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This Week in Legacy: SCG Open Washington DC


Welcome to another This Week in Legacy! In this week’s edition, we run through the big event that just went past – the StarCityGames Open in Washington DC. It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen Legacy under the SCG limelight, and the event certainly delivered with a lot of interesting developments, especially the decks that popped up in the Top 8. We also have the corresponding Classic to look at for even more data.

Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

The SCG event had a Day 2 metagame breakdown similar to what we’ve seen before. You can see a pie chart of the metagame below or the SCG website for the actual numbers.

As expected, Grixis Delver and Czech Pile continue to sit as the most popular decks in the metagame. Interestingly, however, Lands also continued to be close to the upper echelons of the format, credit to its ability to crush the very fair current metagame, as well as the multitudes of Lands experts who frequent the SCG circuit. Storm also overperformed compared to previous events. There was much less Blade decks compared to previous tournaments we’ve seen (especially compared to Europe), however, despite Esper Deathblade being the deck that took out the tournament! The rest of the spread of the Day 2 metagame looked pretty familiar however, though a few people brought Tezzerator, Goblins, Pox and other more fringe decks, which is always to be expected in Legacy.

The Top 8

The Top 8 broke down as below:

Deck Player Placing
Esper Deathblade Jon Goss 1
4c Loam Matthew Vook 2
Grixis Delver Bob Huang 3
Eldrazi Stompy Richard Cox 4
ANT Caleb Schrer 5
RUG Delver Ryan Lesko 6
Grixis Delver Benjamin Nikolich 7
Miracles Matt Kuranda 8

Let’s first look at the winning Esper Deathblade list!

This looks like Bant Deathblade was taken as a starting point, but the more aggro-control elements eventually removed. No longer do we see Daze and the full eight mana dorks with Noble Hierarch included. The number of Wastelands in this list have been minimized. Instead, more controlling elements ala typical Esper Deathblade such as Snapcaster Mage, Baleful Strix, and a full pack of Thoughtseize round out this deck. It is still notably in the realm of “throw haymakers at your opponent until they die,” however, with a full set of True-Names and Stoneforges and three Leovolds. Per usual, the UWBg colour combination affords a lot of powerful sideboard cards against combo and fair matchups alike.

I like where this has taken the Bant Deathblade core. I do feel the deck will always be susceptible to Kolaghan's Command, but removing the “fluff” from old Bant Deathblade may allow it to battle through Czech Pile a bit more effectively.

At second was a big finish for all the 4c Loamers out there!

Matthew Vook’s 4c Loam list is somewhat stock, though the Ramunap Excavator is a nice touch. The card I think is the highlight of Vook’s deck, however, is the full four Abrupt Decay.

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Everyone has been sleeping on Decay after Push’s arrival. People have forgotten how powerful and flexible an uncounterable removal spell for almost everything in Legacy is. But Matthew Vook did not.

Looking less at the deck list and more at the deck choice, 4c Loam has always been a deck performing incredibly well at the peripheries of the format. For a non-Blue deck, it gives its player a huge amount of agency and disruption and Knight of the Reliquary is still an incredibly impressive threat that can take over games.

You can see Matthew Vook’s report on r/MTGLegacy here, and catch him on quite a few feature matches at the SCG Twitch video archive.

Bob Huang took down another Top 8 with his Grixis Delver list of choice, definitely a credit to his skill with the deck (or Delver in general). I’d also like to congratulate Richard Harley Cox on the finish with Eldrazi, a most pleasant person I’ve interacted with thanks to our work on the Bomberman deck together. Caleb Schrer was also once again rewarded for his dedication to Storm.

Of course, what gets me most hyped up in this Top 8 is this deck:

So RUG Delver is still actually good, right?

MKM Hamburg, Eternal Weekend and SCG DC (along with my own win, ehem) actually proves that the Goose is still as loose as ever. Compared to its Grixis and BUG peers it had the lowest numbers of all the Delver variants (only three players in Day 2), but has been able to persist and fight to the Top 8 of all these large events.

Why? RUG Delver is the best Delver deck at just “Delvering” the opponent. In a metagame flush with midrange goodstuff like Czech Pile, rather than try and grind against these decks as BUG or may Grixis may, RUG is the best at simply “going under” and dismantling the opponent with the most powerful mana denial plan of all the Delver decks, as well as threats like Nimble Mongoose that are incredibly difficult to deal with for decks flush with Fatal Push. The pure efficiency of Spell Snare and Pyroblast post-board leave the deck also able to punish the current top-tier decks of the format in Czech Pile.

