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Eternal Weekend Metagame

This year, as a result of COVID-19, Eternal Weekend was brought to Magic Online. There were 3 events that occurred this past weekend and the players competing in the events would be granted access to all of the cards legal on Magic Online (otherwise known as god accounts). The prize structure was similar to other Magic Online premier events, but with an extremely cool and unique Eternal Weekend twist: Winning each event granted a 1-of-a-kind painting of a famous eternal Magic card (Maze of Ith, Karakas, and Rishadan Port, specifically).

It was an awesome event, and I personally competed in 2 of the events using trusty ol’ RUG Delver (8-2 and 17th place in the first, and 2-2 drop in the third). This week, I want to explore some of the awesome news regarding the Legacy format that came out of the events. The results yield a nice view of the Legacy metagame, and the success of each event really says a lot about Legacy at the moment. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Huge Turnout

Since I began playing Legacy, almost 10 years ago to now, I have always been on the receiving end of people discussing the end of the format. Any time a change happens in Magic, from new formats like Pioneer being created to a reduction of the quantity of competitive events that players can play in, people say that Legacy won’t survive the change. Time and time again this has been proven incorrect and the Legacy community has persevered and this past weekend really demonstrated that. There were more than 1,700 players competing across 3 events (with the final event meeting its 672 player limit), which was an awesome sight to behold. I think there are two really cool takeaways from this.

The first is that despite a year or two of format warping haymakers changing the face of Legacy (for better or for worse), people were excited to play this format. Legacy is still the place where people can play some of the most complicated, interesting cards ever printed and it was awesome to see the turnout reflect that. I know the impact of the cards from 2019 and 2020 has had a negative influence on a lot of Legacy players (and I am included in that, trust me), but at its core Legacy is still such an awesome format and it’s really nice to get to share that with other people, especially those who don’t experience the format often.

The second is that removing card availability as a barrier really opens the door to the format. Legacy is relatively cheap on Magic Online, and rental services do exist, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these events were so popular on a weekend where everyone who wanted to play could use any card they wanted. The people who play Legacy on Magic Online regularly only make up a very small percentage of the community who play the format. Owning two collections can be a pain, and rental services can be clunky to use (and still run a pretty consistent cost). I think if these premier events are going to return to Magic Online and generate a similar turnout it would be extremely cool, and beneficial, for everyone involved to see the god accounts return.

The Results

I am not going to talk about every individual list, but you can find the top 16 of each of the Friday event here, the Saturday event here, and the Sunday event here. The disclaimer here is that these events were huge, and 8-2 records ranged pretty heavily, stretching all the way down to 34th in the third event. 8-2 records are still excellent, and the top 8 and top 16 results shouldn’t be the only decks that dictate the format. I don’t have access to all of the deck lists that did well, and will mostly use the data here as the source for my commentary, but I at least want to make it clear that there’s more to this picture than what Wizards of the Coast has published here.

Breakout Decks

The top 8 of each of these events were actually pretty diverse. While there were a fair amount of the most expected decks (like RUG Delver and Snow Control), there were definitely some stand out decks that had excellent weekends, and I want to focus on 3 of those.

Death and Taxes is chief among these, seeing a resurgence as a result of the recent printing of Skyclave Apparition. Not only is this awesome to see, as Death and Taxes is a deck with a long Legacy history that has been pushed out of the format recently due to power creep, but it makes a lot of sense. Historically, the deck had a rather favorable Delver matchup, but not having a clean answer to Oko has been a problem for Death and Taxes. Apparition carries a lot of weight in that regard, and really changes the dynamic of the matchup. In addition, because Death and Taxes hasn’t been performing well up until now, players haven’t been tuning their decks to be properly prepared for it, so this was the perfect weekend for the deck to shine.

Elves didn’t quite put up the same impressive numbers, but did have a very solid weekend, winning the third event and putting up at least one other solid result in the hands of Reid Duke. The addition of Allosaurus Shepherd has had an incredible impact on the archetype, and I think this weekend really solidifies it as a real force in the metagame.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention Oops, All Spells, where Magic Online user Sherwinator took to a 12-1 finish in the Sunday event, only losing in the finals. There were not a ton of successful Oops players, but this definitely demonstrated that the deck has serious legs in the format with the printing of the spell-lands from Zendikar Rising. When building your sideboard, be sure to keep this deck in mind as it can be extremely potent if you’re not quite prepared for it (and sometimes, even if you are).

Top of the Metagame

Despite the relatively diverse top 8s of each of these events, there were 3 top decks that really put up some impressive numbers: RUG Delver, Snow Control, and Death and Taxes. I already talked about Death and Taxes, and fully expect that to be a major part of the top decks going forward.

RUG Delver doing well shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone at this point. There was a fair amount of innovation to the archetype this weekend, specifically in the hands of Legacy master Daniel Goetschel (AKA Gul_Dukat):

Legacy RUG Delver Deck List - Daniel Goetschel

Including Uro and Sylvan Library in the main deck is a major nod to the prevalence of Snow Control, and this gives you a lot of fuel to fight against that deck in a longer game. This innovation was picked up and did well in the Saturday event, as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more people adopt this going forward. I’m unsure if this is the direction you want to take your deck building in the face of Death and Taxes picking up in popularity, but there’s a lot of power in building your deck in this way.

Rounding out the top 3 decks of the weekend is Snow Control, which definitely put up some of the best numbers of the weekend. It still boasts a very solid RUG Delver matchup, and has the tools to battle against just about anything. Doomsday can be a problematic matchup for the deck (which was anticipated to be a somewhat popular deck this past weekend), but players like Anuraag Das (AKA AnziD) adopted the use of Meddling Mage in the sideboard for this purpose. I don’t think Snow is going anywhere in the future, so make sure you come prepared with a plan to defeat it.

These 3 decks most certainly make up the top of the metagame at the moment. If I had a tournament to prepare for tomorrow, I would be looking to make sure I had a plan to battle against each of these archetypes. Beyond that, deck’s like Hogaak and Elves do look like solid metagame choices at the moment. Hogaak can make things really difficult for RUG Delver, and Elves historically has an excellent Death and Taxes matchup.

Format Health

All of this leads me to this question: Is Legacy healthy? This has been a question that I have seen go around a lot since the weekend ended and it’s a bit complicated to answer. There is a decent amount of diversity, and the top 3 decks are all very fair. However, Oko is still a dominant force in the metagame and certainly overrepresented in the winners metagame.

My personal experience in this format has been pretty positive, and I have been playing against a diverse range of decks in all of my games recently (especially this past weekend, where the decks I played against at Eternal Weekend were wide-ranging in archetype representation). I have said since early on in Oko’s introduction to the format that Legacy has successfully integrated the card, as the combination of answers (like Pyroblast) and strategies (like combo) that are good against Oko help balance the playing field.

However, this is almost the same argument that I (and many others) made about Deathrite Shaman for so long. Oko’s effect on the format is analogous to Deathrite’s, and the archetypes have really compressed down to a series of different fair Oko decks and the rest. I don’t think this type of domination is what I would call healthy for the format, despite the fact that I both enjoy this format and view it as reasonably diverse (which are comments I might have made about Deathrite’s metagame, as well).

All of that being said, I had a blast playing Legacy all weekend and I am overjoyed to see the format have such a killer weekend. I think this was great for the format as a whole, and would love to see this event replicated in the future. Getting to see both Legacy masters (such as JPA93, AnziD, Gul_Dukat, and so many others) and less-known players have excellent weekends is awesome, and I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Legacy.

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