Making Top-8 at LMS Barcelona: PieGonti's Event Recap | Magic: The Gathering


Hello, this is PieGonti! As many of you may know, I top8-ed LMS Barcelona in the beginning of the month with UR Murktide in Modern. In this article, I will explain —

  • How I approached testing and deckbuilding.
  • The 15 rounds of the event.
  • How I sideboarded and felt.

So, let's start!

The Testing Team & Process

I usually playtest events with my friends from CamioncioTeam, but since none of them was going to Barcelona (we have holidays in Italy, so a lot of people just stay with their family) I decided to consult the best Murktide pilots I know to prepare a list. I decided to playtest with Michael Kundergraber, Andrea Mengucci and Jenara.

We identified the winner's metagame would be composed mostly of Rhinos and Yawgmoth, but we also expected many random decks. Jenara was going to play Spanish Nationals on Friday, plus I would also play a lot of side events to get a feeling for the field: the goal was to find 70/75 right cards, a proper approach, and write down a sideboard guide. 

Mengu immediately had the idea to play 4 Ledger Shredder, and I liked it after a couple of leagues: the card made the Rhino matchups very favorable and it's also good to have against random decks, as it provides pressure and mitigates midgame flood. The first versions of the list (and the sideboard guide) featured only 2 Dragon's Rage Channelers that were often cut: I strongly disagreed with this and really pushed to play three. DRC is a strong card now that there should be less Orcish Bowmasters, but it's a bit susceptible to sideboard graveyard hate and you'd rather play a midrange deck with 4 Shredders than a tempo deck.

LedgerShredder

The main difference between tempo and midrange (in my view) is how you dose your resources: When you play a tempo game, you really want to have a creature on turn one to start the race and often make 1x1/not good value of your cards to close out the game, achieving delirium, or fuel for Murktide Regent

Playing Midrange means you usually play your threats later, making full value of your cards (you play Mishra's Baubles only when they're relevant, you play Expressive Iteration later, ...) and you often close the game with Murktide plus a Counterspell lock, or with big Shredders.

This also meant zero mana spells, like Force of Negation or Subtlety, had less value, as you never really want to 2-for-1 for a Memory Lapse as you'd lose the race anyway.

I swiftly convinced everyone to play 3 DRCs and we mostly finalized the list. We all decided to play one Blood Moon main deck after a long brainstorming, because the card can win games on its own and that's very important in long tournaments. Also, you can cycle it away with Ledger Shredder when you don't need it, so it was a fine inclusion for all of us. 

None of us was a fan of Tishana's Tidebinder, but we decided to play one in the main just in case for The One Ring decks and random decks. We also decided to play some personal 1-ofs, as all of us have different takes on how to maximize each card, so playing the same 75 wasn't important. We ended up registering very close lists, differing just 1 to 2 cards from each other.

My list for Friday Side Events

Here's a link to my list, Mengu's list, Kunde's list, an Jenara's list.

The testing happened from Monday to Fridayand I want to thank my three team mates a lot for the effort and all the ideas. My result wouldn't have been possible without them.

On Friday I played two side events, I went 3-0 in the first one (2-0 RB Goblins, 2-1 UW Hammer, 2-0 Mono W Hammer) and 2-1 in the second one  (0-2 UW Hammer, 2-1 Burn, 2-0 4C Control).

Against my friend and roommate Riccardo I could playtest against Yawgmoth and noticed that my list was a bit weak preboard. I decided to move one Stern Scolding in the main, cutting the Lorien Revealed, and adding one Cursed Totem to the sideboard. Mengu decided instead to add one more Blood Moon to the main deck, while Kunde just played Force of Negation.

Speaking of non-MTG testing, I decided to ...

  • travel on Thursday, so I had no rush of figuring out my hotel and had more time for moving around
  • eat a big protein breakfast (specifically water, bacon, bread, fruit) and don't eat in the tournament
  • try to sleep at least 5 to 6 hours per night (do more if you can, my roommate was very noisy)
  • drink half or one bottle of water each round
  • drink one coffee/red bull when I felt I was missing focus
  • meditate (I am used to autogenic training) when I felt I was missing focus
  • isolate myself from others, don't talk about MTG, don't think about how poorly I played when I didn't feel to

Knowing your body and your sociality skills should be enough to set up some rules for yourself. 

That was is it for testing. This was my final list:

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LMS Barcelona: PieGonti's tournament report

(For my opponent's, I will use their names on Melee and they/them as pronouns unless I know specifically the right ones. If someone has any correction, DM me and I will change it. My intent is purely informative and to create content.)

