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Vintage 101: The Content Machine

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 something new and doing a first of hopefully many Player Spotlight Series for Vintage! We're kicking things off with a bang with one of the Vintage format's current major ambassadors and all around great guy Justin Gennari! In addition to that we've got some Challenges to discuss and also a Spice Corner!

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Player Spotlight Series - The Content Machine

If you're familiar at all with my Legacy articles, you've probably seen these types of articles already. If you're not familiar with them, basically I am going to be doing more of these Player Spotlights to help shine some lights on some of the community members we have out there playing this format. What I love about these articles is that it is more than that, it is about telling stories. And in that regards I give the people I work with on these the leverage and freedom to tell their own story because I have often felt it is more authentic and more interesting that way.

For this first one, it felt appropriate to start with one of the current format's major ambassadors because he truly has been that person for a few years now. I'm talking of course about Justin Gennari. He's a content machine, putting out videos left and right and streaming as much as possible, but he also heads the group of players who help collect data every weekend on the Magic Online Challenges, and he also puts out a lot of content for players newer to the format as well. So... without further ado, let's meet Justin Gennari.

The Beginning

Hello MTGGoldfish readers, Justin ‘IamActuallyLvL1’ Gennari here to tell you some stories. I began my Magic adventure like many young Americans at Boy Scout camp. Every day some of the older scouts would all be huddled around a wooden picnic table. One of those days my curiosity got the better of me and I joined the group. It was there that I played my first game of Magic, Qumulox Affinity vs Tooth and Nail Elves. Not the easiest of decks to learn the game with but maybe this was the start of a long addiction to cheating Colossuses into play. Needless to say, I was completely hooked and after returning home set out to get my own cards.

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My early days of casual Magic were much less flashy than Affinity or Elves. Simply battling starter decks versus my brother and some friends, the real powerhouses of the living room floor were Pewter Golem. Plated Slagwurm, and Rhox (how can you even beat regenerate!). I would continue picking up set theme decks and random booster packs for a few years before shelving the hobby. It wouldn't be until near the end of high school when I would begin my more competitive adventure.

Entering Competition

In high school around the time of the release of Scars of Mirrodin I was reintroduced to Magic. Discussing decks in math class with local PTQ endboss William Moore was a great way for this noob to expand his knowledge (thanks for listening to me gush over Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon Will!). It was during this time where I started attending local game stores and battling in FNM. I have many memories of shady, back alley game stores where the paint on the walls looked suspiciously like blood. There I would learn by being constantly defeated by MTG Pro and future WOTC employee Melissa Detora. Nothing shows you how much you have to learn like being dismantled week in and week out by a much stronger opponent.

The pipeline from there is one you probably have heard of. Attend FNMs, move on to GPTs, attend your first GP, your first PTQ, and then every single PTQ or PPTQ you can get your hands on. For a few years I engaged in “Play the Game, see New England” before expanding to “Play the Game, See the US” and finally “Play the Game, See the World”. I've been lucky enough to have Magic drag me across the country and across the world. Over the time I was attending GPs and battling in the trenches of northeastern PTQs I had a few near misses. A RPTQ Top 8 loss, a GP 12-3 with Energy, a GP 10-0 start with Grixis Delver and many many more. However the success I found was mostly in the lifelong friends I made along the way.

Finding Vintage

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Speaking of those friends, that brings us directly to how I found out about Vintage. Driving back from GP Montreal we always found ways to pass the time. During this particular drive, my companions were reminiscing about old magic decks and the topic of discussion was “Cerebral Assassin”. Don't bother looking it up, it's not a card, just a silly old deck name. This classic Vintage deck would use Squee, Goblin Nabob and Possessed Portal to lock out the opponent. I was hooked on this idea. “How long ago was this playable?” “Can we update it for today’s metagame?” “Don’t you have a Vintage tournament coming up?”. One thing led to another and three players brought an absolutely unplayable Cerebral Assassin deck to TheManaDrain Open 17 (The Waterbury). I barely won any matches at that tournament but I was hooked.

Launching Into the Community

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After TMD 17 I found myself wanting more Vintage in my life. My meme deck was fun but I wanted to truly learn how to play the format. The best way to do that was (and still is) to start playing Magic Online. I began to jam countless matches in old dailies and challenges learning the ins and outs of Paradoxical Outcome. My lists were a mess and my format knowledge fledgling but I stuck with it until 2 years later at TMD 19 where all my hard work came to a head.

My journey at TMD 19 is chronicled in this tournament report and is best summarized with this beautiful finals board state and end of tournament photo.

My win at TMD 19 helped springboard my entrance into the Vintage community at large. I would use my success with PO to launch my Twitch stream and even write an article on the deck for SCG. Still, what followed I could never have expected.

Twitch, Discord, and YouTube

When I started streaming Vintage in 2018 it began as a very low key affair. A few people would join me nightly as we battled in the MTGO trenches. Slowly I began to discover just how connected all the Vintage players on MTGO were. They would always show up to hang out with each other on the four or five different Vintage streams and everyone in leagues knew everyone else who played leagues. It was during that time that the Vintage streamers (Matt, Briba, Geeky and I) decided to make a discord for the people who watched Vintage on MTGO. That discord has grown from a small streaming community to the largest and most active place to discuss Vintage on the internet.

I was very happy back then to be able to hang out with a small group of watchers and just play Vintage after work. This social aspect of streaming helped me blend my post-work hours in a consistent weekly schedule. Streaming became another extension of my hobby and slow and steady growth over the beginning years followed. Then in 2020 with the beginning of the COVID pandemic many MTG players found themselves with no way to continue interacting with their hobby. I was fortunate to already be streaming on a consistent basis and have my small social net on Twitch. With the inability to go elsewhere I leaned in all the way and started streaming more after work and every Saturday I streamed the Vintage Challenge. Steady growth became exponential growth and exponential growth led to some of the most amazing experiences I could hope for. I expanded to YouTube to archive my Twitch videos and allow people around the world who couldn't catch my live streams a chance to join in the action. Combining Twitch, Discord, and YouTube has led to an amazing snowball and in my opinion a vibrant and active online Vintage community.

Successes and Endeavors

The things I have accomplished while streaming far surpass anything I had done in Magic before them. Since beginning my stream I have now qualified for three different Pro Tours playing this beautiful niche format. A set of accomplishments I was never able to achieve while grinding around the world. I believe my skill level is the highest it's ever been and that is a direct result of the hours spent grinding in the trenches and the ability to review and discuss choices with a variety of powerful wizards. Twitch chat can be a great source for improvement on your Magic journey and I am immensely thankful to any and all of my viewers who have stopped by along the way.

One thing that always sticks out to me about Vintage is its community of players. Over the four years I have been streaming with no delay or hand hider very seldom have I worried about stream sniping. The players have genuine respect for each other and all want the same thing, more people to play Vintage with. They will reach out and lend a helping hand to newcomers whether that be answering questions or loaning cards. This is at the forefront of my mind when I think about the Data Collection Team. A group of Vintage players will go out of their way to stay longer and watch replays of MTGO tournaments so that the community has access to data on the format. You see this data weekly in Joe’s articles and I want to make sure people are aware of the hard work and effort this team goes through to get that data to you. There are too many names to list but I would like to especially thank the Sunday morning data collectors.

The Future

I believe I have started rambling at this point so let's wrap things up. I don’t know what my future in Magic looks like. With the return of the paper Pro Tour, I have a second chance at a goal I failed to accomplish in my previous competitive stint. Will I start dedicating weekends to the PPTQ grind again? Will I slowly stop streaming challenges? When will I find time to sling the paper Power I bought after finding out how much I loved the format? I don't have these answers but what I do know is that the Vintage Community online that I am a part of is full of amazing people who make my day to day life better by being there, and I hope it will stay that way for as long as we can keep this format alive.

