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Vintage 101: Playing for the Pro Tour

Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we're going to be talking all about the Vintage Super Qualifier event that was held this past weekend on Magic Online. This is a PTQ type event, and the winner qualified for a spot in one of the Kaldheim Championships (effectively the Pro Tour). We also have two other Challenges to discuss, so hold onto your hats, we've got a lot to get through!

Pro Tour Level Vintage - Super Qualifier 1/24

This past weekend we had a bonafide PTQ level event on Magic Online, with the Vintage Super Qualifier. This event grants the winner a qualification entry into a MTG Arena championship event, notably for the Kaldheim Championship. To supplement this particular set of events occurring on MTGO, the past two weeks have had a Mythic All Access Token available for purchase in the MTGO store which would give access to nearly every card on Magic Online. In addition, purchasing two tokens would qualify as entry into one of these PTQ level events, or you could spend play points or Qualification Points (QPs) to enter the event as well.

One of the big things that really stood out to me about this event was the size of it. Thanks to the efforts by the Vintage Streamer's Discord and their data collection efforts we know this event had a staggering 265 players in it. This is actually a bit more than the Legacy Super Qualifier during last week (which had 253 players). Whether this is because of the All Access Token or not is intriguing, but I would like to think that it's genuinely because Vintage as a format is definitely very interesting to play right now.

With that, let's take a look at the full metagame breakdown.

The Golos Combo Shops deck (Helm/Leyline, Depths Combo) was certainly among the most popular of decks in the event overall with a 13% metagame share. A close second was the Breach deck and all of its variants (Grixis, Jeskai, etc) and then from there, it's a mix of RUG, Jeskai, Doomsday, Shops, and Dredge. In all reality, this format and metagame looks pretty good. There's a wide array of things to be doing, and even newer decks like Bant Midrange and even Oops All Spells made a bit of a splash.

Also, in a list that was not published (since they only publish T32 lists) there is a legitimate Ponza deck at the bottom of this event. From the notes, it was literally like Modern R/G Ponza with Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Pillage. What's not to love about that?!

Quite frankly, it is exciting to me how many people played interesting decks from seeing a one of Crab Shack to other Fastbond piles and Goblins, much much more than the decks that were the most popular. There was even the dreaded "No Show!" (this is a joke, the player didn't show up and got dropped from the event)

Now, let's take a look at the Top 8 of this event.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
4C Midrange 1st Rooney56
BUG Midrange 2nd Falkoneye
Bant Midrange 3rd bozo2112
Golos Stax 4th Patxi
Bant Midrange 5th ecobaronen
Golos Stax 6th littledarwin
Doomsday 7th Gerschi
RUG Midrange 8th Kazuga

A lot of fair blue midrange piles in this Top 8, with three different ones taking up the Top 4. This is what I love about this format however is that many of these events operate on a push and pull metagame where every week we are treated to generally something new doing well or playing well in response to what the last week did. I think a lot of this has to do with the general size of these events and the fact that there are repeat players who play virtually every week.

At the end of the event however, it was Rooney56 piloting a deck utilizing URO, SCOURGE OF FORMATS who won the event. That's right... Uro won a Vintage event.

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This is the 4C Midrange Deathrite Shaman shell with just some different threats like Uro and Hullbreacher in addition to the Planeswalkers present. I am super curious at how good Uro was in Rooney's matches. What has become a bit of a powerhouse in literally almost every other format (except Standard where he's banned), Uro is definitely a card that has not utterly broken into Vintage despite some best efforts and attempts by players like Matt Murray (ChubbyRain) who have 5-0'ed with Uro piles. This is certainly a new and intriguing development and I have to wonder if we'll start to see more of the card in Vintage going forward due to how often players like to follow along with what is winning.

Still, congrats to Rooney56 on the win and for qualifying for the Arena Championships for Kaldheim! Now you have to learn Standard and Historic!

The other finalist in this event was Falkoneye on BUG Midrange.

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One thing I've found interesting about these BUG/4C decks is they have finally gotten around to adopting Mystic Sanctuary as a card. One of the things that sets Jeskai and RUG apart is the fact that those decks can cast and recast Ancestral Recall a bunch, either via Sanctuary or Dreadhorde Arcanist or Wrenn and Six ultimate. The DRS decks seem to have finally decided that casting Ancestral more than once is exceptionally strong and so now we're seeing Sanctuary in the manabases. I'm also intrigued by the Mystical Dispute here. Seems like a really solid card versus a good portion of the format for sure.