DAY 1 | LMS BARCELONA

Metagame Breakdown


Round 1

José Juliàn Diaz Garcia – Gifts Storm | 2-1

I didn't know or expect my opponent to be on Storm, but I felt the matchup should be easy as they have a limited number of removal spells for my creatures, and especially Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is effective. I lost one game where I tapped out to deploy 2 DRCs and my opponent killed me using all their cards in hand. 

Sideboard:
+2 Flusterstorm, +1 Engineered Explosives (for Empty the Warrens), +1 Unlicensed Hearse, +1 Spell Snare
-1 Blood Moon, -1 Expressive Iteration, -2 Murktide Regent (bad vs. Remand), -1 Mishra's Bauble

Round 2

Martin Zimmermann  UR Murktide | 2-0

I played the Murktide mirror being on the play. My opponent's list wasn't featuring any Ledger Shredders, but they had more Murktides than me. I think Shredder is a total MVP and despite Martin playing really well, I managed to win the match, stealing one of his Murktides with Ragavan G1 and drawing the right cards G2.

Sideboard:
+1 Unlicensed Hearse, +1 Flusterstorm, +1 Spell Snare
-1 Stern Scolding, -1 Blood Moon, -1 Tishana's Tidebinder 

Round 3

PETERFOX  Temur Rhynos | 2-0

I played against Peter on coverage. Game one I mulled to 4, but I still won due to Ledger Shredder plus a well timed Spell Pierce. Game two I kept 7 and easily won. Rhinos is one of the best matchups for the deck. 

Sideboard:
-1 Dragon's Rage Channeler, -1 Lightning Bolt, -1 Blood Moon, -1 Spell Snare, -1 Stern Scolding
+2 Flusterstorm, +2 Engineered Explosives, +1 Chalice of the Void

Round 4

Andres90 – Zoo | 0-2

My opponent revealed Jegantha, the Wellspring and started with Flooded Strand. I recognized it was Zoo, but that's a matchup I didn't expect much while testing, so I was a bit unprepared. I swiftly lost 0-2 after he answered my Blood Moon game two, but I managed to not tilt trying to talk with my opponent who was Italian and we became friends after the match. This helped me to not lose focus and doing 5-0 in the other matches.

Sideboard:
+1 Dress Down, +2 Engineered Explosives, +1 Brotherhood's End (that I'm unsure about), +1 Spell Snare, +1 Blood Moon, +1 Magus of the Moon
-1 Stern Scolding, -4 Counterspell, -2 Spell Pierce

I decided to keep in Tishana because it can kill Territorial Kavu once you stifle its trigger. Not sure if it that was correct though.

Round 5

José David Cid – Temur Rhinos | 2-1

The match was a copy of the previous one against Rhinos: Ledger Shredder being a 4/6 when my opponent first attacked with the Rhinos proved its power and I closed out the match with 2 Murktide and 2 Shredders on board. 

Sideboard:
-1 Dragon's Rage Channeler, -1 Lightning Bolt, -1 Blood Moon, -1 Spell Snare, -1 Stern Scolding
+2 Flusterstorm, +2 Engineered Explosives, +1 Chalice of the Void

Round 6 

Olivier L – 5C BTL | 2-1 

Game one I played Ragavan turn 1, my opponent landed Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and I proceeded with Blood Moon. We continued the game, so I had the opportunity of seeing his deck: 5C with Bring to Light and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove

I lost a super close game two where he had 2 cards in hand: BTL plus Veil of Summer, which was enough to kill me. Game three I played Needle turn 2, while my opponent had a fetch on board. My first intention was to name Teferi, Time Raveler (as I had a follow up Shredder) but since Olivier passed priority, I decided to name the fetch. The game went long, but I had Blood Moon covered and eventually I drew one Ragavan to win. 

Sideboard:
+1 Spell Snare, +1 Magus of the Moon, +1 Blood Moon, +1 Narset, Parter of Veils, +1 Flusterstorm
-3 Lightning Bolt, -1 Murktide Regent, -1 Dragon's Rage Channeler (you can probably toy with this being on the play/draw) 

Round 7

Paweł Olewiński – Zoo | 2-0

My opponent once again revealed Jegantha, so I figured out it should be another Zoo list. I won the die roll and drew a good hand with Ragavan and removal spells. Ragavan connected until I won and I even got the opportunity to slam maindeck moon at some point. Game two I kept the perfect hand to beat my opponent and I think I played sharp. A couple of plays:

