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Vintage 101: The Vintage Showcase


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 about the first Vintage Showcase Challenge event of Season 2 of Magic Online's Premier Play program. In addition, we'll be talking about the other Vintage Challenge event this past weekend and as always our Spice Corner.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Vintage Showcase Challenge 6/6

This weekend had our very first Vintage Showcase Challenge event, which is a Premier level event on Magic Online. Normally Vintage was not a format included in the Showcase Challenge/Showcase Qualifier chain of events for this year's Premier Play program, but a change was made for Season 2 to replace Pauper with Vintage for the season. Because of this, there are a total of three Showcase Challenges, the next of which will take place on 7/11/2020. These events require Qualification Points (QPs) to enter, specifically 40 QPs. QPs are earned by doing well in leagues and Preliminary events.

This event also replaced the normal Saturday Vintage Challenge for the weekend, but brought in 100 powerful wizards to battle it out for a Top 8 spot, which would qualify the player for the Showcase Qualifier event at the end of the Season.

One of the most staggering things to note of this event by looking at the data, which was so graciously provided by the channels of Matt Murray (ChubbyRain) and the Vintage Streamers Discord, was the sheer absence of Companions on a massive scale. In fact, there were only three decks with a Companion out of 100 players, and those decks were Jegantha, the Wellspring decks. It is safe to say that the Companion changes made on 6/1 by Wizards of the Coast definitely depowered the mechanic overall in the format, and many players did not want to consider playing Lutri decks with the changed mechanic. There have been a few rumblings on Twitter by some good players however stating that Lutri was still playable (as we'll see in the Spice Corner), but I think it's a great thing that it's playable, but not so insane that it needs to be played to be competitive. Utilizing the mechanic as Wizards intended, by using it as a means of self expression and deck-building challenge is a positive thing for the mechanic overall.

Since we have so much data available to us, let's look at the breakdown of the overall Metagame of this event.

While PO made up a huge chunk of the overall metagame of this event, it didn't actually perform super well, boasting only a 42.5% winrate overall. The decks that did perform well and converted well were the Jeskai Xerox and Breach style decks, with Xerox decks overall (Jeskai/4C variants) doing the best overall. This to me suggests that the format is still settling and while PO is reasonably popular with players, the tools given to the format over the past year have been more than enough to combat it. HollowVine also has a fair metagame share, rising back to the top of the Bazaar piles as one of the best Bazaar decks to be playing. This deck is exceptionally strong, and I feel if there was no good hate to fight against it, it would likely be dominating the metagame to the point of necessitating a card restriction, and even then it still might necessitate a restriction of Hollow One in the longer term.

Now, let's take a look at the breakdown of how things converted to the Top 32.

This event boasted a ton of Jeskai Xerox at the top of the event, topping out at 5 copies, with HollowVine and PO Storm in close metagame share. However, the Top 8 of this event converted only one of each deck into the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Doomsday 1st SingPanMan
Oath of Druids 2nd Miharu_Fuyumiya
Jeskai Xerox 3rd Shir Kahn
RUG Xerox 4th I_B_True
Breach 5th JoseOrtiz
HollowVine 6th Montolio
PO Storm 7th IamActuallyLvl1
Golos Stax 8th GGoggles

There is certainly a fair amount of powerful wizards in this Top 8, and it's a really well developed Top 8 at that. There's plenty of diversity here, with various control archetypes and combo archetypes alike, and even a fair amount of diversity between those archetypes.

At the top of this event however was none other than Doomsday piloted by SingPanMan.

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One of the big adjustments to this deck has been the inclusion of the main deck Hope of Ghirapur. This card gives the deck a way of dealing with some of the much harsher control in the format but also gives the deck a way of shutting off opposing combo decks for a turn. Because many of the other decks in the format don't run much main deck removal, this little thopter can sneak in and prevent the opponent from casting noncreature spells for a turn, which then can allow the Doomsday pilot a window to go off in. Since the advent of Thassa's Oracle as well, the deck has adopted the restricted copy of Demonic Consultation to combo with Oracle as an instant kill.

It is also cool to see Soul-Guide Lantern in more decks as this is a very  powerful card against graveyard strategies. It took the Lurrus metagame honestly for people to really evaluate this card properly, but it is now not going away as more and more pick up the card.

In Second Place of this event was Miharu_Fuyumiya on Oath.

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Miharu has been one of the biggest and best players of the Oath archetype in current times, developing it into a real beast of a deck and also being very out there in regards to having lots of content available on the deck to help newer players learn and understand it. One thing to note here is the presence of four main deck Pyroblast in addition to Sylvan Library as cards that attack other blue decks. Pyroblast in general is intriguing that we've reached that point again where 3-4 copies of this card feels required. Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen. In addition, it had seemed that Oath was trying out the new card Fire Prophecy as a way to stuff Oath targets back into the deck, but that appears to have fallen out of favor.

