This week we’re happy to share a new article by Conor Mullaly reviewing his experience at last weekend’s MOCS Showcase Qualifier. Read on below. And thanks Connor!

This past weekend, I competed in the Pioneer MOCS Showcase Qualifier, a 24-player event that included some of the best players in the world, including two Hall of Famers.I qualified by finishing in the Top 8 of a Showcase Challenge back in May (seems like forever ago, doesn’t it?) with Lotus Breach. That was really the only Pioneer deck I played from the release of Ikoria until the surprise banning of Underworld Breach. I was pretty disappointed by the banning at first as it wiped out four of the format’s premiere combo decks, which is my favorite archetype to play. But I’m here to tell you that combo isn’t dead! I took Lotus Storm to the finals of the tournament, where I was eventually defeated by MTGO streamer and all-around crusher d00mwake playing Mono-Green Devotion. Lotus Field may not be as powerful as it was before, but it is here to stay. In the right metagame, such as the one I faced on Sunday, it can completely dominate a tournament. Let’s start with the deck:

Spells: (41)
Commune with Dinosaurs
Arboreal Grazer
Dig Through Time
Doublecast
Fae of Wishes
Hidden Strings
Pore Over the Pages
Strategic Planning
Sylvan Scrying
Vizier of Tumbling Sands
Blast Zone
Botanical Sanctum

Lands: (19)
Forest
Island
Lotus Field
Sheltered Thicket
Temple of Mystery
Thespian’s Stage
Yavimaya Coast
Sideboard: (15)
Anger of the Gods
Enter the Infinite
Hour of Devastation
Hour of Revelation
Storm's Wrath
Jace, Wielder of Mysteries
Niv-Mizzet, Parun
Omniscience
Shifting Ceratops
Thought Distortion
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Void Snare
Wilt

First thing’s first, I need to give Caleb Scherer all the credit for this list. He has been working on it since the Breach ban and came up with this list for the tournament. If you’re interested in learning more about this deck, check out his stream and his Patreon for in-depth guides. The combo is now centered around Omniscience and Enter the Infinite out of the sideboard, with Fae of Wishes to get them. To replace Breach, we have Dig Through Time and Doublecast to quickly churn through our deck and generate a lot of mana.

The goal of the deck used to be to assemble Hidden String + Tome Scour to mill ourselves and win with Jace. Now, our goal is to generate 14 mana as quickly as possible to cast Granted into Omniscience. It’s important to note that unless you have an extra Fae in hand when you cast Omni, you will need to have a way to untap mana or dig for it in order to get the Enter the Infinite from your sideboard. You can recast the first Fae from exile and bounce it to your hand, but Omniscience only lets you cast cards from your hand so you’ll need mana to get it out of exile. After you Enter, just grab a Jace from your board and plus on yourself. Easy game! Because we need a lot more mana to get going, we can’t really win without two copies of Lotus Field in play, so try to prioritize hands that can find both a Field and a Thespian’s Stage.

Normally I like to do a full tournament report, but my tournament was a strange one. Because it was a small field, the event was only five rounds with a top 8 cut. I played against 5-Color Niv Mizzet four times, Mono-Black Aggro twice, Mono-Green Devotion once and conceded one round. So rather than give a blow-by-blow of the matches, I’ll try to break down what’s important in each of Pioneer’s most popular matchups. This deck doesn’t do much sideboarding, so I won’t have a sideboard guide for every matchup, but I will note any changes you can make.

Five-Color Niv Mizzet

5C Niv is the ultimate midrange deck. It plays a lot of removal spells, planeswalkers and other slow and clunky threats that gain a lot of value over time. Luckily for us, we don’t care about most of that. Their creatures are usually too slow to represent a significant clock and removal spells to nothing. The most important card is Slaughter Games: if they name Fae of Wishes in game 1 we are drawing dead, so sometimes we will want to cast a Granted early to put it in exile and protect it from the cranial extraction effect. I like to keep a lot of 7-card hands in this matchup because one of their best tools to fight us is hand attack. Postboard, swap out your Arboreal Grazers (speed isn’t that important) for some Niv-Mizzet, Paruns to play around Slaughter Games on your Faes.

Mono-Black Aggro

This is a matchup that was very difficult before the Breach ban and has gotten significantly better since. They no longer pack their sideboards with Leyline of the Void and Damping Sphere, so we can focus simply on executing our gameplan instead of trying to fight through hate. It’s still difficult though due to their fast clock and hand attack, so try to prioritize hands with Grazer and don’t hesitate to play Fae either as a sweeper tutor or just as a ¼ body to block with. Postboard, we bring in a single Niv-Mizzet on the off-chance that they bring in Lost Legacy or a similar extraction effect.

Mono-Green Devotion

Going into this weekend, I thought that this matchup was heavily in our favor. After playing and talking with d00mwake, the champion of the tournament, I believe that a skilled Mono-Green player who knows the matchup will present a difficult challenge to us. Karn, the Great Creator is the only card that matters against us. They will mulligan to four or five cards looking for a copy, because otherwise most of their draws are too slow to beat us. Prioritize fast hands and try to kill them before they can resolve a Damping Sphere or God-Pharoah’s Statue, as those will usually be game over. If you can, use Fae to get an answer to one of those before it hits the table. Not much changes postboard as neither deck sideboards all that much due to their wishboards. I am exploring options including more copies of Wilt to bring in against them, but at this point I am not sure about any changes.

Winota

This is one of our most difficult matchups and has very little play to it. Try to combo as quickly as you can and mulligan to Grazer if you are able to.

Jeskai Fires

This matchup is favored but presents some unique challenges. Narset is very strong against us, but their main gameplan of using Lukka to find Agent of Treachery doesn’t work well because our only important permanent has hexproof. Postboard, they often swap Agents for Void Winnower, which we have a very difficult time beating. Try to win more quickly in postboard games or get a Pithing Needle down on Lukka. Resolving an Ugin against them is very often good enough to win the game.

There are some other matchups I didn’t cover here, but they aren’t ones that I have enough experience with to be confident in my gameplans. I’m not super confident about deck changes, but I’m going to be exploring adding copies of Pithing Needle, Spell Pierce and Wilt to the sideboard to try and improve our Mono-Green matchup by targeting Karn. I’ll be working on this deck more going forward, so feel free to check out my stream or reach out on Twitter to discuss any questions you may have. I would really appreciate a follow at either or both of those, my Twitter is @MullalyConnor and I stream at twitch.tv/mullmoney.

Thank you to everyone for the love and support this weekend. This was the first time I’ve lost playing for events as big as the MOCS and the Player’s Tour, so it definitely hurt to fall short. But I’m going to keep knocking on that door, and the support y’all have shown me so far is what keeps me headed that way. Until next time!