Last weekend, the Extended season started with a very loud bang in the form of an 833 player Grand Prix in Europe. For those of you who don’t go to a lot of Grand Prixs, let me tell you – 833 players makes a huge GP. Heck, that’s about the biggest Magic tournament you’ll see outside of Japan.
This tournament was so big, in fact, that less than 8% of the field made it to day 2. After a grueling nine rounds of Swiss, competitors needed a 7-1-1 record to be assured advancement to Sunday. Thirteen out of the forty-six players at 7-2 failed to make the coveted top 64 cut. Even pros entering the tournament with 3 byes needed to go at least 4-2 starting in round 4 against undefeated competition: That task isn’t easy for anybody. The legendary Kai Budde barely managed to pull it off with his Round 9 Featured Match win.
Clearly, this was a tough tournament to play in, but a lot can be learned from this bloodbath, which left 819 casualties on day one. The Day One survivors provide a snapshot of what decks are good in the post Houston metagame (because no bad decks are going 7-1-1, that’s for sure).
Day 2 Field (Top 64 out of 883):
- 13 Red decks (10 Goblins, 1 Burn, 1 Red Deck Wins, 1 Negator Sligh)
- 8 Tog
- 6 Rock
- 6 Suicide Black
- 6 Blue Green Madness
- 4 Oath
- 4 Fiends (A.K.A. Super Goo)
- 3 Aluren
- 2 Pattern Ghoul
- 2 Angry Hermit
- 2 Draco Explosion
- 1 Corrupter
- 1 Awakening
- 1 Counter Rebel
- 1 White Weenie
- 1 Upheaval Infestation
- 1 Opposition
- 1 Blue Black Infiltrator, Gladiator
- 1 Superbowl IV
1st Red Deck Wins (Alex Mack)
2nd Goblins (Benjamin Caumes)
3rd Goblins (Patrick Mello)
4th Suicide Black (Emmanuel Vernay)
5th White Weenie (Hans-Joachim Hoh)
6th Draco Explosion (Regis Lavoisier)
7th Fiends (Christoph Lippert)
8th Psychatog (Anton Jonsson)
Most of these deck types are familiar, but a few are new or relatively unknown. Before we get into analyzing the results, let’s take a look at the unfamiliar faces – specifically, Christoph Lippert’s deck.
Rienhard Blech (60th place) played the same deck under the name Super Goo. Super who? Oh, Super Goo. That explains everything.
This deck reminds me of old aggressive Sliver builds. It’s packing twenty of the most efficient low-casting cost creatures in Extended, and backs them up with some highly potent spells. And all this with a blatant disregard for color! This deck certainly gives the new fetch lands a workout.
The spell choices in this deck are fantastic:
Brainstorm has amazing synergy with the eight fetch lands and with the Ramosian Sergeant. This deck is very unlikely to choke on excess land in the mid-game between the Brainstorms and the thinning of the fetch lands.
The super-cheap efficient disruption is critical to a creature pressure deck that isn’t doing anything particularly broken. The Goo player just has to hold it’s opponent off long enough for the cheap beaters to do their work. The”look at the opponents hand” aspect of these cards also make the Meddling Mages much more powerful.
This card is great in extended right now. Team YMG had a WW test deck running Wave. The rest of the deck was thoroughly unimpressive – but the Wave was consistently amazing. As an added bonus, after damage from the Negator is on the stack, it can be waved out. This is a neat way to get around the”5/5 trampler for three mana” drawback.
Notice the heavy respect for Red in the sideboard of this deck; it looks like these guys knew what the French metagame had in store.
Gert finished in 28th place with this unique creation. I can’t see this counter-heavy deck tapping seven mana for a 6/5 – those Tuskers are for card drawing and to shuffle up after a Brainstorm. This deck’s touchdowns are going to be scored by Treetop Villages and Living Wish.
Like most Wish decks, not much sideboarding is possible for Superbowl. The only cards I can see moving in after game one are three of the four Dust Bowls.
4 Cabal Therapy
1 Chainer’s Edict
4 Diabolic Edict
2 Engineered Plague
1 Haunting Echoes
3 Innocent Blood
4 Phyrexian Arena
1 Skeletal Scrying
1 Soul Burn
3 Vampiric Tutor
1 Yawgmoth’s Agenda
Xavier fell just short of the money, coming in 35th place. This deck is classic Black Control. No earthshaking cards were gained with the update to Extended. Xavier’s record was impressive – but I must say, I’m not excited by this deck. To each his own.
If you want to see more, all top 64 deck lists, as well as event coverage, are located on the Sideboard.
Okay – now that we’re all up to date on the decks with the funky names, let’s talk about the results.
The big shockers from this Grand Prix:
Beatdown Is Back!
Fast beatdown decks were plentiful in the top 64. This deck style didn’t just start strong – it stayed strong. It had six of the top 8 spots (the only non-beatdown decks were Tog and Draco) and all of the final four.
Ten, count ’em, ten goblin decks made day two. Sligh (and Goblins definitely fall into the Sligh category) has a way of crashing into Extended when the metagame lets its guard down. Red had a relatively weak performance at Pro Tour: Houston; this may have led players to switch anti-Sligh sideboard spots to anti-Oath or anti-Reanimator. And that’s all the opening the Goblins needed.
To add to the Goblin’s destructive glee, Sligh’s old punching bag, Suicide Black was reported to be a French favorite on day one. It will be interesting to see how Sligh does at the next Grand Prix, when the field is packing lots of Engineered Plagues, Bottle Gnomes, and Ravenous Baloths.
Six Suicide Black decks made day 2 – and one of them was the only non-red deck in the top 4. (That must have been a sad moment when Emmanuel realized all three red decks won their quarterfinals matches. Sorry Emmanuel, party’s over.) This strong showing was, once again, on the heels of a lackluster Pro Tour performance. This was clearly speed beatdown’s weekend.
No Reanimator made day 2!
There were two Angry Hermit decks, but zero Blue/Black and zero Mono Black (a.k.a. Benzo) Reanimator decks made day 2. I find this particularly shocking, having personally won $20,000 with Benzo at the Pro Tour.
Is Reanimation teched out of the metagame after the Pro Tour, just like it was last year? Or is it just that the Europeans didn’t read that amazing article on how to play and sideboard Benzo that appeared here on Star City? (Okay, sorry – I couldn’t resist.)
With six copies in day 2, this deck has proven itself ready for primetime. I must admit, I was skeptical of this deck’s ability to play with the big boys in Extended – but the numbers don’t lie. Dust off your Odyssey Block decks, boys and girls; it’s time for some Extended PTQs.
Important information can be learned from the unsurprising results of the tournament as well; namely, the solid performances of Tog and The Rock. Those decks were the workhorses of the Pro Tour, putting large numbers in the top 32. Their continued success in this very different field proves the strength and resilience of these decks.
I think Fiends (also known as – ahem -“Super Goo”) was the deck of this tournament. Goblins may have stolen the spotlight, but I have a feeling that there were a lot more Goblin decks in day one. A copy of this deck should be added to every playtesting pool. Regardless of which deck did the best, it is clear the beatdown decktype was King; it may be time to up the number of cards like Engineered Plague, Massacre, and Bottle Gnomes in your sideboards.
When contemplating lessons learned from looking at the results of any tournament, keep in mind that the metagame is always shifting. The decks that did well at this tournament were well-suited to last weekend’s Extended environment in Reims, France – but in a different time and place, the field will not be the same. Take into account the lessons of the past, but change to keep up with the future.