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This Week in Legacy: Izzet Time?

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of This Week in Legacy! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be diving into the topic of current UR Delver strategies in Legacy, hot on the heels of a lot of rumblings about how the deck is performing and whether we're fastly approaching another metagame solved by the deck. In addition to that we've got a Super Qualifier, one regular Challenge, and a Showcase Challenge to discuss!

So then, let's dive right in!

Delver Gonna Delver

We've had some big events over this past weekend which I will be discussing later on here in this article, and of course those events are stirring some rumblings over the power level that is UR Delver and what exactly is going on with that deck.

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It's been a hot minute (since January) when Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer was banned and while we've already gone through a set release that actually provided a lot of interesting new tools to the format (including a staple that has propped up a non-Delver style blue artifact pile) there is still a lot of talk about where UR Delver is and why it continues to be so dominant in the ongoing metagame. As of this article, UR Delver's place in the Challenge data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project puts the deck at a solid 20.5% of the overall Challenge data metagame with an estimated win percentage with mirrors of 54.3% and an estimated win percentage without mirrors at 55.5%.

This win percentage shows us that a lot of what was being echoed at the time of Ragavan's banning did indeed hold somewhat true. Over the past two months since the banning we've recorded 522 entries of UR Delver and while the deck did lose a strong tool in Ragavan, it did not really slow the deck down at all in terms of power level or representation. Based on the win rates (which during the tail end of Ragavan era were only roughly 52-53% in Challenges) the deck seems to have just gotten better overall as it has been able to devote more tools to various matchups instead of having to cannibalize itself to arms race the other blue decks of the format with Ragavan.

Now that isn't to say that banning Ragavan was incorrect, the ban was justified in a number of other ways besides win rate (although win rate of Leagues was cited at being over 56% and the deck having twice as many trophies as the next highest archetype). What rumblings I've heard lines up quite a bit with other sentiments heard at the time and it's that just banning Ragavan wasn't enough. And this is a viewpoint I held myself at the time, but was willing to try to give the format the benefit of the doubt that with Kamigawa upcoming that we could see some relevant changes in the format.

And while Kamigawa did do some things, including making 8Cast a very strong addition to the format, it didn't really serve to dent the power level of the format's most powerful strategies in Delver.

So now that we're here almost seemingly yet again, what do we do with this information? Do we continue to wait and see what Streets of New Capenna may bring (as it's imminently releasing at the end of April here)? Or do we try to address further issues with the UR Delver shell, and if so how do we do that?

The most obvious answer here is that we continue to address any further new cards that have been added to the mix. Of these, Murktide Regent is an extremely efficient threat that merely rewards the deck for simply playing Magic. It's not forcing the deck to jump through any major hoops to be good, it's just asking it to play cards it already does and rewards them with an exceptionally powerful evasive threat. There's a solid argument to get rid of this card as Delve has just often not been a great mechanic in general, especially when it's stapled to really good threats. And before someone mentions Hogaak in this regard, I do believe Hogaak's downsides of being Legendary and also requiring Convoke add an extra depth of mechanics enough that makes the card easy to play around. Hogaak also despite having trample is not nearly as evasive as Murktide is with flying and the secondary ability Murktide has of growing with further castings of the card.

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Another card that comes up in these conversations about UR Delver is Expressive Iteration, and that is a card in itself that has pushed a lot of the UR shell's overall power since its printing. Iteration does a lot of strong things but it is functionally a two mana draw two effect and traditionally the Delver decks having a measure of card advantage has never been a super positive thing. It's clear that Iteration is a really powerful card and it does a lot to tie the deck's early and mid-to-late games together by allowing the deck to refuel if it's primary threats are dealt with.

The major question again becomes whether or not we address mostly new cards or if we have to begin diving into the actual Delver Tempo shell in general and what that might look like. We've talked in the past about cards like Daze and how they impact the overall shell, and I do still personally believe that we could have more interesting decisions and gameplay without the card, but it is not as egregious without Ragavan existing. That being said, we do have to concede that down the line there could be another card that potentially breaks this dynamic, and there is merit in correcting a deeper symptom than just patching things up with a band-aid. However, for now I'm realistic on the fact that it's more than likely we don't see a Daze ban any time soon.

