February 02 2016 Tuesday at 01:58 PM

HAKI Round Four Wrap-up and Round Five Primer

Round four is over, the final round is upon us.  Welcome to the elimination round.

A quick recap - The Hakeem Invitational, or HAKI as I abbreviate it, is an XB1 Duels tournament organized by Hakeem928 and MobiusChickenStrips of NGA fame/notoriety.  It is five rounds of swiss followed by a cut to top eight single elimination playoff.  A 3-2 record SHOULD be a lock for top eight.

If you don’t want spoilers, just click the links, watch the show, and then read on.

CovertGo Blue (3-0, Gruul Ramp) vs InfamousGemini (3-0, Naya Ramp)


Going into this match one might predict that this was all about the Moss, and that is half right.  This matchup really turned out to be all about land drops, and who could hit more of them.  Both of our decks stumbled on lands in game two, and prioritizing what you play when you have a hand full of gas but minimal resources defined the battle.  I personally feel like I did a good job identifying what I need to do, and watching Gemini’s perspective and I am not sure if he had a thought out plan or if he had a plan that just didn’t pan out.  I’d love to replay game two from Gemini’s position and try some different lines, I am not sure it would have been a different ending but it surely would have been a different game.

CGB wins two games to zero, improving to 4-0.  Gemini falls to 3-1.  Both should be in top eight.

Hakeem928 (2-1, Izzet Thopters) vs smokeyalaterz (2-1, Jund Midrange)


Brace your stomachs Hakeem fans, this one is hard to watch.  We are all a few tapped lands or a slight misstep away from defeat.  Hakeem came in with a bad matchup, but he could have stolen this one.  Your resolve is a crucial part of being a successful Magic player, and it is easy to tell yourself that nothing matters when you are losing, but rising above that and finding a winning line takes effort.  Smoke had a huge matchup advantage with all those sweepers, but good players overcome bad matchups every day.  EVERY DAY.  Props to Smoke for getting out with the win.

Smoke wins, two games to one, and improves to 3-1, locking up top eight.  Hakeem falls to 2-2 and will be playing a win and in for the playoffs in round five.

Mackey79 (2-1, Jund Control) vs HailtotheKing (2-1, Esper Control)


Game one is a great illustration of how Hail’s deck solves planeswalker issues.  Even though he is very reactive, he has Perilous Myrs to keep opposing walkers loyalty count in check, and he has Gideon, who is only walker who goes out there and slays other walkers.  Mackey does flood both games, but that can’t be too uncommon.  Mackey’s deck relies on walkers and enchantments for card advantage and to endure floods, and when King takes those away from him (or just mitigates their impact) Mackey is left drawing off the top, and he has very few good threats and a lot of awkward synergy like Act of Treason.

Hail wins, two games to zero, and improves to 3-1 and locks up top eight.  Mackey falls to 2-2 and will be playing a win-and-in next round.

PeepySqueeps (2-1, Jeskai Tokens) vs Black Barney (2-1, Izzet Thopters)


This match is pretty funny to watch, it was funny at the time.  Whatever had Peepy so hyped, it worked for him.  Barney made a terrible stumble at the end of game two.  He would later tell me that he had an untapped land in his hand, and he played a tapped land instead.  With an untapped land, a Pia/Kiran activation would have ended the game for Barney.  Instead, Peepy brought the pain and a mulliganed hand that looked sketchy brought Peepy to the top eight.

Peepy wins, two games to none, and locks up top eight with a 3-1 record.  Barney falls to 2-2, and will need a win next round to make it into the playoff.

DannyRetartabul (1-2, Jund Control) vs Tsh1rt (1-2, Selesnya Ramp)


This match was really something to see.  Shirt played so conservatively, it still blows my mind.  The fear of casting something as small and efficient as a Blisterpod is amazing to me.  Sure, Danny could steal it, but then he spent his steal spell on a 1/1.  Sure, if he sac’s it he gets a scion, but that is hardly a good use the the spell.  You make him spend his spell and his turn on a 1/1, no big deal, and then your big threat is more likely to hit.  And not using the Edict on a Bloodflow, and just slowly bleeding out to a couple small dorks?  It still leaves me speechless.  Clearly Shirt adopted a game plan of casing no creatures except for Gaea’s Revenge, and it worked for a game, but I would have loved to see that game played differently.  

