Adventures in Qualifying: Grand Prix Columbus

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What do you get when you mix one part road trip, two parts convention center, and a dash of thousands of Magic players? A Grand Prix of course! Hopefully you know of the Grand Prix this weekend in Columbus because you were fortunate enough to be in attendance. I talked a while ago about what an epic experience these large events are and Columbus was no exception.

Modern was the format to solve for this event and pros from all over showed up to walk the walk. Modern is becoming more accessible, so if you're still new to the format don’t let that intimidate you. Hopefully we will get the Ravnica shock lands back when we Return to Ravnica this fall but until then there are plenty of affordable decks to build.

If you are at all familiar with Modern, the Top Eight decks should be unsurprising. Here are the decks that made it to the elimination rounds.

  • Jund
  • Birthing Pod Combo
  • RUG Delver
  • 3x RWU Delver
  • Affinity
  • RG Tron

Cats, Insects and Spirits: All American Team

The big story of this event was certainly the All American Delver deck. With three copies breaking into the Top Eight, players will have to acknowledge this deck as a contender moving forward. The other decks were fairly typical known quantities.

I also played the new Delver of Secrets deck in Columbus. This summer I identified RWU Delver as one of the most underrated decks in Modern and began working with it. Before this Grand Prix, most players did not know this deck needed to be taken seriously. Now I’m sure players will be prepared for it. Rather than posting my own deck list from the event, I will post the three that were most successful.

Chris Piland
6th place at Grand Prix Columbus


Shahar Shenhar
5th place at Grand Prix Columbus


Max Tietze
3rd place at Grand Prix Columbus

Let’s start with the most important fact about Red White Blue Delver: it has raw power. It puts the opponent on a clock immediately and then disrupts or delays their game plan. It also gets to play one of the most powerful creatures in Modern, Geist of Saint Traft. Lots of decks in the format simply fold to a six-power hexproof beatstick.

The deck plays out like a Zoo deck from Legacy. It casts a tier one creature on turn one and backs it up with awesome removal like Path to Exile, tempo cards like Remand, and the most efficient burn spells in the format in Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix. Opponents who mismanage the game will be dead before they know it.

Taking It Out for a Spin

Even though I didn't make Day Two, I feel a small amount of pride for having chosen the right deck for the tournament. Clearly it was not my day. I realized this as I continued to draw opening hand after opening hand without a one-mana play and proceeded to draw my Steppe Lynxs on turn four or later. This is obviously not the way you want the deck to run. Here is my short event recap.

Round 1 – Bye


Round 2 – RG Tron

Many players use valuable spots in their sideboard for Molten Rain to make this match better. I say why try to improve something that is already amazing? In my opinion, no spots in your sideboard should be devoted to this match because you are a strong favorite. Your early clock and loads of burn spells are nearly impossible for the ramp deck to deal with. I was able to take this match down in two quick games.


Round 3 – RG Tron

After destroying my last opponent, I was feeling confident about this match and the event in general. I played well and even though I lost a game and then mulliganed to five in game three, I still took the match. If you are on the Tron side of this match, do not over-sideboard because you need the core of your deck to remain intact to make sure you can execute your plan.


Round 4 – GB Rock

For most of this match I thought I was playing against Jund and based my decisions on that. In reality, I was playing against a more controlling deck that closed out the game with Loxodon Warhammer. I don’t think that piece of equipment is viable in Modern, but it certainly did beat me up. If I had found red mana sooner in game two, my triple Lightning Bolts and Lightning Helix would have sent it to game three. This didn’t happen though and I picked up my first loss to a deck I felt I should have beat.


Round 5 – RUG Delver

This is basically a mirror match where they have the edge because of cards like Cryptic Command. My opponent this round beat me down soundly with an answer to every card I played in both games. I remember telling my friends how well I played in this match and how much that didn’t matter because of his sick draws. If RWU Delver becomes a big part of the format, we may see RUG Delver rise in popularity to combat it.


Round 6 – Sig with Birthing Pod Combo

It was great to finally meet Sigmund in person after talking to him online and working with him here on Quiet Speculation. It was also great to play such an intense match of Magic. All three games were insanely close and could have been won by either deck. In the end though, Pod won the match and ended my tournament.


Overall this deck is a blast to play but quite skill intensive. You must know when to use your burn spells on your opponents creatures and when to send them at your opponent. If you plan to play this deck, make sure you test some games against a variety of decks so you are prepared for the in-game decisions.

Next week I will hopefully have a great Standard PTQ report for you guys. First I'll need to figure out what deck I am playing.

Until next time,

Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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