Building Team Sealed with Defending Champs Matt Nass, Sam Pardee and Jacob Wilson

Posted in Event Coverage on March 12, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

“So, we have six Scion tokens: who wants those?”

Sam Pardee's opening joke as he, Matt Nass and Jacob Wilson sat down to build their decks at Grand Prix Washington D.C. was not just a fun icebreaker, it was a display of how comfortable the trio is playing and working together.

They're the defending North American Team Grand Prix champs for a reason, after all. The team's epic run in Detroit last August led them through a stacked event and an absolutely loaded Top 4, where they defeated Shahar Shenhar, Matt Costa and Brock Parker before taking down hall of famers in Ben Stark, ninth-ranked Eric Froehlich and No. 25 Luis Scott-Vargas in the finals. It was one of the more memorable victories in team history, especially due to the fact the team won despite Wilson posting a 1-15 record in matches throughout the tournament, a fact Wilson's teammates love to tease him about.

Obviously the three paired up again in D.C., the largest team Grand Prix in Magic's history, hoping to repeat their success from Detroit.

The Build

There are few decisions in Magic more complicated than building a Team Sealed pool. With so many cards and so many colors — including, in this case, a pseudo-sixth one thanks to colorless mana — available, there is a wide range of options available, and it takes some tinkering and flexibility to give the team the best opportunity to win a round.

It's a dance that the “young bloods,” as they were coined after taking down two successive veteran teams in Detroit, are well used to dancing, something that became clear early on in their building process.

Luckily for the trio and everyone else in the hall, the deckbuilding process has never been easier. In the past, team were forced to register and pass their pools, leading to a lengthy delay before actually building their decks. Star City Games, the tournament organizer for Grand Prix Washington D.C., revolutionized the pre-build process by manually pre-registering every pool and printing out deck sheets with the individualized pool printed. It was an innovation that not only saved time for players and the tournament as a whole, but it cut down on registration errors as well. All in all, it was a well-received change for the Grand Prix.


Matt Nass, Sam Pardee and Jacob Wilson are teaming up again after their victory in Detroit.

The first thing the team did was divide the colors and sort out the unplayable cards from each. While there was some division over exactly what that meant, the trio largely trusted each other's judgment, and gave in to that.

It would become a theme for the build, as they worked through different combinations of decks and cards. When one player would state his opinion, it was always followed up with a “what do you think?” The collaboration led them down many different roads before they eventually settled on their final decks.

First came splitting up the colors. With a deep white, black and green set of cards but relatively little in blue and red, there were plenty of directions to go. Looking over their cards — a plethora of two-drops and Support cards in green, plenty of removal in white and black as well as Planar Outburst, a pair of Boulder Salvo in red — the question of what to pair was decided on much more than just power level.

“There are different ways to split up your pool,” Pardee explained. “In our case, since our cards built toward aggressive decks, it was most important to divide up the colors with the best cheap creatures. Depending on your decks, though, sometimes it's more important to split up your removal or your late-game cards.”

The first deck came easily, as the defensive cards in blue and black paired perfectly with each other and with not much else. Two Oblivion Strike, some Vampire Envoys and a late game of Sea Gate Wreckage and a splashed Baloth Null meant the deck would have no issues playing the long game. The team found this almost immediately and didn't look back.

The next two decks would not be so simple. The first build the team tried was their ideal green-white deck, complete with cheap creatures, Support cards and removal aplenty. And while it was, in Nass' opinion, “unbeatable,” it left a rather lackluster white-red deck as the remaining deck. As tempting as it was to Pardee to saddle Wilson with a bad deck to keep the streak alive (“It's worked out well historically,” as he explained), the team wasn't content with their first effort.

They went back to the drawing board, pairing the red with the green, the white removal with the green creatures, the green support cards with the red removal, the red pump spells with both, before eventually deciding on final builds.

That meant a green-white Support deck, albeit one toned down from their original ideal build. But the tradeoff in power meant that their third deck — finally decided to be red-green powered by Mina and Denn, Wildborn — had a much smoother curve and higher overall power level.

It took a while to come to the final decks, especially after so much early indecision, but the team was happy with the finished product.

“One of the most important things in Team Sealed is to always second guess yourself,” Nass said as they wrapped up their build. “You have to force yourself to look at things hard and not get sucked into your first build. Sometimes you can make one deck slightly worse to make another significantly better.”

Whatever their plan, it's working to perfection. After taking down the team title in Detroit, the trio picked up where they left off. They won their first round, and Wilson lost his match.

Well on their way to the repeat title already.


Sam Pardee, Jacob Wilson, and Matt Nass

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