Hello, everyone! Day 1 of Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad is in the books, and the tech that debuted at this one was a doozy!
The QS team was up bright and early to provide the best coverage we could on all the craziness and market movement. Our Insiders were privy to this information as we discovered it since before the first round of Constructed even began, but we're reporting it here for everyone else. If you're not an Insider and are wondering what you missed, this will give you a taste!
So in today's wrap-up I'll break down and summarize everything we saw. We'll look at a snapshot of the metagame and cover the innovations and new decklists the pros decided to bring to Magic's biggest stage.
Firstly, here's the metagame breakdown:
|R/G Goggle Ramp||15||3.97%|
|U/B Demonic Tentacles||5||1.32%|
|U/R Thing in the Ice||5||1.32%|
|4-Color Dragon Reanimator||3||0.79%|
In numerous articles and on QS Cast we discussed how Company decks would likely be the front-runner going into PT SOI. From the numbers it seems the pro teams were overwhelmingly in agreement. Next up are the different variations of Humans and a surprising comeback of G/R Ramp. The deck everyone felt had met its demise is back in a serious way off the back of Kozilek's Return and returning favorite Pyromancer's Goggles!
So far the innovation at this Pro Tour has been amazing. The tech is really the story of the day, and as we go along I will highlight key cards and exciting new archetypes.
The "same old, same old" we expected from SOI Standard got turned on its head at the PT---and it's clearly not a two-deck show. There are plenty of viable contenders here despite Humans and Company being the favorites.
Paul Cheon (B/G Aristocrats) vs. Matej Zatlkaj (R/G Goggles Ramp)
- The Channel Fireball (CFB) team is clearly on Cryptolith Rite.dec---a deck that showed early promise in the preliminary weeks of the format.
- Taking the Rites deck a step further is very much expected from CFB. Adding Collected Company seems to be the winning formula. Frankly I'm wondering how it wasn't added in large numbers before.
- CFB's version appears to have dropped the cute stuff for a more streamlined game plan. We don't have an exact list yet, but there may not be any "pay off" cards like we've seen before in Ulvenwald Hydra or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.
We also got to see Brian Kibler (Jund) square off against Thiago Saporito (G/W Tokens) as the backup feature match. This further pushes the notion that Sylvan Advocate is an amazing card, and probably the best thing to be doing for two mana. It's never bad, and can fit into basically any deck running green. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar also made a strong appearance backing up Saporito's heavy G/W Tokens list.
Ultimately Kibler stumbled on mana and lost games two and three to an overwhelming board state staring down his lowly Mina and Denn, Wildborn. Not that Kibler minds that often---I'm sure he's content to scrub out and go back to playing Hearthstone.
We also saw a really quick look-in at Dan Lanthier (Bant Company) taking on Ben Friedman (W/U Humans). This is a known quantity so there's not really much to report here.
Shouta Yasooka (Esper Dragons) vs. Matt Severa (B/G Aristocrats)
- It was surprising to see Esper Dragons come out to play, but Shouta is giving it a go. Dragonlord Ojutai is still very powerful, if clunky, according to many of the pro players who were actually playing it.
- The coverage team's feeling on the Esper Dragon list is that it doesn't have nearly as much power without Dig Through Time (which is understandable) but can still play a bevy of great cards.
- We saw another showing of Team CFB's Aristocrats deck, but Yasooka was able to skate by with a 2-1 win.
We finally got to see John Finkel's G/B Control deck unveiled and in action! It featured two cards few people expected to see on the Pro Tour stage: Seasons Past and Dark Petition. During my set review I recognized Seasons Past as an interesting card, but I'll be the first to say I never thought it would have financial (or constructed) relevance. Yet here we are.
It turns out chaining Seasons Past and Dark Petition over and over is a potent engine for a control deck, even mimicking a Sphinx's Revelation. We quickly saw Finkel take down what looked on paper to be the superior control deck. The amount of card advantage being generated is unreal.
QS coverage was reporting on these cards well before they ever showed up on camera. Quickly after that both were nowhere to be found online (a common occurrence during the PT). Frankly, when a deck is this cool, I don't blame anyone for wanting to play it.
We also got quick looks at Allen Sun ("Boss" Humans) vs. Brad Nelson (Goggles Ramp), where multiple Kozilek's Returns and a massive Fall of the Titans took care of business. We also saw Jeremy Dezani (Junk Company) vs. Dan Lanthier (Bant Company). A notable card in the Junk list is Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim, which is stellar against aggressive decks and especially Sylvan Advocate.
Jon Finkel (B/G Control) vs. Luis Scott-Vargas (B/G Aristocrats)
- LSV and John Finkel... Finally a match between two true legends going head to head with their own awesome new tech---and it was over in 5 minutes.
- As disappointing as the matchup was, Finkel was extremely mana-starved both games. It was clear the matchup would have been a lot more interesting if Finkel had gotten off the ground. I do think LSV was the favorite here, just from the sheer density of creatures.
I also want to say that the initial choice of feature match this round was extremely poor. At the very least it seems the coverage team listened to feedback and tried to pivot mid-round to give viewers what they wanted to see. Wizards has been really good about this in recent history, so I'm okay with them at least changing the coverage to a very good feature match (or what would have been).
We got to see one additional match in Valentin Mackl (Bant Company) vs. Shouta Yasooka (Esper Dragons). The notes I took here are that Silumgar's Scorn is still excellent. It's basically the only two-mana counterspell, and perfectly fine as a Force Spike in this faster meta. Languish is still great, especially against the overwhelming number of Collected Company/Humans decks---even if CoCo can replenish the board and recover.
Christian Calcano (Bant Company) vs. Brad Nelson (R/G Goggles Ramp)
Doug Linn sent out an Insider email about G/R Ramp right before this round began. Again, this information was privy to Insiders first, so if you want the coverage immediately I would suggest signing up.
- The Goggles Ramp list is really awesome. The subtle use of Magmatic Insight/Tormenting Voice is phenomenal. Drawing tons of cards in a ramp deck is just plain sweet.
- World Breaker is still a card. Especially good against Cryptolith Rite and the small number of Demonic Pacts running around.
Other featured matches this round were LSV (G/B Rites) vs. Jeremy Dezani (Abzan Company) and Kentaro Yamamoto (Bant Company) vs. Samuel Tharmaratnam (Mardu Control). Mardu Control seemed extremely potent and Goblin Dark-Dwellers showed how easily it can swing a game. Linvala, the Preserver also staved off a commanding Company board presence, including an Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier.
Nahiri, the Harbinger made a fantastic appearance here too. Throughout the whole day she proved herself to be a powerful answer to important enchantments (Rite) and the increasingly popular Pyromancer's Goggles.
In addition to the Mardu list we saw a solid B/R Control list featured in a Deck Tech. Adam Jansen's build was playing the full four Dark-Dwellers, and the card seems poised for an increase.
Well, that about wraps things up for Day 1. We've already seen a lot of market movement and we're not even halfway done yet! It seems the Company lists are still extremely formidable but with Crypo-crats on the rise its numbers might die down a bit. CFB came prepared to compete---and to combat Company lists---and many players after the PT will follow suit.
Any questions/comments/concerns? Stay tuned tomorrow for more coverage on the free side, where we'll break down the Deck Techs from the day with separate articles highlighting each.
I hope everyone who is already Insider is enjoying our coverage, and hope to see many more of you soon. I'm extremely excited to witness more amazing tech as it debuts, as well as new solutions to what appeared to be a stagnant format.