Editor’s Note: Today, I present to you a tournament report from the winner of the 2019 Summer Derby: Jared Doucette. Enjoy! /Svante out
The Old School 1993-1994 Magic community would not exist without the internet. It is a funny thing to say as we purposefully chose to play a format that predates the modern internet but the ability to connect like-minded and passionate people is one of the great benefits the internet has provided humans. It is the core way that we connect and discuss this wonderful game of Magic: the Gathering that takes up more time and money than any of us care to admit. The internet also provides a great way for all of us to play our beloved old cardboard through the use of a webcam. I am by no means one of the early adopters of Magic playing through webcam but I have to say, it has to be one of the greatest additions to my hobby playing lifestyle that I have ever experienced. When I first started playing online, I couldn’t believe how much it really feels like playing across the table from someone in the local pub of LGS. Once you figure out your cam angles and lightning and back drop and glare issues, it really feels great to talk and interact with someone in real time who could literally be around the world.
Old School Magic Community pillar Dave Firth Bard took upon the noble task starting in December 2016 to organize an online webcam based Old School Magic tournament that he dubbed the Winter Derby. 6 months later he did it again, this time calling it the Summer Derby. Now twice a year, the online-playing community play a long tournament through the use of a webcam and battle through multiple batches and a cut to top 16 to determine a Champion.
I have competed in two previous derbies and now the 2019 Summer Derby was going to be my third foray into this big event. This derby was going to be using the Atlantic 93-94 rule set and we had over 140 people register for this event. This was my weapon of choice: Spice Rack.
I will get into the specifics of this deck at another time but basically the deck is an aggressive midrange deck that leans on hand disruption in the form of Hymn to Tourach and chip damage from the creatures and the Rack.
So I freshly sleeved my deck and prepared for battle in the 2019 Summer Derby. I hate to yada-yada-yada most of the tournament but because it is an internet webcam tournament, I literally played some of these matches well over a month ago. After the first batch I was sitting comfortably at 4-0 (8-1), the deck having done its job well at drawing and casting Hymn and then chipping away for the victory.
The next batch I ended up 2-2 (5-5), with losses to Christian Reinhard who was on Troll Disco (finished 8-0) and Chris McCubbins (7-1) on UWR Temple. So I finished the Swiss at 6-2 (13-6) and normally this is not enough to make the knockout stage of an 8 round tournament but as the cut was to the Top 16 and not Top 8, I squeezed in literally at 16th. Nice.
My first round of the top 16 was against Jeff Lui who was on a BR control deck.
Jeff was the #1 seed going into the knockout stage so I knew I had my work cut out for me. Looking at his deck I know I basically needed to dodge Blood Moon. I knew after I built my deck that I would be basically useless vs Blood Moon. I know I could have built my deck differently to accommodate for Blood Moon but as my deck required BB for Hymn and Order to really work that would mean playing at least 6 basics swamps just to play around 1 card that honestly doesn’t see a lot of play anyway. So I said screw it and just accepted that if Blood Moon was played against me then I lose and move on. It is very hard to build a deck that can beat every scenario and I accepted this as one of those scenarios that I’ll just lose to.
So we shuffle up for game 1, I’m on the draw as the lower seed, and Jeff looks at his opening hand and I think he kind of smirks and says “well I wouldn’t normally keep this hand but I think you just can’t beat this.” He plays lotus and Blood Moon on turn 1. Yup, pretty much dead. The game took a little longer to actually finish but all I could really do was hope to draw Chaos Orb, Disrupting Scepter, the Rack, and Lightning Bolts to find a way to chip out enough damage. Obviously it didn’t happen and we moved on.
So I lost to the no-win scenario and hoped going into the sideboard games that my fate would change. I figured this matchup would come down to card advantage and chip damage. So I boarded out the Dark Rituals and brought in the Artifact Blast (to catch Disk/Icy/Tome) and the Storm World (to answer the Abyss and race). I figured that as long as I can maintain his hand size that he couldn’t out draw my Racks and that is exactly what happened in the next two games.
