The first MTG Arena Pro Tour happened the past weekend. 68 of the world’s finest Magic players crossed their swords to crown a new champion. In the end, when the dust settled, a newcomer stood alone. Matias Leveratto took Nexus Reclamation all the way to the top.
His bold deck choice proved very good for the metagame. Nexus Reclamation is a deck that stopped showing up because of Teferi, Time Raveler’s big numbers in the meta.
Matias (along with fellow competitors Autumn Burchett and Emma Handy) knew that the demise of Reclamation decks was the combination of Teferi and efficient, small creatures that gave the opponent an insurmountable advantage early on. Like Thief of Sanity.
Thief of Sanity is no longer a player. The last supporter of the card, BBD, chose to cut it this time. Most people agree that Thief is now more of a liability than a game winning threat.
Teferi on his own stops the Reclamation engine, but not forever. At some point you get him off the board and can go off. The fact that Esper Control was the major player in the event, along with the anemic numbers on aggressive strategies, pushed Reclamation over the top. Matias is an amazing pilot of the deck, so that is to be considered as well.
So, apart from a sea of Esper decks and Reclamation taking the trophy home, what else did we witness?
The most surprising outcome to me was the performance of Bant Ramp. The title of Standard’s best archetype was between the Esper engine and the Bant Nissa engine. I expected at least one person making the cut to day 3 with a Nissa strategy. Well, I also expected Esper Control to kill everything in its path, but it seems like Esper Hero was the most successful archetype. The thing with Bant Ramp is, after its amazing performance in Grand Prix Taipei, it was a known quantity. The matchup between Esper decks and Bant Ramp is pretty close, and I guess I should have expected the world’s finest pro players would know how to approach it.
The top 4 had Kai Budde and Brad Nelson on the same Esper Hero deck (designed by the Esper Hero master himself, Brian Braun-Duin), Shahar Shenhar on Monored, and Matias on Nexus Reclamation.
Shahar’s presence on the top 4 is no surprise, though his deck choice kind of is. You would expect that, in a sea of unfavorable Esper opponents, Monored would stumble in the end. Shahar proved that wrong with his expertise on the deck.
Esper Hero put 2 copies in the top 4, played by teammates Brad Nelson and Kai Budde. Well, Brad is the best Standard player in the world and Kai is the german juggernaut, the best player of all time, the living legend of Magic. Do you need more reasons? Sure, the matchup against an Esper Control deck with Search for Azcanta, The Elderspell and Command the Dreadhorde in the main is bad, but as we saw, they managed to beat it and put themselves on to the final day of the competition.
People will follow Mythic Championship results, so Reclamation numbers should rise. Esper Control numbers should then see a decline, whereas White Weenie and Monored numbers are going to go up again, only to be beaten by Esper Hero sporting Thief of Sanity to beat Reclamation. Until we go full circle again. Well, if M20 doesn’t spoil all that fun, that is .
Most core sets do not have a big impact on the metagame. Decks get a new toy to play with, maybe a new finisher or two, maybe a new fringe archetype pops up.
That should be the case with M20 as well. There’s new toys for control, aggro and combo alike. There’s the Leylines that will definitely see some amount of play in Standard. There are new planeswalkers, some of which seems pretty powerful (Vivien and the Chandras in particular)
All in all, M20 should be a lot of fun to cap a very interesting metagame, going into the fall rotation.
I will leave you with a dinosaur brew (not mine but Sam Black’s, as I lack the brewing power to come up with a good deck of my own, though i would build it very similarly to the list below)
I call this deck RG Leonards (get it?)
By Kratos or Marios Tsopelas