Team tournaments are some of the most popular events because you can play your favorite format alongside two friends. If you like Magic because of the gathering then team tournaments may be up your alley. I will be attending the NRG Team 10K in Newark, Ohio, competing with Adam Wasburn-Moses and Antonio Zanutto on October 22, 2022. The format is team Legacy/Modern/Pioneer.
Adam is a strong Legacy player from the Midwest. We made the top 4 of a recent NRG team event with Piper Powell so I know he can put up the results. There are a darth of Legacy specialists so I feel better about my team’s chances when one is snagged. Adam even traveled to Italy to play a big Legacy tournament recently. A true grinder.
Adam prefers land strategies such as Lands and Naya Depths, but can’t ignore the strength of Izzet Delver.
Antonio is a new addition to the squad taking the Modern seat. I don’t know him well, but his strengths lie with synergistic aggressive decks such as Hardened Scales. It can be tempting to try and shoehorn each seat into the “best deck,” but I would prefer everyone is comfortable with their choice.
I’m going to be in the Pioneer seat due to my affinity for Rakdos Midrange. Liliana of the Veil provided a huge boost.
PIONEER RAKDOS MIDRANGE UPDATE
The tournament isn’t until next month, but this is my current list:
Rakdos Midrange has further embraced the three-drop tribal status by swapping Chandra, Torch of Defiance for Liliana of the Veil. Chandra is a strong card, but most creature decks have nimble protection spells such as God’s Willing and Slip Out the Back.
Liliana is able to make the opponent sacrifice a creature which plays out well against hexproof and indestructible creatures. Dream Trawler and Adanto Vanguard were difficult to answer, but now Rakdos has more diverse removal.
Lotus Field remains the worst matchup for Rakdos, but Liliana’s +1 is able to empty their hand quickly. It also gives Rakdos a fighting chance when they deploy an opening hand Leyline of Sanctity as Liliana’s +1 does not target.
Eliminate is a new removal spell to be played in Pioneer because it destroys Liliana of the Veil and Greasefang, Okiba Boss. I expect Mono Green Devotion to still be popular and it can be valuable to destroy Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner at instant speed. A savvy Green Devotion player can hold Kiora against Rakdos until they can immediately draw a card to get the 2-for-1.
Sulfurous Springs is a great addition to the manabase. I added two copies over the second Mountain and Shatterskull Smashing. WOTC knew that adding Liliana to the format should be aided by more ways to make black mana quickly in two color decks. For this reason I’m moving away from red mana as double-black is important. The first Mountain can be found from Field of Ruin while the second has less marginal value. Swamps are worth more as they can cast Fatal Push and Thoughtseize on the first turn and enable Castle Locthwain to enter the battlefield untapped.
The mana sinks such as Den of the Bugbear, Hive of the Eye Tyrant, and Castle Locthwain get a boost from Liliana. Since there are more three-drops than ever before you will have opportunities to activate your mana sinks often in the late game. I also want to empty my hand sooner to take advantage of Liliana’s +1 ability.
The sideboard has a different philosophy now that Liliana is in the format, too.
In the past I wanted four cards for the Rakdos Midrange matchup to swap for four Thoughtseize. Liliana is such a powerful effect that I don’t have to cut every Thoughtseize if my sideboard works out differently. Haymakers such as Skysovereign, Consul Flagship are also weaker as Liliana can rip them from your hand ahead of them being cast.
Duress would occasionally be played in the sideboard to respect Azorius Control and Lotus Field. Liliana is able to take its place and also come in against Boros Heroic and the mirror. Liliana is able to interact with a wide range of opponents in different ways which means we don’t need as many specialized cards in the deck. Invoke Despair was the answer to Dream Trawler and is no longer needed. There is more room to play targeted Mono Green hate such as Extinction Event, Lifebane Zombie, and Epic Downfall.
I expect more Abzan Greasefang as it’s another winner from Liliana entering the format, and for this reason I would like a second Unlicensed Hearse in the sideboard.
Mono White Humans remains a popular choice making Rending Volley another valuable sideboard option. It’s more important to kill the small creatures to increase the efficacy of Liliana’s -2 ability.
Team tournament metagames are more concentrated with top tier decks. I expect to play Delver in Legacy, 4C Omnath in Modern, and Mono Green and Rakdos in Pioneer more often because players don’t want to let their teammates down. It’s easier to justify a poor performance if you give yourself the best chance to win.
In team events you are allowed to discuss plays with your teammates including mulligan decisions. Each team will function differently, but I prefer to not discuss many plays because it takes valuable time off of the clock to bring teammates up to speed on the game before they can contribute.
I trust my teammates to make good decisions and to have experience with their decks. When my match finishes I prefer to leave the table to do my post match rituals like go get water and maybe a snack to help get in the mindset for the next round.
My teammates may not like their plays being scrutinized so they may not play their best as a result. It’s hard to know when you’re stopping a bad play until it’s too late because everyone’s plan will be slightly different.
I will stick around after my match is finished if our opponents are playing slowly. It’s important to keep both teams on track because discussions on each play can add up quickly.
That’s all I have for today. Team Magic is great and I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle.