How to win a MGM – Azorius Midrange Control

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By Jonny A.

Hey there, my name is Jonny and I just won the last MetaGameMasters tournament. While I am usually not a big fan of deck guides for well-known archetypes I thought I use this call for a community article to channel my desire to entertain the highlander community and some of you might remember my weekly highlander column several years ago which served that exact purpose (shameless self-promotion incoming, if you are looking for some old decktechs to maybe get some insight in lost archetypes check out my Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/Tabrys/videos?view_as=subscriber ).

I was also part of the highlander council for quite some time and several people asked me to give some insight in this deck of mine, which quite honestly is nothing special but made a transition in the last weeks and months based on my local meta game which I think is a very competitive one. This article will contain three parts. The first one will focus on the development of this build over the last year. The second part covers general remarks on certain choices and alternative cards while the third act concludes with a short tournament report.

You have to forgive me when I get carried away and delve into some general ramblings about the format but that’s kind of what I do. Before I start I want to put an emphasis on how little we can take from tournament results in our little format. Opinions and card choices shouldn’t always be judged just by the outcome of certain decks and pilots because there are simply too many factors which play a huge role. Being on the draw or getting that third land from the top and so on.
I am well known for my love for long grindy blue matchups and nothing makes me happier than starting my turn with an Island. When I kinda quit magic, I came back after a one year hiatus with a Mono Blue control list
(https://www.cardmarket.com/en/Magic/Decks/Events/Metagame-Master-10-Berlin-2017-11-11/5a1296a8931016377616a235) which wasn’t the state-of-the-art control deck you would expect in 2017 but was exactly what I needed to reignite my love for the format. When building a control shell, I usually struggle with the cards which help me to come back or stabilize in certain situations. That is usually my main focus and mainly goes back to the fact that I am expecting the worst at all times. So naturally my lists would always focus on the defensive side of things. Some years ago I ‘ve won a Highlander Grand Prix with a 4 color Oath Control list which would run Pelakka Wurm while most people would just play big fat game winning monsters instead but I wanted an insurance even after a resolved oath trigger.

While I don’t want to spend too much time on mono blue I want to say that it always amazed me how strong it performed given its limited card choices. I even made a Top 8 finish in one MGM tournament and to be honest I never understood fully why it was so successful (I also had a very good win rate at our local FNMs) but one of the reasons had to be, that unlike other control lists, which naturally had access to so many good cards (to name a few: Swords to plowshares, Abrupt decay, Vindicate, Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push, Maelstrom Pulse, Lightning Helix) I rarely had “dead” cards which I think was one of its main strengths. Not only had I always something to do with the deck, it also made sure to render some cards in my opponent’s hands useless, which is a thing we will come back to later.
After some time, I had to give this deck a go simply to the fact, that it wasn’t really the best list I could play because it was always weak to swarm strategies and had massive problems to resolved non-creature permanents such as Planeswalker or Artifacts and Enchantments. The loss of Mystical Tutor also hurt the deck quite a lot because it gave you so much utility with either Crush of Tentacles or Devastation Tide.
After some tinkering I thought Moat, Humility and white Planeswalker in general are just too strong at the time. There was also a new card, Fractured Identity which caught my eye and made UW way more desirable than UB or UR (the premise was that I wanted to stay two colored to punish greedy decks with Back to basics/ Blood Moon/ Price of Progress and get them reliably with Demonic Tutor, Muddle the mixture, Enligthened Tutor) at that time. Having access to life gain, superior sweeper choices and stronger Planeswalker (Black and red Planeswalker wouldn’t perform as well as their white counterparts on average (meaning that both Gideons and Elspeths for example help to protect you while also being game ending threats) lead me to build a blue white version.
Resolving a Humility destroyed about 70% (scientifically accurate) of the deck strategies back then, so I build an UW control deck which had all the cards you would expect and performed how you would suspect it would.

