By Zach Hall
The March Titanium Challenge has concluded at TJ Collectibles, and Tim Tonelli came out on top!
74 players descended on downtown Milford, MA on a brisk Saturday morning to win Tom Shea’s money and an invitation to the Titanium Finals event slated for January 2018. The Swiss pairing system did its work on the tournament, winnowing from 74 to 8 players over 7 short rounds. Major props to Head Judge Alfred Dziewit and TJs luminary Matt Stone for an extremely well-run tournament. It was Al’s biggest tournament ever as Head Judge. Great job Al!
Four players made it to the elimination rounds but no further. Here are the players and decks they played:
5-8th Joseph Mansur – Jund Midrange (No Death’s Shadows)
5-8th Bryan Kelly – Naya Burn
5-8th Scott Metcalf – GW Death and Taxes
5-8th Nick Starr – Jeskai Protect the Geist (Aggro-Control)
In the quarterfinals Bryan Kelly was just squeaked out of Top 8 by Jesse Robinson’s Burn deck, despite the pair of Kor Firewalkers in Bryan’s sideboard. Had they made an appearance in the sideboarded games, Bryan might have had the right to face Tim in the semis. Nick fell in 3 close games to Tim’s Grixis deck in the first round of Top 8. The match can be found on our YouTube channel here. On the other side of the bracket, Scott was taken down quickly by Ryan’s Elf Army. Without removal for Ezuri, the Elves will quickly overrun any opponent playing fairly. The longest match in the Top 8 was when Joe Mansur came up short on gas against Daniel Campbell’s Knights of the Reliquary and co.
In the semifinals, Jesse’s Burn deck faced another deck trying to quickly reduce his life total to 0. The only difference was that Tim was trying to bring HIMSELF as low as possible for his Death’s Shadows. Tim had quite the tightrope to walk though, as Jesse was trying to do the same thing he was! It took three games, but in the end 5/6s for two mana and 9/9s for one, ran down Jesse who could only put together 18 of the 20 required life points to earn his spot in the Finals. In the other match between Ryan’s Elves and Dan’s Knights, beats were traded back and forth in an extremely creature-heavy matchup. It all came down to the last combats of Game 3, however, as Daniel’s forced alpha strike came up just a little bit short against the Ezuri powered army on the other side of the board. Ryan easily cracked back for way over lethal damage. Click here for a VoD of the match.
3-4th Jesse Robinson – Naya Burn
3-4th Daniel Campbell – Bant Knightfall (Retreat combo)
In the end, the tournament came down to just two players, captured on video here. On one side was Ryan Leverone, who has already done very well for himself in the Titanium Series. With a great winrate in the events and a few Top 8s to his name already, Ryan really wanted to lock up his spot in the Titanium Finals by taking down Tim’s Grixis Shadow deck. Tim was on a tear though, and wasn’t going to go down easily. . He shored up some of the weaknesses of the deck by using Death Shadows. Grixis Control decks are usually threat-light and can stall out in the midgame, but the namesake card of Tim’s deck added some consistency and a scary clock. The beefy Shadows did not play a huge role in the matchup though, as Tim’s grindy deck full of cards and interactions gave him tangible card advantage over the course of a game. They did their work against Ryan’s deck filled with 1/1s and 2/2s, with no inherent advantage. A mulligan to 4 in Game 1 spelled doom for Ryan. As he was shuffling up to draw his 4-card hand, Tim told him straight up how good his hand was in the matchup. Within minutes they were shuffling for Game 2. In that game, Ryan drew and resolved the singleton Chameleon Colossus, but even that wasn’t enough to stop Tim’s black-based juggernaut. Every Ezuri was drawn was dealt with, and before long Tim was swinging for lethal while Ryan extended his hand!
2nd Ryan Leverone – ELVES!
1st Tim Tonelli – Grixis Shadow
I talked to Tim after the tournament, and he was humble in victory crediting the win to having great draws all day, as well as playing a very powerful 75 with the deck being well positioned for the tourney. Tim is also qualified for the Limited RPTQ – Hour of Devastation and is looking to take his game to the next level. The Titanium Finals aren’t quite a Pro Tour, but Tim can still be proud of being one of only a handful of players to qualify for an invite-only, high stakes tournament! Look for his profile, as well as the profiles of all other qualifed players over at www.mtgtitanium.com – they’ll be coming soon as we see more and more of the 24 slots fill up!
There’s no denying that the hottest format right now is Modern constructed. You can play whatever you like, as long as you adhere by a few simple rules. Any style you want, any colors you want. A manabase can be built anywhere from painless and fast, to shock-filled and slow. There is plenty of room to innovate in the format – just ask veteran Scott Metcalf, who seems to be one of the only people trying to abuse the banned-in-multiple-formats Aether Vial. On the other side of the spectrum, there is extreme value in being the player taking a tried and true strategy and doing it really well – like Joseph Horton who can always be found near the top tables with his Burn deck. Personally, I have my eye on Sword of the Meek and Thopter Foundry, and am always on the lookout for a shell that can make great use of that combo.
The next Titanium Challenge is already here – Sunday April 2nd! I hope you can join us at TJ Collectibles in Milford, MA for another chance to qualify for the Titanium Finals. The already-qualified Edgar Hinton and I will be providing video coverage for the event, including audio commentary and deck techs. If you have any spicy technology for the weekend, let me know on Facebook or in person on Sunday, as I’d love to see it in action and get it on camera. Hope to see you there!