Riders on the Storm: Top 8 with TES at the Guangzhou, China Legacy Invitational Tournament (07/01/2017)


Vincent Cheung is a guest writer on theepicstorm.com


Hi guys. My name is Vincent Cheung, and I am a 24 year-old university student from Hong Kong. I have been playing Legacy Magic for one and a half years. I previously played Ad Nauseam Tendrils but switched over to The EPIC Storm after I discovered Bryant Cook's website. I recently finished in the Top 8 of a Guangzhou, China 80-person Legacy tournament using TES. I'd like to share my Storm experience with you and also highlight the annual Guangzhou tournament, which many of you may not be familiar with.

The Guangzhou tournament is part of a special invitational series that is held every year. It manages to attract Legacy enthusiasts from all over Asia. Players from Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, and other locations all attended the event. Due to the different regions, the tournament had a very diverse feel to it. My friends and I spoke Cantonese, while others spoke Mandarin. There was also plenty of English spoken, based on the foreigners present. Of course, we all spoke the common language of Magic!

The anticipation of this tournament was high due to the value of the prize pool. There were two tournaments run over two days. Let's start with the first tournament – for a $35 entry fee, the players received:

This was certainly an amazing pool that did not even take into account the costs to organize and run the event. It attracted many players, including myself, to come out and play. For more information about the tournament, and the 2018 schedule, check out the mtgta.com Facebook group. There is also an annual Beijing tournament with an even more ridiculous prize pool, but that is a story for another day.

The second tournament was free to enter, and handed out singleton dual lands to the top eight finishers. I did not do so well in that tournament, but my friend James Hsu documented his Top 4 finish with Grixis Delver here. He beat me in Day Two while I piloted Turbo Depths – that's what I get for not playing TES!

For this report, I will focus on Day One as that is where I decided to run The EPIC Storm. I was originally planning to play the new Miracles deck but abandoned the idea as I could not find a play set of Portents in time. My next best choice was The EPIC Storm, as I believe it is a deck that not many players are familiar with.

Deck Lists

 

I began with Bryant Cook's most recent list, and replaced one copy of Echoing Truth with Reanimate. I wanted the Reanimate versus Reanimator decks, but ended up not facing any of them in the tournament. I also chose By Force for my artifact destruction spell instead of Meltdown.

I believed that The EPIC Storm would have the benefit of surprise. Ironically there were three other TES decks in the room. TES had a 5% metagame percentage, which was not bad at all.

ROUND ONE: THE EPIC STORM MIRROR

GAME ONE:

I win the die roll and keep a landless hand with Gitaxian Probe, Duress, Lotus Petal, Ponder, Infernal Tutor, Lion's Eye Diamond, and Dark Ritual. I Gitaxian Probe my opponent and see that I am facing the mirror. I manage to draw an Island and Ponder. Draw into second Lion's Eye Diamond, go for the kill with Ad Nauseam into Tendrils of Agony.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, +2 Echoing Truth

GAME TWO:

I mull down to six and keep a hand with Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Dark Ritual, cantrip, and two lands. My opponent starts with a Ponder and makes twelve Goblins. I play land, go. He draws Infernal Tutor and attacks with the Goblins. He then has three mana open (including a Lotus Petal) and tutors for Burning Wish, which is a critical mistake as he can disrupt me with Duress instead. On my next turn, I kill him with Telemin Performance.

2-0 | 1-0

ROUND TWO: PAINTER STONE

GAME ONE:

I keep a slow hand with a lot of cantrips, but cannot find any business for several turns. My opponent casts Imperial Recruiter for Painter’s Servant and keeps drawing more Imperial Recruiters. After he tutors for Magus of the Moon, I find my kill spell and win.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, +2 Echoing Truth

GAME TWO:

This game goes badly for me. My opponent lands a Thorn of Amethyst followed by a Phyrexian Revoker naming Lion's Eye Diamond, on turns one and two respectively. None of us have any action and play draw-go for a few turns. Eventually I need to try and go off but am one mana short of an Empty the Warrens for five storm, so I concede.

GAME THREE:

I keep a decent hand with Lion's Eye Diamond that is capable of going off on turn two. I cantrip and pass the turn. My opponent plays Phyrexian Revoker on the first turn and names Lion's Eye Diamond, so I cannot go off. He only has Painter’s Servant and Phyrexian Revoker on the board, hitting me for three damage a turn. Our round goes to time and I Infernal Tutor for an Echoing Truth, which keeps me alive for a draw.

1-1-1 | 1-0-1

ROUND THREE: MIRACLES

GAME ONE:

This first game is simple as my opponent does not have any counter magic after I Duress him. I go off on turn two with Ad Nauseam into Tendrils of Agony.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, +2 Defense Grid

GAME TWO:

The second game is more interesting. I expect to see Flusterstorm and more counter magic in the mix from my opponent. I keep a hand with two cantrips, two Lion's Eye Diamond, Duress, and two lands. I Duress him on turn one and play two cantrips on turn two. My hand is ready for a turn three kill. At this point, I know that my opponent does not have protection, and that he has just cast Brainstorm and hid his Blood Moon on top of his deck. However, he casts Vendilion Clique on my draw step, and peeks at my hand. He sees Lion's Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Rite of Flame, Lotus Petal, and Ponder. I cannot do anything without the Burning Wish. I decide to go for the Jedi mind trick while he decides which card to remove with the Vendilion Clique. I say “Ponder” to my opponent, hoping that he takes the bait…and he does. He take the Ponder, I draw my replacement card, and go off with Ad Nauseam.

Editor's Note: I have no idea how he did this?