The Third Place list here that we're going to cover is the Bant Midrange pile or otherwise known as Bant Archon.

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Archon of Emeria is the real big reason to play this deck, as getting it on the board Turn 1-2 is really strong versus a wide array of decks. Many decks in Vintage operate on efficiently casting multiple spells a turn and closing that gap to one spell is very powerful. Also the fact that these things aren't Legendary really makes it powerful if you can put out more than one at a time, representing both hate that's hard to deal with and a clock since they're 2/3 fliers. This is certainly a neat deck for sure.

Rounding out the Top 4 of the event we had a showing by Golos Stax, one of two in the Top 8.

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This is the more Prison-esque aggressive strategy as opposed to the Combo variant, which was exceedingly popular in this event. In all reality despite having staggering numbers, the Combo variant only put two people total into the Top 32 of the event, whereas this variant put two decks out of ten into the Top 8. This however seems to flip back and forth week to week, so I think at this point it's just personal preference on which one you want to learn and play. The Stax variants like this list do have a great matchup vs Bazaar of Baghdad with three main deck Sorcerous Spyglass to shut off Bazaar plus main deck Tabernacle. This is certainly a powerful list for sure.

Outside of the Top 8 we saw some splashes from a few interesting decks, the first of which is Oops! All Spells in Vintage.

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Players familiar with how Legacy Oops functions will recognize this strategy. The primary goal is to get into play either Balustrade Spy or Undercity Informer and flip your deck into the graveyard. From there, it's a matter of using Dread Return to get back Thassa's Oracle to win the game. One of the big driving forces behind this deck was the printing of the MDFC cards from Zendikar Rising that had lands on the back, specifically the mythic ones that entered play tapped if you paid three life (Agadeem's Awakening primarily). This gave this strategy a much greater consistent game plan for sure. In addition to that, this deck also has a sub game plan of being able to drop Goblin Charbelcher on the table and killing the opponent that way. While some versions of this deck lean on green for artifact/enchantment destruction, this variant leans on blue for access to Force of Will and Ancestral Recall. In Vintage, this seems pretty smart to do so.

Another list that caught my eye was TrueHero on Death's Shadow.

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What is interesting here is the presence of the two Opposition Agent in the main deck, that part is pretty cool for sure. Looking at this I also think it would likely benefit from the presence of Mystic Sanctuary somewhere (and would be super easy to fit in), as again, recasting Ancestral Recall more than once is pretty absurd. Also in this deck recasting Thoughtseize also seems pretty silly and interesting since it grows your Shadows. This definitely seems like a really fun list though.

In the Future

Now that this event is over, it definitely seems like this was a really massive success on the part of Wizards to include Vintage as part of the Super Qualifier week. The turnout was great and it was also nice having the All Access Token for the two weeks to get people interested and potentially invested in trying out the format (despite how cheap it really is).

In the long run I think we will definitely see these kinds of events again for the format this year, and I think we'll continue to see the usage of the All Access Tokens to promote these kinds of weeks of Super Qualifiers, and I think Vintage will generally be a big part of that going forward. It's very clear that the online Vintage player base wants competitive outlets for the format, and this is a great way to give the players what they want.

Vintage Challenge 1/23

We also had two Challenge events last weekend, the first of which was the Saturday mid-afternoon event, which had a whopping 115 players in it! This is a little higher on average for the Saturday events, so that is really great to see that kind of turnout.

Let's take a look at how the metagame broke down for this event.

The Golos Combo Shops deck and Breach were both exceptionally popular in this event as was Jeskai, with each deck pulling in a 12-13% metagame share. This metagame again had some really interesting decks in it, and looked exceptionally varied and fun.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Breach 1st zachattack3
BUG Midrange 2nd Falkoneye
RUG Midrange 3rd slow_brz
Oath of Druids 4th Miharu_Fuyumiya
Bant Midrange 5th keiesu
4C Midrange 6th gucci_gabe
Doomsday 7th Cuikui
Golos Combo Shops 8th into_play

Again we had a lot of midrange piles in this Top 8, supplemented by four combo decks of differing strategies. At the end of the event it was Breach that took it all down.

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These decks continually keep improving and improving and adopting further stock variants like this list. The addition of Teferi is fairly recent and now every Breach list I see is doing it. It definitely makes a lot of sense however and is a powerful card that keeps people from interacting with the combo. 