https://deckstats.net/decks/16958/1029284-uw-control/en

Returning to the point that I wanted as little dead cards as possible I passed on many creatures you would call staples in those colors. Drawing out games and resolving a Humility followed by a Planeswalker was usually the goal. Having only a small number (two actually) of creatures and a variety of flexible answers to opposing creature strategies would help me to dominate a lot of matchups. On top of that I would think that giving my opponents virtual mulligans to six, because they would have cards like Swords to Plowshares, Fatal Push, Toxic Deluge etc., gave me a huge advantage. Building a control deck is always about finding the right mix of flexibility, power and appropriate answers to your meta game.
The list I posted above is already the finalized version of that UW control deck. It didn’t look that way when I first build it. The realization that there is a prize to pay for not including creatures hit me very fast. I had to add more win options. After some brainstorming with my teammates we concluded that I should include some more walkers which performed quite well in other decks and were insanely strong at that time. I added four splash cards which should help me to win my games quicker and more reliably while adapting to the meta changes we encountered (I am looking at you Tolarian Academy). I was impressed by Nahiri, the Harbinger because of her flexiblity and Kaya, Ghost Assassin, for her versatility. I’ ve added them alongside Dack Fayden and Ajani Vengeant. Dack Fayden and Nahiri in particular were crucial not only because they helped me to get rid of useless cards (again, I think making sure that you always have something relevant in your hand is key for control decks) while handling the boogeymen of my local meta, Academy Combo, which was naturally a weak spot for a slow control deck.
I was satisfied with the performance of the deck for quite some time and It provided me with all the tools I needed. I also made Top8 in a MGM not so long ago while being quite successful in our local FNMs too. Most decks were focused on creatures. It didn’t matter if I faced RDW or blue midrange decks. I felt like I had no bad matchups besides artifacts and maybe other combo decks like storm, but that would rarely appear. Heavy control lists could be a problem too because my list was so focused on handling creatures. But you can always tweak your list if you feel like you need to improve other matchups.
After some time, things changed though. An old friend made an unwelcome comeback and would ruin my friday nights, for weeks. I am speaking about Scapeshift Combo. Several people in Berlin run that deck and tuned it over months and years. It won several tournaments and is always to be found at the top standings. Suddenly you had to face two to three players at a 14 player FNM with that deck and my winrate was around -520% against that specific deck. It rarely has creatures you can get rid of and simply outvalues you because it doesn’t care about planeswalker or enchantments.
You can find a generic list here

https://www.cardmarket.com/en/Magic/Decks/Events/MGM-11-Berlin-2018-03-03/5a9fa7be3c4ac616d66ff399

I knew something had to change. I tried Hide//Seek and even thought about Extract which didn’t get me the results I hoped for. After all we play a singleton format and surprisingly Scapeshift runs counter too. With the help of my teammates I rediscovered an old truth, which was, creatures aren’t so bad as you think (I don’t really think they are bad powerwise but I just don’t like them if they don’t draw me cards). In fact, they get stronger and stronger each year. The power creep is rising, and naturally so in a card game. Deathrite Shaman, one of the few creatures banned in Legacy can dictate the flow of an entire game as an one Drop, Snapcaster Mage, [c]Kess Dissident Mage, Leovold, Emissary of Trest, Jace, Vryns Prodigy, Spell Queller, Tireless Tracker, Goblin Rablemaster, Glorybringer, Carnage Tyrant and to name the most influential one since True-Name Nemesis, Palace Jailer (Oh yeah that talking point again).

My first competitive Highlander deck was an UG-AggroControl list and everyone who played dedicated tempo lists knows how hard it is to sequence your cards right since your deck will crumble the moment you make a mistake.
You can find that here:
https://www.cardmarket.com/en/Magic/Decks/Events/Highlander-German-Nationals-2011-08-07/596891070d7bf280548b457c
We have a lot of decks nowadays which will sometimes play as aggro control lists with the right starting hands and appropriate matchup. That will give them sometimes an edge when they face certain decks, mainly unfair ones because a fast clock and disruption are exactly what you need to beat those. If you try to play that midrange value game, that a lot of decks right now want to try to play, you will most certainly lose. I am mainly talking about Ux midrange decks either shard ones, Sutlai, Jeksai, Grixis or 4-5c versions. They have the advantage that they can also play the long game and pressure you with a Tarmogoyf early on followed by a Treasure Cruise into a generic midgame planeswalker. And that’s the point where I finally present the deck I ve played at the 13th MGM.

