Accumulated Knowledge – SCG Open Tournament Report, Valakut.

Hello readers, my names Nick Montaquila I’m a local player out of Medina, Ohio with some success in the competitive magic scene. My resume consists of a State’s Championship, Midwest Masters series win, Multiple PTQ top 8’s including 1 PTQ win that lead to an appearance at Pro Tour Paris, France, A Star City Games Finals appearance, and invites to the SCG Invitational and Midwest Masters Championship. I believe the little success I have had is due to the fact that after every tournament I try to evaluate what I have learned whether it be a small play mistake that cost me a game or a much bigger mistake like choosing the wrong deck to play. A friend of mine, Ben Friedman, and I were discussing our outlook on the game this weekend. We both agreed that once you reach a certain level of play you start to realize not how unlucky you are when you draw poorly but how lucky you are when you hit the card you need. You here less stories of, “Well if I only had one more turn” and more stories of, “Well if I would have mulligan that questionable hand.” Finding the flaws in your play and not the flaws in your “luck” is a big part in progressing as a magic player. Every player makes mistakes even the best of the best. So in my Tournament reports I’m going to point out my mistakes so hopefully you as readers can learn as I have from them.

This weekend I took a road trip with a couple of my usual tournament buddies, Chris Kronenberger, Max Jacob and John Benson Max and I decided to play ValaKut as I feel It is extremely underrated in the format. I had not had much chance to playtest as im coming off of a 4 month break from competitive magic, so I did what most of you might do, I found a good list online. Now normally I try to come up with some type of technology myself to “Next Level” the format but when I took a look at Gerry Thompson’s latest list I thought it had plenty of spice to be diverse from your standard lists.

3 Khalni Heart Expedition
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Avenger of Zendikar
1 Obstinate Baloth
4 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Primeval Titan
4 Gree Sun’s Zenith
4 Explore
4 Rampant Growth
2 Beats Within
3 Slagstorm
5 Forest
11 Mountain
3 terramorphic Expanse
2 Evolving Wilds
2 Verdant Catacombs
2 Sunpetal Grove
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
4 Timely Reinforcements
2 Ricochet Trap
2 Nature’s Claim
2 Chandra, the Firebrand
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Acidic Slime
1 Veridian Corrupter
1 Plains
The deck was solid I liked a lot of things about it. Oracle of Mul Daya is insane against the caw blade decks, enables you to win the game by playing around there mana leeks and keeps your draws live. Beast Within was a great card to give me game against Twin G1 and also allowing me to force a Primevil Titan by blasting an untapped blue source against control EOT. It’s also very versatile in answering cards like sword of feat and famine and Oblivion Ring.

Round 1 Kevin Holdson - Caw Blade.
Game 1-On the draw
He played a turn 2 hawk I followed with a ramp spell. He played a second on turn 3 and then passed I played another ramp spell. He got stuck on 3. I passed the turn after laying a land with 5 open. He played a 3rd hawk a land and passed with a blue and a tech edge open. I Beast Within his blue source EOT and forced in a Primevil Titan. The game ended shortly after that.
-3 Khalni Heart Expedition -3 Slagstorm -1Obstanate Baloth +2 Ricochet Trap +2 Thrun, the Last Troll +2 Chandra, the Firebrand +1 Acidic Slime.
Game 2-On the draw
Ricochet Trap forced Primevil Titan in on T5 he O-Ringed it I followed with an Acidic Slime to bust the O-Ring 2 turns later. Concession shortly after. Playing around the mana leek with my Acidic Slime by waiting an extra turn to bust the O-Ring was a big part of winning this match.
2-0, 1-0

Round 2 Erick Nauarro- Twin Combo
Game 1- On the draw
Won this game with a surprise Beast Within in response to the Splinter Twin.
-3 Slagstorm -1 Obstinate Baloth +2 Natures Claim +2 Ricochet Trap
Game 2- On the play
Mulliganed to 6 to get a piece of hate (ricochet trap). I got a creature on board ASAP in Oracle and revealed my second copy of the top…he knew I drew it an bounced my Oracle EOT and then went off.
Game 3- On the play
Mulligan to 6 kept an aggressive hand and lost to him having combo with counter back a counter back on turn 5.
1-2, 1-1

