Swimming to Top4 at WMCQ

We had a WMCQ this weekend and yet again I somehow managed to sneak into the semi-finals of WMCQ Slovenia #2 but lost to the eventual winner, more or less like last year with Goblins.

This year, however, I played with Merfolk. Before I go and talk about card selection and sideboard, let’s take a look at my 75:

WMCQ Slovenia #2 - Modern (Črna Luknja, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 9th of July 2016) - Top 4 out of 51

Creatures (27)
Cursecatcher
Silvergill Adept
Lord of Atlantis
Master of the Pearl Trident
Harbinger of the Tides
Tidebinder Mage
Merrow Reejerey
Master of Waves

Spells (13)
Aether Vial
Spreading Seas
Dismember
Vapor Snag
Gut Shot
Remand
Lands (20)
Mutavault
Cavern of Souls
Oboro, Palace in the Clouds
Minamo, School at Water’s Edge
Wanderwine Hub
11 Island

Sideboard (15)
Dispel
Tidebinder Mage
Echoing Truth
Gut Shot
Negate
Hurkyl’s Recall
Grafdigger’s Cage
Relic of Progenitus
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
Tectonic Edge

Yes, it’s usually a waste of a slot to use some 1-of bullet in the mainboard like I did with Gut Shot, but I knew heading into the WMCQ that there will be infect and some affinity. Luckily, I managed to beat both during the Swiss rounds of the tournament, and Gut Shot did play it’s role against Infect in Game 1, killing his only creature while being tapped out felt amazing. Looking back at the deck and the tournament, I should have used two or zero Gut Shot in the main and will look to do so next time.

Gut Shot

Apart from occasional mana problems (screw, flood), deck played out nicely and both Harbinger and Tidebinder proved their worth, although Tidebinder is the better of the two on average, especially if you expect many targets like I did.

Tidebinder MageHarbinger of the Tides

This is also the first time I tried Tectonic Edge in the side after reading about it around the web and I have to say it’s a great “trick” to use when siding out Vial in attrition based match-ups as it helps with the mana while simultaneously attacking the opponents manlands and other relevant utility lands. Some may argue Ghost Quarter is better, and it is indeed better against Infect, Affinity and probably Tron, but in other cases you prefer to lower the count of your opponents lands as well as getting rid of the problematic land itself.

"Not quite"
“Not quite”

Remand is the new spicy tech that is gaining popularity among Fish pilots and I went with only 1 mainboard, trying it out instead of a Spell Pierce. It was rarely useful because well, I rarely drew one, but I did catch a Blighted Agent and Sorin, Solemn Visitor and both were decent plays that contributed to my win. However, I would either play none or two in my 75 going forward.

Speaking of counters, I somehow prefer hard-counters and looking at my sideboard will confirm that as I went with a 2-2 split of Negate and Dispel. While I didn’t feel a need for Negate in most games, I would still go with Dispel in my side unless switching to three or four Chalice of the Voids. Additional Tidebinder and Gut Shot, Relic, Grafdigger’s and Kira are self-explanatory (could argue about the numbers tho), and Echoing Truth is my catch-all utility spell.

Echoing Truth

During Game 2 of a win-and-in (Round 6) against a friend of mine on BW Tokens, I forced him to use a Murderous Cut on his own token to save two Spirits (Spectral Procession), but also shutting off his Windbrisk Heights. It’s hard to say if it’s 1-for-1.33 or 1-for-3. What I like about Echoing Truth is the flexibility of bouncing anything from two Nacatls, Ensnaring Bridge, Ghostly Prison, a Planeswalker, or something like Angler or Tasigur. I am still not convinced if it’s as good as I say it is, and holding or spending two mana is a lot if you want to use it as a Vapor Snag. Further consideration needed.

