Pre - Pro Tour Top 5's
As I lay here in bed wondering what I ate at the bar last night to make me feel like death, I am debating on what to talk about this week. Thought about doing some Top 5 lists. Thought about previewing the Pro Tour. Even thought about talking about my own experiences working on teams for a Pro Tour. So I have decided to do a little bit of each.
Top 5 Decks I Expect at the Pro Tour
5. B/G Aggro
Winding constrictor is still a very powerful card and when the deck curves out it is very hard to beat. I would think about 5-8% of people will play this.
4. URx Control Decks
Torrential Gearhulk was one of the winners with Amonkhet, getting Magma Spray and Drake Haven to back it up. I would expect to see about 10% of people try various control decks.
Jacob Baugh recently played Zombies at SCG Atlanta and Jim Davis is currently streaming the deck. I think this will breakout at the event and fall into the 10-12% range.
2. Aetherworks Marvel
This is the one that scares me most. The metagame could slide back into a funk if this deck dominates. I can see up to 15-18% of players taking this as their weapon of choice.
1) Mardu Vehicles
The last deck to surive from the last metagame. Mardu is going to be public enemy number 1 and fully expect to see it dominate the field. I think up to 25% of players will play this deck.
Pro Tour Preview
So where we are with the 3rd Pro Tour of the year coming from sunny Nashville, Tennessee. The events leading up to this Pro Tour have been well documented between emergency bans and a lot more of the same results in T8s. SCG Atlanta featured 5 Mardu decks in the T8 with another 2 lurking in the next 8 lists. While the margins between T8 and T16 are super small, it goes to show that Mardu does have that edge against the other contending decks in the format. The classic was won by Bant Aetherworks and only 2 Mardu decks were in the top 8, but I think that is mostly because a large percent of Mardu was still in the main event that day. The PTQ at GP Richmond featured 4 more Mardu Decks with 2 of them playing in the finals, which was won by Dylan Donegan.
Here we see some new changes based on Amonkhet being released and Felidar Guardian being banned. We have a reduced number of Walking Ballista because we no longer need to worry about having an answer on board for the combo and needing to continue to tap out to play our threats. Cut // Ribbons is one of the biggest new additions from Amonkhet giving the deck some needed reach in the form of Ribbons. The sideboard still has the same plan of moving more towards a control deck post board but here do not see any Chanda, Torch of Defiance which was a staple of the deck previously. It will be interesting to see how much this version of the deck influences the Pro Tour since Dylan is a respected player.
I have a feeling we are going to see Aetherworks Marvel take the place of Saheeli combo going forward. This deck is very good at prolonging the game and setting up for an Ulamog to close out the game. I have a feeling Cast Out is going to play a huge role this weekend since it is an instant-speed answer to Ulamog that can also be cycled in other matchups, an advantage that the cheaper Stasis Snare does not have. Here is the list that Sam Lowe won the classic with in Atlanta:
Not a lot of new cards aside from some role players. I have won several events with this deck and Ulamog is just as scary as Emrakul was. It is usually a 1 turn clock due to an end of turn Aetherworks activation into an attacking Ulamog. I think it is even money that Aetherworks Marvel gets banned in a few weeks in the mid-set announcements. It honestly should have gone this last time.
Musical Interlude- Top 5 Albums coming out this year
5) Pvris- All We know of Heaven, All We Know of Hell
Ever since Cedric Phillips turned me onto this band last year, I have been listening to them at least once a week. They have this Paramore feel to them with a bit more of an edge. Their first single Heaven has been great.
4) Fall Out Boy- M A N I A
This one has me nervous a bit. The new single Young and Menace was such a departure from previous sounds that some people were turned off. That being said, I think this will surprise people and be a very serviceable Fall Out Boy record.
3) Thirty Seconds to Mars- TBA
We don’t know very much about this album other than it is coming this year. They are on tour with Muse and Pvris which I am very excited to see. If this is anything like Love, Lust, Faith, and Dreams then I am going to be very happy.
2) The Killers- TBA
Another album projected for this year that we do not know anything about. The Killers have several festivals coming up so I would think some new music might leak and we might hear new stuff as soon as this summer.
1) Paramore- After Laughter (Today!)
The first 2 singles of Hard Times and Told You So were fantastic. The videos had this weird 80s feel to them that I really dug. This is going to be playing in my headphones for weeks to come
Here I just want to give you a little bit of an insight into what it is like to work with a “Super-Team” for a Pro Tour. I was part of Team TCGPlayer that won Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir. We didn’t know it at the time, but that team was rather stacked with several future Pro Tour and World Championship Winners such as Ari Lax, Steve Rubin, Seth Manfield and Stu Somers (2019 World Champ obviously). We had all started off at Grand Prix Orlando to get some Khans limited testing in and started on our constructed decks. We stayed up late Sunday night since most of us had early flights. Steve Rubin and I had one of the earliest and were off to the airport by 5am on Monday before the PT. We got in around 2pm Hawaii time and got to the house and were greeted by Conley Woods who had gotten there even earlier. Let’s just say we had a super rough time with our housing accommodations.
So rough, so rough. Most days involved getting up around 7am, going for a run and then laying on the beach for several hours since I would consistently be the first one up. I guess that is the advantage of being from the east coast and not being the type that stays up late gaming. By then we would test pretty consistently from Noon to about 10 or 11 at night. I never really partook in the team house drafts but would watch them and give my input on selections and builds. I preferred to play the swiss queues on MTGO to give me the chance to play with the most cards and see as many in action as possible. This has served me well with several 3-0 pods at Pro Tours.
We all got along very well and the hard work paid off in the end with several team members finishing 11-5 for more invites and Ari Lax winning the whole tournament. The Pro Tour is a lot of fun and I actually made a lot of new friends during my various trips. To me that is the most important aspect of playing on the Pro Tour and traveling to GPs.
Top 5 things I have done recently that I can recommend to you:
5) Draft Amonkhet
Want to get good at Magic? Play limited. Enjoy opening packs? Play limited. Want to succeed at the Pro Tour? Play Limited. This is even a very fun format so there is an extra benefit.
4) Played Horizon: Zero Dawn
Hot Take: This game is better than Breath of the Wild. Game looked great, played great and is great. I find myself going back and playing it more even after I have completed the main story.
3) Went to Yoga
I am getting myself back into Tennis playing shape and after a back injury I needed to still work out but not strain my body. Yoga was perfect. If you are some one that does not want to work out in public you can download various Yoga sessions and do them from your own home.
2) Get a massage
This goes with getting back in shape. My job does involve some stress and a lot of sitting so twice a month I get a massage which helps me relax and re-center my body. The long term benefits are definitely worth it if you find a good spa to go to.
1) Buy a mechanical keyboard
This article has been a blast to write and I have enjoyed putting this new keyboard to work. The clicking is somehow very soothing to me and I find myself not needing to press as hard on the keys. I really recommend getting on, especially from Corsair, this thing has been great.
That is it from me this week. Enjoy watching the Pro Tour. You can take a lot away from just watching the best players in the world play. I know I will be watching most coverage and look forward to an exciting Sunday where I hope to see a lot of my friends playing!
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