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Tournament Report - Jeskai Tempo, SCG States Wisconsin - 2nd Place


This past weekend I attended the SCG State Championship Tournament here in Wisconsin. After 7 rounds with 108 players, I ended up having a pretty successful tournament by reaching the finals, but unfortunately couldn’t take the whole thing down, losing to Mono-Green Devotion. I went into the tournament with a version of Kevin Jones's Jeskai Tempo deck from SCG Edison. Steam Augury had been on my chopping block since the beginning, as I found Dig Through Time was more than enough card draw. I decided I wanted something to replace it, and was conflicted with adding the 3rd Dig as I never wanted 2 in hand. I ended up giving Jace, the Living Guildpact a shot as well as adding the 4th Seeker of the Way. Seeker is great at pressuring opponents, and Jace could fuel my digs, provide additional tempo, and add some additional card selection.

Keeping an eye on tournament results, I had noticed that Mono-Green lists were starting to commit to more Hornet Queens and the continued lack of aggro lists made Magma Spray obsolete. I decided that in the matchup post-board I wanted to switch gears and become more controlling and that’s where Anger of the Gods came in. Great at answering a pack of hornets, and slowing down their mana, it was an easy switch for a card which would still be great against aggro. While I had been meaning to try a few copies of Hushwing Gryff in the sideboard to help with the Abzan matchup, I felt as having 2 Erase to help answer Whip of Erebos, Courser of Kruphix, and other hate I expected was the better option at the time. I felt pretty strong about the list and sleeved it up heading to round 1.

Round 1 vs. Wu Devotion – With all my reads on the metagame this wasn’t a deck I expected to run into. Turns out a deck with a lifegain sub-theme isn’t the best matchup. Game one I kept a 3 land hand with no blue mana and was punished, as I died with 2 Mantis Riders and 2 Jeskai Charm in hand. Game 2 was another beating, as I kept 6 with no early removal and he curved into a turn 5 Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Not the best start to the day. 0-1

Round 2 vs UR Hour of Need – Another rogue deck, that I got a bad read on to start. Game one I thought it was a Counterburn deck initially after seeing Lightning Strike and Disdainful Stroke. Then he dropped 3 dudes and turned them into 4/4 Sphinxs which proceeded to make quick work of me. Post-board I kept his board clear and rode some Mantis’s through 2 quick games. 1-1

Round 3 vs. BUG Ramp – I was matched up against a friend with a sweet deck that ramped into huge Villainous Wealths. (Saw him do it for 10+ multiple times in testing) His deck was meant to punish the green decks we expected to be heavily in attendance. However, it wasn’t ready for the hasty Mantis Rider. Both games I dropped one turn 3, backed up by plenty of burn. He died very quickly both before he could start taking all my stuff. 2-1

Round 4 vs. Mono-G Devotion – Game one, an unanswered Goblin Rabblemaster is a quick clock when backed up by removal. Game 2, it was time to put Anger of the Gods to work. The card did its job perfectly. At one point I got to 5 for 1 him with it taking out a Hornet Queen, 3 Dorks, and a Courser(With the help of Chandra, Pyromaster). He was never able to catch up. 3-1

Round 5 vs. BUG Delve – Paired down against an X-1-1, Game 1 he mulled to 5 but put up a heck of a fight, casting a pair of Satyr Wayfinder and hitting on a Sidisi, Brood Tyrant to catch him back up. However, I got my beat on with a pair of Mantis Riders and was able to bounce a Necropolis Fiend twice to get through the last few points of damage. Game 2, was another Rider beatdown. 4-1

Round 6 vs. RUG monsters – Paired down again to another X-1-1, Opponent mulled to 6 and I was on the play. I was able to keep his board clear of threats and beat him down. Game 2, was much closer, but I was able to race a Savage Knuckleblade with a Mantis (I’m noticing a trend) and a few bounces. At this point in the tournament after the pair downs I knew there was no way I’d be able to draw into top 8 and would probably get another one. 5-1

Round 7 vs. Abzan Aggro – Opponent Mulled to 5, but it was the perfect 5. He was able to curve out perfectly into Courser of Kruphix, Siege Rhino then Sorin, Solemn Visitor and was able to pull out of burn range. Games 2 and 3 I went very aggressive and was able to keep him on his back foot both games with Riders and bouncing his threats with Jeskai Charm and Jace, the Living Guildpact while taking very little damage.

                                                                                   

One thing I want to point out at this point. Tables 1 and 2 were able to draw into Top 8 safely. After doing the math the previous round, with multiple X-1-1’s, I knew tables 3 and 4 should both play with the messy math. Table 3 decided to draw. One of them missed Top 8 because of it, and there were 4 X-1-1's at the end. Remember folks, always do proper tiebreaker math. I finished the Swiss at 6-1 and went into top 8 as the 3 seed.