It's also worth noting that these new versions of the deck rely solely on Niv-Mizzet, Parun and Griselbrand for their Oath targets, and have no additional replacement targets in the sideboard for other situations. I think this speaks heavily to the sheer power level of these two creatures as the best Oath targets in the format right now.

In Third Place we have Jeskai Xerox by Shir Kahn.

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One of the biggest things in this list is the THREE The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale in the sideboard. This is an extreme nod to the presence of the HollowVine deck, which continually is putting up enough results to be dangerous. Looking at this list makes me wonder just how playable many of these lists would be if we have another sanctioned paper Vintage event at all, as to who would have access enough to three Tabernacles to have in a sideboard.

Outside of this, it seems as these Jeskai lists are continually floating between 1-3 Dreadhorde Arcanist, but Arcanist is definitely a powerful card to consider keeping at multiples. Its advantage in games snowballs rather quickly, especially when used to flashback spells like Ancestral Recall. Again we also see four Pyroblast across the 75, which is one of the big reasons to be in a color combination that includes red.

In Fourth Place we have RUG Xerox by I_B_True.

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The core of this deck is really sweet, banking on the strength of Arcanist and Sprite Dragon. This is really powerful with the core restricted spells but also all the countermagic available. I'm actually reasonably surprised to not see a Daze somewhere, just because of how strong it can be in those turns where it does the most work (typically against lines where the opponent attempts to open on Lotus to mask their deck in Game 1).

Out of the sideboard it is cool to see both Klothys, God of Destiny and Wilt. Wilt especially feels very powerful given that it can be cycled in situations where it might be unused. Klothys however is a severely powerful win condition against decks like BUG Midrange that can eat things that Deathrite Shaman might want to eat, but also acts as a long term win condition in long and grindy games.

In Fifth Place we have Breach Combo by JoseOrtiz.

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One of the biggest things about the Lurrus Metagame was that there was a true solidification of the Breach archetype, one that continued well past the banning of Lurrus and the change to Companions. It is strange that it took Lurrus entering the metagame to allow this deck to figure out the correct numbers in order to exist, but now the deck continues to be very powerful.

The really fun thing about this deck is the sideboard plan of Sprite Dragon. This lets the deck sidestep hate such as graveyard hate or even Mindbreak Trap by just giving the deck a set of threats that kills the opponent, expecting that some amount of removal is boarded out in the post board matchup. Of course, this is great as a diversion type tactic because it forces the opponent to have to board/keep removal which might cut into their ability to deal with the combo, whereas the Breach player is still capable of having some amount enough of the combo to go off if it finds the opportunity.

In Sixth Place we have HollowVine by our good friend Andy Markiton (Montolio).

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The biggest thing of note here is the presence of two Gaea's Cradle in the main deck manabase. As most of the hate leveled at this deck is typically through effects like Tabernacle, Cradle represents a really great way of beating the card while digging for a Wasteland/Strip Mine effect. This is also really strong if faced with a mirror match where Tabernacle might see play. It's also worth noting that the deck is down to only one Sphinx of Foresight, which makes sense since it seems like multiples of that card are generally not great.

Another fun thing here is the Riftstone Portal, which is not just a free pitch with Bazaar, but also gives the deck a way of casting cards like Noxious Revival or Once Upon a Time even if it only has Bazaars in play. Also, there is a split between Memnite and Stonecoil Serpent, which in very grindy games can just give a way of hard casting a giant threat off a Cradle to seal off a game with the trample effect.

In Seventh Place we have PO Storm by our good friend Justin Gennari (IamActuallyLvl1).

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Justin's game plan here in this build is more strictly on an Esper variant of PO, as opposed to splashing red for cards like Pyroblast and Lightning Bolt. In return however, this opens up slots for Swords to Plowshares and cards like Balance, which are all good versus Bazaar variant decks. Furthermore, Justin is also running a main deck Karn, the Great Creator, which is not just a great hedge against the mirror match that is generally a difficult card to deal with (since Repeal on a four CMC permanent is quite difficult and it can't be Pyroblast'ed) but is also a great card that ends some games quickly via the Mycosynth Lattice lock.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have Golos Stax by GGoggles.

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It's worth noting that Golos Stax is only a slight misnomer to this deck, as it is more like a hybrid Aggro/Prison variant featuring Golos. Still, there are a few elements such as the restricted Karn that allow this deck to prison out its opponent, and Golos itself is pretty excessively powerful as it acts half like silver bullet toolbox card and half ramp card.

Outside of the Top 8, there were some intriguing developments. One of which I'd like to shout out is our good friend Edward (Rat3dE). If you don't recall Edward at all, he did an interview with us last year about his experiences playing Vintage as a much younger Vintage player (as in he's still in high school!). This was Edward's first big Premier-level event, and he went 5-2 placing 15th on Doomsday. Massive congrats to Edward on continuing to learn and grow as a player!

