A Time of Change – Continental Cup 2019 Tournament Report

So … I can already tell you that this tournament report of Continental Cup 2019 is going to be a little irregular. But just in case you are worried where this is going: I loved the tournament, met many great people, am happy about everything I experienced and it has made me think a lot. I might have even picked up some life lessons, even though I am not sure I will be able to put them into words as I begin to write this. Oh, I also played 5 Color Good Stuff and it was great. Will talk about that too.

As with many events there is always a before, a during and an after. Even though the before leads to what follows, I will try to only quickly summarize it. Because I think it already exhausted everyone enough. So: There was a push for more democracy in the Highlander Council by a group I was part of, there was a lot of rough tone and discussions on Facebook, some of it by me that I am not particularly proud of looking at it now and personal conflicts. Somehow it was all mixed together and became very strenuous. For myself, but I am sure also for others. Luckily it’s not the latest news anymore, so I will attempt to do what this time we live in does best (and worst): Move on to the next headline. Except I hope what follows can be more than a headline.

I came to Continental Cup 2019 with mixed emotions. Tense, excited, worried, hopeful, pumped, drained. But I’m done talking about me. Because really, I am not the story here.

The story is that 90 people showed up. The story is the excitement and the spirit. The story is the effort that was put up by the TO team, the judges, the council and the community. I know it takes a lot of work writing, printing, handing out and reading surveys, being there all day voluntarily without playing as our most active council member did again. And staying until the next day for a conference about this format. I heard there were almost 20 people that stayed an extra day for this. YOU all showed up and it’s humbling. It’s humbling how much people love this format, it’s humbling how everyone was grown up about everything and it’s humbling how much time we all invest in this. Not one person makes this format, we all do.

It’s very easy to get caught up in your feelings with this internet way of communications, sit there in your little bubble, somehow be more extreme in your expression and really be nasty at times. Personally, I am sorry for the times I was. I hurt, I got hurt and I will try learn from it and be better. I stayed out of the conference, because I felt like I was more helpful that way. And I am curious to hear what came out of it. I feel like there are lot of ideas I have how to support the community in the future and they do not involve yelling at everyone, so I will try stick to constructive input now.

I decided to play a 5C list, that is again new in some ways, even after years of 5C. It also outperformed my play again, as I struggled to find lines against Academy and Golgari, which is probably why me and the deck missed our shot at Top 8. Sorry, deck. I’ve already lost sleep over this. The deck skips double mana costed spells entirely, except for Dig Through Time. This means that with the 5 basic lands the deck includes I can cast every spell in my deck not named Dig Through Time. It’s a very nice safety blanket if you run into decks that play nonbasic land hate.

ROUND 1 – Jeskai Aggro (2:0)
My opponent played a Jeskai Aggro deck that I am not sure included counterspells. It did however include Mausoleum Wanderer. The games were rather sad as he flooded out of his mind in game 1 and got stuck on 3 lands in game 2. I won 2-0 and can’t pride myself on it. However I checked something off the bucket list, as I won game 2 with Vraska, Golgari Queen’s emblem and a deadly attack with Grim Lavamancer putting my opponent from 14 life to dead.

ROUND 2 – Jeskai Aggro (2:0)
My opponent played a Jeskai Aggro deck that I am not sure included counterspells. It did however include Mausoleum Wanderer. Facing almost the same deck twice in a row made me worry about being stuck in a groundhog’s day loop for a moment. In these games it felt like my spells just outpowered his and I got lucky that I found Dreadbore in a top deck just after he resolved Elspeth, Knight-Errant in game I started with mulligan. Better top decks then sealed it.

ROUND 3 – Naya (1:1:1)
Decks that crowd the board are what I fear a little with my deck. My build has many universal removal spells which feels great. But especially when you are on the draw and a deck plays 35+ creatures the board can get full and it becomes an uphill battle. Nonetheless I chose not to play sweepers. But the disciplined lines of sequencing it takes to dig out of these situations are something I still struggle with.

