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This Week in Legacy: 05/13/17 Legacy Challenge and Japanese Tournaments


Here's another This Week in Legacy! The first May Magic Online Legacy Challenge has gone past (remember, they'll be firing every weekend now thanks to Wizard's new Challenge structure), and so there's quite a few interesting lists to analyze from there. We'll also be focusing on a variety of Paper tournaments across the world, particularly Japan. We've looked at MKM Frankfurt, perhaps the largest Paper tournament since the Sensei's Divining Top ban, but Japan has gathered some tournaments with over one-hundred people, along with the usual spice-filled KMC event. These deserve a deeper dive, especially if some new technology can be extracted for the post-Top metagame we're in.

05/13/17 Legacy Challenge

Let's jump into the recent Challenge to start with!

Deck Player Placing
Elves felipevelazquez 1
Maverick solnox 2
Grixis Delver HarlanMTG 3
UB Landstill osmanozguney 4
Dragon Stompy Call1Me1Dragon 5
Grixis Delver Gsy 6
Shardless BUG minyafriend 7
Shardless BUG EronRelentless 8
Grixis Delver learntolove6 9
ANT 42AD 10
Punishing Dack Clashed 11
RUG Delver tepesch92 12
Bant DeathBlade tsmiley 13
Grixis Delver Andrea94 14
Food Chain InResponse_ch 15
Grixis Delver Griselpuff 16

There's a few exciting lists to look at, but first that's a lot of Grixis Delver. Five of the Top 16 were playing the Pyromancer and friends, though the exact lists varied, especially in what their flex slots were filled with. It's interesting to see Shardless BUG both make Top 8 as well, considering that many have found it superseded by Leovold BUG decks or Czech Pile. There's also no Miracles to prey on, so I'm not sure why Agent and Ancestral Visions are suddenly putting up greater results.

Nonetheless, solnox has been on a sweet run recently with the Challenges, and has been innovating quite a bit. We saw his Therapy/Probe Turbo Depths list take him to a solid placing, and now with... Maverick (?!) he has claimed second place. I'm glad my predictions on Maverick's placing last week came to fruition. With no Terminus around the dorks are free to do their thing.

The Birds (rather than Hierarch) and lack of third Wasteland were notably due to budget reasons, but the main deck package of creatures looks wonderfully refined, with only Scooze, Scryb Ranger, Pridemage, Teeg and Renegade Rallier as true tutor targets, with no bomby finisher at the top of the curve needed. solnox also notably included the Dark Depths combo for his win condition to assemble in the late game.

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solnox's sideboard is where all the spice comes out. In terms of hatebears, Sanctum Prelate has found itself some slots, alongside an extra Scooze and Teeg plus Revokers and Canonists. Kambal, Consul of Allocation is another interesting choice and is great not only against Storm, but also Burn too I'm sure. That's a heckuva lot of hatebears in the sideboard though! Orim's Chant acts as a pseudo-counterspell in combo matchups and can be incredibly disruptive for Storm and Elves. Sword of Feast and Famine round out the Stoneforge package, and Toxic Deluge is chosen over Zealous Persecution in the board.

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The next interesting list is the Blue-Black Landstill list:

This list is typical of Blue-Black Standstill conventions - full of boatloads of removal and hard counters - though having Thoughtseize as proactive disruption is quite interesting. I can imagine it being great as a turn one play to nab whatever the opponent was going to lead on (like a Deathrite Shaman) and then slamming a Standstill afterwards. The sweetest thing about this list is the finisher, however. Tombstalker, the big boy, wrecks face in the late game, flying over any problematic blockers. It suites this list incredibly well, and perhaps should be further considered in decks like BUG or 4c Control as a finisher, as even though True-Name is the epitome of untargetable, it doesn't clock as fast and is often one-mana too expensive.

This brew has been seen once before, but is a little reinvigorated thanks to Fatal Push. This list aims to use Dack Fayden as its pivotal card advantage engine, by Looting away Punishing Fires that can be later bought back via Grove, or by utilizing Notion Thief and targeting the opponent with Dack's ability. I draw two and you discard two - yes please! Notion Thief looks silly when compared to Leovold, but has a much higher upside if it can stick (especially with a Dack in play). Another interesting choice in this list is Fire // Ice, one of my all-time favorite spells that I don't get to play in my Delver decks as it doesn't kill Deathrite on turn one. Clashed played a hefty three, but in a control shell I can see it being reasonable as more than a two-of as killing turn one Deathrite isn't the biggest priority in the world. Since this deck doesn't run Ponders either, Fire // Ice is a nice way to contribute to the deck's Blue count for Force.