https://deckstats.net/deck-17287742-5da7e53ca7aefa41e7cc5ffb37cf77a3.html

After discovering that creatures are good in 2018 I changed my UW Control to an UW Midrange deck. Not going all in on the tempo plan but trying to have a clock and being proactive against my worst matchups. I always thought I am a control player and that’s why I mentioned my first competitive Highlander deck. I think I am way better with aggro control lists, which give me way more room to navigate through the many ways of decision making. While you have to make a lot of decisions in control too, you are most of the time forced in one line of play because you are always on the defense and just try to stay alive. You certainly have the tools to do so and I feel very comfortable to make those choices but if you think you are good at the game why would you force yourself in those narrow situations and not play a deck which rewards you when making the right calls.
Highlander isn’t a competitive format in the way like Modern/Standard or Legacy is. We neither have thousands of players benchmarking hundreds of decks nor do we have the incentives for people to go deep into testing and even if people would decide to go that route, there is simply no infrastructure to do so. What makes it competitive is your local and regional community and your own approach to the format. I want to win and I want to have fun while doing so. That means that I will sometimes include wacky cards in my competitive decks just because I like to play them or wrongly think they are the “nuts” (looking at you Mastery of the Unseen).
I don’t want to talk too much about all the things that influence the outcome of bigger tournaments but stating that even veterans (or people who like to win) like me, sometimes have cards in their deck just because they like them or think they are good in certain matchup is important when drawing conclusions from tournament results. Overall, I think variance and experience are the most important factors which determine the outcome of tournaments and not so much single card choices. At the same time that’s the exact reason why I love the format, because people have choices and it fills my heart with joy seeing someone play a Mystic Remora followed by a Counterbalance. That being said let’s go to my choices for the deck and let me explain why they are right 😊

When I made the decision to add creatures the staple choices were easy. Stoneforge Mystic, to have an early threat which needed to be handled. I think forcing your opponent sometimes to answer a creature on turn two is just so favorable for a midrange deck that its worth to take that risk of having a “dead” Batterskull from time to time. Wall of Omens, True-Name Nemesis, Vendilion Clique, Snapcaster Mage all those cards don’t need an introduction so let me get to the more curious ones.

Nimble Obstructionist: This card isn’t so strange to my local peers but maybe for some people not being familiar with it. This card is MADE for Ux decks. It gives you flexibility in a whole lot of matchups. There is no game where you can’t make good use of it. Is it a planeswalker activation, fetchlands or just the 3/1 flyer at the end of the turn. People who played with Clique know how strong a three power flyer at the end of your opponent’s turn can be. I can only urge you to try that creature and let the smoothness flow through you.

Mirran Crusader: That was a last-minute addition recommended by my teammate which played with it in the past and always had it in his UW tempo lists. I didn’t have it on my radar but I immediately thought it’s a good fit and performs quite good in the meta right now. Also, with Assassin’s trophy just getting printed it dodges a removal many decks will play while making sure to add a lot of pressure against most midrange decks. The decline of Jeskai and Grixis in my local meta make this card choice an easy one.

Aven Mindcensor: A lot of people ask themselves time over time if they should run it or not. If Jeskai/Grixis is running hot you should probably drop it since there are simply too many convenient answers for it, be it Sulfur Elemental or Fire/Ice and so on. Getting beaten each week by a deck which needs to search its library 540 times a turn I think warrants an inclusion though. In a bigger tournament like the MGM I think you can make arguments for and against it. Sometimes people forget it exists and there are certainly a lot of tutors in the format. Having equipment’s gives this creature a small bonus point because having flash and evasion goes well with that.

Brightling: I have some experience with it and to be honest with you, it doesn’t perform as I wished it would. But that being said I think it earned it place in this deck because you want a threat on turn three that your opponent has to have an answer to. Also having wrath effects in your deck and a creature which can survive that, is kinda neat. I think on average its simply too flexible. It helps you vs combo decks as a clock, vs aggro it can race and overall is not a creature which can be ignored. I wouldn’t blame you if you decide against it. (generousgod.gif).

