By Niels Viaene

A lot of things are said about the number 13, most of them not very positive. In the case for this event that meant both matching the lowest players joining at 14 (but that has been a very stable point for this tournament series) and for the first time ever in the Arena tournament series, for an event not to have an undefeated player.
Fortunately all 3-1 players have interesting decks to feature.

3-1 Niels Viaene
Mono-Red Weaponize the Monsters

Companion (1)
Obosh, the Preypiercer

Deck (60)
Goblin Arsonist
19 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
Fireblade Charger
Sideboard (15)
Obosh, the Preypiercer
Final Flare
Blazing Volley
Heightened Reflexes
Satyr’s Cunning
Destructive Tampering
Claim the Firstborn

I was the last undefeated player but lost my final round to Ben on Gruul Mutate, he is featured further below. Some minor adjustments have been made to the deck and sideboard but this deck remains extremely limited in its options for either. That also means it can benefit the most from some additions coming in with Kaldheim.

I still believe the deck is a great choice for the current metagame. It gives you the double threat of dropping 3 creatures into Anax, Hardened in the Forge or building up to a Weaponize the Monsters fueled shootout. Having access to a companion, as slow as he may seem, has been instrumental in so many matches that I would not consider going without Obosh, the Preypiercer though that would open up your options greatly.

3-1 Peter Jönsson
Sultai Control

Deck (60)
Cling to Dust
Jungle Hollow
Didn’t Say Please
Into the Story
Feed the Swarm
Grasp of Darkness
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
Dismal Backwater
Essence Scatter
Drown in the Loch
Garruk, Cursed Huntsman
Bloodchief’s Thirst
Pestilent Haze
Lochmere Serpent
Frantic Inventory
Finishing Blow
Final Death
Thornwood Falls
Sideboard (15)
Into the Roil
Teferi’s Tutelage
Bubble Snare

This list is essentially Dimir Control splashing for Garruk, Cursed Huntsman and as such, many things have already been said about this archetype. It works and is, by far, the most flexible as far as card choices go. A telltale sign of this are the mainboard Cling to Dusts ready to fight back against Escape cards while being a very slow draw engine in of its own when the game goes super long. Pestilent Haze had largely disappeared from control lists but in the far more creature heave metagame that we are now seeing, it is a far more interesting card to have again.

That also illustrates how uncummon-light Control decks are these days, but Peter goes a step further and put his anti-Control element, Teferi’s Tutelage in the sideboard. That is what you can get away with if you are playing blue based control, and your common counterspells can interact favorably with your opponent.

3-1 Ben Belmans
Gruul Mutate

Deck (60)
Kazuul’s Fury
Radha, Heart of Keld
Scute Swarm
Terror of the Peaks
Evolving Wilds
Llanowar Visionary
Ilysian Caryatid
Beanstalk Giant
Migratory Greathorn
Scorching Dragonfire
Auspicious Starrix
12 Forest
Vivien, Monsters’ Advocate
Chainweb Aracnir
Essence Symbiote
Almighty Brushwagg
Sideboard (15)
Redcap Melee
Return to Nature
Kazandu Nectarpot
Ranger’s Guile
Blazing Volley
Omen of the Forge

When Ben brought this deck a few weeks ago, it was rough, but he was open to feedback and has gradually improved it to the point where it sdtarts feeling like a lean mean killing machine. It has reached the stage where individual card choices start coming down to preference and metagame decisions. As an aggro deck with a possible combo finish, it ticks the box of having multiple angles to attack from, something especially control decks will struggle with. You need to be able to answer both an aggressive curve starting with Almighty Brushwag, a flood coming out of multimutated Auspicious Starrix, and the combo kill potential around Terror of the Peaks and Beanstalk Giant.

3-1 Thanh Van
Mono-Red Spells

Deck (60)
Crash Through
18 Mountain
Ox of Agonas
Spikefield Hazard
Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor
Heartfire Immolator
Relic Amulet
Goblin Wizardry
Thrill of Possibility
Brash Taunter
Dwarven Mine
Phoenix of Ash
Cathartic Reunion
Satyr’s Cunning
Chandra, Heart of Fire
Sideboard (15)
Blazing Volley
Underworld Rage-Hound
Satyr’s Cunning
Shredded Sails
Scorching Dragonfire

Some decks just seem to function on a different axis from the rest, and this deck does this in ways we rarely see in Gentry. This is a Mono-Red Combo-Control deck, if there has ever been such a thing…

With Goblin Wizardry and Heartfire Immolator as the most reliable finishers this deck aims to cycle cheap spells to draw more spells to keep those Prowess triggers running. Incidentally, this will also make his rares a lot more reliable since this deck has the card velocity to rival blue control decks but threatens a rather quick potential death if ignored, somethign the control decks usually can’t do.

Thanh has been playing this deck for a while now and has been on the cusp of getting featured a lot earlier than this, but kept getting stranded on a 2-2 finish. The decks seems pretty draw and match-up dependent but a ton of fun to play. Try at your own risk.

The Metagame

4 Control decks, 2 Sultai lists and 2 Izzet lists, was all that stood between a very wide range of aggro and midrange decks, making this a very opposite season to what we usually see. Aggor decks tend to have the advantage early int he season as control decks need time to set up their answers correctly to reflect what is being thrown at them. This season, Dimir control had lost almost nothing relevant while dimir rogues was a straight port out of standard taking Gentry in a stranglehold. It seems like the metagame has caught up though. Does that mean it is now time for Control to resurface or are things way too ‘all-over-the-place’ for control decks to take that crown.

Is there still an archetype lurking in the shadows? The abundance of graveyard hate is keeping out a group of decks that have shown their power level but once they do not show up anymore, those cards will wane, making the metagame ripe for a recursive assault again.

The leaderboard

Jelle Lauwers still sits on the top but sees the suitors close in, most notable of these is still Tom De Wael, bringing a different deck to each of his matches this split so far, how long will he hold on to that promise? In places 4 to 8 there are some strong names that are either an event behind or poised to catch up big time with their sixth event (when only top 5 results start counting) so things are far from settled!

See you tomorrow,

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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