Josh Buitenhuis and Black-White Eldrazi

Posted in Event Coverage on May 1, 2016

By Josh Bennett

A player's first big tournament comes with mixed expectations. On the one hand you recognize you're the underdog, that you should just go out and play your best game and not worry about the results. However, it can be hard to stop yourself from thinking “… but what if I win?” Cambridge's Josh Buitenhuis is playing his first Grand Prix this weekend, and he's been tearing it up. Even better, he's been doing it with a slightly off-the-radar deck of his own construction. I managed to grab him on his way out of the Feature Match area shortly after he notched his eleventh straight win.

To say that Buitenhuis is newer to the game than his record suggests would be understating things. He's only been playing Magic for a year, hopping on board during Dragons of Tarkir. An eight-year veteran of the Yu-Gi-Oh scene, he's relied on his experience with that game to make up for his novice status. However, he's quick to point out that it's only a leg up on general principles, and that he still has a lot to learn.

Josh Buitenhuis

His deck this weekend is Black-White Control, harnessing the powers of Eldrazi and planeswalkers. I asked what drew him to this design. “There are a lot of powerful Exile effects in these colors, especially Anguished Unmaking. I think hand disruption is in a really good place, Thought-Knot Seer and Transgress the Mind are both great. I'm playing the most powerful planeswalkers, and I get to play Secure the Wastes, which I think is the best card in the format right now.”

It's worth noting that his is not a Languish deck. “I think the metagame this weekend, Languish isn't a good call. Fewer people are playing White Weenie, and there isn't another good aggressive deck. Also because I want to be playing creatures, Languish is a lot less attractive. I only played one copy of it at the last minute because I didn't want to face something unexpected and not have it. The deck plays a lot like Abzan. I have good disruption and better threats than my opponent. And if the game goes long I can just win with Secure the Wastes. The card is so good right now. It's like a fireball, except instead of doing seven, it does twenty-one.

I asked him how it felt walking into his first Grand Prix. “I got to the site Saturday morning, nervous and tired. I'd just missed winning a trial at 3-1 and I hadn't slept well. I played my first match against Green-White Tokens in Round 2, and after winning that I started to feel a bit more confident.” Well the wins kept coming. Did he feel any pressure as his record mounted? “It wasn't until the last round. I was 8-0 and got a Feature Match against Brian Braun-Duin. I'm a big fan of his, I love his videos, so it was pretty intimidating. I was trying to calm down, saying to myself well I can take a loss, but my friends were all saying ‘You gotta win!'” Well, he did, completing the clean sweep of Day 1.

Now that Top 8 was becoming a more realistic prospect, was he feeling the stress? “Yeah last night I was feeling it. This morning though not so much. I think I slept well. I got up, looked at my deck and just reminded myself, you know, it's a good deck and you know how to play it, just go out there and play it. I'm trying to take it one match at a time.”

Josh Buitenhuis' White-Black Control

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