By Niels Viaene

14 players showed up for the most atypical event that we had in a while. It caused the leaderboard to shift in unexpected and in very expected ways while reintroducing a top deck in the hands of someone who is still new to the format. Sounds like there is a lot to unpack, so let’s dive straight in!

4-0 Alexander Silnichenko
Orzhov Value engine

Companion (1)
Lurrus of the Dream-Den

Deck (60)
Call of the Death-Dweller
10 Swamp
Archfiend’s Vessel
Speaker of the Heavens
Plains
Hateful Eidolon
Sentinel’s Eyes
Dead Weight
Mire’s Grasp
Village Rites
Luminarch Aspirant
Agadeem’s Awakening
Cleric of Life’s Bond
Feed the Swarm
Mind Drain
Evolving Wilds
Plains
Sideboard (15)
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Duress
Light of Hope
Karametra’s Blessing
Suffocating Fumes

I have often said that the usual metagame split of Magic in Control, Aggro, and Combo does not really work in Gentry. This is in large due to combo pieces in Magic often being rare and, as such, hard to rely on in our format. In its stead, I would place decks that are focused around overwhelming advantage due to interaction, decks where the result is greater than the sum of all parts. And while this may sound like combo to most, it would not qualify as such in the regular world of Magic. These are synergy focused decks.

Alexander brought such a deck to this event, Archfiend’s Vessel is a card that already invites such shenanigans, but then added a Hateful Eidolon theme to double down on the Graveyard-resource heavy theme of Lurrus. While not as aggressive as the mono-Black Archfiend Vessel that can push with a turn 2 5/5 flyer without interaction of their opponent or losing card advantage, this version has a lot more staying power.

Originally popularized by Peter Steenbeke, this archetype has a lot going for it. For one, it is exceptionally durdly and often has many little options presented to it that can really benefit a methodical player that knows how to grind out little advantages with every move. It has raw power and overwhelming advantage build into it and is quite flexible in how it is build to boot, a scary combination for sure.

3-1 Karl Dewhirst-Lister
Izzet Aggro

Deck (60)
Chilling Trap
Mountain
Windrider Wizard
Goblin Wizardry
10 Island
Rockslide Sorcerer
Umara Mystic
Sea Gate Stormcaller
Frantic Inventory
Faerie Vandal
Fire Prophecy
Sprite Dragon
Swiftwater Cliffs
Opt
Infuriate
Shock
Brazen Borrower
Irencrag Pyromancer
Stormwing Entity
Sideboard (15)
Scorching Dragonfire
Essence Scatter
Negate
Satyr’s Cunning
Into the Roil
Blazing Volley

Initially I thought this was just another version of Izzet with some minor tweaks but nothing could be further from the truth. This is a good old aggro deck focused on turning creatures sideways. Rather than focusing on a few threats and supporting them with a flurry of spells, Karl went with more pay-off combined with less enablers. His deck is all pressure, with true blue control elements only to be found in the sideboard.

This is what happens in a world where Control decks actually believe other control decks are their only problem. They start cutting removal, in particular sweepers like Cinderclasm and Pestilent Haze for their costs as uncommons in the decklist. Maybe this result is enough to tip to scale back, though.

The rest of the Metagame

The other 3-1 decks where Mono-Red Aggro/Sacrifice, Rakdos Sacrifice and Grixis Control. The Grixis deck did not have access to a sweeper besides Blazing Salvo. At just 4 blue-based Control decks, one of which being Sander’s experimental Sultai build this was an extremely Control-light environment, which I think is interesting. It leaves room for Midrange decks with fun interactions to take center stage, and there were plenty of those, be it Simic Value in the hands of Tom, Mardu Party Aggro by Thanh, or any of the other surprising but struggling deck choices.

The leaderboard

Jelle Lauwers sits on top, riding his Rakdos Sacrifice deck into battle. For an archetype that was declared dead by many after losing Mayhem Devil, it seems to be doing fine. He is Closely followed by Tom De Wael, who has gotten there with three distinctly different decks in three events. Grixis Mage Thijs Weytens and Mono-Red Sacrifice abuser Niels Viaene share a third place, trailing behind the leading two sizeably. Only then do we see our Scandinavian contingent in Peter Jönsson and Teddie Andersson, which is surprising, considering how well they did before. Remember Teddie already secured a bye this season, so he might be more inclined to take things easy and more experimental this split.

That is it for today, I hope to see you all on MTGMelee next Wednesday, sporting the coolest decks!

Keep brewing,
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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