Drafting with Jelger Wiegersma

Posted in PRO TOUR DRAGONS OF TARKIR on April 11, 2015

By Josh Bennett

Jelger Wiegersma might be the mildest of the Pro Tour's stone-cold players. Friendly and soft-spoken, he seems to radiate calm in every situation. His tight play and insight have earned him the respect of the game's elite, and when he became eligible for the Hall of Fame, the Player's Committee overwhelmingly voted for him.

He's also shown no sign of slowing down since his induction. He remarked at the time that while his job would mean having less time for competitive play, for the Pro Tours he did attend, he would always practice hard and bring his best game. He's made good on that promise, putting up a pair of Pro Tour Top 8s after making the Hall, including a Top 4 at Pro Tour Fate Reforged. He's also quietly reasserted his mastery of draft. His Limited record in the last two Pro Tours? 11-1, and he's already notched another 3-0 this weekend.

He spent the week leading up to the Pro Tour in the Pantheon testing house. "You have to treat Dragons of Tarkir/Fate Reforged like a completely new format," he explained. "We did a lot of work on it and I think we have a pretty good handle on things." He said that he didn't have a plan to force any particular deck, but that he would be avoiding green. "I think green was both our worst-performing color and our least-drafted."

His first pack contained no standout powerhouses, and he selected Ukud Cobra to start things off. "It's a good defensive card, but by no means great. Not really what you want to be first-picking. Black is the best color, so I want to draft it if possible." His next pack had no good options in black, so he took Gurmag Drowner. "There were a lot of strong green cards, including Den Protector, but I never want to be green in this format. The Drowner is exactly what you want in blue-black control, and that's an archetype I'm happy to be in."

He picked up a Shambling Goblin and a second Drowner, cementing himself in blue-black. Fifth pick brought him a late gift: Illusory Gains. "I was surprised to see it so late. It's such a powerful card. It's bad against dash, but that's it." An otherwise empty pack offered him Silumgar Monument, and he took it. "I don't like playing these, but it's fine." Belltoll Dragon and Updraft Elemental rounded out his notable picks.

"I don't even remember what else was in the pack. There was some card near the front I would've been happy to pick, but then I got to the end and there's Silumgar." So just how good does it feel to open the Dragonlord of the colors you're already in? Wiegersma gave a small grin, for him the equivalent of dancing a jig. "It felt pretty good."

The Hall of Famer confirms the obvious: opening an elder dragon in your color combination feels good.

However, the rest of Pack 2 was underwhelming. Wiegersma took a second Shambling Goblin over Mirror Mockery. "Overall, I don't think Mirror Mockery is very good. You can get tricky with Mockery on your own exploit creature, but that doesn't really come up. It's not worth a high pick." He got a Stratus Dancer third, yet another sign that blue was the place to be, and then a Reduce in Stature, but the rest of the pack served up cards that Wiegersma would rather have on the bench.

Pack 3 would need some hits to pick up the slack. First up was Sibsig Muckdraggers, the perfect complement to his Drowners, and then an exploit enabler in Jeskai Sage. Pack 3 gave him yet another reward for being an isolated blue drafter—Sage-Eye Avengers! The good news kept coming with a pair of Douse in Gloom and a Whisk Away, shoring up Wiegersma's shortness on spells. "Those Douses were really important. I didn't have much removal at that point." Really, the only thing he was missing was something like a Reach of Shadows to deal with a big threat. Still, he had a tight little package. The cherry on top arrived on Pick 10, when Fearsome Awakening completed its circuit of the table. "It's so good in my deck, with Drowners, Silumgar and the other Dragon. I almost took it over Sage, but I thought there was no way it wouldn't come back."

"I think it turned out pretty good," said Jelger. "I wish I could have gotten more cards to help with exploit, like Sages and Palace Familiars, or Sultai Emissarys, but there weren't any. It feels like a 2-1 deck, but I could definitely 3-0 with it."

Jelger Wiegersma's Blue-Black Control

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