Grand Prix Denver 2013 Day 2 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on January 6, 2013


Sunday, 9:50 p.m. – Day One Round by Round Top Table Metagame Breakdown

by Steve Sadin


At the end of every Grand Prix, the event coverage staff publishes the Top 8 (or more) decklists from the event. But those decklists alone only tell a part of the story. In order to understand what really happened throughout the event, it's important to examine what the top tables looked like throughout the first day of play, and not just when the dust settled.

So without further ado, I bring you the Top Table Metagame Breakdown from Day One of Grand Prix Denver.

Round 4 Top Table Metagame Breakdown

4 Esper Stoneblade
3 RUG Delver
3 Blue White Countertop (2 Miracles, 1 Rest in Peace Combo)
2 BUG (1 Midrange, 1 BUGw splashing for Lingering Souls)
1 Black White Red Zombies
1 Elves!
1 Blue Black Tezzeret
1 Infect Combo
1 Belcher
1 Dredge
1 Storm
1 Mono Red Burn

Total number of unique archetypes = 12
Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes =14

Going into this weekend, many players expected BUG variants featuring Deathrite Shamans, Tarmogoyfs, Abrupt Decays, and Planeswalkers to be the deck to beat this weekend. But in round 4, the first round after the pros came off their byes, it was only the 4th most represented deck in the top 10 tables.

Esper Stoneblade and RUG Delver of Secrets (the winners of the last two American Legacy Grand Prix), and Blue White Countertop variants all had more pilots then this weekend's boogieman.

How long would this last?

Round 5 Top Table Metagame Breakdown

4 RUG Delver
4 Blue White Countertop (2 Miracles, 1 Rest in Peace Combo, 1 UWr Control)
4 BUG (2 Midrange, 1 Shardless Agent, 1 BUGw)
2 Sneak and Show
1 Black-Green Aggro Rock
1 Mono Red Burn
1 High Tide
1 Merfolk
1 Dredge
1 Elves!

Total number of unique archetypes = 10
Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes = 14

Apparently BUG couldn't be kept out of the spotlight for long. In round 5, BUG variants were tied with RUG Delver of Secrets, and Blue White Countertop variants for the most prevalent deck at the top tables.

Notably absent from the top 10 tables this round was Esper Stoneblade, which had been the most popular deck at the top just a round earlier.

Round 6 Top Table Metagame Breakdown

8 BUG (3 Midrange, 3 Delver, 1 Shardless Agent, 1 BUGw)
2 RUG Delver
2 Blue White Countertop (1 Miracles, 1 Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek)
2 Sneak and Show
1 Dredge
1 Cloupost
1 Jund
1 Elves!
1 Mono Red Burn
1 Esper Stoneblade

Total number of unique archetypes = 10
Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes = 14

An Esper Stoneblade deck managed to make its way back into our spotlight this round, and Sneak and Show continued to make its presence felt – keeping 2 players in the top 10 tables for the second round in a row.

But the story at the top in Round 6 was definitely the prevalence of BUG. Deathrite Shaman, Abrupt Decay decks made up fully 40% of the top 10 tables this round.

Round 7 Top Table Metagame Breakdown

5 RUG Delver
4 BUG (2 BUG Delver, 1 Shardless Agent, 1 BUGw)
3 Blue White Countertop (2 Rest in Peace Combo, 1 Miracles)
2 Elves!
1 Dredge
1 Jund
1 BWR Zombies
1 Sneak and Show
1 Mono Red Burn
1 White Weenie

Total number of unique archetypes = 10
Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes = 13

After an overwhelming presence at the top in round 6, BUG's representation dwindled considerably. This time around, RUG Delver of Secrets decks were narrowly able to edge out BUG variants for the top slot, with 25% of the players at the top 10 tables running Nimble Mongoose and friends.

Blue White Countertop decks continued to hold their own, with 3 players piloting versions of the controlling archetype. One of these players opted for a Miracle version of the deck with board sweepers, Jace, the Mind Sculptors, Entreat the Angels, and Vendilion Cliques – while two of these players were seen running decks that won with the potent combination of Rest in Peace and Helm of Obedience.

Round 8 Top Table Metagame Breakdown

3 RUG Delver
3 Esper Stoneblade
3 BUG (1 Midrange, 1 Shardless Agent, 1 BUG Delver)
3 Blue White Countertop (2 Rest in Peace Combo, 1 Miracles)
2 Elves!
2 Sneak and Show
1 Dredge
1 Jund
1 BWR Zombies
1 Mono Blue Show and Tell

Total number of unique archetypes = 10
Total number of unique archetypes + subtypes =13

For the final round of Day One, RUG Delver of Secrets, Esper Stoneblade, BUG, and Blue White Countertop Variants each had 3 pilots representing them at the top tables.

