Zendikar Rising Championship Top 16 Report

Luis Salvatto

Luis Salvatto

Introduction

For this tournament, since the field would be bigger than the league weekly splits, we decided to join forces with more people.

From the beginning of this season our testing squad was: Sebastian Pozzo, Matias Leveratto, Chris Kvartek, Piotr Glogowski and me. This time, we joined forces with Autumn Burchett, Emma Handy, Montse Ayensa, Jan-Moritz Merkel and Matt Sperling.

We ended up being pretty convinced with the deck choices and we ended up having two players in the top 8 and Matt, Sebastian and me 1 step short to top 8.

My Decklist

My decks for the tournament:

I ended up in 16th position, and earned 2 valuable points for the Rivals League and I’m very motivated to keep earning points to ascend to MPL again!

This is the resume of my rounds, 3 of my losses were against players who did top 8!

Round Opponent Result
Round 1 Jan-Moritz Merkel
(Sultai Midrange)
1-2
Round 2 Thomas Ashton
(Jund Sacrifice)
2-0
Round 3 Ben Stark
(Dimir Rogues)
2-1
Round 4 Jakub Toth
(Naya Winota)
0-2
Round 5 Yuma Koizumi
(Gruul Adventures)
2-1
Round 6 Asfandyar Rashid
(Dimir Rogues)
2-0
Round 7 William Jensen
(Esper Doom Foretold)
2-1
Round Opponent Result
Round 8 Allen Wu
(Jund Sacrifice)
2-0
Round 9 Gary Patrick
(4C Midrange)
2-0
Round 10 Corey Burkhart
(Sultai Midrange)
1-2
Round 11 Bernardo Torres
(Goblins)
2-0
Round 12 Gabriel Nassif
(Mono-Green Food)
0-2
Round 13 Ivan Floch
(Dimir Rogues)
2-1
Round 14 Aaron Gertler
(Dimir Control)
2-0
Round 15 Andrea Mengucci
(Esper Doom Foretold)
1-2

As you can see, I moved to day 2 with a 5-2 score, and the final score was 10-5, losing the last one against Andrea, who made the cut in 8th place.

You can all player’s decklists from here.

Tournament Report

Day 1: Historic

Round 1: Jan-Moritz Merkel – Sultai Midrange

Jan-Moritz is a very skilled player, and since he decided not to play white, he had an edge in the mirror, his manabase was better and the full x4 《Hydroid Krasis》 did a lot of work. We played 3 long games and except those one-sided games, it tends to take a lot of turns and you see most of your spells, and besides the 2 《Narset, Parter of Veils》es, it ends in this way…

I’ll share with you my opener in game 1 since it was very interesting. Keep or mulligan?

Fatal PushEssence ScatterUro, Titan of Nature's WrathUro, Titan of Nature's Wrath
Teferi, Hero of DominariaZagoth TriomeWatery Grave

This was my sideboard plan for game 2 and game 3.

vs. Sultai Midrange

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push
Yasharn, Implacable Earth Yasharn, Implacable Earth Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath Essence Scatter
Languish Extinction Event

In

Negate Negate Scavenging Ooze Scavenging Ooze
Shark Typhoon Shark Typhoon Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils
Mythos of Nethroi Tale's End

Round 2: Thomas Ashton – Jund Sacrifice

Korvold, Fae-Cursed KingYasharn, Implacable Earth

Thomas decided to play 4 《Korvold, Fae-Cursed King》 and no 《Collected Company》, and this change makes the matchup even better for us. 《Yasharn, Implacable Earth》 shuts off most of the deck, and since they only have 2 cards to kill it game 1, it is pretty easy to cast it and win the game instantly, since you only need to handle the big dragon.

Thoughtseize

After sideboard they have 4 more removals, but since without Company the deck is much slower, I decided to use a few 《Thoughtseize》 after sideboard to protect the pig and also to hit 《Korvold, Fae-Cursed King》 or 《Claim the Firstborn》. It worked perfectly and I had no problems to win the round. (I forgot to record the match)

Round 3: Ben Stark – Dimir Rogues

I never played against Rogues in all my Historic testing process, but I felt that the match was good for me since multiple 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》s for free + cheap and efficient cards are a lethal combination…

However, Ben is a very good player and he had a lot of good cards as well, so I lost game 1, and this is how I sideboarded for game 2:

vs. Dimir Rogues

Out

Aether Gust Aether Gust Yasharn, Implacable Earth Yasharn, Implacable Earth
Languish Extinction Event Essence Scatter

In

Shark Typhoon Shark Typhoon Negate Negate
Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils Mythos of Nethroi

He had some mana problems on game 2, and I decided to switch the 《Eliminate》 with a 《Witch’s Vengeance》 for game 3, and again he missed the 2nd landrop (from a 7card hand) so I realized after the turn 2 that his hand was full of good and cheap spells, otherwise he would mulligan. And it was the case, because he started with 《Thoughtseize》, had 《Grafdigger’s Cage》, and 《Zareth San, the Trickster》 with more rogues, luckily for me the missed landrop cost him the game probably.

