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Vintage 101: It's Showcase Time, Baby!


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're diving into the results of this past weekend's Vintage Showcase Challenge event on Magic Online. These events are pretty important premier play events and they often have quite a bit of players in them to get a solid picture of the metagame. In addition to that we've got one other Challenge to discuss as well as a Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Vintage Showcase Challenge 3/5

Showcase Challenges are the sweetest events to cover in general for this column, because they are often incredibly exciting from the level of the number of players involved in them but also the general energy behind these events is very high in the Vintage community. These events are high end premier play events that costs Qualification Points (QPs) to enter, specifically 40 QPs. QPs are earned by doing well in other events such as Leagues and Preliminary events. Because of this these events are often well stacked with some very powerful players.

The big draw of these events is the fact that by making Top 8 of this event you are invited to compete in the Showcase Qualifier event at the end of the season. The Showcase Qualifier event is a great event with solid prizes simply for showing up and playing, let alone the fact that the winner of that event goes on to a PT level championship event as well as receives an invitation to the MOCS (Magic Online Champion's Showcase). This makes these Showcase Challenge events pretty important on Magic Online in the grand scheme of things by being able to qualify for a PT level event playing Vintage!

This particular event had 118 players in it, which is incredibly solid for one of these events. What is great about these events is the fact that having this much data adds mainly to the overall understanding of the current Vintage metagame, and we definitely wouldn't have this without the tireless efforts of the Vintage Streamer's Discord and the data team ran by our good friend Justin Gennari. Big thanks to him and to all the players who help collect the data for these events!

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

It's clear that we are reaching a point in the format where our understanding of it has fully identified that one of the most popular archetypes in the format is Blue Tinker shells. The popularity of utilizing Tinker and Bolas's Citadel combined with Urza's Saga is exceptionally popular, but at the same time the decks within that space are exceptionally varied in color combinations and overall strategy with no truly defined stock list to go off of, and that alone really helps players metagame against these, which means that while it's popular, it doesn't always smash the format and sometimes gets dragged down in win rates. More focused archetype specialists have shown how good they are at this format and understanding that, with decks like Doomsday performing in the hands of players like discoverN (probably the best Vintage Doomsday player on all of Magic Online at this point) and decks like Hogaak which has a good amount of dedicated pilots as well (players like noprops, etc.).

All in all, this makes Vintage look like what I have been saying for some time. The format is incredibly fun, interesting, has plenty of complex micro-decisions to it still, and most of all it is pretty varied in a lot of different ways.  The fact that we have plenty of interesting Non-Blue decks in the format as well as Blue decks that are all super varied in their construction and game plan is really cool considering that much of the format can at times look the same because of the core aspects of restricted cards, but plenty of those cards play out very different in various decks. Vintage is definitely incredibly fun to play right now, and this event really shows what I feel.

Let's now take a look at the Top 8 of this event. As a reminder, the Top 8 here are all players who will get that qualification to go onto the Showcase Qualifier at the end of the season, so congrats to all of them! We are also going to discuss each unique list in this Top 8 (so multiples of a list, only the highest placing list will be linked).

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Hogaak 1st dannyground
Doomsday 2nd discoverN
Esper Tinker 3rd zachattack23
Paradoxical Outcome 4th IamActuallyLvl1
Breach 5th Terribad
Esper Tinker 6th fatto10
Aggro Shops 7th eggybenny
Esper Tinker 8th SenpaiBlank

This is a solid Top 8, with quite a bit of Tinker variants in it, but also some combo like Doomsday as well as an Aggro Shops deck. At the end of the event it was Hogaak that took it all down on a very interesting list by dannyground!

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This list is pretty sweet, and I dig the tech of including Grief in the main deck here as a way of hitting on the opponent's hand with disruption while creating an advantage with Hogaak and friends to close the door. Boseiju in the sideboard is pretty interesting and I'm curious how it plays out in this deck given that there are a lot of cards that cost Black and the cost of having Boseiju in an opener is pretty rough on that. Hogaak is certainly a stellar deck right now, and can commit a lot of power very quickly to the board.

The Second Place finalist here was discoverN, a Doomsday champion in every way on well... Doomsday.

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Doomsday continues to be one of those decks that overtly hasn't had to change so much over time to respond to the metagame forces around it outside of being able to play all the same disruption that they have been playing for some time now. Thassa's Oracle very much opened up this deck's ability to play better countermagic and better disruptive elements and still maintain a solid presence in the metagame without really having to change cards to adjust to that too much. It's amazing to see how Doomsday has evolved at least, primarily more in the sideboard where we have often seen cards like Tasigur, the Golden Fang and even Murktide Regent show up as a fair-ish game plan for post board, but this list really is just going for the throat of doing the same thing every game and using its powerful disruption to back that up. discoverN is an incredibly talented Doomsday player as well who knows the deck inside and out, so seeing their performance here does not surprise me at all.

Down to Third Place we had Esper Tinker, the first of three of these decks in this event.

