Drafting with (23) Joel Larsson

Posted in GRAND PRIX LYON 2015 on November 1, 2015

By Frank Karsten

Pro Tour Magic Origins Champion Joel Larsson, currently ranked 23rd in the Top 25 Rankings, is one of the best Swedish players of all time. Yesterday, he went 8-1 in the Sealed portion, and he gave me an interesting answer to a quick question on color preferences: "In draft, […] I like green more than others. It's heavily underdrafted, and if you are the only green player at the table, you will get a great deck." Let's get to his draft and see if his stance on this much-maligned color would work out for him.


Joel Larsson

Pack 1

Pick Larsson's Choice Other Relevant Options

1

From Beyond

Clutch of Currents, Transgress the Mind, Ondu Rising

2

Kiora, Master of the Depths

Eyeless Watcher, Void Attendant, Ruin Processor

3

Sheer Drop

Giant Mantis, Courier Griffin, Brilliant Spectrum

4

Tide Drifter

Tajuru Stalwart, Plummet, Infuse with the Elements

5

Sheer Drop

Blighted Woodland, Ulamog's Despoiler

6

Infuse with the Elements

Blisterpod, Oracle of Dust

7

Stone Haven Medic

Swell of Growth, Infuse with the Elements

8

Shadow Glider

Coralhelm Guide, Lithomancer's Focus

9

Blighted Woodland

Eldrazi Devastator, Transgress the Mind

10

Void Attendant

Broodhunter Wurm

11

Brilliant Spectrum

Retreat to Coralhelm

12

Plummet

Infuse with the Elements

13

Blighted Woodland

Blisterpod

14

Lavastep Raider

"I like green, and I know others don't, so it was good to open From Beyond," Larsson told me after the draft. "From Beyond is best in black-green, but there was no black to be seen in the draft. I was passed Kiora second, which isn't insane, but still good enough to move in on the green."

I asked him about his fourth pick of Tide Drifter over Tajuru Stalwart. "I like Tide Drifter; it's good with Eldrazi Scions in particular," Larsson said. I also asked him whether he was happy to receive a thirteenth pick Blighted Woodland. "Yes, the card is very good in my opinion, so I was surprised it came so late. It's the best of the uncommon lands."

After the first pack, Larsson had a collection of green, white, and blue cards. I peeked at his neighbors and saw that, to his right, Tomoharu Saito was drafting a white-black life-gain deck and Leo Carbonell was drafting green-white to his left. This may not have come as a surprise as the best cards in many of the boosters that Joel passed were green and white. However, it would mean that Larsson could not expect to receive any premium green or white cards in the second pack.

Pack 2

Pick Larsson's Choice Other Relevant Options

1

Fertile Thicket

Oran-Rief Invoker, Murasa Ranger, Tightening Coils

2

Hedron Archive

Benthic Infiltrator, Sunken Hollow, Ghostly Sentinel

3

Clutch of Currents

Shadow Glider, Benthic Infiltrator, Touch of the Void

4

Fortified Rampart

Smite the Monstrous, Shambling Vent, Oracle of Dust

5

Gideon's Reproach

Coralhelm Guide, Vestige of Emrakul

6

Giant Mantis

Retreat to Kazandu, Brilliant Spectrum

7

Courier Griffin

Tandem Tactics, Anticipate

8

Ondu Rising

Plummet, Ondu Greathorn

9

Oran-Rief Invoker

Plated Crusher, Sylvan Scrying

10

Blighted Steppe

Shatterskull Recruit

11

Territorial Baloth

Dispel

12

Transgress the Mind

13

Seek the Wilds

14

Brilliant Spectrum

"After the second booster, I was white for sure," Larsson explained after the draft. "I could go blue or green as my second color, or possibly both."

Turning to specific cards, his first-pick Fertile Thicket might be surprising, but Larsson likes the card a lot, especially in decks with potentially more than two colors. "It's actually quite good because it gets you another land from your deck and finds you more mana. It's the best of the cycle of common lands." Larsson was also a fan of his fourth-pick Fortified Rampart: "It's great in a defensive deck and works especially well with Sheer Drop."

Going into the third pack, Larsson would have to figure out whether he wanted blue or green as his second main color and whether or not he would want to splash a third. He would also have to prioritize win conditions to complement his defensive cards.

Pack 3

Pick Larsson's Choice Other Relevant Options

1

Drowner of Hope

Lifespring Druid, Gideon's Reproach, Blighted Cataract

2

Makindi Patrol

Cloud Manta, Scour from Existence, Mist Intruder

3

Sheer Drop

Lumbering Falls, Giant Mantis, Kozilek's Channeler

4

Guardian of Tazeem

Adverse Conditions, Wave-Wing Elemental, Rush of Ice

5

Windrider Patrol

Eldrazi Devastator, Tightening Coils, Natural Connection

6

Roilmage's Trick

Snapping Gnarlid, Sure Strike

7

Lifespring Druid

Tajuru Warcaller, Tajuru Stalwart, Nissa's Relevation

8

Dispel

Swell of Growth, Tandem Tactics

9

Lifespring Druid

Blighted Cataract

10

Scour from Existence

Bone Splinters

11

Mire's Malice

Infuse with the Elements

12

Anticipate

Herald of Kozilek

13

Eldrazi Devastator

14

Hedron Blade

His first pick of Drowner of Hope was excellent, and after the draft Larsson was smiling as he pointed out the interaction with From Beyond. Indeed, From Beyond can search for the Eldrazi if you are in need of a win condition, and if you already have Drowner of Hope in play then From Beyond provides a steady stream of tappers.

The third-pick Sheer Drop over Lumbering Falls was surprising to me because Larsson already had two Sheer Drops and the mana fixing could be valuable if Larsson would end up in three colors, but Larsson had a good reason. "There was a chance to wheel Lumbering Falls because many of the green or blue converge cards came late in the previous boosters."

Afterward, Larsson got the win conditions that he was looking for in Guardian of Tazeem and Windrider Patrol. The only problem was that these double-blue cards might be tough on the mana, but he received the perfect green cards to solve that. "The two Lifespring Druids were nice pickups," he said. He even took one over Tajuru Warcaller, showing that he had a good understanding of how to draft a stable deck with a coherent plan rather than just raw power.

In the end, Larsson built the following deck.

Joel Larsson's Green-Blue-White – Grand Prix Lyon 2015 Draft #1

During deck construction, Larsson agonized over his mana base, but in the end the second Blighted Woodland landed in the sideboard. For his 22nd card, he considered Brilliant Spectrum, Roilmage's Trick, Territorial Baloth, Seek the Wilds, Infuse with the Elements, and Makindi Patrol before ultimately choosing the 4/4 landfall creature.

When asked how he liked his chances, Larsson seemed happy. "I believe I drafted my seat well. I don't see another color combination that I could have really been in."

While that may be true, he lost his first round to Tomoharu Saito and likely needed to win all of the remaining rounds if he wanted to have a shot at making the Top 8.

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