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I've also considered playing this card once before (in my Infect sideboard, however), Pulse of Murasa. It's quite a nice little value play in this list thanks to Snapcaster and Strix, and also can be a solid buffer against Burn. That being said, for pure grinding purposes Kolaghan's Command is probably better.

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Other exciting lits include Call1Me1Dragon's Dragon Stompy list featuring Hazoret the Fervent and main deck Ensnaring Bridge as featured last week, and RUG Delver still battling on, this time Mongoose-less and very similar to Gianluca Gazzola's old list.

BIG MAGIC OPEN

The first paper tournament we'll have a look at is from Japan - the BIG MAGIC OPEN (BMO) - that occurred on the Japanese long weekend of May 3rd - 5th. They had a great showing at the Legacy event of 267 players, and the results broke down below. You can also view these on the BIG MAGIC website here (for the Top 8) and here (for the Top 16).

Deck Player Placing
Death & Taxes Kawai Yuusuke 1
Burn Katou Tatsuki 2
Eldrazi Stompy Komiyama Kenichirou 3-4
UR Delver Inamura Sachio 3-4
UR Delver Kobayashi Tatsuumi 5-8
Grixis Delver Ishida Tatsuya 5-8
Grixis Control Tsuchiya Hiroki 5-8
Reanimator Depths Ohtake Ryo 5-8
BUG Delver Uemura Shougo 9
Grixis Delver Matsumoto Kazuma 10
Grixis Control Tsurumi Daiki 11
Imperial Painter Ogi Suguru 12
Grixis Delver Obi Atsushi 13
OmniTell Hiraki Takayoshi 14
Mono-Red Sneak Attack Yamanashi Takeshi 15
ANT Maruyama Shouta 16

Death & Taxes interestingly came out on top in Japan, compared to in Europe where it failed to convert effectively. Kawai Yuusuke has made little changes to a relatively stock list - only trimming Revoker (I guess there's less Jaces and Tops to hit now...) for an additional Prelate and Spirit of the Labyrinth. Gideon has still remained in Kawai's sideboard, despite it now being unnecessary with more tempo decks around than pure control decks. The Burn list also adapted to the Miracle-less metagame by cutting down on Sulfuric Vortex in favor of Monastery Swiftspear and Searing Blaze, cards that are great at racing combo and dealing with Delver respectively. 

Other lists were entirely overhauled. The Blue-Red Delver list by Kobayashi Tatsuumi is very different to the Blue-Red Prowess lists that have been so popular Online and in Japan. Instead it features the core of Stifle, Wasteland, and Daze but has a robust mana base fitting in basics.

It's threat suite is also quite different, featuring Snapcaster Mage for late-game value and Grim Lavamancer to tame opposing small creatures. Young Pyromancer also finds his way into this list. It feels like Grixis in some ways, but has a more stable mana base which is certainly advantageous in the pseudo-mirror. That being said, Deathrite Shaman is a hard card to pass up... I also wonder whether Cryptic Serpent can be incorporated into these lists as a beater a la Gurmag Angler, but Lavamancer and Snapcaster may create too much pressure on the graveyard.

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A card I really like in the sideboard (that I really enjoyed playing when it was in Standard) is Arc Trail. I think this again is a nod to fighting the Delver mirror. Ulike Forked Bolt, Arc Trail can take out Deathrite and a Pyromancer or unflipped Delver accompanying it.

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Other interesting lists were the two Grixis Control lists. One looked similar to the Dig-era Pyromancer Control lists:

This list eschews Deathrite Shaman to plays a boatload of removal and disruption, the primary core being Probe/Therapy/Pyromancer, of course. Fatal Push is a new boon this style of deck has received, and certainly allows for one hole in the Grixis removal suite (once filled by cards like Terminate) to be elegantly fixed. I also really like the Gurmag Anglers over the more typical True-Names as win conditions, as Angler finishes off opponents incredibly quickly on an empty board and can be cast while holding up counter magic, perfect as a win condition against combo while still being a headache for non-Plow decks.


