Just because it didn't work for him there does not mean it's not a good card against Mentor. The card worked brilliantly for me at champs, but it's not a hard lock against Mentor. Mentor decks have a ton of draw so they will have a lot of ways to get out of these lock type situations.
If he was playing a deck with Mental Misstep/Force of Will/etc, he could have protected it against a swords to plowshare.
It's a wrath effect against mentor. You flash it in and they suddenly don't have tokens until they answer it. You have three courses of action when you see a mentor hit the stack: (1) Counter it (2) Kill it before it makes > 2 tokens (3) wrath it.
Sulfur Elemental presents an uncounterable way to Wrath it, without having to go into white.
I don't advocate it solo as an answer; I'd board 1 or 2, along with other threats.
@Water0 They do, but it depends on the deck you are playing. For example, I was playing Grixis Painter at champs. My wrath options are basically toxic deluge (which if I remember correctly, I played 1 deluge and 2-3 sulfur elemental's in the board). The problem with Deluge, is it's possible, they pump their guys enough to get out of range, you do damage to yourself, and is counterable. My other option is Damnation, for what I would consider "playable" for vintage. That however requires double black and again is counterable. There are a few red wraths, but I wouldn't play them in vintage.
If i had white, I would certainly want to play at least one of Supreme Verdict over Toxic Deluge. However, since Painter is a major point to my deck, I don't want to get rid of it unless I have too, so the one sided Sulfur Elemental is still preferable for that deck.
@Water0 Sulfur Elemental is easily Vintage playable right now, exactly because of the presence of Mentor.
There isn't a single great answer to Mentor. But Sulfur Elemental has to be on a short list of the best. Supreme Verdict, Moat, Sudden Shock, and Sulfur Elemental spring to mind as the top contenders.
Sadly, as with most broken cards, the best answer to Mentor is probably your own Mentor in many cases. I for one wish they would just print a better spell for dealing with it than the Mentor itself. Since Gush Mentor has very few truly bad match-ups right now. And since the best players can expect a 50/50 game or better in the mirror, there really isn't much of an incentive to not play Mentor.
In that environment, Sulfur Elemental is at least ok. But maybe it should just be a Mentor in a Mentor deck, or a Sudden Shock in RUW Mentor? IDK... Jury is out.
@Topical_Island I agree that Sulfur is merely okay. It's the uncounterable nature that makes it playable. It can slow down the Mentor play, not stop them dead in their tracks, which hopefully will buy you enough time to go over them.
I think another great answer to Mentor is play a deck that screws with it's mana. I.E., shops.
@mdkubiak I agree with that. There are a lot of other potential answers I didn't include. But yeah, for sure things like Taxing Effects make for reasonable answers. (I tend to play OathStill, and I like answering Mentor with either Oath or Standstill as well. Standstill is a pretty funny play, since the Mentor turns into a 2/2 bear with no spells being played. That one is a corner-case in the meta, but I'd rate it at least as being surprisingly-not-terrible.)
I guess Tendrils turn one is also, technically, an answer to Mentor.
I think Elemental is still the best option you have in certain lists. While you did see the card dismantled in the VSL, the reason I played that deck is that I had an absurd high win% against Mentor decks in tournaments before then - everything just kind of fell apart in the VSL (and to be completely honest I could have played a little tighter)
I will say overall that the whole package of Eldrazi+Elemental is less good right now than it was last month, as Swords to Plowshares+Snapcaster is picking up steam.
But you're not wrong, Mentor is a hell of a card and deck, and even the cards that are good against it aren't ALWAYS good - you need a whole comprehensive game plan, no hoser is enough
@Water0 I think it's kinda bad. I do like it if you think you are going to see a lot of Thalia in a field with a lot of Mentor. I've seen it crop up in Leovold decks, and that makes sense to me, as they can expect to be fighting white Eldrazi and Mentor. Even there, it's kinda weak against Mentor in my opinion.
For three mana and one entire card, Sulfur Elemental kills a bunch of zero mana, zero card tokens. That's not a good trade. If you manage to ambush the Mentor himself, then you're at mana and card parity. Given the inherent disadvantage of answers relative to threats, being at mana and card parity is not good enough.
We saw Andy Probasco jam this card in White Eldrazi, which has at least a 70-30 Mentor matchup, and make it significantly worse.
@wappla Good enough compared to what? Always not good enough? How often is it not good enough?
The only thing that matters is the chance to win the game, and how much a card effects it. Sulfur Elemental improves your chance to beat mentor more than many other cards. Sometimes it stalls out Mentor enough to win... sometimes not. Not to mention that they do stack.
Again, I actually don't like this card that much because I think it's indicative right now of playing a less than best deck. It want's to be with Thalia, for example... but can't. It wants to be with Eldrazi, but if you're splashing a color in Eldrazi, why not white. It's for those reasons that I'm not thrilled about this card. But in the right spots, of which there are many given this meta, this card increases one's chances to win a game enormously.