After Yuuya Watanabe unveiled Bant Humans at Grand Prix Tokyo two weeks ago, it has quickly attracted a following on Magic Online. Even Petr Sochůrek, who had solely played control decks at premier Standard events in the last few months, ditched Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Fiery Impulse in favor of Collected Company and Thalia's Lieutenant. I sat down with Sochůrek to learn more about his deck choice.
Petr Sochůrek is a 22-year old Japanology student from Prague, Czech Republic. After an excellent season, featuring a win at Grand Prix Paris and a sixth-worst Grand Prix finish worth 2 pro points, he has already amassed 45 pro points.
As 50 points is required for the coveted Platinum level and 3 points are guaranteed at Pro Tour Sydney, Sochůrek is close but still needs to score 2 extra points somewhere. He will play this event, Grand Prix Prague, Grand Prix Sydney, and Pro Tour Eldritch Moon to get them.
"I would prefer to get the points before the Pro Tour; otherwise I will be really nervous at the Pro Tour," he told me. "I have high hopes for Grand Prix Prague since I'm really good at Legacy." But Sochůrek still has several other chances to get those points, and a good finish here in Manchester would be a huge deal for him.
"The deck can be really aggressive with Thalia's Lieutenant, Reflector Mage, and Dromoka's Command," Sochůrek explained. "But it also has a strong late-game. They can kill your entire board, and then you go Collected Company into Tireless Tracker and recover instantly. So it's hard to attack this deck from a single angle because you have everything covered."
The key card in the deck is Thalia's Lieutenant. All creatures (except for Nissa, Vastwood Seer in the sideboard) are Humans. As Sochůrek said, "Thalia's Lieutenant is just super strong. Against Bant Company for instance, they can't kill your creatures, and then you make a Lieutenant or two and your creatures become huge."
A nice element is that if you hit Thalia's Lieutenant and, say, Lambholt Pacifist with Collected Company, then you get both triggers. So you end up with a 2/2 and a 4/4. "I wonder how many triggers I'm going to forget today," Sochůrek laughed.
Yuuya Watanabe, who originally ran the deck at Grand Prix Tokyo, referred to Lambholt Pacifist as a Standard-legal Tarmogoyf. It is quite powerful indeed, especially in conjunction with Thalia's Lieutenant, Dromoka's Command, or Gryff's Boon. After all, it checks its own power too. "In the beginning, I thought that Duskwatch Recruiter would be better, but that wasn’t true," Sochůrek told me. "Yuuya was unsurprisingly right."
"The deck may not be on everyone's radar, but I saw the deck on Magic Online quite a bit. I wasn't sure how good it was going to be when I started playing the deck, but it turned out to be really good. The maindeck I play today is the same as the one that beena used to 5-0 a Magic Online league recently. My sideboard is similar to his, but I have Declaration rather than Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. I need an answer to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and the main deck has too many four-drops for Gideon."
Given that it's a deck with both Thalia's Lieutenant and Collected Company, I asked whether he felt the deck was closer to White Weenie or to regular Bant Company. "It's closer to Bant Company," he answered. "Your late game is really good, and you're not going to lose to turn-four Languish. Sometimes you curve out and kill someone really quickly, but that's not necessarily the goal of the deck."
Positioning, Matchups, and Sideboarding
So what are the good and bad matchups for the deck? "It's one of those 50-50 decks," Sochůrek answered. You have game against everything, so it comes down to who has the better draw or who makes the better plays. The deck is actually quite complicated: between Duskwatch Recruiter, Tireless Tracker, Ojutai's Command, and so on, you have many options every turn."
To provide the context for why this deck was his choice for the weekend, Sochůrek took me back to Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad: "At the Pro Tour, everyone tried to find a deck that was good against Bant Company and Mono-White Humans, which meant that Bant Company wasn't a great choice. Everyone was prepared for it. But now that there are a bunch of different decks in the metagame, that's no longer true. And if it doesn't have a target on its head, then this deck is great. I'm not yet 100% convinced that the Human build is better than regular Bant Company with Bounding Krasis and Sylvan Advocate, but it's certainly pretty close, and I have been satisfied with Thalia's Lieutenant so far."
In the sideboard, he has tools for every matchup. "Against control decks, Dromoka's Command, Thalia's Lieutenant, an Lambholt Pacifist are weak, so I want to cut some of those cards. Since I need Collected Company to remain good, I have five grindy creatures in the sideboard to bring in. Together with Negate and Declaration in Stone, I can transform into a value deck with answers to the cards I fear."
The other half of the sideboard tends to come in against Cryptolith Rite decks. "Against those decks, I board in Tragic Arrogance, Gryff's Boon, and Declaration in Stone, and I cut Thraben Inspector, Ojutai's Command, and some other cards."
Tips and Tricks
As a final question, I asked Sochůrek for some tips and trick. He are some highlights:
- You want to cast Collected Company on your main phase way more often than you would think, for several reasons. First, if you have yet to play a land, then getting Tireless Tracker before is good. Second, if you hit a Werewolf, then if your opponent doesn't play anything, it'll flip at the start of your next turn. And third, if you hit Thalia's Lieutenant, you may be able to attack with a creature that couldn't attack before.
- Sometimes when you're on the play and hold Knight of the White Orchid, it can be correct not to play third land. The deck is mana hungry, so any land counts. And sometimes you need the green or blue mana fixing that Knight of the White Orchid provides in this deck.
- The main deck has 25 Collected Company hits. Never go below 22 after sideboard.
- A nice play is to chump-attack or chump-block with Thalia's Lieutenant so it goes to the graveyard, and then get it back with Ojutai's Command mid-combat. It's not a play you do often, but it comes up.