Tsurumi Daiki's list meanwhile looks like Grixis Delver but... with no Delvers. Again, I feel this list is angled to beat the ever-common mirror by going a bit bigger, replacing vulnerable Delvers with card advantage machines Snapcaster Mage, Kolaghan's Command and Baleful Strix. This list has also found some room for basics to further protect itself from the mirror.

Speaking of the mirror, Peter White has an excellent article on his thoughts about breaking the Grixis mirror (sadly, no Kiki-Jikis involved). Find that article and his innovative list here.

Ogi Suguru took an old favorite that now has a central piece banned, and just decided to roll with it. Mono-red variants of Imperial Painter have been popular in Japan (compared to elsewhere, where Enlightened Tutor builds have mainly been found), but without the card selection of Top the deck is a little lacking. Ogi replaced Tops with Relic of Progenitus, and although this helps with the Emrakul problem Painter has always had, there is dissynergy with Welder. Painter is one of my favorite Legacy oddities, and I truly do not want it to die. Here's hoping there's a way to remedy the loss of Top.

This is very atypical from the "OmniAttack" builds of Sneak & Show that have been seeing  lot of play. Rather, this build is much more traditional OmniTell that saw play during the Dig Through Time-era, but with Dig replaced by Pieces of the Puzzle, which like Dig is strong early and digs very deep in the late game. This has seen some success on Magic Online after Dig was initially banned, and I'm glad it's seen some further exploration and success post-Top.

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Don't forget the spicy Reanimator Depths list I featured last week! That list is truly a credit to the power of monstrous fatties like Marit Lage, Grave Titan and Griselbrand and Swords to Plowshares at an all-time low.

CARDBOX OPEN

The CARDBOX OPEN, with 137 players, was another impressive gathering of Japanese Legacy on the 7th of May. The Top 8 broke down as below. Note that these are in Swiss order (I couldn't find the standings after Top 8 - sorry!):

Deck Player Placing
UR Delver Nishikawa Tatsuya 1
ANT Morishima Ryouta 2
Grixis Delver Kurokawa Naoki 3
Sneak & Show Higuchi Yuma 4
Esper Stoneblade Omonishi Koujirou 5
Jund Nomura Kai 6
Eldrazi Stompy Hata Hideaki 7
Infect Harada Danpei 8

Most lists are what one would expect, with the Japanese Esper Stoneblade list continuing to put up results. Though the Infect list made a rather drastic change to its pump spell suite:

Four Blossoming Defense.

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This amount of Defenses has been unseen prior to this tournament, with many Infect players slotting in only one or two. But maxing out on Defense makes so much sense once one thinks a little further. Unlike Vines, which have diminishing returns if you draw multiples (especially against combo), Defenses can combine together to create a kill or be spread out over the course of a few turns, especially helpful when an Infect player's mana is under siege. Although not being able to do cool tricks against equipment is a knock against it, as is being a weaker late-game draw, speeding up kills in certain situations is sure to do some kind of work. This list also notably includes main deck Flusterstorms, zero Wasteland in the main and, the thing I love the most, four Ponders. I've been going on and on about how much I love four Ponder, and Harada has seemed to have been thinking along the same lines. His White sideboard I'm less of a fan of, especially with Dismember or Submerge dealing with most problematic creatures anyway.

77th KMC

The always interesting KMC tournament has gone past with fifty-five players jamming, the first without Top. Although many decks were stock lists we know and love, others were... Pretty out-there.

