Welcome to another edition of Top 5! As a reminder, these rankings are just my opinion and I’m not claiming they’re the absolute truth (though I am right a lot, so maybe they are).
Top 5 Favorite Decks I’ve Played
Obliteroath wasn’t the best deck around, but it was really, really fun. It was an Oath of Druids deck that ran Exploration, Gush, and Horn of Greed. Eventually it would float a bunch of mana, Gush twice, play Obliterate, and play 5 lands in the same turn. I can’t even find a list since it’s so old and wasn’t that popular, but it was basically Oath + turbo land put together.
4) B/W in Ravnica Block Constructed
This was the deck I played at Pro Tour Charleston, and it was also very fun to play. You had so many options, activated abilities, and haunt triggers that a skilled player could manipulate and almost no one we played against had any clue what was going on. It was basically “put an assortment of mediocre cards together and win by combining them in ways that your opponent doesn’t fully comprehend.”
3) Esper Dragons
Esper Dragons was my kind of deck—it had powerful cards, cheap answers, card advantage, and counterspells. People didn’t know how to play against you because if they played for the super long game, you’d just kill them with Dragons, and if they overloaded on removal, you’d just bury them with Dig Through Time.
Faeries was my other kind of deck. Some of the games were Bitterblossom blowouts, but in a lot of them it looked like you couldn’t possibly win, and then 3 turns later they were dead without knowing what happened. The fact that everything was an instant made it really hard to play against, and also gave you a ton of options.
1) Counter Rebels
Most people don’t even know this one, but it’s probably my favorite deck ever. It consisted of playing cheap Rebels and then never tapping out ever—if they did something meaningful, you countered it, and if they didn’t, you searched a Rebel up in the chain. You had a lot of control over everything that was happening since you could always choose what to react with based on what they were doing, and you played awesome cards like Brainstorm and sometimes Fact or Fiction.
Top 5 Things Everyone Likes but I Don’t: Part 2
For reference, part 1 was Jessica Jones, peanut butter, Fight Club, eggs, and beer.
Modern is a very popular format—perhaps the most popular—but I just really dislike it. I’ve been vocal about why I dislike it, so if you follow my articles you’ve heard this before, but to summarize, I have a big problem with how swingy the matchups and cards are, and how little play there is to most games.
I really don’t get the American obsession with Starbucks. Their food is overpriced and mediocre at best, their mango smoothies taste like bananas even if you ask for no bananas, and their coffee is so weak! Perhaps I feel this way because I’m used to the strong coffee flavors of Latin America, but to me it tastes like all Starbucks coffee is diluted in water after it’s ready, which is why you need to order a gigantic cup instead of the small serving that the rest of the world drinks. Also, “venti”? “Grande”? What is this madness? How can something called tall be the small size?
Their one saving grace is allegedly their iced coffee, but iced coffee is sort of an abomination on its own. I remember when I had my HoF ceremony, BDM offered my mother a coffee, and later on she was laughing and telling me “…and then he showed up with a cup of coffee with a bunch of ice cubes on it. They drink cold coffee! Why would you put ice in your coffee—it’s so weird!” In all her life, she had never even seen iced coffee. It’s just not something we do here (and I imagine uncommon in other places either).
Podcasts are very popular, but as much as I’ve tried, I just don’t like them. They take way too long, and I feel like a hostage to the pace of the show, which is the opposite of what I’m used to when I read something (which is the medium I prefer). I like being able to go back and forth as I choose and I like the ability to take as long as I want in each part, but in a podcast I’m forced to spend as much time as the host wants in each of the segment, and that annoys me.
In Brazil, almost everyone likes soccer. My father and my two brothers are soccer fanatics, and my brother was a sports journalist that focused on soccer for a long time. Every time we meet, soccer is basically all they talk about.
It doesn’t do anything for me. I used to take soccer lessons and I used to go to the games with my father, but I never liked it. At some point I started bringing comic books with me to the stadium just so I’d have something to do for two hours. I haven’t been to a game in about 15 years now, and I couldn’t name a single player from the team I supposedly support.
Most people like to sleep—some even love it. I actively hate it, and it’s something I only do because I have to. To me, sleeping is the biggest waste of time there is, second only to the time you spend in bed trying to go to sleep. There’s just so much that I want to do and so little time! This is part of the reason that I have so much trouble actually sleeping a regular number of hours each day. I just don’t like to do it, and delay it as much as possible.
Top 5 Card Arts that Look Identical
There are many cards that are similar, but the more recent ones stick out in my mind as they’re the ones I’ve been completely confused by during Drafts. I’m sure there are some cards from way back that are more similar, though.
This one is just stupid.
This one gets a pass because they’re mother and daughter and both are revolutionizing things, so it’s supposed to look similar, but it’s still hard for me to tell which card is which when I look at both.
