Last weekend I finished 2nd in the Magic Online Championship Series quarterly playoff #2, which means that I received an invitation to the Magic Online Championship 2016. The format was Standard and I played a total home brew deck on little testing. Genius or madness? I’d say a little bit of madness on my end and a little bit of genius on the end of Ben Rubin, the man who designed my winning list.
My preparation for the event involved testing with the Seasons Past deck and doing poorly. I think that deck was a reasonable choice for the Pro Tour, though unspectacular, but poor moving forward. Next up was LSV’s BG Cryptolith Rite deck, which I liked a lot. Unfortunately, I felt the deck was weak when it was being targeted. Additionally, in two separate matches, I outright lost to MTGO bugs and I felt in a tournament of this importance it was too detrimental to my win rate to take a random game loss here or there because the software was ill-equipped to handle some of the cards in my deck. If your goal is to win, you can’t play with those cards.
Friday morning, I woke up to an email sent to the Pantheon playtesting group from Ben Rubin titled, “maybe broke it?” It was a similar list to a deck we had in our Pro Tour testing introduced to us by Reid Duke that seemed to do very well but for whatever reason we never got too attached to it. It started as a black/green midrange deck with a large number of creatures and removal and both decks played out similarly to Jund/Mono-Black devotion. Sylvan Advocate was Tarmogoyf. Thought-Knot Seer was disruption and a quick clock. I think I probably had a weak version of the deck but it felt very powerful, and I had draws good enough to win the top prize, if not the event.
I played a few Leagues online on Friday and I had great results with the deck. The MVP for me on the weekend was Dragonlord Silumgar. The decks I was paired against were poorly equipped to deal with it so it was just a 3/5 flying, deathtouch Mind Control with no drawback. I stole Ormendahl, Profane Prince multiple times.
The blue might look a little odd in this deck, but I have a feeling a deck like this one would consider playing Yavimaya Coast anyway even with no blue cards just to fuel Thought-Knot Seer and Warping Wail, so adding an Island off Evolving Wilds gave the deck a totally new dimension. I think by far the worst card in the deck is The Gitrog Monster, which is a disappointment because I had to play all day with it in my deck and it was so terrible I had to sideboard it out no matter what my opponent was playing. Sad, because it’s such a sweet card.
I’m going to sound extremely biased but giving an invite to the Top 2 of the MOCS is an awesome change. The event is difficult to win already given how hard it is to qualify, and the level of competition is so high that making it a winner-take-all event makes it extremely hard to succeed. I’m much less sure about the decision to make the playoff events only 70 players.
I have to admit, I didn’t fully appreciate how insane the MOCS was until I took a look at the prizes. If you qualify for the MOCS you also qualify for the next Pro Tour, and you qualify for the Pro Tour Challenge event, which has a minimum prize of $1,500. Although I’m already qualified for Pro Tour Eldrich Moon, it’s still a huge prize for someone who isn’t qualified to win. Now the actual Championship has a prize pool of $116,000 and a minimum payout of $4,000 with first being $25,000—not to mention the winner also gets invited to next year’s Magic Online Championship, invited to Worlds, and they also become Platinum (which may be worth very little in the 2017 season). In any event, I’m excited to play the Magic Online Championship and follow in the footsteps of Reid Duke, who has won the event before. Ever since I started play competitively, I’ve always played Magic Online and I do love the program, but it’s been bittersweet—for all these years I’ve poured so much love into Magic Online, it’s nice that it’s finally going to start loving me back.