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Vintage 101: This is the May

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 taking a look at how things are shaping up with Vintage from April to May and what we can glean from the data that exists on that. In addition to that we've got some info on a sweet London Vintage event and also two Challenges worth of data.

Without further ado, let's dive right in!

Vintage in a Nutshell for April - May

That's right, it is time to get a feel for where Vintage is at over the past few months. Not a lot has changed in these months, outside of the release of both March of the Machine and March of the Machine: Aftermath and neither of those sets had a very large impact on the format (outside of providing some decks some cool new tools like Chrome Host Seedshark and Faerie Mastermind).

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For this data set, I made a copy of the main Vintage Streamer's Discord Metagame Dashboard and specifically narrowed down the date range to 4/1/2023. You can find the copy of this here. This data is exclusively from Vintage premier events on Magic Online, such as Challenges, Showcase Challenges, etc.

Let's take a look primarily first at metagame share data and corresponding winrate data.

Initiative has been the most played deck in the format over the past two months but as we see in winrate data the deck is still not incredibly overpowering. Combo Shops has gone from being a sort of neat fringe deck to a dominant powerhouse (11.3% metagame share and a 55.1% non-mirror win rate is something) and Dredge seems to remain the most popular Bazaar variant (despite the fact that its winrate is not so good). Of the decks that make the cutoff here, we can see that both Aggro and Counter Bazaar variants are actually better performing than Dredge is. This could indicate a shift towards those decks as they both have posted better finishes in the past two months.

Of the Combo decks of the format, both Doomsday and Breach continue to duke it out, with both having a reasonable place in the format. Doomsday is quite possibly the better of the two decks at the moment, but it is a lot easier to hate out of a game than Breach can be, given that Breach often has a number of other backup plans (including Urza's Saga).

Of the decks that have below average winrates here, Jeskai is the one that has had a number of reasonable finishes so I'm hesitant to say the deck is bad, but more than likely underplayed. I don't know if I've ever seen both PO and Esper Saga Tinker decks so low in these winrate discussions, but the format is doing a job of shifting around so I'm not surprised either to see a set of months where those decks are being hit upon. I also think much of this might have to do with the fact that Combo Shops is so powerful that it is keeping down pure representation of those decks.

The decks that appear to be really suffering here in this current metagame are DRS piles, and while we see them occasionally have a good finish here or there, both BUG and 4C DRS Walkers has not had a good time of it lately. I want to chalk this up to these decks not really gaining much good tools from more recent sets, so we could see these decks swing back into place if something gets printed to boost those strategies a bit.

Thankfully, it really seems like all of our major primary pillars of the format are seeing some manner of representation. From Workshop to Bazaar as well as Blue decks, Tinker, and even Oath of Druids having seen a strong resurgence thanks to the printing of cards like Atraxa, Grand Unifier it definitely does look like the format is in a reasonable spot here. Things look pretty well represented and no single deck seems like it is overpowering. Even the outlier here of AggroVine having a 57.82% win rate means you have to keep in mind that there's only 23 results for that deck for the past two months, so the sample size is fairly low and not possibly indicative of the true win rate.

All in all, I think Vintage seems like a fun and fine format right now. Some of the newer tools to the format have been fun inclusions, and gameplay seems fine. One could make an argument that gameplay and the format can be a bit stale because there hasn't been much innovation or extreme shake-ups, but I like having at least some modicum of stability in these kinds of formats (especially Vintage). I don't know what would really "shake" things up except unrestrictions (which always interest me regardless) but I also don't know that the format needs a shake-up like this to keep it interesting.

London Vintage Tournament - The Escape Bar

Over the past weekend there was a really sweet beginning event in London at The Escape Bar in Lidlington Place. Full proxy Vintage! We got reached out to by our good friend Francis Cowper to talk about the event. Let's see what he has to say.

On May 21st 2023, 21 players were hosted at The Escape Bar, Lidlington Place, London to play full proxy Vintage. It has been many years since a formal Vintage event was run in London, with the pub meetups sadly dying out during the pandemic. This tournament was inspired by the strong attendance of UK based players at the March 4Seasons Winter event, where around a third of players had travelled from the UK and first, third and fourth places were taken by UK players in that event.

It seemed wild that we didn’t have an event of our own to attend if that many people would travel to Italy to play with power.

The other source of inspiration for the proxy event in London was the long running London Legacy Monthly series run by Callum Smith, which I’d like to think of as a sister event. Proxy Legacy is now popular all over the country with similar events being run, many of which are qualifiers for the European Legacy Masters invitational event. I hope that Vintage can share in some of this proxy born success.

The first London Vintage Tournament was six rounds, with a cut to top four in an attempt to maximize the amount of Vintage played across all players, and also to put up reasonable prizes for those making the top cut. The event was run not for profit, so all entries went into prizes minus ticket and venue fees. We also had trophies made, and a custom sticker made for the event - a pastiche of Hollow Knight and Hollow One!

