JoINrbs’s PT Philly 2011 Top 8 Predictions

Posted on Sunday, September 4th, 2011 by JoINrbs
More articles by
Posted in mtg, serious business

My top 8 predictions (decklists here):

Sjoblom (Ascension) vs Nakajima (Affinity):

Sjoblom is going to be hating those remands and muddles preboard, and his combo kills all suffer from his opponent having 20 life. Winning the roll will help, but even then he’s going to be an underdog g1. Maybe you live the dream and have someone Fling into Remand at FNM, but in the top 8 of a PT with public decklists he really has no tricks and his deck looks to be about half a turn slower than his opponent’s.

Postboard the matchup doesn’t improve. A single Shattering Spree is the only great value he’s getting out of the board, while his opponent gets four copies of Mindbreak Trap. Trap can be quite underwhelming, but backed up by a good clock it’ll push the matchup even more in Nakajima’s favor, and I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he isn’t going to be keeping any 2x trap 2-power of creatures hands.

All that said, these decks don’t interact very much at all, and other than fairly basic sideboarding and mulliganing I don’t think there is much room for play for either player. Sjoblom might try to force play by leaving Remand up or something but that just seems terrible. A lot of it is just going to come down to who gets the better draws.

Nakajima over Sjoblom with 65% equity.

Prost (Ascension) vs Estratti (Twin):

I like Prost’s build of Ascension a decent amount more than Sjoblom’s, but he still suffers from Remands, and also has a jaw-dropping FIVE non-blue lands (although he does have three lands more than Sjoblom overall). Lands are great for Ascension vs Twin, but those Grove of the Burnwillows are looking quite silly in a matchup about casting blue spells around creatures which tap your lands. At least there are no copies of Gigadrowse in Estratti’s 75.

Preboard Prost needs to keep Deceiver Exarch off the board with Remand and Mana Leak long enough to set up a win. He has four copies of Noxious Revival thank god, but his counters put him in a very awkward spot as soon as Twin can represent the kill as he lacks blue mana to continue casting cantrips while holding up counterspells. While his four copies of Lightning Bolt are not completely dead, they are a unappealing backup, as any time he is pointing them at Kiki-Jiki he risks losing to Pact of Negation, which is otherwise a dead card in the matchup.

My brain sort of overdrives here; very complicated matchup. I think Twin has a tiiny edge g1 thanks to a lower chance of misfiring (every Twin list should have those combo extra pieces!) and a slightly better maindeck for the matchup, and depending on board plans could definitely do well post board as well. I like +1 Clique, +2 Engineered Explosives, +1 Deprive, -3 Firespout, -1 Lightning Bolt.

Postboard Prost has absolutely nothing and Twin improves a fair amount, giving Twin a decent edge in a 5-game set. Ascension needs cards like Dream’s Grip and Boomerang here to find a way to slow Twin down a turn and get the combo off. Without them it’s just a speed coinflip with better disruption and flexibility for Twin.

Estratti over Prost with 60% equity.

Hampton (Post) vs Black (Shoal):

lol GG preboard. I love Black’s list btw, it is miles and miles better than the other lists we’ve seen. The redundancy is very good. My only concern is that he’s playing just eight infect creatures and once your opponents know that their boarding and postboard game become both quite obvious and very effective. Post is just so slow that he can find plenty of counter backup and win the game though. The board with 3 Punishing Fire (put one of these maindeck? seems obvious) and 2 Dismember will help a little, but even postboard Post’s plan is not extremely compelling,

Black over Hampton with 75% equity.

Utter-Leyton (hope your deck sucks) vs Portaro (Twin):

The PT’s combo decks are woefully built and inconsistent, and Kibler’s team has done a good job of capitalizing on this by playing a fairly bad deck which can surprise people with 80 IQ and five Seething Songs. Unfortunately they missed the Arena + Knight of the Reliquary tech for this matchup, and without it they have a total of five relevant cards preboard (okay I guess 9 if you count Green Sun’s Zenith for Qasali Pridemage). (Punishing Fire yu).

Meanwhile the Twin deck Utter-Leyton is up against is not a poorly made deck at all. Streamlined and consistent, the deck looks highly polished and effective. With little help from the board and his rogue list completely public I expect Utter-Leyton to get Utter-Stomped here.