While BUG, RUG, Blue White Countertop, and to a lesser extent Esper Stoneblade have had a sizable presence at the top for the entirety of Day One - there are too many good decks in Legacy for you to justify playing a narrow "metagame" deck.

For the 5th round in a row, at least 10 different archetypes could be seen at the top 10 tables. Throughout the day you could find quite a few aggro control decks full of disruption, dedicated control decks (some of which were capable of combo kills), lightning fast combo decks, and even Mono Red Burn and Zombie decks.

So if you show up to a Legacy tournament with a deck that's great against the top 2-3 decks in the format, but terrible against everything else – then you probably aren't going to do very well.

Deck Tech – BUG Agent with Gerry Thompson

by Frank Lepore

Shardless is the latest piece of tech to breakout in the Legacy format. The innocuous cascade card from the latest Planechase expansions has been a huge hit in the format for its ability to cascade into anything from Abrupt Decay, to Tarmogoyf, Ancestral Visions, to Hymn to Tourach! We don't need to tell you how huge any of these cards are... especially when they're free.

Certain iterations of the deck even utilize the 2/2 to cascade into Hypergenesis, allowing the player to drop things like Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn onto the field.

Gerry Thompson

Gerry Thompson has been a proponent of the deck since it recently made its debut at a StarCityGames Legacy Open. We sat down with Gerry to get his opinions on the deck that has taken him to an impressive 8-2 record today.

A BUG Agent deck

"I chose the deck because with Deathrite Shaman and Abrupt Decay the deck gets a bunch of layers and this version beats the mirror match pretty handily.

I played the version with Hypergenesis for a little bit but I'd rather just draw three then "try" and kill them. This is really more my style deck than like an all-in combo deck.

I have Chills in the sideboard for the bad matchups, like Goblins or Burn or Charbelcher, and since the format is a lot of like midrange blue decks, I have less Force of Wills and I can't play Daze or Spell Pierce because of Shardless Agent, so the combo matchups are a little worse in game one than with the other BUG decks.

Deathrite Shaman does a ton of work, it lets you play around Dazes, it gains you life against decks like Burn, and Shardless Agent is the thing that allows you to grind out all the other blue decks. You don't need Ancestral, but if you suspend it on turn one or cascade into it you're probably going to win; it's like a Fact or Fiction that hides itself from Duress. And Abrupt Decay shores up a ton of random problems like Counterbalance.

The deck is solid against the mirror match, Esper Stone-Blade, and any deck that's trying to grind me out is probably in for a rude awakening. And if you Shardless Agent into a Tarmogoyf or whatever, they basically can't play a Planeswalker, which has been a problem for BUG decks; plus I have Creeping Tar Pit as well."

This is an innovative take on an existing Legacy archetype and we'll be keeping an eye on Gerry all weekend!

Sunday, 12:25 p.m. – Combo in Action: A Photo Essay

by Frank Lepore

Combo is one of the main centerpieces of the Legacy format. The following are some of the most powerful interactions... in action!

The tide is preparing about to rise...
When it comes to Dredge, If your entire library isn't in your graveyard, you're doing it wrong...
Sometimes all a Shardless Agent needs to find is a Hypergenesis...
Life ain't nothin' but a resource when it comes to drawing cards...
Caption: Sometimes all you need is a Sneak Attack to put an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or a Griselbrand into play...

But despite the potentially oppressive nature of combo decks, there is always an answer.

Rest in Peace... stopped cold!

Sunday, 1:45 p.m. – Grand Prix Denver Day 1 Undefeated Decks

by Steve Sadin

Pat Cox

Download Arena Decklist

Daniel Duterte

Download Arena Decklist

Timothy Froehlig

Download Arena Decklist

Matthew Nass

Download Arena Decklist

Vidianto Wijaya

Download Arena Decklist

Ryan Pesch

Download Arena Decklist

Round 10 Feature Match – Sam Black (Zombies) vs. Luis Scott-Vargas (Elves!)

by Steve Sadin

In Legacy, you get the opportunity to play souped up versions of some of the best decks from Magic's history. Luis Scott-Vargas has chosen to do just that this weekend, playing a high powered Elf Combo deck that's descended from the deck that he used to win Pro Tour Berlin in 2008.

Sam Black, meanwhile, is playing a Zombie deck of his own design that can only exist thanks to the breadth and variety of cards that can be found in Legacy. When Black made his way to the Top 8 of Grand Prix Atlanta last season with his Zombies deck, pros and amateurs alike were shocked.

Even Sam's closest friends had trouble taking his Zombie deck, which features Carrion Feeder and Goblin Bombardment, seriously before his Top 8. Since then, Sam has also made the finals of a StarCityGames Legacy Open, forcing even the biggest skeptics to respect Sam's deck.

