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Pro Tour 25th Anniversary: Everything You Need to Know


Pro Tour 25th Anniversary is in the books, and it was one of the most entertaining Pro Tours we've had in a long time, thanks to the team format featuring sweet decks from Standard, Modern, and Legacy. Normally, we wrap up a Pro Tour with a by-the-numbers article breaking down which decks performed best at the tournament, but this is impossible for a team event (since records are recorded by team wins and losses, rather than as wins and losses by individual players).

However, we do have some good news: Wizards published every single deck to show up at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, so rather than delving deep into the numbers, today we're going to look at some of the most interesting decks and cards to show up in each format; then, we'll wrap things up with a list of the most played cards (in each format) at the event! If you want to jump straight to the decklists (there's almost 500 decks!), be sure to check out the Pro Tour 25th Anniversary tournament page.

Standard

One of the big conversations heading into the Pro Tour was about the Core Set 2019 buy-a-box promo Nexus of Fate, with people discussing the extra-turn spell in both control and ramp strategies, which left people wondering if the card would show up on Magic's biggest stage. The answer is yes, but not in the way most people expected. Six players shows up with Nexus of Fate in Standard, and each was playing a version of Turbo Fog, looking to slow down the game with Haze of Pollen and Root Snare and draw a bunch of cards with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, Search for Azcanta, and Karn, Scion of Urza, before eventually taking an essentially infinite number of turns with Nexus of Fate by repeatedly finding it with all of the card draw after it shuffles back into the library. Then, it wins somehow, either by making a bunch of tokens with Karn, Scion of Urza or by ultimating Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and exiling away all of the opponent's permanents (there was even a flawless victory on camera)!

As a result, Nexus of Fate itself had an interesting week. First, Wizards decided to release a bunch more copies on Magic Online by upping the rate that it appeared in Treasure Chests, after the mythic hit $70 in digital form. Then, as a result of the Pro Tour results, the promo more than doubled in paper, from about $20 a few days ago to over $40 today. This is especially problematic because unlike normal mythics, people can't just open more packs of Core Set 2019 to find copies to drive down the price. It will be interesting to see what happens in coming weeks—if the Turbo Fog deck proves to be real, then prices of Nexus of Fate could get even more absurd. 

While the team format of Pro Tour 25th Anniversary makes it hard to know exactly how well any individual deck performed at the event, some of the players on the deck reported having great records (winning around 80% of their matches). This is unsurprising, at least in some ways, since around 60% of the Standard metagame was either red- or green-based aggro, and neither of those decks has any realistic chance of beating a Fog every turn, nor can they stop the infinite-turn combo with something like a Negate or Disallow. If your local metagame is overflowing with red and green aggro decks, keep Turbo Fog in mind—it might be the perfect choice. On the other hand, things become tougher if everyone is playing control decks (although we saw some sideboard Carnage Tyrants serving as a trump card against control.

Steel Leaf Champion and Goblin Chainwhirler

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While Turbo Fog was the breakout deck at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, it's also true that RB Aggro and Mono-Green Stompy are still at the top of the Standard metagame. RB Aggro made up a massive 40% of the metagame at the tournament, and this doesn't include a couple of other Goblin Chainwhirler decks with a smattering of players (like Grixis and Mono-Red Aggro). Meanwhile, Mono-Green Stompy made up nearly 20% of the metagame, and we certainly saw some massive green creatures like Steel Leaf Champion and Ghalta, Primal Hunger smashing face over the weekend. 

The big question moving forward is what the future holds for these decks. Turbo Fog appears to be a natural predator, but the metagame could adjust, with more control decks to fight against Turbo Fog (assuming it becomes popular), which would then allow the aggro decks to remain near the top of the format by sneaking in under the control decks. Over the mid-term, Mono-Green Stompy is in a much better position than RB Aggro, simply because RB Aggro loses most of its best cards at rotation while Mono-Green Stompy doesn't lose much of anything. Regardless, for the short term, you should still expect a heavy dose of RB Aggro and Mono-Green Stompy at your local events and on Magic Online.

