Nicholas Bradley picked up Magic about three years ago, spent some time learning the ins and outs of the game, and has been having some recent success, including winning the first-ever individual Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series CTQ.
Sounds like a pretty normal story, right? It is, except for one thing: Nicholas is 12.
Which means he picked up the game at nine, and has gotten good enough in those three years to win a 50-person Modern CTQ. He did it with Merfolk, which is one of those decks that never seems to be at the front of everybody’s mind when listing off Modern’s top decks, but can put up a strong showing in the hands of a talented pilot.
As for the Modern format itself, it’s Nicholas’s favorite format, for a number of reasons. For one, it hits the sweet spot between Standard, which is constantly rotating, and Legacy, which can be prohibitively expensive for a 12-year-old (and, to be fair, people much older than 12).
Winning the CTQ has changed Nicholas’s perspective a little, he says. Not only has it had a validating effect on his perception of himself as a player, but it’s given him an incentive to take a shot at qualifying for the NRG Championship.
So if you’re at the July Modern CT and you get rolled by a young man with a whole bunch of Lords and an Aether Vial or two, don’t say we didn’t warn you. We’ll even share what’s likely to be his list:
Nicholas Bradley, Merfolk, 1st place, April 2017 Modern CTQ
Casey Laughman (CL): How long have you been playing Magic? What got you into it in the first place and what keeps you interested in it?
Nicholas Bradley (NB): I have been playing Magic for 3 years. I first learned to play from a few friends who played casually and they thought I might like it as well. I like the fact that the game keeps changing with the creation of new decks.
CL: You won a Modern CTQ with Merfolk. What made you feel like the deck was a good choice in the Modern format, and what do you like most about it?
NB: I now play Merfolk because I have experience with it, and it is (in my opinion) pretty competitive against many of the top decks in the current modern metagame – Eldrazi; Tron; Death’s Shadow; Abzan, etc.
One of the advantages Merfolk has is that it’s hard to block Merfolk’s creatures in combat. You also get to run Spreading Seas, which is why Merfolk is favored against the Eldrazi, Tron, and other greedy mana base decks.
CL: What advice would you offer to someone who decides to play Merfolk for the first time?
NB: If you have the choice between playing a Silvergill Adept or a Lord on turn two, always play the Silvergill Adept. This way you will be sure to have a Merfolk in hand to reveal to Silvergill Adept, and it maximizes damage.
CL: Throw reality out the window and pretend you could play any deck in Modern. Would you stick with Merfolk or switch to something different? Why?
NB: I would stick with Merfolk for a few reasons. First of all, I like how the deck is about 50/50 against most decks in the format, except for a few things like Affinity and Lantern Control. Second, I like how consistent the deck is – many of the cards in the deck have similar functions during play. Finally, I like how the deck can win out of nowhere by topdecking a Lord when I don’t have enough power on the field. Or, by topdecking a spreading seas when I don’t have Islandwalk.
CL: What does winning the CTQ mean to you and to your perception of yourself as a player?
NB: Winning the CTQ shows me that I have moved up in terms of competitive play — I am adopting a more competitive mindset.
CL: Now that you’ve won the CTQ, you’ve put yourself in a position to have a shot at an at-large qualification for the championship. Do you plan to attend any of the remaining CTs this year to try to qualify?
NB: Yes, I plan to attend some of the remaining CT’s this year. I am also considering building a Standard deck so that I have more tournament options going forward.
Nicholas Bradley is the winner of the April 2017 Modern CTQ at Evanston Games & Café. Casey Laughman is editor of Nerd Rage Gaming. Email questions and comments to email@example.com.