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Pro Tour Hour of Devastation: Day Two (Live Updates)


After an interesting day one that ended with the only two undefeated players (both on Ramunap Red), we're back again tonight with live round-by-round coverage of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation! The same warning as last night applies (you can find last night's coverage here); I'm writing this live, in the middle of night, fueled by pot after pot of coffee, so if I get a bit loopy by the later rounds, you know why.

Covering day two of a Pro Tour is a bit different than covering day one. Day one is all about the new decks and new cards, but by day two most of these things are known. While it's technically possible we have a new deck pop up today, chances are that if something off the wall was near the top of the standings, we would have seen it yesterday. As such, today we'll take a more meta perspective, tracking which decks have a chance at making the top eight, perhaps some finance talk, and a discussion of what Hour of Devastation Standard might look like over the next couple months as we head towards a reset with the release of Ixalan in September. 

Rounds 9 - 11 (Limited)

Like usual, there really isn't much of a reason to break down limited, so let's take this opportunity to put Pro Tour Hour of Devastation in perspective. Over the past few years, both Lightning Strike and Day of Judgment were deemed too good for Standard and pushed up to three- and five-mana respectively, two things that Standard players have asked for often is the return of Mono-Red Aggro and the return of Control. Hour of Devastation seems to have answered one of these calls, but not the other.

For the first time since Atarka Red back in Khans of Tarkir Standard, we have a true red aggro list near the top of the format. While it might not be the traditional burn-based list, there's no doubt that Ramunap Red plays very much like old school Red Deck Wins, featuring a ton of hasty, cheap threats and reach (in Ramunap Ruins) to finish the game. On the other hand, control is nowhere to be found. So while aggro players celebrate the resurrection of their favorite archetype, control players will have to hold on a bit longer and keep their fingers crossed that, sooner or later, control will get its own Ramunap Red revival. 

On an entirely different topic, a few months ago Wizards announced they were giving Hearthstone streamer Amaz a special invite to Pro Tour Hour of Devastation. At the time there was a lot of debate about this in the community, with some people expecting Amaz to scrub out, but it seems these people were wrong. After a rough start yesterday with a 0-2-1 in the first draft, Amaz went 4-1 in Standard and just 3-0ed the day two draft, bringing his current record to 7-3-1. While it would almost certainly require a 5-0 run through Standard, this means that Amaz is technically in the running for a top eight spot.

Round 12

Round 12 kicks off with Amaz on Mono-Black Zombies versus Guillaume Wafo-Tapa on UR Control. While both decks look fairly stock, it's worth noting that this is the first time we've had UR Control on camera this weekend, which is a bit of a surprise since  it was at or near the top of the format in the pre-Pro Tour metagame. Traditionally, mono-red aggro is the natural enemy of control decks, so whether control can compete in Hour of Devastation Standard where Ramunap Red is 25% of the field remains to be seen. In game one, Amaz gets Wafo-Tapa down to three, but eventually the control deck stabilizes with removal and closes things out with Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. In game two, Wafo-Tapa keeps the board clear with Kozilek's Return and while Amaz does manage to stick a Liliana, the Last Hope, Torrential Gearhulk quickly takes over the game giving Wafo-Tapa a quick 2-0 win.

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One of the side effects of Ramunap Red being so popular is that a lot of decks seem to be turning away from Sweltering Suns and towards Kozilek's Return as the sweeper of choice, since Kozilek's Return can be cast at instant-speed to deal with hasty Earthshaker Khenras and Ahn-Crop Crashers. This might mean that three toughness creatures like Winding Constrictor get a bit better. Speaking of three-toughness, Sunscourge Champion seems pretty good right now, not only gaining some life against Ramunap Red, but being oddly good against control since it survives Kozilek's Return and comes back from the graveyard if it's countered or killed with eternalize for a only four-mana. Whether or not either of these specific cards break out, it's worth keeping in mind that if everyone is playing Kozilek's Return, going a bit bigger might be a good counter. 

Control decks are hard to guesstimate due to the multitude of 1-ofs, so instead you can refer to this Bolas Control list from the recent SCG list. We do know Wafo-Tapa has some spice like the The Locust God in his sideboard:

For our inter-round deck tech, we get a dose of Elder Deep-Fiend with Sultai Emerge:

Round 13

Round 13 starts with GB Constrictor against Ramunap Red, which is quickly becoming one of the most important matchups of the event, having been in one of the back up features last round as well. Our Ramunap Red player is Seth Manfield while Louis Bachaud is playing the GB Snek deck. Game one comes down to Bomat Courier, which has been consistently impressive this weekend. Manfield has four cards under it by turn four, and even though Bachaud kills the Bomat Courier and follows up with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, the Ramunap Red deck takes down a game one without taking a point of damage. In game two, the GB Constrictor deck manages to stick a Grim Flayer and Winding Constrictor to stabilize the early game, giving Bachaud enough time to take things over with his bigger, midgame threats like Verdurous Gearhulk. In game three, Manfield has an aggressive start, but gets stuck on two lands which allows the GB Constrictor deck to use its removal to stay alive and eventually stick a Filigree Familiar and Verdurous Gearhulk to steal the game.

