Top 3 Decks for Legacy from Pro Tour 25
- Robert Swiecki
The team Pro Tour 25 in Minneapolis featured Legacy and many players had feared drastic changes to the format once the pros start working on decks. In the end, we experienced a rather average snap shot of the meta paired with some smaller surprises. In the following, I present my top three conclusions from the Pro Tour and how they will affect the near future of Legacy.
The PT25A Framework
Firstly, we must actually explain the framework of this tournament. Evidently, Pro Tours are exclusive events. Players can either enter the tournaments by having a certain pro status, by finishing in the top spots of a Grand Prix, or by winning a qualifying tournament. Either way, it's not easy to get in to Wizards' exclusive pro tournaments.
Naturally, there are not many dedicated Legacy players who aspire to play at Wizards' highest tables, but rather prefer to grind Legacy leagues online, visit local tournaments, or drive to established eternal series like the MKM Series and the StarCityGames circuit. More often than not, Legacy players become experts on their decks; partly due to time efficiency, by habit, or because of budget reasons. Many Legacy players are older than players of Modern, have settled down, and enjoy casting their favorite cards in their trusted decks. In addition, it is way more difficult to change decks for newer players meaning that if one decides to go for a specific strategy, one will be bound to the deck for a while.
Therefore, Legacy's demographics differ vastly from the ones of Standard and Modern. Having players come from other formats to play Legacy at the Pro Tour creates an area of tension between Legacy experts and players new to the format or revisiting it after a long hiatus. Players from different backgrounds approach Legacy differently deciding on decks after a period of testing in a possible meta game. I would argue that being an expert on a deck and specifically tweaking it for the Pro Tour is much more effective than trying to find a suitable or "the best" deck as a non-Legacy player.
Therefore, the Pro Tour results have to be analyzed with a grain of salt. This especially true when you consider that we don't know the individual Legacy player records as they could win and lose as a team, regardless of the Legacy player's performance.
The Quest for the Best Deck
Firstly, by looking at the meta overview, we see a pretty healthy distribution of decks. It is kind of a surprise that Grixis Control was the most played deck even though it spawned, more or less, from the ashes of Grixis Delver. There used to be a Grixis Control deck during the insane times of Dig Through Time fueled by Gitaxian Probe, Cabal Therapy, and Young Pyromancer, but it mostly vanished when the overpowered Delve spell left the format. The question her is what made it the most played deck at the Pro Tour? Is it the "best deck"? The latter question is easier to answer: No, it is definitely not the best deck. It has a hard time beating combo decks and its relatively slow clock allows for comebacks. It has a decent match up against Death and Taxes, Eldrazi, and other decks that are at the mercy of their top decks. Kolaghan's Command, Snapcaster Mage, and Liliana, the Last Hope are powerful tools to beat control and aggro decks alike. It does seem strange that some players chose to cut True-Name Nemesis entirely from their decks, which looks to be a solid hitter.
Lucas Blohon – Grixis Control
|21Lands||13Other Permanents||26Instants and Sorceries|
|3Bloodstained Mire||2Gurmag Angler||2Diabolic Edict|
|2Island||4Snapcaster Mage||2Fatal Push|
|4Polluted Delta||2Jace, the Mind Sculptor||4Force of Will|
|3Scalding Tarn||1Liliana, the Last Hope||3Kolaghan's Command|
|4Underground Sea||3Hymn to Tourach|
|1Liliana, the Last Hope||1Marsh Casualties||2Pithing Needle|
|2Pyroblast||1Red Elemental Blast||3Surgical Extraction|
I am pretty sure that Grixis Control remains a meta choice that is aimed at beating a wide field of Death and Taxes, Eldrazi, while retaining some game against RUG Delver, Miracles, and Reanimator strategies.
Death and Taxes, on the other hand, looks to be the best-positioned deck at the moment. Its ability to grind out games with equipment, Flickerwisp, and a solid mana denial package make this deck a perfect choice for experienced Legacy players who know how to find a balance between mana denial and beatdown.
Allen Wu – Death and Taxes
|1Horizon Canopy||4Flickerwisp||4Swords to Plowshares|
|3Karakas||1Mirran Crusader||4Aether Vial|
|1Mishra's Factory||4Mother of Runes||1Batterskull|
|5Plains||1Palace Jailer||1Sword of Fire and Ice|
|4Rishadan Port||4Phyrexian Revoker||1Umezawa's Jitte|
|6Snow-Covered Plains||2Recruiter of the Guard|
|4Thalia, Guardian of Thraben|
|1Containment Priest||2Council's Judgment||1Ethersworn Canonist|
|1Faerie Macabre||2Gideon, Ally of Zendikar||1Leonin Relic-Warder|
|2Path to Exile||1Pithing Needle||3Rest in Peace|
Surprisingly, most lists were not running the hot, new Brightling, but instead feature more streamlined creature rosters.
The most surprising evolution at the event though , by far, was the number of Death's Shadow decks. Many high-profiled players like Luis Scott-Vargas, Alexander Hayne, and of course Josh Utter-Leyton decided to approach Legacy by losing a good chunk of their life pool early on. I have to admit that I wasn't really convinced by Death's Shadow decks before the bannings and prior to the Pro Tour, but right now it seems to be the best tempo deck in Legacy. Running better threats than RUG Delver, Death's Shadow accelerates its tempo engine much faster than other tempo decks. Its creatures are bigger, it has a decent match up against combo decks, and it can steal games against control by putting enough pressure on the board while holding up Force of Will, Daze, and Stubborn Denial. Playing Reanimate also allows for sweet lines with a cycled and reanimated Street Wraith on turn one or simply by targeting a creature in the opponent's graveyard. I am sure that it will remain an essential part of a new Legacy meta game thanks to the Pro Tour.
Josh Utter-Leyton – Death's Shadow
|18Lands||14Creatures||28Instants and Sorceries|
|2Bloodstained Mire||4Death's Shadow||4Brainstorm|
|1Flooded Strand||4Delver of Secrets / Insectile Aberration||4Daze|
|1Marsh Flats||2Gurmag Angler||2Fatal Push|
|1Misty Rainforest||4Street Wraith||4Force of Will|
|1Polluted Delta||2Snuff Out|
|1Scalding Tarn||2Stubborn Denial|
|1Diabolic Edict||3Dread of Night||1Engineered Explosives|
|2Hymn to Tourach||2Liliana, the Last Hope||1Nihil Spellbomb|
|3Surgical Extraction||2Throne of Geth|
Tech cards like Throne of Geth, which serves as a counter to Chalice of the Void, have also helped to make this deck the best runner-up in current Legacy. The split between Ponder and Preordain looks spicy as well because it tries to combine the best of both worlds: Ponder acts like a tutor in many cases, whereas Preordain provides smooth draws without the need of a shuffle effect. Being rather inexpensive, the U/B version should establish itself as one of the premier tempo decks of the format.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.