Grand Prix Barcelona 2018 Tournament Report – Ben Gusenburger

One of the ideas I had for this website was reporting on tournament finishes that Modern Storm has recorded through a number of different pilots. The report below is courtesy of Ben (@bgoose321 on MTGO and Twitch). I want to thank him for reaching out and offering this report to be posted here. My interjections will be in italics. Enjoy!


Ben’s List for the Grand Prix


*A couple things to note here. Ben elected to play a main deck Lightning Bolt over the third Opt. Other interesting things are the one-of Thing in Ice and Negate in the sideboard.

Ben’s Tournament Report

Hello Stormtroopers,

I had a great time at GP Barcelona playing Storm and I would like to share my way to 79th place (11-4 with no byes). First of all, most don‘t know me. I‘m Ben, also known as bgoose321 both on twitch and Magic Online. I used to be a student and had a lot of free time, most of which I spend playing Magic Online. Last autumn, I won a PPTQ with a friend’s Affinity deck which qualified me for the Modern RPTQ. I did not know what to play and found Caleb Scherer’s stream. I put Storm together and decided to go all-in with Storm. Fast-forward, I lost in the quarterfinals of the RPTQ and was hooked by Storm. Since then I almost exclusively played Modern Storm. I finished at 10-5 in February at GP Lyon and this weekend 11-4 in Barcelona. I will go briefly over every round, share my sideboard plans and talk about a few card choices.

Round 1: KCI – 0-2

Even though KCI is one of the better matchups for Storm, being a turn faster on average and having game one interaction, this match did not go my way. Game one was very easy. I lost the die roll and got killed on my opponents on turn four with turn four kill in hand. Welcome to Modern! Game two was much more interesting. I drew a lot of sideboard cards and I could make the game go long. At no point did I have a deterministic kill and with onlyone1 Manamorphose and not much mana to spare I decided to not go for it. My opponent then killed me.

IN – 1 Abrade, 1 Negate, 1 Shattering Spree
OUT – 2 Opt, 1 Grapeshot

Round 2: Humans – 2-0

I mulliganed to five game one and scryed a Grapeshot to the bottom. I immediately get punished when my opponent starts Cavern naming Humans… Lucky me, the first card I draw is Grapeshot. Grapeshot allows me to kill Meddling Mage naming Gifts Ungiven on turn three and kill opponent from there. It‘s my opponent’s turn to mulligan to five and I win easily.

IN – 1 Abrade, 2 Lightning Bolt, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Wipe Away, 1 Thing in the Ice, 1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance 
OUT – 2 Opt, 3 Remand, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Baral, Chief of Compliance

*Interesting to me that Ben sides out a Baral, Chief of Compliance in this matchup. I have left them in to counter Thalia, Guardian of Thraben’s tax.


Round 3: Eldrazi Tron – 2-1

I get destroyed game one, but win both sideboard games thanks to Empty the Warrens.

IN – 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Shattering Spree, 1 Abrade, 1 Wipe Away
OUT – 4 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Grapeshot, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Lightning Bolt, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Repeal


Round 4: Humans – 2-0

See round two recap for sideboarding.


Round 5: Mardu Pyromancer – 2-1

I made a big mistake that cost me to lose game one. If I don‘t Remand my opponent’s Kolaghan‘s Command, I can Gifts Ungiven end of turn and win from there. My mind told me that the Shock from Kolaghan‘s Command would kill me, but I had a higher life total than two. Game three, I needed to Grapeshot my opponents Kambal, Consul of Alllocation. It was painful, but felt good afterwards. 🙂

IN – 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Shattering Spree, 1 Abrade, 1 Wipe Away
OUT – 3 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Past in Flames, 1 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Remand, 1 Grapeshot, 2 Opt

*I prefer to side out both copies of Goblin Electromancer. Mardu Pyromancer has a lot of removal and leaving in Goblin Electromancer plays into Collective Brutality.


Round 6: Living End – 2-1

Living End is a weird matchup. It was fun playing around their hate.

