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Pro Tour March of the Machine Day One Highlights

May 06, 2023
Corbin Hosler

The path to the Pro Tour has twisted and turned its way through five continents, a dozen Regional Championships, and hundreds of Pro Tour invites to converge in Minneapolis, where 252 players from around the globe have gathered in Minnesota to battle it out at Pro Tour March of the Machine.

With three rounds of March of the Machine Draft and five rounds of Standard on tap for Friday, the Pro Tour picked up right where it left off—with players battling for $500,000 in prizes, qualifications to the next Pro Tour, and invites to Magic World Championship XXIX.

The Standard format was upended with the release of Phyrexia: All Will Be One earlier in the year, shaken in Philadelphia—where Hall of Famer Reid Duke capped his resume with a victory at Pro Tour Phyrexia—and stirred in a Regional Championship circuit that did little to sort things out in the months since. With March of the Machine throwing another set into the Standard Constructed mix, we came to Minnesota with broad strokes of a new Standard, but little idea of how dynamically the games would play out.

It was only when the dust finally settled on Friday that things started to take shape in the form of a sole undefeated player: Jim Davis.

Davis Does It Again

This isn't the first 8-0 start for Davis, as he previously battled to a perfect 12-0 record and the Neon Dynasty Championship Top 8. While he didn't win that one, he's now on the fast path to try again. As the lights turned off on a marathon Day One, the American's first priority was dinner and rest before returning on Saturday: Davis has been here before and has his eyes set on more than another Day Two appearance.

He'll enter Saturday as the favorite to convert that strong start to a Top 8 appearance, but he'll have a stacked field chasing him. 7-1 finishers include Brazil's Pedro Perrini (who fell to Davis in the final round), all-star Karl Sarap from Estonia, Team Handshake's champions (Simon Nielsen and reigning World Champion Nathan Steuer), resurgent champion Javier Dominguez, and more. And that's just the 7-1 cadre.

Draft Experts March On

Hall of Famer Luis Scott-Vargas pretty much summed it up in this tweet. The Multiverse Legends bonus sheet—and the new battle card type—have thrown a wrench into the usual routine developed over three decades of drafting Magic. While there are always rares (and often uncommons) that serve as building blocks for a larger deck, the huge variety of extra cards included in this run offered replayability seldom seen before. Decks included Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn; Yorion, Sky Nomad; Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite; Sheoldred, Whispering One, and dozens of other hits from Magic's past.

Take Phillipe Gareau for example. His deck was the one with the Sheoldred, Whispering One, and his matches were as exciting as his draft, demonstrating that even in a Limited format full of big hits, every cut makes a difference.

Phillipe Gareau

"All of my games were really intense; in one of my rounds, my opponent curved out with some of their best cards, but I drew my second Kitesail for the win!"


With all these powerful legendary creatures available in the Magic Multiverse, it was the humble two-drop Kitesail that carried the day.

There were 29 players who went unbeaten in the first draft, among them Pro Tour champions and Hall of Famers Shota Yasooka, Seth Manfield, Eli Loveman, Alex Hayne, Javier Dominguez, and Luis Scott-Vargas—not bad for his new favorite draft.

But even with his latest 3-0 Draft—a "trophy" in Magic Online parlance—Scott-Vargas is still looking up at Yasooka, who just earned his 29th.

And if you're looking for an example of just how far you can push March of the Machine, look no further than this magnificent 3-0 deck from Simon Nielsen.

"Give me the champ!"

Before players ever shuffle up a deck at the Pro Tour, they're asked a few questions about their deck, teams, goals, motivations, and background—the things you want to know about them as they're facing off. This time, we asked "What Magic player would you most like to play against at the Pro Tour?"

Nonthakorn Kositaporn's response was emblematic and prophetic.

"Reid Duke. He's the Pro Tour Champion."

Lots of players want to play the best. Kositaporn's Round 1 opponent? Actually Reid Duke, of course.

And that's why we play the games: Kositaporn's masterful draft offered an explosive build the Hall of Famer couldn't keep up with. The Round 1 loss was a disappointing opening to Duke's Pro Tour title defense, but it created a moment that might go down in Pro Tour lore all the same.

"It was amazing to play against Reid," explained Kositaporn, whose friends nicknamed him the "Thai-rexian Obliterator" after his victory. "Reid is not just the defending [Pro Tour] champion; he's one of the best players in the world. To play against him was a great experience."

Winning against one of the best must've been nice, too.

Standard's Highs and Lows

The March of the Machine Standard format has a little bit of everything. While black-based shells largely paired with the dominant Fable of the Mirror-Breaker defined the field, diversity came in flavors ranging from Mono-Blue Aggro to Mono-White Control.

As the field has largely worked on answers to the aggressive Green-White Poison decks, other concoctions, including go-wide Soldier decks, rose to fill the void. But Day One belonged to Rakdos, with six of the ten players who finished 7-1 rocking Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, the two cards players were most forced to play around.

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The players who came looking to go over the top of the Pro Tour March of the Machine field supplemented these by leaning on well-known heavy-hitters. Atraxa, Grand Unifier was a popular choice; but the new addition of Chandra, Hope's Beacon provided Breach the Multiverse players an alternate route to take over games entirely.

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Whichever direction they chose, the five rounds of Standard play on Friday was a difficult test for all. Games featured dense turn-by-turn decisions, and matchup considerations made card choices paramount as sideboard plans got a real workout on Day One. See all the Pro Tour March of the Machine decklists for yourself, or skip straight to the most interesting innovations with Frank Karsten's highlight of the eight spiciest decks in the field.

Looking Ahead

Day One is behind us, but the 156 players who qualified for Day Two (by finishing at least 4-4) will return with plenty on the line. From future Pro Tour invitations to cash prizes, the Top 8, and the allure of the Magic World Championship, you can follow all of their stories when the stream goes live at 12 p.m. ET (9 a.m. PT) at!

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