How to Prepare for Small Field Tournaments

Everyone has their own way of preparing for tournaments, from playtesting to deck selection. By and large, however, this preparation is geared towards larger tournaments, with the default modes of preparation being best suited to a wide field. Restricted and small field tournaments are quite common, however, from the MPL Gauntlet and Worlds to the final events for leaderboard-based tournament circuits and elimination playoffs for leagues like the VML. There’s several aspects of these tournaments that lead themselves to preparing differently than for larger tournaments, and I’m going to break them down so that you can win your next one!



Header - Player-Favored Archetypes

The most obvious line of attack for small tournaments is to take advantage of the fact that some players have preference for specific archetypes. This is particularly true in eternal formats, where certain decks strongly reward a lot of experience piloting them. In terms of how to use this information to prepare, it’s important to avoid skewing your deck too heavily to beat a deck that just one or two people will be playing and leaving you poorly positioned against the rest of the field.

Stony Silence

Instead, you should use this to inform things like sideboard choices, as narrow-but-powerful sideboard cards that you might sometimes opt not to include because you don’t know whether they will be relevant in the meta can be included safely. An example of this would be Stony Silence in some previous Modern metagames, where it may sometimes have not been useful or relevant, but would definitely be worth including if the field had a player or two known for playing Lantern Control or Affinity, as you know it will be really powerful against at least few players in a small field.


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