Deck Tech: Sneak and Omni Show with Jonathan Anghelescu

Posted in GRAND PRIX PRAGUE 2016 on June 11, 2016

By Olle Rade

When I asked players what has affected the Legacy metagame the most in the last couple of years the answers have been quite similar—the rise of the Eldrazi. The new deck filled with colorless monsters has pushed some decks out of the metagame, and allowed others to prosper. It has also made some archetypes adapt and evolve. Which is why I found it interesting to talk to Jonathan Anghelescu, a 23-year-old Legacy expert from Berlin, notorious for playing Sneak and Show. He recently surprised the Legacy community by bringing a hybrid between that deck and Omnitell to the 2015 Magic Online Championships in Seattle.

"In my opinion, this deck, which includes Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, Omniscience, and Cunning Wish, is the best deck as long as you have a little bit of luck on your side. It simply does the most broken stuff in the format," he said.

When the deck does what it's supposed to, like putting Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeons Torn onto the battlefield as early as turn one, it's hard to argue against that statement. As I approached Anghelescu in the fourth round, he just wrapped up casting a second turn Show and Tell, put Omniscience into play, and cast Emrakul with it. A simple task it may seem, but what Anghelescu had done was to update and improve the classic Sneak and Show deck.

Jonathan Anghelescu

"I tested Sneak and Show, and it felt weak against Eldrazi. They have Endbringer and Karakas, which are both tough to beat. I also felt like the deck had problems with Containment Priest, and in the end the new version is much harder to hate out, which is one of the reasons why I like it more," he said.

Anghelescu plays almost exclusively Legacy, and has been doing so since 2011. In 2014 he started playing competitively, and quickly made a name for himself on Magic Online as "JPA93." He admitted to playing more online than in paper, and in the field at this year's Magic Online Championship his accounted for 70 percent of all online Legacy matches played in total among the sixteen competitors. As for most people who only play Legacy, he hadn't had many chances to prove his worth at live events, but he did travel alone from Germany to Grand Prix New Jersey in 2014, where he made the Top 16 with Sneak and Show and qualified for the Pro Tour.

When discussing the specifics of his deck, Anghelescu explained that like with many other combo decks a large portion of the deck was set in stone, and the ways to improve it came down to small choices, tuning the sideboard, or simply learning to play it well enough.

"The old Sneak and Show deck had nine slots that were flexible and people tried different things. For example, I played Fire // Ice in the main deck at GP New Jersey, because there were a lof of Blue-Red Delver decks. This new version has some more room for innovation since it has a sideboard filled with instants that you can fetch with Cunning Wish," he said.

Whether it's surprising an Infect opponent with Sudden Shock or Wipe Away, or wiping a board with an uncounterable Kozilek's Return, Anghelescu's sideboard also contained crucial components for his combo finish or dedicated cards against certain decks, like Blood Moon. When asked where Anghelescu saw the future of the archetype, he said that he'd been impressed with a Japanese version of the traditional Sneak and Show deck.

"Although I'm not considering to play it myself, I like what a player on Magic Online has been doing, which is splashing white for Monastary Mentor and a copy of Nahiri, the Harbinger in the sideboard. I also think more people will move from Sneak and Show to the version that I am playing, because they will realize that it's better."

No deck is perfect though, and after careful consideration Anghelescu almost reluctantly gave away what he considers to be the deck's biggest weakness.

"I think that every matchup is good except Grixis Delver and Reanimator. Most people think that Death and Taxes is the worst matchup, and I agree that it looks bad on paper, especially against the traditional Sneak and Show. But that's actually a matchup I enjoy playing. Grixis Delver, however, has a super fast clock, discard, and counterspells, and Reanimator has both discard, counterspells, and a faster combo, so those are tough," he said.

Considering that those two decks might be the deck's only weakness, and Anghelescu's résumé with the deck I wouldn't be surprised if he were to post a strong finish with it this weekend.

Jonathan Anghelescu's Sneak and Omni Show - Grand Prix Prague 2016

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