I am sitting at the airport in Atlanta, waiting for my flight home. And I can’t help but feel completely besides myself. My trip to the US only lasted from Thursday until Sunday (actually until Monday because of a delay). But this prolonged weekend has given me more excitement, chills, fear and every feeling that I can imagine in a more compressed timeframe than I ever felt before. This weekend, I experienced the (so far) peak of my Magic career, as I managed to Top 8 the Tabletop Mythic Championship with a 12-3-1 score. I went on to lose the quarterfinals, which is sad in a vacuum. But overall I can’t take my eyes off the bigger picture and the fact that I am a Top 8 Sunday stage competitor!

The Game Changer for Nexus Decks

A sideboard approach that I never saw coming

Incubation Druid by Daniel Ljunggren

Incubation Druid by Daniel Ljunggren

Even though I just put out an article about my build of Simic Nexus, things happened at GP Memphis that took the deck from good to broken territory.
It is never a bad idea to admit that you were wrong. And I admit that even with my hours testing with different approaches to the deck, and some more hours in the oracle card database to look for ideas, I just didn’t see this build for the sideboard. In Memphis, two Japanese players came in 8th and 20th place with their version of Simic Nexus. They played a mix of 1/3, 1/4 and 0/2 creatures in the sideboard, and it made me curious what this was all about. I sat down and theorized it, before I put it into action and I have to say it’s stunningly smart. Not only are these cards a mix of ramp and blockers but they also play around most of your opponents hate cards after sideboard. They totally blank cards like NegateNegate and Spell PierceSpell Pierce, but more on that in a bit. For now, here is the list I played. If you’re interested in playing this deck yourself, you can get missing cards here (they will even give you back 10%).

Simic Nexus by Michael Bonde

Creatures (2)
Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis

Spells (34)
Wilderness ReclamationWilderness Reclamation
Blink of an EyeBlink of an Eye
Chemister’s InsightChemister’s Insight
Growth SpiralGrowth Spiral
Nexus of FateNexus of Fate
OptOpt
Precognitive PerceptionPrecognitive Perception
Root SnareRoot Snare
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta
Lands (24)
ForestForest
IslandIsland
Breeding PoolBreeding Pool
Hinterland HarborHinterland Harbor
Memorial to GeniusMemorial to Genius
Simic GuildgateSimic Guildgate

Sideboard (15)
Atzocan ArcherAtzocan Archer
Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze
Druid of the CowlDruid of the Cowl
Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis
Incubation DruidIncubation Druid
Crushing CanopyCrushing Canopy
NegateNegate
Nezahal, Primal TideNezahal, Primal Tide
BUY DECK

3-0 in my First Draft

A Rakdos monstrosity gets there

Gruul Spellbreaker by Zoltan Boros

Going into MC Cleveland, I had done 11 Drafts, with two of them on the morning of the MC. So naturally, I was a bit nervous that I didn’t have enough understanding of the format and archetypes, which would give me a very hard start to the day.
In Draft number one, I first picked a Gruul SpellbreakerGruul Spellbreaker and then the Draft just went like any other normal Draft. I changed colors to Rakdos, since it was open, and ended up with a medium deck somewhere between control and aggro that had a shaky mana base. I ended up with a monstrosity that’s not exactly what you travel continents for.
But it was still a game of Magic that we played. And even though I had three non-games due to mana issues, I managed to take down the draft with a 3-0 record. Way more wins than I had imagined going in, and certainly more than I expected after deckbuilding.

I ran to Chipotle to get some grub, and then I was ready to face the best in the world, in the format where I actually felt prepared.

Day 1 in Standard

Standard Wilderness Reclamation by Tyler Walpole

Wilderness Reclamation by Tyler Walpole

First Match: 2-0 against Gates

The matchup is great, and even though the deck played Nexus of FateNexus of Fate and a control-ombo approach I managed to take down the game. My opponent took 5 extra turns in a row, with a 5/5 Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis in play. But with two timely Root SnareRoot Snares, I managed to survive until they had to pass the turn and I could go off myself.

Second Match: 2-0 against Mono Blue

They didn’t have an early Curious ObsessionCurious Obsession in any of the games, and I managed to win against my worst matchup to improve my record for the day to 5-0. The key cards in this match were a mix of bounce spells, FogFog effects and a combo finish in game one, as well as Atzocan ArcherAtzocan Archers from the board.

