Emerging Teams

Last weekend was the SCG Invitational in Somerset, New Jersey and let me start by saying, it was a complete blast.  There are very few events that can spark excitement like an invite only tournament with a lot on the line.  A Pro Tour invite, an SCG Players Championship Invite, and a huge cash payout are all the incentives necessary to get high-quality players together for an exciting weekend of magic.

There is one thing for sure this tournament pushed to the front of everybody’s mind who attended: teams in magic are here to stay.  Team MetaGame Gurus put two more of its players into the Player Championship: Kevin Jones and Andrew Jessup.  Team Cardhoarder showed up en masse and put up some solid results in the Open and Classics. Team SnapKeepGames Jerseys were all over the event and put up some solid results in the Invitational, Open and Classics.  Players are seeing that working as a team gives an edge over the competition and are banding up to better their game.

What does this mean for competitive magic?  I think that competitive magic is going to experience an influx of new players learning at a quicker pace than in the past. Being part of a team will help inexperienced players learn new interactions and thought patterns faster than before.  Team think-tanks will provide valuable information and insights into formats for their members by pooling the knowledge and experience of its players and thus allowing everyone on the team to gain an advantage.

How does being on a team give you a competitive edge? The team is a Hive Mind of strong players, testers, deck builders and analysts working together with the goal of putting up tournament results.  Not everyone who picks up a magic deck will be able to pilot it efficiently right away, but a strong player will be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in the deck after a few rounds.  Someone on the team might be an excellent deck builder and be able to find niche decks that are in a great position for the metagame. Another player may be excellent at compiling and evaluating information found online about each format and find a weakness ready to exploit.  By being on a team, you can help other players grow in aspects that they are weak, while simultaneously learning from them and becoming a better magic player.

There are a lot of aspects to competitive magic that led up to playing in any tournament.  You need time to test for the tournament, prepare a travel itinerary and obtain the cards you wish to play.  Working together with a group of like-minded players will help alleviate stress.  You can borrow cards, work together testing and building sideboards, as well as travel and stay together to make magic grinding financially feasible. During the tournament, you know you will have the support of friends when you are having a good run and also have people to support and root for when your tournament ends at a less than favorable time.

Team Channel Fireball teamed up with Face to Face games to initiate Eldrazi winter with their results in Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.  Although magic is played by individuals, you can see the effects of team play on the tournament scene.

There were other new Teams and sponsorships that popped up this past weekend as well. We seem to be at the turning point of a new era of how tournament magic is prepared for and played.  The idea of Teams becoming a norm for magic could bring about the opportunities for some really cool tournaments.

The World Magic Cup is an invite-only tournament that pits the best players from across the world, playing for their home countries, against each other across a couple of fun formats.  The format set up for the 2015 World Magic Cup was as follows:

Day 1: Three Rounds of Team Sealed, then four Rounds of Team Unified Standard

Day 2: Three Rounds of Team Sealed, then three Rounds of Team Unified Standard

Day 3: Team Unified Standard

Now I am unsure about most people, but I have never played a match of Team Unified Standard, and Team Sealed is one of the most fun formats of all time. This tournament set up looks like an amazing starting point to really put new magic teams to the test.  Figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of your own team, finding the best combination of decks for a limited card pool, and trying to next level the competition makes for an interesting training ground for a team building exercise.

Also, did I forget to mention that Wizards of the Coast is now giving us one Team Unified MODERN GP for next year? Yeah, that’s going to be awesome.

Now here is my crazy idea that I think would be viable if Team Magic becomes the forerunner of the game.

A tournament organizer puts together a circuit with a point system for individuals based off of tournament results.  Players may join up in Teams and register as a team in the circuit. Each Team can be comprised of 3 players, whose total points gathered at this tournament circuit will count towards the teams total points.  At the end of the tournament circuit’s conclusion for the year (or season), the top teams will qualify to play in a tournament similar to the World Magic Cup together. The team will play a tournament built like this:

Day 1: Three Rounds of Team Sealed, then four Rounds of Team Unified Modern

Day 2: Three Rounds of Team Draft, then three Rounds of Team Unified Standard

Day 3: Team Unified Standard/Modern

This is just a rough sketch of tournament idea, but if anyone sets this up, sign me up!

 

For those who are wondering how the SCG Invitational went for me, you need to look no further than my Modern OPEN results… yeah, I washed out of the INVI really fast. I decided to play my go-to deck in the Modern portion, Jund, and started the day 1-3 losing very quickly to an awful misplay followed by a tiny bit of variance.   I love Junding people, but after taking some bad beats, I turned around for the open and decided it was best to follow in Arya Roohi’s footsteps and light people on fire. My list for the Open:

Modern Burn

Creatures (12)
4 Goblin Guide
4 Monastery Swiftspear
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel

Lands (20)
4 Mountain
4 Arid Mesa
2 Blood Crypt
4 Bloodstained Mire
2 Sacred Foundry
4 Wooded Foothills

Spells (28)
4 Boros Charm
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Searing Blaze
4 Skullcrack
4 Bump in the Night
4 Lava Spike
4 Rift Bolt

Sideboard
1 Grim Lavamancer
2 Deflecting Palm
3 Lightning Helix
3 Rakdos Charm
2 Searing Blood
2 Wear // Tear
2 Self-Inflicted Wound

I played Burn to a 29th place finish.  I dropped the typical green splash for Wild Nacatl and Destructive Revelry in order to gain 4 Bump in the Night for the maindeck. With the number of Lightning Bolts running around the format, I decided to bench our little green friend for some terror in the night.

Bump in the Night kills the opponent through Worship. Rakdos Charms is great versus dredge. It exiles their graveyard, dodging their artifact and enchantment removal, and even kills them outright if they flood the board with too many creatures. The Burn mirror match was not good since I cut the hate for it and have a 3 color manabase. Self-Inflicted Wound was great for the Tarmogoyf matchups, where it kills the scariest thing they have, a fast clock. I lost to Bant Eldrazi three times on the second day of the Open.  The deck is real, and I need an answer to it. Maybe it’s time to dust off those Ensnaring Bridges…

Let me know what you think about the emergence of teams in Magic and if you think you would have fun playing my whacky Team Tournament!

 

Christopher Juliano

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