Posted in GRAND PRIX MANILA 2015 on January 3, 2015

By Neale Talbot

Martin Jůza, Ivan Floch and David Berka travelled together to Manila to enjoy New Year's Eve and play the first GP of the year in this country of islands. "I've never been to Manila," said Floch, "And the idea of spending New Year's Eve there with friends sounded fun, so we decided to make it a two-GP trip - Manila and Shizuoka."

Martin Jůza, David Berka, and Ivan Floch Grand Prix Manila

Together, Czechoslovakian Martin Jůza and Slovakian Ivan Floch are a Magic powerhouse. Ivan recently won Pro Tour Portland and made Top 8 at Pro Tour Honolulu, while Martin Jůza has been on a GP tear, with 19 GP Top 8s, including four wins, since 2009.

The three arrived in Manila on Tuesday, then spent the next day catching up with Christian Calcano and celebrating New Year's Eve. However between the late night celebrations, the seven hour time difference, and the difficulties adjusting for jet lag, it didn't leave the three a lot daylight for testing.

"But that's ok," continued Floch, "We've known each other for a long time, and being Slovack and Czech we speak similar languages. It's really easy to work together. Actually, Slovakia is the small brother, we watch Czech TV and read Czech books, so it's easier for us."

The three settled on Abzan Whip as the deck to beat this weekend, preferring the bigger creatures to those of Sidisi Whip. "The maindeck creatures are better - I love Seige Rhino." confessed Jůza, "And we're not relying on our graveyard to win the game, like Sidisi Whip. It's more an advantage over the long game when we don't win early."

Ivan Floch battling next to Christian Calcano

"The Sidisi and Abzan whip are very explored,"said Floch, "They're not going to change very much. People are playing the same 75 cards, I don't think that will change to much. G/B Constellation is the other Whip of Erebos deck out there. You could try four colours, but three are more stable."

"There aren't any hidden decks, people have tried everything." "said Jůza, "But the metagame shifts with every event. Brad Nelson shows every week you can win with a different deck. You just need to process the information from the metagame faster than your opponents. You're not just metagaming against last week, you're metagaming against the future."

"Right now the best three drop in Standard might be Anafenza, the Foremost." continued Jůza, "It's great against Whip of Erebos decks and dodges Bile Blight, which kills Mantis Riders and Rabblemasters or Rabblemaster tokens. Next week it'll be different; for instance, Hushwing Gryff is an excellent card right now."

Martin Jůza piloting Abzan Whip at Grand Prix Manila

"But after Courser, is there anything else to consider?" asked "Floch, "Yes, there's Rabblemaster, but it's not that well positioned because tokens just crash into something bigger. Courser is the backbone of so many decks, Whip decks, Abzan Aggro, Villainous Wealth decks, etc."

After chatting about Standard, the two turned to their Magic past.

"Winning the Pro Tour Tour was amazing, but winning the Team World Championships in 2010 felt more important. Slovakia, being a small country, meant it was a big thing for us to win Worlds, as we were the first underdogs to do so."

"I remember Pro Tour Berlin in 2008, which Luis Scott-Vargas won." said Jůza, "I played Extended Elves. The deck was so absurdly powerful, but because the information flow on the internet wasn't as fast back then, only a few people in the room seemed to know about it. People were wandering around, asking why Glimpse of Nature was sold out. The Top 8 was six Elves decks, Tezzeret, and a Faeries deck that were randomly good against Elves. That was the best deck I ever played."

"Maybe not my best deck, but my favourite deck was Psychotog Upheavel or Mirari's Wake with Wishes." Flock responded. I'm not sure if it's because it was my early days of Magic, but these are my kind of decks. Unfortunately, there aren't big-turn decks any more, and the control decks are more tap-out decks, because of Planeswalkers. But tap-out control isn't my style, so nowadays I'm enjoying playing midrange; and still having fun."