The Second Place finalist here was also the Second Place finalist in the Super Qualifier the very next day in BUG Midrange piloted by Falkoneye.

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This looks to be spot on to their Super Q list, so there's not much to really talk about. Solid run into two Top 8's in two days though!

Also in the Top 8 we have the master of Oath, Miharu!

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Court of Bounty is a SPICY inclusion to this kind of list. I really dig it a lot. It's also interesting seeing Blazing Archon again in the sideboards after having floated in and out for a while now. Really cool list though.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we have the Golos Combo Shops list.

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These lists are powerful and also exceptionally popular. This seems to one of the go-to's for Shops players these days for sure. Wurmcoil Engine in the sideboard is certainly something.

Outside of the Top 8, speaking of two card combos we have the originator of two-card combo decks in Two-Card Monte.

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Named as such because it is simply playing a bunch of two card combos (namely Painter/Grindstone and Helm/Leyline) this deck also gets the added benefit of having access to also cast cards like Ancestral Recall and Pyroblast too, which is very powerful. Karn also acts as a tutor to get one of the combo pieces if need be.

Further outside of the Top 32 and furnished to me by the pilot who played the deck, we have a sweet and awesome Fastbond deck (seriously I love this card) utilizing both Valakut Exploration and Dryad of the Ilysian Grove.

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This deck can also do a solid game plan like old Ziasbond by having Ramunap Excavator as its Crucible effect to enable things like making infinite mana with Wasteland + another land with Fastbond and Glacial Chasm in play. It can also draw through its entire deck at that point using Bazaar and Wasteland/Strip Mine. Really super cool list overall!

Vintage Challenge 1/24

The other Challenge of the weekend was the Sunday early morning event, which had 51 players in it. This is to be expected considering how early it is for US players, and also probably many people prepping to play in the Super Qualifier the same day.

Let's dive right into the metagame breakdown.

The Sunday Metagame is always super interesting to me because of how combo centric it often is. Doomsday is incredibly popular with this crowd for sure, as is Breach. Still, for a smaller metagame, this is pretty great. There was also someone playing the best deck Noble Fish (invented by Mike Noble) and also a genuine RG Stompy deck in this event as well.

Let's dive into the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Ravager Shops 1st okarin_
4C Midrange 2nd Dazai
Ravager Shops 3rd bernardocssa
Colorless Eldrazi 4th DontKnoxTheHustle
Golos Combo Shops 5th Slasher21
RUG Midrange 6th ktmr-39
Breach 7th Ennuixd
RUG Midrange 8th poriden

Shops Shops Shops! Still a good number of midrange blue piles here, but it was certainly Shops that was super popular, with none other than Ravager Shops winning the event.

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It's neat seeing Ravager Shops do well. Fleetwheel Cruiser is such a really fun card (beep beep) and it's neat seeing stuff like Skysovereign, Consul Flagship in these builds as well. Also interesting to see a return to Ratchet Bomb/Powder Keg in the sideboards.

The Second Place list here is 4C Midrange.

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Oh hey, more Uro! This event technically took place before the PTQ, so it seemed like it was a sign of things to come. While this isn't the same pilot who won the PTQ event, this is very similar of a list for sure. Uro be wildin' in Vintage!

Also in the Top 8 we had a showing by Colorless Eldrazi aggro.

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Clean and straightforward lay down the beats plan here. Very linear and very powerful for sure. Get Eldrazi into play and swing for the fences is the name of the game here.

Speaking of Eldrazi, outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by the White Eldrazi build.

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This is a little more prison-heavy and controlling than the colorless build, utilizing prison lock pieces like Thalia and Archon of Emeria to keep the opponent from doing things and then deploying the big smashy smashies to beat down the opponent's life total.

Also outside of the Top 8 we had a showing by everyone's favorite Otter, Lutri!

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This is a neat list for sure. W6, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, and all sorts of cool stuff is going on here. I love it, it's like true Vintage singleton. Really neat list overall.

Around the Web

  • Justin Gennari posts a final farewell to Combo Oath! Check that out here.
  • Jim Davis posted an article on Vintage Oops! Check it out over here.

Want to see more here? Submit some content to me on Twitter and have it featured in this section!

The Spice Corner

If the following two decks aren't spicy, then you have no taste buds!

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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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