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Marco del Pivo Victorious at European Championship

January 29, 2024
Frank Karsten

This past weekend, 929 of the best Magic players from across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa converged upon Ghent, Belgium for the first-ever Regional Championship in the Modern format. On the line were $100,000 in prizes, two World Championship invites, and 24 Pro Tour invitations. After fifteen rounds of Modern competition followed by a Top 8 playoff, Marco del Pivo emerged victorious with Temur Rhinos!

Congratulations to Marco del Pivo, the new European champion!

Six months ago, Marco del Pivo made Top 8 at Pro Tour The Lord of the Rings with Temur Rhinos, cementing him as one of the best Magic players in Europe. Based on that performance, the 33-year-old player from Pesaro, Italy is already invited to the next Pro Tours, but he had bigger dreams this past weekend. "I came here, honestly, with one goal: Taking the shot for the World Championship", he said. "I just want to play my best game."

It couldn't have worked out better. He not only succeeded to accomplish his goal but also showed that he is the master of Temur Rhinos. "The core of the deck is the same," del Pivo explained, referring back to his Top 8 at the Modern Pro Tour. But The Lost Caverns of Ixalan had a big influence on the deck: "With Tishana's Tidebinder, it improved a lot, especially with Flame of Anor."

Although del Pivo's list was largely stock, he made a few tweaks to improve against the metagame. For example, his 75 features a singleton Dismember to deal with Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, as well as two Murktide Regent and an Ertai's Scorn for the mirror match. "Every card choice that I did mattered in the tournament," he said. But above all, del Pivo simply loves the deck's play style and how it can change between control or tempo play during the game. His victory confirms that the key in Modern is an expert-level understanding of your deck and its role in every matchup.

Finalist Borja Yañez Carvajal used Yawgmoth, Thran Physician to earn a World Championship invite.

In the finals, Marco del Pivo defeated Borja Yañez Carvajal, a 25-year old player from Madrid, Spain. He had qualified via RCQ and immediately hit success at his first premier event. As one of the three Golgari Yawgmoth players in the Top 8, he made the performance of the creature combo deck stand out. While others had jumped onto Golgari Yawgmoth after the Fury ban because they felt it was well-positioned, Yañez Carvajal leveraged his experience: "It was the deck I used to play since I started playing!"

Marco del Pivo outmaneuvered Borja Yañez Carvajal in the finals of the European Championship, organized by Legacy Events.

Both finalists earned an invitation to Magic World Championship 30. However, one final match remained to decide who would walk away with the trophy, title, and first-place prize of $16,000. In Game 1, Yañez Carvajal had a slow start, and del Pivo unleashed an overpowering horde of 4/4 Rhinos. In Game 2, Yañez Carvajal drew several sideboard cards, but it was not enough. Chalice of the Void for X=0 was destroyed by Brotherhood's End, and when Yañez Carvajal tried to exile all Rhino tokens with Legion's End, del Pivo saw a brilliant way out: He used Flame of Anor to deal 5 damage to the Rhino that was targeted, fizzling Legion's End. By burning his own creature, Legion's End no longer had a legal target, leaving the other Rhino to crash in for lethal.

Top 24 Players Qualified for the Pro Tour

Top 8, left-to-right: Marco del Pivo, Etienne Eggenschwiler, Nils Gutiérrez von Porat, Rodrigo Togores, Daniel Toledo, Toni Martos, Borja Yañez Carvajal, and Steven Minelli.

While the Top 8 competitors played for the big prizes, the Top 24 eligible players in the final standings earned an invitation to Pro Tour Thunder Junction, which will take place in Seattle on April 26-28, 2024. Since Marco del Pivo was already qualified for that Pro Tour, his slot passes down. We look forward to seeing all qualified players in Seattle!

The Top 8 decklists featured a total of five players from Spain. In particular, Toni Martos and Nils Gutiérrez von Porat cemented their status as Regional Championship end bosses, as both of them had also made the Top 8 at the European Championship in Athens last year. Their Mono-Green Tron and Izzet Breach decks were among the more unique choices at the top tables. You can find the event's Top 24 decklists here.

A Memorable Event with a Diverse Metagame

The metagame at the European Championship was largely in line with expectations before the event. While Rakdos Grief did not put up great results this past weekend in Belgium, the popular Temur Rhinos and Golgari Yawgmoth decks performed well. It's likely that Crashing Footfalls and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician will herald the prime decks to defeat for the rest of cycle of Modern Regional Championships.

All in all, it was a terrific event full of hard-fought matches and high-level competition. While the European Championship again put on display the talent and skill of players from the region, the venue also featured side events with sweet prizes, artists, vendors, and more. We look forward to the next edition, held at LEC Naples on May 24–26, 2024!

The Flanders Expo in Ghent played host to the European Championship, organized by Legacy Events.

929 players gathered to do battle in possibly the largest invite-only Modern tournament ever.

Orcish Bowmasters was the most-played card in Pioneer.

All rounds were streamed live on the LegacyEuropeanTour Twitch channel, using two feature match tables.

Andrea Mengucci congratulated his friend Marco del Pivo right after the finals.

Be part of the next cycle of Regional Championships by joining a qualifying event near you! You can find events via the Store & Event Locator or your regional organizer's website.

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