My first opponent was the eventual winner, an experienced player who was on Infect, and due to some mana issues I managed to squeeze a win in both games with a little help from my Gut Shot, Spreading Seas and regular beatdown against a flooded opponent. I felt good but lucky since I knew infect is not the easiest match-up for fish. He was also right when he jokingly said he will revenge himself by beating me in the top8.

Blood Moon

The randomness of the pairing system always amuse me; with 30 or so players with a 1-0 score, I was paired against my brother on Skred Red, a deck I am very familiar with (well, my brother playing my deck, so yeah). Needless to say I was not glad, but I said to my brother that at least one of us will be off to a great start, and it was me that ended up winning the coinflip match-up. Not much to add as both games his hands were a disaster, muliganing and still not finding those early land drops, and even when he got to drop a Blood Moon (I was short on Islands), I drew two Aether Vials to seal the deal.

After two rounds of play I realized that including myself, there were three Merfolk decks at 2-0, and I got to play against one in Round 3. The fortune has shifted and I was literally demolished in both games. I did keep a 1-lander and a three-vial hand in game 2, but the real deal was my Lord of Atlantis (how many to side out?) against his Master of the Pearl Trident. All in all, Merfolk mirror is awkward and this was my first time playing it, and I hope to never play the mirror again (or, you know, get used to it).

Lord of Atlantis

At 2-1, I knew that I had to be at least 4-1-1 to be in consideration for the top8, but sitting across Affinity for Round 4 got me hoping that 4-2 was enough. However, luck has turned once again and I managed to race in game 1. For game 2, I open a hand with two Recalls and it becomes clear that his single Thoughtseize won’t do it. A mix of Dismembers and mana screw got me to 3-1.

Hurkyls Recall

My next opponent is on Green Devotion with red splash, but with Spreading Seas flooding the forest, there was not much he could do without any interactions against the islandwalking horde of fish. I made a small mistake at the beginning of game 1 when I didn’t Dismember his Arbor Elf on the end of his turn despite playing speading seas turn 2 due to lack of other 2 mana plays. I ended up taking the match 2 – 0 and closer to the top8.

So there we were, looking at the standings and after a few moments all of us with 12 points decided to play. I was paired with an already mentioned friend on BW Tokens and was able to take the series 2 to 0 in what we agreed was not the best match-up for him. Standing at 5-1, I was sure to make the top8 and finished on the second seed.

Quarter-finals were announced and I got to play first against a Jund player with game 1 going his way with relative ease. Game 2 I just flood the board and win, but game 3 was a true dragger that went on and on with me on Island, Mutavault and Tectonic Edge while my opponent durdled around with mana problems after my Speading Seas and a few other threats like Adept and Cursecatcher. Yes, I could have enchanted one of my lands, but I would still need to wait for a turn to use double blue (if I don’t draw a blue source that is) and would end up losing one after opponent played Maelstrom Pulse. I also wanted to keep my opponent off of double black (Damnation, Kalitas), and with a few cantrips I was sure to hit a land soon (I didn’t, but yea) after keeping a three-lander with one blue source, Lord of Atlantis, Dismember and two Master of Waves. Yes, two. I played around Pulse and hoped to draw into a land but it took quite a while for me to see 4 mana. However, I even gave my opponent an out after holding back a Tidebinder instead of attacking with all creatures (just like on Nebraska’s War versus Jund with Skred when he would win if he would get an untapped land), but he ended up not drawing it (mass removal this time around). Mistakes were made, let’s just hope we finally learn something for good.

Spreading Seas

My semi-finals opponent was the Infect player from Round 1 who promised his revenge and kept his word. In both games he swung for 10 unblockable and we were done in 10 minutes or so. Either way, now I know to muligan more and hope for those sweet Gut Shots, Dismembers, Vapor Snags and Spreading Seas.

WARNING-LABELS-31091-ba

Congratulations to Kunic for keeping his promise, winning the WMCQ #2 and earning a spot on a National team after beating Jund in the finals, while the rest of us will give it another go on the third and last WCMQ in September.

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