Team Degenerates' Noble Quest for Glory

Posted in GRAND PRIX SÃO PAULO 2016 on July 2, 2016

By Chapman Sim

Don't you just open a dozen boosters and hope that three decks magically fall into place? Building three great Team Limited decks isn't always a walk in a park, not even for seasoned veterans Pascal Maynard (A), Brain Braun-Duin (B) and Shaheen Soorani (C).

For some reason, they've decided to name themselves "Team Degenerates", which raises some eyebrows. As a fellow world traveler and Magic player, I don't see anything degenerate about flying upwards of 12 hours to play in a Magic tournament.

That's living the life!

Here's how the story went. Braun-Duin and Soorani were looking for a third on the Twitterverse, and Maynard shares that he had won the "Twitter Lottery" and "earned" the honor of joining the duo.

"Initially, I thought I needed a visa to enter Brazil. Later on, I realized that because of the Olympics, we didn't need it during this period. A bunch of friends assisted me in sourcing for air tickets. Since I found a reasonable flight, here I am in São Paulo!"

By "reasonable", Maynard was referring to a hefty $1,700 but it was an investment that he was willing to make for this quest for glory.

To put things in perspective, Team Degenerates is hoping for at least a 11-3 finish. That will give Soorani enough points for Silver, and lock Maynard for Platinum. And of course, since Braun-Duin is in the thick of the race for Grand Prix Master, he will be happy to pick up as many Pro Points as he can.

Team Degenerates Gets to Work

After receiving their pool, they started by customarily sifting out the unplayables and untouchables. "Is that the trash pile?" Braun-Duin murmured as he quickly threw a bunch of Blue cards onto the growing stack. "Oh jeez, I think all the Blue cards are trash."

The "Trash Pile" of unloved cards.

Indeed, Blue was by far the weakest color in their pool, while Black was glaringly strong. The Gitrog Monster was one of their many standout bombs, and the team quickly worked on determining if Black and Green were match-made in heaven.

The answer was yes, and Soorani began working on the core of his Black-Green Delirium deck. Obsessive Skinner, Soul Swallower, Stallion of Ashmouth and triple Tooth Collector made pushing for Delirium a sensible plan, and with three copies of Dead Weight, a couple of each Wicker Witch and Gisa's Bidding, it wasn't very hard to achieve. Call the Bloodline and Fork in the Road were also excellent enablers, in addition to being really "combolicious" with The Gitrog Monster.

"I mean, this deck is almost guaranteed Delirium if we build it right," Soorani shared. "The issue is whether we want to build this deck in a way where it is easier to hit Delirium by playing slightly worse cards (such as Explosive Apparatus), or to make our deck more powerful by sacrificing the ease of hitting Delirium. We need to strike a balance between the two factors."

Soorani will be polishing this diamond in the rough, en-route to figuring out what the other two decks are.

With the easiest deck almost ready to go, they still needed to figure out what the other two decks looked like.

Maynard proposed a White-Green Aggro deck, which reminds us a little of Standard. It has the potential to go turn one Town Gossipmonger, turn two Thraben Inspectors and turn three Tireless Tracker. Triple Confront the Unknown and double Rabid Bite were the key support spells, and the idea was to utilize all the aggressive cards as much as possible.

Over at the other side, Braun-Duin's verdict on his Blue-Red deck didn't sound promising.

"This deck looks like a steaming pile of bad. Let's try and see if the deck can work without Blue," as he threw more cards into the "trash pile".

Since Maynard had gathered the most aggressive selection of White cards, that left Braun-Duin with the defensive options. "How about we put back some Blue cards, splash the White bombs and go Jeskai? We do have double Highland Lake."

The third deck is usually the notoriously difficult one to tackle and a great deal of time was spent on playing around with different options. They wanted to use every part of the cow, and were determined to find a way to maximize Thing in the Ice, Geralf's Masterpiece, Descend upon the Sinful, Burn from Within, Scourge Wolf and Nahiri, the Harbinger.

What better way than to brew up a stew? Just try to play them all and see if the mana could work out!

Funnily, the transforming Werewolves seemed to be an oddly good fit too.

"Usually, Convicted Killer is very average, but in this deck, I get to pass the turn to make it a 4/4. I mean, I do have Silverstrike, Dance with Devils, Catalog, Fiery Temper, Geistblast and Jace's Scrutiny. It's not an unreasonable line of play."

Soorani rebuttal against Braun-Duin was that he also had Silent Observer, Mad Prophet, Nahiri, the Harbinger and double Drownyard Explorers. Do they really want to be saying "go" on turn 4?

For a brief moment, they experimented with the combination of a Blue-Green deck and a White-Red deck, but all players had their reservations and quickly undid it.

Braun-Duin: "The Blue-Green deck actually looks very good, but I would rather play with this three-color Jeskai deck than to play with the awful White-Red deck. Pascal, pass me three Plains, I'm doing it."

The players agreed in unison, and rushed to register their cards using the final minutes. How did they feel about their chances?

Maynard: "In all honestly we didn't really practice much other than a few Magic Online leagues. We don't live anywhere near each other, and we were so busy with Grand Prix Pittsburgh. We're still going to CRUSH though!"

With that inspiring rallying cry, the trio set off to the pairing boards and embarked on their journey for greatness! Can Soorani and Pascal level up while propelling Braun-Duin ahead in the race for Grand Prix Master?