By Niels Viaene

When all the votes were counted, 14 players had joined the 8th episode of the season. We had some people returning from the void, but also a few usual suspects missing. Let’s have a look at the top performers and interesting 3-1 lists.

4-0 Niels Viaene
Mono-Red Aggro

Companion (1)
Obosh, the Preypiercer

Deck (60)
Goblin Arsonist
17 Mountain
Spikefield Hazard
Weaponize the Monsters
Weaselback Redcap
Anax, Hardened in the Forge
Heraldic Banner
Akoum Hellhound
Satyr’s Cunning
Phoenix of Ash
Bonecrusher Giant
Castle Embereth
Dwarven Mine
Sideboard (15)
Obosh, the Preypiercer
Final Flare
Blazing Volley
Destructive Tampering
Satyr’s Cunning
Redcap Raiders

The fun police is back and took top slot after finishing a very respectable 3-1 last week. With slow midrange decks and Control decks not really looking at adding quick removal to their sideboard, the time is ripe to exploit a weakness with aggressive decks. This version of Mono red has the added benefit of running a companion, giving you access to an extra card, and Weaponize the Monsters, giving you a surprising amount of reach to finish the games.

That said, other versions looking to use more burn instead of the Companion should be a good choice as well. Those decks also tend to be more forgiving to play than this version, and would be great choices for people that want to step in and feel powerful. The biggest weakness of the deck is the limited sideboard options, with a 3 mana Act of Treason effect being the most sorely missed of them all.

3-1 Lars Meeussen
Golgari Midrange

Deck (60)
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Questing Beast
Jungle Hollow
Bloodchief’s Thirst
Llanowar Visionary
Acolyte of Affliction
Gnarlid Colony
Grasp of Darkness
Polukranos, Unchained
Evolving Wilds
Garruk’s Uprising
Mire Triton
The Great Henge
Ram Through
Chainweb Aracnir
10 Forest
Feed the Swarm
Greater Sandwurm
Sideboard (15)
Suffocating Fumes
Feed the Swarm
Fierce Witchstalker
Return to Nature
Loathsome Chimera

We have seen many versions of Golgari midrange at this point, many focusing on graveyard interactions, but with the rise of Izzet-based control deck and their Blitz of the Thunder-Raptors and Scorching Dragonfires, that plan is becoming increasingly problematic. Lars instead went with Garruk’s Uprising, borrowing heavily from the Gruul 4-power-matters deck championed by Mats Clays.

We still see the heavy focus on Escape with Polukranos Unchained and Chainweb Aracnir, acknowledging the strength of Dimir Rogues (that still managed to sneak a player into 3-1) and find way more removal in this deck than we are used from comparable strategies, which of course breaks some of the synergy with the marquee enchantment.

Will this deck find its balance in the current metagame? Right now it seems preboarded against a metagame that demands a lot of removal, sort of falling into the trap of metagaming against your own deck. Maybe it is better to have some of the removal (I am thinking Grasp of Darkness) in the sideboard in favor of more creatures to trigger Garruk’s Uprising? Who knows, this color combination has shown us a lot of potential already, and has been the antithesis to Izzet in the past 4 years or so. I still have high expectations.

3-1 Sander De Quick
Dimir Control

Deck (60)
Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
Dismal Backwater
Evolving Wilds
Lochmere Serpent
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Omen of the Sea
Teferi, Master of Time
Ruin Crab
Grasp of Darkness
Didn’t Say Please
Frantic Inventory
Pestilent Haze
Into the Story
Drown in the Loch
Teferi’s Tutelage
Bloodchief’s Thirst
Sideboard (15)
Finishing Blow
Zulaport Duelist
Into the Roil
Feed the Swarm

Not Rogues, just good old Dimir Control. Sander went back to his old love and proved that the slowest of control decks still have what it takes to steal plenty of matches. He chooses to drop most of the creatures in his deck, turning lots of cards in his opponents’ hand into dead cardboard in game 1. It does mean his Ruin Crabs probably do not get t have a big effect on game 1, but they do turn into an awkward proposition in the sideboarded games, especially for non-red players (as those can leave in removal that hits both planeswalkers and creatures).

The path to victory lies in milling out your opponent with Teferi’s Tutelage and… well, sheer boredom. While not the flashiest deck to play or face, it does rely on a bunch of really strong foundations to be considered.

The Metagame

Gorgari decks keep positioning themselves, trynig to find the balance between tools against Dimir Rogues and against Izzet-based control decks. In the meantime, the top performing Izzet decks have morphed into Grixis, borrowing some finishing power and removal from black. Feed the swarm is the key card they are splashing for, disregarding the other 2 splash cards have better enchantment removal options since this change is to better beat the Imporbably Alliance in the mirror. Dimir Rogues is still a deck, but it has turned into a very match-up dependant swingy deck in the current metagame.

Dedicated aggro and in general decks that aim to finish the game as fast as possible are rare, but tend to do very well when they are present, as proven by the performance of mono red and mono white. Banking on interactions between permanents is dicey at the moment, since the control decks have very versatile answers at the moment, but Golgari still manages to make a fist against them.

Is there a missing player in the metagame? A deck that can survive an aggro deck AND pressure the control decks? The future will tell.

The Leaderboard

Despite performing far better than the other people in the top 3, Robbe only managed to catch up by a single point. That top 3 now has separated themselves from the chasers by 15 points as the season starts settling. All three can bank on multiple 20+ scored events propelling them over that almost mythical 100 point mark, a feat that is going to be hard to match if events are going to stagnate from here on out.

Lars and Sander finally made it to 5 events but find themselves a long way from contending for those top spots, but both have some poor results hiding ni there, meaning they can easily gain more points, a luxury the current top contenders do not really have. Renzo did not play this event, but with 40 points in 2 events he is set up to make a good run if he does return to playing. And Jamal, the surprise player that came in and took 28 points in his maiden event could still shock the standings, but he will need to start playing. There are 6 events until the end of the year, and there will be a few more in January, so anything is still possible, especially if events get another push towards 20 players and we see bigger point totals shifting the standings around.

See you next week,

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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