Danny wins, two games to one, and gets a win-and-in match for top eight.  Shirt falls to 1-3.

Westaine (1-2, Esper Control) vs MegaBeast (1-2, five color ramp)


This match felt really straight forward - Beast’s mana doesn’t work, West takes over and runs the show.  Beast’s mana works, Beast jams more action than West has answers, Beast wins games two and three.

Beast wins two to one, improves to 2-2, and gets a win-and-in for top eight next round.  West falls to 1-3.

Mobius (1-2, Esper Control) vs Dieverse1 (1-2, Azorius Aggro)


Until the last few minutes, this one had me on edge.  Mobius took a very patient line and it paid off, but the play of the day may have been Dieverse legend-ruling himself by jamming both Gideons, something I’ve only seen one other time this season.  You can’t have both, you can only have one.  Mobius was far from doomed, but that slip let him slow-roll Suppression Bonds and check Gideon with Skyspawners.  Mobius took some interesting lines, and in the end I can say he played well, but one can only wonder how things could have gone differently if not for double Gideon.

Mobius wins two to one, improves to 2-2, and plays a win-and-in for top eight.  Dieverse falls to 1-3.

Ender1313 (0-3, Dimir Control) vs SteelyDanno (0-3, Sultai Control)


Danno’s answers haven’t worked out for him yet, and I feel for the guy.  Ender showed the power of the Ingest tilt factor and seemed to win both games with an odd mix of devoid dorks.  

Ender wins, two games to none, and improves to 1-3 while Danno falls to 0-4.

Which puts a wrap on round four and brings us to our round five pairings -

CovertGo Blue (4-0, Gruul Ramp) vs smokeyalaterz (3-1, Jund Midrange)

Both of us are locked for top eight, this is basically a match for top seed.  I just hope we get to play, it will have to be today or tomorrow because I will be gone for nearly a week starting on Thursday. If we can’t find the time, I’ll scoop to Smoke and enter the playoff at 4-1.  That aside, I like my matchup, I think that Jund Midrange is the type of deck that Ramp can go over the top of and beat up on.  He will likely be sensitive to Moss, and his sweepers won't do much against me.  I have to keep Fleshbag in mind when getting Ulamog and other monsters, but I am confident my Rolling Thunders will be much larger than his.

InfamousGemini (3-1, Naya Ramp) vs HailtotheKing (3-1, Esper Control)

I will be paying close attention to this one, it should be a good match.  Esper Control would probably be the best deck in the format if it could consistently contain a ramp deck, but in my experience it can’t.  But it still can some amount of the time.  It is far from a lopsided matchup, and what King counters vs how Gemini paces his threats will be interesting to see.  I think Gemini can take it, but King is not a dog by much.  Both players should be locked for top eight and this is a seeding match.

PeepySqueeps (3-1, Jeskai Tokens) vs Mackey79 (2-2, Jund Control)

Mackey gets paired up in the first of our drama matches.  Peepy is locked for top eight and is playing for seeding.  Mackey controls his own destiny, a win and he should make top eight, although a loss doesn’t necessarily eliminate him (more on that later).  The bad news is that Mackey has a tough matchup ahead of him.  This will be yet another match where Mackey’s Act of Treason/Bone Splinters package is far from good (I’m seeing a trend in this tournament…), he has minimal defense against Thopter tokens, and his only pure sweeper is one Languish.  I don’t see Mackey keeping the board contained.

Hakeem928 (2-2, Izzet Thopters) vs DannyRetartabul (2-2, Jund Control)

Drama match number two!  Winner will make top eight, loser likely is out.  Except if that loser is Hakeem...more to come as the picture starts to take shape... This match is similar to the Peepy/Mackey one.  Once again, Act of Treason and Traitours Instinct will struggle to hit high-impact targets.  Danny lacks air defense, but two Reclamation Sage and two Languish will probably be his best defensive cards in the matchup.  I don’t see Danny getting control of this board, and I think Hakeem will avenge his round four meltdown vs Smoke and lock up the top eight spot.

