News : Pro Tour Fate Reforged tournament report.

Pro Tour Fate Reforged tournament report.

By Andrew Cullen

I can’t lose. I literally have a guaranteed win to lock up day 2. I know his entire hand from my Vendilion Clique. He can only cast one spell in his hand which is Become Immense. He is on 2 life and has Eidolon of the Great Revel in play preventing shenanigans and another random creature. All I have to do is block with my Tarmogoyfs and I have a guaranteed kill next turn with my flyer. I can’t lose. He attacks…I block…I can’t lose…Oh you silly brain. After double blocking his one creature, he promptly casts Become Immense on his second attacker that I just didn’t realise was even in the red zone because of my self-induced blinkers. Hey, I didn’t want to play day 2 anyway…


That pretty much summed up my pro tour experience. Poor play on my part killed any chance of a decent result. I felt my deck choice was solid and I felt well prepared. Honestly, I just let the entire thing overwhelm me. Because of my poor result, instead of a regular tournament report, I thought I would rather focus on the event itself and the preparations involved in actually playing at the Pro Tour. Think of this as a noob’s guide to your first PT.

The PTQ I won actually qualified me for Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir which was my dream choice (I mean c’mon, who doesn’t want to jam cards in Hawaii). So the Monday after my PTQ I went down to my local Home Affairs office to renew my passport which is luckily only a week long process. Unfortunately, I was informed that they did not have my fingerprints on their systems (a small percentage of the population’s data was lost when the new passports were introduced) and it would take approximately 3 weeks to update after which I would be able to reapply for a passport. So with the event a month away, I had at least a month wait for my passport, which meant the trip was basically a no go. Luckily for me Wizards was able to push my invite and travel rewards to the following Pro Tour. Crisis averted.

Lesson 1: If you are planning on actually going to a Pro Tour, even if the PTQ is still coming up, make sure your passport is up to date NOW.

After confirming that I would be playing in a Modern Pro Tour, testing could begin. I was lucky in that Modern is my format of choice and so felt comfortable in the decisions my small team and I were making. We were confident that Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time would be banned and so tested accordingly. I had settled on Temur Twin fairly early as I liked my matchup against Pod which we felt would be the most played deck. UR Delver would basically not exist as a tier 1 deck after Treasure Cruise was gone, and Pod had pretty much pushed out the other mid ranged strategies like Junk, which were rough matches for Twin. What could possibly go wrong?

January 19 – Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time are banned (How smart are we, knew it all along, this game is easy) along with Birthing Pod (wait what?)

Two and a half weeks before the event, the format was turned upside down. The assumption everyone came to (and rightly so looking at the stats of the event) was that most people would shift to Junk as the new deck to play. So my great matchup became my worst matchup. I didn’t feel comfortable completely dropping my deck so close to the event and instead resolved to try and make a version of Temur Twin that could stand up to Junk (or at least make it around 50/50). After playing enough matches to make me sick just seeing a Liliana of the Veil, we settled on the list I ended up playing at the event which I definitely still recommend to anyone.

Main deck

4 x Tarmogoyf

4 x Snapcaster Mage

3 x Deceiver Exarch

2 x Pestermite

2 x Huntmaster of the Fells

1 x Vendilion Clique

3 x Splinter Twin

4 x Lightning Bolt

4 x Remand

2 x Dismember

1 x Electrolyze

1 x Swerve

2 x Cryptic Command

1 x Flame Slash

4 x Serum Visions

4 x Misty Rainforest

4 x Scalding Tarn

1 x Breedng Pool

1 x Hinterland Harbor

2 x Steam Vents

3 x Sulfur Falls

1 x Stomping Ground

1 x Desolate Lighthouse

1 x Mountain

1 x Forest

3 x Island


1 x Ancient Grudge

1 x Natures Claim

2 x Negate

2 x Dispel

1 x Engineered Explosives

2 x Anger of the Gods

1 x Keranos. God of Storms

1 x Vendilion Clique

1 x Spellskite

1 x Batterskull

1 x Threads of Disloyalty

1 x Tectonic Edge

The two main deck Dismembers were great as 5 toughness became very important to deal with (Tasigur, Tarmogoyf, Seige Rhino etc) and the Huntmaster of the Fells were a way to get around Liliana and turn on Lightning Bolts which could combine with tokens to take down larger creatures. The extra life gain also helps when casting off colour Dismembers. The numbers seem odd but most of the cards have effects that bleed over into each other which leads to the odd splits. The main deck Swerve was a late change specifically to help with Junk and was amazing every time I drew it. This version plays more like a Temur midrange deck with a small number of combo pieces, of which some number are normally boarded out further in most matches anyway. Post-board, in grindy or controlling matches, the Tectonic Edge becomes quite important just adding to your land count as your curve becomes higher and with only 22 lands main, you can’t really afford to play draw go. I was happy with the deck and it performed well in any games where I wasn’t playing like a Candy Crush addict.