Beyond Turbo Fog, the other breakout deck Standard deck at the Pro Tour was Aetherflux Storm. While the deck has been floating around on the fringes of the format for a while now, the printing of Sai, Master Thopterist gave the archetype a huge boost in power. Rather than simply relying on the Aetherflux Reservoir / Paradoxical Outcome storm kill, the deck now has a legitimate backup plan of playing Sai, Master Thopterist, playing a bunch of random artifacts to make Thopter tokens, and then either beating down with 1/1 fliers or by playing a Karn, Scion of Urza to make some massive construct tokens. Of course, this is another short-term deck, since many of the pieces rotate (although it's possible that Sai, Master Thopterist, Karn, Scion of Urza, and Tezzeret, Artifice Master could form a powerful artifact-based beatdown deck after rotation—we did see a couple of players at the Pro Tour drop Aetherflux Reservoir altogether and just beat down), but the deck isn't too expensive to put together (outside of Karn), and it's rare that true combo decks are competitive in Standard, so if you get a chance, give it a shot before rotation—it's super fun, and Pro Tour 25th Anniversary showed that the deck is fairly competitive as well!

Cool Standard Decks

Since the metagame was so dominated by RB Aggro and Mono-Green Stompy, there weren't a ton of off-the-wall Standard decks that showed up at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, but there were a handful of interesting lists.

 

 

 

Modern

In Modern, the breakout deck of Pro Tour 25th Anniversary was pretty clearly RB Vengevine. You might remember a deck called Bridgevine making the rounds a few months ago and offering some amazingly fast kills (along with a ton of inconsistency) based on getting Bridge from Below and Vengevine into the graveyard, casting a bunch of Walking Ballistas and Hangarback Walkers for zero mana (so they die when they enter the battlefield) to make a bunch of 2/2 Zombies with Bridge from Below, and returning Vengevines to the battlefield. 

RB Vengevine is basically Bridgevine but all grown up, thanks to a seemingly minor addition from Core Set 2019: Stitcher's Supplier. While the uncommon doesn't look all that threatening, it's the perfect card for the deck, stocking the graveyard with Vengevines and Bridge from Belows on Turn 1 while also allowing the deck a second line of attack in Gravecrawler thanks to the fact that Stitcher's Supplier is a Zombie. Throw in Viscera Seer to sacrifice the Gravecrawler, and you have some weird combos, like being able to get Vengevine back from the graveyard any time you want by casting Gravecrawler twice or making a 2/2 Zombie for each black mana you have available by sacrificing Gravecrawler to trigger Bridge from Below and then simply recasting it from the graveyard. The end result is a deck that's extremely fast and scary, often dumping multiple creatures on the battlefield on Turn 1 and potentially killing by Turn 2 or 3 with the help of Goblin Bushwhacker. It's possible that moving forward, RB Vengevine will take over for Hollow One as the graveyard-based creature-combo deck of choice.

Militia Bugler

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While we didn't see many Core Set 2019 cards in Modern this weekend, Militia Bugler had a massive impact, showing up as a four-of in many Five-Color Humans lists. On camera, it was key to the tribal deck being able to fight through the sweepers and removal of various control and midrange decks, along with almost working like a tutor for find things like Kitesail Freebooter or Meddling Mage to help the Humans deck lock down combo strategies. While Militia Bugler was already being moved into Humans prior to the Pro Tour, its performance this weekend means that it should be a staple in the deck moving forward. 

The other big story in Modern from Pro Tour 25th Anniversary was Ironworks Combo (often called KCI). Not only did the Eggs-like combo deck come in as the third-most-played Modern deck at the tournament, but it also managed to sneak into the Top 8 in the hands of Ben Stark. Throughout the course of the weekend, the deck looked pretty insane on camera, fighting through hate spells with ease and winning with some very long, intense combo turns. The metagame numbers show that the deck is a legitimate top-tier deck in the Modern format, while the Top 4 finish suggests that it's good. Combine this with the long, boring, annoying combo turns, and calls for a banning are on the rise. I'd be careful about buying into the deck before the next banned-and-restricted update—even some people who play the deck think that it should be banned, which is a pretty good sign that something could happen soon.

