Last Saturday, TPK Gaming in Glen Ellyn, Illinois held its first Lightseekers Nationals qualifier. Players from all over the Midwest came out to battle in a five round gauntlet with a top four cut to see who could take home the coveted Nationals invite.
Fourteen different Heroes were played at the event, making it an incredibly diverse field. Sideboards had to be set up to handle absolutely everything. You could walk down the tables and see everything from Dolo to Vegard. It really was a sight to see. The distribution was:
3 Dolo the Mighty
1 Captain Jolti
1 Fish Singer Ushi
1 Lalu the Rascal
1 Grimus the Blightbringer
1 The Ancient
In the weeks prior to the tournament, I was convinced that Sicario was the best deck. I had a ton of reps on the list in tournaments and playtesting, and it just felt so strong.
I had discussed the list with Mashiro from the UK, and we were both ironing out a decklist for the weekend. In my mind, there was just one problem. The Cassini matchup was incredibly hard.
TPK is my home store, so I had ideas on what to expect as far as the Heroes go. I figured at least a few players would be playing Cassini, and I didn't want to have to worry about giving up equity against that deck.
I should have just stacked my sideboard against Cassini, but what I actually did was switch to a fringe hero that didn't have a ton of tournament success. I made the switch at about 11 PM and tested it for a few hours against my teammate’s Cassini deck. I also made him play Sicario, and was happy enough with how it tested to roll the dice and bring this deck to the event.
I had a crazy idea that I had been working on that revolved around using Jolti and Crystalcore to survive while playing your own tempo game.
Since I was already in Mountain, I had to play Avalanche. I'm pretty sure it's the strongest dual-color combo, so I'd be giving up a lot of I didn't play it. I really like hand control in this game, so I also played the Cleansing Wind. Storm Calling is here to make sure you can go long, and provide much needed card drawing.
This is the red package that I used. I always like to play more than three buff removal to combat things like Sicario and Treanu. I'm also able to play the full playset of Blacksmiths because the Cores go back into the deck when they get popped. Stone Scribe ended up being pretty terrible. Games never went late enough for it to be warranted, and even if they did the card probably would have underperformed.
In addition to combos, I had 11 more damage cards in the deck. I had to make sure I was able to win the game.
As far as card advantage goes, these were my choices. I know Wind Seer is purely a one for one, but the virtual card advantage it can gain by ripping apart your opponents plays is pretty huge. Hurricane Spirit can be pretty backbreaking if left unchecked.
I maxed out on Thunder Slugs and added a Mari Bard main board to make sure that I could deal with Sicario in game one, but apparently I misread the meta for the event. The removal still ended up being pretty good, but Mari Bard could have been something else.
This deck is a little soft to extreme aggro decks. Eye is here to stop the bleeding and stabilize.
I had to have even more hate against the pillow fort decks in games two and three.
The Brute is here to stop Dolo and Storm decks, which rely on Combos to deal damage.
Umbron Informant is worth testing in the main. I found myself using a ton of actions to draw cards just to keep up. It’s here for the Dolo and Treanu matchups.
These two are still incredibly strong after the sideboard changes. In my opinion, you need at least one of each to handle a competitive environment at the moment.
Combo decks haven't been all that prevalent, but I didn't want to get caught out by one. The third Wind Seer makes sure that doesn't happen.
I sat down for round one and was greeted by Cassini on the other side of the table. The pilot was a man named Gabe from Indianapolis. In both games, I was able to set up the Crystalcore. I was able to control his hand and keep all the Combos in his deck.
I played against the local PlayFusion rep Zadeeg in round two. Z and I play often but he brought out a different deck than I had normally seen him on. This was the first time I had seen anyone playing Vegard.
He had a lot of damage reduction in game one, but I was able to push through after an Avalanche ripped seven cards from his hand. In game two, I made a poor decision with a Wind Seer and left a Treetop Tribunal in Z’s hand and sent away another combo buff. I had buff removal in hand.
