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What We Learned: Players Tour Brussels and Nagoya

February 06, 2020
Adam Styborski

The first Players Tour events of 2020 are in the books—congratulations to returning champion Joel Larsson, at Players Tour Brussels, and to Kenta Harane for notching his first Top Finish at Players Tour Nagoya!

Packed with Pioneer play and setting the stage for Players Tour Phoenix, last weekend was home to big lessons for competitive Magic. Let's run them down.

The MPL and Rivals are Here

With Magic World Championship XXVI looming and both the Players Tour Finals and Mythic Invitational taking place later this year, Players Tour Brussels and Nagoya was the first chance for the MPL and Magic Rivals League to work toward their 2020 Partial Season goals.

Unsurprisingly, many found success.

In Brussels, the MPL was 25% of the Top 8 with Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa running into Piotr Głogowski and facing off in the semifinals. (Głogowski went on to fall to Larsson in the finals.) Over in Nagoya it was a murder's row with Lee Shi Tian and Shota Yasooka making quarterfinal exits while indomitable Ken Yukuhiro did what he does best by marching to the finals with a Pioneer deck nobody was prepared for.

Both Głogowski and Yukuhiro now lead the MPL with 24 Player Points, followed closely by Damo da Rosa at 20 and both Lee and Yasooka at 18 apiece.

Digging down beyond the weekend's Top 8s is where rising Rivals and even more MPL players finished:

  • Grzegorz Kowalski and Thoralf Severin each picked up 15 Player Points from their Round 15 finishes.
  • Autumn Burchett and Martin Juza each netted 12 Player Points.
  • Andrea Mengucci and Ondrej Strasky, plus No Ah Ma, Alexander Hayne, and Louis-Samuel Deltour all notched 8 Player Points between Nagoya and Brussels.
  • Raphael Levy, Kai Budde, and Miguel da Cruz Simões earned 5 Player Points.
  • Christian Hauck scrapped to pick up the fewest over the weekend at 3 Player Points.

(Note: The complete MPL and Rivals leaderboard updates will follow Players Tour Phoenix this weekend.)

Between both events it leaves a massive swath of MPL and Rivals players poised to appear for the showdown in Phoenix—from Reid Duke, Seth Manfield, Brad Nelseon, Brian Braun-Duin, Ben Stark and Eric Froehlich to Ally Warfield, Luis Scott-Vargas, Sebastian Pozzo, Matthew Sperling and many more it appears Players Tour Phoenix will be packed with the best in the game.

More Than the Truth of Truth

It was a simple recipe for Pioneer's biggest weekend yet:

  • Take one of Magic's best players, a Magic World Championship XXVI competitor and MPL member
  • Add a streaming audience excited to see Players Tour testing
  • Prepare and push a new combo deck through the crucible of format testing
  • And put a splash of a flair for fun on top of it all

What we got in both Brussels and Nagoya was the Piotr Głogowski-popularized Dimir Inverter deck, and it was everywhere.

The breakout deck of the format was a popular—and successful—choice among Pioneer players on the weekend. Across the field, in Brussels it went from 12% to 15% between Day One and Day Two, and in Nagoya it rose from 19% to 29%.

As it goes, swapping out your library with Inverter of Truth then landing Thassa's Oracle or activating Jace, Wielder of Secrets is a pretty robust way to win.

While the Brussels Top 8 featured just one deck it made it to the finals—in the eponymous hands of Głogowski, of course—and Nagoya's Top 8 was stacked with five copies, albeit all were knocked out by the duo of Yukuhiro and Harane playing different decks.

Flying under the radar a bit were Spirit-based decks. Between White-Blue and Bant versions, Spirits were 7% of both Players Tour fields but put an impressive three out of 16 Top 8 slots up.

Other expected decks appeared as well, including Mono-Black Aggro, Mono-Red Aggro, Lotus Breach, Sultai Delirium, and Niv to Light, but the spotlight-stealing deck was absolutely Ken Yukuhiro with Sram Auras out of nowhere.

Everything costs two or less. Nothing has hexproof. It brings in Gideon of the Trials from the sideboard to create an emblem and out-tech the cutting edge Dimir Inverter tech. It features 19 cards from Theros Beyond Death alone. It factually defeats opponents by playing Gryff's Boon.

Yukuhiro's prowess at attacking formats in innovative and highly effective ways nearly earned him another trophy, but it stole the hearts of Pioneer fans around the world.

Follow #PTPhoenix

Players Tour Phoenix is next, and everyone is looking to see what happens to Pioneer next. If you're excited to watch it happen live, the broadcast team has you covered.

Catch the livestream from Phoenix starting at 9 AM MST (8 AM PST / 11 AM EST / 4 PM UTC) on, with round-by-round results, standings, metagame breakdowns, decklists and more available at the Players Tour Phoenix hub on

Give Me More

Need to catch up on everything else from Players Tour Brussels and Players Tour Nagoya? Here are a few menus of things to digest.

Top 8 Brackets:

Metagame Breakdowns:

Top 8 Breakdown:

Top-Performing Pioneer Decklists:

All Pioneer Decklists (Sideboards Obfuscated):

Highlights from the Tournament

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