Compared to the previous tournament, I had some time and opportunity to test the meta on the ladder and practice the deck I wanted to play in the event. I stopped resisting reality and chose to play the Bant Ramp deck.
I played the variant described by Andrea Mengucci in his CFB Pro article. I was really impressed by that post: the amount of work that went into it really shows. The insights into gameplay for that deck are priceless—really cool stuff. I am not much of a deck builder, so I did not attempt to tune it. Still, I have not followed the sideboard guide too strictly. What you actually see the opponents play matters a lot. Compared to the last week’s choice of Mono-Green Aggro, I felt like I play a much better deck with more information about how to play it.
Deck 2 Aether Gust 3 Elspeth Conquers Death 4 Growth Spiral 2 Hydroid Krasis 2 Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse 3 Llanowar Visionary 3 Nissa, Who Shakes the World 2 Shark Typhoon 2 Shatter the Sky 2 Teferi, Master of Time 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 3 Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 4 Breeding Pool 4 Fabled Passage 3 Forest 4 Hallowed Fountain 2 Island 2 Ketria Triome 2 Plains 4 Temple Garden 1 Temple of Enlightenment 2 Temple of Plenty Sideboard 2 Aether Gust 2 Dovin's Veto 3 Glass Casket 1 Heliod's Intervention 1 Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse 2 Mystical Dispute 1 Narset, Parter of Veils 1 Shark Typhoon 2 Shatter the Sky
Fast 0-3, again
G1, Rakdos Sacrifice: First game was really grindy and lengthy. I managed to win it by accumulating value over time with planeswalkers and staying alive using Uro and Krasis-es. I lost the second game really fast: cat into two ovens, into midnight reaper, which I swept, but opponent placed a Mayhem Devil and another oven. Hard to come back from that. I lost even the third game and went 0-1.
G2, Mono-Green Aggro. I made some mistakes and lost 1-2 to just enough bite removal, followed by card-drawing engines like the deathtouch elf and Great Henge, to which I never had an answer in time. I think this is where early sub-optimal plays manifest: if I use my cards optimally, I would not be missing answers. I also think I sided poorly into the copious amount of bite removal. Although I was 0-2, I still decided to continue playing to get some play experience.
G3, Bant Ramp. I had to mulligan to five, but even with that, the game was actually quite long and grindy. Eventually, the opponent snowballed too much and won. I won the second game quickly with Jolrael. The third was again a long grind. I ultimately lost because the opponent played an unanswered Nissa and won in the ECD management mini-game. 0-3.
It is interesting to observe what kind of decks and players does one meet in the later rounds as a loser. Many competitive players drop after a 0-2 start, so you start to meet some peculiar and unexpected decks played by people who definitely want to have some fun.
In the fourth match, I played against a very crazy BW deck with apparently some lifegain synergies, but it frankly made very little sense. Even that way, I managed to almost lose one game where I did not kill my opponent with Jolrael’s activated ability, and almost got punished by that. Fortunately for me, the opposing deck was terrible enough for me to make away with it, and I got my first win of the day.
I did not take detailed notes after the fourth round. I won the next match against a Mono-Green Aggro and lost the next one against a cute Mardu Midrange deck, which used some deathtouch/bite combos. I lost a match against a Temur Reclamation and won the last one against another Temur deck.
Even with a stronger deck and more experience playing it, I ended up with the same result as last week, when I played Mono-Green Aggro without much preparation. The lesson here is that the deck is not everything: I still need to play it better.
Red Bull tournaments are very nice to play: reasonably competitive and well organized; I do not remember of any organizational hiccup. The system is quite pleasant to use. I also enjoyed the giveaways in the Twitch chat. Although the stream and coverage are not as polished as some of the other Magic tournaments, it was entertaining enough to watch. I would like to see more structure covering the event itself (compared to individual games) in the stream though: round recaps, the performance of interesting names, surprising decks… Generally, more content that would frame the single games as parts of a larger event.