By Niels Viaene
September is a really exciting time for Magic, it is when a new set comes in and causes Gentry to rotate. In a few days, Midnight Hunt will be released and with it, Throne of Eldraine, Theros Beyond Death, Lair of Ikoria, and Core set 2021 will leave. Before that happens, we always host a Gentry Open, a last big tournament to play with the largest card pool.
In this article, we will look at the players, and the decks that did well in the Gentry Open, see how well they survive the rotation, and will close off with some general thoughts about the cards that will be leaving Gentry.
Gentry Open XIII
This Gentry Open took place in a weird time and in exciting circumstances in more than one way. It is the first one that can take place in real life after being forced to be an online-only thing for 3 editions. On top of that, it happened only 11 days after regulations in Belgium allowed it to take place. As such, the event was marred with challenges, of which card availability and last-minute planning were hugely influential. Two former Gentry Open Champions, Renzo Verkooren, and Sander De Quick, really took it upon themselves to help as many people as possible and were a big reason for the event to have 23 players. Players from different communities came together for this edition of the Gentry Open and we saw a healthy mix of people that returned from slumber after turning away from the online community, people that discovered Gentry due to said online activity, and those that are exploring new hobbies in this reopening world.
The first double champion
After 9 hours, 5 rounds of Swiss, and a single elimination top 8 only one person was left standing as the dust settled, and it was Renzo Verkooren. He is one of 3 Gentry Open Champions that made it to the play-off rounds together with Sander De Quick and Tom De Wael, and one of 4 that joined the event. With his win here, he has established himself as the very first person ever to win two Gentry Opens, an online one and a real-life one. The deck he brought is a more ramp-oriented version of Sultai, featuring a one-card red splash.
This version of Sultai plays a slower game, pushing more must-answer threats, and honestly feels a lot less of a Control deck than the other version, which are pretty soft control decks anyway. Even though it loses a bunch of its ramp cards in Elvish Visionary and Beanstalk Giant, there are alternatives for those, and this deck will likely survive into the post-rotation metagame.
That said, usually, those are a bit more aggro focused and this deck is poorly equipped to handle a strong aggressive deck, with its sweeper in the sideboard even rotating out.
The rest of the Top 8
Finalist Stijn Peeters
The deck was apparently made by Renzo but it was Stijn that piloted it to a finalist place. Black-based sacrifice, usually with Lurrus at the helm, has been a staple deck type since the murder kitty entered Gentry. This version taps into the Green nature that Strixhaven added to it and also takes advantage of the ‘Learn’ mechanic from the same set. That would make it sound like it is rather rotation proof, but it will likely be looking quite different by the time we see it again as it not only loses its Companion, but also the Call the Death-Dweller/Archfiend’s Vessel combo and Serrated Scorpion as the most fun recursion target. That means it loses over half its uncommon slots but thankfully, there are a lot of other cards waiting in Strixhaven and with the coming 2 sets featured in Innistrad, a heavily graveyard-focused setting, we should expect this archetype to survive in some form or another into the future.
Semi-finalist Laurens Brusselmans
Laurens had to drop from the event after winning his quarter-final match due to plans he had elsewhere, which meant Renzo Verkooren went straight from his quarter-final to the final round. That also means we will never know how well this deck would have performed and for all we know, there is a parallel universe where we do not have a two-time winner. But that is just fun narration at this point.
UR Spells is probably the most prolific and successful archetype in the history of Gentry, it has been playable and successful at any time and has arguable been in its best form it the present time. Usually, its finishers determine how good the deck is and boy, have Improbably Alliance and Sprite Dragon been working overtime in the past months. Laurens decides to forego the tiniest of dragons in order to play Teferi’s Tutelage, likely a concession to the expected metagame featuring slower decks.
This deck loses a lot and does not seem to have many alternatives lying around, so I would expect the archetype to lay low for quite a while in the next few months. But don’t sleep on it, it only takes 2 good uncommon finishers to channel what red and blue do so well into a well-oiled machine of pure win.
Semi-finalist Thijs Weytens and Quarter-finalist Robbe Schilderman
Even though there was some difference between the lists, both aim to have a much faster game plan than Laurens above. Below is the list by Thijs, which features a more cohesive and dense decklist (read: less typing) than Robbe, who experimented more with new cards.
Playing UR Spells as well, Thijs and Robbe opted to go in the opposite direction of Laurens, instead building around a far more explosive start with Spite Dragon. The analysis goes exactly the same way, though, it looks like UR Spells will be lying low for a little while.