Third Match: 2-0 against Azorius Aggro

This was against a very friendly Chinese player, who qualified through an RPTQ. In Game 1, I stabilized and comboed off according to plan, but game two was a bit harder. At some point both me and my opponent where at 1 life, when my end of turn Blink of an EyeBlink of an Eye got hit by a Spell PierceSpell Pierce. Had I waited, I would have had lethal that turn, but I was lucky enough that my 7 oozes did their job on the following turn to get me to 6-0.

Fourth Match: 2-1 against Mono Red

Some of this was on camera, and it was extremely close. For my last possible draw, I drew Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis, my opponent drew a creature and then with a Blink of an EyeBlink of an Eye on my Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis to replay it, I put the nail in the coffin. Still undefeated at 7-0 I was shivering and nervous with one more match to wrap up the day.

Fifth Match: 2-0 against Mono Blue

At this point I didn’t know Autumn Burchett played Mono Blue, but I had my suspicion since they played it for their RPTQ, with success. When I saw the mismatching Islands, I knew I was in trouble. In the first game, Autumn played a bunch of creatures, and when it came down to the last couple of turns, I managed to Root SnareRoot Snare my way through the match to get my combo in motion. In game two, it was a back and forth, but with some good blockers and a Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze that made a bunch of friends, I managed to take a match from the eventual champion.

Ending Day 1 Undefeated

A Magic grinders dream come true

Being 8-0 is a dream come true. I tried to put it into words in my end of day interview, but it was hard – and sitting here writing, I don’t even think I could do it better now. Playing Magic has become an integral part of me and my day-to-day life. And this is what I have been dreaming about ever since I heard of the Pro Tour. Getting to stand there on top of the best in the world, knowing that I played my best and got lucky when I needed to, was really an emotional and wonderful feeling.
Family, friends, former opponents and people that I barely know texted me about how happy they were for me. It was just outright amazing! It feels like it’s your birthday just times a hundred!

We went out for dinner, and I went to bed early, but could barely sleep. My entire body was still in a mixed state of jet-lag and excitement.

The Path to the Top 8

Dovin Grand Arbiter by Kieran Yanner

Dovin Grand Arbiter by Kieran Yanner

Day 2 of the Mythic Championship

Day 2 of Mythic Championship Cleveland and my role in the draft in pod 1 is a known entity and can be watched here.

There are many approaches for drafting, some stick to their first pick, some force their preferred strategy. I like to stay open, see what colors come my way and then try and get as good of a pool as possible. Sometimes I diverge from this path, but not knowing much about the format, I wanted to rely on my skills in this discipline to maximize my chances.
5.5 out of 8 of the decks around the table where what you might call train wrecks. Going back to watch both the commentary of my own, as well as what happened around the table, was quite a delight. I think that the seat I drafted in should have been red, since so many good cards came my way. I also think I probably should have taken a Senate GriffinSenate Griffin early in pack one. But nevertheless, there is a lot of stress, and there is a lot of information going through your head, and I tried my best to navigate my seat. The deck wasn’t good, but I think I did an acceptable job. With a little help from punts and other train wreck decks in the pod, I managed to get a 2-1 with a loss to the eventual champion, Autumn Burchett. I guess they got their revenge from the Standard portion of day 1. This result still put me on top of the standings alongside Marcio Cavalho, who I tested with for this tournament. That meant it was both nice and sad at the same time, because we needed to face a team mate.

The Competition Gets Tough

Top 8 Pteramander by Simon Dominic

Pteramander by Simon Dominic

Playing against a parade of champions

During a deep run in a tournament you realize that the competition sharpens up. Just look at my opponents after round 9!

Round 10: Autumn Burchett – Eventual winner of the Mythic Championship
Round 11: Piotr “Kanister” Glogowski – MPL Member
Round 12: Marcio Cavalho – MPL Member
Round 13: Reid Duke – MPL Member
Round 14: Andrea Mengucci – MPL Member

Defeated by a Team Mate

Marcio Carvalho on White Weenie

Marcio was on Mono White, and even though I faced and defeated it earlier, I know that I should be prepared when I face Marcio. He is, after all, an extremely potent Magic player. The match went to three games, and in the end he put enough creatures on the board for me to give him the handshake and say GG. With my second loss I sat at 11-2 and potentially had two more win-and-ins to make the playoffs.

