Last year, when I took a look at the Grand Prix schedule, I knew that GP Madrid would be the one I would look forward to most. And when they announced the Team Pro Tour, we formed our squad, and used this GP as our testing ground.
Christian Calcano, Javier Dominguez, and I make a great team, and I couldn’t wait to team with them for this event.
Despite my love of Legacy, I recognize that Javier is one of the best Delver players in the world, and it would be a waste not to exploit that. I love Standard too, and as soon as I got back from the PT Modern I started playtesting.
Our last man standing was Calc, who was basically forced to play Modern since Javier and I were locked into the two other formats.
Javier was undecided until the last few days. He wasn’t sure if he should lean toward his preferred Sultai Delver, with which he won GP Paris, or if he should opt for the safer choice in Grixis Delver.
Calc tried a plethora of decks, and finally ended on Jund, a solid deck that both Javier and I knew very well. I don’t think Jund is anywhere near broken or that Bloodbraid Elf deserves to be banned again. Jund is a fine deck for any player who wants to play fair Magic in Modern.
I didn’t try many decks. I played Grixis Energy for weeks, tuning and evolving it.
Why Grixis Midrange over U/B Midrange?
I’m a subscriber to Matthew Foulkes’ stream—he streams for 12 hours a day, playing only Standard and grinding trophy after trophy.
He and his team team had astonishing results with U/B Midrange, though I still chose to go for Grixis.
Whirler Virtuoso over Champion of Wits makes the matchup versus Mono-Red 50-50, whereas it’s very bad if you play straight-up U/B. On the other hand, U/B Midrange makes you better versus control as you can discard dead cards with Champion.
I think you give up more in the Mono-Red matchup than you gain in the control matchup, which is why I suggest you play Grixis.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Gonti is my man, despite sometimes turning his back on me by giving me four lands from the top of my opponent’s deck. It’s one of the best cards to resolve against the mirror and control, granting a 2-for-1 that can happen again with The Scarab God. It’s never bad in any matchup and always a good turn-4 play.
This is the best card in control. In that deck, you have access to a ton of counters and Glimmer of Genius. This deck has fewer appealing instants to flashback, making Gearhulk (and Search for Azcanta) much worse.
One copy in the sideboard, as well as some more instants, is good enough.
The Scarab God
If Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is the best card in the deck, The Scarab God is a close second.
Owen Turtenwald enlightened us by playing four copies. Other than against Ixalan’s Binding and Mono-Red, you are always happy to draw more copies. You only need to resolve one to win the game, which is why they have to answer each of them.
The rest of the deck is filled with countermagic and removal spells that help you stabilize the board and win the late game.
The mana base is heavy on black since you have cheap double-black cards you want to cast early. Chandra and Confiscation Coup, on the other hand, aren’t as necessary on turns 4 and 5, so it’s okay to have slightly fewer sources than Frank Karsten recommends in his historic mana base article.
I knew that I would play a bunch of Field of Ruins, mainly to deal with Search for Azcanta. Originally, I only had them in the sideboard, but when I added the 27th land I chose to put one in the main.
The sideboard is tuned to beat control since you’re heavily disadvantaged in game 1, but become very favored post sideboard. This is why I love these decks and dislike control decks—they can adapt to anything, they are proactive, and always find a way to deal with anything. On Day 1 I went 1-7 in game 1s and 6-2 after all. I always found a way to win sideboarded games.
Let’s go in-depth with the matchups. Note that I will often remove a Scarab God since if I board in more expensive cards I need to keep my deck balanced, so the fourth The Scarab God will often be the cut, despite being a great threat in the main deck.
As I said, the control matchup is very bad game 1. That’s why you should concede as soon as you find yourself with no board, a bunch of removal in hand, and your opponent resolves a Glimmer of Genius or has an Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin. This is a very common scenario game 1.
Whirler Virtuoso is a house in this matchup, but remember that they’ll probably go big, so you’ll need your counterspells and expensive interaction cards. The Scarab God will be your best way to beat them, and I’d much rather play against the red-black version with 0 Scavenger Grounds, since that card is a beating against my main plan: removal, removal, removal, The Scarab God.
Grixis or U/B Midrange
Again, I’m boarding in big mana cards so I need to trim at least one The Scarab God. I don’t want to cut removal spells since I need to respect Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Whirler Virtuoso is a weird one. I’d keep two since I want to protect myself from a potential aggressive curve from my opponent, and defend Chandra.
I had a blast at GP Madrid and after a rocky start of 1-2 we found ourselves playing for Top 4 at 10-2. We lost round 13 and won the final one to finish 11-3 as the lone team who didn’t make Top 4 with this score.
We got 5th place, and I got three very important Pro Points, putting me at 44. I only need 2 more to lock up Platinum!
The next event will be GP Amsterdam, where I’ll be teaming with team superstars Michael Bonde and Thomas Enevolsen!