This is the moment after he put a 《Shark Typhoon》 from my side in play but it was late and 《Nissa, Who Shakes the World》 + 《Hydroid Krasis》 and 《Negate》 finished the game.

Day 1: Standard

Round 4: Jakub Toth – Naya Winota

Time for some Standard! Jakub played Naya Winota, but since most of the deck is the adventure pack, game 1 looked like a mirror, where he did the famous turn-4 《The Great Henge》 and win the game since I couldn’t remove it until the previous turn alive.

This was my plan for game 2:

vs. Naya Winota

Out

Questing Beast Questing Beast Questing Beast Questing Beast
Scavenging Ooze Scavenging Ooze

In

The Akroan War The Akroan War Soul Sear Soul Sear
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Vivien, Monsters' Advocate

I started with a 6 card good opener, but my opponent had the nuts (《Selfless Savior》, 《Lotus Cobra》, 《Winota, Joiner of Forces》) and I couldn’t even play my 《The Great Henge》 turn 4, otherwise I could have a shot.

Round 5: Yuma Koizumi – Gruul Adventures

First mirror match! His list had 3 《Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate》, 3 《The Great Henge》, but only 2 《Embercleave》. I drew pretty well on game 1 and won without any problem.

This was my plan for game 2

vs. Gruul Adventures

Out

Brushfire Elemental Brushfire Elemental Brushfire Elemental Brushfire Elemental
Questing Beast Questing Beast Questing Beast Questing Beast
Embercleave Embercleave Scavenging Ooze Scavenging Ooze

In

Fire Prophecy Fire Prophecy Phoenix of Ash Phoenix of Ash
Soul Sear Soul Sear Wilt Wilt
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Vivien, Monsters' Advocate The Akroan War The Akroan War

This game was crazy, I drew a 《Mountain》 and the 2nd 《The Great Henge》 and couldn’t play it, and that made the game goes longer and we ended up in topdeck mode and he drew Vivien and won from then.

Phoenix of AshGarruk, Unleashed

I took the 2 《Phoenix of Ash》 out since on the play I can handle opponent’s vivien better and brought back the 3rd Cleave and the 《Garruk, Unleashed》.

I had a good opener, with a turn 5 《Embercleave》 attack, after that his life total was 3 and Garruk ended up winning the game thanks to his +1 ability.

Round 6: Asfandyar Rashid – Dimir Rogues

Rogues was the match up that I was more confident to play, since the games post boards are pretty good, and sometimes you can even win game 1 as well. I had a good opener and he did not, so I won the game really fast.

This was my plan for game 2:

vs. Dimir Rogues

Out

Embereth Shieldbreaker Embereth Shieldbreaker Embereth Shieldbreaker Scavenging Ooze
Embercleave Embercleave Embercleave Primal Might
Questing Beast Questing Beast

In

Ox of Agonas Ox of Agonas Phoenix of Ash Phoenix of Ash
Soul Sear Soul Sear Fire Prophecy Fire Prophecy
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Vivien, Monsters' Advocate

Game 2 I had a 《Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate》 and when I run out of threats I remember an advice from my friend Damian Buckley: Rogues can’t really afford to play many 《Negate》 and dies against creatures, so I casted the vivien into 4 open mana, she resolved and I won a few turns after that.

Round 7: William Jensen – Esper Doom Foretold

I lost game 1 and won game 2 without nothing to do from both sides. But game 3, as you may know, being on the play is a huge difference, besides obvious reasons, on the draw is very hard to catch up the card 《Doom Foretold》, but luckily for me he didn’t draw any 《Doom Foretold》 in the early game. I kept a normal hand and we started to trade resources, and this was a key turn in which I killed the 《Archon of Sun’s Grace》 and won some turns after that.

Day 2: Historic

Round 8: Allen Wu – Jund Sacrifice

Allen only had 1 《Maelstrom Pulse》 game 1, and didn’t drew it. Game two he played with 3 lands all the game thanks to 《Yasharn, Implacable Earth》.

The way to go in the sideboard is 《Negate》 against 《Collected Company》, and 《Thoughtseize》 against 《Korvold, Fae-Cursed King》. 《Fatal Push》es are better against Company and 《Essence Scatter》 against Korvold.

