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U.S. National Qualifiers Report and Winning Decklist

May 17, 2010

First off,  Congratulations to David Barani the Missouri National Qualifiers champion!!!! Way to go bro!

Hope everyone who got the chance to attend National Qualifiers this weekend had a good time.  I had a blast myself, but not because of my performance.  I played as best as I could but it just was not my day to win.  I played 4 rounds and ended at 1-3 on the day.  My lands decided to come out in the wrong order and my top decks were just underwhelming all day.

My buddy on the other hand won the Missouri qualifier so instead of boring you with my tournament report I’m going to share his deck.   This deck was actually designed by me because he wanted to play Abyssal Persecutor since it is his all time favorite card. Ever since he first saw Abyssal Persecutor he wanted to find a deck to play it in.  He’s always had a Legacy G/B Land destruction deck and Persecutor made for a good kill condition in that deck but it wasn’t a tournament level deck.  Since no one in Southeast Missouri plays legacy that often that deck just sits on his shelf.

I scoured the net to see if any good decks featuring the Persecutor were out there and doing very well and the pickings were slim.  Conley Woods did well with one at an Extended GP but I wanted a Standard deck for FNM.   Searching around on gatherer I quickly decided this deck had to feature Malakir Gatekeeper and probably terminate since those are great cards and can finish off the persecutor when needed.  If I’m gonna play terminate I might as well play blightning…. and this was born.

Hungry Hungry Hippos  (Yes a dumb name, but that’s what on the decklist from Nats)

Creatures:  16

4x Abyssal Persecutor
4x Vampire Nighthawk
2x Hypnotic Specter
3x Malakir Gatekeeper
3x Black Knight

Planeswalkers: 3

1x Sorin Markov
1x Sarkhan the Mad
1x Lilliana Vess

Spells:  17

4x Terminate
4x Blightning
4x Lightning Bolt
3x Earthquake
2x Consuming Vapors

Lands: 24

4x Dragonskull Summit
4x Lavaclaw Reaches
2x Verdant Catacombs
11x Swamp
3x Mountain


4x Vampire Hexmage
4x Duress
1x Black Knight
1x Hypnotic Specter
1x Malakir Gatekeeper
1x Pithing Needle
3x Deathmark

This deck may look bad on paper but the sideboard is just a total house vrs the average metagame.  I designed the deck a few weeks ago before UWr planeswalkers were around and UW tapout was standing on top of the field.  Black Knight has proven to be sooooo good.  It’s a terrible card against Jund but it slows mythic down and just ignors wall of omens.  Naya Allies loses a lot of speed to the knight and the Quarterfinals of the Top 8 proved as much.

David started the day 1-1 and then went on to win 4 straight to be sitting at 5-1 with 1 round to go.  We looked at the standing and he had really good tie breakers and was sitting at 5th heading into the final round.  He and his opponent both decided to just take a draw and at 5-1-1 they both made top 8.

Since David probably won’t be writing up a tournament report I’ll give a brief overview of his final three matches.

Top 8 – Quarterfinals (8th seed)

Opponent – Josh playing Naya Allies (1st seed)

Allies wins the roll I believe and lead off with Hada Freeblade.  Generally a good indicator they are going to blow you out.  David has a tapped land turn one and passes.  Josh cast another Hada I believe and attacked for 2.  On David’s turn down comes Black Knight and thus begins the groans of the opponent. The normal response from opponents is to pick up and read black knight but its a card that has existed since magic was printed.  Over the next few turns black knight blocks the biggest threat over and over while Terminates, Gatekeepers and eventually Nighthawks start to tear apart the allies player.   It’s really hard for allies to survive against this much cheap removal when the opponent isn’t losing their chump blockers.  David wins even after Josh uses two Ranger of Eos.

SB:  -2 Hypnotic Specter, – all planeswalkers, +1 Black Knight, +3 Deathmark + Malakir Gatekeeper.

After board Allies brings in removal which is basically more journies and oblivion rings which are slow and kind of useless since this deck tends to do a lot of damage with man lands.