A Fatal Turn Against Reid

With one misplay, I gave Reid Duke the win

Reid Duke was on Mono Blue, and while my earlier Mono Blue opponents weren’t that curious, Reid managed to play Obsession against me on turn 2. I fought back to the best of my ability, but eventually it wasn’t enough. In the last turn, I realized that I had to deal damage over two turns, which meant I had to create a couple of Oozes, but also I needed to survive. I then went on to attack with my Druid of the CowlDruid of the Cowl, and created the two Oozes. That left me dead on board, even though I would have had Root SnareRoot Snare in hand. I was so sad to make this misplay, but I think it shows how your brain just runs on overtime, trying to calculate all the outs and all possible solutions to the puzzle at hand. Eventually I had a plan to win the game, I had it figured out, but my execution mixed up “you have to deal more damage to win” and “you have to create two Oozes to win” which left me dead on board. Now I was at 11-3 and had my back against the wall. Not a nice spot to be in, and I had to walk outside to get some fresh air and try to shake off that last fatal turn.

All Or Nothing VS Mengucci

We knew our decks for this last chance

Andrea Mengucci was my opponent for the last round that gave me a shot at the playoffs. And not only did I know that he played Sultai, he also knew that I played Nexus, and he wasn’t happy about it. Game one played out in the most traditional way: I played around his Vivien ReidVivien Reid long enough to resolve a Wilderness ReclamationWilderness Reclamation and combo off. In game 2, Andrea aggroed me out with a bunch of Wildgrowth WalkerWildgrowth Walkers and Explore creatures, and we went down to the last game. The game was close, since both of us drew a bunch of lands. I did however mangage to land a Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze, kill a Wildgrowth WalkerWildgrowth Walker with a Atzocan ArcherAtzocan Archer and got in three attacks with an Incubation DruidIncubation Druid, the last of which was lethal.

The Magical Record

Ravnica Allegiance Ethereal Absolution by Eric Deschamps

Ethereal Absolution by Eric Deschamps

A draw to secure my Top 8 spot

With that win I advanced to 12-3, the “magical” record before the last round. As it sometimes happens the top 8 (or some spots of it), are locked at that point, and with a draw, you can secure the Sunday invitation. This is what happened here: I shook hands with Ikawa and I was happy beyond belief and ready to go home, think about the quarterfinals matchup and prepare myself to play the best Magic I could on the next day. Then the Top 8 ceremony happened!

The Story of Dancing Bonde

A viral moment from the Top 8 announcement

Carlos Ramao celebrated me and Marcio and asked Thomas what they could chant when I got called in. He looked me straight into the eyes and said “Michael, you are a positive and happy guy, don’t walk in there like you would walk into a funeral” and I responded “I got this.” with a wink, and the rest is history.

The dance is an original from home, that my girlfriend dances every time she wears something with glitter on it. And I thought that it was an appropriate moment to introduce the world to it aswell! However, she’s much better at it though than I am.

The Game Within the Game

Kaya's Wrath by Victor Adame Minguez

Kaya’s Wrath by Victor Adame Minguez

Simic Nexus versus Esper Control

After the announcements, we were taken aside, and got to talk to some of the coordinators about hair and make-up. At the same time, we did our player interviews, and we also got handed our opponents deck list. I got to play my best matchup in the Top 8, and I want to elaborate on that.

When you play against a random opponent, you don’t know their exact 75. When you do, like in the Top 8, you get to shape a plan around how you beat the specific deck you face. Simic Nexus and Esper Control play 4 win conditions in the main deck between the two decks. That constitutes a minigame within the game, that if I loose both my Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis, I can’t win the game. In the same way, if my opponent loses his Karn, Scion of UrzaKarn, Scion of Urza and The Eldest RebornThe Eldest Reborn, he is unable to win.

But what about Teferi?

Is the blue-white Walker no Wincon?

Here is how I wanted to play against the Ultimate ability of Teferi, Hero of DominariaTeferi, Hero of Dominaria. The plan we put up for the unlikely scenario of us losing our win conditions, was that we had to get all of our lands exiled by the Teferi Emblem, and continue the game until we had a hand of 4 lands (to be safe from Thought ErasureThought Erasure) and 4 Nexus of FateNexus of Fate. The reason for this is, that on our turn, we will draw a card and then go to our cleanup step, discard Nexus of FateNexus of Fate, get it shuffled in, and then draw it for the next turn. Our opponents plan is to put Teferi on top of his empty library every turn, and win the game because the other side runs out of cards. If we both put our plans into action, the game is a draw (unlike on MTG Arena).

The Hydroid Subgame

When two Jellyfish Hydras face lots of removal

Another thing that we talked about, was our opponents unlimited removal for our 2 Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis. This made for another interesting game within the game and some rules we set for the matchup.

  • You can’t play a Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis, unless it is survives.
  • We can’t keep a starting hand with 2 Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis, since it will be like a double mulligan anyway and it’s really soft to Thought ErasureThought Erasure.
  • If the game goes long and we only have 1 Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis left, we have to take enough turns, to be able to play a small Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis and use our bounce and counters to save it from getting killed.

