Today I'm going to reflect on all the different white decks I have successfully piloted throughout my professional Magic career over the past decade. In chronological order, I will provide some background on each deck and its respective event. Pro Tour Cleveland is the weekend after next and is the final Pro Tour (aka Mythic Championship) I am qualified for, so now feels like a good time to look back at my professional career and the beloved archetype my name has become synonymous with.
This Standard Pro Tour was the breakout tournament that began my professional career. I made it to the semifinal with "Tricked-Out White Weenie," a deck of my own design that took full advantage of the newly printed Stoneforge Mystic, a card that was not on a lot of people's radars just yet. Everyone was trying to play all the allied-color creature lands in Worldwake and/or Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but I played Dread Statuary and Elspeth, Knight-Errant instead. The finals ended up being a Jund mirror, but I nearly slayed Goliath with this slingshot:
If it weren't for my 2-4 Draft performance, I would have made Top 8 of this Scars of Mirrodin Block Constructed Pro Tour with Tempered Steel. Tempered Steel and Puresteel Paladin were the two decks that were miles better than every other deck in the format. I played against "anti-artifact" decks all weekend and beat them all because no amount of artifact hate could slow me down. My only Constructed loss was to one of the mirror matches. Whenever someone would ask me what deck I was playing I would jokingly say "five-color Slash Panther" because technically that was true due to the phyrexian-mana cards, but obviously the more accurate name is Tempered Steel.
In this Standard Pro Tour I played Haunted Humans (aka Geist Aggro) to a Top 8 finish, losing a nail-biter in the quarterfinals to Conley Woods, who had not lost a single match the entire tournament to that point. The deck had tempo and resilience with just enough disruption to tear through the Standard rounds with an unblemished 6-0 record. To the surprise of many, I opted to run Gideon's Lawkeeper over Champion of the Parish. This was a metagame call as Illusions were the deck to beat from the previous week's SCG event. I didn't end up playing against Illusions, but the Lawkeeper did work nevertheless.
I haven't played in very many SCG Opens, but in this Standard Open in Salt Lake City I played White-Black Tokens with a heavy Humans theme. I lost the first round of the tournament and then didn't lose again until the finals, which was fortunately after we agreed to split the prizes. Delver was the deck to beat, and that was what beat me in the finals. I switched to this deck from Haunted Humans because it had a much better matchup against Red-Green Primeval Titan and it paid off.
I played White-Black Tokens in Modern too and finished with a 7-3 record in Pro Tour Seattle. I worked with Caleb Durward for this event, who was my roommate in Chicago at the time. We each played the same list.
I made a few changes to the list and took it to a Top 16 finish at Grand Prix Portland a few months later:
This Block Constructed Pro Tour was the crowning tournament of my professional career as I won the Pro Tour with Selesnya Aggro designed primarily by Alex West. I had an exceptional team for that tournament and everything fell into place perfectly. I only lost one match the entire weekend, which makes this tournament arguably the most dominant performance ever in a Pro Tour. Voice of Resurgence is a heck of a Magic card and Advent of the Wurm is not bad either.
I lost my win-and-in for Top 4 of the World Championship. In the Standard portion I played Boros Champions, a deck of my own design. Willy Edel and myself were the only two players in the entire tournament that did not register Jeskai midrange. He registered Naya midrange and I registered Boros Champions, only losing one match with it in the Standard portion.
I played Legacy Death and Taxes for the first time at Grand Prix Washington DC 2013. Thomas Enevoldsen and Michael Bonde convinced me to play the deck and Thomas gave me all his sideboard notes and tips for piloting the deck. I picked up the deck quite quickly and have never looked back.
I had another near-miss, this time in a Standard Pro Tour playing a Selesnya Aggro deck that closely resembled my Block Constructed deck from Pro Tour Dragon's Maze. I ended up getting stuck on three lands with three copies of Advent of the Wurm in hand to lose to Jon Finkel. Sometimes missing a land drop is the difference between a Top 8 and a Top 16. The finish was good enough to keep me on the Pro Tour for another year though.
At this Standard GP I played Green-White Collected Company, a deck of my own design that preyed on each of the top three decks of the format. It is rare to "solve" a format, but this one I did. I had a good matchup against all three of the top decks played, and I knew it going into the tournament from my testing. I ended up running into Lucas Siow in the quarterfinals with his own Abzan solution to the metagame and I completely whiffed on a Collected Company, hitting zero creatures, to lose the match. If I were to replay this tournament a hundred times, I feel like my chances of winning it were probably better than any other Grand Prix I've ever played in.
In this Modern event I played Green-White Hatebears. After the banning of Birthing Pod, Hatebears was finally good enough. I could grind with the midrange decks and disrupt the combo decks. Splinter Twin was the dominant deck of the format, and that was a good matchup for us. I ended up losing to Affinity in the semifinals. Affinity could be a good matchup, but I skimped a bit too much on hate cards for the matchup and it cost me.
In this Standard Pro Tour, I played Mono-White Aggro along with Michael Bonde and Thomas Enevoldsen whom I tested with for the event. Michael failed to make Day 2 but Thomas and I each finished with a 7-3 record. Aetherworks Marvel was the breakout deck of the tournament and our matchup against that deck was suspect. We had good matchups against a lot of the other decks people played, though. I think the main reason why the deck performed well was because Smuggler's Copter was so good.
I played Death and Taxes again in this Legacy Grand Prix and again made Top 8, losing to Brian Braun-Duin playing Miracles. I would have had no chance against The Champion Reid Duke as Sultai was a tough matchup, especially with the grip full of Dread of Nights in his sideboard.
In this Modern Grand Prix I played Green-White Company. It was basically GW Hatebears with Collected Company instead of Restoration Angel or Wilt-Leaf Liege. Death's Shadow was the deck to beat, so I jammedfour4 Miran Crusaders main and four Collected Company to find them. As a result, I cut through that deck all weekend long like it was nothing before losing again to Affinity in the Top 8.
Theau Mery also got second place in the same tournament with the Mono-White Death and Taxes list that I finished top 4 with in the MOCS playoff a few weeks prior. We discussed strategy with each other throughout the tournament. It was pretty awesome to see that whichever of my top two decks I sleeved up would have been a good metagame call.
For the first time in my career I qualified for the 24-player Magic Online World Championship. It was Modern and I played Azorius "Spooky Taxes." The deck had a lot of good matchups and especially preyed on Tron. Unfortunately, nobody played Tron in the tournament and instead everyone played Jund, which is about a 50/50 matchup. I think I had one of the best matchups in the tournament against the eventual champion Bogles deck, but alas I didn't quite make it that far.
White Aggro dominated the most recent Pro Tour in Atlanta, placing six copies in the Top 8 and claiming all four of the Top 4 spots. That was also the first Pro Tour I skipped in 10 years. Perhaps that was not the right decision. Regardless, I get one more crack at it in Cleveland in two weeks. Wherever the cards may fall, I am satisfied with the results of my professional Magic career and have accepted the fact that my resume is just short of serious Hall of Fame consideration. Sometimes I get asked if I wish I had done things differently and played something else to improve my win rate. For some it's all about winning, but for me I don't think my heart would have been in it if it has been if I weren't championing something I love.