Game two is pretty much the same as game one but we have more and better removal and a lower curve.  David nets big advantage with Black Knight on turn 2 again and after terminating the largest Hada Freeblade on the opponents turn 3, he untaps and Earthquakes for 3 on turn 4 clearing the board.  After that a kicked gatekeeper and a following blighting cleared the opponents board and hand away leaving David with 4 or so in hand. The game doesn’t take to long to wrap up even with more Rangers of Eos.  Game 2 David ended at around 26 life due to nighthawks.

Top 4

Opponent – Larry Waymon playing Blightning Vampires

Larry was David’s only loss on the day and also happens to be one of the few players at the event David actually knows.  Was great that they both made it to top 4 and plan to attend Nationals.

David attributed the earlier loss to some big play mistakes but honestly these decks are so similar that it can come down to who has the blightnings and removal first.

Game 1 – Larry cast the first and third blightings and won. Creatures died along the way and the card advantage plus mana advantage lead to a victory.

David’s SB plan: -3 Black Knight, -2 Consuming Vapors, +4 Duress, + Gatekeeper of Malakir.  That’s all I caught at least.

Game 2 – David Casts Blighting on turns 3 and 4 and even with sign in blood Larry is so far behind on cards that kicked gatekeepers are getting insane value and give David a lopsided victory.

Game 3 – A semi-epic battle but a rough uphill fight for Larry.  Larry cast turn 3 Arrogant Bloodlord.  David responds on his turn 3 with kicked gatekeeper.  Larry follows suit on turn 4 with kicked gatekeeper.  I know Larry did this wanting to follow-up with a Nocturnus but earlier in the day when David lost to Larry he also kicked a gatekeeper to off an opposing gatekeeper.  They discussed that play after the swiss match and agreed it was a terrible use of gatekeepers.  David followed up shortly after with a Abyssal Persecutor and the Persecutor being bigger than the Vampire Nocturnus that Larry cast on his turn was able to get in for big damage.  This actually became the key of the match since he was bigger than Larry’s team even with a black card on the top.   In the end the Abyssal died to a terminate but also the streak of black spells on top of Larry’s library ended and shortly after so did all of his guys to a flurry of lighting bolts, terminates and gatekeepers.  Lavaclaw Reaches gave David enough power to finally finish the match and head to the finals.


Sorry forgot the guys name playing old style Mythic Conscription (with Rafiq)

This match was short.  But most games against Mythic are quick.  David lost the die roll which is a huge boon to the Mythic player as its hard to kill a mana guy on turn 1 with only 3 mountains able to enter untapped to cast lighting bolt on turn 1.  The opponent does go turn 1 Heirarch.  David plays a Lavaclaw and passes and David kills the mana guy on turn 2.  After that the opponent gets stuck on four mana and the few creatures come out on the mythic side meet gatekeepers and terminates and the opponent just never gets enough on the board or lands in play to compete with the removal.  Also the lack of card draw in mythic leads to a pretty easy win.

SB plan: +3 Deathmarks, +1 Gatekeeper, +1 Black Knight, -2 Earthquakes, -2 Hypnotic Specters, -1 ????

Turn 1 Hierarch meets turn 1 Deathmark.  Turn 2 Lotus Cobra meets lighting bolt.  From here the opponent was stuck on green mana and when turn 4 Persecutor is in play facing 2 forest and a just played Celestial Colonnade the writing was already on the wall.  A few more missed land drops earned a concession and David a premier event victory.

The list does very well versus Mythic, U/W, and Allies.  The more troubling matches are Jund though winnable and if you lose the die roll you can be in trouble against Devastating Red.  David beat Devastating Red in the swiss but  lost game one on turn 3 before he had cast a single spell.

Post question in the comments section or shoot me an email.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew Pekios

2 Comments leave one →
  1. anon permalink
    May 17, 2010 9:46 am

    Now that you’ve seen them in action more, would you run duplicates or cut any of the planeswalkers?

    • May 17, 2010 10:48 am

      Honestly they often were irrelevant and went uncast. Still deserve more testing. My impression of the matches was that Lil wasn’t needed and Sorin was more of a backup plan if all else fails. The only planeswalker used in the entire event was Sarkhan and he made dragons and killed baneslayers (which is sometimes important). It might be better to cut Lil and Sorin for 1 more Sarkhan and 1 more gatekeeper main. That opens a spot in the SB for a 4th deathmark or 2nd pithing needle.

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