Moving on to the Top 8 of the bracket now I meet Christain Lieb who is on a classic UWb Lauter.
Looking at this matchup, I knew his x/4 fliers were my biggest concern. Main Deck I only have Fireball and Psiblast to deal with them but I also have the ability to go a little bigger with the Juzams. This certainly is not a great matchup but the variance of Hymn to Tourach really shined here as they frequently were removing Swords to Plowshares and Serra Angels from his arsenal before he had a chance to cast them.
With so much artifact hate in the sideboard, I actually did something a little unorthodox and boarded out the Racks, the Dark Rituals, and a couple of Lightning Bolts and boarded in the other Underworld Dreams, the Glooms, the Terror, and the REBs. Glooms and REBs clearly shined here but so did the Order of the Ebon Hand. Once this little meat cleaving demon from Hell hits the board, he is very difficult to deal with outside of the Psiblast.
I lost the first game and then won the next two with the sideboard cards really pulling their weight.
Up next in the semifinals was Arnaud Aubert on UW moat fliers. As with the previous match up I knew the x/4 fliers were going to be an issue but I also had a good sideboard against the UW deck. Also worth noting is that we were going to play best of 5 with the first two games unsideboarded.
Arnaud jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead before the side boards with a constant rotation of fliers and books and Timetwister which I just could not keep up with. I knew I had a strong sideboard plan that would mitigate his removal as well as his card draw. I battled back in games 3 and 4 with timely Hymns to get rid of his big fliers and Swords to Plowshares as well as Glooms locking him out of multiple games. Game 5 Arnaud started out with a quick Lotus- and Mox-fueled Serra Angel which set the clock. I drew Hymns and hippies and Underworld Dreams but could not draw an answer to the Queen of the Pure Skies until the very last turn when I was at 4 and I “oh my god, it’s lightning helixed” the 1-of sideboard Terror and scarred the life out of the Angel and buried her peacefully in the graveyard. Then I was able to punch through the last bit of damage and lock up the match.
I was ecstatic to make it to the Finals. Already this would qualify as not only my best finish playing Old School Magic but in all of my Magic playing career. I’ve won or finished highly in smaller 5-6 round tournaments but never an 8 round Swiss plus a cut to top 16 grind fest.
The End Boss of World 8-4 was none other than Pez Unholy piloting the monstrous and vicious Shops.
Mishra’s Workshop is unrestricted in Atlantic Old School and is clearly a top tier deck and is likely the deck to beat. The ability to quickly and consistently drop big robots and Icys makes for a scary matchup. I knew I had a weakness to x/4s, especially Su-Chi, but I had a plan and I was in the fight. The match was streamed on Twitch through Andrew Walker’s “OS_KirdApe” and the finals is available on YouTube.
Game 1 I snap mulliganed to 6 and Pez kept his 7 on the play and came out super hot with a turn 1 Su-Chi without the benefit of a Workshop. I had my psi blast in hand so I knew I had the eventual answer. Unfortunately he followed up the Su-Chi with an Icy and started locking me off mana in my upkeep. He followed that up with a second Icy and a copy artifact of the Su-Chi and that was waaaay more than I could handle
Game 2 I mulliganed down to 6 but kept a hand that had scrubland, badlands, strip mine, order of the ebon hand, lightning bolt and most importantly, Balance. I played land-go, then Pez played the epicenter of all old knowledge, Library of Alexandria. I knew he would get a few cards off of the Library but with my Balance in hand I knew I had a good way to keep him off 7 if I could set up the Balance. On my turn 2 I played the Order of the Ebon Hand to start the clock. On Pez’s turn he played a Workshop, a Lotus, and slammed down the mighty Triskelion. Before he passed the turn his Triskelion snipped down my soldier of darkness. Perfect. My turn I called upon the scales of justice to Balance out this trial removing the prickly robot and 3 of the cards from his hand, taking him off the Library. I noticed Pez discarded 2 lands as a part of the Balance resolution. Figuring he was now counting on the workshop to cast whatever he kept in his hand, I played and quickly Stripped away the Workshop and left him just with the library. This clearly turned out to be the correct call as he said draw-go for 3 straight turns where I quickly cast an Ancestral Recall I drew the next turn and started to put on the pressure and end the game.