Round 3- Carl (Loomis)Cochran- RUG Twin Deck
He insisted that I call him “Loomis” I obliged him even though I’m pretty sure it’s a self-proclaimed nick name. His list was a standard RUG list you might see from 6 months ago but had a really high curve.
Game 1- On the draw (again)
I kept a 3 land hand with Explore Zenith Primevil Titan and Rampant Growth. I Zenethed a bird and failed to hit a 6th land for a while. He had a commanding board position so I tried to force a Primevil Titan in when I ripped a land instead of casting an Oracle of Mul Daya and waiting a turn to try and play around leek. He had the leek for my Primevil Titan and I immediately scooped. He wasn’t sure what I was playing seeing as he saw Sunpetal Grove, and never saw any key creature except Primevil Titan. He was unsure how to sb so I had a bit of an advantage for g2.
-1 Obstinate Baloth +1 Acidic Slime (I didn’t take out the Slagstorm because he played lotus cobra and I didn’t wanted an answer to him that was a little cheaper plus it was good against his beat tokens.)
Game 2- On the play
I Played around Mana Leek and was I little quick for him.
Game 3- On the draw
This game my opponent ran his twin combo strait into my onboard 4 mountans,1 Valakut with an active Khalni Heart Expedition and multiple Terramorpic Expanses. I sacked the lands and Expedition in response to his Splinter Twin. I resolved Acidic Slime and Primevil Titan to finish him off.
2-1, 2-1

Round 4- Brian Lienesch –Goblins
Game 1- I won my first die roll!!!!
He has a turn 1 guide followed by turn 2 Stormblood Berserker. I followed with a Slagstorm but he was quick to rebound with Goblin Guide and another Stormblood Berserker. I Zenithed up the Obstinate Baloth and he played a hero came crashing in. I sacrificed my Khalni Heart Expedition and to activate 2 Valakut triggers killing his Storm Blood and his Hero before he declared attackers. Block Chieftain and took 3. I played a titan the next turn to get 2 more Valakuts and won the following turn.
-4 Oracle of Mul Daya -2 Beast Within +2 Thrun, the Last Troll -1 Mountain +4 Timely Reinforcements +1 Planes.
Game 2- On the Draw
He blew me out with a Turn 1 Guide followed by a Turn 2 Guide. Turn 3 Chieftain. I had the slag storm however he rebounded quickly with a hero. And some burn. Next game.
Game 3- Timely Reinforcements kept me in the game a lot longer than i should have been. We got to a late game and I had only an oracle on board looking at Guide and Chieftain when he drops a Manabarbs. I decided if I was going to win this game I was going to have to go agro so I dropped another Timely Reinforcements and zenith up a Obstinate Baloth. With my Valakut active he burned me down to 4 but eventually my active Valakut put him to 1 and he was unable to play a spell to kill me.
2-1, 3-1

Round 5- Matt Preston- UWB Tez
Game1- On the play again.
I don’t remember much of the beginning of this game. We ended up with a board state that included 2 5/5s on his side of the board for Tezzeret and one hooked up with a Sward of Feast and Famine. I Beast within his sword he double Mana Leeks it and then hits me putting me to 4 after I block with Oracle to the non-equipped 5/5. I cast a titan next turn and win. My opponents play mistake of countering my Beast Within gave me this one.
-1 Obstinate Baloth -2 Khalni Heart Expedition -3 Slagstorm +2 Ricochet Trap +2 Natures Claim + 1 Veridian Corrupter +1 Acidic Slime
Game 2 –On the draw
He plays a turn 1 Planes turn 2 Inkmoth Nexus and on turn 3 animates his Nexus I natures claim it and he fails to make another land drop the rest of the game.
2-0, 4-1