Archangel Avacyn: I have to admit it’s a pet card. When this card came out I tried it in my Jeskai deck, which ran on a similar theme. Flash creatures and counter. Having such a big body in the air which can generate crazy value is very nice. But it has many downsides. The obvious one is being legendary and sometimes it kills your own nemesis. The three damage to players can’t be redirected to planeswalker anymore is another one. I would say that card is easily replaceable and there are a lot of five drops you can run instead. That being said I like her and she performed well so far.

Angel of Sanctions: Sadly, that wasn’t my idea. Again, my fellow team member brought that card to the highlander table and I was impressed by its performance in Standard so I thought after seeing it in both formats, its actually perfect for my deck. It serves as an answer while also being a threat. That nice two for one is something you always like to have on your UW-menu. Embalm is such a strong ability in blue matchups that I think running this is a solid choice. If your opponent overwhelms you with threats and even worse, diversifies them in form of a planeswalker and creatures, this Angel is your saviour.

Venser, Shapers Savant: Many think that is a staple card in blue midrange decks. I don’t think that’s the case. I think Venser lost its power over the years. Nevertheless, I included it simply because it has flash and goes well with the route I chose for this deck. Being semi proactive and stay flexible. There is of course the neat synergy with Karakas, which shouldn’t be a reason to include him but his flexibility is still worth something I guess. It can easily be replaced by something like Repeal or Into the roil if you want some kind of bounce effect.

Thalia, Heretic Cathar: She can give you a tempo advantage which you can usually only get with counter in this deck. The gained advantage is only useful if you can follow up with something on your own though. Which this deck can do from time to time but rather rarely. Thalia gives you this advantage each turn. Tapped lands are a huge deal especially vs the greedy 4/5c lists which maybe have only fetchlands and get punished even harder. Academy can’t use its mana in the turn they play it and even vs RDW having haste protection is nothing to scoff at. If they have to use a burn spell on your creature you are not unhappy also. Three power first strike is surprisingly strong in our format. Only downside is of course the legendary status.

Spellskite: Another last minute addition, from the same guy who recommended all the other good creature cards so far. (you see a theme here). While I ran it in my mono blue control list, in Pattern Rector and in several lists over the years I didn’t think of it for this deck but it makes perfect sense. We just got probably the best spot removal ever printed, and this little guy makes sure your planeswalker and fragile creatures stay healthy. This card is so freaking flexible you wouldn’t believe it. I don’t need to explain how insane it is vs RDW but even vs Scapeshift it takes one damage from each Valakut trigger. The applications for that card are truly unlimited. I stole Elspeth activations, Venser spell bounces and even a Rancor once. It’s always surprising to me how knowledge you once acquired gets lost again. Sometimes I feel like living in the renaissance and rediscovering the wisdom of the old masters again. I was at this point before where I thought I would never cut that card again. But here I am, in 2018 and feel silly for not including it in my first version.

Palace Jailer: First of all. That is not a real magic card. To this day I think most people don’t understand how unfair, wrong and powerful that card is. I don’t want to bore you with another 4000 words on how insane that card is. But let me tell you I wasn’t sure if it fits this kind of deck because I could run into problems when defending my Monarch status but let me assure you this card fits very well even in a blue white midrange list, that’s how strong it is. If you are ever in doubt, just play it and get carried. Usually I was on the receiving end of this card and would never come back from it when my opponent could resolve it. I made a switch and played a Pattern Rector deck for some weeks and included that card. That’s when I realized how ridiculous it is even though I already faced it many times. That card wins more games than Jace, the Mindsculptor ever did and it might be the new birthing pod in terms of “gets played-win rate correlation”. (for the people who weren’t around at that time the player who resolved a pod was very likely to win the game, we are talking about 65-70% winrate.

In this section I will speak about honorable mentions. Cards I would suggest you try if you didn’t consider them yet.

Primordial Mists: This card is relatively new. It generates card advantage while making sure you opponent dies to the manifested creatures. It’s simply ridiculous how this enchantment only costs one blue and when people speak about mana drain being unfair because it ramps you, that is in my opinion the most frightening card you can “ramp” into right now. Being an enchantment makes it even less vulnerable than, let’s say a planeswalker. Of course, we have now Knight of Autumn and Assassins Trophy on top of all the other already dominant removal. But this card needs to be answered rather quickly and quiet conveniently can be tutored by Enlightened Tutor which usually doesn’t find threats in UW lists.