5) Barricade Breaker/Foundry Assembler
4) Bitterblossom/Blooming Marsh
3) Attune with Aether/Oath of Nissa
2) Giant Spectacle/Wayward Giant
1) Gravity Negator/Cultivator Drone
These cards all confuse me a lot, and I’ve had one in hand thinking it was the other multiple times during Drafts (except for Bitterblossom and Blooming Marsh).
Top 5 Favorite League of Legends Players
Kami is the only non-Korean player on my list, and the only Brazilian streamer I watch with any regularity. He doesn’t play much in international competitions (since Brazil gets one team at most), but he’s very good and just seems like a nice person. On top of that, his song selection is probably the one I like the most of any streamer, and the fact that he’s from the same state as me doesn’t hurt.
I first grew in awe of Mata when I watched him play some promotional tournament akin to Korean All-Stars, where he played a bunch of weird champions in positions that weren’t support. Then I found out he had an account in Challenger for each position! He’s also a big theorist of the game, and allegedly knows everything there is to know about it, which I respect a lot.
To be honest, Madlife isn’t that great of a player nowadays, at least compared to how good he was before. But he’s still a good player, and very fun to watch—his predictions are still on point and he has a great personality, at least from what I’ve seen on videos. It’s like he’s an average player but from time to time he’ll do something amazing that almost no one else would.
Gorilla was underrated for a very long time, but I’ve always enjoyed watched him play. He’s the type of aggressive, playmaking support that is not afraid to jump in and that makes games interesting. It’s hard to judge this without ever having talked to him, but he also strikes me as an extremely nice person.
I’m a big fan of excellence, and Faker is as excellent as they come. I watch almost all of SKT’s games in big part because I am astonished at how good Faker is at everything—he’s just the best at basically everything and plays more different champions than anyone.
Top 5 PT Decks I Regret Not Playing
5) Teachings at PT Yokohama
At GP Yokohama, the alleged best decks in the format were versions of Mystical Teachings, which is a deck that I enjoyed playing and had a lot of experience with. Instead, I decided to play White Weenie. It did not go well, and thus began my hatred for the archetype.
4) Esper at PT Theros
At PT Dublin, we played Mono-Red Devotion because we thought there would be a lot of control. There wasn’t. Instead, there were a lot of Mono-Blue decks with 4 Tidebinder Mage and 4 Master of Waves. Esper didn’t win the event, but I think it was very good for the field and I wish I’d played that instead, because I also probably would have played it much better than I played Mono-Red.
3) Birthing Pod at PT Born of the Gods
PT Barcelona was a combo-centric PT, and our choice of R/G Scapeshift managed to hit the mythical “not fast enough to race any combo deck + no disruption whatsoever to stop them from doing what their deck is meant to do” combination. As a result, we all did horribly. I wish I had played Birthing Pod, which lost to R/G Scapeshift but had game against basically everything else.
2) U/W at PT Kaladesh
At the latest PT in Honolulu, we played B/G Delirium. That was a really, really bad choice, considering that 20% of the field was Marvel, a deck we couldn’t beat. Instead, I wish I had been one of the many people that played U/W to a 9-1 record.
1) G/W at PT Shadows over Innistrad
We had the best deck in the room by a significant margin, and I decided to play Esper Dragons instead to a solid 2-5 finish. This was the worst for me because it was totally within my grasp to play the deck—it’s not like it was something weird that we missed. I had the deck right in front of me and I still chose not to play it.
Top 5 One-Mana Removal Spells
Dismember is not technically a 1-mana card, but it’s honorarily 1 mana and usually played at that cost. Being colorless and instant speed, it’s a huge boon to any deck that doesn’t usually have access to removal, particularly blue-green or artifact-based builds.
4) Path to Exile
When Path to Exile was announced, I wasn’t very impressed by it—giving your opponent a land is a very big cost. With time, I’ve been able to get behind it. The flexibility to exile anything and a mana cost of 1 is just too good, coupled with the fact that in Modern there isn’t much to do with the extra mana you’re getting much of the time, as decks aren’t built with that in mind.
3) Fatal Push
There hasn’t been much time for Fatal Push to prove itself, but I expect it to quickly establish itself in the pantheon of 1-mana removal spells. I think it’s currently the best 1-mana removal spell in Modern.
2) Swords to Plowshares
Giving them life is a negligible cost for the ability to remove anything at instant speed for 1 mana. Swords to Plowshares thrives in control decks, but it’s still very good in anything other than a burn deck.
1) Lightning Bolt
Lightning Bolt might not be the best at everything (I think Fatal Push is better in Modern right now, for example), but it’s flexible enough and great enough in all formats that I believe it deserves the #1 spot, especially once you consider how many people have historically splashed red just to play it. Killing people out of nowhere with Snapcaster/Bolt is very satisfying, and something that you don’t get to do with any other removal spell.
