By Niels Viaene

Last weekend we had a Gentry Invitational. 8 players were selected to come visit me at home, enjoy the garden and devour delicious valkyrie-made food.

The Players

Tom De Wael

Tom had qualified last time around but ended up unable to make it to the event due to illness. A last-minute replacement was found and it was decided then and there Tom would get a slot in the next Invitational. This was both for honorary reasons, because he deserves it, and practical reasons, he was going to dominate the popularity vote otherwise.

Tom is a center point in the Bredene community and has shown himself as a creative deckbuilder, a supportive mentor in deckbuilding and play skills and a great lover of the more casual side of the format. You can count on him to bring new decks and fresh strategies.

Ruben Naudts

The winner of the 8th edition of the Gentry Open, Ruben came in as a name known to his local community but rather unknown in the larger scheme of all things Gentry. He selected mono blue aggro as his weapon of choice that event and showed that with great skill, understanding of the metagame and a healthy portion of luck you can become the ultimate champion.

Ruben hails from the St. Niklaas community and all though he had not played a lot in the last few months, with that community collapsing, he still has that understanding from winning the Gentry Open. The metagame has diversified greatly since then, though, which is impressive, seeing that there were 8 different decks in that top 8 already, so perhaps there will a blind spot in his preparation.

Alan Schuer

Very much a prodigy of the League, Alan started playing in our cocoon and quickly shone far above what that environment can nourish. He quickly evolved into a Competitive mainstay in the Belgian Magic land and has visited many a Magic Fest in the meantime without losing his roots. He is a fixture of the Ghent community and got his slot by winning a special qualifier event that was hosted by the Lady Planeswalker Society as part of their big charity event.

Alan is a metagame-bound player, known for aggressive decks like RG Energy, Mono-Red and lately Temur Elementals. Will he get his pick? Or will he try to blindside the competition and show up with an Esper Control deck, another deck he tried out for a while?

After this, all Leaderboards that have 32 different names on them would send their champion into the Invitational. Unfortunately, this season, that meant none made the requirement due to it being rather short, including the summer lull, and a general drop in interest in Gentry, or so it seems. (for no reason, the format is more diverse and healthy than it has ever been) That meant the rest of the players would be selected by community vote or by my power as the organizer of the event.

Amaury Henneaux

Amaury has been a pillar of the Community in Bredene, mixing the best of casual play and competitive spirit. As a person that has received multiple nominations in previous editions of the popular vote, he deserved this slot maybe more than anyone else on this list.

Amaury is known for his Explore version of Sultai Muldrotha and usually finds slightly off-beat version of popular decks to bring to events, surprising opponents with match-ups that have a shifted dynamic from what they are used to.

Mats Clays

Like Tom De Wael, Mats is an old-school Magic player that is quite experienced on the Competitive field and is even familiar with the professional scene. Gentry has pulled him back into Magic events and he has brought a lot of heart and good feedback to the format and the community.

Mats is known for playing very tight decks, seeking tiny advantages where ever he can. He is a strong proponent of monocolored decks, finding the edge in a safe and faster manabase (all Gentry dual lands come into play tapped). Whatever deck he is bringing to the table will be one to look out for in the coming Gentry Open.

Jelle Lauwers

The Gentry community shifted and groaned all over the place this season, big changes were happening everywhere. Everywhere? Well, except for the Merksem Leaderboard, that is, the most stable Community in the world. Jelle is one of the players there that has found a home in Gentry, coming from a long history of Competitive play, I remember playing against him in a Belgian National Championship in 2008 (I believe).

That match also solidified his take on magic. He played a funky Standard deck featuring Brilliant Ultimatum and that is how I will always remember him. A control player that prefers an unexpected edge in his deck to leverage a win off.

That is the popular vote down, but we still need 2 people to round out the Invitational. A few people were contacted, but in the end, the following were available and interested in joining the event.

Pepijn Degryse

Pepijn has been a force in the Gentry metagame ever since the first invitational that he won. People look at him to bring sick metagame breaking tech to an event, showing people there are ways to address and crush metagames looming in every corner. Even though his activity moved away from Ghent and Gentry, he managed to come back into the last edition of the Gentry Open with a scary deck, called Gates Unblazed, dropping Gates Abalze, a metagame defining card, from the deck in favor of Cry of the Carnarium in order to beat the deck designed to beat Gates decks, BW Afterlife.

Pascal Vieren

Pascal is a dark horse candidate in this event and format, about as wild a wildcard as they get. But he is not as random as a lot of people might have suspected. Back when Jelle Gyselinck was the daddy of all things Gentry, it was with Pascal that he was developing and testing all his decks. Nobody really knows how much Pascal has shaped the metagame from the shadows in the years leading up to this performance in this Invitational.

Besides that, Pascal is also a Magic Pro, and has a National title, a Grand Prix win, 6 further Grand Prix top 8’s, a Pro Tour top 8, and a World Champion Finalist finish under his belt.

The decks

Players were not allowed to freely pick decks. They had to give a top 3, then a pick order was made. If anyone selected a deck, then the ones below would not be allowed to take the same deck. This introduced an additional handicap to people. The pick order, is the order in which people are listed in the section above and below as well.

Tom De Wael – UW Mill

Tom, known for quirky decks that attack the metagame in unexpected ways, brought a deck without creatures that focuses on killing you by running your deck out of cards, bypassing your life as a resource completely. This invalidates all creature removal decks play and all life gain or damage prevention they might count on for defense.

