Mono Black Zombies at Pro Tour: HOU

Petr Sochurek

Petr Sochurek

Hello everyone! It’s Petr again and today I am going to focus on what happened just about a week ago – the Pro Tour.

Going into the tournament I needed a x-4 finish to make platinum and even though I knew that I am not super likely to make it I tried hard to achieve my goal – even before the testing with my team started, I played with every deck in standard to get familiar with the format as much as I could and not repeat the same mistake as in previous tournaments – choosing a bad deck.

I am not on the same level as players like Paulo, who has played pro Magic for such a long time, that their understanding of the game is so huge that they can just pick any deck and play it close to perfection including sideboarding – I usually need at least a couple of days to play decks well and I didn’t want to get into a position where I found out about a great deck a day before the tournament and I won‘t be able to play it, because even though it might be a better deck overall then my second choice, I would play it badly and therefore it would force me to play a worse deck.

In Limited

I was very confident in my understanding of Standard, but I struggled in Limited. In the past year I think I have grown a lot as a Limited player – I was always very good in Constructed, but I was getting crushed in Limited. I worked on that hard and I actually 5-1ed the previous two pro tours, but I was a little lost in this specific format. I knew that ramp was great, but I felt like I needed to open a bomb rare to be able to draft it.

The Locust GodNicol Bolas, God-PharaohThe Scarab God

UR spells was also obviously great, but I was afraid that it’s going to get overdrafted – this actually happens a lot in Pro tours; there is a “best” archetype (best in regular drafts where most colors and archetypes are drafted equally) and it gets overdrafted – most people come into a draft with Ondrej Strasky’s strategy of drafting the medium way, which means that they know how to draft archetypes that they think are the best and they will try to draft that at the beginning and then maybe switch later if it’s not open, which means that it might be often right to avoid these strategies (not completely avoid of course, but if the pick is close you might want to lean towards a card that is good in a less known/popular strategy instead).

Oasis RitualistSifter WurmSpellweaver EternalCrash Through

So you have U/Gx ramp, U/R spells and what else? I hated black – if you look at the black commons, you realize that black isn’t very deep and most of it’s commons suck – if you don’t get extraordinary lucky I feel like outside of B/W Zombies (you need the reward cards for this archetype to work, but when you do it’s actually very good) you should just avoid black – even if the black card is the strongest card in the pack and your draft might seem better from the start, I feel like on average you will just end up with a worse deck, then if you just take a card from a different color. I wasn’t really sure how to feel about white; most of my team thought it was pretty bad and I agree that it’s propably worse than the other nonblack colors, but not by that much – it is definitely nowhere close to being as bad as black and I felt that other players don’t like white either, so it might get underdrafted.

So my strategy for the PT was to see if UR or Ugx were opened and if not then go preferably to wx, but the drafts played out completely differently then I though – my first deck was an insane Mono Red deck with everything good you can imagine including 《Glorybringer》 and I went 2-1 losing to Reid Duke – my mistake was that I gave the other competitors too much credit and I told myself that I propably just got lucky than noone was drafting red and I didn’t adjust for the second draft, where I took white cards over red cards with similar powerlevel, which ended up real bad for me. My deck was U/W garbage and I went 0-3.

I felt devastated after my second draft performance, because I entered day 2 at 6-2 but I was confident about my Standard deck, so I thought that I might get there if I 2-1 the draft. Well lessons learned.

In Standard

The deck I played in Standard was Zombies and I am really happy about my deck choice even though most of my teammates ended up playing Mono Red or BG delirium (they actually split a finals with those deck, so congrats to them again) and I would play the deck again. Basically, I already said that I played with most of the decks in Standard before the new set and that included Zombies and I knew how powerful the deck is – all the cards in the deck are actually insane – you have the best removal and your creatures are undercosted and they snowball super quickly if they don’t get killed – the only thing holding the deck back was that everyone was ready for it with sweepers and 《Magma Spray》 + it had a bad matchup against control and 《Aetherworks Marvel》.

Marvel got banned and you would have to be crazy to enter the tournament with control given that the matchup against red is almost unwinnable. There are still going to be people playing it of course, but not that many and Zombies is great in any creature matchup, especially if they aren’t ready for it and it seemed like Zombies was a tiny bit under the radar.

This is a decklist that me, Shuhei, Oliver Tiu and Jacob Wilson ended up playing:

I was really happy with my decklist and I finished 7-2 with it (I conceded a match to Oliver Polak-Rotmann to help him hit gold), but the metagame changes all the time and you have to adjust – I am not sure that Zombies is still the deck to go to right now, but if you want to play it, this would be my decklist now:

For starters

I don’t think that anyone is going to play U/W gifts anymore so I don’t think that 《Scavenger Grounds》 is worth it.

Liliana, the Last HopeKalitas, Traitor of Ghet

I didn’t play 《Liliana, the Last Hope》 or 《Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet》 maindeck in the tournament and I think that was a mistake – they are both very powerful cards and I was really unimpressed with both lords – they are usually good only in the games you are already winning.

As for the Sideaboard

I think that you need to be way more focused on ramp and control right now; they weren’t visible at the Pro Tour, because their matchup against red was bad, but most players will go to B/G or Zombies now in hopes of being good against Red and Ramp and Control are both very good good against these two decks.

Transgress the Mind

I think that 4 《Transgress the Mind》 is a must, but after that it gets interesting.

Ob Nixilis Reignited

The card that seems great to me is 《Ob Nixilis Reignited》 – it goes up to 6 so 《Hour of Devastation》 does’t kill it and they can’t really do anything about it + you want to cut most of your removal spells, which makes you more vulnerable to 《Tireless Tracker》 and 《Thought-Knot Seer》 and 《Ob Nixilis Reignited》 can kill those too.

Doomfall

Same goes for 《Doomfall》 – it’s mainly there to disrupt them, because they often rely on a certain card for their hand to work, but the fact that you can kill a random 《Thing in the Ice》 or 《Tireless Tracker》 is very important – you can’t really afford to keep regular removal spells in your deck, because it doesn’t do anything in some games.

I think that the metagame will be a little jumpy for a while and eventually we will have the classic rock-paper-scissors environment so my advice for you is to pick a deck now and get very good with it, because that is going to be the most important thing in a couple of weeks.

As for my Magic career

I only hit gold this season and I am actually kinda happy for that. Two years ago, if you told me that I am going to be a gold magic pro I would be thrilled, but it is obviously not what you are looking for after being platinum. I have to be honest – I am way better player overall than I was last year – the reason why I did so well last year was because midrange value decks were the best decks in the format and my strength is in those archetypes, so I was just lucky that I could play those.

I got a lot better in other spheres of magic this year – deck selection, Limited, aggro decks, but I still have to work on my game to deserve the platinum status again. I certainly realized that I still have so much to learn and I am not as good as I thought I am. I will be giving it my best in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Petr

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