By Niels Viaene

Throw together a delerious cocktail of returning players, former dethrone and scored champions, a re-emerging archetype and you get the 5th installment of the longest Gentry Arena season to date.
Before we dive into the talks about decklists and players, let’s focus on why the fifth event is interesting and important in the structure of the season.

Top 5 Matters

In a season, you get points for your 5 best performing events. Considering the current event will run into January, and will have over 20 episodes that means there is plenty of time to jump in and make a run for the leaderboard. This leaderboard, unlike previous ones, started off small and is picking up a little steam, so that means there is no bonus for early players to ride on as long as the numbers stay the sane or keep going up.
All of this also means that people that have not yet played in 5 events are poised to rush up the leaderboard very suddenly when they fill out their capped number of events, so don’t be surprised if you see the top 8 players get shaken up by a ‘newcomer’.
In that regard, Karl Lister is THE person to keep an eye out for, as he is currently sitting in 9th place and has 2 whole events to add to his score card before he can fairly measure up to the rest of the players!

4-0 Teddie Andersson
Izzet Control

Deck (60)
Scorching Dragonfire
Mountain
Island
The Royal Scions
Jace, Mirror Mage
Sprite Dragon
Improbable Alliance
Rain of Revelation
Teferi, Master of Time
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Frantic Inventory
Opt
Sanctum of Calm Waters
Fire Prophecy
Swiftwater Cliffs
Evolving Wilds
Essence Scatter
Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor
Volcanic Geyser
Sideboard (15)
Into the Roil
Fire Prophecy
Lofty Denial
Negate
Blazing Volley
Bubble Snare

Teddie did not take kindly to being dethroned and brought an archetype to the fray many seemed to have forgotten about. I got paired against him in the first round a sorely missed my Blazing Volley in my sideboard, cut because there were not enough deck to bring it in against.
Izzet control never really lost that much power and can still rely on the most resilient threats in the form of Improbably Alliance and Ominous Seas. Here, Teddie chose to go for Sprite Dragon over the slower enchantment and adjusted hist spell package accordingly. Also note he is playing 7 removal spells that exile, responding to a trend in the metagame of working with recurring threats.

4-0 Karl Lister
Sultai Mutate

Deck (60)
Dreamtail Heron
Forest
Pouncing Shoreshark
Pollywog Symbiote
Sea-Dasher Octopus
Essence Symbiote
Island
Gemrazer
Auspicious Starrix
Migratory Greathorn
Eliminate
Thornwood Falls
Brokkos, Apex of Forever
Garruk’s Harbinger
Reave Soul
Blood Curdle
Dismal Backwater
Jungle Hollow
Swamp
Llanowar Visionary
Sideboard (15)
Return to Nature
Negate
Reave Soul
Ranger’s Guile
Destiny Spinner
Forever Young

If Teddie is the player and deck coming back with a vengence, then Karl is the fresh young hero bringing some toys that a lot of people deemed unfit for the job in Simic mutate. By adding black for removal, Karl added just enough interaction to get his multi-mutating monsters to go the distance. Is this result a fluke or a showcase of the new archetype to beat remains to be seen, but I am sure many players will be happy to see Big monsters take the big stage in this event.

3-1 Lars Meeussen
Golgari Midrange

Deck (60)
Heartless Act
14 Swamp
Forest
Deathless Knight
Jungle Hollow
Serrated Scorpion
Lampad of Death’s Vigil
Village Rites
Grasp of Darkness
Unexpected Fangs
Evolving Wilds
Silversmote Ghoul
Demonic Embrace
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
Savvy Hunter
Witch’s Oven
Rankle, Master of Pranks
The Great Henge
Sideboard (15)
Duress
Unexpected Fangs
Deadly Alliance
Ranger’s Guile
Return to Nature
Feed the Swarm

Multiple players are trying to break the golgari recurring value engines that are available at the moment. Lower in the rankings we find a dedicated food deck and a dedicated graveyard recursion deck but it was Lars with his hybrid build that took top honors in this party. There seems to be an optimal deck hiding in all those moving parts but for now it seems unclear if the final deck will be focused on Savvy Hunter or Silversmote Ghoul. The other option is getting a card in the future that breaks Deathless Knight but for now, that card is on support duty.

3-1 Robbe Schildermans
Dimir Rogues

Deck (60)
Soaring Thought-Thief
Omen of the Sea
Nimana Skydancer
Thieves’ Guild Enforcer
Slitherwisp
Zareth San, the Trickster
Zulaport Duelist
Didn’t Say Please
Brazen Borrower
Drown in the Loch
Into the Story
Dismal Backwater
10 Island
10 Swamp
Heartless Act
Feed the Swarm
Sideboard (15)
Negate
Duress
Starlit Mantle
Essence Scatter
Feed the Swarm

Robbe was the only Rogues player that managed to go above break even as we see other people testing out other waters with more interactive builds, often eschewing Into the Story. Of course all the small mills are helping decks with Frantic Inventory and aforementioned recursion engines so maybe the shift in metagame is causing this drop in performance. A fact, though, is that the previously called ‘best deck’ did not manage to win more than 50% of its’ games this event!

The Leaderboard

Teddie sits back on the throne with a modest lead of 5 points which would not be that much but you have to consider again that gaining points for people that already have 5 events is going to become increasingly hard from here on out. We still need to see how some of the chasers on 4 or even 3 events (looking at that Karl Lister guy again) will be doing as well as some of the 5 eveters that have started this season off pretty poor but have shown in the past they have what it takes.

Our last week’s leader dropped to 3rd place and suddenly has 9 points to catch up to in order to secure that top spot again. In the meantime Robbe is the lone Ghent representative in the tops slots with myself as the second one a whopping 21 points behind the leader. It is time to step up Ghent!

Want to join this event series on Magic Arena? Head over to MTGMelee, make a free account, and join the free events :D.

Looking forward to the future,
Niels

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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