Tithe: I am not sure this is common knowledge. But this card is the reason you play white over black in control lists e v e r y s i n g l e time. I am not kidding. It adds consistency, generates card advantage and is another brainstorm enabler. I don’t see it as often as I should. I would run that card in every white deck.

Chart a course: I wasn’t sure if that card belonged in my deck. I played See Beyond in the past and the best thing about it was the smoothness it added. Simply making sure to hit your land drops while not giving away too much tempo. This card is even card advantage and should be in every deck with 20+ creatures I think.

Fractured Identity: I am not sure you heard but this card is the nuts. Probably the best “fair” spell in the format you can run in midrange decks. I didn’t see it that often but that’s probably to the fact that we don’t have many control players in our meta. I know most UW lists already run that card but you should consider playing it even in those 5c greed lists.

At the end I would like to list some maybe choices which didn’t make the cut but certainly are contenders and could be added.

Hieroglyphic Illumination: It adds smoothness and card advantage later. If you just care for card advantage I would think Chemisters Insight could make a good addition as well.

Champion of Wits: This card served me well in Mono blue control. I determined it wasn’t the right card for this build but if the meta becomes a bit slower and you face more blue midrange decks in your tournaments, think about it. You can make sure to hit your land drops while getting rid of dead cards and having a threat in the late game which can’t be countered.

Stratus Dancer: This card alongside Den Protector was close to being a staple but somehow disappeared. I think right now you are not unhappy to have this card against some decks but of course if you face 4cblood and Selesnya all day you don’t want it.

Glen Elendra Archmage: If you want to improve your control/combo matchup, add this card. Still very good but slow.

Alms Collector: I would argue that’s the weaker brother of Notion Thief, but unlike Notion Thief you can actually block and sometimes take a creature from your opponent. Not sure it’s really necessary but a 3 / 4 body for four mana with an upside doesn’t seem like the worst to me. I did cut it at the end because it never gave me any value. Meta game choice I guess.

Arctic Aven: I will include that card for Thalia, simply because Thalia didn’t perform as I would like her to. That card is good against Scapeshift, RDW and other midrange decks. I think three power in the air is a fair deal for the cost.

Several Counter: I was thinking about Delay, Memory Lapse, Force Spike, Condescend[c], [c]Mental Misstep, Overwhelming Denial or even Disallow (I really like stifle effects in this kind of deck). I feel like you have one more spot to run one. Ojutais Command would be a nice fit if we would have more two drop creatures. Sadly, we don’t.

Resplendent Angel: This card provides a lot for its costs. Again, I think three power in the air for three is a good deal and it has an upside for the late game.

Dragonlord Ojutai: One of the big finishers you could add if you don’t like Archangel Avacyn. It’s a good card. If you can connect you should win the game.

Torrential Gearhulk: It’s a fine value card but I find it too slow. I would consider Dreameater maybe. Depending on how many Lighting Bolts you suspect coming at you.

Phantsamal Image: It can give you huge tempo swings and the less jeskai/grixis decks are around the more likely it will eat a hard removal anyway. Especially if you see more Palace Jailers getting played. The best answer to Monarch is becoming your own.

Treachery: Insane tempo advantage on top of a juicy 2-1. Also, a very fine target for Enlightened Tutor.

Vedalken Shackles: Should probably be in the deck but I am not a fan of the card in two coloured decks. Maybe that’s wrong but I am kinda spoiled. With Primordial Mists as a target for Enlightened Tutor I dont feel the need for it.

Stonecloaker: Having flash and three power evasion for three mana makes this card very appealing. Also having access to graveyard hate in UW is cute. I am not sure you can support it with 20 creatures but I think I will try it in the future. Especially with more Loam/Jump Start decks popping off.
Secure the wastes: Having creatures as win option, makes this card appealing. Before I wouldn’t run it because it needed to be huge aka at least for 4. Now I wouldn’t feel bad to add three tokens to the board end of turn to shorten the clock. In the late game it can outright win the game of course.

