As we entered the second weekend of Players Tour Online events, we thought that it might be a repeat of last weekend where Temur Reclamation dominated and won both events. And while the metagame is still filled with flying sharks, there was plenty of to be excited about after the first day of competition in Players Tour Online 4.
Here are the stories.
The Metagame Evolves
After a dominant showing by the
It will of course take the rest of the weekend to find that answer, but early indications are that the tales of Temur Reclamation's invincibility may have been overblown. Temur Reclamation started the tournament with 26% of the Day One Metagame, but only two of the twelve players who started the tournament 7-1 or better were playing the deck.
The biggest gainer was Bant Ramp, which put together a positive win rate against Temur Reclamation decks last week and comprised much more of the Day One. It was, in a surprise, the most-played archetype in Players Tour Online 3 despite falling well short of Temur Reclamation in Players Tour Online 4. Here's how the entire field broke down.
But the biggest success stories came from further down the field. And it was the completely unexpected Orzhov Yorion deck that took Hall of Famer William "Huey" Jensen to a Day Two finish. The deck marks the return of
We traced down the origin of the deck, and it's quite a story. Jensen picked up the deck from Brad Nelson, Seth Manfield, Ben Stark and Eric Froehlich, who had decided he wasn't interested in playing Temur Reclamation this weekend even if it was the best deck.
"I'm someone who always looks for something different and will scour every part of the Internet for ideas," he explained.
He found that inspiration with a deck from a Magic Online league, and took it from there. He tweaked the deck and combined it with his own ideas. He began working on the deck with Nelson, and they brought in Manfield and Stark as the clock ticked down to the decklist submission deadline. Did they have something special?
"I don't take ladder testing to mean a lot, but some of the results were staggering," Froehlich said. "With a decent sample size, we were approaching 100% win rates against Bant Ramp, Mardu Knights and Rakdos Sacrifice, which are three of the top decks in the metagame. We were beating Sultai Ramp handily and winning against Jund Sacrifice. The Temur Reclamation matchup we were solidly winning, posting a win rate over 70% in the sample I had, but it didn't feel as good as the results. People were unprepared for what I was doing and likely making a lot of play and sideboarding mistakes. After some targeted testing against members of the group, it felt close enough to even, so it seemed like this was still the right choice for this weekend."
The choice paid off.
Was fun to get to live a day as @crokeyz with a sweet new deck everyone liked watching. My day was pretty brutal, but managed to day 2 #PTArena3 at 5-4.— eric froehlich #BlackLivesMatter (@efropoker) June 20, 2020
Seth is pacing the field at 8-1 and Ben is in t8 contention at 6-3.
Deck is a ton of fun and really damn good. BOL in MIQs!
That's already a great Players Tour story, but it turns out there's one more layer to peel back.
deck was built by worlds #1 ravenous rat fan @jmmtgo btw. :P— Kai Budde (@kaibudde) June 20, 2020
That would be Jan-Moritz Merkel, the winner of Pro Tour Kobe in 2006. Magic history has a way of always finding ways to be relevant.
Venerated Loxodon is Back
But Orzhov Yorion wasn't the only new deck to break out. Or, in the case of Mono-White Aggro that took Jonathan Sukenik to a 6-3 finish, the return of a deck not seen since rotation removed
"My testing partner Robert Lee and I came to the point where we couldn't find anything that consistently beat Temur Reclamation and Bant Ramp," Kvartek explained. "As a joke because we were so bored of grinding the Bant Ramp vs. Temur Reclamation matchup, we made this Mono-White Aggro deck with the thought that dodging all the maindeck
"Brutally fast aggression that is difficult to answer was what I found to be one of the best ways to combat the two best decks, and I think that Mono-White Aggro accomplishes that nicely."
Narrowly lost the last round to finish 4-5. Regardless I'm really happy to see @Watchwolf92 get into day 2 with the deck! I also had a great time hanging out with @raychaelsarah while playing. We had a lot of fun freaking out together when I drew exactly what I needed to win😁— Chris Kvartek (@Kavartech) June 21, 2020
Crowded Field at the Top
With more than 300 players competing and many of the best players in the world doing battle, it was always going to be tough to even advance to Sunday competition, much less make the leaderboard after nine rounds of play. But with Day One in the books, seven players finished at 8-1.
Seven players led Day 1 of #PTArena4 at 8-1!— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) June 21, 2020
- (1st overall; pictured) Thomas Hendriks (Bant Flash)
- Vincent Pinet (Mono-R Aggro)
- Sergio Preto (Bant Ramp)
- Maxime Launay (Mardu Knights)
- Tomasz Sodomirski (Temur Rec)
- Gabriel Nassif (UW Control)
- Akira Asahara (Temur Rec) pic.twitter.com/NMKzE51tHO
Thomas Hendriks led the way, starting off the tournament a perfect 8-0 before falling to Magic Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif in the final round. Hendriks did so with a quirky build of his own, a Bant Flash deck that dipped into white for access to the powerful
Joining those two are top were Vincent Pinet, Sergio Preto, Maxime Launay, Tomasz Sodomirski and Akira Asahara. The decks broke down like so:
- Temur Reclamation (two copies)
- Bant Flash
- Mono-Red Aggro
- Bant Ramp
- Mardu Knights
- Azorius Control
That means things are wide open when 151 players return to battle it out on Sunday for their shot at the Top 8.
Clip of the Day
Ashley Muñoz Preyeses, or Ashlizzlle as she's known on Twitch, is a dedicated Rakdos Sacrifice player. When she qualified for the Players Tour and her beloved deck was in a competitive position, it was the obvious choice. And it paid off in some thrilling moments like this.
And those moments turned into a Day 2 qualification and a possible Top 8 berth still on the line.
R9: Mardu Knights! Was happy to find a really good matchup and get a clean 2-0 into a total score of 6-3! Top 8 still possible? Overall happy with my performance, besides my mono green matchup :/— Ashley of Forgotten Gods (@F2K_Ashlizzlle) June 20, 2020
Here's to doing even better tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/qctzTtAKBT