My Pro Tour Ixalan

by Yam Wing Chun on 09 November 2017, Thursday

Yam Wing Chun


My Pro Tour Ixalan

As you guys know, Pro Tour Ixalan took place last weekend. I had an interesting weekend and I would like to share with you guys my entire preparation process, deck choice, and a short summary of how my Day 1 and Day 2 went. Thanks in advance for reading and I hope you enjoy my sharing.






Preparing for Ixalan Limited

Knowing that I would be playing a lot of Ixalan Limited (Pro Tour Ixalan, GP Hong Kong / Lyon / Singapore and the World Magic Cup), I decided to put in more effort into this Limited format. Since the set's release, I did about 10 real life drafts, mainly with my friends from the local playtesting team "Team HBD" and I was utterly demolished. I initially thought Blue-Green Merfolk would be a good archetype but I always ended up with a deck short on playables to go 1-2. 

About two weeks before the Pro Tour, I decided to shift to Magic Online drafts because it was more time-efficient.


Bishop's Soldier Skyblade of the Legion Raptor Companion


I would stream my drafts to Lee Shi Tian and Wu Kon Fai during lunch hours and we discuss the picks. We thought that White was the best color because the commons were really strong. For example, Bishop's SoldierSkyblade of the Legion and Raptor Companion were all excellent 2-drops which were good in various archetypes. 

We decided to try forcing White and it worked very well. Most of my drafts were White-Black Vampires and White-Red Aggro and I had an 80% win rate across 15 drafts. During the last few drafts, I started jokingly complained to Lee and Wu that it was getting too boring because almost all my draft decks looked the same. However, this was actually a good thing because it simply meant that our strategy was easy to replicate.



Preparing for Ixalan Standard

This Pro Tour was special because Ixalan was released one and a half months months before the Pro Tour, which meant breaking the format with a surprise deck would be much harder. Ramunap Red did not look like a good choice for the metagame because it was slightly unfavored against Temur Energy, which I had expected to be the most popular deck. 


Ramunap Ruins Hazoret the Fervent

Despite knowing that, I knew I was basically locked on playing Ramunap Red because it's the deck that suits my play style best. I did try playing Temur Energy for one playtest league at the team house and three hours later I was screaming "I Drop! I Drop!" after going 1-5. 


Chandra, Torch of Defiance Harsh Mentor

Most of the playtest team were inclined towards playing Temur Energy, with the exception of Javier Dominguez and Tomoharu Saito. Saito has been playing a lot of Ramunap Red on Magic Online and we basically agreed to 59 of 60 cards for the main deck two days before the Pro Tour. Saito liked Harsh Mentor while I preferred Chandra, Torch of Defiance which had a higher impact. 


Destructive Tampering

Saito tried Destructive Tampering as a sideboard against Temur, but I thought the card was too cute and I did not like it. On Thursday morning around 3am, when I woke up and went to the kitchen for a drink of water, I saw Saito going through the complete list of all red cards on Magic Online.  where I woke up and went to the kitchen for some water, I saw him going over all Red cards in Standard on Magic Online.

We came across Brute Strength and it reminded us that pump effects might be good because it could help us attack past Bristling Hydra. As I joined in the "midnight research", we found a card we really liked, and that was Invigorated Rampage.


Brute Strength Invigorated Rampage

Many of the games where Ramunap Red lost to Temur Energy was due to use being stopped by Bristling Hydra, a threat we could not removed. Another very common way to lose is having our Hazoret the Fervent being chump blocked by a few Thopter tokens created by Whirler Virtuoso.

Invigorated Rampage solved both these problems and it can occasionally be cashed in for four damage. We tried the card and were very impressed by it, because I won almost every game when I drew it against Temur Energy.


This what what I registered at the Pro Tour, and special thanks to Tomoharu Saito who played countless competitive leagues on Magic Online to confirm this 75's greatness!




Pro Tour Ixalan - Day 1

After 3 byes at Grand Prix Hong Kong, I lost four matches in a row to crash out at 3-4. This meant that the first booster draft at Pro Tour Ixalan would be my first Ixalan Booster Draft at a Premier Event. I felt confident, because Lee Shi Tian made the Top 8 of Grand Prix Hong Kong with our strategy of forcing white.

Not seeing any exciting rares and uncommons like Entrancing Melody or Charging Monstrosaur, I happily 1st picked Bishop's Soldier and followed the plan of cutting white cards and hope to be rewarded in Pack 2.

However, things don't seem to work out and I only picked up mediocre cards like Queen's Commission and Queen's Bay Soldier to fill my curve in Pack 2. In Pack 3, I basically got passed everything I want for a White-Black Vampire deck, notably two Anointed Deacon 6th and 7th pick, Duskborne Skymarcher 8th and a Vampire's Zeal that tabled in 11th. 

The deck looked very solid and had a good curve and I managed to 3-0 the draft. I had a 42% draft win rate at Pro Tour prior to this (which is terribly). This was also the first time I went 3-0 at a Booster Draft at a Pro Tour, so I was really happy about it!


Please click image for larger view.

In the Constructed portion, I played against 4 Temur Energy and a 4-color Token, where I sideboarded in Invigorated Rampage in all five matches. I won 4 sideboarded games where I cast it, and the card was just amazing. The games actually felt much closer than last Pro Tour where I always feel miles ahead, but I got lucky throughout the day and almost always hit my crucial land drops. 


My 8-0 photo on Official Coverage together with Poland’s Piotr Glogowski.

Finishing 8-0 Day 1 was surreal, especially after a very disappointing 0-4 drop at GP Hong Kong the week before. 




Pro Tour Ixalan - Day 2

Finishing 8-0 Day 1 meant that I would be drafting in Pod 1. My draft was covered for the live broadcast and I tried my best not to flick my cards so much so that the audience could see my choices more clearly. If you're interested, you can check out the Draft Viewer here to see my picks. 


Charging Monstrosaur


This time I opened the "mythic uncommon" Charging Monstrosaur and with no other great White cards, I decided to pick it because it was simply the most powerful card. I don't see many White cards coming and with that third pick Deeproot Warrior, I believed Red and Green were open so I just drafted a Red-Green Dinosaur deck. The deck was a bit short on 2-drops, but the overall power level of the cards are high enough and that's why I put Pillar of Origins in my deck.


Please click image for larger view.

I won my first two rounds and brought myself up to 10-0, but I lost Round 11. Finishing 5-1 at the Limited portion was certainly beyond my expectations and I was happy that my preparation paid off.

Now at 10-1, I basically only needed two wins in the next four or five Constructed rounds to make Top 8. However, this was when the wheels started to fall off. I starting missing my third and fourth land drops and lost numerous rounds with uncastable cards in my hand. I ended up 1-4, going 2-11 in games, against 4 Energy variants and a Ramunap Red mirror match.


I think this accurately reflected the matchup between Ramunap Red and Energy variants. The matchup was indeed very close and overall I went 5-3 against them. The games are often decided by one or two crucial topdecks.




Signing Off 


To be honest, I was a little disappointed to finish 11-5 for 21st place considering I was 10-0 at one point. However, it was a great result and I am really happy about it. Having a 10 Pro Point boost to kick start the season was very sweet and also, my 5-1 performance at Booster Draft was one of my best results to date. In addition, I had some "practice" playing under the camera, so I hope that will make me feel less nervous in future.

I'll be playing in Grand Prix Shanghai this weekend, and then Grand Prix Lyon later this month. It is really exciting to be teaming with Kelvin Chew and Jason Chung for the Team Grand Prix not only because they're great Magic players but also they actually speak a non-zero amount of Cantonese! That should help in our communications in a European event!

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