Deck Player Placing
Lands Asai Satoshi 1
Tin Fins Inamura Sachio 2
ANT Sekimoto Tatsuo 3
Esper Delver Mune Kento 4
BUG EurekaTell Iwasaki Kouichi 5
UW Stoneblade Iwakiri Isamu 6
UR Delver Nishikawa Tatsuya 7
Elves Ishii Takuya 8

The first intersting list is the Esper Delver list, and I'm kind of excited by this:

Esper Delver was always on my radar somewhat. Jeskai Delver has always looked a little clunky to me, but adding Deathrite synergises quite neatly with Stoneforge Mystic, as it not only accelerates her out, but Deathrite is a nice, warm body for a Jitte to hold. The only issue before was that this aggressive Delver deck had to play the very controlly Swords to Plowshares as its removal of choice, but that is no longer the case. Fatal Push means this deck can keep its aggressive Delver draws, and the Murderous Cuts in this list furthers the unconditional removal suite. Angler is also a perfect top-end for this kind of list to close the game out. I'm not convinced on playing Stifle and Thoughtseize in the same deck, however, as they promote very opposite styles of game play - with Thoughtseize being full of anti-tempo, since you spend mana to take something the opponent never had to cast anyway. And Stifle always looks a bit bizarre in a list featuring a higher curve of Stoneforge and friends. I might build Esper Delver like so:

The big boon is really the White cards in the sideboard. Playing hatebears and Delver in the same deck is like a dream come true for me.

Iwasaki Kouichi brought a very interesting spin on OmniTell. Like JPA93 has been touting on Magic Online, this version supplements Show and Tell with Eureka, but also adds in Lim-Dul's Vault as cheaper Intuition-like effect, as well as Black cards for Thoughtseizes and a man-plan of Delve guys out of the sideboard! And Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver!

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Other exciting lists from the tournament include the spicy Japanese Tin Fins lists, as well as Back to Basics Stoneblade feat. Ajani Steadfast. See the rest of the results here.

Conclusion

Unfortunately that's all we have space for today. I'd also like to shout out a few other major tournaments that have gone past: the Win-a-Lotus at Valhalla's Gate, which had a great turnout of eighty players (but sadly a very stock Top 8), along with the 138 player Vegas GPT at Axion in the UK that has been amazingly covered in Tom Kellock's analysis at The Library at Pendrell Vale.

In term's of other content...

And as always keep watching Julian's Legacy Premier League for more spicy action!

As always, 'til next time!

Sean Brown

Email: sean_brown156@hotmail.com
Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I'm Playing This Week

Hey, that name looks familiar...

My Grixis Delver doesn't feel like the stock Pyromancer ones at all - if anything, I've been trying to emulate the smooth RUG Delver feel while still having access to the brutally powerful Deathrite Shaman and a top-end threat that is Push-proof. Gurmag Angler is a true monster that I've destroyed empty boards with (just don't cast a Strix, please), and many control shells now have to go through incredible hoops to get rid of him. I've realised too that Thought Scour (or Probe) are not necessary cards to enable the big Fish, and I've been able to cast him very comfortably most games. Getting Angler-flooded can happen, but this deck is not designed to slam threat after threat (other than the crazy double Delver draws) - just like age-old RUG, it's to slam one threat, defend it via mana denial and counterspells, and ride it to victory.

That being said, I still love RUG, and may be looking to trying this list out in future. The temptation of Deathrite may get the better of me, but there's nothing quite like that RUG smoothness:

I've mained the Loam/Ring combination now, and have entirely cut Mongoose due to no more Miracles. With Miracles (and a lot of Plows out of the picture) that leaves the big bad Mandrills as the creature of choice, impervious to Push/Decay/Bolt, and honestly I like the Apes better than Gurmag a lot of the time. Angler is great on clear boards, but when a True-Name or a horde of Pyromancer tokens are staring at you, you wish you had the Trampling monkeys. Of course, losing Deathrite is a big cost, and our creature base needs to be supplemented with some number of Tarmogoyf, that could actually just be True-Names. Though Goyf is quite strong similar to Mandrills against Grixis Delver, which is everywhere, so that is something.

I still need to fix up my Death & Taxes list too (I have been trying some wild stuff like Fiendslayer Paladin and Containment Priest at the moment), but I think I'm finally getting to a place where I'm happy concerning Delver. Find all my lists here.

The Spice Corner

Now this is an exciting list - the typical Stompy core, but with a Combat Celebrant / Splinter Twin combo finish. This deck plays Kiki-Jiki, so I'm also really happy. Hellrider is also a great forgotten hero from his days as Mono-Red Aggro finisher, and like Pia and Kiran Nalaar, is great for putting a Splinter Twin on and getting in some more damage or value.


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