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Players Tour Online 2 Day One Highlights

June 14, 2020
Corbin Hosler

There were 242 players who competed in Players Tour Online 2, and while most of them came ready to send some sharks to the sky via Shark Typhoon, others came with decks from across the spectrum of Magic strategy, from big-mana Wilderness Reclamation ramp to hyper-aggressive mono-red builds.

In the end, just one player went undefeated. Eduardo Sajgalik brought a tweaked version of the newly resurgent Jund Sacrifice deck, and threw cats into ovens until he had vanquished every last opponent. He finished a perfect 9-0, and will pace the field when 119 players return for Sunday competition.

Just below Sajgalik lurked a number of skilled players in close pursuit. Ryuji Murae finished at 8-1, as did Guatemalan native Kevin Perez, whose underdog run is being closely followed by his local community.

Temur Reclamation vs. the World

The full Players Tour Online 2 Day One metagame tells the story, but the short version is that Temur Reclamation with its army of Shark Typhoon Sharks and giant Wilderness Reclamation-fueled Expansion // Explosions stands atop the Standard pecking order. It was about 40% of the field at Players Tour Online 1, and 30% in the second event of the weekend.

It also lined up with expectations heading into the event. That meant that players not playing Reclamation had spent the last week perfecting their plan to beat the new top deck, and this weekend was the first real test of how the matchups would play at a high-level event.

Perhaps the best answer to that question may come from those at the top of the standings. Of the 242 players who entered the event, 119 advanced to Day Two. Of those 119, just 22 finished with records of 7-2 or better. Here's how those decks broke down:

  • 9 Temur Reclamation: 40.91%
  • 4 Jund Sacrifice: 18.18%
  • 4 Sultai Ramp: 18.18%
  • 3 Bant Ramp: 13.64%
  • 1 Mardu Cycling: 4.55%
  • 1 Mono-Red Aggro: 4.55%

It's a small sample size, but there's little reason to suggest anything groundbreaking changed in the Standard metagame today. But while the best decks performed largely to expectations, there were plenty of decklist gems to find, starting with the undefeated Sajgalik.

Day One Undefeated Player Eduardo Sajgalik

The Canadian player brought a unique twist to his Jund Sacrifice deck. While the deck has traditionally eschewed any kind of companion, he instead included Jegantha, the Wellspring. The only problem with that? His maindeck featured three Bolas's Citadel, which objectively don't work with Jegantha's companion clause.

"The initial plan with Jegantha is for creature matchups, where Citadel usually comes out since they beat you down," he explained. "Jegantha being a 5/5 is quite relevant, since a lot of the green decks have 4/4s and it just matches up well on stats. But I made the mistake of having Jegantha and Murderous Rider both in the sideboard, and you usually want them in the same matchups, so that's quite the non-bo."

Bolas's Citadel

"I like that the Jund deck is so adaptive," Sajgalik said. "Cards are cheap and attack on different angles, so being adaptive is extremely important to success. I believe Temur Reclamation is the better deck, but I'm the most comfortable playing Jund, and board-position, aggro-combo decks are more my wheelhouse. I think having access to Bolas's Citadel is important; it unlocks an alternative gameplan that gives you a chance to win games on its own that no other card does."

Ken Yukuhiro Doing "Ken Things"

At least that's how commentator Marshall Sutcliffe described it, as once again Yukuhiro attacked the established metagame with an angle not otherwise seen in professional play.

That innovation? Mardu Cycling with Zirda, the Dawnwaker as its companion. While five players brought Cycling decks, Yukuhiro was the only one to pick up seven wins, and he did it in thrilling fashion.

"I thought that everyone would take measures against Temur and Jund," he explained. "I thought it would be a weak field for creatures, so I chose this deck that can attack in multiple directions with haste and firepower."

The haste he's referring to is Footfall Crater, an innocuous Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths uncommon that almost always goes directly from the hand to the graveyard. But in a deck featuring the threatening Fiend Artisan, the enchantment takes on the role of something that looks a little like a combo piece, and the payoff is a huge swing that either ends the game or puts opponents in range of Zenith Flare.

The strategy paid off for the Magic Pro League player, and he wasn't the only MPL member advancing to Day Two with their own spin on Standard.

Depraz Flies Solo

No (maindeck) Sharks needed for the French MPL competitor Jean-Emmanuel Depraz, a bold take he wasn't afraid to embrace.

"It all started in the Arena Open," Depraz explained. "I was playing Shark Typhoon in the maindeck of Juskai Lukka the same as everyone else, but I noticed there were games I tended to be more tempo-oriented and didn't really have time to use Shark Typhoon."

"When I picked up Temur Reclamation in the new format, I immediately thought Shark Typhoon would solve the deck's historical problem with Teferi, Time Raveler. But it didn't work as well as expected. If you cycle it proactively, you still need to counter Teferi or they can bounce the Shark, and if you hold onto it you need seven mana to be able to kill Teferi in one swing."

Depraz may prefer his sharks in the sideboard, but wherever the Shark Typhoon comes from, Marshall Sutcliffe and Reid Duke are fans.

Mono-Green Monsters Stomp on Standard

At least, monsters stomp when it's Magic Hall of Fame member Zvi Mowshowitz piloting it. The data overall was mixed on Mono-Green Monsters, undoubtedly a fan favorite and a brew that saw both Mowshowitz and fellow Hall of Fame member Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz pick it up this weekend. Half of the eight players who brought the deck made Day Two with Cedric Phillips leading the way at 6-3, a solid showing for an archetype just outside the limelight.

But win or lose, Mono-Green Monsters treated us to some classic Magic gameplay and some incredible moments in just one afternoon.

"Mono-Green has an excellent matchup against Temur Reclamation, which I expected to both do well and be the most popular deck," Mowshowitz explained. "It's excellent right now. The majority of the field isn't prepared for you, and we have a solid plan to go over other aggro decks that are going under Reclamation."

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