The Flesh and Blood world is descending on France for the second ever Pro Tour Championship. Players have been doing mental gymnastics trying to justify or downplay the various assessments of what the meta will look like, and how they can best secure a spot in that coveted Top 8 on Sunday. Leading up to this past weekend, however, it was all wishful thinking and prognostication. In a post-Uprising world, most eyes were keenly locked into what went down at The Calling: Singapore, and how those results may influence the scene in Lille.
Without a digital client to reliably churn out thousands of games, meta snapshots are typically left to the various major events that take place here and there. Battle Hardened and Calling tournaments are really the best window we have into what a global meta could look like. The Calling: Singapore was the appetizer for the hungry masses who ached for any kind of information about what they could expect in the coming week. What was served, however, may not be appealing to everyone’s palate.
Fai was meant to be the star of the show, with many war stories circulating about the sheer heights that an undisturbed Fai player can reach with a devastating go-wide strategy. With the Draconic Ninja as the nucleus, fleshing out the remainder of the meta should be the decks that can prey on the aggro builds. The anticipation of Bravo, Lexi and even Iyslander were common beliefs, but what we got instead was Viserai holding court as the most represented hero with 42 players registering the Runeblade. Fai was a distant second at 29, with mainstays Briar and Prism close behind at 27 each. Though Fai was definitely present, he didn’t get the love from the competitors that many suspected. Beyond that, the Top 8 was dominated by a completely different type of aggression that will likely reshape the way France will be approached.
The Top 8 in Singapore was as surprising as the victor. Jason Zhang won the event piloting an aggressive Dash build that ran Talishar, the Lost Prince, Teklo Pounder and a slew of attacks that basically guaranteed endless Boosts. As impressive and heart-warming as it is to see a B-side hero take the tournament, the breakdown of the Top 8 is truly what pro players will be concerned about.
The Top 8 consisted of four Briars, as well as singles of Viserai, Dash, Fai and Iyslander. The resurgence of Briar on this level is reminiscent of most post-Tales of Aria tournament reports where there truly was little match for the Runeblade. For a populace that was heavily leaning on the fact that Fai was the most potent offense available, seeing Briar lay waste to the field will shake their confidence and possibly rattle the foundations of all the preparations they’ve invested in ahead of their travel to France. Keep in mind, a lot of the players who are making their way to Pro tour in Lille were already far from home when the Calling: Singapore went down. In terms of travelling, a lot of the players had to lock in their choices before getting a glimpse of Singapore’s results once the dust settled. They had to push their chips in the middle well before that.
If you take social media chatter at face value, there’s a lot of turbulence among the pros who have little insight into where the dominant deck is hiding. Relying on familiar decks like Viserai or Briar may ultimately be the approach we see amidst so much uncertainty, but for a lot of others the appeal of Fai’s terrifying potential will be the deciding factor. As such, Bravo will look to feast on the Ninjas, and thus Prism wheels back into relevance. Honestly, Singapore’s impact won’t be as profound as you might suspect, even with such a surprising Top 8 roster.
The impact of Singapore will be felt more-so in the sideboard than the main deck selections. That isn’t to say that some brave souls may pivot late to Briar or even the Calling-winning Dash, but for many the fuse is too short to adjust. What players will likely be looking to do is refine their tried-and-true deck selections to improve their matchups against the upstarts. Nobody has been worried about Levia or Azalea in ages, but the resurgence of Dash and the dominance of Briar will shift the tune of how these decks deal with aggro. Cards like Crush the Weak won’t get as much mileage if Fai isn’t as prevalent as initially suspected. Options like Fog Down become more appealing against Briar and Viserai. With Fai losing a lot of its Classic Constructed luster, teching to withstand other forms of aggro will be crucial.
Ultimately, the hero breakdown after day one will likely not reflect what we saw coming out of the ashes in Singapore. What I do suspect, however, is an increase in Briars overtaking Fai. Players won’t like the idea of abandoning the decks they agonized over for weeks ahead of their trip to France, but returning to a familiar Rosetta Thorn wielding friend will eliminate the growing pains of trying to learn new dance moves a day before prom.
My prediction is that the hefty part of the meta pie will be firmly gripped by Runeblades, with Briar and Viserai representing about 30 to 35 percent of the field. With Prism hanging on by a thread, Oldhim’s will be scarce, hoping not to queue into an auto-loss. Bravo mains will adjust their sideboards to respect the everlasting Runeblade threat, while Lexi players may dust off their bows to disrupt and punish a field the may be light on Draconics. Kano, meanwhile, will be Kano and probably shock the world with some rabbit-out-of-the-hat levels of heroics.
- 2x Briar
- 2x Bravo
- 1x Prism
- 1x Fai
- 1x Viserai
- 1x Dash
- Dark horse: Iyslander