Grand Prix Minneapolis was this past weekend, and I failed to make Day Two. I played UW Delver. To give you a brief summary of my tournament—well, I’ll just say: I don’t think I ever saw the back side of a Delver of Secrets.
The highlight of my tournament occured when I had a Consecrated Sphinx equipped with Sword of War and Peace. I was feeling good, like I couldn't lose—until my opponent cast Eaten by Spiders and destroyed them both… that moment about sums it up.
Although I did not perform well, I still got a good feel for the format. This week I wanted to do a breakdown of the Top 8:
Christian Calcano, 1st - GP Minneapolis
Christian Calcano is known on the tournament circuit as a grinder—one of those never-say-die-guys who plays in every single tournament. I think it’s a good thing he finally has a finish he can be proud of.
But, for the love of god, please play a 4th Sulfur Falls. Seriously, how can you expect to win a tournament when you knowingly play a suboptimal decklist?
His sideboard (which looks dreadful) isn't actually that bad. I ran Ben Friedman's list of Delver with two Consecrated Sphinx in the sideboard, and they were really effective for me. Seeing Calcano have success with a SB Sphinx, Frost Titan, and Inferno Titan—with Desolate Lighthouse to help cast them—doesn’t shock me.
As for the rest of the sideboard, I’m going to assume he playtested a ton, and that the other numbers are optimal.
Josh Utter-Leyton, Top 8 - GP Minneapolis
Seeing Wrapter make Top 8 of any tournament makes me happy—with the combination of this list and his play, I’m not surprised by his success. I loved Lingering Souls and hated Drogskol Captain when I played that version of the deck in GP Salt Lake City. It's nice to see Wrapter came to a similar conclusion.
I would prefer Restoration Angels over Hero of Bladeholds; I had positive experiences with that card during the GP. But, if he considered Angel, and opted for Hero instead based on the synergy with Honor of the Pure, then it must be better.
Brad Nelson, 2nd - GP Minneapolis
This list is something else. I don’t know that it's bad for sure, but it doesn’t look great to me.
For starters, it has four Snapcaster Mages and only 12 total spells, which seems low. I admit that could be enough, once you consider that a cheap blue creature gains a lot of value when you have four Grand Architects in your deck, so you can just use them to turbo out Wurmcoil Engines fast.
But, I’m still skeptical of Snapcaster in this list. I heard Brad mention at some point during the weekend that he hated Merfolk Looter in the deck.
I believe him, but I wouldn’t know exactly what to replace Taigo with. When you choose a one-color deck that needs a specific card, like a two-mana creature to make Grand Architect better, you really limit your options.
Jerret Schultz, Top 8 - GP Minneapolis
This is just your typical Sun Titan deck. It aims to stall out the game with cheap removal like Dead Weight and sweepers like Day of Judgment. Eventually, it Sun Titans back Phantasmal Images—and makes piles of Sun Titans you can barely see over.
One cool trick this deck is capable of is using Sun Titan and Dead Weight to dodge hexproof. When you cast a Dead Weight you have to choose a target; but, when Sun Titan puts it directly on to the battlefield, you choose a creature to enchant—a cute answer to Geist of Saint Traft.
Rick Stout, Top 4 - GP Minneapolis
I like this deck quite a bit. Even back when Sam Black was playing it, and the mana was worse without Cavern of Souls. I love the fact that he’s upgraded the Doomed Travelers into Elite Vanguard and Gideon's Lawkeeper.
I really dislike the inclusion of Runechanter's Pike with zero copies of Invisible Stalker. I think cards like Mass Appeal and Negate are too tricksy, and have very little actual value outside corner case scenarios. I would try to fit in some Gitaxian Probes to get the deck a bit closer to its original form.
Stephen Bishop, Top 4 - GP Minneapolis
This deck is awesome! I absolutely wish I had played this deck in the Grand Prix. I would cut the Thruns and Devil’s Play for Pillar of Flame. It's as good as Galvanic Blast was in the version of the deck I played at PT Honolulu, with added utility against Strangleroot Geist. Just having Shocks in your deck instead of stuff like Thrun makes you a lot better against the increased numbers of aggressive decks I was expecting.
Zero copies of Huntmaster of the Fells is unacceptable and offensive, you should play that card. No seriously, it’s pretty good. And I would try to make room for one Bonfire of the Damned in the main and one in the sideboard.
Just having access to that card gives your deck such a huge boost in power level—I think the way it's printed is a design mistake. It just doesn’t scale correctly given the difference in actual casting cost and miracle cost. I feel like any board state is salvageable when you can miracle a Bonfire in the mid- to late game. It just does so much for so little.
Taylor Laehn, Top 8 - GP Minneapolis
Looking at this deck makes me laugh. He basically took Yuuya Watanabe’s Grand Prix winning list, cut a Thought Scour for a Gitaxian Probe, kept all the Runechanter's Pikes while cutting Invisible Stalkers for Merfolk Looters.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Merfolk Looter, but I don’t get it in Delver decks. Yuuya built a dedicated Pike deck and the Invisible Stalkers are awesome there. It’s the whole reason he ran Thought Scour over Probe. So, just copy/pasting his list and downgrading the Stalkers seems to have worked out fine for Taylor. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t advocate this list.
Ben Friedman, Top 8 - GP Minneapolis
I palyed these exact 75 cards in the GP and, for the most part, I liked it. I felt the deck had one land too many, and I’d probably do away with the second Plains. I would chop the Faith's Shield for either a Mutagenic Growth or a second Thought Scour.
That wraps up my analysis of the Top 8 of Grand Prix Minneapolis. It was great to see Calcano vs Brad Nelson in the finals, since they both go to so many tournaments and haven’t had a good finish in so long. It seems like they were both due. As always, I encourage feedback and constructive criticism. I know I haven’t written in a while but I’m about to get right back into the thick of it, so I would love to hear any of your article topic suggestions.
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