Last weekend, Legacy European Tour: Grand Open Qualifier Warsaw took place featuring the Pioneer format! As part of Europe’s organized play system for Pro Tour Season Two, the top finishes in this event qualified for the Regional Championship in Naples in March. In today’s article, I will delve deeper into the metagame of the event and its Top 8 makeup.
You can find all the decklists here.
The main event had 160 players competing for the Regional Championship invite. The metagame for Day One was relatively well spread. Three decks had 10% representation: Mono Green, Rakdos Midrange, and Bant Spirits. Spirits were certainly the breakout deck of the tournament because while it is a meta deck, nobody thought it’d be as heavily represented as it was. On the flipside, the deck that was surprisingly poorly represented was Izzet Phoenix. There were only Phoenix pilots in the tournament. Yet, interestingly, there were two UR Creativity and four UR Pyromancer shells, making the total representation of blue/red decks up to 7% (which is still fairly low).
There were around 40 unique decks total which appears to be representative of a healthy metagame. Some of those decks include Jund Citadel, Enigmatic Incarnation, Auras, Lotus Field, Mono-Black Zombies, and many more.
Speaking of Mono-Black Zombies, one player, Michał Lorenc, had a very good day 1 run with a record of 8-1-1.
This is essentially a midrange deck with a Zombies subtheme. With so many copies of Liliana of the Veil; Sheoldred, the Apocalypse; Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet; Thoughtseize; and Fatal Push, it’s far from what you’d expect from a tribal deck. Instead the deck is very interactive, has multiple angles of attack, and takes advantage of its smooth manabase by playing eight utility lands. Post board it can go even bigger with Invoke Despair; Liliana, Dreadhorde General; and additional copies of Kalitas. This was certainly the talk of the town on the first day of competition!
A quick glance over the Day Two metagame would tell you that it’s very similar to the meta on Day One. However, there is a big loser as far as the conversion is concerned and that is Abzan Greasefang. There were fifteen copies of Greasefang the first day, yet only a single copy advanced – that’s a 6% conversion rate! Players were prepared to combat the deck with removal and graveyard hate, and there were hardly any elements of surprise. Its midrange fair plan also fell short in the face of MonoG, Rakdos, and Spirits.
Among the Top 64 decks on Day Two, there were around twenty unique decks which is roughly a third of all decks played. From the pool of off-the-wall decks from Day One, we observed a good number of them convert to Day Two and even show up at the top tables. These included BW Midrange, Incarnation, Mono-Black Zombies, Mono-Black Devotion, UR Pyromancer, and UR Creativity.
The BW Midrange deck took an interesting route of getting rid of red in lieu of flexible white cards such as Vanishing Verse and March of Otherworldly Light. This served them very well when they faced off against Enigmatic Incarnation – another hot deck of the tournament.
The Top 8 decks were:
- 3 Mono Green Devotion
- 1 Rakdos Midrange
- 1 Rakdos Sacrifice
- 1 Jund Citadel
- 1 UR Pyromancer
- 1 Enigmatic Incarnation
There was a clean Top 8 cut and all the players with 11-4 or better got there. You can find all the Top 8 lists here.
In the Top 8-16 we saw all the usual suspects: Mono Green, Rakdos Midrange, Phoenix, and Humans, yet a whopping half of the Top 8 were largely off-meta lists. It bodes well for the health of the format if you can take a well-built tier two deck and still succeed in a two-day tournament!
Rakdos Sacrifice is centered heavily around Witch’s Oven and Cauldron Familiar. Three copies of Ob Nixilis, the Adversary allow the deck to play longer, grinder games and attack from a different angle. Additionally, Unlucky Witness, Deadly Dispute, Village Rites, and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker make it very hard to break through the deck’s defenses.
Jund Citadel might seem to be similar to Sacrifice but it has quite a different angle of attack. The main overlap is utilizing Mayhem Devil but the actual avenue to victory differs substantially. The end goal is to drop Bolas’s Citadel onto the table and keep playing spells off the top until you’ve got enough permanents to use the Citadel’s ability to drain the opponent for lethal. To offset the life lost with each spell played by Citadel, quadruple Prosperous Innkeepers allow you to gain life with each creature cast. Mayhem Devil helps carry Citadel’s activation across the finish line. With each permanent you sacrifice to citadel you will be getting one (or more) Mayhem Devils triggering, which is more than enough damage to finish off the opponent.
UR Pyromancer looks like a fair Arclight Phoenix-less shell which still takes advantage of the best card draw spell: Treasure Cruise. The highlight of the deck is a full playset of Crackling Drake, which finishes games in one or two attacks. Because the Drake counts exiled spells as well as those in your graveyard, it does not create any tension between it and the delve mechanic. A miser’s copy of Shore Up also likely caught many players off guard as a way to protect Drake or push in the damage for lethal. In the sideboard, you see even more grindy elements in this deck, the highlight of which has to be Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Contrary to Phoenix shells, there are no Temporal Trespass or Galvanic Iteration in this list.
The last exciting deck I wanted to dive into was actually a finalist of the tournament, taking second place to Mono Green! This was the copy of Enigmatic Incarnation running Yorion, Sky Nomad as its companion. This was the five-color deck version of the deck and took full advantage of all of those colors at the cost of a slow mana base. Early interaction came in the form of Portable Hole, Trial of Ambition, and the recently-printed Leyline Binding, which comes down surprisingly early with the number of Triomes that this pilot is running. Alternately, Nylea’s Presence is a self-contained mana-reducer for Leyline as it makes any given land obtain all the land types. This build plays fifteen main deck silver bullets to be tutored out with Incarnation, including some seven-drops that can be tutored out by sacrificing those cheap Leyline Bindings!
This concludes the breakdown. As far as I’m concerned, the meta was healthy, diverse with the usual suspects being the most represented. Abzan Greasefang fell short, but plenty of rogue decks found success. Congratulations to all of the winners, and I will be covering more tournaments like this in the future.