Top 3 Decks for Legacy from Pro Tour 25

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

Framed!

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

Hymn to Tourach Baleful Strix Kolaghan's Command

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

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.

Rishadan Port Stoneforge Mystic Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

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

Surprisingly, most lists were not running the hot, new Brightling, but instead feature more streamlined creature rosters.

Death's Shadow Reanimate Watery Grave

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

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.

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