This past Tuesday was the first time I got to experience playing in a Super League. For those who are unfamiliar with Super Leagues, they are online tournaments featuring high-profile members of the Magic Community, streamed on Wizards of the Coast's main Twitch channel. The Super League currently being played features Modern, and is also a team trios event. My teammates are fellow Genesis members Brian Braun-Duin and Brad Nelson. This past week we faced off against the Channel Fireball trio consisting of Ben Stark, Eric Froehlich and Mike Sigrist.
For this particular format, each team gets to choose six total decks, and ban one of the other team's deck choices. Since it is essentially a best-of-seven series, each team will only use a maximum of four different decks. Of course, there is also the possibility one archetype can go on a run and sweep the board. In any case, choosing six different decks is extremely difficult – I have a difficult enough time picking one for a normal tournament!
We wanted to do some metagaming to counter what their team was doing, but also choose decks we are familiar with. We happen to have players who have specific decks they specialize in so it made since to choose those decks. For instance, BBD is a Lantern specialist and he was set on playing that deck. We wanted him to play it as well, since it might still be the best deck in Modern. Since BBD has played the deck a lot there wasn't any additional testing necessary to come to this list:
Lantern Control is a deck that has a variety of close and easy matchups. The Channel Fireball Team didn't have any decks like Tron that straight-up crush Lantern, so we decided it made sense to play Lantern as our first deck and force them to react to it. We also thought there was a chance that BBD could actually run the table with it. As it turned out, our opponents unexpectedly led off on Ben Stark with his Jeskai Control deck, and this ended up being the most exciting match of the series, make sure to check it out! Ben did end up messing up, but on the other side BBD played really well and there were a ton of decisions to be made on both sides.
Since we lead off with the first match win, they were forced to start playing some decks they had intended to save. This forced out their Ponza deck, so while it did beat Lantern, it also meant they didn't have Ponza to easily knock off our Tron deck. Infect is a deck that Brad has played with off and on for a while now, and also happens to be a deck that can crush certain strategies that don't play lots of spot removal. In this situation we wanted to save it to beat up on their Ponza or Bogles deck, so we played it to beat Ponza.
This deck got written off after the Gitaxian Probe banning, but it is still very much a real Modern contender. I like Infect as a metagame decision when you know there will be lots of combo and non-interactive decks. Since this is a format we could pick when to play it, the choice made sense. The sideboard consists of many additional threats to give you a chance against some of the tougher matchups, like the Jund deck Brad eventually lost to. Still, the match was close, and Brad was one topdeck away from beating Siggy on Jund.
Having me play Tron was a no-brainer. I have played the deck in my last three Modern events so I know it pretty well. I used Tron to beat Jund, which is exactly what we expected to happen. Jund is typically a good matchup, and SIggy only came packing two Fulminator Mages. Game two was interesting, and I beat a Liliana of the Veil ultimate. One play that helped me do this was responding to a Fulminator Mage activation by sacrificing the land to a World Breaker hidden in the graveyard.
The closest matchup of the day may have been when I faced the Red-Green Eldrazi deck with Tron. Unfortunately for me, I mulliganned down to three in the first game, but then actually found Tron on turn three! I was very close to winning the game, and this helps illustrate how aggressively you need to mulligan with the deck. I didn't play my best in this match, and Ben beat me with the Eldrazi deck to tie up the score.
While I messed up, so did most of the rest of the players, even though we are some of the best in the world. This goes to show that even decks stereotyped as being "easy" to play aren't always that. A deck like Tron actually can find itself in some pretty interesting games; it doesn't always come down to turn three Karn or bust.
For our first Modern Super League, we made some good deck choices and then some that were not so great. Choosing the Grixis Death's Shadow deck ended up not working out that well. This is a deck that both BBD and Brad have played with in the past, and is widely considered to be one of the top decks in the format. However, Modern is constantly changing, and looking back I wish we had chosen a different deck. We were forced into playing a deck we didn't want to against their Eldrazi deck, so we went with this in the end.
This list of Grixis Death's Shadow isn't anything too fancy. Most players are currently faced with the decision of whether to keep playing Grixis Death's Shadow or switch to something like Jund now that Bloodbraid Elf is legal. While there are two copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor in the sideboard here, the deck also doesn't get to four mana very easily. In retrospect, they chose the better Thoughtseize deck for the matchups with Jund.
We lost a very close match to the Channel Fireball team. They came with more new and updated decks, which was smart. We ended up banning Black-Red Hollow One from them, when we realized too late in the game just how good a deck it is, especially against what we were doing. Unfortunately, the deck they banned was the one I worked on the most, and also happened to have good matchups against most of their decks.
It has been a while since I have played Bogles, and I was looking forward to picking it up again for the Super League. The deck has been on a tear recently after taking down the last Modern Grand Prix. There are many decks that both can't interact with a hexproof creature and don't have a fast clock, which is the dream for a Bogles player. My list is a bit different from the norm:
The main change here is the addition of two copies of Keen Sense to the main deck. I love drawing additional cards, and the card has been overperforming. Sometimes, getting a card or two deeper in your deck smooths out an awkward draw, and whether you are looking for another land or an aura it will help you find it. This deck is going to continue to show up in Modern – in fact, it is the only deck that both teams had a copy of here. Gaddock Teeg is the best possible sideboard card for the deck, so I aggressively went up to the full four copies, even though it is legendary.
We ended up building a Jeskai Tempo deck at the last minute, only to realize it was not very good after submitting it. The lesson to be learned here is that you can't simply throw Jace, the Mind Sculptor into any blue deck and expect the deck to be better than it was before. It also happens that a Spell Queller plus Jace, the Mind Sculptor deck matches up very poorly against Bloodbraid Elf, a card our opponents had access to 12 copies of between their decks. We knew that this was a deck we would likely not end up playing with, and having it in our gauntlet was likely a mistake.
This deck is still going to prey on small creature decks, so we would have used it had they had one of those. Unfortunately, our opponents saw through this, and played zero small creature strategies. Playing in the first round of the Modern Super League was super fun and even though Genesis didn't win, it was a valuable experience and the format of choosing six decks is pretty complex. Each deck choice is critical, and it isn't as easy as choosing the six overall best decks in Modern – you have to anticipate the opponent's gameplan and prepare accordingly.
Thanks for reading,