Settle the Wreckage: This card seems nice in a “I never want to tap out” deck. Especially if you run yourself creatures. A one sided wrath which even exiles creatures. I am not sure how good it is exactly in highlander but I know it’s ridiculous in Standard.

Siren Stormtamer: This card impressed me when playing a bit of Standard and it fits probably more in pure tempo lists. But it counters basically anything your opponent throws at your fragile creatures and even has some niche applications like Intutition, discard and so on.

Treasure Map: I love this card and I would always include it in heavy control decks. But this deck usually doesn’t have the mana and also doesn’t want to play as long as other control builds.

At the end I would like to give a short tournament report, which might be a bit much considering we are already close at the 5000 words mark. But I heard several people do enjoy some reports and I think it adds something to the story of those “data sets” we have when looking at top 8 lists. Having unfavorable matchups, bad draws or simply drawing the right cards at the right time, always gives more insight on how a deck got there.

Round 1: I play versus a friend which I played casual highlander 8 or 9 years ago. Was quite a surprise to see him again and he told me he didn’t play for a million years (not his words). He was playing UR which I think is a bit unfavored in this matchup. Simply because I have the better removal and planeswalkers. His non basic hate should probably be dead most times and I can render his burn useless with cards like Kitchen Finks, Timely Reinforcements and so on. His advantage I think lies in the tempo plays he can make.
Game one was very uneventful and we traded removal and counter. At some point I was able to stick an Elspeth, Knight-Errant and beat him down with Finks and some token. Game two was a slow game as well but I had a True-Name Nemesis and it resolved which is the best card you can resolve against UR. I beat him down and can also resolve an Archangel Avacyn which he can’t block because I was able to bounce his Stormbreath Dragon, which can actually race a Nemesis.

Round 2: I faced again an old friend. Stefan who travelled from Würzburg to Berlin and I know for many years. Back then on my first Highlander Grand Prix he lend me a Library of Alexandria (which I never drew) and we were in contact quite often because he was in charge of the forums. Very pleasant opponent who ran an OathControl/combo deck. The first game was not going into my favor. I resolved a Stoneforge Mystic which he let resolve but discarded my Batterskull and a Spellskite. He then resolved an Oath of Druids and I had to play a Wrath of God to not give him an activation. At this point I wasn’t sure what exactly he was playing. I just knew he had an Oath and I was pretty sure nothing good would come out of it. I suspected it being a combo deck so I played a very slow game and tried to find an answer for the oath which I ultimately did in form of Unexpectedly Absent. I played it in response to his Intuition which found him a Dark Depths combo together with Life from the Loam. I resolved some creatures and tried to race him but not having an answer for that 20/20 made me anxious, I had the monarch thanks to Palace Jailer and was desperate to find something which I did with my last possible draw to monarch. A Cast out which I played at the end of my turn when he made the token. Game two he just flooded away and I ended the game very quickly while being safe against his Dark Depths combo once again with a Karakas on my side.

Round 3: I faced Christoph, a well-known highlander player who always brings something spicy and made several Top8s in the past. I knew he played some kind of tempo Sultai deck at the FNMs and I wasn’t sure if he would stick to it. My hand was quite bad because I only had stuff to do at my main phase which I knew wasn’t favorable when facing another blue midrange deck. So, I began to throw my permanents in his counter spells because he himself didn’t have any pressure and was actually giving me quite some time. After some back and forth he was able to resolve a Dark Confidant which was bad news for me. Because this game would certainly be decided by the card advantage this card would generate. I found a Brightling which was copied by his phantasmal Image. Unfortunately, he didn’t leave white open so I could bounce my own creature and play a Supreme Verdict to sweep his board and end the game with the Brightling. Game two was an interactive game where he would have a Mastery of the unseen (he ran a 4c midrange value list I would say) which I could remove with a Council’s Judgement before he could get any value out of it. I was able to resolve a Palace Jailer with a Celestial Colonnade on my board and followed by a Mirran Crusader which was kind of too much for his basically UGBw list.