2-0 | 2-0-1

ROUND FOUR: Food Chain

GAME ONE:

My opponent wins the die roll. I keep a hand with Gitaxian Probe, Brainstorm, Rite of Flame, Lion's Eye Diamond, Lotus Petal, and two lands. My opponent starts by fetching for a snow-covered Forest, followed by a Deathrite Shaman. I put him on some homebrew Turbo Depths deck of some sort. When I Gitaxian Probe him on my turn, however, I find out that it is a Food Chain hand without protection. I have just enough mana to go off with the business I draw that turn, and kill him.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, +2 Defense Grid

GAME TWO:

Just by the way my opponent played Game 1, I know that he is not familiar with my deck. I try to use this to my advantage by asking him each time I play a spell whether it resolves. In doing this, he is not sure what to counter. When I start to combo off, he counters the wrong spell. He uses his Force of Will to counter Defense Grid, which allows me to go off the following turn with Burning Wish into Past in Flames into Tendrils of Agony.

2-0 | 3-0-1

ROUND FIVE: BLUE-RED DELVER

GAME ONE:

I lose the die roll. I know that my opponent is on some kind of Delver of Secrets deck, and I keep a hand that can go off on turn one for Goblins. My opponent plays a Monastery Swiftspear, Gitaxian Probes, and puts me to eighteen life. I go off the next turn with twelve Goblins and he cannot stop me with a single Daze. I win with the Goblins.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, +2 Defense Grid

GAME TWO:

I keep a hand with no disruption. I use Gitaxian Probe and see that he has a Force of Will, but I cannot find disruption to get rid of it. He hits me with Monastery Swiftspear for several turns. When I am forced to go off with Ad Nauseam at twelve life, I hit Empty the Warrens which forces me to keep revealing cards until I hit a Wish at two life. I die.

GAME THREE:

The final game is a very close match. I draw enough mana on the turn before he can kill me with Monastery Swiftspear and Price of Progress, and kill him.

2-1 | 4-0-1

ROUND SIX: GRIXIS DELVER

GAME ONE:

My opponent asks me if I am piloting a control deck after I play two cantrips over my first two turns. It also helps that I am using a Force of Will playmat. I quickly change his perception by fetching for a basic Swamp after my Brainstorm, and killing him with Goblins after Gitaxian Probe reveals the coast is clear.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, -1 Gitaxian Probe, +2 Defense Grid, +1 Grapeshot

GAME TWO:

I cast Ad Nauseam at fifteen life but cannot find enough mana acceleration. I am killed by my own Ad Nauseam.

GAME THREE:

I keep a slow hand that includes two lands and two cantrips. I discard his Force of Will and storm off on turn three with fourteen Goblins. The situation is very delicate, as he has Deathrite Shaman, an unflipped Delver of Secrets, and Young Pyromancer all on the battlefield. While I am getting in with Goblins, he is blocking enough of them to slow me down. Fortunately, I topdeck an Infernal Tutor. I attack with thirteen Goblins, leaving one Goblin behind for the Young Pyromancer counter-attack. He blocks three, giving me eleven Goblins remaining. I Infernal Tutor for Grapeshot. Next turn, I Grapeshot the Young Pyromancer and attack with my Goblins for lethal.

2-1 | 5-0-1

ROUND SEVEN: GRIXIS DELVER

My opponent and I work out the math. Both of us will be on the play in the top 8 due to points, so we agree to ID.

ID | 5-0-2

TOP 8 QUARTERFINALS: DEATH & TAXES

GAME ONE:

I am on the play. I keep a hand with Gitaxian Probe, Ponder, Rite of Flame, Brainstorm, Burning Wish, and two lands. I Probe my opponent and see: both Ethersworn Canonist and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. That's right – my opponent is on main deck Ethersworn Canonist. Sick. Knowing that I will get locked out after his turn two, I Ponder for business.

Fortunately, on my turn two, I have enough to win. I storm out with Burning Wish into Dark Petition into Empty the Warrens, and beat him down with Goblins.

Sideboarding: -2 Ponder, +2 Rending Volley

GAME TWO:

I mulligan down to six and keep a hand that can go off on turn two. The hand includes a Rending Volley. My opponent, however, has a loaded hand. He plays Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on turn two, followed by an Ethersworn Canonist on the next turn. I only have a singleton Rending Volley and Infernal Tutor in hand. If I Infernal Tutor for another Rending Volley, I have no business spells to win with. He kills me slowly with the white weenie brigade.

GAME THREE:

This is the critical game that will decide my tournament life. I make a mistake here by keeping a very slow hand with cantrips, lands, Rending Volley, and mana acceleration. No business spells, though. I Duress him on turn two and see that his hand is completely full of hatebears and Gideon. I lose a few turns later from his overwhelming army of white weenies.

1-2 | 0-1

CONCLUSION

I was very happy to make Top 8. I had been playing Legacy for some time but this was my first large event. In this tournament, I played seven rounds of Swiss – more than I ever had before. I felt more pressure as the tournament progressed. I was very nervous in the last match that I played against Death & Taxes, and this affected my play.

My mulligan decisions could use improvement. I was not as aggressive as I could have been in keeping certain hands. Poor mulligan decisions definitely cost me some games.

I based my list from Bryant but was somewhat unfamiliar with his specific version of the build. Due to my unfamiliarity with Rending Volley, I did not play it optimally. These two slots previously belonged to Surgical Extraction, which seemed more straightforward in terms of knowing when to bring them in.

Having said that, Storm is easily my favorite Legacy archetype and TES has become my favorite deck. It is a deck that pumps up my adrenaline levels. It involves plenty of excitement and decision-making on each turn. TES players are the gamblers of Magic and playing it safe is never an option for us.

Thank you for reading my tournament report. I lost my notes after the tournament so I relied on memory for most of the details. I look forward to playing in more Legacy events in the future with my new favorite deck.

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