4 Lessons from Pro Tour 25th Anniversary

The Results

It has been a very long time since the last team Pro Tour, and people were keenly anticipating a split-format team tournament that would show off Standard, Modern, and Legacy on the biggest stage. Players from around the world converged on Minneapolis to do battle and stake their claim in Magic’s million dollar weekend.

It was wonderful to shine a spotlight on Legacy throughout the weekend, with the format in an interesting position post-bans—there were plenty of old, familiar lists featured, alongside decks that had received recent upgrades thanks to new sets like Battlebond. Modern, too, showed off its health and diversity, with R/B Vengevine making a breakout performance. And finally, Standard was… well, Standard. You can’t win ’em all.

After a clean cut to the Top 4 on Saturday evening, the final matches began on Sunday. The Belgian trio of Gregoire, Neirynck, and Van Der Paelt were dispatched by Orange, Wu, and Hull, while half of Hareruya Latin—Romao, Saporito, and Carvalho—were beaten out by the CFB trio of Juza, Stark, and Utter-Leyton. Once the dust settled on a dramatic final, the Team Hotsauce trio of Gregory Orange, Allen Wu, and Ben Hull emerged victorious!

The Moments

Militia Bulger called in reinforcements to steal the match:

A flawless victory by David Williams:

The Citrus Assassin seemed pretty happy with this grip:

I had a great time running an impromptu trivia show on Sunday:


Josh Utter-Leyton countered a Batterskull on turn one million with three Dazes:

The Deck

Team CFB’s Martin Juza, Ben Stark, and Josh Utter-Leyton had a terrific tournament, finishing undefeated on Day 1 and making it all the way to the finals before finally bowing out as the worthy runner-ups. A big part of their success was the performance of Josh Utter-Leyton and the deck he ran the tables—we’ve seen Death’s Shadow in Modern, but Wrapter ported it very cleanly to Legacy.

Blue-Black Shadow

Josh Utter-Leyton, 2nd place at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary

Utter-Leyton, widely considered one of the best deck builders in the history of the game, stepped into a format that doesn’t undergo the relentless refinement optimization process of a format like Standard, and brought this masterpiece to the tournament.

The core group of classic Legacy cards—Brainstorm, Force of Will, Ponder, Daze—are bolstered by undercosted, hard-hitting threats like Death’s Shadow and Gurmag Angler. Due to how important it is to have a low life total when slamming with Shadow, the deck opts to play Watery Grave alongside Underground Sea, and also benefits greatly from having access to Snuff Out, another “free” spell where the life payment can often be an advantage.

A lot of eyebrows were raised by the inclusion of Throne of Geth in the sideboard, but the explanation is simple (and highly amusing). Given the huge number of cards in this list with converted mana cost 1, Chalice of the Void can be a huge beating for Blue-Black Shadow. As a result, bringing in Throne of Geth and proliferating the counter on the Chalice to instead counter spells that cost 2 is a masterstroke, especially considering the fact that Chalice decks tend to play a huge number of 2-drops themselves!

The Takeaway

With three formats being put on display throughout the weekend, there was a lot to digest from the results put up throughout the three days of play.

In Legacy, we still see the impact of the bannings of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe. Delver decks were split between Grixis and Temur, but none performed to the previously set benchmark set during the days of DRS. Instead, a wide range of non-blue decks stepped in to fill the void. Most notably, Eldrazi Stompy, and of course Death & Taxes. Right now, it’s difficult to say which is the “best” Legacy deck—the format is still in a fantastically puzzling state of flux.

In Modern, a breakout performance came from the Black-Red Vengevine deck, which was heavily featured on coverage throughout the tournament. While the deck didn’t make the Top 4, there’s every indication that this list is here to stay. Much like how Hollow One carved out its niche at PT Rivals of Ixalan, Vengevine decks demonstrated consistently explosive starts and an ability to grind into the late game. Keep this deck on your radar, and pack that graveyard hate moving forward.

In Standard, there wasn’t too much action of note. Black-Red Aggro remains the best deck in the format, so if you’re fan of Chandra, Glorybringer, and Hazoret, be sure to make hay while the sun shines, as they rotate out when Guilds of Ravnica arrives. While M19 brought us a new Nicol Bolas and Sai, Master Thopterist, not too much else seems to have changed, although the mono-blue Paradoxical Outcome list did cause something of a stir.

Next week we’re off to Brussels to see if there are any new wrinkles to post-PT Standard. I’ll be bringing you live coverage of the event alongside the rest of the EU coverage team. See you there!

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