News Brief: Arena and Pro Tour Dominaria

Did you hear? There was a Pro Tour this weekend and there were quite a few red decks.

Standard Comes to Magic: The Gathering – Arena

In a video interview hosted by Nate Price and Chris Clay, the Game Director of Magic: The Gathering Arena, they talked about the immediate future of the program’s Closed Beta. The next big update will be coming on June 7th and will involve the addition of Kaladesh, Aether Revolt, and the 2017 Welcome Decks. This means that as of the June 7th update, players will have access to every card in the current Standard format on the Arena platform.

In order to make it easier for participants to build Standard decks, four copies of the following cards will be granted to every account:

Aether Hub, Aethersphere Harvester, Bomat Courier, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Disallow, Fatal Push, Fumigate, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Heart of Kiran, Pia Nalaar, Scrapheap Scrounger, Spire of Industry, Torrential Gearhulk, Unlicensed Disintegration, Walking Ballista

In addition to these key cards, all accounts will get a single copy of every rare and mythic rare from Kaladesh block, two copies of every common and uncommon, and one copy of each card in the 2017 Welcome Decks.

Limited will also be updated on June 7th. Quick Drafts will be available around the clock and the Draft packs will vary from week to week. Rather than having all current Draft environments available, the Arena Beta will focus on discrete formats for a set period. As Quick Draft involves one participant and seven AI drafters. The machines at your virtual table will also be getting an update. Competitive Drafts will be available and will be the best two-of-three matches.

The traditional match structure is also coming to Standard. In Competitive Standard (and Drafts), there will be a higher entry fee but also an increase in reward. If you don’t feel like participating in the more competitive side of things, have no fear—best-of-three queues with no entry fee are coming at some point after the June 7th update.

This June and July will also see a limited release of Singleton, with a unique banned list, on Arena. Singleton will be the first test of so-called casual formats and will be available for two weeks. The matchmaking system will also be getting an overhaul and a welcome bundle, designed to help jump start collections. It will be available in the Arena store.

Pro Tour Dominaria 

Richmond, Virginia was the site of the latest Pro Tour. After a foray into Modern at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, Pro Tour Dominaria brought Standard back into the spotlight. When the dust settled, there was one star that shone brighter on stage than all the others and that was Goblin Chainwhirler.

Standard at Pro Tour Dominaria was dominated by aggressive red strategies. The Top 8 featured seven such decks—five Red-Black and two Mono-Red—and made up 75% of all decks that had 8 wins or more.

The Top 8 was stacked with talent. Hall-of-Famer and two-time Player of the Year Owen Turtenwald, on Red-Black Aggro, made his fifth Pro Tour Top 8. Márcio Carvalho, also playing Red-Black, made it to his fourth Pro Tour Sunday. Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar Champion Kazuyuki Takimura and Thomas Hendricks both made their second Top 8 appearance. As for Wyatt Darby, Gonçalo Pinto, Ernest Lim, and Manuel Lenz, they were making their first foray into Sunday.

Ernest Lim, the lone holdout running Esper Control, fell in the Quarterfinals to Gonçalo Pinto. Pinto had to face off against countryman and friend Márcio Carvalho, who had defeated Takimura, for his shot at the Finals. The two had played earlier in the tournament with Carvalho emerging victorious. This time, Pinto won the match and earned himself a seat in the Finals.

On the other side of the bracket, Owen Turtenwald dispatched Manuel Lenz to set up a matchup with the other American, Wyatt Darby. Darby, who had defeated Thomas Hendriks, took the match against the Hall-of-Famer in four games.

The finals was set with Wyatt Darby on Mono-Red Aggro and Gonçalo Pinto on Red-Black Aggro. Darby jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but then Pinto’s deck started to click. Two games later, we were given the fifth and final game. Pinto looked to be ahead, using Aethersphere Harvester to boost his life total past 20. Darby, however, managed to rip Hazoret the Fervent to chip in for some damage. When the players traded copies of Rekindling Phoenix, Darby drew Chandra’s Defeat to make sure the Elemental token died. Then after going to 1, Darby ripped Glorybringer and attacked Pinto from 11 to zero.

And just like that, Wyatt Darby became your Pro Tour Dominaria Champion!

Mono-Red Aggro

Wyatt Darby, 1st place at Pro Tour Dominaria (Standard)

Darby is not the only player who secured a slot at this year’s World Championships. Elias Watsfeldt is your 2017-18 Draft Master! Entering Day 2, only Andrea Mengucci had a chance to catch Watsfeldt and he would have to go undefeated. After drafting a deck with both Karn, Scion of Urza and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, that looked like a distinct possibility. Then Jon Finkel happened and defeated Mengucci while Watsfeldt held up his side of the bargain and never stumbled. He will be joined by the 2017-18 Constructed Master Matt Severa. Severa is a terror on the Grand Prix circuit and was the only player to earn nine wins in Standard, with Red-Black Aggro, of course. Congratulations to both Elias and Matt on their hard earned slots at Worlds!

Looking Forward

In the wake of the Pro Tour, the question lingers: Is red too good? We’ll have a chance to learn more at Grand Prix Copenhagen this weekend before Standard takes a breather for the double Grand Prix in Las Vegas that will feature both Modern and Dominaria Limited. Make no mistake: Standard is Goblin Chainwhirler’s world and for now we’re all living in it. The Pro Tour will make its next stop in Minneapolis for the 25th Anniversary Team event. Standard will be on display once again, alongside Modern and Legacy.

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