Interestingly, Ryan Lesko opted for the good ol’ Tarmogoyf over the more novel recent trend of Hooting Mandrills. As outlined in his post on r/MTGLegacy however, I do understand his logic in a large Open-style tournament. Having the “Zoo draw” of Delver into Goyf can aggro out some otherwise terrible matchups like Eldrazi and other Chalice decks and randomness that pops up in the format, like Nic Fit. Mandrills doesn’t really allow for this. I do think having Goyf makes the deck a bit worse against Czech Pile, however, though a post-board plan of flooding their removal may be an option.

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Other exciting choices are the Chain Lightning over Forked Bolt (mainly to ensure all removal can deal with Leovold) and the exciting Seal of Fire in the sideboard. This technology has been seen from the likes of Jonathan Alexander and malimujo, and ensures that against Grixis Delver Goyf can still dominate the battlefield despite Anglers. It also cannot be eaten by opposing Deathrites compared to something like Tarfire.

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Ryan also interestingly opted for Winter Orb still. I’m absolutely in love with the card’s synergy with the RUG gameplan (Dazing with an Orb in play is one of the finer pleasures of life), but with Ryan’s deck already prone to Czech Pile’s removal due to playing Goyf, having Orb as part of the sideboard plan is a little suspect to me. But maybe it isn’t there for that matchup.

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Nonetheless, congratulations Ryan. Yourself, Marius and Eric’s placing has lit fires in the hearts of Mongoose lovers everywhere.

Lastly, let’s look at the innovative Miracles list from Matt Kuranda:

A very stock Miracles list, eschewing Red cards too. The spiciest piece of technology in this list is though, of course, the main deck Search for Azcanta.

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This card is getting love in more and more of the formats. I feel it’s similar to Sylvan Library in some ways as a card selection device initially, and can become especially powerful with graveyard synergies like Snapcaster Mage or even Punishing Fire (as seen in the recent Punishing Dack lists). Once flipped it is a continuous stream of card advantage. It is perfect in a shell like Miracles that can make plenty of land drops, hold up countermagic and then on endstep use Azacanta to keep control of the game going. I am a fan, but I’m sure it’s more of a flex card than anything.

There is another Miracles list I’d like to talk about as well:

Daniel Miller was ripping through the tournament up to the last rounds, ending up tied for top seed in Round 14. It's notably a sixty-one card list, due to indecision to main deck Entreat or not. It has a lot of haymaker tap-out cards compared to usual lists, with Counterbalance, Gideon and Entreat all in tow. Main deck Back to Basics is also certain to dominate the premier decks of the format, Grixis Delver and 4c Control.

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However, Dan was unfortunately disqualified moving into Top 8. I myself only understand the details second-hand, but it seemed to be an error in the way he phrased his prize splitting intentions. Apparently, he did so knowingly in front of the judges with certainty that what he was saying was acceptable. The judges deemed otherwise, and hence the disqualification. That being said, Dan Miller has been an upstanding force in the Legacy and has worked thoroughly on neo-Miracles, bringing it to 9th place at Eternal Weekend too. From my understanding of the situation and the player, there was no malicious intent.

The Top 32

There’s a few lists I’d like to highlight from the Top 32:

Dylan Donegan brought his version of Grixis Delver that he’s been working on for some amount of time. Very RUG influenced, it aims to Stifle / Wasteland the opponent into oblivion but have Gurmag Angler as top-end threat over Tarmogoyf. Included is also Thought Scour to keep the Angler fuel going. Unlike his previous lists featuring four Scours, two Scours have now become the norm, similar to Maxtortion’s conclusion with Esper Delver.

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Another card that really is lovely to see in this shell is Liliana, the Last Hope. This adds a very different axis that can take over the game to this very traditional tempo deck, which I like a lot (it’s similar in reasoning to why I run Life from the Loam in RUG). Similar to Loam, it can fill up the graveyard for Angler or Deathrite and revive dead threats.

I’m also really liking Dylan’s super-clean sideboard. This definitely feels like my style of Grixis Delver.

This has been seen a couple of times in Premier level events, but Metalworker Stax once again makes a high-profile finish at SCG DC! It’s relatively close to previous lists we’ve seen, though Metalworker beatdown as the only win condition main is certainly riveting. I also like the incorporation of multiple Sorcerous Spyglass across the seventy-five and Serum Powder helps reduce the high-variance draws this deck can get. You can find Michael Coyle’s report here.

