With Battlezone’s Grand Prix Trial in the books I had a chance to sit down and discuss the tournament and standard as a whole with the winner, Charlie “Charizard” Nehl. Charlie has been one of our local grinders for some time now, and as of late has started to show great potential by winning numerous local events, now his second GPT, and being the 2010 Iowa State Champion.
So how does it feel now that you have won both GPTs that you have played in?
“I've run pretty hot in the GPTs I've played in so far. I lost in the finals of a Nationals grinder in 2010, but lost in the first round of a Limited GPT (to you of all people), when we went to GP:KC about 4 years ago. It's hard to explain why I've done well in them. I'm just going with it (and reaping the 'free' planeswalker points!).”
Recently you have been preforming pretty well, do you have any magic related goals set for yourself? Or anything you would like to accomplish?
“I would really like to 'Day 2' Grand Prix Minneapolis next month. Every grinder's goal is to make it to the Pro Tour, but I have to be realistic. Being a single parent, I have to keep a lot of my priorities in check and only play when I have time.”
What deck did you choose to play, and why did you decide on that deck?
“I played U/W Delver. I've been playing it pretty consistently from the time it was Illusions and has since morphed into more of a Delver of Secrets deck. It's also the deck I'm most comfortable playing.”
How do you prepare for big events like GPTs and PTQs?
“In an ideal world, I would like to do some play testing, and play some games on Magic online, but with my real world schedule, most of my interactions with the game are streaming Starcitygames events and Grand Prix. The week leading up to the GPT I actually had some time play some games with Tyler and I think it gave me a lot more advantage then just picking up a deck to play FNM every couple of weeks.”
Were there any special card choices you made? Did you have any special “Tech” for the tournament?
“I ran Blade Splicers over Geist of Saint Traft, which is pretty much running away from the norm. With so many token/human and Strangleroot Geist decks running amok in standard, the Geist doesn't have a really a lot of good attacks it can do without carrying a piece of equipment, and he's horrible on defense. Splicer can give you chances to be aggressive as well as defensive depending on the matchup. The one serious draw back from Splicer is getting your token Vapor snagged. “
“I've switched back to Gutshots in the main deck too. With so many Delvers and mana dorks vital to several decks, they're a solid play.”
Were there any interesting situations or plays that came up during the day?
“Nothing super interesting, I Mana Leaked my own Snapcaster Mage to make an Invisible Stalker + Runechanter's Pike exactly lethal.”
Do you think you will play Delver at the PTQ on the 21st?
“I really want to play around with the Naya Pod/Aggro decks, but if I had to give answer now, I would probably keep flipping Delvers and playing Snapcasters Mages.”
Are there any changes you would look to make for the future?
“I've noticed several people dropping Gixtaxian Probe from their deck. I would like to experiment with this, and put more "do something" proactive spells in the deck like Mutagentic Growth, Faith shield and more Gutshots”
Do you have any advice for people looking to play this deck?
“There is nothing more disheartening to an opponent then flipping a turn 2 Delver by revealing a Mana Leak, and I love the look on their face when that happens. I sometimes refer to the deck as the "Little Delver that Could" since there are several games where you can just ride a single flipped delver to victory. It's fun, and fairly easy to play. I like how the deck can change game plans easily depending on what your opponent is doing. I always feel wrong not playing Delvers and Snapcasters. They have to be two of my favorite creatures ever printed.”
How do you feel about standard right now? Do you think the format healthy?
“I'm not quite sure. This past weekend with a standard GP and Starcitygames Standard Open, so many Delvers were in the top 8. There's not a ton of interaction in the format right now. I like that there's a lot of playable decks, but then there is still only a couple of 'Tier 1' decks.”
Besides Delver what other decks do you feel are tier 1?
“I think the Naya Pod deck is very good. RG Aggro is still very good as well as RG Wolf Run Ramp. I would probably put UW Humans and B/x Zombies in a pretty close 1.5.”
With the Avacyn prerelease coming up do you have any thoughts of what’s in the Helvault?
“It's a neat idea, and I'm sure some sort of promotional swag is in it, like the poison 10 sided die they had with New Phyrexia”
I’d like to thank Charlie for taking the time to sit and talk with me as well and a Congratulations for taking down the GPT.
Last Friday marked the end of the current store champs season, which means that Friday April 6th is the Store Champs tournament. So make sure and check your points to see if you are qualified to play for $100 and free FNM for 3 months! I will return next week hopefully with a winning tournament report from Store Champs.