Top 8 vs. Abzan Constellation – Game 1 I was on the play, and he had a threat light hand with a Courser of Kruphix and some removal. I had an early Seeker of the Way which got in a couple hits before it was taken out by a Banishing Light. At this point I started burning his face and drew enough before his smaller creatures could get me. Game 2 was very drawn out, as every threat I played he had the answer. I would chip away, but 2 Coursers were negating the damage I was doing. Eventually I drew a Mantis Rider that he couldn’t answer, and was able to remove a Courser with Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker and get in one hit with him to win the race.

Top 4 vs. Gb Devotion – On the play again, Seeker of the Way + Goblin Rabblemaster + Jeskai Charm to deal some damage and clear out his blockers and gain a ton of life made for a quick first game. Game 2 was a short game with(Shocker!) double Mantis Rider. On to the finals!

Finals vs. Mono-G Devotion –#3 vs. #4 seed, so I again was on the play. Here I was playing against a fellow local player, who had already had quite a bit of success post rotation. Game 1 was a nail-bitter, as I had a small clock going with a very burn heavy hand. Eventually got a Mantis Rider in for a couple shots, but he soon had double Courser of Kruphix to keep his life total up. We eventually got to a board state where I was at 11, he was at 6 and tapped out. I had a Mantis on board with 6 lands and a Dig Through Time in hand and 5 cards in the yard. He had me dead the next turn with a Queen and Bees, a 7/7 and 4/4 Genesis Hydra, 2 Coursers and an Elvish Mystic. I went for the line of swinging in with the Rider so he would kill it so I could cast Dig with only UU. I had no blue mana left, and was hoping to hit my out of double Lightning Strike to win. Alas, 5 lands and no strikes. My game 2 hand looked very similar to my first hand of the tournament. Mulliganed  to 6, 3 lands in hand, no blue mana but I had a Mantis Rider. I drew a tapped blue source on turn 4 with 2 riders and 2 Jeskai Charms in hand. He had a turn 3 Polukranos, World Eater which I had no answer to. I ended up time walking him with Jeskai Charm 4 times while trying to find an answer, but I was dead in 1 swing and couldn’t deploy a threat without dying. After the 4th charm, I still had no answer and offered the hand. Overall I felt pretty good, and although I got a little lucky in my matchups to climb back up in the swiss, making the finals is a successful tournament.

                                                                                   

Card Evaluation: Mantis Rider is my new best friend and continues to be awesome. Anger of the Gods was great in answering Hornet Queen, and I was very happy to have Jace, the Living Guildpact. Dig Through Time is great, and I think I want to find room for a third copy. While he had his moments of dominance, Goblin Rabblemaster may be the worst card in the main deck. Often he sat in my hand, or on the board making 1/1’s that died, with me wishing he was another burn or draw spell. In testing moving forward I’ll be looking to replace him. I was never impressed with Deflecting Palm. It never really did enough to help if I was behind. Narset, Enlightened Master was a wasted spot in the board as even when I brought her in, she never was what I really needed. I didn't draw Ashcloud Phoenix once the whole tournament, even though I brought it in many times. I may try some number of Brimaz, King of Oreskos out, as I expect the number of Bile Blight to only increase. With Brimaz, it makes moving Anger of the Gods to the maindeck a more viable option, and cutting some number of Seekers may come with that.

Overall I feel like this deck is going to give you a chance in any matchup. You have a lot of options against the entire field and can easily switch between being the beatdown, or control player. With the PT results in I expect some big metagame changes. Jeskai and Abzan both had a very good weekend. I expect a lot of hate in the coming weeks. With Abzan doing very well, it should see an increase of play which isn’t the best news for the Jeskai way. Siege Rhino does a great Thragtusk impression. Green Devotion decks had a disappointing Pro Tour. However, I still expect them to remain popular as they have a solid Abzan matchup. Blue/Black Control made a solid appearance last weekend, but it’s a matchup I feel favored in after watching the PT. Jeskai Ascendancy Combo continues to be a threat and will necessitate there always being a few answers in the board, as we can’t point burn at Caryatid. I still believe we are a slight favorite though as we can put on enough pressure that makes their pain lands really hurt.

I’m still very happy with the deck, and would suggest it to anyone. It is a difficult but fun and rewarding deck to play. There are a lot of different directions you can take the deck, and I expect to continue to see a wide variety moving forward. I'm going to continue to tweak my list in hopes of finding the right set up for SCG Minneapolis in a few weeks. The last time I was at an open I did well making the Top 8 and I hope I'm in line for a repeat performance.

If not, well at least I get to have fun burning opponent's face off.

 


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