Now we have the first Player’s Tour weekends and the first major tournament results using Pioneer in the books. Last week I took a look at what came about during the Players Tours in Brussels and Nagoya, this week I am going to take a look at Phoenix and the results there. We’re also going to take a look at the upcoming World Championship, which is this weekend, and how WOTC has handled this year’s Worlds tournament in contrast to those of past years.
You May Not Like Him, Minister, But You Can't Deny…Dumbledore's Got Style!
The story of the weekend was definitely the emergence of the Lotus Breach combo deck. The combo is using untap effects, such as Hidden Strings and Vizier of Tumbling Sands, to repeatedly untap Lotus Field with the assistance of Underworld Breach. Finally, once the combo is assembled, you cast the the adventure spell Granted to go get Tome Scour out of your sideboard and mill your entire deck into your graveyard and ultimately win with Thassa’s Oracle or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries.
This deck has an unbelievable win rate and a very high level of redundancy and is quite resilient to hate cards. Therein lies the real issue that Pioneer faces with this boogie man in the format. While players are already clamoring for cards in the deck to be banned, I believe that we need to allow the opportunity for adaptation within Pioneer. I believe the same approach must be taken in regards to the Dimir Inverter archetype. Both of the aforementioned decks have only been present in the format for a short amount of time and I believe that the format can absolutely adapt to powerful decks given innovation.
The top eight of PT Phoenix resulted in two copies of Dimir Inverter, two copies of Lotus Breach, one Mono Red Aggro, one Bant Spirits, one Sultai Delirium and one Azorius Control. This is a much more diverse top eight than that of PT Nagoya. The finals came down to Dimir Inverter being piloted by Corey Burkhart and Lotus Breach piloted by William “Huey” Jensen.
These decks respectively have a number of adaptations for the perceived expected metagame. It is interesting that these two decks are the ones that met in the finals since, in a way, they were preparing for the opposing archetype. Some of the more specific spells in the Inverter deck that are targeted towards the Lotus Breach deck are Damping Sphere and Negate out of the sideboard.
Jensen’s version of Lotus Breach has a number of alterations to combat the decks boogie man status. In the maindeck, we see singleton copies of Mystical Dispute and the split card Expansion / Explosion. Mystical Dispute’s inclusion in the maindeck really doesn’t need much of an explanation, the split card however, is quite interesting. Both halves of Expansion / Explosion are very useful in this list, whether you are planning to use the Expansion half to double up on a spell that you or your opponent has cast or use Explosion as a different route to victory; it is a powerful addition to the decks arsenal.
I will have to admit that the final match of Players Tour Phoenix was a bit lackluster, I felt that the games were still interesting to an extent. Jensen experiences some unfortunate mana issues in the first game of the finals and suffered a detrimental mulligan to four in the second game. Neither of which Jensen was able to recover from before Burkhart implemented his game plan. Burkhart used multiple copies of Thoughtseize and the powerful creature Pack Rat to take down the final turns of the game thus becoming the Champion of Player Tour Phoenix.
I’ve Paid My Dues, Time after Time
The World Championship is upon us. The competitors will meet on the field of battlefield this coming weekend in Hawaii. The formats for the event are Theros: Beyond Death and Standard constructed. The current state of the Standard format is set in an interesting place, you can basically play anything you want. The only limiting factor is that you must have a plan for the more well known decks, those being Azorius Control and Simic Ramp. Dream Trawler and Nissa, Who Shakes the World are two extremely powerful pillars of this format so I would expect to see a lot of copies amongst the top tables.
Everyone who follows professional players in the Magic the Gathering world have favorite players that they cheer for and want to win. Worlds is the ultimate opportunity to root for your favorite in the tournament. My picks for the next World Champion are two very powerful magicians, Javier Dominguez of Spain or Paulo Vitor Doma Da Rosa of Brazil.
Let me know in the comments below who you are pulling for or who you think is going to take the top trophy this year. Until next time, good luck I hope you lose!