Last weekend I decided to stay with a good friend, spend Saturday night doing some Cube Draft, and head to their local PPTQ on Saturday to do text coverage.
It’s not the first time that I’ve done this, since I cannot attend those events, and on Sunday I decided to arrange and cover some feature matches, report the coolest and winning deck lists, and show you how the players sideboarded in the most important matchups.
Turn 1: Tommaso Turchi (Bant Approach) vs. Michele Ilari (Jund Constrictor)
Jund Constrictor had a blistering start with Longtusk Cub, Winding Constrictor and Jadelight Ranger. It shouldn’t really be a problem for Bant Approach with its Fumigates and Settle the Wreckages, but Tommaso has mana problems, doesn’t manage to assemble double-white, and gets killed on turn 5 without deploying much defense.
The second game led to some similar issues, and Tommaso doesn’t find green mana to play his ramp spells. Meanwhile, Jund kick things off again with a super fast start with Voltaic Brawler, Longtusk Cub, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, and Hazoret the Fervent. A pair of spot removal spells can’t stop the assault and the faster deck wins.
Jund Constrictor wins 2-0.
An innovative take on B/G Constrictor, this reminds me of Martin Juza’s Top 8 deck from Pro Tour Aether Revolt, but with Hazoret the Fervent over the much weaker Fleetwheel Cruiser.
The mana base looks ambitious, but so far he hasn’t had any problems, so let’s see how it goes during the event.
Federico Moschini (U/B Control) vs. Leonardo Coppari (Mono-Red)
Moment of Craving, a new toy from Rivals of Ixalan, helps U/B Control to stabilize after a fast start from the Mono-Red player. Hazoret the Fervent comes down on turn 6, but Torrential Gearhulk manages to block it and clean up the board a bit, gaining some important life back with Moment of Craving.
Vraska’s Contempt deals with the powerful red God, but another one comes down promptly after and Consign // Oblivion is an elegant way for the control player to deal with it.
Federico’s life total has fallen too low, however, and Ahn-Crop Crasher plus Lightning Strike are enough for Leonardo to take the first game.
Here’s how each player sideboarded for the matchup:
Leonardo’s Red Deck is not a typical build. He has 4 Daring Buccaneer, 4 Dire Fleet Daredevil, and 2 Rigging Runner, as well as 0 copies of Shock—hence, he didn’t have those to board out and had to board out some Ahn-Crop Crasher, which aren’t bad in this matchup.
While some might argue that Search for Azcanta is too slow against Mono-Red, Federico decides to keep in 2 post-sideboard, a choice I endorse, since Mono-Red always goes over the top post-sideboard and it’s important to keep in some ways to win the late game.
The advantage becomes insurmountable, and control just can’t keep up.
Mono-Red Pirates wins 2-1.
Lorenzo Ciaffaroni (B/W Tokens) vs. Fabio Neroni (Mardu Vehicles)
But B/W Tokens quickly goes over the top with 2 Anointed Procession, paired with an embalmed Anointed Deacon to get 4 tokens and gain 16 life, following that up with Regal Caracal, who produces 8 Cats and nets Lorenzo 32 life! There’s not much game left to play after that.
Game 2 is a different story from the Tokens side, as he never gets his feet set and the aggressive deck just rolls him over.
For the third game, Mardu kick things off with plenty of Vehicles, good creatures, and a Chandra, Torch of Defiance. The tokens deck manages to get back into the game thanks to a well-timed Settle the Wreckage that gets to kill multiple creatures.
A back-up Heart of Kiran and a Hazoret the Fervent are the followup for the Mardu player. Meanwhile, Tokens, thanks to a Treasure Map, finds the combo pieces and assembles Anointed Procession + Anointed Deacon + Regal Caracal and fills the board to make a Mardu comeback impossible.
B/W Tokens wins 2-1.
Riccardo Cristofaro (Grixis Mythics) vs. Davide Coccia (Mastermind’s Acquisition Ramp)
Ali Antrazi originated the archetype, but in a deck like this, it isn’t hard to add some spice.
In the first game, players trade their threats (Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh) for Vraska’s Contempt. A Gonti, Lord of Luxury grants a 2-for-1 for the ramp deck, but a Glorybringer from Grixis’s side 2-for-1s back.
