Now a week removed from the first Flesh and Blood Calling event in North America since the inaugural alpha events in 2019, I’m looking back at the weekend that was and diving into some Calling metagame analysis.
The six weeks prior to the Classic Constructed Calling was the Road to Nationals season, which concluded just the weekend before Vegas. This season paved a path to Vegas and set the stage for a number of Heroes that had performed very well during the season, in particular Chane, Katsu and Bravo. You can see exactly how the final weeks of the Road to Nationals season shook out and the metagame as we entered Vegas in my last power rankings update here:
However, a number of players piloting heroes outside the big three had points to prove as we entered the weekend. After Friday’s record breaking 1,000+ person Tales of Aria world premiere, Saturday was upon us, and across the world eyes turned to the ChannelFireball stream to see how the largest Classic Constructed event to date would playout.
Round one saw a number of prominent players from across the North American Flesh and Blood shuffling up, alongside many players in their first major Flesh and Blood or TCG event and even some household names from other TCGs jumping across to participate in this historic event. As players began battling it out over the early rounds, we were provided our first snapshot of the field as the meta breakdown for the event was published.
- Chane – 22%
- Katsu – 14%
- Bravo – 12%
- Prism – 11%
- Dash – 9%
- Boltyn – 9%
- Dorinthea – 8%
- Viserai – 4%
- Azalea – 4%
- Rhinar – 4%
- Levia – 3%
- Kano – 2%
No real surprise to see Chane, Bound by Shadow the most represented hero on day one after taking out over 30 percent of the Road to Nationals events over August and September. Katsu, the Wanderer showing up in numbers also, despite a poor end to the Road to National season in win share. Mr. Consistent, Bravo, Showstopper has been a mainstay the entire Monarch Classic Constructed season and again in Vegas as the third most represented hero. Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light came in at 11 percent representation, while Ser Boltyn, Breaker of Dawn, coming off the back of a strong finish to the Roads season, was only the sixth most represented hero surely surprising at least a few.
At the end of day one we started to get a glimpse of how things would shake out in the run to Top 8 as the cut to top 64 for day two was announced. Alongside an interesting meta for the second day, we had six undefeated players two Chane, two Prism, one Bravo and one Dash. Dorinthea, Katsu and Boltyn all unaccounted for in the undefeated decks and previewing what was to come…
- Chane – 29 (45%)
- Bravo – 9 (14%)
- Prism – 7 (11%)
- Dorinthea – 6 (9%)
- Katsu – 6 (9%)
- Boltyn – 4 (6%)
- Dash – 2 (3%)
- Kano – 1 (2%)
The day two metagame saw Chane with supreme dominance, moving from 22 percent of the day one field to 45 percent of the day two meta! Bravo also converted well up five percent from his day one representation, while Prism held at 11 percent of meta share and Dorinthea at nine percent also converting well. On the other side, Dash took the biggest hit on day one as just two players made it into the final 64! Katsu also finding day one challenging dropped from the second most played hero to fifth for day two. Boltyn, after the promising lead into Vegas, had struggled through the first seven rounds on day one to put just four players into the cut.
When the dust settled, Chane put a staggering five players into top eight, continuing the dominant run of the Shadow Runeblade over the weekend. To the surprise of many, Prism put two players into top eight, both players on very controlling builds of the Light Illusionist. One copy of Dash rounded out the top eight. In the end though, Light prevailed over Shadow. Chane, the hero that had been the story all weekend, fell in the final to Tyler Horspool and his control Prism build.
You can’t look past an amazing weekend for Prism, after a strong showing in conversion to day two before putting two players into the top eight. Interestingly, the Road to Nationals season saw Prism with the worst conversion rate in top eight and one of the worst win share rates for a hero that was heavily played across the world. We saw a shift in this event however, with a number of the day two players on a more control-based archetype including the eventual winner and the other copy of Prism that made top eight. These builds often sought to shut Chane out of the game with defensive prowess and even fatigue them or land critical Arc Light Sentinels to have the Chane players die to their blood debt cards.
Despite it being a Prism player at the end of Sunday hoisting the trophy, you can’t deny the dominance of the Chane, Bound in Shadow over the swiss rounds. 45 percent of the meta for day two and five copies into top eight is some achievement! From a meta perspective, we saw some diversion in the top performing Chane players and how they had opted to tackle the event. Finalist Sebastiano Cavallo opted for a build tuned towards the mirror and the aggressive matchups, with more explosive capability in the form of Razor Reflex (Red) and Tremor of iArathael (Red). Conversely others, including semi-finalist and top-ranked Canadian Dante Delfico were on builds that included more Seeping Shadows (Yellow) for the control or fatigue-based matchups. Joe Colon who topped swiss opting for Dimenxxional Crossroads to sit in that flex spot.
Of the five Chane players, four had settled on the now very common Flock of the Feather Walkers builds to combine with some of the non-blood debt cards such as Razor Reflex and Exude Confidence. One player came (Dante) with Meat and Greets and a slightly higher blood debt count over the Welcome to Rathe generics.
Despite not making a top eight appearance in Vegas, Bravo put up some good results over the weekend with an undefeated player on day one and representing 14 percent of the meta on day two. In fact, only Chane improved more in conversion to day two! There wasn’t much different about the lists we saw, with experienced pilots backing their lists and attacking the meta with control-based builds looking to hit hard with crush cards in the aggro matchups and often setting up to fatigue Chane – as had been seen widely over the weekend.
With the exception of top eight competitor Alberto Miracle, who expertly piloted the Mechanologist hero to top eight, it was overall a very tough weekend for Dash. Of the 70 players on day one, just two made it into day two. In the end, a midrange build did make the top cut and you can see some of Alberto’s matches on camera over the weekend up on ChannelFireball’s Twitch Channel in the Vegas VODs.
The poor conversion and showing from Dash could be an anomaly, but Chane is certainly not an easy match up nor Katsu aggro traditionally and we saw Prism do the business twice on camera against Dash over the weekend.
Katsu was one of the heroes I thought might make a splash in Vegas. I’ve been a fan of the aggressive builds this season as a different angle of attack to take on the metagame. With the rise of Boltyn and Dash, I did think that there was a possibility of one or two Ninjas making the top eight.
In the end, Katsu had a rough weekend, with 14 percent of the field on day one turning into nine percent on day two, and no top eight berth. We did see both midrange and aggro Katsu decks represented on camera during day two, and it was great to see the differing strategies. Katsu started the Monarch Classic Constructed season on top, but has really fallen as we now close the season out.
Hot on the heels of some big results in the final three weeks of the Road to Nationals season and the real emergence of the Cintari Sabers combo build, Boltyn looked poised to disrupt the meta in Vegas and even make a run at top eight or the trophy. The Saber combo that can string two or three Lumina Ascensions together with Courage of Bladehold and Gallantry Gold for in excess of 35 damage in one turn is no joke. From what was reported from the floor on day two, Sabre builds were the majority of the six percent of the field that was Boltyn. That’s still a fall from the day one meta share though, and the best that Boltyn could do in the end was a top 16 finish.
It will be interesting to see how Boltyn fares in the new meta once Tales of Aria releases and if this combo approach will still be out there, threatening one turn kills on opponents!
Tales of Aria drops in just a few days and players are already brewing up Lexi, Oldhim and Briar decks for the new meta. The big question will be what impact do these new heroes and cards have on the established meta which has seen dominance by Chane, the rise of Prism and Boltyn alongside the ever-present Bravo. Will we see one of the older heroes, retooled with Tales cards take center stage? Will it be one of the new three? Perhaps it will be a new era and the introduction of Elemental heroes will see Classic Constructed completely change!