A couple of players - Tom De Decker and Theo Andresier, made the trip across the channel to play, so a shout out to them!

The metagame breakdown was as follows:

  • 2 Squee
  • 1 Dredge
  • 2 Mono U PO
  • 1 Grixis Lurrus PO Breach
  • 1 Jeskai Lurrus
  • 3 Jewel
  • 2 White Initiative
  • 2 Esper Tinker
  • 1 Doomsday
  • 2 Oath
  • 1 UR Painter
  • 1 BUG Midrange
  • 1 Aggro Shops
  • 1 Grixis Wheels

Quite a healthy mix!

Top 4

The top four finished up with David Inglis in first place with Esper Tinker, Josh Bailey (Firetruck on mtgo) on Squee HollowVine, Fabio Zanasi on Jewel Shops and Theo Andresier on Jeskai Lurrus. (I’ve provided lists for the full top 8 despite us cutting to top 4 in case you’d like to feature any other strong performing lists).

It was a great day all round, and the excitement for paper vintage was very high. There was a real buzz in the room. We’re aiming for September for the next event, I’ll be posting on Twitter @FrancisCowper about it, and players can join Vintage Players UK to organise their own local meetups in the meanwhile.

Deck Name Placing Player Name
Esper Tinker 1st Dinglis
CounterVine 2nd Josh Bailey
Combo Shops 3rd Fabio Zanasi
Jeskai Lurrus 4th Theo Andresier
Doomsday 5th Hugh Karp
CounterVine 6th Tom De Decker
Grixis Wheels 7th Yat Ka Leung
Dredge 8th Andrew Clark

Massive thanks to Francis for talking about the event! You can find the Top 8 decklists for the event here.

Vintage Challenge 5/20

The first Challenge of the weekend was the mid afternoon Saturday 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.

Initiative was the most popular deck in the event here, but it didn't have a good win rate at all (41.3%). Oath had one of the best win rates in the event, as did Initiative Tinker.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Oath of Druids 1st lampalot
Combo Shops 2nd kanister
Jeskai Lurrus 3rd cappe23
CounterVine 4th Kummins11
Prison Shops 5th Mogged
Initiative Tinker 6th almostomniscient
DRS Initiative 7th CrazyDiamond513
Breach 8th thedeck84

Very interesting Top 8 here. Some Tinker, some Shops, some Combo. At the end of the event it was Oath of Druids that won the event.

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Atraxa is definitely a super powerful Oath target to keep in mind in this format. The value it presents is so powerful and it has an immediate impact on the board. Very strong.

In Second Place we have Combo Shops.

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I like the Displacer Kitten in this deck for sure. It makes things a bit more deterministic once you get going. Having that sort of deterministic kill is very good to have.

Also in this Top 8 we had Initiative Tinker.

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This deck has waxed and waned since it first appeared on the scene, but it does seem like a good way to build out the Esper Tinker shell. Both White Plume and Dungeoneer are definitely powerful.

At the bottom of the Top 8 we had DRS Initiative.

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This is very much a Bant DRS build that is using cards like White Plume Adventurer. Definitely an interesting list for sure.

Vintage Challenge 5/21

The second Challenge of the weekend was the early morning Sunday event. This event had 48 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.

Combo Shops and Initiative both were at the top of the heap here and both had strong win rates. Prison Shops also did very well here, while Breach and Doomsday suffered greatly.

Let's take a look at the Top 8.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Initiative 1st yoshiwata
Prison Shops 2nd Mogged
Combo Shops 3rd yPrincipe
Jeskai Lurrus 4th gnorilgrande
Initiative 5th Danielpena397
Combo Shops 6th Peppembr
Combo Shops 7th oosunq
Jeskai Lurrus 8th lordoflifegain

Lot of Combo shops in this Top 8, in addition to Initiative decks and Jeskai Lurrus. At the end of the event it was Initiative that won the event.

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I am digging that Phyrexian Censor is seeing play here. The card looks very good in this shell. An additional four copies of Archon of Emeria definitely cannot be bad at all.

In Second Place we had Prison Shops.

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Very straightforward and clean list here. No frills to speak of, but there don't need to be any. Slam Golos and lock the opponent out of the game.

Also in this Top 8 we had Jeskai Lurrus.

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This deck continues to be the defacto Jeskai shell in the current format and it's not hard to see why. Wasteland is a really good part of the format right now and Mishra's Bauble with Lurrus seems incredibly powerful.

Around the Web

The Spice Corner

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

Caves of Chaos Adventurer finding its way into Vintage!

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Chrome Host Seedshark, courtest of Justin Gennari.

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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 my Link Tree! In addition you can always reach me on the MTGGoldfish Discord Server and the Vintage Streamers Discord.

Until next time!

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