A Veritable Mixed Bag: Looking Back at GP Seattle

Woah. What a week it’s been for the format. In the week running up to GP Seattle, Legacy seemed to go from being relatively quiet and keeping to itself, to exploding with energy and buzz. I was hoping to do this week’s article on the new Jace and his place in Legacy but a lot has happened that I want to talk about. So let’s look at Legacy in the aftermath of the last Legacy GP of the year, and what lies ahead in 2016.

Let’s first take a look at GP Seattle and see what went down Stateside.

For a start, I was way off in my Top 8 prediction. I got half of it right but the other half completely threw me. Two Shardless decks Top 8’d, as well as Miracles and Grixis/4C Delver, but where I was wrong was in the other four. There was a second 4C Delver as well as a crazy Reanimator deck that I’ll get to in a bit, Lands, which took down the tournament, and Aluren. Yes. Aluren came out of nowhere and Top 8’d a GP. What a Top 8.

Both Shardless BUG lists and the Miracles list were fairly stock. Nothing super interesting to report on. Andrejs Prost decided to go for the [card]Scrubland[/card] in the sideboard to splash for [card]Meddling Mage[/card], a move that a lot of Shardless players are making, whereas Xin Sui chose not to, and decided to play a higher planeswalker count with two [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] and three [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card], instead of the 1-2 split the deck usually favours.

The two Delver decks were more or less the usual lists with a few spicy exceptions. Christian Calcano made it to the finals with a version that resembled a Canadian Threshold deck, with a leaning towards [card]Stifle[/card] and [card]Wasteland[/card]. It evidently proved successful for the Calculator himself as he ended up finishing second. Gary Wong, on the other hand, decided to play a single [card]True-Name Nemesis[/card] and two [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] in the main. Wong’s list looked to be favoured against some of the slower decks however Calcano appeared to have the edge against Miracles, thanks to the inclusion of Stifle.

But that’s all boring, normal stuff for a Legacy GP. Now we can move on to the real meat of this Top 8.

In a turn of events I was not expecting in any way, Aluren made the Top 8 in the hands of Martin Goldman-Kirst. For those that aren’t aware, Aluren is a combo deck based around the card, [card]Aluren[/card]. The goal is to land the four mana enchantment and then combo off with [card]Cavern Harpy[/card] and [card]Parasitic Strix[/card], or just out-value the opponent with cheap creatures that are CMC 3 or less. His particular list included a playset of [card]Imperial Recruiter[/card] and [card]Shardless Agent[/card] as value cards, as well as a single [card]Eternal Witness[/card]. The deck is a perfectly fine choice but when your combo can go off on turn three at the earliest, you fall into some small issues in regards speed. However, Goldman-Kirst was able to pilot the deck to a great finish so perhaps, it’s time to bring the deck back? A man can dream.

After Aluren, the big head turner of the Top 8 was Chase Hansen’s Reanimator deck. Reanimator making the Top 8 wasn’t that much of a surprise. It’s become very popular in Legacy over the last few months and it’s got a good Shardless and a good Miracles matchup. But this particular build is very strange. Two maindeck copies of [card]Misdirection[/card] and three copies of [card]Izzet Charm[/card] immediately jump out to me. Charm is a card I’ve liked since it was first spoiled but it’s hard to find a home for two mana [card]Spell Pierce[/card]. Now the other modes are very relevant, but at two mana it’s not fantastic and is just outclassed by other options. Although if it does have a home, it might be in Reanimator. The [card]Faithless Looting[/card] mode is very good in this deck and having the ability to protect the combo or remove pressure in the form of [card]Insectile Aberration[/card], [card]Monastery Mentor[/card] or [card]Vendilion Clique[/card] is excellent. The Misdirections are probably a concession to the amount of [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]s that are seeing play, which is also why this deck is only running two [card]Animate Dead[/card].

I do quite like the singleton [card]Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy[/card] in this deck as it functions as a repeatable looting outlet which can be very good when you draw one too many reanimation targets. [card]Jace, Telepath Unbound[/card] is also a fine addition to the deck when he appears, helping to either stem the bleeding when you’re under fire or flashback a reanimation spell from earlier in the game. I’m not certain if I’d bump the wee lad to two copies as I’ve yet to do any testing with him in Reanimator.