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Considering we are nearly three-fourths of the way through constructed, let's take a minute to talk about the decks and cards we haven't seen at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation. Probably the biggest surprise has been the complete lack of UW decks. Over the first couple weeks of Hour of Devastation, Standard UW Monument was the most popular deck in the format, and in the days leading up to the Pro Tour, UW God-Pharaoh's Gift was the most hyped deck; neither build has been on camera a single time. Unless a random UW player manages to beat the odds and sneak into the top eight, it seems likely that both of these decks will go down as losers thanks to the lack of camera time.

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GR Ramp started off fairly strong yesterday getting several feature matches over the early rounds, but has completely faded away here on day two. While it's possible there are some darkhorse decks floating around, it seems that Ramunap Red, GB Constrictor, and Mono-Black Zombies are taking up most of the seats at the top tables. The good news for ramp players is, even though the archetype hasn't show up much on day two of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, it's still getting some support, with Willy Edel tweeting a list he has been using to crush league on Magic Online, which apparently has a strong matchup against Ramunap Red. 

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Finally, it's been a pretty disappointing tournament for Hour of Devastation cards in general. Apart from the Ramunap Red deck and occasionally a stray Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh, we haven't really seen many of the sweet new rares and mythics from the set. Heading into the Pro Tour, there were some rumblings that Zombies might be moving away from Mono-Black and towards UB for The Scarab God, but we've only seen the Mono-Black build (almost the exact the same as the build that won Pro Tour Amonkhet but with some Deserts). Likewise, Champion of Wits was the single most hyped card from Hour of Devastation thanks to not just the God-Pharaoh's Gift decks, but various emerge strategies as well, but the new blue rare hasn't made a single appearance on camera this weekend. 

For our inter-round deck tech, we have Team Ligamagic's build of the weekend's darling deck, Ramunap Red:

Round 14

Round 14 starts with a weird feature match, with two 6-6-1 players: Shaun McLaren on UR Control and Ivan Floch on Ramunap Red. Unfortunately for McLaren, not only does UR Control matchup up poorly with Ramunap Red in general, but his build of UR Control doesn't seem especially prepared for the matchup. In game one, Floch has a ton of one-drops while McLaren has to spend his fourth turn casting the Impulse mode of Supreme Will digging for lands, which ends with a quick loss for the control players. In game two, the red deck once again starts fast, and while McLaren finds a Sweltering Suns to clear the battlefield, he's down to just 11 life and Floch has an Aethersphere Harvester to keep the pressure on. Before long a combination of Deserts and Earthshaker Khenra close out the game. Weird feature match aside, we have our day two metagame breakdown, so let's take a peak at what is (and is not) working at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation.

  • We have two decks at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation that are performing very well: Ramunap Red (including the build that splashes black, presumably for Scrapheap Scrounger) and GB Constrictor. Both decks ran more than 10% (and GB Constrictor more than 15%) above expectation on day one of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation.
  • We also have a handful of decks that are ever so slightly above average, including Mono-Black Zombies, UR Control, Temur Energy, and GR Ramp. Perhaps the biggest surprise of this group is UR Control. The narrative so far on day two has been about how the deck is poorly positioned in a world here Ramunap Red is king, but Ramunap Red was the most played deck on day one, and UR Control still managed to eek out an above average performance.
  • Next we have our slightly below average decks, highlighted by Mardu Vehicles, Temur Emerge, WU God-Pharaoh's Gift, and GR Pummeler. It's important to remember that both WU Gifts and Emerge were among the most hyped decks heading into the Pro Tour, which makes their lacking performance especially disappointing. 
  • At the bottom of the pile we have some bad decks, with the most shocking being WU Monument, which performed more than 20% below expectations—a shocking fall for the deck that was the darling of the format not long ago. Also on the naughty list are Mono-Red Eldrazi, WU Flash, RB Midrange, and (sadly) UB Zombies featuring The Scarab God. It appears that if you want to play Zombies this summer, Mono-Black is the way to go.
  • As far as the lesser played decks, as a group they performed poorly. Overall 62.2% of players at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation made day two, but only 37% of the 54 players in the "other" category managed to survive to the second day of the tournament. This means that if "other" was a deck, it would be the worst performing deck at the Pro Tour. This said, there are a few of sleepers in the other category: while the sample size is tiny (one or two players per deck), two different mono-white decks (Eldrazi and Weenie), two black-green decks (Pummeler and Rite), as well as UB Gifts, WB Midrange, and Temur Pummeler managed to put 100% of their players into day two.

