Category Archives: TJ Collectibles Titanium

June Titanium Series Wrap Up

By Zack Hall

 

June Titanium Series Wrap Up

May’s attendance wasn’t a fluke – the ball is rolling now! 72 players showed up at June’s Titanium Challenge – 2 players short of a record for these monthly events held at TJ Collectibles. Originally offering a prize pool of $1,000, this was quickly increased this as the Challenges kept growing and growing, currently still trending upward month after month, even as the beautiful summer months are upon us. Bolstered by a prizepool of $1,650 and room to increase further, it seems like players can’t get enough of the Modern tournament series brought into being 6 short months ago by Tom Shea and his hard working team.

Old decks resurgent and new decks created were at the forefront of the 2 Modern Grand Prixs the weekend before in Kobe and Copenhagen, but it didn’t seem to affect our local metagame much. Dredge and Counters Company were some of the best performing decks at the European and Asian Grand Prixs, but you wouldn’t know it if you were at TJs on Saturday. Grixis Shadow is considered the best deck in Modern by some and has been the most popular deck in our area over the past 3 months. This seems to be in line with the reality of the global Modern metagame. This being said, there were 0(!) Dredge decks in the room Saturday and only one copy the Counter Company deck. Whether players don’t have the cards to switch or are simply enjoying their own decks, this anomalous metagame is sure to be exploited by a savvy player.

After 7 rounds of Swiss competition, the field was narrowed to 8 players, with all players except one going 5-1-1 or better making Top 8.

The Top 8 players, finishes, and archetypes were:

1st Ray Karkman – Mono Red Pyro Prison

2nd Nick Starr – Jeskai Geist Aggro

3rd Nick Allain – Abzan Aggro

4th Adam Snook – Sultai Delirium

5th Ian Carle – Grixis Shadow

6th Deven Dupuis – Merfolk

7th Michael Decoste – Grixis Shadow

8th Ben Cohen – Bant Eldrazi

You can find the Top 8 decklists from the event when they’re approved by mtgtop8.com and on our website www.mtgtitanium.com

Condolences and honorable mentions to Rafi Abrahams and his BW Eldrazi deck, who defeated previous finalist Tim Connelly on camera here.

Good choices for May’s Titanium Challenge event!

By: Zack Hall

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Good choices for May’s Titanium Challenge event.

The fifth event in the Titanium Series hosted by TJ Collectibles is coming up and like all the rest it’s going to be a Singles Modern Event.  The monthly events have ranged from the mid forties to the mid seventies in attendance, while the quarterly Titanium Plus Weekend has two events (both Modern) which drew a combined 300 players.  What have sufficient data now to start to draw conclusions about the state of Modern in our area.  In this article I hope to describe some of the tendencies we’ve seen from month to month, focusing on the general trends of the 6 Titanium events we have to work off of.

In my mind there are a few different Moderns that exist.  There’s the perfectly balanced Modern metagame, with a few decks taking up about 10% of the metagame – think variants of Death’s Shadow Aggro, Valakut, and Burn.  Then there would be a handful of decks with varying degrees of win percentages based on things like the ease with which they’re hated out and how good players are at fighting them.

There’s the MTGO metagame which has a preponderance of decks like UR Storm and Ad Naseum as well as lots of people attempting some strange combo deck – think Krark-Clan Ironworks Eggs – that they’d never think to go at a high stakes, live action tournament.

Then of course there’s the metagame that exists on paper.  In real life, when a player has to set aside their entire Saturday and pay a Misty Rainforest’s worth of entry fee, usually that player wants to play something more solid.  A tendency that I’ve seen our players display is wanting to have control of their own destiny.  This means lots of players playing decks filled with very fair cards like Knight of the Reliquary and Kolaghan’s Command.  When we sleeve up our decks with Noble Hierarchs, Thoughtseizes, and Knights of the Reliquary, we convince ourselves that luck plays less of a factor in our games than if we run a linear strategy like one involving Angel’s Grace and Lightning Storm.

However, players defaulting towards these midrangy cards and strategies can be used to our advantage in deciding what deck to choose.  Tons of Thoughtseizes and Inquisitions are being played right now in addition to oodles of Eidolons and Kolaghan’s.  These cards make it difficult to play decks that rely on single cards or narrow gameplans.  As much as I love Lantern Control, I think it would be one of the worst decks to sleeve up for this weekend.  Too much hate and too broad of decks to fight in terms of threat density.  Another example might be UR Storm – weak to exactly the kinds of decks that show up at Titanium Challenge tournaments.

