Top 8 at GP Kyoto with Sultai Midrange

Petr Sochurek

Petr Sochurek

Introduction

Hello everyone!

I am currently in Tokyo and I am having a blast, but what I am going to write about today reflects a different city in Japan where has the last Grand Prix being held: Kyoto. My initial plan was to take a night bus with my friend who I am staying with in Tokyo – Yusuke Okawa, but we took too long to reserve the seats and by the time we actually wanted to do it, the seats were already almost the same price as Shinkansen and given that taking it meant getting there approximately 4 times faster it was an easy choice.

Fushimi Inari

Image Copyright : Pakutaso

We wanted to do some sightseeing in Kyoto and therefore we decided to leave early on Thursday and went to see famous Kyoto gardens and mainly the famous: Fushimi Inari. For those of you who don’t know anything about Japanese culture, Fushimi Inari is the place with the most Torii (a gate the ghosts called “Kami” can pass through) gates in entire Japan and it’s completely amazing.

As for my deck choice – it was very simple and I knew a long time ago what I will play at the tournament: Sultai Midrange. Not only I played a ton with it in preparation for the Mythic Championship Cleveland 2019, I also believed that it was by far the best deck and I was never really close to playing anything else.

Preparation for Grand Prix Kyoto 2019

For reference this is the decklist that we used at the Mythic Championship:

I think our list was great for the Mythic Championship and I didn’t want to change much – I tried the Omega version of the deck for like 2 days, but I have quickly dismissed it. It’s obviously much better against Esper and Reclamation, but that is only true for game 1 – even with the 《Wildgrowth Walker》 version, you end up having 60 good cards for both of those matchups post board so it‘s actually not that big of a difference, but you lose infinite win% points in the aggro matchups by not playing the explore package – the matchup literally goes from great to horrible.

Wildgrowth Walker

The Omega version is also better in the mirror, but not by as much as people tend to think. The main reason why people think that is because of how bad 《Wildgrowth Walker》 used to be in the mirror match, but that has changed with 《Hydroid Krasis》 – it’s still a card that you board out (I usually keep in 1 on the draw though), but it’s actually not all that bad, because the way the games usually play out is not the same as before.

Previously the BG mirror was all about trading resources and getting small edges and 《Wildgrowth Walker》 didn’t really do enough, but now both players usually have infinite cards in their hands and a cheap big creature that can swing a race can actually be pretty good and it’s also a card you can proactively play into a potentially 《Find+Finality》 or can block a 《Carnage Tyrant》.

Assassin's TrophyVivien ReidThrashing Brontodon

I had spent a lot of time grinding in Hareruya Tournament Center tournaments and there were a lot of Nexus and Esper decks popping up so I wanted to hedge a little bit against those and added 2 《Assassin’s Trophy》, 4 《Vivien Reid》 and a 《Thrashing Brontodon》 to my deck. The hardest decision was whether to play 《Assassin’s Trophy》 or not – the problem is that it’s obviously a lot worse than 《Cast Down》 against the creature decks and horrible in the mirror (I didn’t expect much Sultai though), but it’s one of your best cards against Nexus/Control decks instead of a dead card.

In the end my decision of playing 《Assassin’s Trophy》 was obviously wrong as the metagame turned out to be all aggro decks and I have lost in the top 8 because of it – we were both mana screwed and I had to use 《Assassin’s Trophy》 to not die to my opponent’s random creatures and gave him the valuable land he needed.

Grand Prix Kyoto 2019

This is the list I ended up running:

Vivien Reid

Besides the 《Assassin’s Trophy》, I really liked my list – especially playing 4 《Vivien Reid》 – I understand that it’s legendary, but the card is just so powerful that I think it’s worth it and I think that it’s better than a 3rd 《Find+Finality》 right now – 《Find+Finality》 is just not that good against all these Mono Red, Mono U and 《Vivien Reid》 decks, whereas 《Vivien Reid》 is always insane (baring White Aggro).

Day 1

Crackling DrakeLyra Dawnbringer

I was very lucky during the tournament – my first opponent played an outdated Izzet Drakes list – a very good matchup and my second opponent played an Esper deck with bunch of 《Lyra Dawnbringer》 main – in the first game my opponent tapped 5 mana and I thought I am going to lose to a 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 that I didn’t have an answer for, but instead he played 《Lyra Dawnbringer》 which played right into my 《Vivien Reid》 and I won the game easily from that point.

Cast DownHostage Taker

Side boarding against Esper can be very tricky as you have to keep answer for their potential creatures in their deck – I usually keep even some 《Cast Down》 in as they usually have 4 《Thief of Sanity》 and up to 3 《Hostage Taker》, but my opponent seemed inexperienced and I could see that he wasn’t boarding in many cards so I just assumed that he will keep the 《Lyra Dawnbringer》 in even though they aren’t very good in the matchup. So I decided to keep 2 《Hostage Taker》 in my deck over the 《Cast Down》 and actually won game 2 by stealing a 《Lyra Dawnbringer》 with it.

