This Week in Legacy — Pro Tour 25th Anniversary


Howdy folks! It's Joe again, and this weekend was a momentous event. So momentous in fact that this week we're gonna be doing things a little bit differently: We're gonna look at important parts of all of this Pro Tour—not just the Legacy players—since this event is so amazing in all of its portions.

This Pro Tour marks a first in that the format was 14 rounds of Team Constructed: One Standard, one Modern, and one Legacy player to a team. The importance of such a format is incredible for the 25th Anniversary of the vast and storied history of Magic as it also means the one and possibly only time ever that Legacy will appear on the Pro Tour.

Let's dive into the madness, shall we?

Pro Tour 25 — Legacy

Coming off the bans of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe, the Pro Tour metagame breakdown displays a very intriguing picture of the Legacy format, but don't let these numbers fool you too much. A majority of this is skewed in regards to the particulars of the team format; teams without dedicated Legacy experts often tend to gravitate to decks like Eldrazi Stompy or Sneak and Show due to the relative ease of piloting the decks.

What is relatively surprising is the number of pilots on the UB Death's Shadow deck, which is essentially a Delver-style tempo list.

Let's take a look at a list, from 2nd Place's Josh Utter-Leyton.

UB Shadow — Josh Utter-Leyton | 2nd Place Pro Tour 25A

Creatures (14)
4 Death's Shadow
4 Street Wraith
4 Delver of Secrets
2 Gurmag Angler

Instants/Sorceries (28)
3 Ponder
1 Preordain
4 Thoughtseize
2 Reanimate
4 Brainstorm
4 Daze
4 Force of Will
2 Snuff Out
2 Fatal Push
2 Stubborn Denial

Lands (18)
3 Watery Grave
2 Underground Sea
4 Wasteland
1 Marsh Flats
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Verdant Catacombs
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Flooded Strand

Sideboard (15)
2 Hymn to Tourach
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
3 Surgical Extraction
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Diabolic Edict
2 Throne of Geth
1 Engineered Explosives
3 Dread of Night

A deck with more shock lands in it than actual dual lands, UB Shadow presents Modern players a possible avenue into the Legacy format on a deck that they know fairly well. What makes the Legacy version interesting of course is main deck cards like Reanimate and Snuff Out, both very powerful cards that not only achieve the deck's goal of reducing its life total to do what it wants to do by casting powerful Death's Shadows, but also gives the deck minor edges over other decks. One other adorable piece of tech is the use of Throne of Geth to be able to proliferate Chalice of the Void to two counters to get around the spell, but also to potentially lock out the Chalice player from making important 2 CMC plays.

Another deck that showed up a lot (partly due to Pro players and their preference for control decks) was Grixis Control. This deck is the spiritual successor to Czech Pile (aka 4C Control). Due to the loss of Deathrite Shaman, the deck has been forced to drop Green entirely and move to a more stable manabase.

Let's take a look at a list.

Grixis Control — Fabrizio Anteri | PT 25A

Planeswalkers (3)
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Liliana, the Last Hope

Creatures (10)
4 Baleful Strix
3 Snapcaster Mage
2 Gurmag Angler
1 True-Name Nemesis

Instants/Sorceries (27)
4 Preordain
2 Thoughtseize
3 Hymn to Tourach
4 Brainstorm
3 Lightning Bolt
2 Spell Pierce
1 Fatal Push
2 Diabolic Edict
2 Kolaghan's Command
4 Force of Will

Lands (20)
4 Polluted Delta
3 Scalding Tarn
2 Bloodstained Mire
3 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
2 Badlands
2 Island
2 Swamp

Sideboard (15)
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Kolaghan's Command
3 Surgical Extraction
2 Flusterstorm
2 Pyroblast
1 Hydroblast
1 Pithing Needle
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Painful Truths
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Engineered Explosives

Dropping Green allows the deck to not only play more basics, but to also load up on more cards such as Hymn to Tourach and Kolaghan's Command. It seems like a pretty strong option overall.

Pro Tour 25 — Modern

The Modern metagame was very intriguing this weekend, with a heavy top-end of the most popular deck in the format: Humans. Humans received a large boost in Core Set 2019 thanks to the printing of the card Militia Bugler, and its power showed, pushing two copies of the deck into the Top 4 Teams.

However, the obvious talk of the town is going to be KCI. For those that are unaware, KCI (Krark-Clan Ironworks for the acronymn-challenged) is a combo deck that utilizes its namesake card to generate massive amounts of mana and loop a kill using Pyrite Spellbomb. The deck has come under fire as of late from numerous folks who feel that the deck deserves a ban and doesn't deserve to be a part of the Modern format at all due to the fact that the deck can often take very long combo turns. Many cite tournament concerns with rounds going long as part of the issue.

For me, I don't know that the data is there yet to really present itself as a real issue. There is a lot of data that we just don't have access to that Wizards does, but the data we do have on KCI tends to show that there just aren't that many pilots on the deck other than the most dedicated of folks like Matt Nass or Ben Stark. Watching Ben Stark's matches on camera, he was very thorough and capable of explaining what he needed to do while being quick in his game actions.

Time will tell whether or not Wizards is okay with this deck in the format. Similar cards like Second Sunrise have been banned before for tournament timing concerns, so it's wholly possible that KCI may see a similar ban.

Let's take a look at Ben Stark's list from the Top 4.