Psychic Corrosion is the card this deck needs the most to pull out a win, there are others, like Patient Rebuilding that are well suited to help but the 1-of rule for rares and Mythics really bottlenecks this decks efficiency. The other meanie is Ashiok, Dream Render. The rest of the deck is full of answers and measure to stall out a game. Syncopate and Essence Scatter aim to shut down early rushes while Ixalan’s Binding and Blessed light clean up all that gets through.

Ruben Naudts – UG Flash

Coming off a win with Mono-Blue Aggro, it was not too surprising to see Ruben show up with this deck, it is another aggro-control version that trades an absolute early game dominance for a disgustingly powerful midgame. The duo of Brineborn Cutthroat and Frilled Mystic are the true backbones of the deck and are further supported by a slew of control elements that make it very clear this deck wants to win before things get out of hand, Syncopate, Quench and Unsummon are very strong tempo tools here. This deck also illustrates well why Blue is such a strong color in Gentry, all the good control elements are common right now, leaving your uncommon slots unburdened.

Alan Schuer – RUG Elementals

Alan got to play the deck he has been piloting since Core Set 2020 came out in this tricolor Elementals deck that packs both a strong punch and an impressive developing engine. Risen Reef is a card Standard players will know very well, it is the core of multiple decks with its ability that both accelerates you and gives you card advantage. All the rest is supporting cast really, as every creature you play after it gets the same advantage and you end up burying your opponent under a steady stream of beaters while you find your rare and Mythics faster than they do and tend to be able to pay for them on or even ahead of the curve.

This is a deck that comes out of the gates a bit slower than most decks but keeps building a board and pressure without stop if it is running well, definitely an easy deck to build and straightforward to play decently.

Amaury Henneaux – BUG Muldrotha

Amaury got to play the deck he is most familiar with. This is also the first time we have an archetype that was requested twice. Pepijn Degryse requested this deck as well and even though his version is very different from this one (his featuring an Elementals/Neoform core) it was decided it would fall to closely in both what this deck showcases and what Alan’s can do.

This deck goes all-in on the recursion, with Golgari Pawnbroker, Kaya’s Ghostform and Journey to Eternity all bringing things back from the dead. Its early game would struggle because of it but since there is a core of Wildgrove Walker and Explore creatures there, that weakness is taken care of while pushing the deck deeper into the late game. Once Muldrotha, the Gravetide shows up, there is no stopping this deck.

Mats Clays – WR Feather

Mats was the only one to bring a dedicated aggro deck to the event, and looking at his sideboard he was expecting a whole lot of others to do the same. This deck is scary, there are so many options coming out of their hand you never really know what is coming. Even from an empty board you could just die from a two drop with Samut’s Sprint or a Tenth District Legionnaire with pump. To top that all off, there is God’s Willing to foil all plans you might have to stop them from smacking you in the face.
And while people may say this is “just” an aggro deck, there are a lot of important decisions you have to make all the time that can impact the board and your chances to win greatly. Knowing how to scry with this deck is essential to a good finish. And if you do get Dreadhorde Arcanist going with Feather, the Redeemed you will be blown away by what it does.

Jelle Lauwers – UB Saheeli

Jelle’s top 3 made very clear he was used to a different metagame than most others in this event. This deck has a far more methodical plan than most others, stick a Saheeli, Sublime Artificer or Murmuring Mystic and make tokens for every spell you play afterward. It makes Spark Harvest better and supports the cute little saprolings from Fungal Infection amazingly. This is the most dedicated control deck in the Invitational, aiming to go long into games and winning off Planeswalker activations or a single hard to deal with beater.

Pepijn Degryse – RBGu Midrange aka Soggy Jund

As mentioned before, Pepijn did not get his first choice in BUG Elementals but had to drop down to second choice with this “soggy Jund deck” featuring the power core of Gates in Gatebreaker Ram, Gate Colossus, Gates Abalze and Guild Summit, but adding black for a better support cast against control decks with a dedicated discard package. The versatility of Angarth’s Rampage is also not to be underestimated.
This deck will beat any card one-on-one, but will get in trouble if the opponent gets a card advantage engine running while you can’t stick a Guild Summit.

Pascal Vieren – 5-color Ramping Field of the Dead

Pascal was the lowest in the pick order and was pushed all the way to his third pick of deck. Considering his pedigree, this might have us conclude it makes things a lot more fair for the event and the players in it since giving Pascal a UB Control deck would likely result in him dominating this event. But perhaps I am overestimating raw skill versus deck choice and familiarity with the format and metagame.

He ended up getting 5-color Ramp as his deck. It is a direct port from Standard where it relies heavily on Scapeshift, supported by Teferi, Time Reveler to cast it at instant speed. Gentry heavily limits what this deck can do with its 1-of rule for Rares and Mythics yet Pascal wanted to stay true to the goal of the deck in winning off Field of the Dead. That explains his Golos, Tireless Pilgrim.

This deck wants to find Field of the Dead as soon as possible and then get as much advantage from it as possible, so it plays tonnes of effects that put extra lands into play.

The Matches

You can find all 7 Videos of the matches on the Youtube Channel.

Niels Viaene came into contact with Magic first through the Kazz & Zakk starter set in 1996, but it wouldn’t be until 2000, around the time Prophecy came out that he actually started playing magic thanks to his nephew. Niels’ Magic career has been a roller coaster up to now, including Grand Prix Paris 2009 top 8, Pro Tour San Diego 2010 top 8, becoming a L3 Magic Judge in 2015 and managing the community effort that is the League of New and Beginning Magic: the Gathering Players, the birthing ground for Gentry since 2012. All this comes from a deep love for the game that is far from diminishing.

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