Things got really interesting in game three. He was able to whittle me down to one, and i had to shuffle multiple cores back into my deck. It seemed like forever. I ended up hanging on by a thread and pulling this one out.
Things were going well. I was 2-0. I had just battled through an extremely tight game. Then I found out I was at table one, on stream facing my teammate who I had tested with all night. There would be no surprises here.
Only one of us could win, and I was still a little scared of Cassini. I got crushed. It was a swift two games, and Dimensional Hunter was the MVP for him. It tore apart any semblance of a play pattern that I could have had in either game. Weapon Master was able to shut me out in game two as well.
This matchup was interesting. I hadn't prepared for any Dolo variants, although I figured that he was going to be a larger percentage of the field. His deck played Crystalcore and a lot of hand control too so I got a taste of my own medicine. The games were long, but I had the damage to take it home.
This was it. The final round.
The math seemed to suggest that only 4-1 or better would go on to the top four, so this was a win-and-in situation for me. He was playing Constella.
I had recently been messing around with a combo deck with the same superior Elements, so I was worried that he was on the same thing. It turned out to just be an Astral goodstuff deck. I was surprised by a main deck Lunatic in game one, and he was able to get through a few Jolti Combos before I got the first game.
Game two was a lot harder for him once I set up behind Jolti, an item, and a Storm Wall. After the game, he mentioned that he had the Pathfinder in hand for the Storm Wall when it was on its X corner but forgot to use it. Such is Lightseekers, I guess.
I was in. It was a clean cut with all of the top four players being the 4-1s or 5-0s. The top four Heroes/players were:
- Cassini/Weltall (my teammate)
- The Ancient/Mint
- Captain Jolti/Goldcos (me!)
The Top Four Match
I was fourth in the standings, so I would play the top seed Mint and he would choose whether to play or draw. He was on The Ancient, which I had underestimated until this event.
He came out of the gates swinging hard with combos, and stuck some Broken Dams that I just couldn't get rid of and started with a quick 1-0 lead.
The Broken Dams came back in game two, but this time I was ready for them. Mint got me down to one life, and I was able to pull together an Eye of the Storm to drag me back to eighteen. Draga Scorchers, Combos, and a few other actions whittled me down back to one again.
I played Storm Calling, and drew back into the Eye of the Storm that would likely stabilize me enough to take game two back. I just had to survive the turn. A Draga Scorcher turns, popping my Jolti. He plays a Crystal Bat, popping my core. I was nervous. Did he have it? The last bit of damage to take Mint to the finals was packaged in with a little healing as well. Heroic Starfish came down, and heroic it was. I extended my hand and prepared to watch the finals from the sidelines.
The finals was set. It was my partner Weltall vs. Mint. Cassini against the Ancient. They faced off earlier in the Swiss rounds, with Mint handing Weltall his only loss on the day. Both players seemed anxious, both wanting the Nationals invite.
Mint won a long game one with a ton of healing and a few Broken Dams. Game two was secured by Weltall with an early Lunatic and some big damage.
In the rubber match, Weltall starts with two big combos and clears out his hand. Mint’s back is against the wall. He finds healing, and Weltall can’t find the damage to clean up the rest of Mint’s life.
The Ancient takes home the title, and an emotional moment is shared between Mint, his girlfriend, and the rest of the shop. You can tell he REALLY wanted this, and he deserved it. You couldn't ask for a better finale to the event.
If I were to play Jolti in the future, I would definitely change a few things. The Stone Scribes would come out, and I would like to test the Umbron Informants in the main. I would probably relegate both Mari Bards to the sideboard. I'd also like to bring more healing into the sideboard, and potentially some in the main deck.
I'm going to Origins, but I don’t think I'm going to bring this deck. There's a ton of potential, but I don’t have time to test through all of the variables. That being said, there's a good chance I bring it as one of my three decks for GenCon as long as I qualify.
Thanks for reading, and you can find me on social media if you have questions/comments! Feel free to message me, don’t be shy.
Twitter – @goldcos
Facebook – Josh Cosentino
Discord – Sledfang