Round 4: I was paired against Nils. He played a tempo Jeskai list and to make it short all three games came down to a resolved nemesis on either side. I don’t want to disavow our skills in that game but there weren’t many decisions to be made and that match was a prime example why this card is unhealthy for our format. But that will be a story for another wall of text. I lost my first match and was a bit concerned because one more loss would mean there is no Top8 possible any more.

Round 5: This was my first non-blue matchup. I played against Sebastian from Leipzig who won a MGM with his Abzan list, which is quite impressive considering the fact that Abzan rarely makes an appearance in Top8’s nowadays. The first game was quite fast simply because he was stuck on three lands and I was able to resolve anything I wanted and didn’t leave him enough time to come back. That’s one of the situations where a midrange list outperforms a heavy control list because you are able to punish your opponent. Not having a clock makes that very hard for control if you don’t have a walker and several counter. Game two was pretty brutal for me. He landed threat after threat and I wasn’t able to keep up. I was stuck on three lands while having a Supreme Verdict in my hand but I couldn’t find the 4th land.
Game three I was able to resolve a True-Name Nemesis which surprisingly did a lot of work. At some point I resolved an Archangel Avacyn which would kill my own Nemesis if he would be able to destroy one of my other creatures. While he was already very low on life he had a Sword of Fire and Ice and a Shambling Vent which would be able to recover his life totals. Rather than keeping my Field of Ruins up for his manland activation I decided to play a Thalia, which was a big mistake. This way he was able to attack with his land while I had to block with my Wall of Omens triggering my angel and killing my nemesis in the process. He was on very low life though. Thanks to the attack from Avacyn herself and the trigger. In the next turn I was able to topdeck a Palace Jailer which helped me to close out the game. I felt like I didn’t deserve that win because that mistake should ‘ve been game deciding in Sebastians favor.

Round 6: I ID’ed versus Florian, who played a reanimator deck, which I think is not the best matchup for me but would be still a 50-50 game . Depending on how well both players draw, obviously. I wasn’t unhappy to dodge that game though, simply because reanimator can have very fast and disruptive starts which denies the value approach my deck usually wants to aim for in blue matchups.

I don’t want to spend too much time on the Top8 because there will be video coverage and with me being on it for the quarterfinals and finals it wouldn’t make much sense to recollect things from my memory when the camera catches the games way better than I do.

Quarterfinals: I was paired vs Jacob who made Top8 with RDW for the first time and is relatively new to the format. With my old UW list I was 15-2 in matches against RDW simply because of my dedicated hate against that deck. I even ran Rune of Protection: Red but at the last MGM I would lose two times vs that deck. Once in swiss and in the way more important semi-finals. So, my respect for that deck was as high as it gets.
In game one I had everything I wanted. I had a Spellskite and Stoneforge Mystic which force my opponent to have specific answers or at least stop him with any fast draws he might have. Luckily for me he kept a one lander and the game didn’t last long with this smooth start of mine. In game two I felt really bad because once again I had Spellskite and if that isn’t enough I had Kitchen Finks as well. Jacob didn’t care for that though. He had quite an aggressive start with Hellspark Elemental, Zurgo Bellstriker and some other one drop. But at some point, Jacob didn’t know exactly how to play around the little devil called Spellskite and missed some points of burn which eventually lead me to a win.

Semifinals: I was paired against Nils who was my only loss in the swiss standings. With him having a way faster tempo list I knew I was in a great disadvantage being on the draw. I can’t remember much to be honest but I do think it came down to me having a crucial Supreme Verdict and him being stuck on few lands. In the other game I was able to resolve a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria which simply wins you the game in those kinds of matchups, unsurprisingly.

Finals: Well those three games against Justus were really something (spoiler alert) and I rather want you to watch the coverage (which I probably will also be a part of) than reading my uncollected ramblings about those really tough and tense three games. I promise it will be worth it if you are interested in clutch plays, insane bluffs and very rare misplays by me on cam 😊
Thank you for reading so far and being patient enough. We are finally at the end of this endless wall. And I could talk days about control decks in the current meta and whatnot. But time is limited, which every control player knows way too well so I hope you enjoyed that little journey and I hope to see you in the next big tournament. I am considering doing a deck analysis on the other Top8 lists. If you are interested in this comment please.