9th in the Pro Tour with Grixis Midrange
24/05/2023 · 7 min read
My first Pro Tour
I have been a grinder on Magic Online for years. In 2023, I decided to pursue the Pro Tour through paper events. I succeeded in qualifying, and luckily, the Pro Tour was Standard , which is my preferred format. Even though it was my first Pro Tour, I believed I had a real shot at it.
9th in the pro tour— Mogged (@CKikidis) May 7, 2023
My pro tour preparation
I worked with Team2Free for this event and was in charge of the Standard portion of the preparation. The easy part of this was that I had studied the previous metagame inside and out, so I had a good sense of the matchups and deck choices. My thoughts on MOM were that it is actually a powerful set and battles are quite good, but we only expected a small part of the meta to be new decks, since there was too little time to fully explore the set and working on existing ideas was more efficient for other teams.
We had a few weeks of online testing, and we used Cockatrice and MTGO for both constructed and limited. Most of us arrived in Minny on Wednesday, and we had two days of real-life testing. I think that kind of testing was very beneficial for me since I hadn't played much paper since LEC Naples.
March of the Machine Constructed
I decided to take a small gamble on brewing in case we break it; otherwise, we would default back to known decks and tune them.
I don't think we had a huge breakthrough, but Julian had a Hidetsugu deck that played similarly to stock Grixis. I concluded that the Grixis colors are the best for this event, and I still consider Red-Black a downgrade when not facing a very aggressive meta.
For example, decks like 4-5c Ramp, Atraxa, Control, and Monowhite might be even or favored against Red Black, but they are even or unfavored against Grixis.
Esper Legends and Monored (or other aggro) have about a 40% win rate against Red Black and a 45% win rate against Grixis. For this event, I thought it was better to try to beat the bigger, greedier decks rather than attempting to beat the aggro decks.
Half of our team ended up using Hidetsugu Grixis, a deck that was actually favored against Red Black, unlike the stock Grixis, which was either slightly behind or even with Red Black. Danielakos and I thought Hidetsugu had some minor consistency issues, so I decided to stick with the stock Grixis.
I was so obsessed with the idea of filling my turns and not losing any games to my own deck that I removed invokes. This decision smoothed out the colors of the mana base, allowed me to play more channelands, and ensured I always had a turn 2 and turn 3 play. However, Surge of Salvation made Invoke less effective against the mono-white matchup. The Invoke slots were replaced with cheap disruption like Ertai, Negate, Liliana, and Spell Pierce
As a result, my Grixis deck performed better against much smaller or much bigger decks but lost power against mirror-type decks like Red-Black. In hindsight, taking out invokes was not a good choice for this tournament since there were many RBx mirrors, and I should have respected aggro decks less. If I had to do this event again, I think my teammate's o_danielakos list was perfect - the person who originally baited me into cutting invokes by winning a challenge the week before the Pro Tour.
Julian’s Hidetsugu list
My invokeless Grixis list
Danielakos’ stock Grixis list
I know people consider RB to be the best deck for this event, but I don’t think theory supports that and Nathan Steuer and team handshake made the deck look better than it is and inflating it’s winrate through their gameplay and good limited performances
In the end I 7-3 constructed, was probably around my expectations and I think I played those rounds well despite some real life magic fatigue.
March of the Machine Limited
My team figured out the limited for the most part. We thought that UB, BG, and G-based ramp would be overdrafted, so that left white and mostly red being less drafted, possibly presenting an opportunity to move into those. I often found myself in that position, drafting some red or white aggro.
This happened to be the case in my draft when I received an Invasion of Tarkir in pack 1, pick 3. I followed the signals and built myself a mono-red deck. I expected to achieve a 2-1 record since the deck wasn't perfect, but I managed to beat a better deck in round 2. Then, I faced Karl Sarap, who admittedly had a very average 2-0 deck, so I lucked my way into a 3-0 record.
Day 2 draft at the feature table was somewhat rough. I had this fairly average deck with Jegantha as a companion. Perhaps my mistake was staying open until pack 2. It was a difficult decision because I opened and was passed mostly unplayable rares, and I didn't have any strong incentive to move into anything. I ended up with a 1-1-1 score. The draw could have been avoided if I had played better and faster.
At the end of limited, I had a 4-1-1 record, which was above my expectations.
Takeaways from the Pro Tour
At this point, it might be a meme, but it's clear to me that you need to stay hydrated, eat healthily, and maintain a balanced mindset. I woke up sick at 5 am before I had to play on day 2; perhaps it was due to the pizza we had for dinner. I played my worst during round 1 (which was the round I got the draw), as not feeling well can certainly affect your gameplay. You should take care of yourself, especially during these events.
Paper testing was very helpful for me and next time I want to do a week of bootcamp instead of just 2 days, I think those 2 days were the most helpful during my entire testing.
Best part of the Pro Tour was meeting all these people, some of whom I have interacted with in twitter or MTGO for years, same for all those who I have been watching on stream.
I finally met Jaberwocki (Logan Nettles), Fireshoes (Robert Taylor), Brad Nelson, Corey Baumeister and many more, too many to mention.
Maybe my highlight was taking a picture with Shota Yasooka, or meeting Julian Jakobovits in person after working with him for a long time and hearing his chipmunk voice in discord or the rest of team2free and I thank them for their work and support.
Quick Invokeless Grixis Sideboard guide
|4 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker||$21.99|
|1 Bladecoil Serpent||$0.99|
|1 Razorlash Transmogrant||$0.69|
|4 Bloodtithe Harvester||$0.39|
|1 Ertai Resurrected||$0.59|
|2 Sheoldred, the Apocalypse||$79.99|
|4 Corpse Appraiser||$0.35|
|3 Reckoner Bankbuster||$3.99|
|3 Cut Down||$0.79|
|3 Go for the Throat||$0.69|
|1 Spell Pierce||$0.35|
|2 Make Disappear||$1.29|
|2 Liliana of the Veil||$19.99|
|1 Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance||$4.49|
|1 Shipwreck Marsh||$5.99|
|1 Otawara, Soaring City||$17.99|
|2 Shivan Reef||$0.99|
|1 Haunted Ridge||$15.99|
|4 Xander's Lounge||$10.99|
|2 Sulfurous Springs||$4.49|
|2 Stormcarved Coast||$19.99|
|4 Darkslick Shores||$3.99|
|4 Blackcleave Cliffs||$4.99|
|2 Underground River||$4.99|
|2 Razorlash Transmogrant||$0.69|
|1 Disdainful Stroke||$0.35|
|1 Brotherhood's End||$6.49|
|2 Lithomantic Barrage||$0.35|
|2 Glistening Deluge||$0.35|
|1 Saheeli, Filigree Master||$1.49|
|1 Unlicensed Hearse||$11.99|
|1 Cut Down||$0.79|
4c ramp/5c ramp