IN – 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 1 Negate, 1 Echoing Truth
OUT – 2 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Repeal, 2 Opt


Round 7: Jeskai Control – 2-1

UWx Control decks are good matchups, but you need to be patient and prioritize making land drops. Never try to be fast except if their shields are down or you know exactly that you can beat all the cards that they could have. You can always try to make them spend mana on their turn. For example, I repealed a Search for Azcanta on their upkeep in game one. They did not recast it that turn to keep up two interaction spells and then when they pulled the trigger to recast Search, I was able to get them by overloading all their interaction. I think the matchup is very interesting to play, because we are in charge of deciding how the games go.

IN – 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance, 1 Negate, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Wipe Away
OUT – 1 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Lightning Bolt, 1 Noxious Revival, 2 Opt, 1 Repeal, 1 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Pyretic Ritual

*I very much agree with Ben that making land drops is the most important thing against UWx Control decks. I find Storm often loses the matchup when land drops aren’t made. I also see a lot of Storm pilots try and go off to early in these matchups. If the opponent doesn’t have a clock/threat, Storm is perfectly content making land drops and playing draw-go.


Round 8: Burn – 1-2

Burn, yes Burn. In Lyon, I had to play Burn four times. I got lucky and only faced it once this tournament. Can somebody tell me how to win the matchup please?

*Burn is certainly not a favorable matchup for Storm, but I don’t think it’s as bad as the majority of people think. The games that we lose are so lopsided, the matchup feels worse than it is. We obviously need to be as fast as possible.

As for sideboarding, I don’t know for sure what to do. My aim is to make a quick Empty the Warrens. Some people like Thing in the Ice here, but I didn’t like it. The card won me game two, but Spellskite or any other 0/4 wall would have done the same.


Round 9: Humans – 0-2

My opponent had no interaction, but a super fast clock both games. My draws on the other hand were awkward, and I had no option but go out in my own terms both games by Grapeshoting myself.

At this point, I knew that I was out of Top 8 contention, but I still could get enough Pro Points to get into the Top 5 of my countries Lifetime Pro Points ranking, and that‘s why I kept fighting. Personally, if I play without goal in mind, my concentration starts to fade and I lose focus. Going to the beach would have been the reward for dropping.

See round two recap for sideboarding.


Round 10: UW Control – 2-0

This matchup plays similarly to Jeskai Control, but you can jam your bears early. Usually, you‘re happy if you get your mana bear Path to Exiled to further develop your manabase.

IN – 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance, 1 Negate, 1 Empty the Warrens, 1 Wipe Away
OUT – 1 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Lightning Bolt, 1 Noxious Revival, 2 Opt, 1 Repeal, 1 Pyretic Ritual


Round 11: Mono Green Tron – 2-0

IN – 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Negate, 1 Abrade
OUT – 2 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Lightning Bolt, 2 Opt, 1 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Repeal


Round 12: Dredge – 2-0

Dredge won the Grand Prix, but my opponent’s deck did not cooperate this round.

IN – 3 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Abrade
OUT – 2 Gifts Ungiven, 2 Opt, 1 Goblin Electromancer, 1 Lightning Bolt, 1 Grapeshot


Round 13: BR Hollow One – 0-2

My opponent played very well, and I got a tad unlucky game one at least, since every non-blue card would have killed. In game two, my opponent had Leyline of the Void and I had to go with Pieces of the Puzzle. I might have made the wrong choice on what to take on the first Pieces of the Puzzle. I whiffed on the second Pieces of the Puzzle and the next card down was the lethal Grapeshot.

IN – 4 Pieces of the Puzzle, 2 Empty the Warrens, 1 Lightning Bolt, 1 Abrade, 1 Echoing Truth, 1 Thing in the Ice
OUT – 3 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Noxious Revival, 1 Past in Flames, 2 Opt, 1 Grapeshot, 1 Repeal, 1 Goblin Electromancer


Round 14: Living End – 2-1

See round six recap for sideboarding.


Round 15: Humans – 2-0

I won again vs. Humans and I still don‘t understand why people think the matchup is bad. They need very specific cards to beat us and with Bolt and Repeal in the main, Meddling Mage is far from game over.

See round two recap for sideboarding.

*I agree with Ben that Humans isn’t a bad matchup for Storm. I wouldn’t say it’s good (probably somewhere between 45-55 and 55-45), but EVERY commentator I hear says the matchup is horrible for Storm.