Thank you for reading my stream of consciousness! I hope you will join me for some Vintage magic whether live or recorded in the following places:

I also hope you continue supporting Joe and his article series here on MTGGoldfish. It's a blessing to still have a writer putting out weekly Vintage content in 2022. Great work Joe!

Until next time,

Justin ‘IamActuallyLvL1’ Gennari

Vintage Challenge 4/30

The first Challenge of the weekend was the mid afternoon event. This event had 58 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 data sheet here.

Tinker had a popular presence by a single deck, but UR Tempo decks had a much better performance all around, as did Dredge and PO. There is certainly a lot going on in this event for sure.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Grixis Tinker 1st ReneRandrup
Breach 2nd ecobaronen
Hollow Vine 3rd _Milhouse
UR Tempo 4th Shadowz2005
Hogaak 5th Cuikui
UR Tempo 6th Bullwinkkle6705
Paradoxical Outcome 7th Nick_Fox
UR Tempo 8th s063

Fairly interesting Top 8 with some representation across several pillars of the format here. Quite a bit of UR Tempo for sure. At the end of the event, it was Grixis Tinker that took it all down.

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These lists are generally very strong right now in the current format, but we are seeing the effect at large dragging down the win rates, definitely enforcing the fact that there is a lot of skill in piloting these shells properly. The threats these shells play too also flips a lot from week to week and a lot of that is based on personal preference honestly from what I've seen.

The Second Place finalist was on Breach.

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Laelia is definitely a really strong card for these kinds of decks, giving the deck a really big go-tall threat that also pushes through the deck at the same time and that in of itself makes the card really interesting and fun.

Also in this Top 8 we had some Hollow Vine action.

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Snapback is such a cool and obscure card in Magic's history, but it's one that has seen sideboard play in these shells before. Force of Bounce though is pretty cool when you're trying to get rid of something problematic on the board.

Further into this Top 8 we had the first of three UR Tempo builds.

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Seeing Murktide Regent be pretty good in Vintage really is very interesting, but the card has so much velocity and strength that it closes games out super quickly all by itself for the low low cost of casting cards you were already going to cast anyways.

Vintage Challenge 5/1

The second Challenge event of the weekend was the early morning Sunday 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 data sheet here.

Tinker was the most popular again but had a far below average win rate, while Hogaak and DRS decks did the best in this event. It's so supremely interesting how things can flip from one event to the next over the course of a single weekend.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
4C DRS Standstill 1st duke12
Hogaak 2nd Oosunq
Hogaak 3rd Misstrigger
Dredge 4th Breckoroni
4C DRS 5th Dazai
Aggro Shops 6th Musasabi
4C DRS 7th MadMaxErnst
Hollow Vine 8th Violent_Outburst

Quite a bit of Bazaar in this Top 8 between Hogaak and Dredge, and quite a bit of 4C DRS based decks too. At the end of the event it was a 4C DRS Standstill deck that won it all.

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This is the Brian Kelly deck, right down to the singleton copies of Malevolent Hermit in the list. I am also digging the sideboard copy of Ipnu Rivulet, since it mills out Doomsday opponents and that is amazing.

The Second Place finalist was on Hogaak.

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This deck is just incredibly strong and has so much velocity to it. Being a Bazaar deck that doesn't absolutely need Bazaar 100% of the time is what really helps it though, and it continues to do very very well.

Further down the Top 8 we had another 4C DRS deck, but this time with a more Planeswalker slanted focus.

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Wrenn and Six and Boseiju, Who Endures seem absolutely bananas to me. Only thing missing is a Ragavan to make it cost G.

Down near the bottom of the Top 8 we have Aggro Shops.

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Patchwork Automaton is such a sick card that does so many things for so little investment, and I love it. It's a really powerful aggressive card and it just has so much power to it. Also, we get to see new Streets of New Capenna card Unlicensed Hearse in the sideboard here.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

You can find all of the 5-0 lists from this past week here.

Lutri PO is pretty sweet.

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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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