Black Barney (2-2, Izzet Thopters) vs Mobius (2-2, Esper Control)

Drama match number three!  Winner gets top eight, loser is out.  Before the tournament began, Mobius picked Barney to win the whole thing.  Now Mobius faces a dilemma, eliminate his pick and make himself wrong or fail to reach the top eight himself!  I am just fanning drama flames here, obviously Mobius will play to win, and Mobius comes baring blockers (Skyspawner) and sweepers (Languish, Outburst).  While Mobius has the right tools in the box, his rather bulky box of tools could punish him here.  He needs a hand with the right mana and the right tools.  If he keeps the wrong set of tools to get the mana right, he could be between a rock and a hard place.  Several of his cards are good in the matchup, but several are not as well.  Since Barney is the beatdown, his job is simpler - play threats, remove blockers, attack, hope for the best.  This is another match I am really looking forward to, and I can’t really make a call one way or another.  I put this match on even money.

Ender1313 (1-3, Dimir Control) vs MegaBeast (2-2, five color ramp)

Beast needs to win to have a shot at top eight.  Ender gets paired up and has the chance to play dream spoiler by beating Beast, and has a super-long shot of making top eight (more on this soon).  The good news for Beast is that he got paired down into what looks like an easy matchup.  The bad news for Beast is that he got that pairing because his tie-breakers stink, and I mean THEY STINK.  I’ll talk about the match now and the win-in potential later.  I think Ender is in big trouble.  Beast’s most likely path to defeat is through his own mana base.  There is also the off-chance that Ender’s Ingest creatures remove most of Beast’s threats, but that is always too unlikely to count on.  Ender simply hasn’t been able to consistently offer up pressure in this event, and Beast can certainly counter Ender’s game plan with the right mana.  I think Beast takes this one.

Westaine (1-3, Esper Control) vs Dieverse1 (1-3, Azorius Aggro)

Nobody is live for top eight here, so this is a for-the-hell-of-it game, but it will be an interesting match between pure control and pure aggro.  The last time we saw this, Dieverse rolled over Danno, so I will pick Dieverse to do it again.  But really, what will he get to do with those Tightening Coils?

Tsh1rt (1-3, Selesnya Ramp) vs SteelyDanno (0-4, Sultai Control)

This is Danno’s last chance to get on the board.  I am picking him and rooting for him, his deck surely isn’t as bad as things have gone for him.

So the top eight is shaping up like this (the order will surely change based on the last round) -

  1. CGB
  2. Gemini
  3. Smoke
  4. King
  5. Peepy
  6. Hakeem or Danny based on their match
  7. Barney or Mobius based on their match
  8. Mackey, Beast, or a 2-3 record based on the results from multiple matches.

The eight seed is where the drama lives, and it will likely come down to tie breakers (breakers are standard Magic Swiss breakers, the most important being Opponent’s Match Win Percentage, meaning how well your opponents have performed before and since they played against you).

Mackey has very good breakers and Beast has very poor breakers.  If Mackey wins against Peepy, he will be 3-2.  If Beast wins against Ender, he will be 3-2.  Mackey has much better breakers than Beast, and should be a lock for top eight if this happens.

If Mackey loses and Beast wins, then Beast makes the top eight, there will be no 3-2 records tied for 8th/9th.

If Mackey and Beast both lose, all hell breaks out, and one 2-3 record will make top eight.  Of the potential 2-3 records out there, the ones with the best tie breakers would be Hakeem (if he loses round five), Mackey and Ender.  Yeah, ENDER!  If Mackey and Beast both lose, and Hakeem wins, Ender could go from 0-3 to top eight!  He would still have to jump Mackey on breakers, and that isn’t likely since Mackey was paired up, but it could happen.  And speaking of it could happen, anyone who finishes 2-3 has a long-shot at top eight, but you have to root for Peepy and Ender in round five.  If Mackey and Beast lose their matches, we will have an anxious crowd of 2-3’s waiting for the top eight announcement.

I hope you leave this post pumped for round five.  Who’s in your top eight?  Sound off the in comments, and stay tuned to NGA, Haunted Flower Duels Diaries, and follow your favorites on Twitch to see the matches live.