Game 1: I was on the play. He has elf turn 1 and I have no removal. I had a good hand though, because I had Oko, Thief of Crowns. It’s a very good card, as you might know. Turn 2 he played Knight of the Reliquary and I had to play Path to Exile, because I wanted to play Oko turn 3 and win with it. Sadly this left my opponent with 5 mana turn 3 and of course he played Green Sun’s Zenith to get Questing Beast and hit me and Oko. I think I then should have turned the Beast into an Elk, but Oko was dying in the next turn anyways, so I made food instead. I am not sure what I did turn 4. I know I was going to use Traverse the Ulvenwald to get Snapcaster Mage the next turn and get on a comeback trail by recasting Path to Exile. He followed up with Robber of the Rich. I think he then forgot his Robber of the Rich trigger, but I reminded him with a tiny hand motion and let him have it. Of course the Robber revealed my Snapcaster Mage, which was my only way back into the game. Sad.
Game 2: Being on the play I again had Oko, Thief of Crowns. In a grindy game that had me weather early game aggression from my opponent again, probably turn 1 elf too, I eventually paired Oko and Vraska, Golgari Queen, stole his Courser of Kruphix with Oko and then won from there even though I flooded like crazy. Vraska and Courser are a pretty good team and I actually ended up winning after a game that went on for too long.
Game 3: We didn’t get to finish this game and it was pretty open and similar to the other games in that it was grindy.

ROUND 4: Academy Combo (0:2)
So this matchup was something I worried about. Maybe too much actually. Academy, Reanimator and RDW made me chose to include Kaya, Orzhov Usurper which I never drew once the whole tournament and I still am unsure wether she should be in the deck at all.
Game 1: I keep a decent 6 card hand with 2 lands. My opponent mulligans to 5. I then never find land 3 and lose without a chance.
Game 2: This game is making me lose sleep. I had SO MUCH interaction with his deck and I think I should have won. What I did not have was a creature to clock him. But I crumbled under the pressure and I hadn’t faced Academy in too long. I had Kolaghan’s Command, Teferi, Time Raveler, Vindicate, Kaya’s Guile, Wasteland, Mana Leak and Sevinne’s Reclamation for Teferi and Wasteland and lost. I started with Gilded Goose and had a lot of lands from there. He started kind of slow. I think the game came down to him playing Intuition in response to me playing Teferi. He already had Academy on board. He got Crucible of Worlds, Fastbond and another card. I had Kaya’s Guile and open mana so I wasn’t particularly worried. But I gave him Crucible of Worlds and that was a mistake. I did so, because I figured I have Kolaghan’s Command to destroy it. Nonetheless: Crucible should have gone to exile forever. What happened instead is he played Crucible, I removed his yard. But then after I destroyed Crucible and Academy … he played Sevinne’s Reclamation. I mentally folded at that time. I might have even been able to win from there but I messed up more. The Academy ended up returning three times and he killed me with Emrakul while at 6 life. Sorry, deck.