Collected CompanyNegateFatal Push
Korvold, Fae-Cursed KingThoughtseizeEssence Scatter

Round 9: Gary Patrick – 4C Midrange

Game 1 we drew almost the same cards, besides 《Aether Gust》, which gave me the game.

vs. 4C Midrange

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push
Yasharn, Implacable Earth Yasharn, Implacable Earth Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath Temple Garden
Languish Essence Scatter

In

Shark Typhoon Shark Typhoon Scavenging Ooze Scavenging Ooze
Negate Negate Narset, Parter of Veils Narset, Parter of Veils
Tale's End Mythos of Nethroi

This was my plan for game 2 and it worked pretty well this game but still not full convinced about how to sideboard in the mirror.

Round 10: Corey Burkhart – Sultai Midrange

This was a featured match(Link to the video)

I’ll share with you some images to show respect to 《Narset, Parter of Veils》, one of the best Planeswalkers ever made:

(turn 3 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 from the top after a 《Thoughtseize》 from my side)

(2nd 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 finding 《Nissa, Worldwaker》 and killing my hopes of drawing more cards)

Corey is a very skilled player and his list was better in the mirror, in the same way as Jan-Moritz Merkel, he had 1 more 《Hydroid Krasis》, 1 more 《Narset, Parter of Veils》, 1 more discard spell and 1 《Castle Locthwain》, thanks to playing straight sultai.

Round 11: Bernardo Torres – Goblins

Game 1 was easy, since he mulliganed and kept a onelander, missing two land drops, so I had enough time to prepare my board and ended up dealing with all his threats and won the game with 《Nissa, Worldwaker》 + 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》.

This was my plan for game 2:

vs. Goblins

Out

Yasharn, Implacable Earth Yasharn, Implacable Earth Hydroid Krasis Hydroid Krasis
Plains Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

In

Witch's Vengeance Witch's Vengeance Essence Scatter Tale's End
Extinction Event Mythos of Nethroi

On game 2, Bernardo was super unlucky with his first 《Muxus, Goblin Grandee》, hitting only 《Goblin Matron》, and I topdecked to stop the second one.

I won some turns, Nissa never got hitted, and after some trades and triggering Revolt with the -8 from Nissa. I won game 2 that I should have lost most of the time.

Day 2: Standard

Round 12: Gabriel Nassif – Mono-Green Food

Back to standard, mono-G is a natural predator for my deck, Gruul, so I needed some good draws to beat a player like Gab, but it was the opposite.

T3 《Wicked Wolf》, T4 《Kogla, the Titan Ape》, T5 《Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate》 on the play against a normal opener from my side.

This was my plan for game 2:

vs. Mono-Green Food

Out

Brushfire Elemental Brushfire Elemental Brushfire Elemental Brushfire Elemental
Questing Beast Questing Beast Scavenging Ooze Scavenging Ooze

In

Soul Sear Soul Sear Wilt Wilt
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Vivien, Monsters' Advocate The Akroan War The Akroan War
Garruk, Unleashed

I kept this hand.

Edgewall InnkeeperEmbereth ShieldbreakerQuesting BeastThe Akroan War
WiltShatterskull SmashingForest

I drew my 3rd land off the 《Wilt》‘s Cycling on turn 3 while Gab went 《Lovestruck Beast》 on 3, 《Wicked Wolf》 on 4, 《The Great Henge》 + 《Witch’s Oven》 on 5 and I couldn’t recover from that.

Round 13: Ivan Floch – Dimir Rogues

Ivan kept a hand with a Temple + Passage 7 card hand, but drew the 3rd land (tapped) on turn 4, while I cast spells all my turns from turn 2 and the pressure was good enough to take the game before he could cast the rest of his spells.

I had a really interesting spot, knowing that he missed 2 landrops (I missed 1). What’s the play?

I will write my line of play after finish this match.

This was my plan for game 2:

vs. Dimir Rogues

Out

Questing Beast Questing Beast Questing Beast Questing Beast
Embercleave Embercleave Embercleave Embercleave

In

Ox of Agonas Ox of Agonas Phoenix of Ash Phoenix of Ash
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Fire Prophecy Fire Prophecy

In this game I had access to plenty of cards but only two 《Mountain》s, while Ivan developed his board and hand without any problem and won the game in all ways.

I forgot to take out the 《Embereth Shieldbreaker》s so I switched them for 2 《Questing Beast》 and 1 《Garruk, Unleashed》, and since he took out 《Ruin Crab》s I switched 《Primal Might》 with 《Embercleave》.