For me personally, the biggest thing I would hit if I had to hit anything right now would be Murktide Regent and to a lesser extent Expressive Iteration. While we can discuss the patterns of continually banning threats over banning pieces of the shell all day, I do think that Murktide hits the right notes of being incredibly egregious of a threat that getting rid of it makes the most sense. Iteration is another strong card that without it, Delver might have to return to playing three-color shells and may help with the homogenization of the archetype that has occurred over the past year. Normally I'm a big fan of waiting and seeing what new sets will do to the format, but even Wizards themselves said that they would be reviewing Legacy going forward and two months worth of really big events and a lot of data says to me that we should be able to start identifying trends and it definitely seems that is the case so I would rather make a change sooner than later while Legacy event attendance is still rather high than waiting for attendances to dip again because players are upset with the format.

Legacy Super Qualifier 3/31

As part of All Access Weeks on Magic Online we had a Super Qualifier on the last day of March, in which the top two players gain an invitation to an upcoming PT level Championship event. This event had 222 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver's dominance was clear in this event (and we'll see in the Top 8 just how clear it was) at a little under 25% of the overall metagame with a near 60% non-mirror win rate. The next most represented decks were both 8Cast and Jeskai Control, with 8Cast having a fairly middling performance and Jeskai having it a little worse. This was definitely an interesting event in the timeline of post-Neon Legacy.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Delver 1st s063
Doomsday 2nd monkeyscantcry
UR Delver 3rd Mikhathara1994
UR Delver 4th Nammersquats
Reanimator 5th Tetsubou
UR Delver 6th JUJUBEAN__2004
Death and Taxes 7th Parrit
8Cast 8th SknerusMcKwacz

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Up to four copies of Mishra's Bauble now is pretty insane, but it really feeds the strength of cards like Dragon's Rage Channeler quite well. Another card starting to really pick up is Price of Progress which is more than likely in direct recognition of decks like 8Mulch and more Lands-based archetypes having picked up steam on Magic Online.

The Second Place finalist was Doomsday.

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One card that doesn't get talked about enough is Mystical Dispute as a powerful sideboard card. This card is incredibly strong not just because of the cost reduction for blue spells, but also because it can just be cast at three mana as well on non-blue spells if need be. It does quite a bit and it's certainly a strong sideboard card for Doomsday where it needs the most efficient use of its mana that it can get post board.

Also in this Top 8 we had Reanimator.

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The Show and Tell sideboard plan is a super cool way of getting around graveyard hate and it works really really well with Archon of Cruelty if they're also putting in a creature (by making them sacrifice it). Very strong!

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have 8Cast.

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This deck continues to have some really strong results coupled with a lot of drag down of a lot of people trying this deck out all at once because of the All Access tokens. There's no doubt this is definitely a very strong deck to be on in the current format but many other strategies are starting to adjust and learn how to beat the deck. Definitely a deck to prep for in events for sure.

Legacy Challenge 4/2

Our first Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Saturday event. This event had 73 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver again had a really positive number in both representation (close to 23%) and win rate with a close to 55% non-mirror win rate. A good number of the other decks at the top of representation did fairly medium and it was instead some one-offs that had some positive numbers (such as Infect and Dreadnought decks).

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Delver 1st stu909090
Grixis Dreadnought 2nd ajdadd420
UR Delver 3rd OSCA66
Infect 4th Fenruscloud
UR Delver 5th MaxMagicer
GW Depths 6th DNEELEY
Elves 7th EronRelentless
Blood Moon Aggro 8th CasualWheels

This is a pretty interesting Top 8 with some clearly interesting decks represented. At the end of the event though it was UR Delver that took it all down.

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Slightly different build than the Super Qualifier list, as we see some options like Young Pyromancer and even a basic Island plus Mystic Sanctuary in this list. Definitely some interesting decisions here for sure.

The Second Place list was on Grixis Dreadnought.

