Move over, Sheoldred.
That's the resounding message coming out of the Regional Championship circuit this week.
Just ask Philippe Gareau, who forgoed the Sheoldred shells entirely. In fact, he eschewed a secondary color entirely as he took Mono-White Midrange to the title at the F2F Tour Championship in Ottawa that served as the second Canadian Regional Championship of the cycle. Long story short—I'll just say that none of us on the coverage squad had a mono-white deck featuring the full playset of
Philippe Gareau overcame a field of 266 players to become the Canadian Regional Champion.— Face to Face Games (@FaceToFaceGames) March 27, 2023
He will be representing Canada at Pro Tour Minneapolis and the World Championships.
Congratulations. 🇨🇦💪 #F2FYOW @PlayMTG pic.twitter.com/nh4PLW1Lwz
And we certainly didn't have it winning two in the same weekend. But when Jiang Yiren won a Regional Championship title at the China Open with the same deck, that's exactly where we found ourselves. Another format, another curveball—we're two Regional Championship cycles in and it's been a rollercoaster in these six-week sprints leading up to Pro Tour March of the Machine. Which, speaking of, is now just 35 days away at MagicCon: Minneapolis.
Congratulations to Yiren Jiang, the winner of the MTG China Open, China's Regional Championship! See you at the Pro Tour! pic.twitter.com/OZMew8cTDb— PlayMTG (@PlayMTG) March 27, 2023
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I've been writing The Week That Was for something like nine months now and it's easy to get too excited about the tournaments and metagame evolutions and high-impact sideboard choices and all that nitty-gritty stuff that comes along with the week-in-and-week-out nature of the dozen Regional Championships that feed the Pro Tour three times a year—plus the World Championship late in 2023. The truth is there's a lot going on with competitive Magic these days. The Pro Tour circuit is back with a bang in 2023 and crisscrossing the globe to follow along with the latest results has been a heck of a lot of fun—it feels very much like the years when I was covering a Grand Prix every other weekend for the entire year and along with the many late nights came the opportunity to watch a Standard or Modern format evolve right in front of my eyes. I'll never forget the GP where I spotted Skred Red playing for the Top 8 as I was perusing the top tables (in the days before digital decklists, spotting spicy decks was a well-honed skill). I read The Week That Was myself when I began to get into competitive Magic, and I was enthralled by seeing the latest piece of "technology" that gave the week's big winner their big advantage.
This week that technology belonged chiefly to Gareau, and the dominant weekend for a Mono-White Midrange deck that oftentimes feels a lot more like Control qualifies as a legit shocker given where the Standard format stood just a month ago and where Mono-White fits into that.
With that in mind, let's go back in time to an age when Nirvana was new and so was
Tom Chanpheng was the first to pair the power of
Odd way for a deck to come to prominence, but we live in a world where
Let's turn to a more recent example. You might remember the famous Settle Wreckage play from Hall of Famer Luis Scott-Vargas, commonly cited as one of the ultimate outplays in modern Magic. You might not remember exactly what event it was, but you've probably picked up rumors of the play through LGS osmosis. But the pivotal moment came in Game 3 of the semifinals at Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica with Scott-Vargas staring down a massive attack from former Player of the Year and Pro Tour Theros winner Jérémy Dezani, who was looking to add a second PT title to his resume. The matchup was a math teacher's dream, with the mirrored white-red aggressive decks trading huge attack steps—but none quite like the one that has gone down in Pro Tour lore.
Again, two aggressive, base-white decks (while they dipped their toes into red for
Which brings up back to the present day, and another Mono-White deck winning a big tournament.
30 years in, Magic stays great because it stays Magic. And you know what to expect from Mono-White even after all these years… wait a minute, where are all the
"It's 2023, and white is the color of drawing cards," Gareau explained. "It used to be blue, five years ago it was green, now the card advantage is in white and I was able to draw more cards than anyone else over the weekend."
In retrospect, maybe that Luid Scott-Vargas
That's what Gareau and Jiang's decks had in common with the similar decks you've seen at Friday Night Magic. But here's what I find really cool about competitive Magic: when I talked to Gareau about his deck, it was what his deck didn't have that he wanted to focus, and where he directed the credit for his victory.
"Everyone has been playing
"Importantly, that allowed me to play the full four
It was the kind of meta call that has to be made week-to-week in a changing format, and it played perfectly to the strengths of the GP Montreal 2016 Top 8 competitor. Gareau's favorite format is Cube, and he spent the last few years working on dozens of different Magic Cube designs while tabletop play was unavailable. His one self-imposed stipulation? No card could be shared across two Cubes. The experience helped him to experience more cards in very unique environments, a practice that probably comes in pretty handy when you're reimagining what a tournament-winning Mono-White Magic deck looks like.
Greatest Magic accomplishment to date!— Philippe Gareau (@TirelessLoamer) March 27, 2023
Very happy with my Quebec testing team
Thanks to @PascalMaynard and @TheMythicStore for hosting testing sessions
Thanks to Alexandru Tibirna for being my testing partner and crafting a good maindeck https://t.co/CC1kcAk3u2
Minneapolis will be Gareau's fourth Pro Tour, and the World Championship awaits beyond that. It's more than Gareau ever expected to find on his path to the Pro Tour, but the noted deckbuilder is back at it and back at the top of his game—and he's got a reassuring message for fans of Mono-White.
"I actually won some of my most important sideboard matches by going on the aggressive plan with
The Regional Championship cycle that leads to Pro Tour March of the Machine has surprised week to week, and now we'll see if it has any surprises left in store for the last handful of Regional Championships. Play begins this weekend with a Regional Championship in South America, followed by the United States' Dreamhack Regional Championship in San Diego on April 8.
That will set the stage for the final sprint to Minnesota, where teams will convene for a week or two ahead of the event to cram as much March of the Machine Limited as possible!