This was a fun little puzzle that we talked about during dinner, but it never came up during the quarterfinals. Eventually I lost the last match in the Best of five and while it was a heartbreaking moment, I just felt a lot of joy and honor of actually being able to achieve this with hard work and dedication.

How My Decklist Changed

Top 8 Atzocan Archer by Naomi Baker

Atzocan Archer by Naomi Baker

Comparing the new with the old

As I wrote in the beginning of this article, I fell in love with the Japanese GP Memphis decklists. When I wrote my article about Nexus of FateNexus of Fate, I said that I didn’t find the Frilled MysticFrilled Mystic and Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis powerful enough. The Japanese came to the same conclusion it seems, and not only did they cut the Frilled MysticFrilled Mystics, they shaved the entire win condition package, from 7 down to 2. At first I was afraid that it might be too few. But it turns out, this makes the deck much more linear. You get to combo off faster, and more reliably. I liked the change in testing, and I was sold.
They then had a mix of a lot of creatures in their deck – and where I had Sailor of MeansSailor of Means, they had a Sailor of Means that both blocked and was a removal in Atzocan ArcherAtzocan Archer. All the cards they thought about were my newfound favorites, since they just attacked the bad matchups in a whole new way.

A New Sideboard Guide

Not gonna leave you hanging

The new sideboard is quite a bit different from the last one – so it wouldn’t be fair to leave you hanging without a guide.

Sideboarding against Mono Red

Sideboard In (10)
Incubation DruidIncubation Druid
Atzocan ArcherAtzocan Archer
Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze
Druid of the CowlDruid of the Cowl
Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis
Sideboard Out (10)
Chemister’s InsightChemister’s Insight
Precognitive PerceptionPrecognitive Perception
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage

Sideboarding against Mono White

Sideboard In (11)
Incubation DruidIncubation Druid
Atzocan ArcherAtzocan Archer
Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze
Druid of the CowlDruid of the Cowl
Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis
Crushing CanopyCrushing Canopy
Sideboard Out (11)
Chemister’s InsightChemister’s Insight
Precognitive PerceptionPrecognitive Perception
Search for AzcantaSearch for Azcanta
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage

Sideboarding against Esper Control

Sideboard In (7)
Nezahal, Primal TideNezahal, Primal Tide
NegateNegate
Crushing CanopyCrushing Canopy
Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis
Atzocan ArcherAtzocan Archer
Sideboard Out on the play (7)
Blink of an EyeBlink of an Eye
Root SnareRoot Snare
Nexus of FateNexus of Fate
Wilderness ReclamationWilderness Reclamation

Sideboard Out on the draw (7)
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage
Root SnareRoot Snare
Nexus of FateNexus of Fate
Wilderness ReclamationWilderness Reclamation

Sideboarding against Mono Blue

Sideboard In (12)
Incubation DruidIncubation Druid
Atzocan ArcherAtzocan Archer
Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze
Druid of the CowlDruid of the Cowl
Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis
Crushing CanopyCrushing Canopy
Sideboard Out (12)
Nexus of FateNexus of Fate
Wilderness ReclamationWilderness Reclamation
Chemister's InsightChemister's Insight
Precognitive PerceptionPrecognitive Perception
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage

Sideboarding against Sultai Midrange

Sideboard In (10)
Incubation DruidIncubation Druid
Atzocan ArcherAtzocan Archer
Biogenic OozeBiogenic Ooze
Druid of the CowlDruid of the Cowl
Hydroid KrasisHydroid Krasis
Crushing CanopyCrushing Canopy
Sideboard Out (10)
Nexus of FateNexus of Fate
Wilderness ReclamationWilderness Reclamation
Chemister's InsightChemister's Insight
Sinister SabotageSinister Sabotage
Root SnareRoot Snare

Closing Thoughts

Thank you and until next time

What I want to say to everyone reading this is that I was so full of joy from all of the sweet messages, chants and just nice words I received on different social media. It means a lot that I am able to help people with some of the things I say, and that people are actually rooting for me. I was completely blown away by the support, and for that I want to say thanks from the bottom of my heart!

Now I will go home and have some family time with my child and girlfriend and then I will come back even more invigorated and lit up than ever for MagicFest Bilbao in March.

Thank you all for the support and let’s achieve even more together!

 

Michael Bonde

PS: I will probably fire up my stream in the upcoming weeks, so follow MichaelBonde on Twitch, and get that notification when I go live!

 

This article was written by Michael Bonde in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com

Michael Bonde

Author Michael Bonde

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