After weeks and weeks of Sunday’s spent slinging Attune with Aethers, casting Thoughtseizes and cracking packs we finally have our second-ever Ultimate Showdown champion—Matthew Dilks.
In my opinion Dilks is a very fitting champion as he played unquestionably some of the best Magic at the store and in the entire city throughout the last half-year or so. Dilks may be one of the best Legacy players out there period and is really firing at all cylinders with his play and his deckbuilding right now. Dilks played well all day and brought a super spicy deck for Modern but we’ll get to a Q&A with him at the end of the article.
Matthew Dilks, Temur Moon- First Place
I’m not going to focus on the metagame of the individual pods (this event allows players to play the first three rounds in the format of their choice and then the final five in Modern) because I think that’d be a waste of your time. But, given that we had some of the best players in the city battling on Sunday let’s see where they landed on Modern. As you’ll see with the decklists below the room was sort of similar to that of Grand Prix Oklahoma City in a little less severe way. There was a lot of Thoughtseizes in the room and three Thoughtseize decklists showed up in the Top 8 in the hands of strong players. But, the decks that ultimately prevailed were going over-the-top of that in Tron, U/W Control, Ben Winokur’s sweet B/R Hollow One deck and Dilks’ Tireless Tracker + Cryptic Command combination deck.
Winokur rallied after cueing for the event just last week to make the Top 8, Shawn Dhaliwal has now Top 8’d both of our Ultimate Showdowns, Lucas Siow honestly rarely looses and Fourner is just Fournier. Goku has been consistently plugging away at the Showdown series and was paid off on Sunday. The other finalist, Zach Chatel, may have been the biggest winner of us all on Sunday by getting to beat Daniel Fournier on a mull-to-four to make the Finals. It’s unlikely anything has ever produced so much salt.
I played 73/75 of the Grixis Death’s Shadow deck Fournier played and was fairly happy overall. Modern has been getting a bad wrap as-of-late but I think in an unfair way. The Top 8 of this event was largely made up of the best players in the room who were playing their best Magic on Sunday. The format is complicated, diverse and rewards great deckbuilding and sideboarding. Take something like Dilks’ deck, he isolated powerful cards and mashed them together in a way that exploited the format. He also found something that’s powerful in a vacuum in trying to maximize the subtle synergy Tireless Tracker and counterspells have together.
But you don’t have to take my word for it, here’s a Q&A with the champ himself, edited for clarity, Matthew Dilks:
Q: Alright, first I’d like to know how you feel about the process of getting to the Ultimate Showdown. How do you like the showdown series? What allowed you to succeed?
The showdown series is unreal, it really makes it tough to justify doing much else on a free Sunday. There is always a 1k that you know is going to be run great at the best store to play at in Toronto. Having legacy as a format you can qualify off of was a huge befit to me as it is easily the format I play and think about the most.
Q: Tell me about your Legacy pod. What did you do to prepare? How did the pod format make you change your deck?
I think I was able to benefit from the pod format because between myself and my group of Legacy masters in Oakville we defined the metagame with everyone’s known primary and secondary deck. If anything the pod format giving me the option to play Legacy as by far my strongest format is the biggest upside.
I think we guessed the metagame perfectly, knowing that with this section of the Toronto metagame there will be max 2 combo decks. I saw no reason to switch off R/G lands and I opted to go with a maindeck that I would say is pretty standard with some of combo sideboard cards cut for flexible answers and resilient threats. Overall the changes aren’t drastic just an Ancient Grudge for the Stoneforge decks, a needle as a flexible answer card to a variety of problems and Crucible on top of three Tireless Trackers.
Q: What do you think has contributed to your consistent legacy success? How are you winning so much in that format? Do you think legacy lends itself well to consistency?
Honestly, at this point it’s the only format I want to play, I have played most strategies in Legacy. You can get so many edges in Legacy, deck choice, format knowledge, match-up knowledge, strong general magic play and decision making. You can’t complain that you got unlucky when you have eight of the best cantrips in the game in your deck or in Lands a bunch of tutor effects.
If you consider yourself a good player everything is in your control in Legacy. So the first half of why I win so much is that I dedicate most of my magic time to Legacy. The second reason I win a lot is that my primary deck, R/G Lands, is very well positioned in the overall paper metagame but especially in the Toronto Area. People don’t play Storm or Sneak and Show in Toronto. Lands is built to beat-up on other fair legacy decks and on top of that I have so much tournament experience that I can maximize my win percentage against the one person that shows up with Dark Ritual or Griselbrand in their deck.
