At the time of this writing, Ricardo van den Bogaard is one of the three remaining players sporting a perfect record. He just overcame Russia's Alexander Semkin and his Zoo Deck and when I collected him at the feature match table, I reminded him to not forget to de-sideboard after the match. "Oh, I didn't have to sideboard that game", van den Bogaard said, much to Semkin's dismay. We then made our way to the text coverage area and we started to get into a little more detail about his deck building process.
If you didn't check out the decklist yet, you should do so now. What you might recognize at first is the presence of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and the absence of Scapeshift. While Valakut is putting in some work in the deck, it's definitely not the most important piece of the puzzle (or the second most important piece like in the Scapeshift deck).
But let's not get ahead of ourselves and start with the main reasons why van den Bogaard decided to pilot this deck this weekend: Anger of the Gods and Chalice of the Void. Both cards work incredibly well against Delver builds, which was the supposedly most popular deck going into the weekend. With a positive match-up against it, van den Bogaard felt like he was making the right choice.
Ricardo van den Bogaard is doing well this weekend with a very unique build!
He didn't take all the credit for coming up with the build; he saw similar lists quite a few times when he went searching on various websites. Most of his changes were about what to sideboard and what to keep in the mainboard. He decided to cut Lightning Bolts and instead keep Chalice of the Void in the mainboard. It was hard to argue with the reason he gave: "Lightning Bolt is not really necessary since I'm running Anger of the Gods and Chalice of the Void. I can either race my opponents or use one of the two cards to pull ahead."
In fact, he won against Affinity twice yesterday without ever destroying or exiling a creature - that is how fast his deck can be!
The game plan is pretty straightforward like a one-two-three:
Step one: Acceleration.
Step three: Decide Game.
"What really helps this deck is the fact that both Through the Breach and Summoning Trap are Instants. This allows you to cast one of them at the end of your opponent's turn. Even if they do have a counter, you won't mind too much. You simply follow it up the next turn with a Primeval Titan, which again forces your opponent to use a counter. When you then cast Summoning Trap, they will most likely be out of mana and that means you'll then be able to decide the game."
This might sound like too much of a perfect scenario, but with all the support in the deck, he can create this set-up more often than not. Still, the deck wouldn't be where it's currently at if it weren't for the sideboard. It helps van den Bogaard against every deck (with the above-mentioned Zoo being the sole exception).
Van den Bogaard prepared a sideboard plan for almost every match-up!
One of the all-stars in the sideboard is Boil. According to van den Bogaard, many players seem to have forgotten about the card completely. "I don't mind my opponent casting Dig Through Time. After they tapped their blue mana, I use Boil and they sometimes lose most of their mana base. Blood Moon is also much less of a problem thanks to Boil," he explained.
"I came up with a sideboard plan for all my match-ups. It's really great to look at it in between rounds and question the decisions I've made in the match. This way, I can always learn more and become even more familiar with the deck."
To come up with the sideboarding plan in the first place, van den Bogaard prepared together with his friends. A lot. They were playing for several hours, three days in a row. All of them used print-outs where they had 12 different decklists written down on one token card. So you just had to pick a number between 1 and 12 and you had a whole deck all sleeved up and ready to play. Or, if that's more your thing, you can print out 12 different Delver lists and compare the results of the individual choices really fast. It's definitely something that van den Bogaard and his friends recommended in case you need some testing results fast.
Tweaking the Deck even further
After 10 rounds of fierce competition, I asked van den Bogaard whether he regretted any of the choices he had made. He admitted that he hates the fact he has to run a second Forest. "It's necessary so I can still cast Primeval Titan, Summoning Trap or Obstinate Baloth after my opponent used Blood Moon."
He added that Obstinate Baloth wasn't all that important and that he would have almost went with Solemn Simulacrum, but he figured that it can be a real difference maker in a game where both players are trying to race each other and it really shines against Burn. Then again, since he rarely drew into the card so far, it wouldn't have made much of a difference.
The one thing he dislikes the most about his deck? "An opening hand with a Mountain and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle translates to a guaranteed mulligan."
Other than that, he couldn't come up with any reasons to complain and he's certainly happy with his record so far. Let's wish him good luck for the following rounds, he would definitely deserve to advance to the Top 8 with this interesting deck choice.