So this begs the question – what should we be sleeving up in a perfect universe?  Well, for one I wouldn’t be looking to play a hyperaggressive combo deck.  Something like Goryo’s Vengeance or UR Storm are just too narrow and vulnerable.  One of their biggest strengths is that they outpace the slower, more consistent combination decks which can prey on the midrange decks present at the event.  I would be comfortable registering a combo deck like Valakut Titan or Dredge Saturday though.  These decks have play against the policeman of the format, Burn while remaining resilient enough to be able to fight through the hate that the midrange decks are forced to play to disrupt combo.

If combo isn’t your style, classic Spreading Seas UW control is a great choice, though I don’t think most anyone has run this deck in a Titanium event.  Blue Nahiri decks with the Emrakul endgame show up at every event, but killing with Celestial Colonnade is a drag for most.  Still, if you can play this deck anywhere close to its maximum equity it has to be a great choice.

If you want midrange, I’m not sure what to tell you.  I don’t have the on-the-ground expertise in the midrange mirrors that I’d need to make that call.  Something with Death’s Shadows and Kolaghan’s Command has to be good.  I’d start there and build whatever shell best fits your style and card availability.  Some cards that I’m bullish on right now include: Dispel, Stubborn Denial, Anger of the Gods, and Leyline of Sanctity.  One thing I’d go a little lighter on might be directed artifact hate in the sideboard – Lantern is poorly positioned and Artifact Aggro is at its nadir here in the Northeastern US.

Join us on Saturday to see if my predictions are even close to accurate.  If you have an interesting deck or sideboard choices, hit me up on Facebook before the event or come see me at TJs and we can do a deck tech!  Thanks for reading my metagame advice and I hope to see you at TJ Collectibles this Saturday May 6th at 11am!

Titanium Series Challenge Wrap Up 1/28/2017

By Zack Hall

 

The first TJs Titanium Modern Challenge is in the books and Edgar Hinton is the champion! He Reality Smashed his way through 6 rounds of Swiss competition and a subsequent top 8 where he destroyed all 3 opponents who came before him. Through his victory he earns the first slot in the 2018 TJs Titanium Invitational, an invite-only event with a prizepool of over $5,000.

 

Forty-nine players made their way to Milford, Massachusetts on Saturday morning to stake their claim on Tom Shea’s $1,000 that he put up as prize.  It was an extremely diverse Modern metagame featuring cards from every set (I checked!) Mirrodin to Aether Revolt – seven distinct archetypes were represented in the Top 8!  From the extremely aggressive Infect deck piloted by Gordon Callahan to the unique mono-red prison deck helmed by Ray Karkman there were many strategies at play in the elimination rounds.  In the end though Edgar Hinton’s Bant Eldrazi faced off against Tim Connelly who had the same deck with only minor tweaks in the 75.

 

To tell the entire story of the day we must rewind to before Round One even kicked off – the player meeting!  Head Judge Gil Medeiros got the event started on the right foot, announcing loudly and clearly the banning of Golgari Grave-Troll and Gitaxian Probe, heading off any shenanigans that could’ve easily occurred. Forty-eight players were in their seats as the Round One pairings posted.  The 49th , a Lantern Control player, came clomping down the stairs just in time to avoid an early game loss. That masochistic individual got his just desserts for choosing perhaps the cruelest deck in Modern and started 0-2 against two Burn decks.

 

A frigid Saturday morning in Milford Massachusetts may not the place one would expect to find top level Magic talent with a European Grand Prix followed by Pro Tour: Dublin the next weekend, but a few local superstars showed up anyways.  Adam Snook and Nico Christiansen stood head and shoulders above the crowd in terms of experience though both players would likely downplay the fact and spout off a few Dangerfield-esque adjectives to describe themselves.  Always one to choose the aggressive strategy, Nico brought a fairly standard Naya Burn deck to the tables only tweaking numbers in the 75 and not making any personal deviations. On the flip side of the coin was Adam Snook.  Never one to be pinned down to a specific archetype, Adam is just as content playing (or not playing) 22 Basic Plains as he is Cryptic Commands and Creeping Tar Pits, which is what he chose to do for this event.  He registered a UB Faeries deck which was solely the product of his own tweaks.  It’s been awhile since Magic has seen a deck really abuse Bitterblossom, but Adam thought the time was ripe for it again.  The deck would likely be untenable without the 4 Fatal Push in his maindeck; these 4 were complemented by 6 discard spells and 6 counterspells.  His victory condition wasn’t any sort of flashy combo but simply beating down with 1/1 fliers and Creeping Tar Pits plus some incidental Countersqualling and Tasiguring.  In the end though both big name players failed to even have a shot at Top 8 going into the last round and they had to take the early ride of shame back home.

