Round 6 Feature Match: (22) Ben Stark (White-Red Aggro) vs. Luke Boroughs (Blue-Black Control)

Posted in GRAND PRIX MEMPHIS 2015 on February 22, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Pro Tour Hall of Fame member and number 22-ranked Ben Stark is no mystery to those that follow along with coverage. As one of the many Top 25 players in attendance, Stark was looking for what everyone at the top of the game is now: More Pro Points from Grand Prix to potentially secure the new uncapped points slot in the 2015 World Championship.

Earning a win early in the year would be a promising start.

Luke Boroughs wasn't hunting for Pro Points and another notch in his belt: As a second-time Grand Prix attendee from Little Rock, Arkansas, Boroughs was one of the many newer faces of competitive Magic. Getting into battling with Return to Ravnica, Boroughs sought Pro Tour qualification and the career breakthrough so many of the game's greats begin with: Grand Prix victory.

The Decks

Boroughs was using a Blue-Black Control deck, though different from Grand Prix Seville Immanual Gerschenson's from the week prior. Boroughs brought in the power of Silumgar, the Drifting Death as the finisher of choice, availing himself to Torrent Elemental and Pearl Lake Ancient in the sideboard should he needed them instead. With Nullify, Disdainful Stroke, Bile Blight, Hero's Downfall and other usual suspects, it was a straightforward plan from there.

Stark used a twist on the powerful Red-White Aggro deck. In fact, he didn't even want to call it that. “The way my deck is tuned I don't see it as an aggro deck, it's a control deck,” he said. “The best card in my deck is Outpost Siege. I don't play any Stormbreath Dragons in the main because it's a really aggressive finisher. With Outpost Siege I want the game to go as long as possible: Stormbreath ends games quickly but doesn't defend well.”

“I'm trying to mainly win with Outpost Siege, and I think that makes the white-red deck really good since it can steal games with damage or go really long,” he continued. “I'm also playing Soulfire Grand Master, and if you have either Grandmaster or a bunch of Sieges you just build advantages every turn. To do that you have all this efficient removal – Lightning Strike, Wild Slash, Chained to the Rocks. I don't see it as an aggro deck at all. I'm happy to trade off creatures to make Outpost Siege. Sneaking in 20 damage is just a bonus.”

Why does Outpost Siege stand out when it's “exile a card and play it if you want” ability has been around in Standard for some time. “Unlike Chandra, Pyromaster,” Stark explained, “that dies to Siege Rhinos and other stuff quickly there's really nothing in main decks that kills Outpost Sieges. It's a great win condition.”

To Siege the opponent might sound like Siege Rhinos, but Stark's plan to plaster his opponent under cards seemed just as deadly.

The Games

Boroughs played an array of colorful lands to cast a turn three Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver that promptly exiled three lands off the top of Stark's deck. In reply, Stark used his second turn Seeker of the Way into a third turn Goblin Rabblemaster to make short work of it.

A fifth turn Crux of Fate wiped away Stark's army, but Outpost Siege promise to pull the aggressive deck back in. However, with multiple Radiant Fountains, Boroughs was at a healthy 19 life facing down two Goblin tokens, Soulfire Grand Master, and Seeker of the Way.

Finally willing to block, Boroughs left his Dragon back as Stark looked to dig out of the massive lifegain. Casting both his copies of Chained to the Rocks in hand, he struck in with both his Seeker of the Ways to put Boroughs to 13 life.

Another Crux of Fate reset things, but Stark turned to volleys of burn. Dropping him down with copies of Stoke the Flames and Wild Slash, Boroughs stopped one Stoke but fell to the others an upkeep later.

Between games, Ben Stark shared and animated discussion with Luke Boroughs. In the end, Stark admitted he was wrong about one of Borough's plays.

The second game was a slower affair for Stark, where a turn three Seeker of the Way led to a turn four Outpost Siege, then turn five Hordeling Outburst. Boroughs was down to 14 when he went for Drown in Sorrow. Stark responded with Stoke the Flames, but Boroughs had Dissipate to hold his life total higher.

A second Outpost Siege set to Dragons gave Stark both sides of the powerful enchantment, and it paid off when Bile Blight put the first point of damage in. With a hand full of creature spells it was the rarer “sneak 20 damage in” plan Stark began down.

Boroughs backpedaled, using Dig Through Time to find some answers. Tapped low on Stark's turn after digging for a counterspell he didn't find, the window was open for Hordeling Outburst.

Luke Boroughs struggled to find a way out of the siege of Stark's Outpost Sieges in their second game.

Crux of Fate dealt four more to Boroughs on the next turn, and tapped out he was helpless to stop both Goblin Rabblemaster and Hordeling Outburst again on Stark's follow up. At five life Boroughs cast Bile Blight without a way to get out from under the Sieges, and extended his hand shortly thereafter.

Ben Stark defeated Luke Boroughs, 2-0.

Blue-Black Control – Luke Boroughs

Download Arena Decklist

Red-White Aggro - Ben Stark

Download Arena Decklist