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Further down the Top 32, we did have at least one showing of a Companion, with Jegantha Golos Stax.

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This deck is still relatively interesting, and I do wonder if Jegantha is still very good in these decks. The Companion tax may be not so bad to a deck like this that is capable of making a lot of mana in short order. However, it is worth noting that you can't use Workshop mana to pay the Companion tax, so that in of itself is problematic. It will be interesting to see how this deck continues to utilize this card and whether or not it will stick.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in the Top 32 of this event. In order to qualify, 2019 cards needed to have at least 10 copies.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Negation 42
Force of Vigor 28
Soul-Guide Lantern 19
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 18
Narset, Parter of Veils 17
Stonecoil Serpent 17
Dreadhorde Arcanist 14
Oko, Thief of Crowns 11
Underworld Breach 9
Sprite Dragon 7
Thassa's Oracle 6
Jegantha, the Wellspring 3
Klothys, God of Destiny 1
Wilt 1

This looks much like how Vintage has been prior to the Companions was with 2019-2020 cards and is fairly back to something of a normality. It's going to be interesting keeping track of how the format will continue to evolve going forward.

All in all, this first Showcase Challenge appeared to be a solid event, and we'll be looking forward to the next one on July 11th. If you are a player interested in playing in this event, be aware of how many QPs you will need to enter, and good luck!

Vintage Challenge 6/7

The Sunday Challenge, otherwise known as the Early Challenge, only brought in 41 players this go around, so let's take a look at the Top 32 of this event.

There was a lot going on in this Top 8, with a wide spread of very different decks, and a fair amount of PO for the Top 32. However, only a single PO player converted to the Top 8, which was also a pretty interesting Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
DPS 1st _INF_
White Eldrazi 2nd Mei0024
Jeskai Xerox 3rd DiscoverN
BUG Midrange 4th Dafne17
4C Control 5th Svaca
U/R Delver 6th Aylett
PO Storm 7th Aigis
4C Planeswalkers 8th Pohlman

This was certainly an interesting Top 8 with plenty of things going on, and a win by a combo deck that has been on a bit of a downswing as of late. That would be DPS, piloted by _INF_.

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This a solid cut and dry DPS list, and that simplicity is what makes it great. It is awesome to see this shell do well because after all Skulls do equal Power.

In Second Place we have White Eldrazi.

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The biggest thing here is the main deck Leyline of the Void, which makes this deck really strong against Bazaar shells. Having not seen Eldrazi in a while, it's really cool to see it do well, because it is a powerfully aggressive shell.

In Third Place we have Jeskai Xerox.

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This variant of Jeskai does not have any Dreadhorde Arcanist at all, unlike the one from the Showcase that made Top 8. It does, however, have a single Underworld Breach as the singleton Yawgmoth's Will-like effect that can allow the deck to take advantage of replaying its more powerful spells.

In Fourth Place we have BUG Midrange.

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This is a powerful deck that boasts some incredibly strong removal spells and plenty of interaction. I especially enjoy the Green Sun's Zenith in the main deck.

In Fifth Place we have 4C Control.

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This deck is definitely Svaca to a tee, with plenty of interactive spells and snowball card advantage between Arcanist and Dark Confidant. This is purely Svaca's wheelhouse and it shows.

In Sixth Place we have U/R Delver.

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Hey look, a new card! Ethereal Forager certainly seems very interesting, but I'm not personally a fan of the card since it feels exceptionally fragile in formats dominated by Pyroblast. I'd be very curious to hear how this card did in this event.

In Seventh Place, we have PO Storm.

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Aigis here is more on the 4C PO variant, utilizing cards like Pyroblast and Abrade. It is wildly cool to see cards like Peacekeeper in the sideboard, likely a great nod to decks like HollowVine and Dredge by making it difficult for those decks to attack.

Rounding out the Top 8 we have a sweet 4C Planeswalkers build.

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This deck is NUTS. There's so much spice packed into this deck that it's not even funny. From cards like Chandra, Awakened Inferno to being able to have both Monastery Mentor and Managorger Hydra, this deck is absolutely super cool. I especially really enjoy the Sevinne's Reclamation in the main deck.

Now, let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this event.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Negation 32
Narset, Parter of Veils 20
Soul-Guide Lantern 16
Force of Vigor 15
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 13
Oko, Thief of Crowns 13
Dreadhorde Arcanist 12
Thassa's Oracle 7
Underworld Breach 3
Klothys, God of Destiny 2

The Spice Corner

Abr brings to us some real spice with a slick Winota Stompy build.

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In our weekly addition to the "Brian Kelly plays fun decks" file, we have his Lutri build, which he has stated on Twitter a few times now is still pretty good.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Thank you for your continued support of the column and join me next week as we continue our journey into Vintage! Next week we'll be talking about Core Set 2021 cards! I love set reviews!

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

Until next time, keep casting Winota!


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