 

The next tier of local players contained names like Ryan Leverone, Scott Metcalf, Christian Baker, Joe Chagnon, Chase Kovac and what I’m sure are a ton of local stars that I’m slighting by leaving off this list.  Ryan and Joe both made Top 8 but made it no further.  Ryan was playing Death’s Shadow Jund while Joe sleeved up Abzan Company.

 

After 6 rounds of Swiss there was a clean cut to a Top 8 with all players 4-1-1 or better making it in. In the round of 8, first seed Ray Karkman fell to Tim Connelly while eventual winner Edgar Hinton defeated Ryan Leverone.  Talented Joe Chagnon dropped his match to Fog-maindecking Nick Furno and Gordon Callahan defeated Kevin Luu.

 

The semifinals featured Gordon Callahan’s Infect against Tim Connelly’s Bant Eldrazi.  Tim’s maindeck removal suite of Engineered Explosives and Path to Exile followed up with massive threats took the match.  On the other side of the bracket Edgar Hinton bashed his way past all defenses put up by friend and playtest partner Nick Furno.

 

The finals started out with two lopsided games with both players not having much of a chance to outplay the other.  In a matchup where both players have access to the same cards, flooding out on mana can be a colorless kiss of death.  Game 3 however was an entirely different beast.  Lasting for more than 30 minutes, it was a slugfest featuring multiple copies of Eldrazi Displacer, Drowner of Hope and Reality Smasher.  It seemed that Edgar would fall to more copies of Drowner leveraged by Tim but a timely Worship from the top of his deck! Suddenly the tables were turned as it was Tim’s turn to dig for answers to the inevitability provided by the Worship backed by a singleton Endbringer that was slowly pinging him and drawing cards.  After both players ran through most of their Path to Exiles and libraries, Edgar finally gained a tangible advantage with the Eldrazi Displacer and Drowner of Hope combination, creating a massive threat on his side of the board.  The Endbringer cleared the last of the Eldrazi Scions for Tim and his Drowner did the rest – Edgar Hinton was the champion!

 

I sat down with Edgar after the match to ask him a few questions and he was gracious enough to agree.  I asked him the usuals to start and I was a bit surprised by his answer!  The Level 1 judge had been playing for only 10 years which was surprising to me based on his level of game knowledge and player knowledge.  He explained to me that he moved to the Milford area about 10 years ago and hasn’t looked back since, always considering TJs a home base of sorts.  When asked what his playstyle was he immediately answered, “To beat down!”.  It may come as no surprise that his favorite deck of all time was a Tribal Zoo brew whose hallmark play was to use Ghor-Clan Rampager to power up a Geist of Saint Traft midcombat.  He told me that he considered the Northeast as a region way too fixated on a gameplan revolving around Snapcaster Mage and control spells.  It’s part of the reason he thinks that he’s excelled with aggressive decks over the years.  When I asked him whether or not he’d be sleeving up a deck that focused on turning creatures sideways at the 2018 Invitational, he wouldn’t come right out and say yes.  A sly grin crossed his face though and I just knew that Drowning the Hopes of his opponents was probably in his future.

 

Thanks for reading my wrap-up of the January Titanium Modern Series hosted by TJ Collectibles in Milford Massachusetts.  The event was streamed live at www.twitch.tv/TJCollect.  We hope you can join us on February 18th for the next $1,000 Invitational Qualifier! Failing that I know we’ll see you in Worcester, Massachusetts at the DCU Center the weekend of March 4th for the first Quarterly Titanium Weekend featuring a $5,000 Modern Tournament with additional prize support scaling based on entry.  The winner of this event gets the invitation to compete at the 2018 Titanium Invitational and a Round One bye at the event!  Please visit https://www.facebook.com/TJTitaniumSeries/ for more information including the Fulminator Mage playmat and a Legacy Challenge on Sunday.
Thank you for reading my January Titanium Series event wrap up and congratulations again to Edgar Hinton and all the players who made the Top 8 last Saturday at TJ Collectibles!