It’s a game of value, of which Tetzimoc, Primal Death is the king, managing to kill two Whirler Virtuoso and a Glorybringer thanks to loads of mana. Sticking a 6/6 deathtouch followed immediately by Vraska, Relic Seeker closes the game up.
Post-sideboard games are a different story, since Grixis gets to boards in 4 Negates to counter Mastermind’s Acquisition and Hour of Promise, making the ramp deck much slower and without some great payoff cards.
Grixis Mythics wins 2-1.
Matthew Grilli (B/W Tokens) vs. Marco Del Pivo (B/W Tokens)
In the previous round, Marco decided to ID 0-0 when paired versus another B/W Tokens, after both players were at 100+ life points 30 minutes into game 1. Now he isn’t able to ID again—he needs a win!
Tokens (Marco) wins 2-0.
Marco del Pivo
Daniele Terra (Mono-Red) vs. Fabio Neroni (Mardu Vehicles)
Being on the play is key for this matchup, and Mono-Red is the first to get on the board. Mardu is forced to react, and falls too far behind.
On the draw, Daniele pulls back on the aggression by cutting Bomats for some more late game with Phoenixes and Dire Fleet Daredevil.
It doesn’t take much for Hazoret and friends to take advantage of that stumble and win the game.
Mono-Red wins 2-0.
Leonardo Coppari (Mono-Red Pirates) vs. Antonio Tufariello (B/R Midrange) 2-0
Lorenzo Ciaffaroni (B/W Tokens) vs. Riccardo Cristofaro (Grixis Mythics) 0-2
Daniele Terra (Mono-Red) vs. Fabio Neroni (Mardu Vehicles) 2-0
Stefano Spurio (Temur Energy) vs. Marco Del Pivo (B/W Tokens) 2-0
Leonardo Coppari (Mono-Red Pirates) vs. Stefano Spurio (Temur Energy)
A matchup from the past in the semifinals. We know that Mono-Red is still tier 1, but we don’t know anything about Temur Energy. Will it still be good despite the loss of Attune with Aether and Rogue Refiner?
Meanwhile, Hazoret the Fervent is still a beating and wins a game that Leonardo would have never won otherwise.
Leonardo choose to switch off completely gears for game 2 on the draw, and it’s Temur who gets aggressive with a turn-2 Longtusk Cub followed by a turn 3 Whirler Virtuoso.
Mono-Red tries to stay in the game with Chandra, Torch of Defiance plus Glorybringer, but it doesn’t last long since that turn-2 Longtusk Cub is now impossible to deal with, and it takes the game over just as easily as it used to.
Despite Temur starts things off with the same turn-2 Longtusk Cub plus turn-3 Whirler Virtuoso, but this time he’s on the draw, and under way more pressure.
A Chandra, Torch of Defiance is killed by a Blossoming Defense, but the real MVP is as always Hazoret, who gets stolen by Confiscation Coup. Ahn-Crop Crasher (who got boarded back in on the play) manages to bring Temur’s life total down to 4. Chandra, Torch of Defiance number 2 and Lighting Strike finish the game off for the Mono-Red player.
Mono-Red wins 2-0.
Leonardo Coppari (Mono-Red) vs. Stefano Spurio (Temur Energy) 2-1
Riccardo Cristofaro (Grixis Mythics) vs. Daniele Terra (Mono-Red) 2-0
Riccardo Cristofaro (Grixis Mythics) vs. Leonardo Coppari (Mono-Red Pirates)
The red aggressive deck is on the play for the finals, a huge advantage for a build with way more 1-drops than usual.
Despite thousands of removal spells from the Grixis side, the red deck just presents too much pressure and the game ends with a Dire Fleet Daredevil casting a Harnessed Lightning from his opponent’s graveyard!
Again Leonardo switches gears, cutting all of the cheap creatures for some expensive spells, as well as two lands. This throws Riccardo off completely, as he boards out his win-cons for some cheap and interactive cards, as well as 2 Confiscation Coup, which are important to deal with Hazoret the Fervent.
In game 2, Grixis stumbles on lands and misses his third land drop for a couple of turns, but Mono-Red can’t punish him because he’s stuck with a bunch of Dire Fleet Daredevils in hand without much to flashback, as well as not having much board presence because of the heavy sideboard changes.
After killing every single card on the board, Grixis draws back-to-back Rekindling Phoenix to end the game and qualify Riccardo for the Regional Pro Tour Qualifier!
Thanks for reading and good luck in your next PPTQ!