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The bigger question is what would be banned. Banning Krark-Clan Ironworks would kill the deck outright, although some people argue that Ancient Stirrings would be a better option (although banning Ancient Stirrings would cause a lot of collateral damage, with decks like Tron, Eldrazi, Lantern, Hardened Scales, and even some builds of Affinity taking a hit). Speaking of bannings, there were also some rumblings about Faithless Looting being a potential target over the weekend, since the sorcery seems to be showing up in more and more decks while also allowing for fast graveyard-based combo kills, as seen in RB Vengevine, Grishoalbrand, Hollow One, and more. While it's certainly possible that nothing will change at the next banned-and-restricted update, at this point, the odds are likely in favor of something from Ironworks Combo being banned, with Faithless Looting being a dark horse candidate for a surprise banning.

Spirits

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The other big Core Set 2019 addition to Modern was Supreme Phantom to Spirit Tribal. Unfortunately, the Pro Tour didn't add much clarity to which Spirits build is best. While Bant Spirits was the most played build of Spirits, UW Spirits showed up as well (and because we don't have individual players' records, we have no idea which version performed best). Regardless, seeing the Spirits tribe show up as the seventh most played deck in the Modern format certainly legitimizes the strategy and is a huge testament to the power of Supreme Phantom

Cool Modern Decks

In Modern, there weren't really any brand new decks at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, but there were a handful of sweet one-of decks that don't show up all that often. Here they are!

Legacy

I should start by saying that I'm far from a Legacy expert, so I'm going to try to avoid making any hot takes about a format that I don't understand all that well. Instead, we'll stick to some general observations and cool deck lists. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that Modern staple Death's Shadow is a thing in Legacy as well, with the deck not only being one of the most played in the format but making it into the Top 4 as well. While Death's Shadow lists have shown up in Legacy before, the big innovation for the Pro Tour is Reanimate, which not only offers the deck another line of attack by reanimating a massive threat from the graveyard (like a Street Wraith you cycle on Turn 1) but also provides another way to lose life to grow Death's Shadow itself. Oh yeah, and the build that made the Top 4 was even playing Throne of Geth solely to add a counter to opponents' Chalice of the Voids (which are pretty unbeatable with just one counter).

Speaking of Modern decks showing up in Legacy, Eldrazi Stompy looks suspiciously like the deck that broke Modern after Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch a couple of years ago, but with even more two-mana lands in Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors. Otherwise, the deck plays almost exactly like the old Modern build, slamming huge Eldrazi turn after turn while also locking opponents out of the game with Chalice of the Void

One of the big questions heading into the weekend is which decks would benefit most from the recent banning of Deathrite Shaman. The answer looks to be Temur Delver, which used to be a popular deck in the format but had been pretty much unplayable thanks to the rise of the one-mana planeswalker. At its heart, Temur Delver is a mana-denial tempo deck, looking to stick a threat or two, blow up opposing lands with Stifle and Wasteland, and ride the threat to a win before the opponent can draw out of the mana issues. The problem is that with Deathrite Shaman around, every land that goes to the graveyard is actually a source of mana, since the opponent can simply exile it with Deathrite Shaman to cast their spells. With Deathrite Shaman out of the way, it looks like Nimble Mongoose and Stifle are back to being a major part of the Legacy format.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

We expect Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in Standard, and we've grown accustomed to it showing up in Modern, but does the planeswalker have what it takes to compete in a format as powerful as Legacy? Apparently, the answer is yes! While not a four-of like in Standard, some of the Miracle / UW Control decks at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary were packing a copy of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in their main deck, making Teferi the only card to show up on camera in Standard, Modern, and Legacy at the Pro Tour!

Cool Legacy Decks

Legacy is a weird place with tons of fringe combos and unique cards. Here are some of the sweetest under-the-radar decks to show up at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary this weekend!

