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Michael Rohrböck Crowned European Champion at LEC Naples

March 15, 2023
Frank Karsten

This past weekend, 471 of the best players from Europe, Middle East, and Africa converged upon Naples, Italy to compete for the title of Regional Champion. Also on the line were two World Championship invites and 36 Pro Tour invitations. The competitors played fifteen rounds of Standard before cutting to a Top 8, where Michael Rohrböck emerged victorious with Grixis Midrange!

Congratulations to Michael Rohrböck!

Grixis was a popular deck choice in Naples, with well over a quarter of the field choosing to play it. Michael Rohrböck, who qualified at an RCQ at the Three for One store in Vienna, Austria, had tested the deck on the MTG Arena ladder and, after facing a lot of Mono-Red Aggro, Azorius Soldiers, and Esper Legends, wanted to be prepared. By shaving slow cards like Reckoner Bankbuster and Abrade to make room for a pair of Graveyard Trespassers and a play set of Cut Down in his main deck, his early-game battlefield presence got much better. He also added Gix’s Command, which he said was his best card of the weekend: “It got me the 9-0 score on the first day, killed a lot of small creatures, and also the biggest."

Yet even after being undefeated overnight, the relatively inexperienced Rohrböck did not have high hopes, and his performance came as a surprise. “It’s amazing,” he said right after he was awarded the trophy. “I didn’t expect anything for today; this is my first Day 2 at a big event!”

In the finals, Rohrböck defeated Mythic Champion Thoralf “Toffel" Severin, playing the breakout deck of the tournament: Esper Legends with main deck Wedding Announcement and Razorlash Transmogrant. Even though Wedding Announcement gets taxed by Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, the tokens protect against Invoke Despair, and these tweaks led to an outstanding win rate. The four teammates who registered this spicy build (Nico Bohny, Thoralf Severin, Arne Huschenbeth, and Lukas Honnay) tore through the tournament with a combined 44-13-3 record, defeating many Grixis Midrange players along the way.

But Rohrböck had come prepared with the right build to hammer on these Esper Legends decks, as he proved throughout the Top 8. In the quarterfinals, he dispatched Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif, who was playing a more traditional version of Esper Legends. In the semifinals, Rohrböck defeated two-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Nico Bohny, one of the driving forces behind this new version of Esper Legends. And in the finals, Rohrböck faced the same deck once more, this time in the hands of Thoralf Severin. The finals were close, going a full three games, but Michael Rohrböck ultimately bested Thoralf Severin as well. It didn’t matter how many Pro Tour Top 8s his opponents had—Rohrböck and his teched-out Grixis build was their kryptonite, and he triumphed above all.

Finalists Michael Rohrböck and Thoralf Severin both earned an invitation to World Championship XXIX, to be held at MagicCon: Las Vegas on September 22-24, 2023. We’re looking forward to seeing you shine there!

While this tournament showcased the importance of tweaking your card choices for the evolving Standard metagame, the distribution of deck archetypes was largely similar to last weekend’s Regional Championships, with few surprises among the metagame percentages. Grixis Midrange was dominant, putting three copies into the Top 8.

As for the players in the Top 8, some huge names from the region stepped up and secured their slots at the next Pro Tour, including Mythic Invitational Champion Andrea Mengucci! Mengucci may have fallen in the semis, where he and Thoralf Severin had to duke it out for a World Championship slot, but his Top 4 finish proved he’s still got it.

Congratulations to the Top 8 players, left-to-right: Wojciech Radosz, André Santos, Andrea Mengucci, Gabriel Nassif, Michael Rohrböck, Marco Vassallo, Thoralf Severin, and Nico Bohny.

The top 36 eligible players in the final standings of the European Championship earned an invitation to Pro Tour March of the Machine, to be held during MagicCon: Minneapolis on May 5-7. Congratulations, and we look forward to seeing you represent your region there! The top 36 decklists will be available here. You can also find the event’s decklists, round-by-round results, and standings on MTG Melee.

All in all, it was a great weekend in Italy. Besides the Regional Championship, the event hall also saw hundreds of players taking part in various side events, and (almost) everyone had a great time testing their mettle on the battlefield, reconnecting with friends, and enjoying authentic pizza.

Players gathered at the Mostra d’Oltremare to do battle across two days of Standard.

Gabriel Nassif, fresh off his Top 8 at Pro Tour Phyrexia, agonizes over a decision in the feature match area.

Commentators Will Hall, Matej Zatlkaj, Filipa Carola, and CaffeineLily called the action on the livestream.

A team of experienced judges helped to run all the events.

Many attendees were already looking forward to LEC Athens in June, and if you want to be a part of a future cycle of Regional Championships, then you can start by finding a qualifier event near you in Europe or any other region!

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