Top 5 Things I Never Travel Without
Honorable Mention: My passport
5) Extra underwear
Ideally all your belongings are always with you, so it doesn’t matter where you carry your underwear, but in practice you end up without your luggage a lot of the time, and you’ll be really glad you have extras in your backpack if you have to wait a day or two for your suitcase.
4) A Nail Clipper
This is going to sound weird, but every time I travel, my cuticles hurt a lot for some unknown reason. Maybe it’s the weather change? The worst part about it is that you just can’t remove the “stray parts” without a device because then it hurts even more, so if you don’t have something you’re stuck with them forever. I always carry a nail clipper with me and I use it about twice per flight.
3) Random Medicine
Getting medicine in the U.S. is very hard, so I always bring a ton with me in case I need them—painkillers, antibiotics, and so on. I almost never use them, but it’s good to know that they are there if I need them.
2) My Kindle
Planes are boring, but reading is the best way to pass the time. Buying a Kindle early on was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made, and a very big upgrade to simply reading books. In this trip, for example, I had three different books on it. I read one on my first flight, so I just bought book two in 3 minutes during my connection, and started reading it on my following flight. With paper books that likely wouldn’t have happened, and I’d have to wait until I went to a big bookstore back home or in the U.S. to read the second book.
1) My Laptop
Some people can get by with phones and will go everywhere without a computer, but I’m not one of them. I’m inept with a phone, I take too long to type on it—I really need my computer with me, even for things that you can theoretically also do on a phone, and I carry it everywhere I travel.
Top 5 Players Not on a Team
5) Simon Nielsen
Simon is not super known to the general public, but most of the Pros know who he is and his results are good. He had 33 Pro Points last year, so I’m surprised the up-and-coming Danish player isn’t on a team.
4) Nathan Holiday
Nathan is pretty good, but is kind of off Magic and not playtesting much. So it’s not that surprising that he isn’t on a roster, but I still expected him to be scooped up.
3) Shaun McLaren
Shaun has a lot of results, but usually just playtests by himself or with his brother. I don’t know whether he isn’t much into Magic right now, wasn’t interested in joining a team at all, or was hurt by the fact that he never playtests with anyone.
Mori is a very good player who is active, so I have to assume his reputation played some part in his not being on a team.
LSV is better than 99% of the people who are on a roster, but I guess not playing any PTs in that year will hurt your chances to get on one. If he comes back, he should be a heavily contested pickup.
Top 5 Disney Villains
5) Jafar from Aladdin
I’m not the biggest fan of Aladdin as a movie, particularly because I hate the genie (maybe that should be in the list of things everyone likes but I don’t?), but I like Jafar quite a bit, mostly because he’s a sorcerer and sorcerers are the best.
4) Madam Mim from Sword in the Stone
This is probably the one villain that would be on my list and not anyone else’s. I like witches as much as I like sorcerers, and Madam Mim is a great witch. She’s supposed to be pretty evil, but she strikes me as more grumpy than anything.
3) Gaston from Beauty and the Beast
Gaston is a different villain than most because he feels way more real. He’s not some powerful being trying to take over the world—he’s just a jerk who’s used to getting his way. Clearly he’s exaggerated and stereotyped, but there are many people out there with personalities like Gaston’s.
2) Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty
Other than getting points for being a witch, Maleficent is just great in general. You even sympathize with her at first—she wasn’t invited to the party, after all, which is just rude—but it goes a bit downhill when she starts casting curses at everybody. Most other villains have some grand plan and the protagonist is in the way, but with Maleficent it’s all personal. She doesn’t want to rule the world—she just wants revenge.
1) Scar from The Lion King
Scar is just the most evil villain there is. He killed his own brother and exiled his young nephew because he was jealous! You just can’t get much more villainous than that.
Top 5 Players on Team CFB Ice
I’m going to order this Top 5 alphabetically, since those 5 players are very close in skill and I don’t feel comfortable ranking them.
- Ben Stark
- Eric Froehlich
- Joel Larsson
- Mike Sigrist
- Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa
Top 5 Cancels
Honorable Mention: Cancel
Hinder didn’t see a whole lot of play, but putting spells on the bottom is generally better than putting them in the graveyard, and the ability to put them on top as well is a nice bonus.
If putting something on the bottom of their library is better than putting it in the graveyard most of the time, exiling it is even better than that. A lot of the time you’re just going to have a Cancel, but when exiling is relevant, you’re grateful for it.
Disallow is certainly a bit worse now that it doesn’t have Emrakul triggers to counter, but it still adds a lot of flexibility to the original, particularly the ability to counter planeswalker ultimates.
All the bonuses on the other cancels are circumstantial, but Dissolve always works regardless of what they’re playing and when you play it, so it gets the nod.
Most readers probably won’t even know what Forbid is, but I played it a lot in my time, and it was amazing. It was good when you flooded out, and it was great when you had a way to draw extra cards, such as Ophidian or Whispers of the Muse. I even played a deck that consisted in locking people out with Forbid and Squee!