Yesterday I wrote about those 3-0 drafters from Day 1. The guys with the best read on the format, the ones who stood above the competition on the first day of the Pro Tour.
Then again, everyone in the room here at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir is good enough to 3-0 one draft. The real question is, who would return on Day 2 and 3-0 a second?
These six guys, that's who.
- Joel Calafell [ESP]
- Stanislav Cifka [CZE]
- Spencer Garnier [USA]
- Charles League [USA]
- Shaun McLaren [CAN]
- Thiago Saporito [BRA]
Given that these guys are the best of the best, you might expect them to share an opinion about the best way to approach the format, right?
Wrong. I talked to two of them—Spain's Joel Calafell and the Czech Republic's Stanislav Cifka—and the approach they take couldn't be more different.
I started with Cifka after watching him take down Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif in the final round of the draft. Cifka was playing a Temur deck that didn't really need to find all of its colors to be successful, as he proved in the third game when he defeated Nassif without ever casting a green card.
All of which fit in exactly to the plan he developed heading into the tournament.
The Temur mythic is one of the few cards that will convince Cifka to add a third color, as he did in his second draft of the tournament.
"We did about 20 drafts in our testing, and at the beginning we focused on the multicolor cards because they're very powerful," Cifka said. "But you need to have the mana-fixing to play them, and you'll lose some games to your own mana problems if you do that."
"As we got better at the format we found out how to draft aggro. The five-color decks have a hard time with that, and we decided that blue is the best color because the evasion creatures in this set are huge. Jeskai Windscout and Mystic of the Hidden Way are the best common creatures in the set, and we'll pick Crippling Chill over just about anything. Even Wetland Sambar is good because it will usually deal 6-8 damage and then trade with a morph."
Sticking to two colors may be less fun than other strategies, but it was certainly effective for Cifka after he steamrolled through two drafts with a base-blue strategy.
I thought Calafell might share the same advice when I found him, but I had barely sat down at his table and looked at the board when I heard him announce one of the scariest sentences in Khans of Tarkir Limited.
Nine creatures died that day, and a very large Insect ended the game soon thereafter. I should note at this point that two of the creatures that fell on Calafell's side of the board were blue.
And that's all you need to know about Calafell's approach to the format. He played five colors in his 3-0 deck from Friday, and he "only" played four Saturday.
"I felt like in this format would be hard to read signals when you're drafting, but the trick is to read it by the lands that come through," he said. "The best thing to do is start in enemy colors (like black-green or blue-red) because they share two clans and you're able to go into either. You don't want to force it, but from there you can take the lands that come through, and it's easy to end up in four or five colors."
Joel Calafell has no problem playing four or even five colors in his draft decks, and that strategy led him to a 6-0 finish in the draft rounds of Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir.
Calafell identified two key elements of successful four or five-color decks: Morphs and Walls.
"Archers' Parapet is so good because the decks are usually green-based, and that card goes so late," explained. "It blocks everything before they have five mana, and the fact it pings them every turn is just a bonus. The format is actually pretty fast when people draft aggressive decks, so you have to take the walls to slow them down."
"Once you have the mana to support it all of the morphs are very good, especially if you're splashing for them because you can play them without having the mana and that's fine. Just follow this plan, and I think it's hard for your draft to go badly."
There you have it. Two completely different approaches, but both players are 6-0 in Khans of Tarkir draft in a room full of the best Magic players in the world. In Tarkir, it seems, you truly can have it your way.