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This Week in Legacy: MKM Frankfurt and the First Week Without Top

Hello and welcome to another This Week in Legacy! This week we'll be running through the first week in wake of the Sensei's Divining Top ban. There's a surprising amount of new results to look at from both Online and Paper. Let's dig in.

MKM Frankfurt

The biggest recent event was of course MKM Frankfurt. 437 players come out to battle without Top, many of whom scrambled to find a new deck. The metagame broke down as below, and be sure to check out further details at the MKM website.

Grixis Delver is the newest crown prince, taking up the largest proportion of the field. However, it was not by much. Both Death & Taxes and Sneak & Show tied themselves for second-most represented at thirty-three players a piece. Sneak & Show is a solid choice in the post-Miracles metagame; not because it lost a poor matchup (Miracles was one of its better ones) but because the power of Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is always a great choice in unknown metagames. Death & Taxes I find more interesting. With a looming uptick in Elves and the deck being a "metagame deck" that preys on known, rather than unknown, competition, it's surprising to see it going so well.

One of the more interesting appearances was Stoneblade decks, who outpaced the BUG Control decks that were expected to fill the void that Miracles left. That being said, it is unknown whether the Blade decks consisted of 4c Stoneblade feat. Noble Hierarch, that has been so popular recently, Esper Deathblade, or more controlling variants such as Jeskai Stoneblade and Esper Stoneblade. I'd love to see a breakdown of this, but it's nonetheless nice to see the previously unpopular Squire now back at the forefront of the format in more traditional Blue shells. Elves, one of the greatest gainers from the ban followed closely behind, but certainly hasn't risen to the prominence initially expected, likely due to it being a pretty challenging deck to switch to, as well as a dog to the Sneak & Shows and Storms of the world. Speaking of Storm, it too had a reasonable presence, along with other combo decks such as Reanimator, Food Chain, and Infect. The old guard hasn't truly gotten much of a shake-up other than the presence of Stoneblade, though this is to be expected of a Week 1 metagame. It certainly isn't the combo and degenerate utopia many decried it to be.

The other incredibly interesting part of this graph is the 106 other decks that were unlabeled. It'd be exciting to see what brews were developing in this segment of the format, but I'm sure many will be revealed in due time.

Let's have a closer look at the Top 8:

Deck Player Placing
Sneak & Show Johannes Gutbrod 1
BR Reanimator Walter Wolfler 2
Food Chain Dalibor Szegho 3-4
Grixis Delver Mathias Schubert 3-4
Elves Julian Knab 5-8
4c Loam Felix Bolland 5-8
4c Stoneblade Christopher Wilhelm 5-8
Storm Robert Swiecki 5-8

Let's start by looking at ex-Miracles player Johannes Gutbrod, who opted on to Sneak & Show for this tournament:

Johannes, like many winners with Sneak & Show before, such as Kentaro Yamamoto, did not opt for the Omniscience package and instead kept it slim and simple. Again, this is largely a concession to an unknown metagame moving forward, as well as an expected drop in Death & Taxes. He also has a neat little hedge against hate bears too...

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This is not the first time Fire // Ice has found its way into Sneak & Show, and it offers a neat bit of utility, either getting rid of (perhaps multiple!) problematic hate creatures or cycling away while tapping down the opponent's mana. It also pitches to Force of Will, don't forget!

Johannes sideboard also is typical of more streamlined lists, having room for cards such as Grim Lavamancer and Pyroclasm, rather than a wish board. Also neat is to see is Defense Grid, which is some neat old technology.

The second-placer, Walter, was a familiar name and face to see!

Walter resided in Melbourne for some time while I was re-entering the Magic scene, primarily enjoying Modern and some crazy Glittering Wish and Siege Rhino brews, which always crushed me, since I played Burn. At MKM, he took the blistering fast Black-Red Reanimator, and notably utilized the White splash instead over other options. The Green splash for Red-Black may be looking more and more archaic, although hate bears like Containment Priest aren't covered by Wear // Tear, Collective Brutality has become a standardized addition to the seventy-five to deal with those and Deathrite. Reverent Silence's role is largely covered by Wear // Tear in killing Leylines, but notably also Cages.

