Last week, the world of Magic crowned a National Champion in the United States, a Grand Prix winner in Barcelona, learned about the Silver Showcase, and Legacy says goodbye to two staples.
Banned and Restricted List Announcement
The July 2nd Banned and Restricted list update focused on Legacy. Starting July 6th (July 5th for Magic Online), both Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe will be added to the Legacy banned list. There were no changes to any other format (although Standard received quite a bit of attention in the article).
Explaining the changes, Ian Duke described the ubiquity of Deathrite Shaman. The card allowed blue decks almost unfettered access to 3- or 4-color mana bases while incidentally hating on graveyard strategies. The more Deathrite Shaman was played, the more decks started to look similar. In an effort to open up the top of the metagame and opportunities for new strategies to emerge, Deathrite Shaman was banned.
On Gitaxian Probe, Duke cited the presence of the card in two popular successful strategies, Grixis Delver and Ad Nauseam Tendrils, as well as the “free” aspect of the card. Gitaxian Probe provides an information advantage for no mana investment and allows decks to know what they are, and are not, playing around. According to the article, this is not a play pattern Wizards wants to encourage. Duke went on to mention that while Gitaxian Probe itself may not be powerful enough to warrant a ban at this time, it was heading that way and it is easier to remove the offending card than attempt to weaken the strategies it helps to enable when Gitaxian Probe might need to be banned in the future regardless.
Ian Duke also talked about Standard and specifically Goblin Chainwhirler. Duke pulled stats from Magic Online to show that Chainwhirler decks, while the most popular, are not the best performing (without indicating the volume of the sample size). He explained that much of red’s current strength is based on cards entering their last stretch of Standard—Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Abrade, Hazoret the Fervent—and that with a rotation coming up soon, the folks over at Wizards of the Coast want to monitor the metagame and see if it continues to adjust before taking action.
When Pro Tour 25th Anniversary was announced there was a tagline about a special exhibition tournament which, when combined with the Pro Tour, would mean that the weekend would have a million dollar prize pool. Last week we learned the exact details of the exhibition tournament: the Silver Showcase.
The Silver Showcase is an eight-person Rochester Draft—that is a Draft where a pack is opened and the contents are laid out and then drafted rotisserie style where each player has six packs. These packs are: three Beta packs, and a pack each of Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and Legends. The Draft will take place the Thursday before Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, with the single elimination rounds taking place around the Pro Tour schedule: the quarterfinals will occur on Friday after the final round of Day 1 with the semifinals following suit on Saturday. The finals (which will be a best three of five), will take place on Sunday morning.
The eight players selected for the tournament come from two different camps: the top lifetime Pro Point earner from each of the four geographical regions and four players hand selected by Wizards of the Coast for their “contributions to competitive gaming history.”
The top Pro Point earners are all Hall-of-Famers: Raphael Levy, Shuhei Nakamura, Jon Finkel, and, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. The four invitees include Pro Tour Hall-of-Famer (and two-time Pro Tour Champion) Brian Kibler, Pro Tour Return to Ravnica Champion Stanislav Cifka, David Williams, and Jason Chan (better known as Amaz). The prize pool for the Silver Showcase is $150,000, with each player earning at least $12,500 and 1st place walking home with $35,000. The cards from the event are to be auctioned off later this year to benefit the Child’s Play Charity.
The announcement of the Silver Showcase was not without controversy. Some felt that the tournament was rewarding prominent Hearthstone players (Kibler, Cifka, and Chan all stream the game), while others felt that the prize pool was detracting from the Pro Tour, and the potential professional Magic player lifestyle, itself. Regardless, the Silver Showcase, meant to be a celebration of Magic’s history, has become a point of contention in the run up to the next Pro Tour.
Grand Prix Barcelona
Modern was the name of the game at Grand Prix Barcelona. Just over 1,500 players showed up to test their preferred strategy in the hopes of qualifying for the Pro Tour and winning the trophy. Recent Modern events have been dominated by Krark-Clan Ironworks Combo in the hands of Matt Nass. Nass didn’t make the trip, but Krark-Clan Ironworks did.
The Top 8 was headlined by Javier Dominguez, who made the Top 8 at Grand Prix Copenhagen last month and made the elimination rounds with a 14-0-1 record piloting Jeskai Control. That was one of four Teferi, Hero of Dominaria control decks in the final rounds. Yet in the end, it was Krark-Clan Ironworks, in the hands of Louis Deltour, up against Dredge, wielded by Matti Kuisma. Kuisma made quick work of Deltour in two games, giving the Ironworks player his third 2nd-place finish.
— Magic Pro Tour (@magicprotour) July 1, 2018
Matti Kuisma, 1st place at Grand Prix Barcelona (Modern)
United States Nationals
The World Magic Cup is still five months away but the race to join the National teams began this weekend. While the Top Pro Point earner from each country has yet to be determined, National Championships will determine not only the National Champion, but two total slots in each country’s World Magic Cup team. This weekend, the United States, Canada, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Singapore, and Costa Rica all set two-thirds of their World Magic Cup squad.
In the United States, the title of National Champion went to Dylan Brown. Justin Andrus made the finals with Esper Control but fell to Brown’s Blue-Black Midrange in three games. Blue-Black Midrange made quite the showing at Grand Prix Pittsburgh last week and managed to punch through in Columbus to help crown a National Champion in the United States.
— Magic Pro Tour (@magicprotour) July 2, 2018
Dylan Brown, U.S. Nationals (Standard)
Next week, the Grand Prix Circuit travels to Sao Paulo in Brazil for another Modern Grand Prix. Around the globe, Core Set 2019 will also be having its official prerelease!