DELVING WITH IVAN FLOCH

Posted in GRAND PRIX MADRID 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on November 16, 2014

By Oliver Gehrmann

As the No. 5-ranked player in the Top 25, Ivan Floch already had quite the target on his head going into this tournament. "Why not add another one?!" must have been the rhetorical question he asked himself on Friday morning when he arrived in the Spanish capital; after all, he decided to go with the one deck that pretty much everyone must have had on his radar going into this tournament: UR Delver. We wanted to know why he opted against the element of surprise and risked loosing to lots of mainboard hate in a field of a whopping 1900 players.

Floch was quick to point out that - in his opinion - the deck is so powerful that it doesn't really matter whether people would expect it or not. He also had a Scapeshift deck ready, but after playing a few more games online and exchanging some cards, he decided that UR Delver was the way to go.

The above-mentioned changes are the following: rather than mainboarding Counterspells like Remand or Spell Pierce, Floch went with a super aggressive approach so he could simply overwhelm opponents in the first game.

Another card that has been questioned by others and that Floch is very happy with is Thought Scour. Let's hear from the veteran himself: "It is very powerful in my opinion. It's a Prowess enabler at Instant speed and it makes Treasure Cruise so much better."

Ivan Floch constantly tries to generate no-win scenarios for his opponents!


If you haven't been playing a lot of Modern lately or you're not familiar with the Delver deck, you might have been wondering how Floch's opponents continuously found themselves in a situation where they had to make a very difficult decision. Do you need some examples? Well, most of Floch's matches on the stream as well as our (written) Round 8 Feature Match. (please link to: http://magic.wizards.com/en/events/coverage/gpmad14/round-8-feature-matc...)

In it, Floch forced Julio Fernandez to either deny him a Treasure Cruise activation and taking a lot of damage from Insectile Aberration or Floch drawing into a fresh hand with the blue spell. While Fernandez went with the better option (taking out Insectile Aberration), Floch was still able to generate so much advantage in that situation that he took the game by storm shortly after.

Still, even when you're in the running for Player of the Year like Floch, you might mess up every now and again when you're playing a deck that is forcing you to constantly bring your a-game to the table. In round 14, Floch was playing around cards that his opponent's did not even hold on to, because he was still following a mental note - one that he had apparently made in the previous game.

I asked him whether the deck was still the right choice after 14 rounds of fierce competition and he came up with a very interesting reply:

"It's kind of an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. It's a disadvantage compared to other decks because you do lose focus and you might commit some mistakes. At the same time, it's an advantage for you when you're going up against other Delver players as long as you can avoid making more mistakes than them. I'm not saying I'm playing flawlessly, but I'm pretty confident I'm making less mistakes than most of the other Delver players in the room."

That is an interesting way to look at it. While Delver might be the correct choice for a player like Ivan Floch, it might not be the right choice for you. It's important to stick with something that you feel comfortable with. If that's the supposedly best deck in the field: good for you. At least as long as you are the best player in the room.

While I'd love to end on that high note, I had one more question aimed at Floch: where do you think the metagame is headed?

Unlike Matej Zatlkaj who we interviewed yesterday, Floch didn't feel like the format was that unexplored (which often translates to lots of room for innovation and ongoing changes in the metagame). Instead, he expects Delver, Burn and Scapeshift decks to become even more popular while everything that's running Tarmogoyf will most likely see less play since the Delve cards turn it into much less of a threat.

Again, very hard to argue with the Pro, so make sure to keep that in mind when you're sleeving up for the next Modern tournament.

(5) Ivan Floch, Blue-Red Delver (with a splash of white)

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