Welcome to the first half of the Sweet 16. At this point, we’re getting down to the spikiest generals in the tournament, and things are heating up. Today we’ve got the Ink-Treader and Glint-Eye Conference Results.
First, just a quick reminder: The games we used to score each match were based on average lists for the Commanders, and not specific deck lists. We don’t have specific deck lists, and the lists may very well have changed as the tournament carries on. Good decks are always evolving to meet the meta-game, and we didn’t want to lock a Commander into a single list. These commanders are assumed to have extended side boards to represent the variety of meta games they come from. Decks maintain their defining features (Sharuum has the Scultpting Steel combo, Zur has Necropotence, Arcum has forge-disk, etc). However, they were allowed a lot of wiggle room, primarily because deciding on a “best” list for each deck that everyone could agree on proved an impossible task.
At the end of the day, this is all about a bouncy of fun ‘what-ifs’. There’s some real deck science and real-world results to influence things, but anything can happen. Sit back and enjoy the ride!
If you have other questions or wonder how we assess points or anything else, please refer back to the post announcing the March Madness.)
OK. Now on to bracket, because results results results!
Brother took up arms against lanky brother in a war between elf clans that was anything but civil. The matchup came down to counterspells and card draw fighting off removal and discard. If this tourney had been about duals instead of melee matches, Nath’s strategy would have worked very well. However, this was multiplayer, so the wall of blockers that Nath assembled didn’t stop Edric from beating in for some card advantage from other players. When it came to straight racing, it turned out that countering a Craterhoof Behemoth is much more effective that Doom Blade-ing it. Good job on making it to the sweet sixteen Nath, now just don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.
Winner: Edric, Spymaster of Trest, Score: 37-8
Balthor has been surprisingly successful this tournament. He has really shown how graveyard decks prosper when a field is light on graveyard hate. On the other hand, Jhoira has made sure to keep us aware of how aggravatingly good mass land removal is. I think it’s easy to forget that these are streamlined decks being piloted by experienced players who know not only the deck they are playing, but the decks they are playing against.
Even so, Jhoira came into this match as a heavy favorite. Imagine everyone’s surprise when Balthor was able to simply outplay Jhoira at every turn. Balthor couldn’t find a window to race Jhoira due to the Counterspell backup, but he managed to land a few choice enchantments such as Black Market and Phyrexian Reclamation. Jhoira seriously struggles dealing with enchantments once they land. And indestructible creatures like Ulamog don’t hold up well to sacrifice effects. My favorite part of this match was when Balthor used Dark Ritual and Sol Ring to power out a Treacherous Urge on turn two, letting him kill Jhoira with her own Blightsteel Colossus. I would say I’m sorry to see Jhoira go, but I think the world got a little brighter today.
The Dark Horse continues his streak.
Winner: Balthor the Defiled, Score: 37-17
It was Man versus Wild in the ramp deck matchup of the tournament. Kamahl pushes consistency and inevitability while Animar brings answers and combos; these are minor portions of both decks’ primary plan to ramp up and crush their opponents. However, even minor removal is better than no removal. Without artifacts and enchantments to target, Kamahl had the nearly impossible task of trying to do anything that affected Animar.
I guess we should have seen that coming. After all, how often do you see someone successfully beat a soul with their fists? If anyone is thinking that the RUG shard has a hard time dealing with commanders, they may want to look at Hinder, Spell Crumple, Spin into Myth, and Chaos Warp. Kamahl got tucked in and got knocked out.
Winner: Animar, Soul of the Elements, Score: 48-19
Arcum may be one of the most overrated Commanders in the tournament. While the power level of a one-half-a-Tinker commander is undeniable, it is a glass cannon combo deck. All players need to do to put Arcum in check is slow it down. Rafiq busted through Arcum’s tiny body and his field of old man trinkets like a bull in a china shop. Austere Command, Creeping Corrosion, Umezawa’s Jitte, and SoFI; the list of ways Rafiq could beat down the geriatric goes on and on.
The match could have had a chance to keep going on if it took more for Rafiq to sweep the leg. Casting Deglamer on Arcum when he tried to tutor up a Mycosynth Lattice was a brilliant move, although the Hurkyl’s Recall that followed it was even better.
I think Rafiq earned a standing ovation for this bout.
Winner: Rafiq of the Many, Score: 39-9
Some surprisingly lopsided crushings colored the first half of round three. Did anyone expect
Arcum to fall so hard?
Check back Wednesday for the rest of this round.