ROUND 5: Dark Jeskai (2:1)
The games in this round were my highlight of the tournament. None of them were completely destroyed by flood, screw or mulligan. And I won in a real nail biter.
Game 1: I never play Monastery Mentor. And honestly, I am not sure why. Somehow, whenever I put it in into the deck in the past it never worked for me. But then I often just lose to it in tournaments. Which is what happened in this game. I only remember a bunch of beautiful Classic Art Monk Tokens beating me to death. They are so nice that the tokens alone make me want to play Mentor now.
Game 2: I think I won this game on the back of Tarmogoyf and counter spells. We traded a lot of 1-1 removal and no one ever got a significant advantage, but I managed to win on the back of a little more aggression on the play in a pretty streamlined game.
Game 3: Honestly, I only remember the last 3 turns or so of this game. But they were insane. My opponent had The Royal Scions turn 3 I think. They are one of the last two cards I excluded from my deck. My last two cuts were Lightning Angel for Kaya, Orzhov Usurper and The Royal Scions for Dig Through Time. Anyways, he paired the Scions with Mantis Rider and the Rider attacked me for three times 5 damage and put me from 19 life to 14, to 9 and to 4. I actually killed the stupid thing in between, but my opponent played Reanimate on it and swung again. He also had Dack Fayden on the board. He flooded a little bit towards the end, which was my luck. But he did have Celestial Colonnade waiting for its time to shine. With me at 4 life and him at 15 things got interesting. I played Swords to Plowshares on the Mantis Rider. He went to 18. I only had 4/5 Tarmogoyf on board, als well as Creeping Tar Pit, for which I had no time. I had to use the Goyf attacks to keep his walkers in check. There were no lands in the graveyard, only Bomat Courier made the Goyf 4/5. Especially the Scions ultimate was looming the whole time. So with me at 4 and him at 18 I play Dreadhorde Arcanist. The next turn I play Kitchen Finks to go to 6. I use attacks with Creeping Tar Pit, Goyf and Arcanist on the Walkers. The Royal Scions die, they had to, else I would have died to Colonnade attack next turn and Dack goes to 1. I think I recast … Brainstorm with Arcanist. In hindsight, I could have probably attacked Dack and put my opponent to 14 instead. It only made for a more spectacular end. So my opponent topdecks Gitaxian Probe. He is at 18, my board has a now 5/6 Tarmogoyf, because the Scions died, which I think my opponent missed. The Finks are 3/2, I have 1/3 Arcanist and 3/2 Tar Pit. So that’s 12 damage. But I also have Lightning Bolt in my graveyard. 15 damage. My opponent elects to play Probe for 2 life, to have enough mana open for a potential Colonnade activation. He goes to 16. I am not sure what he drew actually. But I have Miscalculation and he now knows it. He then discards a land and a spell. And that is where he missed the Tarmogoyf becoming 6/7 I think. He attacks me to 2 with the Colonnade. He has untapped Colonnade and a card in hand. If it’s Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares I think I will lose. Because I don’t have enough blue mana to attack with everything and leave open Miscalculation mana. I attack with everything for 16 damage including the Lightning Bolt from the yard and surprise him with the exact amount. Heartbreaker, but a great game.

ROUND 6: Golgari Midrange (1:2)
Two more wins and I still might top 8. Golgari has other plans.
Game 1: My opponent leads with Bitterblossom. I manage to remove it at some point with Vraska, Golgari Queen, which the Golgari deck isn’t playing. What I don’t manage to remove is Abyssal Persecutor. I waste my Baleful Strix, my only answer to the Persecutor in a stupid block to protect Vraska, because I am flooding badly. The Prosecutor then kills me as I never find an answer and keep flooding.
Game 2: I play Gilded Goose into Geist of Saint Traft. After I had him discard his lone creature his only answer is Pernicious Deed. I get stuck on 3 lands but tutor for Chain of Vapor to bounce the Pernicious Deed. The Geist plus Chain Lightning then kill him turn 5.
Game 3: This game is where I mess up again. He has turn 2 Bitterblossom again. I bounce it with Chain of Vapor. But as I somehow think I will find an answer for it later I elect to not counter it a turn later with Miscalculation. Sorry, deck. I then never find an answer to it and the game slips away, as I draw a whole lot of nothing and my opponent has strong removal, fat creatures and many faeries.

ROUND 7: 5C Creature Combos (2:1)
With top 8 out of sight I spent the final three games against a scary creature-filled deck in the hands of a very friendly pilot. It includes Kiki Jiki, Mirrobreaker and other combos. And many elves. I lose game 1 to a crowded board. Game two I win on the back of turn 2 Geist of Saint Traft I think, as we both mulligan to 5. Not sure. Game 3 my opponent mulligans to 5 again on the play and simply doesn’t have enough cards to really compete.

So overall, my deck totally delivered. I didn’t. But I love it and don’t think I would really change anything. I might cut Kaya, Orzhov Usurper, Grim Lavamancer and Gerrard’s Verdict. There are like 100 runner-ups. I think I will first try Pernicious Deed, Wildborn Preserver and Nahiri, the Harbinger.

Check out the list: https://deckstats.net/decks/11833/1444769-5c-best-stuff-foodwalkers

Again, I met very nice people, all my opponent’s were great and I even wish there would have been more time to talk about other stuff than just Magic. That’s what I am taking with me. I saw that this game is really important to a lot of people. Starting with myself we should do our best to not turn that into negativity, be careful with the way we behave, especially online and turn the energy that lies in the passion we have into positivity and cool things. See you soon.