By Niels Viaene
Gentry has been going through very tumultuous times the last couple of years but through everything one thing has remained a constant: The Gentry Open, a celebration of the format and its community every April and September. This event takes place shortly before a new set is introduced and, in the case of the September one, even a rotation happens. People have had time to try out new things and optimize their strategies meaning the Gentry Open really rewards those players that really get to know the format. Through the digital era that was forced upon us by that-which-is-not-mentioned we saw a decline in people actively engaged in the format. That is over now, and we are returning to real-life events with real-life magic cards, which sadly means card availability, even for a budget format like Gentry is an issue. But that did not stop 26 players from joining the 14th edition of the Gentry Open!
In this article we will go over the top 8 players, followed by the metagame in general right before Streets of New Capenna is added to the format.
The top 8
Renzo Verkooren, quarterfinalist
Renzo is the winner of the previous edition and the only person in the history of Gentry to win the Gentry Open on two different occasions, or, at least, he was. He came into the tournament with what most recently has cemented itself as ‘the strongest deck’ in the format: BR Artifacts. The core of the deck uses Oni-Cult Anvil and Sokenzan Smelter to churn through random artifacts producing an ever-increasing amount of fodder for your opponent to deal with. While there is not a single clear powerful thing it is trying to do, the constant pressure and surprising flexibility of the deck have taken the Gentry metagame by storm.
Tom De Wael, quarterfinalist
I would be surprised if Gentry playing people are unfamiliar with this name. Tom has been a cornerstone of the Gentry community for years and has been especially prolific lately in rebooting the efforts in Bredene and hooking up tonnes of people with cards or straight up decks, with another player in the top 8 securing a slot with Tom’s Creation. He chose to play mono green infect for this event, the same deck he won with a year ago. The basic starategy of the deck centers around Fynn, the Fangbearer and hordes of Deathtouch creatures. It probably has the strongest early game strategy in all of Gentry but can struggle heavily against opponents that can push him to mid game and beyond, or its own draws causing the same scenario. The deck relies in great part on the interaction between trample and deathtouch, allowing you to kill a blocker with one damage and trampling through for the rest, which only needs to be 1 thanks to Fynn. That turns every 1/1 into a potential threat with a single Rune of Might.
Laurens Brusselmans, quartfinalist
Laurens came in last minute and decided to pick up one of Tom’s creations for a spin. He ended up with mono blue Mill, a deck that attacks its opponents in a way that most decks are not used to. Tom made a comment that the deck was very much still in an experimental state and probably needs a red Splash to make room for Crush the Weak to improve its game against other decks that have a strong early game.
That is not to take away anything from Laurens as a player. He took an unfinished deck and piloted it into the top 8, which is an impressive feat very much in line with his performance in previous Gentry Opens up to now. IT would not come as a surprise to crown him as a champion for a future edition in which he decides to devote some time to deckbuilding and getting to know the format.
Ben Belmans, quarterfinalist
Ben was one of those people that came into contact to Gentry through the digital medium more than any other player, really taking the online events to heart at some point. It makes him look like a new player to some but he has a surprising amount of experience with Gentry and came in with a deck custom built for the Gentry Open that he had a lot of faith in.
Aron Fonteyne, semifinalist
Aron is not only a Gentry Open Champion, but also one of the people behind Cardwallet, one of the sponsors for the Gentry Open. He came to the event with a RB Reanimator deck that ains to squeeze as much benefit out of Kardur’s Vicious Return and convert that lead into a win, if it does not win straight away, that is… The deck’s greatest nemesis might be Return to Nature, which also happens to be excellent against the other BR deck mentioned before, so this strategy might face some difficulties if we see more of those cards.
Joeri Claes, semifinalist
Joeri is the champion of the Merksem community, a title he has held on and off for quite a while now. He also found the Oni-cult Anvil deck. Where other versions of this deck were heavily influenced by a version Renzo played a few weeks ago, Joeri was isolated in his design process and came up with a slightly different version of the deck.
Dylan Botten, Finalist
Dylan has a pro point as a competitive Magic player and occasionally gets dragged into Gentry By Sander De Quick with such a frequency that it because almost an inside joke to call him an ‘occasional Gentry Player’. With Sander, he tried to find an answer to the RB artifact threat but decided in the end that it was a better idea to join the foe rather than defeating it.
Alan Schuer, Champion
Alan was introduced to Magic through the community that gave life to Gentry and has been an avid player since. He is the champion of one of the earliest Gentry Opens and by winning this edition becomes the second person ever to win two Gentry Opens. He did so with the deck dessigned by Renzo, which must come a little bittersweet to him.
The conclusion? RB artifacts dominated the top 8, with 4 copies making it to the play-offs out of 5 played, making it not only the most played deck, but also the most succesful deck in the event. But is it ‘too’ good or did it take advantage of a metagame and lack of people’s preparation for the event because Gentry is not that commonly played and, well, there is just not that much coverage as there has been before? Looking through sideboards it seems like the deck got a bit of a free pass in this event, with most sideboards only dedicating 2-3 slots to the essential artifact removal. Black decks tend to have 4 Duress available but the window to fire it off is extremely thin and the green decks are not playing the full 4 Return to Nature or comparable cards for now.
Oni-Cult Anvil is a card from the most recent set, which means people did not have a lot of time to discover the card and how good it is, but the same goes for GW Enchantments, an archetype that had only 2 players in the event, both were running unpolished versions and for at least one of them, they received the deck the day itself and got into a positive record and prizes with it. The powerlevel seems to be there for the deck and it is in colors that can briung in a lot from the sideboard to fight back.
The list above is an updated version based on both decks that appeared in the Gentry Open. The main issue the list still has is the stress between your rares and Commune with Spirits not being able to take non-enchantment creatures. I would need to test more to see if dropping Commune is better or keeping it in and selecting rares that can be hit by them. And there is a list of interesting targets: Hallowed Haunting, Paladin Class, Ranger Class, Jugan Defends the Temple, Shigeki, Jugai Visionary, Sigarda’s Summons, Sparring Regimen, The Restauration of Eiganjo, Wedding Announcement. Your choices here will influence how the deck plays and what kind of synergies you want to optimise. I think this is the direction I am going to take the deck for now, but I am really really going to miss the interaction between Runeforge Champion and Jukai Naturalist.
Gentry is alilve and well, the Open rewarded those that took time to find the best decks in the format and looks like there is a clear challenge (beat BR Artifacts) going into Streets of New Capenna. Let me know if you would like another article looking at other archetypes we have currently represented.