With two Pro Tour top 8, 18 Grand Prix top 8 and FOUR Grand Prix wins Martin Jůza is by far the most accomplished player in the top 8 here in Strasbourg. In other words the choice of who's draft to follow in the top 8 was an easy one. And hopefully we can all learn some from the picks of this limited mastermind.
Martin Jůza won his final round of the Swiss against Swede Marcus Angelin with a curve of Smoke Teller, Bloodfire Expert, Bring Low, Arc Lightning and Barrage of Boulders. So it wouldn't be a surprise to see him go for the aggressive 2-color strategy again in the top 8. As long as the cards were there of course.
Pack one greeted the Czech with an unimpressive rare in Flooded Strand. Although a sought after card for constructed, not exactly what you want to pick first in the top 8 of a Grand Prix. Instead Jůza went for a Summit Prowler, proving withing seconds that he wouldn't mind a red based ferocious strategy this time around as well. He took it over a Jeskai Charm, Ruthless Ripper and a Longshot Squad, so he wasn't giving up any interesting cards either.
His second pick was closer, seeing an Arrow Storm in the booster, along with an Ainok Bond-Kin and a timely Hordemate, which might signal that his right neighbor wanted him in White. Jůza didn't bite however, and went straight for the Arrow Storm. When his third pick was Bloodfire Expert, over Bellowing Saddlebrute, Bear Companion and Glacial Stalker, you could really tell in which direction the draft was headed. The question now would be what to pair up the red with.
Here are the rest of his picks in pack one:
Looking at his playables he had clearly opted for Blue to go with the Red this time. All while keeping his options open for Temur with a Rugged Highland. Although maybe a little disappointed about passing two Bear's Companion, should he end up in Temur.
The second pack Jůza opened looked about as strong as his first. The rare, End Hostilities, not really being an option since the White train surely had already left the station. He decided for the longest time between a Bloodfire Expert and an Heir of the Wilds, finally deciding for the Expert. This proved to be a deck defining pick, abandoning the Red/Green base, hence making it harder to get good 2-drops in Blue rather than Green.
The rest of the second pack:
His aggressive pieces were falling in place. Although it looked like he might be struggling for 2-drops, which made Jůza shake his head before the last booster. The deck looked to be shaping up fine, but without the final strength to push it over the top. But again, the two colored decks look a lot worse on paper than how good they actually play out. And perhaps the third pack would solve the mana curve.
Juza's picks in pack three:
I sat down with Martin Jůza after the draft to talk to him a little bit about his deck. And not only did he remember all his picks, but he also has enough experience to judge how good the deck is.
How do you think the draft went?
"It's pretty good. It's lacking a few cards to be great, like another Crippling Chill and a Force Away. But there just weren't any bounce spells in the draft, and I only saw one Crippling Chill. And that even wheeled, as I got it 10th pick."
Does knowing that you play second in the quarterfinals effect how you build your deck?
"Oh for sure. I would normally like to play Act of Treason in this type of deck. But it's just so much worse when you aren't playing first. Same thing with Awaken the Bear, which I would probably splash along with the Icefeather Aven and Temur Charm that I am already splashing for."
Is the two color aggressive deck something you aim to draft?
"Yes, I really do. I tend to go for two colors, as many 2-drops as possible and then tricks and removal to follow up with. The archetype looks a little different depending on which colors you end up. Blue/Red for example wins with early beats, and follows up with fliers, or morphs up Mystic of the Hidden way to get the last points through. All while bouncing your opponents creatures or keeping them tapped with Crippling Chill"
Your deck has several Summit Prowlers, but no Barrage of Boulders?
"Summit Prowler is one of the most underrated creatures. With so many smaller creatures coming out early it's a big beater. And I wouldn't run Barrage of Boulders in Red/Blue, it's more of a Red/Green or Temur card."
Will Martin Jůza prowl his way to another Grand Prix win? Or will he be stopped by any of the other excellent top 8 competitors. In a few hours we will know. Or if you are reading this on Monday morning, you probably already do.