I was surprised to see Lands win the tournament. It’s a deck that I find will often make the Top 8 consistently but will have difficulty closing out the tournament. I even said last week that I wouldn’t expect any kind of [card]Mox Diamond[/card] strategy but yet those words couldn’t be further from the truth. Jarvis Yu’s winning deck has nothing out of the ordinary, bar a very cool single copy of [card]Molten Vortex[/card], which was already starting to see play in Lands, and a juicy one of [card]Riftstone Portal[/card]. In many ways, I’m not surprised. It’s a deck that has a pretty good Miracles matchup and an equally good Shardless matchup, I find, seeing as it’s able to keep up the card advantage, albeit in different ways. Lands has also always been good at preying on fair decks, and now that the Delver decks are moving towards a [card]Young Pyromancer[/card] approach, [card]The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale[/card] is just obscene. Though I don’t expect Lands to suddenly dominate considering how expensive the deck is, thanks to the aforementioned Tabernacle, as well as the playsets of both [card]Wasteland[/card] and [card]Rishadan Port[/card]. However when it does show up, I could definitely see it making a great run.

So that was GP Seattle. I don’t know how many people got a chance to see the coverage but Channel Fireball did a great job. The Timeshifted matches they had in between rounds were excellent, and something I think other broadcasters could definitely look at doing. Well done to them for the GP, they really ended the Legacy year on a bang.

Which brings me to my next point. And it’s a bit of an elephant in the room, but also not really.

Last week, after my article had been sent in, Star City Games announced their plans for the Open Series next year, including a brand change to the Open Tour and the removal of a season, going from four to three. But the big change that has a lot of people upset and angry is their Legacy support, or moreso, their waning support.

The company announced that they would be continuing with the mini-GP structure that they had introduced for the 2015 season, something I was generally happy with, even though I wasn’t a fan of the sudden drop in Legacy coverage. They also announced that they were dropping Legacy as an Invitational format, and so far, only one Legacy Open is scheduled to take place in Season One. To compensate, they are still running the Premier Invitational Qualifiers at each Open. However, the prize pool will not be money. Instead, they will be tickets for a Prize Wall, akin to what we have seen at GPs.shardless-agent

Now, I don’t want to sound subjective, and I’m going to do my best to not, but these changes are ridiculous. Cutting back on the amount of Legacy coverage was bad. The format wasn’t getting the regular attention it used to and we lost the regular big tournaments for data purposes. But I could understand this because the commentators were being overworked. And SCG’s coverage would lose a lot if Patrick Sullivan and Cedric Phillips were showing signs of weariness. But these changes are bad for the format. And not because we’ve only got one Open in the first third of the year, which is still pretty poor. Changing the PIQ prize payouts to non redeemable prize tickets, that can’t be “banked” from one event to another, is almost insulting. Several players used to fly or make long travel arrangements for these PIQs and now, SCG have decided to acknowledge that by giving you the chance of winning unsold Commander product and playmats, if what we’ve seen at GPs is anything to go by.

Now this has enraged the Legacy community, and not just in America. Over here in Europe, we’re angry. It doesn’t impact us but when we saw that there would be loads of people selling out of Legacy, we raised our voices just as much. It’s been clear that Legacy is an underdog format that hasn’t had fantastic support, especially in most of America. But things like this just make it harder to continue playing paper Legacy, for some people. And that makes me very sad.

But I’m not going to be one of those people yelling to the heavens, “Legacy is dead! Sell your duals! Sell your duals!” I’m keeping my duals, thank you very much because 2016 looks set to be cracking for Legacy. Not only are there three Legacy GPs next year (two of which are on the same weekend!) but Bazaar of Moxen announced, almost immediately after SCG made their announcement, that they would be hosting six (Yes, SIX.) Legacy Opens in Europe, each with a prize pool of 7,500 Euros. Just read that sentence again. I know I am.

That’s just amazing. I’ve already booked time off work for the one in London and the one in Germany, and maybe I might just book a third off. The BoM has always been a great supporter of Legacy and Vintage, part of the reason they were asked to organise GP Lille this year, so seeing them host six opens for the format is just huge. Plus, the MKM Open Series is starting to pick up traction and who knows, with enough success and time, we could see that becoming the European SCG Circuit.

So yes, the naysayers are out in full force, and people are mudslinging and badmouthing all around, but all they gotta do is take a look at what’s out there and see how much Legacy is happening. And how great it is to be playing the format right now. The format is diverse and filled with all kinds of great decks. People were saying the format was going to revert back to pre-Khans of Tarkir after the most recent banning, but that’s not even true because Canadian Threshold was the best deck back then, and I don’t even know if there is a best deck, let alone consider it to be Canadian Threshold.

If you guys have any suggestions for what you’d like me to chat about next time, let me know down below. Until then, remember: Let the Cascade trigger resolve!

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