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Walter found space for some great ones. Stronghold Gambit can be essentially another reanimation spell against decks such as Storm, while Blood Moon can lead to additional wins or cut off mana critical for Deathrite Shaman. I've been punished multiple times by Sneak & Show bringing in Blood Moons against my Delver decks. It's impressive to see now Reanimator can do the same.

A few other lists also made their way into the Top 8. Julian found his way into the Top 8 with a very stock list of Elves. Even without Miracles' presence, little has changed for the Elvish army, even the Decays in the sideboard. The only real change is the dropping of Cavern of Souls from two to one. Storm too still found Abrupt Decay worthwhile, though many lists Online have been looking to trimming the Green completely and going pure Grixis, leaning on softer hate cards like Echoing Truth and Hurkyl's Recall, or removal like Fatal Push. The Grixis list of Mathias Schubert had some odd numbers (such as two Stifle, one Snapcaster, etc.), but certainly proved that Pyromancer and friends were still at the top of the format. The Stoneforge representative was 4c Stoneblade that has had huge traction prior to Top's banning and now looks even more impressive, as the dorks of the deck no longer need to fear being swept away by Terminus and are now free to accelerate out Jace, Stoneforge, or True-Name. Interestingly, I expect this list to swap the numbers of Decays and Plows in future, with Plow perhaps a little more useful than Decay with Miracles gone. Rounding out the Top 8 was a Food Chain list featuring a Trinket Mage toolbox and 4c Loam.

Speaking of Loam, Niklas Kronberger, one of the pioneers of the most recent iteration of 4c Loam, brought a very spicy version of the deck to MKM Frankfurt. It was featured on the MKM Frankfurt stream, which you can find here. And here is the pretty wild list:

The well-known core of Knight, Loam, Chalice, and Fire is kept, but instead of Bob this list opts for Jace, the Mind Sculptor and the aggressiveness of Tarmogoyf. Note that a one-drop is also present in this deck too - Flusterstorm! - which will still function through a Chalice of the Void. Also note that one of the Amonkhet cycling lands, Irrigated Farmland, is featured in this list!

Magic Online and Other Decks Around the World

This week has also been full of people trialing technology elsewhere, such as on Magic Online and other tournaments.

Blue-White Control decks have probably the greatest amount of eyes set on them, wondering whether they can fulfil the void left by Miracles. They have come in a variety of forms; the first we'll have a look at is the hardcore control Stoneblade shell of AnziD:

This list dials up the hardcore control elements: quad-Snapcaster and quad-Jace are there to accrue card advantage, while the Counterspells give a solid (albeit slow) flexible answer to any issues. Supreme Verdict is the sweeper of choice in this list. Compared to Miracles, this list is certainly lacking, especially in terms of its matchup against combo decks (though this certainly improves post-board), and the deck really leans on Jace to triumph in the lategame. But the hardcore control elements certainly proved themselves effective with this 5-0.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the age-old Stoneblade core of Snapcaster, Stoneforge, and True-Name met some interesting utility lands, Celestial Colonnade and Moorland Haunt.

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This list impressively has a huge mana base of twenty-four lands, but has a lot of great mana sinks: from the typical Batterskull to the utility lands. Although only beating a small event, I also am a big fan of the ten-creature suite and the mix of non-creature spells in this list.

sunsong took a completely diffferent direction in Blue-White Control. "Legends" Blue-White Control is what I guess this can be called.

Although Karakas and Clique and Venser have been well-proven as pseudo-locks via Legends Miracles, Dragonlord Ojutai is quite a sight to behold. Along with Minamo, School at Water's Edge, Ojutai can remain Hexproof and keep bashing in, gaining cards in the process. The Cavern of Souls in this list also strengthens the Wizard-tribal component of the deck, and also gives further reason to stay only Blue-White, which also makes Back to Basics a strong card. Although this looks a little clunky, and many numbers are certainly off, there may be a spark of an impressive list somewhere here.