Our inter-round deck tech is Mono-Red Eldrazi by Martin Juza:

Round 15

Our Round 15 matchup is the same as last round - Ramunap Red versus UR Control, this time with two 10-4 players (Pozzo on Ramunap Red and Butakov on UR Control). While neither player seems likely to make the top eight regardless of the outcome, Constructed Master (and the Worlds slot that goes along with it) is on the line. Generally, this should be a good matchup for the Ramunap Red deck, although Pozzo starts off stuck on lands which keeps the UR Control deck in game one. However, the red deck eventually draw out of its mana screw and uses its namesake land to close out the game. In game two, the UR Control deck gets a quick Thing in the Ice to do some blocking, but it gets killed by an Incendiary Flow post-combat before it can flip. Meanwhile, Bomat Courier does its thing and draws Pozzo a massive seven cards, which provides the fuel to finish the game and claim the constructed master crown for the the Ramunap Red player.

 

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It's been a quiet weekend as far as finance is concerned, with the only Pro Tour cards to show any real movement being various pieces of Ramunap Red. The biggest winner is Earthshaker Khenra, which is closing in on $5 after being close to bulk just over a week ago. Bomat Courier is still bulk, but it looked great on camera this week and, as a result, is up 20%. Finally, we have Hazoret the Fervent, a card which many Ramunap Red players claim is the best card in their deck. The mythic is on the rise, but is still only $8. If Ramunap Red remains at the top of the format and Hazoret the Fervent remains a four-of moving forward, it wouldn't be surprising for it to get a meaningful jump into the $15 range. This could happen as soon as tomorrow, depending on the number of Ramunap Red decks in the top eight.

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Magic Online tells a bit of a different story, with the two bigger gainers being the perennial Pro Tour spiker Relentless Dead and Kozilek's Return. Zombies has returned to prominence thanks to a good Ramunap Red matchup and Kozilek's Return is one of the better ways to deal with a board full of little red creatures. The fact that both will be rotating in less than two months will likely hold them back in the paper world. On Magic Online it's much easier to buy into a deck on a whim and also sell off the cards if you decide that deck isn't for you, which makes it easier for rotating card to spike. My theory is to always sell copies into the Pro Tour spike. I realized I still had a couple of Relentless Deads in my collection this afternoon and was more than happy to cash them out for 7.5 tix each before they end up worthless in only a few short weeks. I'd recommend you do the same if you have copies cluttering up your collection. 

Our inter-round deck tech is the tried and true Green-Black Delirium/Constrictor list:

Round 16

We've finally reached the end of the swiss rounds, and at this point it's all about what decks make the top eight. While the first two days of a Pro Tour certainly matter, when people look back on the event next week or next year, it's the top eight decks that will be remembered. Just making the top eight is a huge boost for a deck and likely means it will be a significant part of the metagame moving forward. Multiple copies of the same deck in the top eight is even better. Heading into round 16 we have three players locked in so far:

  • Sam Pardee: GB Constrictor
  • Sam Black: Ramunap Red
  • Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa: Ramunap Red

As such, we already know that Ramunap Red is one of the biggest winners from Pro Tour Hour of Devastation; the only question is just how big of a winner it ends up being. Meanwhile, GB Constrictor is back on the map and will likely be in the top tier of Standard. The feature match for the round is Seth Manfield (again) on Ramunap Red against Shintaro Ishimura on RG Ramp in what should be a win and in for the top eight. In game one the ramp deck has multiple copies of Kozilek's Return along with Hour of Promise to gain control of the game before finishing things off with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. In between games we get a glimpse of a back up feature with Zombies and GB Constrictor, with what should be another top eight berth on the line. In game two Manfield gets a double Bomat Courier draw, but Walking Ballista from RG Ramp keeps the board under control. Manfield eventually lands a Hazoret the Fervent to force game three. In the deciding game a timely Hour of Devastation keeps the ramp deck ahead, but Ramunap Red responds with a Chandra, Torch of Defiance to keep the pressure on. Eventually Hazoret the Fervent comes down to close out the game, likely putting Seth Manfield (and our third Ramunap Red player) into the top eight. On the back tables Yam Wing Chun (on Ramunap Red) defeats Sam Black (who is already locked for top eight), which means we should have at least four Ramunap Red players in the top eight. 

Regardless of how everything breaks down when decklists are released, one thing is for sure: Ramunap Red, which has been everywhere this weekend, is going to be all over the top eight tomorrow. 

Top 8

  • Paulo Vito Damo da Rosa (Ramunap Red)
  • Sam Pardee (GB Constrictor)
  • Sam Black (Ramunap Red)
  • Wing Chun Yam (Ramunap Red)
  • Shintaro Kurata (Black-Red Aggro)
  • Felix Leong (Ramunap Red)
  • Yusuke Sasabe (Mono-Black Zombies)
  • Seth Manfield (Ramunap Red)

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. What did you think of day two at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation? What are your predictions for the top eight tomorrow? 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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