Game One

LSV opened with a Forest, and a Green Sun's Zenith for Dryad Arbor while Black, mulliganed down to 6, and played a first turn Deathrite Shaman.

LSV demonstrated that Glimpse of Nature isn't just a card that you want to use when you're comboing off (particularly when your opponent has a lot of discard spells), by casting it, and drawing two extra cards with Llanowar Elves, and Deathrite Shaman before passing the turn.

Luis Scott-Vargas

Cabal Therapy naming Wirewood Symbiote missed – and even though LSV didn't have much in his hand, Black still knew that he was in trouble. Carrion Feeder fed the Cabal Therapy, allowing Black to strip away an Elvish Visionary. But this still left LSV with another Deathrite Shaman, and a Priest of Titania.

Sam was able to generate a few tokens with Lingering Souls, but before he had done anything of note LSV was able to find a Green Sun's Zenith for Craterhoof Behemoth giving the Pro Tour Berlin champion the first game in the matter of minutes.

Luis Scott-Vargas 1 – Sam Black 0

Game Two

Sam kept his opening hand in the second game and opened with a Deathrite Shaman followed by a Dark Confidant, while LSV had a first turn Green Sun's Zenith for Dryad Arbor.

LSV had a pair of Nettle Sentinels on his second turn, but with no 3rd land, he had to pass the turn without doing anything too devastating... setting the stage for Black to completely rip apart his hand.

Tidehollow Sculler took a Heritage Druid, and left LSV with a hand of Wirewood Symbiote, Glimpse of Nature, Llanowar Elves, and Craterhoof Behemoth. A Cabal Therapy knocked out the Wirewood Symbiote, and a second Cabal Therapy stripped away LSV's Glimpse of Nature.

LSV, who was on the verge of going off just a turn earlier, could only play a Quiron Ranger, and a Llanowar Elves on his turn. Black the untapped and played a Faithless Looting before attacking with his Tidehollow Sculler. LSV shrugged, and blocked the Tidehollow Sculler with a Nettle Sentinel...

...a pre combat damage Zealous Persecution, and a Darkblast later, and LSV had just a Bayou on the board, and a Craterhoof Behemoth in his hand.

A turn later, the players were shuffling up for the deciding game.

Luis Scott-Vargas 1 – Sam Black 1

"These have been some lopsided games," said Sam.

"That game was very close to being lopsided in the other direction... then I passed the turn and my hand disappeared," replied LSV.

Tragic Slip

Game Three

Luis got off to a decent, but non-explosive, start with a Nettle Sentinel, an Elvish Visionary, a Wirewood Symbiote, and an Abrupt Decay to kill a Dark Confidant.

A Tragic Slip took out the Wirewood Symbiote, and a Tidehollow Sculler exiled an Elvish Visionary – leaving LSV with just a Craterhoof Behemoth in his hand. However, a Green Sun's Zenith for 1 fetched a Wirewood Symbiote, and allowed LSV to begin restocking his hand by repeatedly returning his Elvish Visionary.

When Black cast a Pithing Needle, LSV made a face, then returned Elvish Visionary to his own hand before Black could name Wirewood Symbiote.

Lingering Souls gave Sam a bit of a board presence, and things seemed to slow down for a minute when LSV merely recast his Elvish Visionary before passing the turn. After attacking with his two spirit tokens, Black flashed back his Cabal Therapy to take out Craterhoof Behemoth, then cast a second Tidehollow Sculler to exile a Green Sun's Zenith.

After a couple of uneventful turns, LSV found a Qasali Pridemage which he immediately sacrificed to kill off the Pithing Needle that he had been pinned under, allowing him to draw a pair of extra cards thanks to Wirewood Symbiote plus Elvish Visionary.

Sam failed to draw anything that could disarm his opponent, so he could only sit and watch as LSV began going off with Glimpse of Nature.

Quiron Ranger draw a card, Birchlore Rangers draw a card, Elvish Visionary draw 2 cards, return a Forest with Quiron Ranger to untap Dryad Arbor, return Quiron Dryad with Wirewood Symbiote to untap Dryad Arbor.

Green Sun's Zenith for 1 to fetch Heritage Druid, play another Glimpse of Nature, Fyndhorn Elves draw 2, Deathrite Shaman draw 2, Gaea's Cradle, Natural Order fetching Progenitus.

LSV then returned an Elvish Visionary with Wirewood Symbiote, which he promptly replayed to draw 3 cards. Then LSV played a Quiron Ranger drawing 3 cards...

...and then promptly realized that he was only supposed to draw 2 cards.

Even though nobody else at the table noticed that LSV had done anything wrong, LSV separated the three cards that he had just drawn from the rest of his hand and called a judge on himself.