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Blue-White Control has certainly been getting a lot of love, but what about Blue-Red Control?

This list blends two exciting components together, Young Pyromancer and spells, and manlands and Standstill. I'm not sure how congruent these two components are, and this honestly looks much like a Delver deck that traded in its Delvers for Standstills. But the fact that a deck like this can 5-0 is very reassuring, showing that this oddball style of control may have a place in the metagame moving forward.

Another interesting way to take this deck is with Grove of the Burnwillows:

A Fact or Fiction is a lovely thing, and maybe there is now time to look towards bombish four drops like this as a way to go bigger. Of course, these decks will always have issues with creatures outside of Bolt range, but with the metagame as-is, full of small creatures, or three drops that very easily get Red Elemental Blasted, maybe a Blue-Red deck can take the cake.

The control deck that I think will soon take a spot in the limelight is the Japanese Esper Stoneblade lists, however. They've always had some great success in Japan, Top 8ing multiple KMC events, and their fluidity I'm very mpressed by. I wouldn't be surprised to see them moving into tournaments globally. Maybe adapting to metagames more flush with Death & Taxes is required (eg. using Gurmag Angler instead of Tasigur), but otherwise a list like this is not a bad place to start moving forward:

Turbo Depths, or a few new versions of Dark Depths decks in general, is what I'd like to highlight next:

This 5-0ing list is somewhat similar to what has been expected of Turbo Depths, but attacks from a new angle thanks to Tireless Tracker and Deathrite Shaman.

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Tracker is truly a kill-on-sight kind of creature, and though Bob has been found in these lists before, Tracker takes advantage of the acceleration Deathrite provides. With Deathrite, Tracker and Marit Lage to kill, I'm sure this list stresses out opposing removal effectively.

Meanwhile, this list assembles Dark Depths in a very different way, grinding the opponent into dust with Life from the Loam, which can completely screw the opponent in conjunction with Wasteland and Stifle. This list also makes a nice usage of Nissa, Steward of the Elements, and Nissa's place in Blue-based Loam shells may be very reasonable, as her zero is very reasonable to hit once a deck is filled primarily by lands.

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Thanks as always for reading This Week in Legacy! There's still many developments in the new metagame I have yet to go through, so please look forward to those, and any new developments, in the week ahead. For now, satiate yourself with some more articles from fellow content creators:

As always, 'til next time!

Sean Brown

Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I'm Playing This Week

Last week I brought to a small tournament something much more proactive than I usually run:

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The most interesting card I trialed was Harsh Mentor. Without Top he's a little lackluster, but taxing Deathrite and fetches is still quite nice as a Plan B, especially when damage is great for a deck burning people out with Fiery Confluence. Overall thw deck played like a champ, beating in the Swiss Grixis Delver, Aluren, 4c Loam, and the mirror (yes, the mirror...). I then beat Aluren yet again and then lost in the mirror. The board was hilarious, featuring Ensnaring Bridges on both sides, a swarm of Rabblemaster tokens on my side and my opponent eventually burning me out with Confluences. Find the rest of that Top 8 here.

However, what I've been thinking quite a bit about is how to attack the current metagame with a Delver deck. I do like where these Blue-Red Control shells are leading to:

But I still like my Delvers. This leads down the road of Matthew Brown-style UR Control/Delver hybrid, and I'm keen to investigate this. Miracles is no longer bigger than you and CounterTop is something that we don't need to fear. Price of Progress still gives this deck flexibility to burn out the greedy mana bases of opponent's.

The Spice Corner

Makahito Mihara was one of my idols as I just started out Magic. The combo deck he won Worlds with was amazing, as was the innovation Chapin gave the archetype when making it Mono-Red. And here, in Legacy, it is reborn:

Dragonstorm. Mizzix's Mastery. Oh my.

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