Round 6- Chriss Kronenberger (My Alter Reality Games Teammate)-RUG Pod
Game 1- On the play
Double slagstorm slowed his cobra and fauna shamans down enough to get game 1 fairly easy.
-4 Oracle of Mul Daya -1 Obstinate Baloth -1 Khalni Heart Expedition +2 Chandra, the Firebrand +2 Natures Claim +1 Acidic Slime +1 Veridian Corrupter
Game 2- On the draw
Chriss drew and aggressive Vengvine hand against me despite my quick hand he was easily able to race and beat me down with Vengvines before I could combo.
Game 3- I kept a sketchy hand with 1 Rampant Growth, Titan and Veridian Corrupter. I pealed a Kalani Heart Expedition off the top to play a turn 4 Titan that got there. GG.
Sorry Chriss.
2-1, 5-1

Round 7 – John Winters –U/B (SCG Feature Match)
Game 1- On the play
The game went long I made a crucial mistake of not getting extra Valakuts. U/B plays a lot of Spot removal for my Titan and with him taped out with 5 in hand I should have grabbed extra Valakuts instead of getting a couple Mountains to trigger and kill his Jace. My thought process was that I didn’t want him to draw an answer to my titan but I failed to realize he already had 5 cards in his hand.
-3 Slagstorm -3 Khalni Heart Expedition -1 Obstinate Baloth +1 Acidic Slime +2 Thrun, the Last Troll +2 Chandra, the Firebrand +2 Ricochet Trap
Game 2- On the play.
I won by reverberating with Chandra and casting a Zenith at 6 after my opponent taped out for a Grave Titan.
Game 3- On the draw
The game went late I started to squeeze him on land with beast within and acidic slime however I was missing drops myself. We ran out of times and I was manually grinding him out with Mountains. On turn 5 of terns he sat at 3 life I had to top deck any mountain or fetch for a Mountain to play though his Flash Freeze and I top decked a zenith that quickly got countered and we drew.
1-1-1, 5-1-1

Round 8- John William- Caw Blade
Game 1- On the play
I beat him with a quick draw and a turn 3 Oracle of Mul Daya that stuck.
-3 khalni Heart Expedition -1 Rampaging Baloth -1 Slagstorm. (I saw him earlier playing Emeria Angle and decided to leave in a couple Slagstorms in case that got out of control on the draw) +2 Chandra, the Firebrand +1 Acidic Slime +2 Ricochet Trap
Game 2- On the draw
I kept a hand with a ramp spell and 3 land however his tech edge on t4 punished me as I missed
Land drops for 2 turns after that. Go, go Sword of Feast and Famine.
Game 3- He kept a poor hand with no blue source and never saw one the whole game so I was free to win with no interaction.
2-1, 6-1-1 (On the bubble)

Round 9- Paul Tong –U/R Twin. (Feature Match)
My opponent was an 18 pointer so I asked him to concede to me and put me in top 8. This is pretty standard I have scooped people into top 8 who were paired down to me and so have a lot of people I knew. He was not having any part of it and happened to be playing the one deck my list was week against. He was my kryptonite and beat me 2-0 with ease after naturally drawing the combo game 1 winning on turn 4 and me mulling to 5 on game 2.
0-2, 6-2-1 (33rd Place ouch!)

Looking back I probably should have been better prepared for the Splinter Twin decks as those were my only losses. Although Timely Reinforcements was cute and really good against my goblins match up I feel a couple of Obstinate Baloths could serve the same roll well and allow me to stay green. In addition you probably should jump on the band wagon and play Memoricdie and a Swamp in your board to help the twin match up and the mirror. Thrun, the Last Troll was pretty miserable all day I would suggest replacing it with a card that beats U/B’s spot removal such as Gae’s Revenge. Eather way Valakut will no doubt be a very viable option for Grand Prix Pittsburg coming up in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for reading,