Canadian Highlander Top 8 Player Profiles 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.

By Spencer Sacht-Lund (Kanaka)

1st Seed Josh L.

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Josh L. is another former councillor and former Top8 Champion for the 2013 season. After a brief break, Josh returned with a vengeance winning tournaments with a variety of decks. Josh often opts for proactive strategies that involve a combo or linear attack strategy. Former Josh was known as a Grixis control player, but more recently he has become (in)famous for the Flash Hulk deck, a deck he piloted in years past and brought back into circulation.

Josh, you are known for being a very flexible player, how has that gone for you during the 2016 season?
I won with Jeskai, Goblins, a few combo decks, and also Cradlehoof. So you could say that I have won with more archetypes than Ben. It was pretty interesting; we kept playing each other lists and seeing how it went. Ben was on a large tear, so I copied his Jeskai list and won with that. Tight race throughout the year.

What are your thoughts going into this year’s Top8? This particular Top8 has some very known archetype players, how has this affected you and your deck decisions? What do you think is the most important; knowing your deck, knowing the matchup, or knowing the metagame?

It’s always tough. Its almost easier for those that play one deck or archetype, because those of us who play a variety are almost struck with decision paralysis on what to do in the face of choice. I am not sure there is actually that many real set players, a lot of the established players still have a bit of a range. Having first choice is also interesting, because you probably want to choose someone with less range. Of those players, both Pat and Tim have a pretty established archetype. Jer and Robin are pretty hard to peg on a deck. I think its pretty important to play proactive decks, I played a reactive deck previously and someone (me) kept playing protection from my deck creatures. I think this top8 it is better to ask questions than to provide answers. 

Any Comments/Taunts/Challenges/Nose Tweaks?

Well, I certainly hope Ben and I get to play. I am pumped, I think it is fun to have this long lead up with an interesting and really cool event. I will save my taunts for the games.

What would I put him on? Grixis Vault or Flash Hulk. Of these I think Flash Hulk appears more favorable. Josh has such a large range that it is pretty hard to put him on any particular deck. I would place my bets on the deck having blue and being a combo deck, but what that deck looks like and how it interacts much change. Josh stated he wants to be asking questions in this Top8 and he has had a lot of success with combo in the past. I will be very interested to see what he decides to bring with him.

 

2nd Seed Ben W.

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Fellow Councillor and Co-Host of the “There Can Only Be One” podcast Benny Wheels is a longtime Highlander veteran. Known for developing the Jeskai Midrange list and porting it over from German HL, Ben had a lot of success in the early season until the mirrors became too much for him. Opting to copy Trenton, Ben also went on another successful tear with Cradlehoof. Ben is also a fantastic brewer of decks such as “Flying Men”, “BUG Infect”, and “Eggs”. Unfortunately, his desire to be known as a hip deck brewer led Ben to fall short of first place.

Ben, you are known for playing Jeskai and Cradlehoof successfully, how has that gone for you during the 2016 season?
The decks performed quite well. Jeskai was hit in the early season but fell shorter with the Jitte points changes and more recently the Time Walk changes. Now you perhaps don’t get to play the Mystical tutor package, which was particularly (and maybe too) powerful. 

What are your thoughts going into this year’s Top8? This particular Top8 has some very known archetype players, how has this affected you and your deck decisions?

I am excited that all 5 council members made it into the Top8…..oh wait. I think going into this I would be playing a Jeskai or Dark Jeskai deck. I am not worried about telling people I am on the deck, because it has so many flex slots that change the feel. I think the deck is nuts. Also, the dark version isn’t as hit hard by the points changes.

What do you think is the most important; knowing your deck, knowing the matchup, or knowing the metagame?

I think it’s a combination of comfort with the deck and having one sure thing. So knowing there is a bunch of creature decks means you need to have access to at least removal or a sweeper. However, I wouldn’t play anything that I am not familiar with. 

Any Comments/Taunts/Challenges/Nose Tweaks?

Everybody else is a ham, they need to get good. Josh Layne, I am coming for you.

What would I put them on? Dark Jeskai. I think it would be strange for Ben to not play a deck that is not only powerful but flexible. UWRB is one of those decks that can change between reactive and proactive very quickly, which is very powerful in the hands of a skilled player like Ben. Additionally, being able to choose the opponent could mean that playing Lightning Helix or Jitte versus Elves or Goblins can be a powerful play.

3rd Seed Trent M.

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Trent is a skilled eternal player known for piloting one particular archetype in Canadian Highlander, Cradlehoof. Hoof is essentially an Elves ramp deck that deploys Primeval titan for depths combo in addition to Craterhoof Behemoth and other threats. This deck has a similar feel to the legacy elves deck, in that sometimes it’s a combo deck and others it’s a midrange deck. Trent has dominated the fair creature decks this season with the deck he has brought to the top.

 

Trent, you are known for piloting little green elves in particular, how has that gone for you during the 2016 season?

Its been great!

What are your thoughts going into this year’s Top8? This particular Top8 has some very known archetype players, how has this affected you and your deck decisions?

I am very excited as I barely missed last years Top8. This year, being on the play will really help with my deck choice. I am playing Hoof, I have put in more games with this deck than any other player.

What do you think is the most important; knowing your deck, knowing the matchup, or knowing the metagame?

I think it depends on the type of player you are. My play style is one that I need to feel comfortable with the deck and feel that I have completed the archetype. I never get sick of playing Hoof, because I don’t feel I have completed the optimal list yet and want to know the flow of the game in every matchup. There is certain people such as Jer, Josh, Chris and Yourself that play a variety of decks and try to meta, and that works for you, but meta doesn’t necessarily influence my decision. Familiarity is super important and this gives me the percentage points in a lot of matches. I am not afraid to face players that have even picked an “anti-hoof” deck, because I know that I have played the matchup and know the play intricacies versus someone who maybe doesn’t know their deck as well.

Any Comments/Taunts/Challenges/Nose Tweaks?

Hoof is busted, I will play it till I die. Little Green Men forever. Natural Order to 10. I will post my decklist and not change a card. 

What I would put him on? Hoof…..duh. It should go on record that Trent has other card and deck options available, but he values deck familiarity so highly that there really isn’t another choice. I think that this familiarity with a very powerful deck could land him a good spot. The only real tough call for him is what kind of forests to sleeve up. I would opt for Beta personally.

4th Seed Chris S.

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Chris S. is another longtime player and former councillor. A man known for brewing up low curve blue control and midrange decks that rip through the opposition with a combination of interesting card choices and savage miser like luck. Formerly known as a combo player, this recent season has seen Chris opt to play a little fairer and reap the positive results.

Chris, you are known for being a very flexible player with a lot of success with 3-4 colour Blue/x decks, how has that gone for you during the 2016 season?

Its definitely got me into the Top8 this season. Tempo or midrange control doesn’t seem to have any “real” bad matchups to me. I mean, you can meta all you want, but you need to have matchup flexibility.

What are your thoughts going into this year’s Top8? This particular Top8 has some very known archetype players, how has this affected you and your deck decisions?

I think everyone in the Top8 could actually play a deck they aren’t familiar with. I do think the Meta is very important here, it will be interesting to see who goes with their “go to” and who tries to shake it up. I know what I will be playing, and I just have to figure out the few hate cards.

What do you think is the most important; knowing your deck, knowing the matchup, or knowing the metagame?

Metagame, definitely will be important here. I don’t have the time to commit to a team for testing or whatnot, but that would be helpful.

Any Comments/Taunts/Challenges/Nose Tweaks?

I will let everyone else scrap it out, except I think Trent won’t actually play Green and will borrow another deck.

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