The most interesting part of this matchup in my opinion is whether Portaro boards in Blood Moon. I think it’s good enough on the play, but doesn’t make the cut on the draw. He has about 70 playable cards to choose from postboard so there’s a lot of room for play for him there, and the match may ultimately pivot on his boarding strategy (or more likely whether the match is 3-0 or 3-1 may do so).

Portaro over Utter-Leyton with 70% equity.


Nakajima (Affinity) vs Estratti (Twin):

I don’t know much about this matchup, but feel like it has to be tilted heavily towards Affinity’s side of the aisle preboard on the back of 4x Galvanic Blast and a good clock. Four damage turns out to be just the perfect amount. With 1 Shrapnel Blast and even 2 Fling Affinity has seven good (well, five good, two passable) disruption spells coupled with an explosive clock.

Public decklists definitely favor Affinity preboard too, as he gets to know exactly what he’s worried about (not much). No bounce, 1 Lightning Bolt, 1 Disrupting Shoal (this could potentially cause a blowout vs Fling), and 3 Firespout.

Postboard public decklists definitely favor the combo player, who gets to see exactly what hate is coming in against him. In this case it’s just 3 Torpor Orb, and I have to imagine Estratti will be happy to see that, packing 2 Ancient Grudge and 2 Engineered Explosives which were already coming in and deal with it nicely. Even so, the matchup doesn’t change greatly after boarding, and it still looks to favor the artifact men to me.

Nakajima over Estratti with 60% equity.

Black (Shoal) vs Portaro (Twin)

This is going to be a crazy matchup (okay, if it happens. My predictions aren’t actually reality… yet. I hope it happens). Look at all those cheap counterspells. Both decks pack Pact of Negation to power through their combo in situations where they sometimes can’t pay the mana if they see their next upkeep, and a self-inflicted Pact death with all the free/cheap counters lying around is a real possibility.

It’s hard to understate how amazingly good Gitaxian Probe is in this matchup. Perfect information? Yes please! Twin has so many different modes – “kill you now!” all the way to “counter your threats and then do nothing until turn 15” – that learning exactly where your opponent stands is greatly valuable. Unfortunately Black is only playing two.

He has 1 Watery Grave to fetch, meaning Slaughter Pact is a real option… only he only has one of them and it’s in his board.

I also have no idea how boarding works here for Black. It looks like Black could reasonably board in every card in his sideboard, but there isn’t anything obvious to take out. Meanwhile Portaro has tough decisions of his own. Blood Moon shuts off Inkmoth Nexus, but it’s so slow and requires tapping out. Is Firespout good enough? The best plan in my eyes is to give up on the sorcery-speed spells entirely, and try to fight at instant speed. Dreadship Reef would be amazing here but isn’t in the list. With 1 Dismember, 4 Punishing Fire, 4 Remand, 2 Spell Pierce, 2 Pact of Negation, and 2 Dispel I think you’re even at a point where you can bring in 2 Mindbreak Trap and expect to cast it for 0 on the critical turn.

To make room for this I would be boarding out win conditions. Goodbye Kiki-Jiki and Splinter Twin! It’s just unrealistic to expect to tap out and not lose immediately here. Instead I would rely on end of turn Punishing Fire recursion and 2 Vendilion Clique to win the game.

This seems like a very counter-intuitive strategy for a Twin player, and I’m not optimistic that it gets played, but Portaro made it to the top 8, and hopefully he’ll be creative enough to find it and give it a try. If he does I think Black has a LOT of trouble getting through short of god drawing. Looks to be a thrilling and complicated matchup!

Portaro over Black with 60% equity (assuming good boarding).


Nakajima (Affinity) vs Portaro (Twin):

Not too much has changed between this round and last for Nakajima. Affinity looks to be a favorite over Twin in my eyes, but not overwhelmingly so, and Affinity always has the chance of choking on itself. However, Portaro’s list I believe is better equipped for this matchup, with Firespout (four postboard) and Punishing Fire recursion (also up to four). Portaro has plenty of mediocre counterspells to board out, but only TWO answers to Torpor Orb to bring in.

Given how much trouble he has answering Torpor Orb, I like the idea of boarding out a few combo pieces again here for Twin. Could we see Punishing Fire recursion taking down both the semis and the finals of this “fast” modern format’s PT? I for one would not be too surprised.

Portaro over Nakajima with 55% equity.

So there you go. I think Twin will win this PT by boarding out the Twin combo. What do you think?