Lesson 2: No matter how prepared you think you are, formats will shift and you need to have a support base to help compensate. A few dedicated friends go a long way.

I left for Washington a week before the event which meant that my landing in the States would coincide with Fate Reforged being released on MTGO. Most of my time before the event would be spent sight-seeing, getting over jet lag, and drafting like a mad man. Washington is a paradise for anyone interested in history or technology with the sheer amount of amazing museums (all of which are free to enter) staggering to behold. I had arranged to meet up with some other players on reddit (/r/ spikes is a great place to organise this kind of thing). This was the best decision I could possibly make as the drafts we did helped significantly (believe me when I say 8-4 queues on MTGO mean nothing when a set is new). We had a blast and ended up hanging together for most of the weekend and got to watch one of the guys make top 16 in his first ever PT. The amount of knowledge I picked up in a few days testing with an organised group, all of a decent playing level, was staggering.

Lesson 3: Network, network, network. The people you meet at the Pro Tour are the reason you remember the Pro Tour (unless you spike unbelievably in your first event). Also, remember to have fun and see the sights. Yes, the event is serious, but you will regret it if you spend your entire trip just focusing on Magic.

The event itself was a bit of a let-down obviously. My draft started with a strong pack 1 but fizzled out and ended up with a fairly poor Jeskai deck relying too much on Jeskai Ascendancy and Mob Rule to pull out games (when you end up playing Valley Dasher, you’re doing it wrong). My first round of constructed was against Gregory Orange playing UWR control. We split the first two games, but I was let down by a questionable opening hand keep on my part and was mana screwed in the third game to lose going down to 1-3 overall. Even at a terrible record, I was seated amongst several pro players for my fifth round. I guess everyone has bad events, even the best in the world. I managed to win my next two matches fairly easily (Naya Zoo and Affinity which is almost a bye for Temur Twin) which meant I still had a chance to make day two if I could win one of my next two matches. My penultimate round against Shota Yasooka was the only match I felt completely out of. He led with Thoughtseize into Bitterblossom both games and destroyed me. It wasn’t close. This meant that I needed to win my final round to make day two. Cue scrub out, exit stage left.

Lesson 4: You will make mistakes, hopefully they won’t cost you too badly, but it will happen. Even the best in the world have bad days, hell, I scrubbed out but still had a better record than Kai Budde and Gabriel Nassif combined. You just have to learn from them and move on.  

After all was said and done, I had an amazing time at the event. The extra time I had because of…well…playing like an idiot, meant I could spend day two chilling out and chatting with anyone who would listen. I’ll let you in on a little secret, the pro players are just like you and me. I had long chats with LSV, Patrick Dickmann, Tom Martel and many more. You know what they talk about? Sweet draft decks and bad beats. When all is said and done, everyone at the event, no matter what level they are playing at, is just a Magic player. I will say that I think the level at the Pro Tour is not as high as I initially thought (at least in constructed, I think SA magic still has a way to go in limited) and I think it is only the volume of events we get to attend that keeps us down as a Magic nation.

Final Lesson: The Pro Tour is the best competition in the world, but there are definitely South African players good enough to place well. I am definitely low on the list of SA players and I had to play badly to miss day two. Keep working, its closer than you think…

Whilst writing this I am waiting between rounds playing Standard online to try get up to speed for the next PTQ. You can bet your bottom dollar (or slightly less impressive bottom rand) that playing at the PT just inspires you to want to go back even more. I hope whoever goes from South Africa in the future can maybe pick up a thing or two from my mistakes, and from the things I did right. I must end with a big thanks to my small but dedicated group Team Unseen who helped me immensely with testing and cards. Also, a big shout out to Anthony Hodgson, who showed me how not to scrub out in day one.