It’s important to slightly optimize your sideboard plans against any given opponent as their deck can differ from a stock list by many cards and being loose about your choices can easily lead to an unnecessary loss.

Rekindling Phoenix

Round 6 I played on a feature match against a very strong Mono Red player and I have won a super close game 3 by topdecking a key 《Cast Down》 on a critical turn. My opponent played 4 《Rekindling Phoenix》 which were great against my version of a deck (only 2 《Vraska’s Contempt》 in 75) and I had to get really lucky to win.

Merfolk BranchwalkerHostage TakerHydroid Krasis

I actually think that I made a mistake in game 3 – at one of the last turns I had an option between playing a 《Merfolk Branchwalker》 (I had a 《Wildgrowth Walker》 in play) and 《Hostage Taker》 or casting a 《Hydroid Krasis》 for 4. My opponent had only 1 freshly drawn card and if it wasn’t a 3 damage burn spell, playing 《Hostage Taker》 would be great, but in retrospect it was actually very likely that it was exactly that – he would most likely play a land because of 《Experimental Frenzy》 and 《Lava Coil》 would hit a 《Wildgrowth Walker》 so it realistically could have been only a 《Shock》, 3 damage burn spell or a 《Collision+Colossus》. Even now I am actually not sure whereas I have made a mistake or not, but I won anyway so I guess that it’s fine :p

fujita_vs_sochurek

Tsuyoshi Fujita vs. Petr Sochurek
Image Copyright : Magic: the Gathering

I won my next 3 matches relatively easily (beat Tsuyoshi Fujita on Mono Blue in the process) and I was 9-0, leading day 1 from the first place. Going 9-0 obviously felt great, but I was a little worried that the same scenario that has happened to me in the last Mythic Championship is going to repeat itself – I was so excited that I couldn’t fall asleep and was basically a walking zombie on day 2 and got crushed. I indeed almost didn’t sleep, but fortunately I played the deck so much already that my autopilot was strong enough to play well enough anyway.

Day 2

Riku Kumagai

Riku Kumagai
Image Copyright : Magic: the Gathering

The day 2 has started pretty badly for me – I lost very convincingly to Kumagai’s Temur Reclamation deck. I actually drew both of my 《Assassin’s Trophy》 game 1, but I flooded out horribly and got buried in card advantage – Game 2 I drew all 4 《Vivien Reid》, but was unable to find a 5th land in time and lost to flipped 《Search for Azcanta》.

Hydroid Krasis

I started getting worried that the history is going to repeat itself, but fortunately the rest of the day went smoothly for me and I won the next 4 matches which have put me in a position to draw into the 1st seat with Kenta Harane. I played pretty badly in one of the rounds against a Mardu Aggro opponent – it’s not a very common deck with a lot of unusual cards and I played far from optimal, but fortunately the pure power of 《Hydroid Krasis》 was good enough to win a very close match.

I was obviously extremely pumped about my performance – my last 3 results in Japan GPs are 13-2 (11th at Chiba), 13-2 (9th at Shizuoka) and a top 8 and I have to keep wondering why am I doing so well in Japan – I think that the fact that Magic has a different vibe and people are way more serious about it means that I care way more and try harder than usual and I definitely plan on keeping going to these awesome events – it’s just a very different experience than any other GP.

Bae Daekyeung

Bae Daekyeung
Image Copyright : Magic: the Gathering

I lost in the top 8 to the eventual winner on Gruul Aggro with 2 very unfortunate draws, but as I said already – I have no one to blame but me for my deck choices so I guess my loss was deserved and a big congratulations to Daekyeung Bae!

Conclusison

For a brief moment I have considered to go celebrate my result, but I was completely exhausted and decided to go back to Tokyo as soon as possible. My friend Yusuke was still enjoying Kyoto though and I was a little afraid that I am going to take a wrong Shinkansen train on my way back, but fortunately Tomoharu Saito wanted to go back as soon as possible too so I was able to go with him.

The plans have changed though and we had a very pleasant stop in Nagoya to visit some of Tomoharu’s youtube friends during dinner and I got to explore Nagoya a little bit. It’s awesome how every Japanese city has a different vibe and style to it and I am eager to find out more and more about this awesome country that has seemingly endless things to offer.

Magic is now better than ever and I can’t wait to battle in upcoming events!

Thank you for reading,

@PetrKikac on Twitter

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Petr Sochurek

Petr Sochurek His prowess in reading the meta and taking advantage of it with flawless plays is among the reasons he is considered to be one of top European players right now. Having played Grixis Control to a magnificent victory at GP Paris 2016. He is most assuredly one of the top players to keep an eye on right now! Read more articles by Petr Sochurek