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June 30, 2017

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Going for the Gold: My Vegas Legacy Top 8 Match: Grixis Delver vs Lands [Part One]

As promised last time, I thought it would be nice to cover the Top 8 match from my Legacy Top 8 a few weeks ago at Grand Prix Vegas.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the match, click here. It would probably help to watch before I go through my explanation so that you can follow along.

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Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert in Legacy and this was my first major tournament in this format in a very, very long time. That being said, I would love to hear your opinions on the games.

So there I was. I had just beaten Zachary Koch (Infect) 2-0 to finish 13-2 and lock up Gold. The feeling was unbelievable.

But then it crept on me….

For the last few rounds as people talked to me about how I could Top 8, I wanted to do nothing with it as I’ve missed on so many occasions. I’d be lying by saying that time I was definitely more hopeful. People were telling me that my tiebreakers were great, but I still didn’t want to check them and get false hope.

But when the announcements went up, I was the sixth seed after the Swiss and I couldn’t believe it.

Then I looked to see who was in third (as that would be my opponent), and was disappointed to find that I was paired against Lands, on the draw…

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Asking my friends, I was told I should be around 10-20% to win the match, and playing the matches it definitely felt like this was the case. Because I was trying to gather opinions for sideboarding help, I showed up a few minutes late to my feature match and had less time to look at my opponent’s decklist.

That being said, Legacy is very intricate and because of how many decisions can be made, I thought that I may be able to overcome the deficit. Let’s go to the games!

Game One:

Jody snap keeps his seven card hand. I’m on the draw and I reluctantly keep the following hand:

 

 

This hand was just good enough not to mulligan. Jody is on the play since he was the higher seed after the Swiss. He starts off by playing and cracking his Wooded Foothills, going down to 19 life to grab a Taiga and promptly casts Manabond.

I instinctively pick up the card to read it. Why I did this goes back to my article on bluffing and tells. Most players who don’t have the Counterspell there would just say okay. Jody knows that I’m unfamiliar with his cards because I had asked for Oracle wording on some of his cards before the match started. In both situations, I’ll read the card before making my decision as to not give any information away. Before sideboarding, he only has a few cards that matter and this is one of those cards that I would cast Force of Will on if I had it in my hand at the time.

On my turn, I draw a second Delver of Secrets and cast my first copy off my Underground Sea. I chose to play the Underground Sea as I wanted to save as many red sources from Wasteland as possible. In the pre-sideboarded games against Lands, my best bet is to win through Insectile Aberration and Lightning Bolts. I only run three real sources of red mana and wanted to save them for as long as possible.

Jody draws a Punishing Fire on turn two (how lucky!), plays a second Taiga, and sacrifices it to cast Crop Rotation for Wasteland. He then Wastelands me down to 0 sources of mana and activates Manabond‘s ability at end of turn and discards two copies of Life from the Loam and Punishing Fire to put Grove of the Burnwillows in play.

Already my back is up against the wall, and my opponent is at 19 life. It was quite the nut draw, and when I watch the replays the commentators were discussing how I was locked out. Grove and Punishing Fire is typically good enough to take down the Delver deck in game one. Just take a look at what chat was saying, those non-believers!

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So I needed a lot of things to go right, and starting on my second turn I got my fourth blind Delver flip of the tournament by revealing Lightning Bolt.

I attacked for three with Insectile Aberration and then played my Volcanic Island to hold up Spell Pierce. My opponent let me gain one life at the end of turn to bring Punishing Fire back to his hand. On his draw step, he brought back Life from the Loam as expected, but I was bewildered when he cast it because this now increased my outs.

In his spot, I would have cast Punishing Fire on my Delver on my upkeep to tax my mana to the maximum. His play allowed me to cast Spell Pierce on his Life from the Loam and start building out my board. This also made any topdecked counterspell into a huge blowout.

On my third turn, I attack him down to 13 with Insectile Aberration. I cast Ponder to try to find a counterspell, and I find a good enough set of cards that I cannot shuffle. I play my second Volcanic Island and cast another Delver of Secrets and left a Lightning Bolt on top of my deck.

loam

Luckily for me, Jody dredged back Life from the Loam and cast it to get back two copies of Wasteland and his Taiga. Jody then makes a mistake that I think is pretty egregious. He’s a dedicated Lands player and activates Manabond, putting all the lands into play but not discarding his Punishing Fire. I wasn’t sure if this was done intentionally or if it was his nervousness under the cameras, but it would have definitely let him win had I not pointed it out to him. He then destroys both of my lands and passes the turn.

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On my fourth turn I reveal my Lightning Bolt to flip the new Delver, and attack Jody down to seven before playing my Flooded Strand. Jody returns and plays Life from the Loam to get back two copies of Wasteland and a Wooded Foothills. At the end of the turn, I cracked my Flooded Strand to get my last Volcanic Island. This allowed me to cast one of the two Lightning Bolts in my hand and effectively locked up the game for me. It was awkward because he knew I had two copies based on my Delver flips, but whenever you have a chance to let your opponent make a mistake, you do it.

Jody Wastelands the Volcanic Island before I untap and then I draw for my turn and swing for lethal. He can no longer crack the Wooded Foothills as he would be at three life and still take lethal after killing one of the two Insectile Aberrations.

At this point, Jody bemoaned his luck. On the contrary, I think that he really did throw that game despite opening on the nuts. Even on the previous turn, if he had Loamed for any other land but Taiga he could have had brought back Taiga to cast his Punishing Fire instead of Wooded Foothills and survive at one life. This would require me to topdeck a Force of Will in order to win the game and counter his Punishing Fire. Remember, I had no more red sources left, unless I could land a Deathrite Shaman and protect it, and that was never happening. This is also where catching that Manabond requiring Punishing Fire to go to the graveyard saved me from losing the game. Always be vigilant!

Okay, so that was a pretty long description and I’m sure you’re as winded as I am. Tune in next week to play the remainder of the match through my eyes.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Please post in the comments below or tweet at me (@SammyTMTG). And, if you want to keep up with my articles and happenings, please make sure you hit the follow button for Twitter @ SammyTMTG. I’ll see you next week and until then, have a great weekend!

Sammy T