Players Tour Online 2 is in the books, and what a look into the world of Standard it was. It gave us a dominant Temur Reclamation deck, a few rogue brews breaking through, a stacked Top 8 and, in the end, a worthy champion in Ryuji Murae.
Here are the moments that stood out from the tournament.
The Temur Reclamation Metagame
Standard has learned to welcome our new flying shark overlords, and for the second Players Tour in a row this weekend, it was an all Temur Reclamation finale. The deck's dominant performance this weekend–it went from 30% of the Day One metagame to nearly 40% on the Day Two despite entering the tournament with a target on its back–was a testament to the power of mana generation in Magic. Nothing comes close to
Perhaps Temur Reclamation's greatest strength is that it can adapt as needed After all, with access to so much mana and a heaping of the format's best card draw and removal, having that much mana means the deck can play and find the particular cards it needs in a given matchup, whether that's creature removal or countermagic. The potent combination made it difficult for competitors to target Temur Reclamation without sacrificing ground to other decks, and as a result there were four Reclamation decks in the Top 8 and both Ryuji Murae and Jean-Emmanuel Depraz took it all the way to the finals.
Here's how the full Top 8 broke down:
- Ryuji Murae (Temur Reclamation)
- Allison Warfield (Temur Reclamation)
- Eduardo Sajgalik (Jund Sacrifice)
- Christoffer Larsen (Jund Sacrifice with Jegantha)
- Eli Loveman (Rakdos Sacrifice)
- Jean-Emmanuel Depraz (Temur Reclamation)
- Kevin Perez (Sultai Ramp)
- Abe Corrigan (Temur Reclamation)
It was a Top 8 stacked with talent. From Last Chance Qualifier winner Kevin Perez to Rivals League members Allison Warfield and Eli Loveman to Magic Pro League player Jean-Emmanuel Depraz, every member had made the Top 8 at a high-level tournament and are mainstays of event circuit.
Abe Corrigan is no newcomer to professional play–he has a handful of notable Top 8s to prove he's among the game's best–but after winning Grand Prix Richmond last year, he now has a Top Finish to go with it.
"This Top 8 means everything to me," he said. "I've worked so hard for the last couple years and improved immeasurably."
That was evident in Corrigan's play, as he navigated his way through countless tight spots and close mirror matches with Temur Reclamation. And while the top of the metagame was well-defined, there were a few surprises further down. Loveman's Rakdos Sacrifice deck was a unique build in its own right, and Hall of Famer Zvi Mowshowitz was one of several who battled late into Day Two with the fan favorite deck Mono-Green Monsters.
All About the Finals
To say the finals of the Players Tour was epic might be an understatement to the gigantic sharks that were flying around.
As Murae and Depraz went deeper and deeper into the Temur Reclamation wilderness, we were treated to a slugfest of sharks. And Explosions. And mostly countermagic. In fact, the players split the first two games on the back who won the counterspell war, but even those those tense were just a preview of the decider.
In the final game, the players went back and forth on resources, until the moment Depraz faced a choice he'll never forget. With Murae having just drawn four cards from
Depraz opted to make the safe choice, playing the odds that Murae had a counterspell that would stop hm from winning. Unfortunately for the French pro, it turns out that spell would have resolved; Murae had no way of countering it. Things got even worse for Depraz when Murae untapped for his turn.
Just like that, Murae had gone the distance. His Top 8 run took the maximum-allowed nine games to win three matches, and in doing was crowned the champion of the Players Tour.
"I think Temur Reclamation was the best deck choice for the metagame, and I feel like the sideboard plan my team came up with is perfect," he said of his win. "It feels great! But this is not only my win—this was a deck made with my team, Kusemono. I'm feeling very lucky and very happy right now!"
Congratulations to Ryuji Murae (@era0405), the champion of #PTArena2!— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) June 15, 2020
"It feels great!" he said. "But this is not only my win - this was a deck made with my team, Kusemono. I'm feeling very lucky and very happy right now!" pic.twitter.com/N0WZObHS3F
Not to be lost is the story of Murae's opponent Depraz, who entered the tournament with the goal of proving that Shark Typhoon belonged in the sideboard. And while a second-place finish with a loss to maindeck Shark Typhoon may not have exactly accomplished that goal, the finish is another in a string of them for Depraz, who made a deep run at the World Championship and finished second at Mythic Championship V in 2019.
And it's especially not a bad result given how this Players Tour started out for the MPL player.
When you are 1-2 in a 15-round tournament, people, you keep playing ;) #PTArena2— J-E Depraz (@JEDepraz) June 15, 2020
Kevin Perez's Top 8 Whirlwind Run
About 72 hours ago, Kevin Perez wasn't even qualified for the Players Tour. Living in Guatemala, traveling to qualifying tournaments is a challenge. As a result Perez didn't expect to spend every weekend leading up to now playing competitive Magic. But he shocked himself with a victory in a Last Chance Qualifier, and things only got better from there as he advanced all the way to the Top 8 this weekend.
A three-time World Magic Cup competitor, Perez nonetheless felt like he hadn't done enough to represent his home community on the international scene. That's all changed.
FIRST TIME GUATEMALA MAKES TOP 8 AT A PT! #PTArena2— Kevin Antonio (@kevxe13) June 14, 2020
Lost quarter finals to @MythicMeebo! Good luck on the rest of the tournament i hope you crush everybody 💪— Kevin Antonio (@kevxe13) June 14, 2020
Today i accomplish something that i thought that i will never make in my life so i retire with a big smile on my face from this tournament! Thanks everyone for the support
Warfield Earns Her First Players Tour Top Finish
She wasn't playing it this weekend, but Rivals League Member Allison Warfield lived up to the "Casualties of Warfield" reputation she earned when she made a deep run at Mythic Championship VII last year. Warfield made a somewhat late audible to Temur Reclamation based on how many Sultai decks she was running into on Arena, and credited Seth Manfield with the Reclamation list she was using. It was an incredible run, and she entertained fans the whole weekend by streaming her Top 8 experience.
"I never thought I would be anywhere I am in Magic today. I started playing competitive two years ago and never expected to qualify for a [Players Tour], let alone make the Top 8," she admitted when reflecting on her accomplishment. "I definitely want to emphasize that you don't need to Top 8 a PT to be considered a good player, but this definitely feels like a huge level-up moment, and will maybe let me believe that I actually am a good Magic player. All that is to say, Top 8'ing a PT, even online, means the world to me."