KCI — Ben Stark | 2nd Place Pro Tour 25A

Creatures (6)
4 Scrap Trawler
2 Myr Retriever

Instants/Sorceries (4)
4 Ancient Stirrings

Artifacts (36)
3 Engineered Explosives
4 Terrarion
4 Mind Stone
4 Mox Opal
2 Pyrite Spellbomb
4 Ichor Wellspring
4 Chromatic Star
3 Chromatic Sphere
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks

Lands (14)
2 Inventors' Fair
3 Buried Ruin
2 Forest
3 Yavimaya Coast
4 Grove of the Burnwillows

Sideboard (15)
4 Nature's Claim
3 Negate
3 Sai, Master Thopterist
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Island

Another deck that showed up a lot on coverage—and quite frankly looked like pure hot unadulterated fire—was BR Vengevine. I fell quite in love with this deck, as this looks like something I would relatively enjoy playing in Modern. For those that aren't aware of how the deck functions, the deck utilizes cards like Stitcher's Supplier, Faithless Looting, and Insolent Neonate to get cards into the graveyard, namely Vengevine and Bridge from Below. Then, casting XX creatures like Hangarback Walker and Walking Ballista for 0 not only triggers the Bridge when they die, but also triggers bringing back Vengevine. Throw in a little Goblin Bushwhacker for good measure, and you have a deck that can have such an aggressive start that normal graveyard hate like Rest in Peace can often not be good enough. The absurdity of such a notion makes this deck a strong contender going forward.

Let's take a look at the list:

BR Vengevine — Jacob Nagro | PT 25A

Creatures (35)
4 Walking Ballista
4 Vengevine
4 Stitcher's Supplier
4 Insolent Neonate
4 Greater Gargadon
4 Gravecrawler
4 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Bloodghast
3 Hangarback Walker

Instants/Sorceries (4)
4 Faithless Looting

Enchantments (4)
4 Bridge from Below

Lands (17)
4 Blood Crypt
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
2 Wooded Foothills
2 Scalding Tarn
2 Bloodstained Mire
2 Arid Mesa
1 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
2 Bitterblossom
3 Ingot Chewer
3 Lightning Axe
3 Thoughtseize
4 Leyline of the Void

Jacob's list is pretty sweet, given the additional extra tech of Greater Gargadon, which can be used as both a sac outlet and a hasty creature that also counts as a creature spell cast during the turn in order to trigger Vengevine.

This deck is explosive, and I expect to see more of it going forward in the future until the metagame adapts to it.

Pro Tour 25 — Standard

Wizards went on record on stream noting that the percentages on this chart were way way off, with RB Aggro actually boasting a massive 40% of the metagame share for this weekend.

With how Standard is shaping up since Core 2019, one thing is clear: RB Aggro and Steel Leaf Stompy are hugely in charge of the metagame, but they're not the decks that really stood out this weekend. Decks like UW Control and Reservoir Combo were impressive and fun to watch, but it was David Williams and his Turbo Fog decklist that really took the cake.

Let's take a look at his list:

Turbo Fog — David Williams | PT 25A

Instants/Sorceries (21)
1 Karn's Temporal Sundering
4 Chart a Course
2 Secrets of the Golden City
4 Haze of Pollen
4 Root Snare
4 Nexus of Fate
2 Glimmer of Genius

Planeswalkers (6)
2 Karn, Scion of Urza
4 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Enchantments (7)
4 Gift of Paradise
1 The Mirari Conjecture
2 Search for Azcanta

Lands (26)
4 Irrigated Farmland
4 Scattered Groves
4 Forest
4 Island
4 Hinterland Harbor
3 Glacial Fortress
2 Sunpetal Grove
1 Botanical Sanctum

Sideboard (15)
4 Manglehorn
4 Negate
2 Jace's Defeat
2 Baral, Chief of Compliance
2 Cleansing Nova
1 Nezahal, Primal Tide

However strong this deck may be, it also brings up a pressing concern in regards to how Wizards is managing Standard. As some of you might be aware, with the release of Dominaria Wizards began printing Buy-a-Box promo cards that only appeared as a promo and did not appear in the actual set. At the time the card Firesong and Sunspeaker wasn't regarded as very powerful, but it set a highly dangerous precedent that many complained about to Wizards. The concern was that Wizards could accidentally print a card that was actually Standard playable.

Enter Nexus of Fate.

Wizards managed to do this EXACT thing that many people were frightened of, in the VERY NEXT SET. Nexus of Fate was very powerful on camera this weekend in the hands of Williams, and it showed up in several decklists. Despite not making the Top 4 finalists, the damage I feel has been done. Nexus is already a $30 Mythic Rare, and if the decks playing it starts pushing more and more events post Pro Tour expect that this price could go up more. What makes this worse, is this card is ONLY available in foil (making curling problematic for tournament play) but also isn't available in regular Core 2019 packs, which means the supply is limited.

This is a problem, I feel. I certainly hope Wizards comes up with a way to rectify this supply issue, but honestly in the future if they're going to do Buy-a-Box exclusive promos they should not be Standard legal. It causes way too many issues for cards such as this that are actually good and playable cards.

Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! One of the best parts for me of this Pro Tour and its coverage was all the people sharing memories of their time playing Magic, so I wanna hear what yours are! Hit me up on Twitter or Discord and let me know what your favorite Magic memory is!

Until next time, may all your Magic be fun and everlasting!

Joseph Dyer (@volrathxp) is an avid Legacy enthusiast. He's admin of the /r/NicFitMTG subreddit, as well as a regular participant on the Source and MTGLegacy subreddits. His knowledge of the Legacy format is deeply rooted in constant analysis, playtesting, and lots of discussion of the format. Joseph's primary accomplishments include a 10–5 finish at GP Columbus 2016 with Rhino Fit, and a 32nd place finish at SCG Columbus Legacy Classic with Sneak Fit. 

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