For those who follow the SCG circuit for competitive Magic, SCG have created a cool new team format. In most team tournaments, all players are playing the same format at the same time. However if you plan on playing in SCG Baltimore, this will not be the case. Instead, each team will have one team member playing Standard, one playing Modern, and one playing Legacy. This article isn’t going to validate or invalidate this as a concept for team tournament play, but rather I’m going to talk about the strategies that get better or worse in this format.
First, a few notes: 1. I obviously can’t talk about Standard because the effect of Aether Revolt and the Standard bannings are yet to take shape. 2. I personally believe that no single deck was completely nuked (even dredge) by the Modern bannings. Here are the primary conclusions I’ve draw about this unique team format.
You might think that this tournament format should have little-to-no influence on deck selection because every player is playing a different format.
This is a huge mistake!
Consider this, in many playgroups and stores there are experts who are proficient in formats or decks. For example, if Lee, Mike, and Sarah are three local players playing in SCG Baltimore, you can imagine a conversation where they are attempting to decide who will play what format. So, say Mike has been playing Legacy Storm for years and years, but doesn’t play too much Modern or Standard anymore, then that choice is easy.
With only Lee and Sarah left, let’s say one of them isn’t proficient in a deck like Mike, but Sarah plays a ton of Modern and therefore the group decides a good deck for her to play to use her Modern knowledge is Grixis Delver. That leaves Lee to play Standard, where he can choose any deck in the format.
Deck selection will not reflect the format as a whole
What does this sample conversation prove? Well, two out of these three players are able to do the thing they do best in this tournament format, and the number one takeaway from this is that the average skill level in this tournament is going to be extremely high. You will rarely find someone playing a format that they have no knowledge on, which is a more common occurrence than you might think in Modern and Legacy tournaments.
Decks that require expertise are going to see more play, so counter-play to those strategies will be critical to any team’s success. For example, popular skill intensive strategies in Legacy, like Miracles, Storm, and Death & Taxes, and Modern decks like Jund are going to see more play than usual. That is an obvious takeaway, but the knowledge of the expected metagame having a lot of those decks is extremely valuable. In this example, Jund counter-plays well in Legacy and Tron is a good choice in Modern. The same thing, but to a lesser extent, will occur in Standard.
In the same way that I just spoke about deck-selection, niche sideboard hate becomes very bad in a team format, because while you play against the same number of decks, those decks are even more highly cultivated to be good and powerful, and you are much less likely to face a deck that someone picked up without any practice and is easily hated out. Sideboards should be constructed accordingly. Cards that hose specific niche strategies, with some exceptions, are far worse than more versatile options.
In a team tournament, there is a lot to unpack, a lot to say, and a lot to think about, and while this isn’t specific to this format of team tournament, it is important to make a small note about the team dynamic. There are good, kind people who are good, kind Magic players who don’t play well on teams. The idea of winning a match and then not getting three points is understandably unbearable for some people. I get that. I think about it a lot, in fact. I think most of all when thinking about a team, it’s time to think about what being a team means, because friendships shouldn’t be threatened by Magic.
Make sure to check out other articles on Spellsnare.com and let’s get excited for SCG Baltimore which is coming soon! I’m excited to go and it’s certainly going to be a very unique experience that should be on anyone’s radar if they live in the northeastern United States.