By Niels Viaene

On April 11th we had the first online edition of the Gentry Open on Magic Arena, using the MTGMelee interface. Hosting the event like this was the most optimal way we found for having the event in these days of COVID-19 confinement. It allows for open decklists, to make sure people are actually playing Gentry lists, a centralized paring site, and for players to enter results themselves. Additionally, it allows for the integration of a stream.

The stream

Although having an integrated stream was not on the original list of requirements, it turned out to be an amazing tool for keeping the feeling of community alive. Having a central point where people could interact with the tournament organizer in a way where you see someone, rather than having to rely on written text or even a voice chat. I would like to thank everybody that was active in that chat, especially to those that ended up donating, making things a lot more motivating to do more like this in the (very near) future.

The Event

In the end, 41 actual players (we had some trolls) were playing in the event. It meant that even accounting for the byes given by the different trials and leaderboards, we played 6 rounds followed by a top 8. We saw a lot of the core Arena players, but a lot of people had been preparing a fresh account to be able to play the event and we even saw some people from outside the local scene entering the event. More about that later.

The Metagame

The Gentry metagame is as diverse as we are used to. Below you will find the breakdown, sorted by most popular.

6 Temur Elementals
5 Mono-R Aggro
4 Rakdos Aristocrats
3 Izzet Midrange
2 Selesnya Bogles
2 Mono-W Aggro
2 Jund Aristocrats
2 Dimir Control
2 Azorius Control
1 Temur Storm
1 Sultai Midrange
1 Simic Ramp
1 Orzhov Discard
1 Mono-U Mill
1 Gruul Midrange
1 Golgari Midrange
1 Esper Control
1 Dimir Midrange
1 Boros Aggro
1 Bant Elementals
1 Bant Bogles
1 4-color Elementals

When looking at Gentry archetypes that appear more than once, we get the following list:

8 Elementals
6 Aristocrats (cat-oven)
5 Control
5 Mono-red
3 Izzet ‘Drakes’
3 Bogles (auras on creatures)
2 Mono-white Lifegain Aggro
9 different 1-of decks

We clearly see our usual suspects, with Elementals and Aristocrats, often called the best decks of the moment, taking the 2 most played slots in the event. They are some of the more well-rounded decks we currently have that have ways to answer most things that are thrown at them while presenting a strong plan themselves. Control is usually the “pro-player choice”, and here we have seen that as well.

Notably missing are Gates decks, even though they have proven to still be viable at other smaller events. Since the upgrade of Gates Ablaze and Guild Summit to Rare, people seem to be leaving that deck by they wayside.

But lists are boring so let’s get some graphs in here. The first one is our color distribution. There is no weighting here, so a deck that has a single blue card counts just as much as a mono-blue deck.

It should come as no surprise that blue is the most played color. By design, only blue has counterspells, and they generally don’t care about the rarity of your opponent’s cards. Removal works differently, the best removal spells are often found at higher rarities, often, to be able to interact with well-chosen Rares and Mythics, you need to dedicate uncommon slots to this. Think exile effects or removal that can target non-creatures as well.

I will leave it to you, dear reader, to analyze away with the rest of the information beyond the fact that even though white has 2 archetypes, Life gain Aggro, and Bogles, it clearly trails behind in use currently.

If we group the different decks up in Midrange, Control, Aggro, and Combo, we get the following.

Considering how good blue supposedly is, this distribution is surprising. Usually, we see people playing midrange if they want to beat aggro, or playing Control when they want to beat midrange. Control currently is missing some of their usual tools in Essence Scatter as a way to effectively fight Midrange decks. I expect this market share to increase drastically when Ikoria comes out, though that comes with crazy midrange tools as well.

Top 8

The top 4 was determined with play-offs, place 5 to 8 are sorted by how high they finished in the swiss.

  1. Izzet Midrange
  2. Izzet Midrange
  3. Mono-Red Aggro
  4. Dimir Control
  5. Temur Elementals
  6. Rakdos Aristocrats
  7. Temur Elementals
  8. Rakdos Aristocrats

Having 5 archetypes out of 8 spots says a few things: There are definitely decks that are a tier above the rest, with Aristocrats and Elementals trading the spotlight as “best deck of the format” in the past months. Izzet is definitely a surprise, as an archetype that usually gets called tier 2 but then takes home one trophy after another. I do not have the complete historical data available, but I am pretty sure it is the most successful color combination when looking at Open top 8’s and Invitationals. Mono-red aggro has historically been a great deck in the format, not only is it easy to build, it is usually cheaper, and easier to play. On the other hand, people really dislike losing to a mono-red deck and usually have a lot of tools available to them to sideboard into. That means it is an easy deck to do ‘okay’ on, but it takes a great player to take top slots with it.

A secondary important point of attention is the fact this event was run in tournament mode in Magic Arena, this assigns a clock to the player. If your timer runs out, you lose the match. This affected our control players a lot. But it may have impacted our combo players even more, especially the Storm deck, that really needs tonnes of actions in their turn to win. We saw our storm deck lose live on stream due the clock running out.

The story

That Dimir deck up there? It was made by a player that never played Gentry before. They found the event on MTGMelee and decided to just go for it. They build a completely new deck without using this website or have any people to bounce ideas off of. That would be crazy as is…

But there is more, this player lives in Canada, and for them the event started at 5 am.







To make matters worse, that 4th place means they are the player that played the most rounds in this event without taking home a prize.

The winner

In the end, it was Izzet drakes, piloted by Psymon007, taking the trophy. They are from the French speaking part of Belgium and will be taking the title to Namur. Additionally, they agreed to share their screen for the finale, and after some issues, we got to witness the last game of the finale:

The decklist

Main deck (60)
Radical Idea
Swiftwater Cliffs
Scorching Dragonfire
Flame Sweep
Lava Coil
Improbable Alliance
Beacon Bolt
Thrill of Possibility
Izzet Guildgate
The Royal Scions
God-Eternal Kefnet
Faerie Vandal
Niv-Mizzet, Parun
Irencrag Pyromancer
Crackling Drake
Goblin Electromancer
Sideboard (15)
Reckless Air Strike
Callous Dismissal
Scorching Dragonfire
No Escape
Disdainful Stroke

This list, and many others, can also be found in the decklist tab on the homepage.

I hope everybody enjoyed the event, both the players, and those tuning in just to watch, and look forward to more to come!

Stay safe,

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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