Magic is a game of decision-making. Generally speaking, the player that is able to make the best decisions (within a reasonable time) will walk away victorious more often than not. Team Sealed is a very interesting format as it affects the decision-making process in multiple ways. For starters, you no longer have to make decisions solely on your own; you can rely on your teammates to feed you valuable input. Secondly, it introduces a number of new dynamics, most notably the splitting of the cards in your pool over three different decks, distributing said decks in the right way among your teammates and last, but certainly not least, assigning seats to all of the members of your team.
We noted that the team of Stephen Murray, Ioannis Kyriazis, and Simon Marshall had one-upped the opposition in at least two of those additional disciplines. While their win streak was eventually beaten and they suffered two crucial losses in the last rounds we played yesterday, they still advanced to Day 2. That meant they remained in contention for the title of Grand Prix Team champions.
Lightning Strikes Twice
They had been playing together before, way back in the good old days of Gatecrash Limited. Even back then, something had occurred to them: "Very often, we came across teams where one player was significantly better than the other two. They would often play the most aggressive deck so they would have more time to help the other players in their decision making."
Left to right: Ioannis Kyriazis, Stephen Murray, and Simon Marshall
This strategy makes perfect sense; you don't want to see your most experienced player losing his train of thought whether to counter a spell or not when one of the other players is asking for his advice. Instead, you want him to be able to focus as much as possible on the other two matches. Naturally, this can be accomplished by handing him a deck that attempts to finish games sooner rather than later, like Red-Black Dash or, back in the Gatecrash days, aggressive Boros decks. And it would make sense to seat this player in the center spot where he could best look in on the other two matches.
Murray, Kyriazis and Marshall came prepared and they took advantage of this rather common occurrence. They consciously selected a green midrange deck for the center spot as it would expectedly fare rather well against those particular decks.
Even the Perfect Plan Fails at Times
They had to admit that their strategy backfired on them at times. "Sometimes you see teams with two experienced players and one player who is less familiar with the way the format's working. He would often be seated in the middle so both of his friends could support him. Very often, he'd be left with the best deck out of the three as those decks tend to be more forgiving."
As it so happens, this strategy may also be interesting for an event like the World Magic Cup. Very often, just like in the Team Sealed events, there might be one player on the team that is more experienced than the other members. Naturally, he would be seated in the middle so he would be able to call the shots for the whole crew.
Asked about any other special strategies that they employed, they pointed out that Simon was the least experienced in the format, which meant he sometimes took a little longer to make decisions. Therefore, he had been handed the most aggressive deck.
Overall, they felt fairly happy with their results so far. The last question on our mind was whether they went with the same approach on Day 2. We walked over to their match and the first creature we spotted in Kyriazis' graveyard was a Colossodon Yearling. No words needed to be exchanged to drive home the point.