Round 8: Matthew Severa vs Slater Claudel

Posted in Event Coverage on June 1, 2018

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Pro Tour Dominaria is the end of the race for the Draft Master and Constructed Master titles. John Rolf started the day as leader for Constructed Master, but Matt Severa took a narrow lead as the day unfolded.

The chase was afoot.

That's where we found Severa going into the end of Day One—in the middle of pack by event standings but battling to stay ahead of the Constructed Master scrum. Hitting Pro Tour Dominaria as a Gold pro, the multiple Grand Prix winner was playing for more than just a World Championship qualification. Making a run for Platinum with another top finish would put him in position to make the 2018–2019 season his best yet.

But for every hero-to-be, there sits a spoiler across the table. Slater Claudel was battling is just his second Pro Tour off a Top 8 finish at Grand Prix Seattle. Qualifying for a Standard Pro Tour from a Standard Grand Prix looks solid, but it was up to Claudel to make his second qualification count.

And they each brought decks that could rattle wins off in a hurry.

Matthew Severa of MetaGame Gurus Sun continued his chase towards 2017-18 Constructed Master in his Round 8 feature match against Cloudpost Crew's Slater Claudel.

The Decks

Severa, like many of the game's greats, used Magic Online to extensively test Standard ahead of the Pro Tour. Working with a testing team that included Martin Juza, Severa believed the deck to play was Red-Black Aggro. Like so many others competing in Richmond, he concluded the power of Goblin Chainwhirler; Bomat Courier; Scrapheap Scrounger; and Chandra, Torch of Defiance was too powerful—and too fast—to overcome.

  • Goblin Chainwhirler
  • Bomat Courier
  • Scrapheap Scrounger
  • Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Claudel looked to take on the metagame with a throwback to pre-Dominaria Standard: Sultai Constrictor. Built to make the most of a turn-two Winding Constrictor, Claudel's deck wanted to outsize and outmaneuver opposing answers using Rishkar, Peema Renegade; Bristling Hydra; and Hadana's Climb. Black's suite of removal spells, including The Eldest Reborn, could clear a path through anything. Finally, The Scarab God was a mighty card for games that went long. In theory, he was ready for anything.

The Games

Each game was fast, and Severa led a blistering start to its logical conclusion in the first game. Bomat Courier fueled Severa's hand, overcoming removal and The Scarab God that Claudel put in the way. Rekindling Phoenix was just enough pressure in the air to outrace Claudel's counterattack.

Claudel is looking to make the 2017-18 season his breakout.

The second game tipped the scales back Claudel's way. Severa drew too many lands, and each of his threats was answered. Claudel cast back-to-back Doomfalls to cripple Severa's hand, then The Scarab God, then Fatal Push to take out Heart of Kiran. It was enough for Claudel to even the score.

Matthew Severa has amassed a ton of success at the Grand Prix level, and with his eyes set on Platinum, this Pro Tour may bolster him to the next level.

The deciding game started before 15 minutes had passed in the round—and the end would come just a few minutes later. Claudel took two mulligans, leaving him with only five cards in hand, but the game was still back-and-forth for several turns.

Severa and Claudel traded threat and removal in sequence: Chandra, Torch of Defiance for Thrashing Brontodon, then Abrade for Winding Constrictor. Goblin Chainwhirler and Pia Nalaar started hitting home against a depleted Claudel, bringing his life total crashing. Severa took advantage and set up a masterful moment. When Claudel tried to Doomfall a Rekindling Phoenix, exiling it so it would not reappear, Severa pounced. He cast his own Abrade, destroying the Phoenix and ensuring a lethal flying attack the next turn.

Claudel extended the hand.

"I knew I had a good record, but I didn't think it'd matter," Severa said after the match. Flying in Wednesday—narrowly meeting the decklist submission deadline—didn't leave Severa much time to overthink his Constructed options. "Coming in, I wanted to get enough points to hit Platinum. I just wanted to win."

Locking up the Constructed Master title would do more than Platinum—but that was a battle for another day.

Matt Severa defeated Slater Claudel, two games to one.

Claudel, Slater - Sultai Constrictor

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Severa, Matt - Red-Black Aggro

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