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Dress Down has simply been one of the best cards for Phyrexian Dreadnought decks in general simply because it allows for some really busted turn setups where you can chain multiple Dreadnoughts into play in a single turn rather than having to have setup cards like Stifle to cast in response to the triggers.

Also in this Top 8 we had a showing by Infect, namely Sam Dams (Fenruscloud) who is one of the more prominent Infect players out there.

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I kind of love the Ensnaring Bridge tech by being able to sneak in an Infect creature under the Bridge and then pump it post-attack. Really cool tech in general there. This is a really solid list overall it seems.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had a showing by Blood Moon Aggro.

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Really interesting to see one of these types of decks float back up to the top, but with the advent of a lot of Delver I'm not actually surprised since Blood Moon pretty well wrecks it and 8Cast, while Chalice and Trinisphere also have game against both of those decks as well. With a lack of 4C/Bant Control being as good, this seems like the type of deck to pick up the pieces there.

Legacy Showcase Challenge 4/3

This past weekend we also had a Showcase Challenge event, which feeds into the Showcase Qualifier at the end of the season. The Top 8 competitors from this event move on to that event and get to compete for a lot of stuff including a MOCS invite and a PT Arena Championship invite. This event had 222 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Legacy Data Collection Project.

You can find the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the data sheet here.

UR Delver pushed it even further in this event with near 30% of the overall metagame and a 55% non-mirror win rate. Out of the reset of the top cutoff decks, Lands did exceptionally well and so did ANT.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UR Delver 1st Diem4x
Lands (8Mulch) 2nd KelMasterP
UR Delver 3rd __BMJ__
UR Delver 4th duke12
UR Delver 5th travis8427
UR Delver 6th Azerate218
GW Depths 7th mmapson125
Ruby Storm 8th MartinMedMitten

5/8 of the Top 8 here is UR Delver, and the deck won the event as well so there is that. There are a few interesting decks in the other three decks, but for now, let's look at the winner's list.

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Diem4x is quite the Delver pilot and they currently have more first-place wins in MTGO Challenges than any other pilot on MTGO, and that's saying a lot. Not surprised to see them perform well here as well.

The Second Place finalist was KelMasterP on 8Mulch Lands.

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This deck has continually undergone so much metamorphosis as players are still figuring out the best ways to construct the deck. It's been a lot of fun to watch the development of it and how it functions for sure. The biggest thing as we can see in Kel's list was dropping Urza's Saga entirely for Crop Rotation options and the Depths/Stage combo. Definitely has provided a powerful angle to this deck.

Down the Top 8 we had another showing in our good friend Michael Mapson on GW Depths.

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This deck is really really good, and it has adopted so many strong things over the life of the deck that it continues to generate some strong results. I really dig Outland Liberator out of the sideboard here. That card seems incredibly powerful in general.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had Ruby Storm.

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This deck is pretty cool and it has grown much over time. While we have often referred to this as The EPIC Gamble, this particular list is not running any Gambles at all and instead has adopted the roots of the deck's usage of Ruby Medallion as a cost reduction effect for its spells. We also have Bonus Round! Sweet stuff for sure!

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

You can find this past week's 5-0 deck lists over here.

Caleb Durward on a Nic Fit list?! BE STILL MY HEART.

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Pretty fun take on a more aggressive Hogaak build for sure.

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Mono White Stax is SWEET.

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When in doubt, Jund em out!

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This definitely counts as Spice! Thanks to Brian Coval for 5-0'ing with the sickest list in the deck dumps. Didgeridoo!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for continuing to support the column and join us next week as we continue our journey into Legacy!

As always you can reach me at Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition, I'm always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the MTGLegacy Discord Server.

Also it's worth noting that if you've been paying attention at all to my Twitter, I've been currently engaged in an awesome March Madness style tournament for the supreme MTG Dog. This is an awesome thing ran by @VorthosMike and it's super fun to have been a part of thus far. The next round of voting for my own pupper Anakin is coming up here on April 6th, so be sure to check it out!

Until next time!

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