Most Played Cards

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Standard—Overall

Card Total Copies Total Decks
Scrapheap Scrounger 410 103
Dragonskull Summit 357 91
Canyon Slough 336 87
Duress 335 108
Abrade 330 92
Goblin Chainwhirler 308 77
Heart of Kiran 245 98
Rekindling Phoenix 241 77
Bomat Courier 236 61
Chandra, Torch of Defiance 228 78
Chandra's Defeat 211 90
Aether Hub 211 91
Glorybringer 209 76
Soul-Scar Mage 196 73
Unlicensed Disintegration 195 74
Magma Spray 163 77
Cut // Ribbons 152 83
Negate 149 56
Kari Zev, Skyship Raider 147 73
Hazoret the Fervent 141 62
Llanowar Elves 140 35
Hour of Glory 135 73
Doomfall 131 74
Blooming Marsh 124 31
Steel Leaf Champion 124 31
Blossoming Defense 122 34
Woodland Cemetery 121 31

 

Standard—Core Set 2019

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Card Total Copies Total Decks
Duress 335 108
Llanowar Elves 140 35
Vine Mare 110 31
Essence Scatter 68 25
Vivien Reid 66 35
Thorn Lieutenant 62 17
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager 61 19
Sai, Master Thopterist 44 11
Shock 27 8
Gift of Paradise 24 6
Root Snare 24 6
Nexus of Fate 24 6
Lightning Strike 19 8
Anticipate 12 3
Banefire 12 8
Cleansing Nova 10 6
Cinder Barrens 10 9
Exclusion Mage 9 4
Naturalize 8 7
Resplendent Angel 8 3

Modern—Overall

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Card Total Copies Total Decks
Lightning Bolt 202 60
Path to Exile 165 45
Bloodstained Mire 152 43
Ancient Stirrings 152 38
Horizon Canopy 146 45
Noble Hierarch 144 36
Nature's Claim 143 43
Faithless Looting 141 36
Chromatic Star 140 35
Flooded Strand 130 38
Leyline of the Void 129 35
Chromatic Sphere 122 35
Blackcleave Cliffs 120 35
Aether Vial 120 30
Cavern of Souls 116 31
Unclaimed Territory 108 27
Ancient Ziggurat 108 27
Mantis Rider 108 27
Meddling Mage 108 28
Kitesail Freebooter 108 27
Thalia's Lieutenant 108 27
Champion of the Parish 108 27
Opt 105 30
Phantasmal Image 105 34
Thoughtseize 104 36

Modern—Core Set 2019

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Card Total Copies Total Decks
Militia Bugler 100 29
Reclamation Sage 55 32
Stitcher's Supplier 44 11
Supreme Phantom 32 8
Sai, Master Thopterist 14 6
Scapeshift 12 3
Alpine Moon 11 5
Crucible of Worlds 9 9
Remorseful Cleric 5 2
Llanowar Elves 4 1
Tormenting Voice 4 2
Elvish Clancaller 3 1

Legacy—Overall

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Card Total Copies Total Decks
Brainstorm 408 102
Force of Will 399 100
Ponder 378 99
Wasteland 278 79
Polluted Delta 277 98
Surgical Extraction 228 107
Scalding Tarn 204 73
Flusterstorm 189 95
Ancient Tomb 181 51
Volcanic Island 177 72
Flooded Strand 156 58
Daze 151 42
Snapcaster Mage 147 46
Chalice of the Void 146 37
Thoughtseize 141 51
Swords to Plowshares 140 37
City of Traitors 130 45
Lotus Petal 129 34
Underground Sea 126 48
Lightning Bolt 125 41
Delver of Secrets 124 31
Spell Pierce 122 60
Leyline of the Void 117 30
Preordain 110 42
Bloodstained Mire 108 44
Pyroblast 106 57

Legacy—Core Set 2019

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Card Total Copies Total Decks
Omniscience 41 18
Duress 17 6
Reclamation Sage 7 7
Alpine Moon 5 3
Remorseful Cleric 4 3
Llanowar Elves 4 2
Naturalize 1 1

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today! What stood out to you from Pro Tour 25th Anniversary? Which deck are you most excited to try out? Is Turbo Fog real? What did we learn about Modern and Legacy? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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