I had an insane opener and a copy of 《Phoenix of Ash》 arrived for free being the perfect card to put even more pressure. Again taplands didn’t help him since I was attacking for 16 on turn 4 while he just cast two 2 drops.

My play on game 1 against Ivan

I tried to make Ivan tap that mana, so I casted 《Brushfire Elemental》, it resolved, I played the land untapped, casted 《Embereth Shieldbreaker》 and resolved… Since Ivan didn’t tap out, I attacked with everything and he played another 《Soaring Thought-Thief》, which I killed post combat, and he conceded the turn after that (with this play I avoided a 《Lullmage’s Domination》 from his side since he never reached 8 cards.

Lullmage's Domination

Round 14: Aaron Gertler – Dimir Control

I was super scared about this match, since the deck is very good against Gruul Adventures, and Aaron showed how good he is at playing Standard, so I couldn’t expect any mistakes or easy gameplans from his side.

Game 1 was pretty back and forth, I was holding my 《Questing Beast》 waiting for his 《Ashiok, Nightmare Muse》, and when Ashiok arrived I could manage to kill it while still pressure his life according to my plan to win after the 《Extinction Event》, since that single card potentially handle both beasts and he played 4 copies so it was certainly soon. Lucky for me it worked because it is pretty hard to connect a hit with 《Embercleave》 against Dimir Control, so it was fantastic to win game 1.

This was my plan for game 2:

vs. Dimir Control

Out

Embercleave Embercleave Embercleave Embereth Shieldbreaker
Scavenging Ooze Scavenging Ooze Primal Might

In

Ox of Agonas Ox of Agonas Phoenix of Ash Phoenix of Ash
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Garruk, Unleashed

On game 2 he has some problems with the hand because didn’t interact with me during the very first 4 turns, and couldn’t come back from that and I won with the second wave of threats.

Round 15: Andrea Mengucci – Esper Doom Foretold

I went to 6 and Andrea had a good opener and by turn 5 I didn’t have any chance to win.

This was my plan for game 2

vs. Esper Doom Foretold

Out

Embereth Shieldbreaker Embereth Shieldbreaker Embereth Shieldbreaker
Embercleave Embercleave Embercleave
The Great Henge The Great Henge Primal Might

In

Ox of Agonas Ox of Agonas Phoenix of Ash Phoenix of Ash
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Soul Sear Soul Sear
Garruk, Unleashed

Game 2 I won thanks to the extra 3 cards that I drew with 《Ox of Agonas》, and I kill him exactly with an 《Scavenging Ooze》 + 《Embercleave》.

I decided to bring at least 1 copy of 《Soul Sear》 because he had 3 copies of 《Archon of Sun’s Grace》. This was my plan for game 3:

vs. Esper Doom Foretold

Out

Embereth Shieldbreaker Embereth Shieldbreaker Embereth Shieldbreaker
Embercleave Embercleave Embercleave
The Great Henge The Great Henge Primal Might

In

Ox of Agonas Ox of Agonas Phoenix of Ash Phoenix of Ash
Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Vivien, Monsters' Advocate Garruk, Unleashed
Soul Sear Wilt

He started with turn-3 《Elspeth’s Nightmare》 killing my 《Brushfire Elemental》, and I drew the 《Garruk, Unleashed》 exactly on that turn, otherwise I could have a shot, but he followed with 《Doom Foretold》, and then using all his cards to kill me a few turns after.

Some Thoughts

I’m very happy with the result, I won some games that were super close and this motivates me even more to keep practicing to reach (and maintain) my best magic!

I want to thank all the people who worked with me for this tournament, specially Sebastian Pozzo and Matt Sperling.

Sebastian is a longtime friend and a very good (magic and life) adviser, so thanks!! I keep learning from you and with you! (to be fair, he was the one who teached me how to speak English.. haha)

Matt Sperling astonished me with his commitment with the preparation, he was super active on discord and always willing to help and share his thoughts with anybody that was in need. (I don’t even know how you have that much energy with a regular job, but thanks!!)

Next step is in January, and I’ll try my best to earn more points and try to get closer to the top!

Thanks for reading!

Luis Salvatto (Twitter / Twitch)

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Luis Salvatto

Luis Salvatto After breaking onto the scene with a Top8 at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad in 2016, Luis became the first player from Argentina to win a Pro Tour in 2018 at PT Rivals of Ixalan. This feat put him in a position to fight for the Player of the Year title which went down to the wire with a play-off against Seth Manfield. Salvatto emerged victorious and secured the prestigious Player of the Year title and became recognized as one of the best South American players of all time. Selected for the MPL in 2019. Read more articles by Luis Salvatto

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