Card Choices

Repeal is probably an accepted tech by now, but the more unusual card is the maindeck Bolt. First, I expected a lot of Humans decks (I was not wrong) and second I expected to see a lot of Burn. From my experience, Spanish players love their burn decks and three 8-0 players played Burn. Being able to kill Eidolon of Great Revel in game one is crucial. Overall, I think I would keep the fun-of Bolt, it‘s rarely bad and helps in some very popular matchups.

*I can get behind a maindeck Lightning Bolt in aggressive metas, but I don’t think it makes much of a difference against Burn (like it does against Humans) in game one. In my experience, if Burn has Eidolon of Great Revel, we are likely dead game one anyways.

Sideboard Negate: I only added the Negate the morning of the GP when I decided to cut Pyromancer Ascension. Negate overperformed for me, and with Baral in play, its busted. I am playing Negate going forward with no doubt. Negate protects us from their big plays, can protect a bear or even counter our opponents hate cards.

*I’ve played Negate in the sideboard of Storm before, but haven’t in a while. To me, Negate fits in the Gigadrowse slot as opposed to Pyromancer Ascension as Ben said. I see Negate as a more versatile card than Gigadrowse, but not as good against UWx decks. 

Thing in the Ice: I don‘t know, I need more matches to have an opinion. Sometimes the card over-performs, and sometimes it‘s very bad. If your metagame has a lot of Humans, I think the upside is real, if not, don‘t play it.

First, the card is in my opinion only good against Hollow One, Burn and Humans, but there is a big problem with the card. Flipping the card takes a lot of time and mana. The dream is obviously to cast Thing in Ice turn two and then go Manamorphose-Manamorphose-Sleight of Hand-Serum Visions or something like that, but most of the time you need to play a very weird game in order to flip it.

Against Humans, it’s a good card, it bounces cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Kitesail Freebooter, Meddling Mage or Gaddock Teeg. The only problem that exists is that you need to combo usually the turn it flips.

Against Hollow One, the card looks good on paper but it doesn’t bounce any of their hate. It only reduces their clock. I need to know more before I have a definite opinion for the matchup.

Against Burn, Thing in Ice is a wall and it bounces Eidolon. Only problem is that in order to bounce Eidolon, you usually take 6-8 damage which is way too much. Second, Thing in Ice could be awkward because I usually try to go for a fast Goblins and Thing in the Ice is a nombo with Empty the Warrens. I‘m waiting for the day when someone casts Empty as their fourth spell.

Thing in Ice is not good against Mardu. At first, I thought the card might have potential with all the tokens and so on, but if they Young Pyromancer and spell spell after you flipped the Thing, it‘s good game. We spend all resources to flip the Thing in Ice, and then they can easily build an army of chump blockers.

*I agree with Ben on his thoughts on Thing in Ice. I’ve played it before in the sideboard, but as a two-three of. I like that Thing in Ice is a sideboard plan that doesn’t involve the graveyard, but as Ben said, it takes a lot of resources to work. And even if the Awoken Horror makes an appearance on the battlefield, it’s not necessarily game-winning.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance: I could not cast Chandra even once during the Grand Prix, but from my experience it’s best when there is a lot of graveyard hate. I can make a link with Pyromancer Ascension here. Chandra comes in the sideboard when we cut Ascension and vice-versa. The cards are good in the same matchups with Chandra also being a removal in other matchups. In the week leading up to the tournament, most of my Mardu Pyromancer opponents had Leyline of the Void instead of another graveyard hate, and most UW/x decks had Rest in Peace. Pyromancer Ascension is not very good in these circumstances that‘s why I decided to run Chandra.

Even though Chandra is great, I personally think that Pyromancer Ascension is better in a vacuum. Currently, graveyard hate consists mostly in Leyline of the Voids and Rest in Peace, and these cards make Pyromancer Ascension very bad. If the graveyard hate package shifts back to a more Nihil Spellbombs, Surgical Extractions and Relic of Progenitus, I could see Pyromancer Ascension making a comeback.

*As powerful as Pyromancer Ascension is, Ben makes a good point that it’s graveyard dependent until it gets two counters. Chandra, Torch of Defiance, or my current Storm pet card, Precognition Field, are great in grindy matchups and don’t need the graveyard intact at any point in time.


Mitch here to close things out. Again, thank you very much Ben for sharing your tournament experience on this website! Also, huge congrats for going 11-4 at Grand Prix Barcelona with zero byes. That’s no easy feat!


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