The head judge, Jason Lemahieu, came over and while it was clear to all involved parties that LSV had not intentionally cheated, the penalty was nonetheless a game loss.

Sam Black

"We have a clear line – a card is considered drawn when it has touched the other cards in your hand. Both players confirmed that the 3 cards had indeed touched the other cards in Luis Scott Vargas's hand, so the infraction was drawing extra cards, and the penalty for that infraction is a game loss." Explained Lemahieu.

"Players are expected to call attention to infractions they commit or notice. Failure to do so is Cheating – Fraud, and results in a disqualification. Some infractions, if caught by the offending party immediately may be downgraded by the Head Judge, such as realizing you left a card in exile while your opponent is shuffling your deck at the start of the game. However, the potential advantage and disruption from drawing an extra card is generally too great to downgrade."

Luis Scott-Vargas 1 – Sam Black 2

Deck Tech – Blazing Halls with Luke Pettross

by Frank Lepore

Not every combo deck in Legacy is as straight forward as casting Show and Tell and putting a big creature into play. Luke Pettross found himself playing a deck today that incorporated multiple combo interactions and multiple ways to get them going. The deck Luke played featured no less than three individual combos, and a ton of ways to find the pieces that make them work. We sat down with Luke to see exactly what makes his combo deck - that features things like Dream Halls, Blazing Shoal, and Hive Mine - tick.

Blazing Halls

"It's a three combo deck but there are two main ones. You have the Infect kill, which we're all very familiar with from Modern (attacking with an infect creature, then discarding an expensive spell to Blazing Shoal to win the game in one turn). The problem with that combo is you don't always gets the cards you want, so Legacy helps a lot with that, with the Brainstorm.

The other combo is the Dream Halls kill, which generally you want to be casting Conflux with Dream Halls. And a lot of people have been doing that in Legacy for a while, but this deck brings the two together.

And the third combo plan that you have is Show and Tell'ing out either Progenitus or Dream Halls, which is very good. Legacy is a very fast format and sometimes just getting out a five casting cost card two turns earlier is very good.

Like, a turn two Progenitus off of an Ancient Tomb or a City of Traitors is often a very strong play. So those are the three main kills, but after that you may be asking yourself, why the Hive Mind and the Summoner's Pact? Basically when you combo off with Dream Halls and Conflux, you want to have an instant kill whereby you can cast Hive Mind, then cast Summoner's Pact, which your opponent has to copy, and most likely can't pay for during his upkeep.

The nice part about these two cards is that they're not a waste in the main deck. Summoner's Pact can get Progenitus for the infect kill, and Hive Mind can be pitched to Force of Will.

As far as weak matchups, I think RUG is harder than BUG, but this deck has a hard time with discard, so the BUG matchup isn't that easy. The worst is Merfolk."

When we spoke to Luke he was sitting on a 9-3 record, so here's hoping he's able to infect a few more opponents before the day is through!

Deck Tech – High Tide with Colin Chilbert

by Frank Lepore

Colin Chilbert is no stranger to either High Tide nor the combo decks of Legacy. Colin is best known for Top 8'ing Grand Prix Indianapolis last year with the aforementioned monoblue combo deck.

Given that several pro players were stating how well positioned High Tide seemed to be this weekend, we wanted to sit down with Colin and give everyone an in depth look at how the deck functions and what it's all about.

High Tide

"I chose High Tide because it's the deck I'm most familiar with and it seemed like a really good choice. Counterbalance is really on the decline. I don't like playing against Counterbalance, what with all the one and two casting cost cards in the deck, and with Abrupt Decay being the premier removal spell, that kind of pushes Counterbalance out.

Other than that, I saw that other combo decks were getting better, and I'm really comfortable with the combo matchup given all the counterspells that are in the deck. Flusterstorm is just absurd in the deck, especially being able to exploit the storm count on it. That's why there are four copies of it in the deck total.

Reanimator is definitely a tough matchup because they can match the number of counters I have, and they have a much faster combo. But fortunately I didn't really see any today. I didn't really predict that there would be much since Deathrite Shaman is kind of a huge blow to that deck. My best matchups are anything aggro really. Things like Goblins, Maverick is good, any deck that gives me a certain number of turns or can't interact very well with me is usually favorable.

As far as win conditions, 90% of the time I'll try to kill with Blue Sun's Zenith, just because there is no way out of it. Sometimes with Brain Freeze, they can play something like Academy Ruins and start putting cards back in their library, so it isn't a guarantee, whereas Blue Sun's Zenith wins on the same turn when they are unable to draw a card."

Colin is sitting on an 8-3-1 record, and while he might be out of Top 8 contention, he can still make an impact on the rest of the event and has proven that High Tide is still a force to be reckoned with.

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