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Other exciting lists include Sam Roukas bringing the Esper DeathMentorBlade list that Top 8 Eternal Weekend, Jadine Klomparens also rocking RUG Delver, Maverick in the hands of David Biggs finding a place and Jarvis Yu rocking the Tombstalker Grixis Delver list that Top 8ed Eternal Weekend and I’m sure he had a part in creating.

SCG DC Classic

Moving on to the smaller Classic, again a few exciting lists popped up! Very traditional Burn took down the event which makes sense considering how midrangey and greedy the format is getting.

Two Infect lists made the Top 16 of the event, but the one I’d like to highlight most is the one touting Nissa, Steward of Elements!

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Also, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy! Nissa I am much less a fan of. At three mana (at least) she is a card selection engine (who may grind out some card advantage later), but I do like how she afford the deck an alternative win condition. Jace I like a lot more because he is much more synergistic with Infect’s game plan. Although he can be killed, this is not too bad if soaking up removal for one of Infect’s other threats. He can also similarly be defended with Vines and other protection spells. And, if flipped, he can grind out card advantage via flashing back cantrips or double up on pump spells when going in for the kill. Or provide a very alternative but reasonable win condition! I feel he holds a slot similar to main deck Sylvan Library, which has often made an appearance, in some ways.

Two Blue-Red Delver decks found their way into the Top 16, taking very different approaches:

This one had a very odd threat suite, but I do like Cryptic Serpent as the Gurmag Angler-esque threat to finish the game. I am less keen on Bomat Courier who looks a little too cute and fragile. This is a very nice list for something like Chart a Course to find a place, however.

This is more traditional Blue-Red Delver, tempo, rather than aggro, style. I always disliked the dissynergy of Stifle and Young Pyromancer in these shells, however, and would sooner prefer Chart to grind a bit more (it’s also great with Pyromancer) and maybe some Serpents to go over the top.

Meritt has been a master of these Knight and Punishing Fire shells, and here we are again, this time with Wild Nacatl in company?! Plow and Bolt and Fire mean that this can menace most of the format, however, especially the puny creatures of Pile. True-Name is always going to be a bit of an issue though. Modern all-star Voice of Resurgence seeing a bit of play as a Green Sun’s Zenith target is pretty spicy though, as is this deck’s ability to turbo out Thalia, Heretic Cathar. Speaking of Thalia… The main’s lack of her likely makes this an extreme dog to combo. Guess you can’t have all the cool stuff…

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Lastly, Death’s Shadow in Legacy once more rounds out the Top 16. This list is pretty crammed, and trimming Ponders is always a little odd, but to fit in all the self-damage of Thoughtseize and Probe it is somewhat unnecessary. I feel Seize and Stifle have somewhat conflicting gameplans, however, and I’d honestly choose one or the other.

Conclusion

That brings us to the end of another This Week in Legacy. Hopefully you enjoyed the investigation into SCG DC. As always, here’s some links from around the net:

  • Phil Gallagher puts up another report of his run at DC. Seems his list has been running well, with Derczo finding a strong finish with it too.
  • Bob Huang talks bannings in Vintage and Legacy. Find that at CFB.
  • Legacy Breakfast talk Standstill!
  • An amazing breakdown of the format by /u/TheAmericanDragon outlining the entire post-Top metagame. This is great, find it here.
  • Mengucci plays Elves!
  • Seth runs through an odd Reanimator variant that 5-0ed here on Goldfish!
  • I’ll talk about this a bit next week, but there’s also been some impressive announcements for Legacy players in terms of the GP schedule. Here’s the link to that from the mothership, be prepared for wow.

That’s all for this week!

Sean Brown

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

What I’m Playing This Week

I’ve been harping on about trying a Blue-Red Delver shell. I think I’ve tweaked the numbers well enough now:

I’m looking for a big grind engine card in the sideboard, and maybe the sideboard Snapcasters could be something spicier… Like Chandra, Torch of Defiance or something. Nonetheless, the main looks pretty sleek and perhaps is a good shell for Chart.

The Spice Corner

DNSolver brought… Ooze Reanimator to the recent Challenge?! This deck has always been on the fringes as a Reanimator variant, but notably gets access to Shallow Grave as an instant-speed way to kill the opponent. The deck is pretty fun, but whether it’s better than typical variants… Is questionable.


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