Going to the sideboards I knew I had a few good options. The Artifact Blast as well as the two Energy Fluxes were coming in, as this matchup is literally why they are in the deck to begin with. The scariest card coming out of Pez’s board was the Abyss and so i decided to bring in my Storm World as a good 1 mana answer to the Enchant World as well as another source of damage that can hopefully swing a game.
Game 3 was the best game of the match. I came out hot with a turn 2 Juzam which he unfortunately answered with a Maze to Ith and then added a Su-Chi to his side. I had an early Energy Flux that slowed his progress for a turn until he REB’d it away. We eventually had a very complicated board state where I had two Juzams and a hippie and he had two Su-Chis and two Mishra’s Factories. I started getting aggressive with the Juzams, willing to trade a Juzam for a Su-Chi if he double blocked with a factory. I did have a lightning bolt in hand for when he tried some factory shenanigans. It also helped that whenever I lost a Juzam I easily replaced it with a Sengir Vampire or an Order of the Ebon Hand. Pez was stuck on 5 mana sources for a while and I was able to Hymn away the two Trikes that were stranded in his hand. So I was able to keep the pressure on for a while until I was able to shut the door with the Rack off the top followed by a mind twist to empty his hand after he Ancestral Recalled.
Up 2-1 and going into game 4 I was looking to be aggressive and finish this here and now. I finally was able to keep an opening 7 that had Scrubland, Mox Ruby, Mishra’s Factory, an Energy Flux, a Dark Ritual, a Hymn to Tourach, and Hypnotic Specter. During my prep for the match, I noticed that Shops doesn’t have a good answer to a turn 1 Hippie. There is no lightning bolt or swords to plowshares that usually dooms a ritual-hippie turn 1. I also did not have a second black source or a blue in the opening hand but I figured with the factory and the huge upside of both Hymn and Flux if i can get them online, it was worth a keep.
Turn 1 Pez is on the play and plays strip mine go. Feeling pretty good about my situation as im not facing down the unstable experiment of Mishra. I play Scrubland, Ritual, Hippie. Pez drops a shop and hurries out a Chaos Orb that he expertly drops on my Specter. Well crap. Feeling a little uneasy all of a sudden things got worse as I drew a second factory, played one and passed. Pez put the pressure on with a Su-Chi and things are starting to get very hairy. I could only play a second factory and pass the turn. Pez kept the bad times rolling for me when he plays an Icy. Luckily the Old Gods of Dominaria smiled upon me and granted me the majestic City of Brass that allowed me to cast the Energy Flux I had been holding on to.
The Flux wipes away the Su-Chi, he saves the Icy for a turn and passes. In my upkeep, he taps my City with the Icy, I add mana to the pool and tap the Ruby I’m not going to pay for to activate both Factories and go to my main phase were I start the beatdown. I Strip away a blue source he had, not worrying about the Workshop any more as any artifacts he would play would have to deal with the Flux tax. Shortly thereafter I follow up the factory beat downs with a Hippie, a Hymn, and two Racks and the Summer Derby Championship is mine!
Pez is a great guy and a good sport. I hope we get to meet sometime. I congratulate him on his great finish as well. I had nothing but great things to say about all the people I played against this whole tournament. Maturity and good sportsmanship go along way and make this community unique among the Magic-playing world.
Thanks to Andrew Walker for setting up the Twitch stream of the final as well as Bryan Manolakos and Chris Mason for doing the commentary. Thanks to Will Magrann, Svante Landgraf, Robin Lundh, as well as a few other who helped me plan for my top 16 matches. I also want to of course thank Dave Firth Bard for running this whole tournament. It is always one of the great events of the year and I look forward to many more summer and winter derbies.
I hope you all enjoyed this little foray into online Old School Magic. I will be writing another article soon about the Spike Rack deck I played, breaking down the card choices and such. Until then I wish you all Snap Keep 7s and dead center Orb flips. Cheers.