Q&A: CTQ winner Jake Lapeire

Jake Lapeire is a regular at Nerd Rage Gaming, and a familiar face at Championship Series events.

That extends to CTQs, including the Modern event that he won in late July with his Jeskai Control deck. While U/W control has become a big player again, Jeskai has lagged a little behind, but Jake’s build takes full advantage of the burn package that red has to offer.

He also ran four Spell Quellers, allowing him to play a tempo game reminiscent of Jeskai decks that have ebbed and flowed throughout Modern’s history. The format is in a place where such decks can be successful again, and Jake took full advantage of that.

While he’s still a longshot to make the championship, a handful of points from a CTQ win helps a lot, and Jake is planning to give it his best shot. But before doing that, he took the time to answer some questions about his history with Magic and the championship series.

First, his winning decklist:

Jake Lapeire, Jeskai Control, 1st place, NRG Championship Series CTQ, July 30, 2017


Casey Laughman (CL): How long have you been playing Magic? What got you into the game and what keeps you interested in it?

Jake Lapeire (JL): I’ve been playing Magic since Scars of Mirrodin; what originally got me into the game was my neighbor and best friend at the time. We would just play in his basement all the time. I started off very casual but started becoming more and more competitive. Today, I enjoy the tournament setting and competition. I enjoy the small (competitive) edges that must be watched when playing tournament Magic.

CL: What made you think Jeskai control was a good choice for the CTQ? What did you like and not like about it?

JL: Jeskai control has always been a pet deck of mine in modern. I’ve played it for the greater part of the format and learned which kind of build I enjoy and feel as if I can play well. Recently the format has become more “fair” since the rise of Death’s Shadow, and that means value decks, such as blue control decks, are in a much better spot when compared to the combo metagame we had just a few months ago.

CL: You ran four Spell Queller, four Lightning Bolt and four Lightning Helix in the maindeck. Why did you feel those cards were well positioned?

JL: Lightning Bolt is at its all-time worst in Modern currently. But while saying that, it’s still one of the best removal spells in the format. Not only does it kill many creatures, but it as well has the ability to close out a game you shouldn’t normally win. One perfect example of this was in round 5 of the tournament. I played against blue-black mill, one of the worst matchups for the deck, but having the ability to burn out players really gives the deck footing in matches it shouldn’t.

This was actually my first tournament with Spell Queller and it only impressed me. Against Eldrazi Tron, another bad matchup, it provides interaction that gets around Cavern of Souls. Having the ability to exile their Thought-Knot Seer while it’s on the stack and then have a body to start attacking with is extremely powerful.

CL: Where does Modern rank among your favorite formats?

JL: Modern is by far my favorite format. Recently it has been getting flack for super powerful linear decks that can’t be beaten except for specific powerful sideboard slots. While yes, this is true to some extent, I believe Modern is a format that rewards players for knowing their decks well. Knowing how and when to act is vital in this format, especially with long game value decks.

The sideboard importance is why I enjoy playing very flexible cards. One example of this is Engineered Explosives. Commonly a sideboard card, I really enjoying having it maindeck, because if you come across a stray deck it provides you with some maindeck answer you may not usually have. This was often used to blow up Chalices on one in game 1 against Tron decks, but other uses do come up.

CL: What’s your opinion of Modern as a format right now? What would you like to see change?

JL: Currently I’m a big fan of the format and wouldn’t want to change much. If I were to pick one card that’s too oppressive or powerful, it would be Street Wraith. Very similarly to Gitaxian Probe, Street Wraith makes decks feel smaller and even works into some deck’s game plans. Decks like Living End, Death’s Shadow, and the very recent Hollow One deck abuse different aspects of the card while also making their decks more consistent at little to no cost.

CL: You’re still a bit of a longshot to make the Championship, but you are within shouting distance of making the eight-person playoff for the final spot. What’s your plan to try and get there?

JL: While the championship is a stretch for sure, I’ll do my best to make it interesting. I’ll continue with the series throughout the year. I’m moving up to Madison later this fall and will play in the future CTs that move up north.

CL: What are your thoughts on the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series and how it’s changed since its inception?

JL: I’ve loved the series since the beginning. As a player I love the higher-level Magic being played. As a local supporter of the store, I also love seeing Nerd Rage Gaming becoming larger and larger. The series itself has helped myself and my friends become better magic players as well. I’ve only enjoyed the series and now, seeing some success through the series, it can only get better.

Jake Lapeire won a Modern CTQ in July 2017. Casey Laughman is editor of Nerd Rage Gaming. Email comments and questions to casey@nerdragegaming.com.


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