Catching up with Team Face-to-Face

Posted in Event Coverage on January 31, 2016

By Melissa DeTora

Melissa is a former Magic pro player and strategy writer who is now working in R&D on the Play Design team.

Face-to-Face is a team that should be on everyone’s radar. Formerly a group of Canadian Pros headlined by Pro Tour Champion Alexander Hayne, Face-to-Face has expanded to include names such as Player of the Year Mike Sigrist and Pro Tour Champion Ivan Floch. Recently Face-to-Face joined forces with Team ChannelFireball, and their current team roster is full of many of the game's best players. Hall of Famers Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa, Shuhei Nakamura and Luis Scott-Vargas and Pro Tour Top 8 Competitors Ondřej Stráský and Thiago Saporito only scratch the surface of the talent on this team.

Mike Sigrist, Nathan Holiday, and Andrea Mengucci had a chance to chat a bit about Oath of the Gatewatch Limited and Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch in Atlanta next weekend.

(9) Mike Sigrist

Mike Sigrist needs no introduction. He’s our reigning Player of the Year and is currently ranked 9th in the Top 25 rankings. His teammates Andrea Mengucci and Nathan Holiday aren’t quite as accomplished as Mike but they have plenty of noteworthy tournament finishes to their name. Mengucci has a Pro Tour Top 8 from Pro Tour Journey into Nyx. Holiday has four Grand Prix Top 8s but his claim to fame is winning Grand Prix San Diego 2013 with the hard-to-pilot Eggs deck. He’s currently a Platinum Pro in the Pro Player’s Club.

Platinum Pro Nathan Holiday

Generally, Team Face-to-Face likes the new Limited format. “It’s interesting with the extra color added to the format.” says Sigrist. “The limited format wasn’t too hard to figure out.” The team already has a dozen drafts under their belt that were done at their testing house in Vancouver.

“There’s really a lot of nuance. The lands are very novel.” Holiday felt very strongly about taking colorless mana fixing highly. Essence Depleter is a first pick-worthy card, and if he takes one, he will draft the colorless-producing lands higher than strong spells. Similarly, Mengucci feels the same way about Prophet of Distortion. “It looks bad but it’s so good late game,” he explains.

Sigrist had to add, “Nakamura first picks Wastes, so it’s probably better than I think.”

The team feels that the archetypes have changed dramatically when Oath was added to the mix. There are multiple different archetypes in the same colors, for example blue-red has surge, devoid and even allies. There are also quite a few traps, like red-white equipment. There is a lot of support for it in creatures that care about equipment, but the actual equipment cards are very weak.

“There are way more playables,” says Mengucci. “I never feel short. There are so many good spells. Sometimes I draft spells too highly and struggle to find enough creatures. Also there are so many good rares.”

“Yeah, it’s a rare-driven format,” says Holiday.

Mengucci continues, “There’s so much good removal. The best commons are Oblivion Strike and Isolation Zone, which means black and white are the best colors.”

When asked about how they felt about the Modern format for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, they said they felt pretty good. “I already have a deck in mind, and I’ve been tweaking it every day,” says Mengucci.

Sigrist continues, “Modern is difficult but we have a great understanding of the format.”

The team prepared by assigning two decks to each team member and they playtested them throughout the week. As they playtested and discussed the matchups, weak decks got eliminated from the gauntlet. Eventually they narrowed the choices to only a handful of decks and practiced with those while making changes based on the predicted metagame. “So many decks have both unwinnable and unlosable matchups so it’s important to have a great understanding of the metagame, says Mengucci.”

“Yeah, it’s hard to predict, which makes control decks pretty bad,” says Holiday.

“You never want to play reactive control cards like Mana Leak. If you want to play control, Thoughtseize is much better,” adds Mengucci.

Andrea Mengucci

Team Face-to-Face did most of their testing here in Vancouver and took a break this weekend to play in the Grand Prix. The whole team is in attendance today except for Josh McClain who couldn’t make it. They're heading to Atlanta on Wednesday to meet up with ChannelFireball to finish their preparation for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.

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