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Players Tour Online 1 Day Two Highlights

June 14, 2020
Tobi Henke

195 competitors had been in the running originally. 96 of them returned for their shot at glory on Day 2. These 96 created more memorable moments, increased our understanding of the current Standard format, and left their mark in the history books. Here are the top stories from the final six rounds of Swiss and the Top 8 playoffs.

Reclamation Gone Wild

A metagame share of 40.5% among all competitors. 45.8% among Day 2 players. 58.3% of the Top 24 — that is, everyone who finished with a record of 10-5 or better. 75% of the Top 8. 100% of the finals. Numbers such as these don't lie. Temur Reclamation wasn't just the most popular deck. It also was shockingly successful despite the huge target on its back.

Notably, one of the early stories of the weekend suggested that the best way to beat Temur Reclamation might be to run a version of Temur Reclamation geared toward the mirror. Players who specifically mentioned taking measures to that end included Elias Watsfeldt, Cho Jeong Woo, Ivan Floch, Martin Jůza, and Joel Larsson. At the end of the tournament, one could find them in first, seventh, eleventh, fourteenth, and sixteenth place. Only a snap shot of dubious sample size, but the initial impression definitely didn't differ from the evidence emerging later on. Cho Jeong Woo went to particular great lengths to gain an advantage in the battle against other Reclamation players; he added white to his deck mainly to cast Teferi, Time Raveler.

Against the Tide

Among six Reclamation pilots, the Top 8 featured two players on Bant Ramp. While hardly conclusive, this indicated that at least one David might be up to the challenge of beating Goliath. While others would dread such a line-up, semifinalist Louis-Samuel Deltour was happy that he got to face Reclamation thirteen times over the course of the tournament. "It's the matchup I tested the most and aimed to beat, so that was pretty cool. I enjoy playing this matchup a lot," he said. Of course, in the end, he lost the thirteenth encounter, and he admitted that victory was by no means ensured. "It's very intricate and requires a lot of game knowledge and vision."

Brothers in Arms

Players Tour Online 1 also had its heartwarming human-interest story. Even the official, if semi-retired PT historian Brian David-Marshall could not recall with confidence any previous instance of two brothers reaching the playoffs of the same top-level event. So it might as well have been a first when the Top 8 was announced with Simon and Dominik Görtzen.

Dominik and Simon Görtzen

A Pro Tour champion in 2010, big brother Simon had already been a household name in Magic when Dominik appeared on the scene. The little brother first became known as Simon's sidekick in a popular web series of Draft videos titled "Görtzen & Görtzen" that ran on German website PlanetMTG between 2011 and 2014. Soon, however, Dominik started to collect some relevant results for himself. He qualified for a number of Pro Tours and reached the semifinals at Grand Prix Ghent in 2019. By that time, Simon had changed roles — from player to professional commentator — which meant the two never even got to compete in the same PT-level event before.

Since then, Simon had returned to competitive Magic in a big way, earning a slot for the exclusive 68-player Mythic Championship III and later a spot in the Rivals League. This weekend, however, it was Dominik who outperformed his older brother, making it as far as the finals. He was also first to claim a berth in the playoffs as his 11-3-1 record left him in third place after the Swiss rounds. Meanwhile, Simon, on 11-4, had to hope that his tiebreakers would hold. Or rather, as a mathematician, he could calculate the outcome well in advance ot the actual announcement. When I asked Simon whether the math checked out, he replied within seconds with a happy "Jawohl!"

"I had wanted to play a PT with my brother Dominik for years. This wasn't the in-person PT we had hoped for, but a double Top 8 is more than we could have dreamed of. Super proud of Dominik and the work of our team!" said Simon. Dominik already looked forward to future collaboration, "This Top 8 means I get to play the Players Tour Finals together with Simon."

Watsfeldt Victorious via Wolves

Elias Watsfeldt put on a masterclass throughout a number of feature matches, stringing together a series of wins from all kinds of unlikely positions. In the finals, it first seemed as if his run might come to an end as Dominik Görtzen took game one. However, Nightpack Ambusher came through for Watsfeldt in the second.

In the decider, Görtzen developed a strong position early on: He managed to stick a quick Wilderness Reclamation and drew lots of theoretically highly relevant counterspells. But again, it was Nightpack Ambusher that changed the parameters. When Watsfeldt resolved the Wolf at one of the rare opportunities Görtzen had to give him, expert analyst Huey Jensen quickly realized, "This is actually pretty big trouble for Dominik."

The Wolves, as is their wont, kept coming. Soon it was all over, and Elias Watsfeldt had become champion of Players Tour Online 1.

When asked about the genesis of his winning deck, Watsfeldt mentioned testing with fellow Swede and fellow Players Tour champion Joel Larsson. "We arrived at similar conclusions about the power of Temur." But, unlike Larsson, Watsfeldt had gone all the way to tune his list for the battle against other Reclamation players, going down to zero copies of Scorching Dragonfire main. "Aether Gust was a way of adding additional cards for the mirror, without losing answers to Mayhem Devil and suchlike."

Elias Watsfeldt, champion of Players Tour Online 1

Always calm and collected, Watsfeldt didn't want to make too big a deal out of his new title. "I believe this is the first time I win a larger tournament, so that is nice," he said, and added that becoming the 2017–18 Draft Master was "still number one" of his proudest achievements. Of course, now the community would no longer consider him a master of Draft but rather a master of Magic, period.

Watsfeldt was also reluctant to state any goals for the future of his Magic career. "Perhaps winning a tournament was it."

Until the next tournament, right?

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