Q: What about that Temur deck? Is it well positioned? What put it over the top? Do you have any good stories from the event playing the deck?
Since the RPTQ I haven’t played much Modern, I personally don’t currently enjoy the format and none of the decks standout to me. I had to make a choice as I had another store invitational the day before this one that was also primarily Modern. I was looking over the results of the SCG Invitationals to come up with anything I would want to play. I came across Gerard Fabiano’s Temur Moon list, thought it was cool, then I saw that Gabriel Nassif was streaming with a version with no Blood Moons.
I thought it looked sweet and Edgar Magalhães who has been testing for the Pro Tour was also intrigued by it. We tooled it a bit and had a promising initial run and I ended up top 8ing the Saturday tournament. At the very least I wouldn’t dislike grinding my Modern rounds because the deck is really fun to play. I decided the-morning-of I needed some free wins so I added Blood Moon back to the deck and the manabase was already set up to do so. Those free wins definitely payed-off multiple times.
Even with the printing of fatal push Tarmogoyf is still a modern staple, it ends the game so fast. You can play an early Goyf and go shields-up for the rest of the game. Tireless Tracker is an incredible engine card, this card lets you grind with the Thoughtsieze decks. As Edgar likes to say “it’s a combo with cryptic command,” that’s his way of saying you can hold up mana through your opponent’s turn to threaten interaction or just draw cards.
It’s so hard to pick great moments because it was such a tough, long event and I played a long tournament the day before with the same deck. I’ll just sum it up with every time I went-off with a Tracker was awesome. My finals game 3 was a nail-bitter coming down to being stuck on three lands and getting Ulamog’d with my opponent at 5. I had exactly end of turn Vendillion Clique into Electrolyze for the win.
Q: What changes would you make going forward?
This a bit of an ongoing thing since this deck is so new, but initial thoughts is that Blood Moon is a necessary evil. People aren’t looking to interact so you shouldn’t be either. The next thing is a third Cryptic Command, this card is so powerful that for initial testing after this event we have gone down an Electrolyze and up a Cryptic. Lastly, Search for Azcanta is a huge tool for control decks and I want to give it a shot even with the obvious conflict with Blood Moon, I would try cutting the maindeck Jaces for searches.
In the sideboard, I would like to have more graveyard hate, at least a second Surgical and maybe Relic of Progenitus. In addition, I want a third Blood Moon in the 75. It’s super important with rise of Tron and again having some free wins in Modern is important. Four Trackers is likely too many and I would not cut the Jace, Architect of Thought—that card over performed. I would like to fit another removal spell in the 75 as Engineered Explosive and Lightning Bolts are taxed. Initial tests point me towards Harvest Pyre but I need more data.
Q: What is something new you want to see out of the Showdown Series?
I’m not sure how to make this better, it’s so great already. Selfishly I would say more legacy.
Q: What are you next steps in Magic? Any GPs coming up?
For me I’m always quietly grinding, my Pro Tour aspirations have definitely dwindled since not coming close in 2017. I have decided to not put pressure on myself to qualify and attend events I want to. If there is a PPTQ and a Legacy 1k I will be at Legacy every time. I plan on at least attending all major Legacy events in 2018, the UK one might be tough but we will see, I’m sure I will be convinced to go to many events beyond that.
Magic is a huge part of my life right now and where my friends go I will likely be there too. In the short term there is a Modern SCG Open I will likely be attending in January and obviously GP Toronto in February. #Tylerstillbanned
Q: How are you preparing for events like this? Is there anything unique you do that you’d like to share?
Nothing special I haven’t already mentioned, I think the small, defined Legacy meta is easy to solve right now. Modern as always is tough, I don’t want to just say Modern is a lottery but some games don’t play-out very interesting. I think I picked a sweet deck, played good magic and got my share of luck. On top of this I have a very solid network of people that I get to work with, it’s pretty great to know the best players in Toronto and if I want to bounce an idea of someone I can. Luckily multiple people in my group were also qualified so we had a unified goal.
Matthew Dilks, Temur Moon- First Place
Zack Chatel, G/B Tron- Second Place
Lucas Siow, U/W Control- Third Place
Daniel Fournier, Grixis Death’s Shadow- Fourth Place
Ben Winokur, B/R Hollow One- Fifth Place
Shawn Dhaliwal, Abzan- Sixth Place
Andrew Gordon, Grixis Death’s Shadow- Seventh Place
Gokulan Balakrishnan, Titan Shift- Eighth Place
Hungry to qualify for the next Ultimate Showdown? Come out next weekend to start your climb at our special Two-Headed Giant Unstable Sunday Showdown !