More than 200 players came together last weekend from across Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean to compete in The Gathering Showdown Series for the title of Regional Champion. It was the culminating weekend of the Pioneer season for the region, and produced a Top 8 of talented players piloting the best decks in the format, with the classic Rakdos, Mono-Green, Lotus Field, and Boros decks making the elimination rounds.
On the line was not just the Regional Championship accolades, but the World Championship invite that went with it. With the top two players also qualifying for the Pro Tour, the final rounds were intense and skill-testing, befitting for a big field whittled down to its best. When the dust settled, it was Edgar Rangel toppling Alejandro Pereira in the final match to claim the trophy and the invite.
Rangel's Rakdos MIdrange is the epitome of fair in Pioneer, but that doesn't make it any less difficult to beat. In a format that goes huge with Mono-Green Devotion or hugely fast with Boros Convoke, tried-and-true
But it didn't come easy, at least not at first. Rangel's quarterfinal matchup came against the difficult-to-pin-down Izzet Phoenix deck, but with the power of the Rakdos sideboard he was able to take down the match in three games. It was a formula that played out exactly the same in the semifinals, this time against the opposite end of the spectrum in Azorius Lotus Field.
With the Top 2 finish and the Pro Tour invite secured, the last question in Mexico was who would take down the trophy. Rangel, coming off a Top 16 at the last Regional Championship, left no doubt.
Playing against a sometime-fragile Lotus Field combo, Rangel's discard-heavy build cruised to early leads as he swept the finals to claim the invite.
Top 2 Players Qualified for the Pro Tour
While Rangel was leaning on the power of his sideboard to progress through the top half of the bracket, Alejandro Pereira was just going faster than his opponents could handle. His Lotus Field combo deck got out of the gates fast with a hopeful turn-one
"It's possible to maneuver any matchup," Pereira said of his deck choice. "
That's certainly how it played out in the quarterfinals and semifinals for Pereira, who found himself swimming upstream against a stream of Rakdos Midrange but going faster than they could keep up with. A second straight 2-0 victory over Rakdos in a semifinals match against Nelson Martinez was the final checkmark on the way to the Pro Tour, and though Pereira's Rakdos luck went the other way in the finals, he's off to the Pro Tour.
Diverse Metagame Showcases Pillars of Pioneer
With four Regional Championships happening last weekend, we saw a wide swath of Pioneer. And while some areas were dominated by Rakdos, at the Regional Championship for Mexico/Central America/Caribbean, it was just the opposite.
There was an extremely flat selection of decks at the top, suggesting that players felt confident selecting their preferred way of attacking Pioneer and tweaking from there. Mono-Green Devotion, Rakdos Midrange, and Boros Convoke led the way, but no deck comprised even 9% of the total field.
With more than 200 players in attendance, the tournament was a celebration of Magic in the region, and a tournament full of high-level players making big-time plays. Congratulations again to the champion Edgar Rangel!