Quarter-finalist Sander De Quick and Kobe Keymeulen
These players tested together in a boot camp that took place in the 3 days before the Gentry Open, and practically lived in ‘De Volijke Viking’ during that time. They concluded on Sultai Control being their best choice for the tournament even though it had a big target on its head due to being ‘the best deck’. Below is the version played by Sander, with Kobe only being a few cards off the list.
As mentioned before, this was the deck of the tournament, which meant everyone was preparing with it in mind as something they needed to beat. It still has the raw power to go through and into the top 8 but seemed to struggle against prepared opponents. On the surface, the deck does not seem to lose a lot but look a little deeper and you see how much of its power is stripped by removing 2 of their rares and all of the black sweeper options. There is still plenty left for this deck to be a menace in the near future but it might struggle against aggressive strategies that will likely be common in the beginning.
Quarter-finalist Tom De Wael
Our third Gentry Open Champion in the top 8, Tom would likely have played his Mono-green deathtouch deck in this tournament but ended up selling it whole to a new player that wanted to get into Gentry. Instead, he played Mono-Black Devotion, saying farewell to one of his most beloved cards in Gray Merchant of Asphodel aka ‘Gary’.
As this deck loses its namesake and all the cards it supported, it is safe to say that this particular archetype will be gone for good. Different mono-black decks might be possible in the future, but they will be more likely discard disruption based.
Important cards leaving Gentry
As mentioned a few times, cards leaving Gentry can have profound effects, all the way up to entire decks becoming impossible to play in the near future. Below are some highlights of cards that are rotating out, and will change how Gentry is played as a result beyond those already mentioned above.
Life gain duals
The common lifegain dual lands are rotating out and it looks like they will not be replaced in the near future. of course, we have the snow duals, and the scrylicious Campuses to take their place but this will have a subtle effect on Gentry, making control decks just a little bit weaker to aggressive decks by pushing their life total away from that 10 – 25% increase. As Gentry is naturally quite hostile towards aggro decks, this might swing the balance back away to shorter games in the future.
Companions broke the rules of Gentry in a very fundamental way by giving you access to one of your rares in every game. Back when you could cast them directly from your sideboard without needing to pay 3 to put them in your hand or them being able to get discarded, they were a problem, a huge problem. Their nerf put them in a healthier place and I do have the feeling that they could have had a far greater effect on Gentry than they ended up having. Lurrus was the only mainstay, with Obosh, Yorion, and Umori having some people playing them as pet cards.
All that Glitters
All that Glitters, and its best buddy Gingerbrute have been a menacing one-two punch for two whole years. one their support cast in Alseid of Life’s Bounty was printed they have been a constant resilient threat to people lacking pressure or interaction. Honorable mention also goes to Staggering Insight and Faerie Vandal using the same support cast.
Call of the Death-Dweller
Overshadowed by the effect Lurrus had on the format, Call of the Death-Dweller has been a big reason for the success of Sacrifice strategies in Gentry over its entire stay in Gentry. Bringing back two fodder buddies and tacking on some interesting abilities has been key in a lot of matches, especially the strategical advantage deathtouch has given. Together with buddy Archfiend’s Vessel, it created a core that has always felt underused, especially when increasing support for a very early 5/5 demon kept getting printed.
Weaponize the Monsters
Those that know me are probably rolling their eyes right now as I have been raving and gushing over this card for as long as it has been legal. Weaponize the Mosters was exactly the card mono-red needed to finish games and was instrumental in me winning a season of Gentry online. Coupled with Anax, Hardened in the Forge and sometimes Obosh, the Preypiercer it made mono-red a menace and notably missing from the Gentry Open.
Which sweeper are available greatly influences where control decks want to go, with Pestilent Haze gone, as well as Suffocating Fumes, and so far not getting a replacement in Black, it seems like control decks will need to turn to red, with Crush the Weak for their sweeper, pushing them towards UR Control or even three color control with red in the future until (inevitably) a black sweeper is printed.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is probably THE most impactful card in Gentry. Capable of turning around a game from the direst of positions it might have even deserved a closer look for a ban in Gentry. It never came to happen, though, and it is leaving now, creating a world where a single card is no longer capable of resetting overwhelming boards while leaving a formidable finisher behind.
We will try to post two more articles in the near future. One about cards in Zendikar Rising, Kaldheim, Strixhaven, and Forgotten Realms to look out for that might pop up now that they no longer need to compete for power level with the 4 sets leaving us. The other will focus on the cards being added by Midnight Hunt joining the fray. Until then, let me know, what impactful cards going away have I missed and what do you look forward to most in Gentry?