  • T1 I had the choice between killing their Ragavan with Unholy Heat or Bolt. I chose Heat with a Nishoba Brawler or Wild Nacatl possibly coming down in mind. I passed and they played Nishoba. 
  • T5 my board was Blood Moon, Ragavan, 4 lands. My opponent had Nishoba, Jegantha in hand, 4 lands. I played Iteration, exiling Ragavan. I attacked with Ragavan; my opponent blocked. I now had delirium, I played Ragavan from exile and passed. My opponent attacked, then tapped 5 lands to play Jegantha. I Unholy Heat it as I built my delirium with the suicide-attack and still got the opportunity to attack as my opponent attacked with Nishoba. 
Sideboard:
+1 Dress Down, +2 Engineered Explosives, +1 Brotherhood's End (that I'm unsure about), +1 Spell Snare, +1 Blood Moon, +1 Magus of the Moon
-1 Stern Scolding, -4 Counterspell, -2 Spell Pierce

Round 8

Ugutz Torre – BG Yawgmoth | 2-0

I kept good hands with Shredder, while my opponent was on the bad side of variance both games. Game one he was missing land drops and I killed all their dorks. Game two I managed to empty the board and slam Murktide before Yawgmoth, Thran Physician came down, and I won in a couple turns. The best thing against Yawg is sending them to lowest possible life, as then they can't do too much mayhem with Yawg. 

Sideboard:
-4 Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, -2 Spell Pierce, -1 Blood Moon
+1 Cursed Totem, +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Unlicensed Hearse, +1 Stern Scolding, +1 Spell Snare, +1 Dress Down, +1 Brotherhood's End

Round 9

Karol Mosna – BG Yawgmoth | 2-0

Game one I played on a mull to 5 and stayed on two lands for a long time. I still managed to pressure them enough to send them to two, but in the end they had Yawg, Agatha's Soul Cauldron and Endurance stalling the board while I had a 3/4 Shredder. Not much to say, I put myself in the best position to look for a Lightning Bolt, drew and cast it when my opponent couldn't have Chord of Calling.

Game two I saw a lot of sideboard cards, including Cursed Totem and Unlicensed Hearse, which I crewed several times using a DRC to not attack into Endurance. In the end, I cast an 8/8 Murktide and my opponent was defeated two turns after. Ledger Shredder proved its worth one more time, being the best blocker and attacker. 

Sideboard:
-4 Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, -2 Pierce, -1 Blood Moon
+1 Cursed Totem, +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Unlicensed Hearse, +1 Stern Scolding, +1 Spell Snare, +1 Dress Down, +1 Brotherhood's End

After day one I decided to go eat something with the Austrian guys including Markus (respectthecat), Kunde and my roommate Riccardo. I drank one beer, which was enough to make me want to do a push up battle outside of the pub (I did 5, my opponent did 50 ...) and play a best-of-5 match UR Murktide vs. Temur Prowess that I lost 2-3 because I played poorly. Then I went to sleep and slept the whole night until morning. Had my bacon and called a cab to the venue.


DAY 2 | LMS Barcelona

Metagame Breakdown

Round 10 

Christian Åhlström – Zoo | 1-2

Lost the first match on coverage. I think I played well, but the dynamics of the matchup (including a topdeck Bolt for the opponent) were unfavorable. Game one I mulled and didn't find the third land in time to develop my pressure properly and died to double Bowmasters. Game two I won through Blood Moon. Game three I couldn't deploy Blood Moon because they clearly had Stubborn and Ragavan, so I stabilized at three and died to the topdecked Bolt. Still, I had a good game and my opponent played well, so I'm happy I lost to Christian. 

Sideboard:
+1 Dress Down, +2 Engineered Explosives, +1 Brotherhood's End (that I'm unsure about), +1 Spell Snare, +1 Blood Moon, +1 Magus of the Moon
-1 Stern Scolding, -4 Counterspell, -2 Spell Pierce

Round 11

Rafael Baio – Yawgmoth | 1-2

Game one I lost after keeping 2 Spell Pierce plus Ragavan, game two I won because my opponent mulled to 5 or 4, game three I mulled to 5 and lost focus in the most important turn of the game, leading myself to another missplay and then lost. I am not 100 percent sure if I could have won this at all, but still I threw it. Rafael played sharp, so GGs for them! I am happy they top8d with me as well. 

Sideboard:

-4 Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, -2 Pierce, -1 Blood Moon
+1 Cursed Totem, +1 Pithing Needle, +1 Unlicensed Hearse, +1 Stern Scolding, +1 Spell Snare, +1 Dress Down, +1 Brotherhood's End

I was (and still am) really ashamed of how poorly I played, but I got the opportunity of recognizing my mistakes and spent the remaining time drinking one coffe, drinking water, going to the bathroom, and clearing my mind with meditation. I quickly recharged my batteries, and I was ready to play the rest. 

