just a creature.”

Brad Nelson with Brian Braun-Buin right behind

Nelson said there's a reason for that. “The last format was more about tempo. You were tapping Siege Rhino and things, so Bounding Krasis was great.” Nelson continued, “But now, all the Midranges deck are doing a ‘Wrath + Threat dance,' so tempo cards aren't the way to grind out long-game advantage.” Bounding Krasis looks silly in the face of, say, Sorin, Grim Nemesis.

Tireless Tracker, however, is the way to get the late game cooking. If left unanswered, even for a few turns, not only will it add significant card advantage, but might even win the game all by itself.

Though it was little things like this that made Bant Company the deck to play here, the overarching star of the deck is still Eldrazi Displacer. Braun-Duin said, “Tracker is the best card for the three-drop slot ... [but Displacer is] just the best card for every mana slot.” They both told stories of locking down entire boards by itself, and flipping unwinnable board states with the Displacer plus Reflector Mage. Displacer and its deck were clearly a winning play this weekend.

For some here, Grand Prix Costa Rica is more like a vacation. But for these two all-stars, it's all business. Braun-Duin is up for the Grand Prix Master slot. This tournament means the Worlds to him. “We flew in on Friday, and we're leaving Monday,” they said. And really, I can't think of a more deserved position for these two today than at the top. They are focused on the prize. The greenery doesn't distract them; the monkeys don't howl for them.

They deserved to be facing off in the last undefeated match of the tournament. Through sheer force a will, and a good metagame call from an old favorite, they are making things work just how they want.

Brian Braun-Duin's Bant Company – GP Costa Rica

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