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Boot Camp – Los Angeles 5K Open Analysis by David Campano

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This past weekend brought us the first major Magic tournament of the new decade, and what a tournament it was.  Over 300 people made their way to sunny Los Angeles, California for their chance to win a spot at the Star City Games Invitational and a big pile of cash.  When the dust had settled, Louis Scott-Vargas stood at the top holding the trophy triumphantly. His deck of choice? A metagame-tuned Blue/White/Red Control deck that rode past two Jund decks in the Top 8 to claim the final prize.
The first major takeaway from all the tournament reports is the excessive amount of Jund being played.  1/3rd of the field was playing Jund, including the new “Jund with Blue” decks that have been surfacing recently.  Not only has Jund been showing up, Jund has also been winning. 9  of the top 16 decks from Los Angeles were Jund, with 2 of the lists reaching the semifinals and another making it all the way to the finals but coming up short. [sorry, Arthur!  -kbr] Though commonly criticized by the Magic community as being an “auto pilot deck”,  Jund has shown its resilience and continues to stay strong. Every new deck that comes out claims it can beat Jund, but as proven by this tournament, there is no one deck that can hate Jund out of this metagame. Even decks that can beat Jund 75% of the time still fall short to one of Jund’s many different god hands. One example is the all too common turn 2 Leech, turn 3 Blightning, turn 4 Bloodbraid into Blightning. Not many decks can come back from that much damage and resource disruption.
The breakout deck from the 5K was definitely the winning Blue/White/Red Control list piloted by Louis Scott-Vargas and his Channel Fireball crew as well as other notable professionals such as Brian Kibler.  The deck was highly metagamed to beat Jund, with mainboard Flashfreeze and Spreading Seas. The plan game one is to take control of the board with various Planeswalkers, while keeping your life total in check with Wall of Denial and various counterspells. Once gaining board control, you drop Sphinx of Jwar Isle to finish off the game. Having only shroud creatures game one shuts down all of your opponents removal, and they will often side most of it out for game two. This is where the fun begins, because you bring in four Baneslayer Angel from the board and prey on your opponent’s lack of removal with the most expensive card in Standard. This “surprise” caught many decks off guard, which probably played a role in the deck’s high win percentages. However, as this deck becomes more popular, the “Baneslayer Surprise” will be more expected and decks will continue to leave in removal. Of course, UWR can adapt and choose to not sideboard the Baneslayers in, making the removal just as dead as game one.
With the 5K Standard Open in Dallas fast approaching this weekend, finding the right deck to play can be a hassle. The metagame will almost definitely be heavy Jund and UWR Control with some RDW/Barely Boros decks floating around as well. A deck that wants to be competitive needs to have a good matchup with Jund and UWR, but can’t outright die to RDW either. This could be Vampires time to shine. Every pro who brought UWR with them to the 5K in Los Angeles said that Vampires was by far their worst matchup. Mind Sludge is absolutely insane, and Gatekeeper of Malakir and Vampire Nighthawk do a great job at holding off Wall of Denial and Sphinx. Plus, Malakir Bloodwitch is an absolute bomb. Not dying to Path to Exile and having the ability to block Baneslayer all day really puts Bloodwitch ahead of UWR. Vampires are highly favored in this matchup and would be a smart deck to run if you plan on facing a lot of UWR.
However, Vampires definitely aren’t the answer to the current metagame. Though the matchup is highly favored against UWR, the Jund matchup is not so straightforward. Jund has better cards than Vampires, and unlike UWR, doesn’t struggle against Bloodwitch and friends. Jund can take control of the game a turn or two faster than Vampires, which makes the matchup very difficult to win for the Vampire player. If you plan on playing Vampires, make sure to have at least 4-8 dedicated Jund hate cards in your sideboard. Another route would be splashing a color for additional spells. A Black/Red Vampires list made the Top 16 in Los Angeles, proving that Vampires have what it takes to make it to the top tables. The combination of Blightning, Terminate, and Lightning Bolt tacked on to the already solid Vampire package made the deck much more consistent and made the Jund matchup much more winnable.
Overall
, if you plan to play in one of the Standard tournaments going on this weekend - Star City's Dallas 5K, Pastimes' Midwest Masters in Indianapolis, or your local FNM, plan to face a fair amount of Sphinxes and Bloodbraids. These two decks will probably make up almost half of the field combined so be prepared. Vampires might be a possible answer to UWR and with the right sideboard plan could give Jund a run for their money. Financially speaking, if Vampires do come out on top, look for Sorin Markov and Malakir Bloodwitch to jump in price slightly. Malakir probably won’t get too out of control thanks to her inclusion in the black theme deck, but Sorin is already in double digits, and could easily hit $20 if Vampires become a force to be reckoned with.
Thanks for reading,
David Campano
I will be attending the Star City Games 5K in Dallas this weekend so if you will be attending, feel free to say hello.  I will be keeping tabs on the tournament all day, so check my twitter (@dcampa93) for metagame reports and any breakout tech that may make it to the top tables.

Kelly Reid

Founder & Product Manager

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4 thoughts on “Boot Camp – Los Angeles 5K Open Analysis by David Campano

  1. It is kind of laughable that you would claim Sorin is already double digits and could hit $20. Check ebay, everything is 7-8 and falling. Getting hot, the card might hit $15, but never $20. $20 should be a card that is a staple in multiple decks.

  2. I disagree. Sorin generally sells for $10+ and with the recent rise in Grixis Control and the Vampire win at the SCG Dallas 5K, Sorin could easily jump to $20. Sorin is definitely a good card and just needs to find a home before he gets really good.

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