Round 12

Pau Pérez – Amulet Titan | 2-0

I knew my opponent was on Amulet, so I looked for Ragavan and interaction. I started with a very strong 7, and it helped me win the game despite double Ring, Primeval Titan and Dryad being on the stack for my opponent. Game two they mulled for Defense Grid and it was quite strong. I played t3 Narset that found me Blood Moon. I then kept Pithing Needle on top with a Preordain, since I knew they had Boseiju, Who Endures. I couldn't interact with my opponent's Titan on the stack, but I had Unholy Heat. Pau cast Summoner's Pact for Titan, grabbed Bounceland to bounce Boseiju and Bojuka Bog; they didn't have two forests though, so I cast Needle to name Boseiju and Mooned them, winning the game on spot. 

I decided to try a new approach on sideboarding, keeping in Spell Pierce for Grid, Amulet, Ring, Spelunking, Explore, and sometimes even Pact. 

Sideboard:

-2 Lightning Bolt, -2 Expressive Iteration, -1 Spell Snare, -1 Ledger Shredder
+1 Magus of the Moon, +1 Blood Moon, +1 Dress Down, +1 Brotherhood's End (for Grid and Amulet stacks), +1 Narset, +1 Pithing Needle

Boarding in one Stern Scolding and cutting one more Shredder on the play is fine, I think. 

Round 13

HtoH – Temur Rhinos | 2-1

The same match I already played two times: Shredder plus playing around stuff won. Game three I managed to connect a lot with Ragavan. I protected it using Counterspell twice because I felt my opponent had nothing in hand besides useless cards, so I decided to keep the pressure high - and got rewarded for that. Understanding your role in each spot and casting the right cards at the right time is how you win a lot against Rhinos. 

Sideboard:
-1 Dragon's Rage Channeler, -1 Lightning Bolt, -1 Blood Moon, -1 Spell Snare, -1 Stern Scolding
+2 Flusterstorm, +2 Engineered Explosives, +1 Chalice of the Void

Round 14

Jędrek - UW Control | Concession 

I faced my friend Jędrek and he conceded because I wasn't qualified for the LEC Ghent while he already was. I think we would have played a good match, although I'm happy I didn't have to play against Supreme Verdicts and Solitudes.

Round 15

AlbyBale93 – Temur Rhinos | 2-0

I had a great time playing against Alberto, as he's clean and clear at playing. The matchup was on my side and I won both games. We played this "win and in" on camera, and while I seemed a bit nervous, I was rather excited. 

I forgot to play my land drop on t3, that's because I was happy my opponent played a Mystical Dispute (that I had suspected) and I left him with nothing (he was stuck on lands, too). I baited the Dispute so I could unload my pressure the following turns, casting Shredder and Murktide and locking the game. It went like that overall. Sad to teamkill an Italian and a good player.

Sideboard:
-1 Dragon's Rage Channeler, -1 Lightning Bolt, -1 Blood Moon, -1 Spell Snare, -1 Stern Scolding
+2 Flusterstorm, +2 Engineered Explosives, +1 Chalice

After this win, I was shaking since my breakers could have been not good enough for 8th place. I went outside to breathe some air and waited for the final standings until I was informed by Jędrek that I went 8th place. I got to hug Mengu as he brought me the idea of 4 Shredder, the real MVP of my run.

With the other Top8ers we agree to split the prizes, and just play for the trophy. I knew it would have been tough, as being 8th means you always start as second.

I played Rhinos one more time and lost this time. My opponent Daniel Erhart played well, and we had a good chat both pre and post games. Daniel said to me it was his first GP Day 2, and I'm happy for his result and that he got the opportunity to beat me.

After that, I collected all my boxes and left the location. I'm also very happy that Mariluz García won the tournament, and sad I couldn't play against her. Well, maybe in Ghent!


A special thanks to my roomate Riccardo, my Austrian friends, Ultimate Guard, Camioncio Team, Jędrek, Rodrigo, the coverage team of the LMS, and everyone who rooted for me both in the event and online. Long live UR Murktide!

Author: PieGonti

PieGonti's career started on MTGO as trophy leader of Modern and moved to paper where he won the LMS Warsaw in October 2022. For some time now he's been focusing on content creation and commentary as a main caster for 4Season and Paupergeddon. You can find him on X and Twitch.