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Vintage 101: The Leagues

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 a little deeper into the changes enacted last week for Vintage Leagues on Magic Online. We've also got some paper event news with OK Land Run as well as two Challenges from last weekend to cover and of course, a Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

The Big Leagues

Last week we had some big announcements from the Magic Online team regarding changes being made to the Vintage and Standard league prize payout. You can find the master article of these changes over here.

Since that announcement there has been a lot of chatter in the overall Vintage community and the competitive grinding community on whether these changes are a positive thing or not. Indeed, at first glance the changes do not seem fantastic, because they're actively removing chests from the top end which can be bad for those that are able to go 4-1 or 5-0 very consistently (often which includes competitive grinders). However, based on some math and some information it appears that the overall EV of the average event is still very reasonable and that the changes made are doing their part to reduce the incentive for win traders to attack these formats.

There have been a ton of great resources out there on this situation. The article linked here shows a lot of the math behind the changes themselves and helps players to understand the calculations of EV for Leagues, and is a great way to determine how these changes affect League play. In addition, our good friend Justin Gennari recorded a video talking about the changes as well, so be sure to check that out below here:

Furthermore, GoatBots has updated their EV Calculator tools to account for the changes and it seems that the overall EV is not that minimally affected by these changes. One of the big things that has been noted about these changes is how they are actually spreading chests further down into the lower end of the payouts by adding a chest for going 2-3 in the league, which may actually give incentive to players who have an average win rate in Vintage to be able to continually grow and learn in the format without feeling like they are losing money overall. This is in general being regarded as one of the most positive things about this change, as it seems it is having an intended effect so far of reducing the win traders in the league environments because the equations for figuring out optimal win trading are much muddier now.

Now, these are changes that are controversial mainly because there are plenty of other things that we could have seen to correct this, from adjusting the pairing algorithms to adjusting the buttons so that you can't click out of a match once it's queued for a league, but those are much longer-term solutions that may require a lot of coding to accomplish, so they were never going to be true options to correct the issues with win trading in the here and now. It may be that these functions are in the works as future enhancements, which could maybe see a further readjustment to these payouts for these events, but until then this is what we have to work with.

Is this going to have a bigger effect on Vintage Leagues in general? It definitely will. It might deter some folks who are exceptionally competitive from taking part, but it also might attract newer players with more average win rates looking to practice the format. I suspect it won't take too long before we start seeing the real impact though. Just a month or so and we should be able to get a good idea of how this is truly affecting league play, but for me, I am personally glad that we are seeing Wizards take some form of action rather than be silent on the subject. Taking action shows that they are hearing the problems being had with these things, and that they're willing to try something to correct it. So far, based on my perspective, it certainly seems to be working thus far.

Paper Event News - OK Land Run

Our good friends over at the OK Land Run series gave us some information on their upcoming events, with their OK Land Run Vintage Open Championship coming up on July 23rd at Game HQ in Oklahoma. Proxies are allowed of RL cards for this event, and the entry for the event is $100 with a $2K prize pool! You can check out the information for this event over on their MTG Melee page for the event here.

Vintage Challenge 7/2

This past weekend's first Challenge event was the Saturday event. This event had 55 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.

Hogaak was exceptionally popular in this event, but only had a middle of the road win rate overall of 50%. Breach did exceptionally well here, as did RUG Control variants.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Breach 1st thedeck84
RUG Control 2nd Chinasky
RUG Control 3rd dannyground
Hogaak 4th PentaWatt
Hogaak 5th bolddd
Paradoxical Outcome 6th IamActuallyLvl1
Tinker Breach 7th Diem4x
Doomsday 8th reiderrabbit

As noted both Breach and RUG Control did quite well in this event, with RUG putting both of its pilots into the Top 4 of the event overall. At the end though the event was won by Breach.

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This is definitely a very focused Breach build, with the only real creature threat here being Sphinx as a Tinker target. A lot of builds have traditionally run Laelia as a kill as well, but not this list!

In Second Place we've got one of the two RUG Control variants.

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Ragavan and Wrenn and Six are so very powerful together as we've seen from how they function together in Modern, that it makes sense they are pretty good together in this format as well. This definitely looks like a powerful list.

Also in this Top 8 we had some Hogaak.

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The red splash is now just the defacto list for these decks and I don't see that changing any time soon. The strength of the red splash sideboard cards is too good right now to ever give up.

Lower down in the Top 8 we've got our good friend Justin Gennari with PO.

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Justin loves his Saga-less PO decks, and he has the strength as a player in general to really make these shells work. Dress Down is a fantastic option for besting Saga decks, and the main deck Balance is superb against those decks too.

Vintage Challenge 7/3

The second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 51 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.

Hogaak again remains incredibly popular, and its win rate in this event was much better at 55.7%. It seems like we are definitely approaching a situation where we are seeing this deck more and more as players are figuring out how strong the red splash variant really is.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st SingPanMan
G/W Lumi 2nd jaredallsop619
Aggro Shops 3rd adm29
Doomsday 4th discoverN
Hogaak 5th Oosunq
Hogaak 6th xfile
Paradoxical Outcome 7th Dafne17
Hogaak 8th moon11

Hogaak had a field day in the bottom half of the Top 8 here, with some PO and Shops as well, but it was Doomsday at the top end who ended up going on to win the event.

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I am kind of digging the Sedgemoor Witch and Murktide Regent in the sideboard here. Seems like a great way to shift into a more Control/Tempo oriented deck post board and confuse the opponent looking for the combo while killing them.

In Second Place we've got the GW Liberator deck we talked about in depth last week.

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Mirran Crusader is a super sweet sideboard card that makes so much sense with all the Hogaak decks floating around. Very cool tech here.

Also in the Top 8 we had some aggro workshops action.

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This is highly aggressive for sure. Not only is this deck going really deep on Patchwork Automaton but it's abandoning a lot of the typical aggressive cards for very aggressive things like Precursor Golem and Arcbound Crusher. Really cool to see for sure.

Further down the Top 8 we had another showing by PO, this time with Sagas.

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This is a pretty common Saga variant of PO, splashing into white for Lavinia and Mentor as well as sideboard cards like Balance and Swords to Plowshares.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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

I'm standing still!

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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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