The majestic steel city of Pittsburgh hung gently in the distance. Ketchup bottles adorned the cityscape as we cruised into town just after 2:00 AM. Was I to be rewarded for trying to follow the metagame? Or was I to be punished for abandoning my former flame, Mardu Vehicles? The list was set and submitted, wake-up alarms carefully checked and double-checked. All that was left was slumber and then finally, battle.
If my rationale behind playing Jeskai Copycat was because I expected a lot of B/G Constrictor, anyone who’s read event coverage absolutely knows how that panned out. B/G was the most played and most successful deck of the tournament, so I definitely put myself in a position to do well. Identifying that B/G was going to be the best and most played deck of the weekend and basing my deck decision on that certainly worked out well and I’ll do my best to remember this success in the future when I’m struggling with deck decision anxiety. After my two byes, out of the remaining 13 rounds played, I squared off against B/G variants a full 8 times.
You’d think if I was playing Jeskai specifically with the intention of beating up on B/G, I would be ecstatic about playing against Winding Constrictor 8 rounds out of 13, and subsequently that my record would thusly be spectacular. Unfortunately Grand Prix Pittsburgh marks the 3rd straight GP after Providence and Denver in which I’ve had a solid 7-2 day 1, followed up with a disappointing 2-4 day 2. Overall here was the breakdown of how much matches went.
Round 3: Jeskai Control 2-0 (3-0)
Round 4: B/G Energy Constrictor 2-0 (4-0)
Round 5: Jund Energy Consrictor 2-0 (5-0)
Round 6: Mardu Vehicles 1-2 (5-1)
Round 7: 4-Color Copycat 2-0 (6-1)
Round 8: B/G Aggro Constrictor 0-2 (6-2)
Round 9: B/R Zombies 2-0 (7-2)
Round 10: B/G Aggro Constrictor 0-2 (7-3)
Round 11: B/G Energy Constrictor 2-0 (8-3)
Round 12 Temurge 0-2 (8-4)
Round 13: B/G Aggro Constrictor 0-2 (8-5)
Round 14: B/G Energy Constrictor 2-0 (9-5)
Round 15: B/G Aggro Constrictor 0-2 (9-6)
If my goal was to dodge Mardu vehicles, I certainly hit the mark! I only squared off once against my former flame and de facto worst match up, and funnily enough it was my only match to go to 3 games. Wielding my one time object of my affection was the always-impressive Sandydogmtg. Grand Prix Indianapolis champion Brandon Burton gave me a thorough thrashing and was one of the best players I’ve ever had the privilege of losing to on the GP circuit. I could not gush enough about how much of a distinct pleasure it was to play against Brandon and watch him masterfully crush me. He took some unorthodox lines that I did not expect and diligently bluffed Unlicensed Disintegration. I’ve always been impressed with his play whenever he’s on camera, and I fully expect to see great things from the burn spell-slinging wizard in the future.
My other day 1 loss was to the player who’d eventually take home the trophy, Ryan Hare. Ryan was also a great opponent and pleasure to play against, and his post-board copies of Distended Mindbender completely wrecked me. I was all set to turn the corner with a stacked hand, when a Mindbender came down and snatched not just a Torrential Gearhulk out of my hand, but also a Quarantine Field. YEESH.
Other than Mardu and B/G decks, I only played against a few other deck choices. My Jeskai Control matchup was easy mostly due to my ability to stick a Saheeli Rai on turn 3 and kept ticking up until I ultimated her. We played draw-go, but I drew a bit better and was able to play a slightly more proactive game plan with my planeswalkers. Post-board he aggressively played some copies of Thing in the Ice, but the icy horror did little to affect the board in a game of draw go.
Another deck that I played against was B/R Zombies. It’s an archetype I’m never excited to play against, but Disallow brings a whole lot to match up. Countering a Haunted Dead activation is the stuff of dreams and I was lucky enough to live out that fantasy multiple times in one game. This was a matchup where those mainboard copies of Incendiary Flow really came in handy.
Flow also had an impact day 2 when I was paired against Temurge round 12. I proactively used removal on my turn to prevent him emerging any fat Eldrazi on his own, and casting Incendiary Flow on a Primal Druid felt pretty good. I couldn’t find a Negate or a Disallow with an Anticipate in response to a Nissa, Vital Force though, and hasty 5/5 lands brought the pain. By the time I found and resolved a Torrential Gearhulk my opponent was hard-casting multiple copies of Elder Deep-Fiend and tapping me down to prevent me from blocking. Post-board played out in a similar way, and there was little I could do in the face of the Eldrazi’s cast trigger.
My match against 4-Color Copycat played out positively based on my access to the full playset of Shock post-board. The cheap answer to Rogue Refiner and Servant of the Conduit also does a great job of breaking up the combo. The cheap burn spell might not kill much in the format, but it does shine in this matchup.
Shock-ingly, the 1 mana burn spell might also be part of the reason you see I have a perfect record against the energy variants of B/G and a not-so-perfect records against the rest. The decks packed with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Longtusk Cub provide ample targets for Shock, while the versions packed with Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Sylvan Advocate, and Gifted Aetherborn? Not so much.
Day 2 I definitely didn’t play perfect, and I definitely didn’t draw as well as I would have liked to. I was at parity on the board quite a few times, but fell behind to some serious flooding unfortunately. I’ll certainly be looking to something like Oath of Jace in the future to potentially smooth out my draw while serving as a value target for Felidar Guardian to flicker.
All and all, while Pittsburgh might have continued a string of Day 2 misses, I’m happy and pleased with myself for correctly identifying the metagame going into the weekend. For as long as B/G Constrictor remains the deck to beat, I think I’ll be settling into regularly testing Jeskai Copycat, but I’ll my best to remain fluid and adaptable with the metagame. I’ll be tuning and adjusting my 75 for the slightly bigger, less energy focused versions of B/G that appear to be rising to the top. Next week I’ll give you a break down of the new cards and numbers I’ll be tweaking with the deck as I grind away on MtGO!
For a look at GP Pittsburgh from the B/G Constrictor side of things, read this article and tournament report from Roman Fusco, where he examines his deck choice and where he thinks Standard is headed.
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