One week after the Players Tours in Brussels and Nagoya, the Americas had their turn in Phoenix. Going into the tournament, Joel Larrson’s winning Sultai Delirium deck from Brussels was gaining steam but the Lotus Field–Underworld Breach combo deck was poised to make an impact. That’s to say nothing of the Dimir Inverter deck that many feel is the defining deck of Pioneer at the moment.
After the dust settled, the Top 8 was stacked with talent. Pro Tour Champion Allen Wu and former World Champion Huey Jensen were both on the Lotus Breach combo while Corey Burkhart and Peter Ingram piloted Dimir Inverter to the Sunday stage. Jacob Wilson found himself on Sunday with Sultai Delirium and Tommy Ashton piloted Bant Spirits – the winning decks from last weekend. Rounding out the Top 8 wer eZachary Kiihne on Mono-Red Aggro and Austin Bursavich on Azorius Control.
At the end of the day it was Huey Jensen squaring off against Corey Burkhart. Burkhart found himself sitting at 2-3 after five rounds of play. Making the Top 8 was a feat unto itself, but he found himself up against a Hall of Famer in Jensen. Jensen, for his part, said he normally roots for Corey in his pre-finals interview.
The finals were a brief affair. Jensen kept a land-light hand, needing a second to land Lotus Breach. He did not get there and the first game was over in three minutes. That set up a second game where both players mulliganed. Burkhart went to six cards while Jensen went lower, down to four. A Damping Sphere from Burkhart all but sealed the deal and a few turns later an army of Pack Rats turned Corey Burkhart into a champion.
Corey Burkhart’s Dimir Inverter
Winner – Players Tour Phoenix – Pioneer
5 Island (335) 2 Swamp (339) 2 Choked Estuary 4 Drowned Catacomb 4 Fabled Passage 2 Fetid Pools 1 Ipnu Rivulet 4 Watery Grave 1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth 4 Inverter of Truth 4 Thassa's Oracle 2 Censor 4 Dig Through Time 2 Drown in the Loch 4 Fatal Push 1 Hero's Downfall 4 Opt 3 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries 1 Omen of the Sea 2 Thought Erasure 4 Thoughtseize Sideboard 1 Cry of the Carnarium 2 Damping Sphere 1 Hero's Downfall 1 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy/Jace, Telepath Unbound 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet 1 Languish 1 Legion's End 2 Mystical Dispute 1 Negate 3 Pack Rat 1 Witch's Vengeance
But that wasn’t the only Pioneer tournament in Phoenix this past weekend. The Grand Prix at MagicFest Phoenix also featured the format. While there were five Dimir Inverter decks in the Top 8, it was Ben Weitz with his Mono-Red Eldrazi deck who won the tournament, dispatching Andrew Lopez’s Dimir Inverter in two games to claim the title in his ninth Grand Prix Top 8.
Ben Weitz’s Mono-Red Eldrazi
Winner – Grand Prix Phoenix – Pioneer
12 Mountain (343) 4 Battlefield Forge 4 Mutavault 4 Ramunap Ruins 4 Bonecrusher Giant/Stomp 3 Eldrazi Obligator 3 Kari Zev, Skyship Raider 4 Monastery Swiftspear 4 Rampaging Ferocidon 4 Soul-Scar Mage 4 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell 1 Zurgo Bellstriker 4 Lightning Strike 4 Wild Slash 1 Satyr's Cunning Sideboard 2 Chandra's Defeat 4 Damping Sphere 2 Fry 2 Mizzium Mortars 4 Thought-Knot Seer 1 Tormod's Crypt