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Sometimes these lists are on Hullbreacher, sometimes they aren't and are instead on cards like Mentor and Lavinia. Lavinia especially gives the deck a lot of disruptive capability versus plenty of other decks in the format and Mentor is a solid win condition still in this format full of Urza's Sagas. The Tinker shells continue to be very popular though, and the Esper shell seems to be one of the more popular variants of the deck.

At Fourth Place we've got our good friend Justin Gennari on PO!

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Justin continues to prove time and time again how much counterplay exists versus cards like Urza's Saga. In this case, the primary piece of counterplay is cards like Dress Down which can absolutely blow out a board of Saga tokens in one fell swoop. Balance out of the sideboard here is often pretty brutal as well given that the PO decks don't often commit a ton of creatures to the board when wanting to cast it (and given that they only play three creatures this is pretty easy to do). Teferi, Time Raveler also seems incredibly powerful here, making it hard for the opponent to shut off the deck with Collector Ouphe if it can be bounced, or also just making it difficult for the opponent to interact with a PO being cast. Either way, Justin knows this archetype pretty intimately and it's great to see him continue to do well with it.

Down at Fifth Place we've got Breach.

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Ragavan and Laelia were definitely really good printings for these Grixis / UR based Breach shells. Having just a solid aggro-style game plan that just happens to mesh pretty well with working towards a Breach kill is really solid, and both Ragavan and Laelia generate a lot of really powerful advantage in the early game that can both be pressure and card advantage. The opponent has to be worried about these cards versus this deck and have the relevant pieces of removal for them, and Laelia having haste plus Ragavan having Dash makes it incredibly potent to come down in a critical turn and put through the last bit of damage needed to win a game. This list also has a sideboard Murktide Regent for extra utility as a fair matchup card in post board games.

Moving down to the final list to talk about in Seventh Place we've got Aggro Shops.

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Aggro Shops really got a solid boost in the past year mainly thanks to Urza's Saga, but I think it was really Nettlecyst that really pushed the power level of this deck to where it is now. Having a threat on a stick that can win through a Null Rod is really powerful and having that threat be scalable is really powerful without having to invest much mana beyond three mana into it to put it into play is really good as well. It makes it much better in the long run than a card like Stonecoil Serpent, and even this deck is playing one of those. We also get to see that these decks are back to respecting Doomsday's existence again with the sheer presence of Archive Trap in the sideboard. Very niche card but it is very good against that deck.

Vintage Challenge 3/6

The second Challenge event of this past weekend was a regular Challenge event early Sunday morning. This event had 45 players in it thanks to the data provided by the Vintage Streamer's Discord.

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

Tinker decks took a downturn this event and honestly I think people were just better prepared for them here and wanting to play other things, which is one of the really cool features of the format at the moment where players can shift the overall metagame an event at a time. Hogaak had an uptick here and so did Aggro Shops, and both did pretty well overall.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Hogaak 1st Tsubasa_Cat
UR Tempo 2nd Mogged
Doomsday 3rd Diem4x
Aggro Shops 4th scalo94
Hogaak 5th noprops
Jeskai Control 6th SenpaiBlank
Dredge 7th toondoslav
BUG Midrange 8th yoshiwata

Again, a solid Top 8 here with some variety in archetypes. And again, we had a really killer win by none other than Hogaak (just sweeping the weekend) in the hands of Tsubasa_Cat!

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I am kind of digging the Loam tech in the sideboard here, and also very interesting to have a copy of Savannah in the sideboard. Definitely a solid main deck here though. This deck is hard to get wrong, it has such a strong game plan overall.

The Second Place finalist here was on UR Tempo.

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Ragavan while being banned from Legacy can continue to be just as reasonable when paired with Murktide in Vintage in these more tempo-esque style decks, especially when supplemented by cards like Expressive Iteration which can be extremely powerful with free cards like Moxen and the like. This is a solid list to look at if you like this play style.

Also down the Top 8 we had some Jeskai Control showing up.

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Ethereal Forager is a sweet card I haven't seen in a while. I really think the card is pretty sweet, so it's fun to see it in a list. Also showing up here is a new card from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty in March of Otherworldly Light which is really interesting. I have to wonder how this card applied itself in this deck for sure.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had a showing by Dredge.

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This is definitely a solid place for Dredge as a list, and seems to be pretty consistent with other Dredge decks in the current format. Creeping Chill remains a really strong option for the deck, as does having both Forces and then also having post board answers to things like The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale which currently sees quite a bit of play in sideboards of decks.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari continues to push the content out there, with a video on Esper PO from the Showcase. Check it out here.
  • Our good friend Phil Gallagher is playing some Patchwork Automaton business this past week. Check that out here.
  • In a rare and interesting turn of events, yours truly (as in me, the author of this article) got a shoutout by none other than Pleasant Kenobi on a video about Risen Reef in Vintage! Check that out here!

The Spice Corner

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

Tameshi, Reality Architect PO is exactly what I'm here for.

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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 Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! In addition you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!



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