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Vintage 101: A Showcase of Vintage Talent

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week is a bit of a light week in terms of raw content, but we are going to be looking heavily at the Vintage Showcase Challenge from over the weekend. In addition to that we've got one other Challenge event from the weekend plus the Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Vintage Showcase Challenge 2/25

This past weekend was a premier level event in the form of the Vintage Showcase Challenge. These events require Qualification Points (QPs) to enter and the event Top 8 feeds into the Showcase Qualifier event at the end of the Premier Play Season. These events long term feed into the Pro Tour level championships and eventually the MOCS, so they are a pretty big deal overall in the grand scheme of competitive Magic events on MTGO.

This particular event had 149 players in it, thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

This event had a good number of Mono White decks in addition to the more Control-based Bazaar decks, both of which had reasonable win rates. Out of the decks in the event, Aggro-based Bazaar strategies (like Hogaak) did very poorly. The breakout star of this event though was a major update to the Initiative-based decks in the UW Tinker variant with an overall 58.7% win rate for these "Other Tinker" decks.

We're going to talk about this deck a lot right off the bat here because it shows up in a number of events this weekend. Let's look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UW Initiative Tinker 1st Stormguyisme
Jeskai Lurrus 2nd unluckymonkey
UB Spelldancer Tinker 3rd TrueHero
Control Bazaar 4th MiddleEast15
Mono White 5th Scipios
Grixis Saga 6th burrarun
Doomsday 7th Tsubasa_Cat
Combo Shops 8th Cherryxman

Honestly all in all, it's a pretty varied Top 8. Good number of representations across multiple pillars of the format, from Bazaar and Workshops to Tinker and Mono White. It's a solid group for sure, and all of these players earn invitations to the Showcase Qualifier so that's pretty cool.

However, as we alluded to before, it was a very newer and fresher take on the Initiative formula that won the event in the form of UW Initiative Tinker.

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There are so many layers to this deck, it is crazy. One of the big common aspects of the Initiative decks that already exist in the format have been things like Ancient Tomb and Cavern of Souls to guarantee and ensure an Initiative creature hits the board as early as Turn 1. This deck however, drops a good portion of the Initiative deck's hatebear effects like Thalia, Archon of Emeria and the like, and centers the two primary Initiative creatures (White Plume Adventurer and Seasoned Dungeoneer) around a deck that looks more like a regular big Blue Tinker variant. The deck gets to play hallmark blue deck spells like Ancestral Recall and even Force of Will and also has blue deck favorite Lavinia, Azorius Renegade. And while Initiative is a thing this deck can do, it can also do the big Tinker thing with Bolas's Citadel to win the game that way... or it can also lean on Urza's Saga as a backup game plan.

There's a lot going on here and it's definitely incredibly interesting to see. The Initiative in general is a very strong mechanic and this deck definitely seemingly came out of nowhere this weekend as we will see later on. Still, it looks like a really strong deck and a super strong run (10-1? Yeah that's pretty good).

The Second Place finalist was on Jeskai Lurrus.

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The biggest thing here is the presence of new Phyrexia: All Will Be One card Mercurial Spelldancer. There is a lot of power behind this card and it really works well with decks like this where when you can copy cards like Time Walk or Expressive Iteration or even Merchant Scroll you can get a good feeling for how powerful it really is. The fact that it's unblockable is pretty solid by itself, and the synergy with Ragavan means you can also steal the opponent's cards and make copies of those instants/sorceries too.

Also on the Spelldancer train was TrueHero on a UB Tinker variant.

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Spelldancer here seems to fill the same role as the Arcanist role in the more Grixis-slanted Tinker variations which is actually pretty intriguing. The card being able to play here as a version of Arcanist within these specific color combinations is very cool, as it is giving options to decks that don't warp them into specific color combinations for these kinds of effects. Spelldancer in this deck gets to copy cards like Demonic Tutor and also just imagine copying a Timetwister with a Sheoldred, the Apocalypse in play. Absolutely gross.

We also had some Control Bazaar in this Top 8.

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The most interesting card here is the sideboard copies of Pyrokinesis because having multiple ways to cast an effect like this between both Fury and Pyro means a lot of ways to kill opposing creatures for free, namely the initiative creatures. Keeping the board clean is really good for a deck that wants to attack with creatures to close the game out for sure.

Outside of the Top 8 we managed to see some cool decks. One of the ones that popped out at me was 11th Place with a PO-Oath deck featuring Atraxa, Grand Unifier.

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Atraxa definitely has a lot of play to her and being able to have that kind of granular card selection is definitely strong. Looking forward to seeing more where that card ends up long-term for sure.

All in all this Showcase event looked very interesting and it lead deeper into the other Challenge event of the weekend as we will see with the advent of the UW Initiative deck. Definitely, an interesting place to start for sure.

Vintage Challenge 2/26

The second Challenge event of the weekend was a regular Challenge event. This event had 44 players in it thanks to the data collected by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

You can find all of the Top 32 decklists for this event here and the datasheet here.

Other Blue Tinker was the top deck of the event both in win rate and metagame share. You know what that means! We also had an array of different decks but not as wide as most events of this size.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
UW Initiative Tinker 1st medvedev
Control Bazaar 2nd noprops
UW Initiative Tinker 3rd Condescend
UW Initiative Tinker 4th Slasher21
UW Initiative Tinker 5th TrueHero
Mono White 6th cappe23
Mono White 7th nahuel10
UW Initiative Tinker 8th _Shatun_

A huge chunk of the Top 8 here is the UW Initiative deck. 5/8 of the event was this deck, and there were also two Mono White decks so there were a lot of White Plumes in this Top 8. Of course, the deck did win the event as well.

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Definitely very spot on to the same deck that Stormguyisme won the Showcase event with, even down to the sideboard cards featured. Seems like we have a new deck on the block to contend with for sure after this weekend.

The Second Place finalist was on Control Bazaar.

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The main deck Subtlety here is a cool include. Have definitely seen that one kicked around a bit in these lists as a way to combat Cavern of Souls out of the Initiative decks.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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

Deed Oath!

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thanks for your continued support of the column and join me next week as we continue our journey into Vintage!

As always you can reach me at my Link Tree! In addition, you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!

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