By Niels Viaene
Lets take a look at what was played at the recent edition of the Open Finale and what did well.
For those of you who have no idea what we are talking about: the Gentry Open Finale is a Competitive tournament held shortly before Standard, and thus Gentry, rotates. In this case, Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins rotated out when Kaladesh was introduced.
In the most recent edition we had 26 players, exactly like the previous edition, and this is what they played, sorted by popularity.
3 BG Delirium
3 RB Vampires
2 UR Sphinx’s Tutelage/Rise
2 BW Planeswalker Control
2 UW Tempo
2 GW Aggro
2 UR Thermo-spells
2 UB Rise from the Tides Control
1 UG(r) Emerge
1 UB Aristocrats
1 UG Ramp
1 BG Aristocrats
1 RW Aggro
1 UR Rise from the Tides
1 RW Valor in Akros
1 BUG Midrange
That is 15 different archetypes though the UR decks are pretty closely related to eachother. A mix of aggressive decks, midrange and Control was present, though a bit leaning more towards midrange than aggro. Notable is that there were only two people that showed up with Nantuko Husks and that there were only 2 UW Tempo players even though these have been the most represented decks in the season.
3 People decided to bring what beats them in BG Delirium. And then there are people who went next level and brought decks designed to beat the decks that beat Husk and tempo in the different Control decks and midrange decks with more lategame trumps. Surprisingly absent was UR Eldrazi, but perhaps that deck is just waiting in the winds, ready to come back in the next season.
In the end we had 8 different archetypes in the top 8.
The Quarter Finals
In the quarterfinals the following 4 decks were eliminated:
Sultai Midrange by Tom Vandevelde
2 Gnarlwood Dryad (U)
3 Moldgraf Scavenger
2 Pilgrim’s Eye (U)
1 Stoic Builder
3 Seed Guardian (U)
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow (R)
1 Sidisi, Undead Vizier (R)
3 Vexing Scuttler (U)
1 Emrakul, the Promised End (R)
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
4 Grapple with the Past
1 Pulse of Murasa
1 Corpse Churn
1 Murder (U)
1 Gather the Pack (U)
2 Reave Soul
3 Flaying Tendrils (U)
1 Oblivion Strike
4 Vessel of Nascency
2 Dead Weight
4 Evolving Wilds
I mistook this deck for a variation on BG Delirium at first but realized it plays different enough to warrant its own name. Tom uses a lot of the same mechanics but in the end his deck is indeed more of a Sultai deck that wants a stocked graveyard for Seed Guardian, it combines Delirium with Emerge.
The deck is constructed with a lot of one-ofs, some of them, most notably the Stoic Builder, seem a bit out of place but the deck is build in way to have access to the cards you need when you need them. I assume the Builder is there to make sure that you don’t accidentally mill your Island and find it biting you in the ass in the super late game, or just getting value from your Evolving Wilds. This list is very elegant and offers a lot of options and decision points.
Survivability: This deck is barely losing anything, the sideboard will need alternatives for Caterpillar and Duress but other than that this is a list that can afford to slot a few Diabolic Tutors in and become even more powerful.
R(edelijk) W(at) Aggro by Peter Steenbeke
This was the most aggressive deck in the top 8. It puts huge amount of pressure on opponents by playing double strike creatures and pump spells. To do this it has to take risks, though, as you need to open yourself to removal, especially in sideboarded games. A card that is not featured is True-Faith Senser which could have offered a power boost that is resilient to removal.
The mana also seems rough and I wonder if Crumbling vestige wouldn’t have been a better way to assure white mana early game and playing some extra Mountains.
Survivability: From all of the decks that made top 8 this might be the most dead one after rotation. It loses both creatures that naturally have Double strike as well as some of the pump spells. That doesn’t mean the WR aggro archetype is dead but I do expect the deck to focus on a slightly different angle of a attack, a more conventional one.
BGwu Aristocrats by Ian Ide
Ian is known for his love for Aristocrats and a lack of fear for stretching the deck as wide as it goes, and then some. Previous editions had red for Arlinn Kord as well. In this version he cuts down to 2 Duskwatch Recruiters in favor of Vampiric Rites and an extra Ulvenwald Mysteries compared to the stock list. I like the White splash but I think adding Blue makes the deck too unstable, especially considering he is playing Westvale Abbey, a land that only produces colorless mana.
Survivability: Nantuko Husk is gone, and many a player is rejoicing as the little bug that could has kept a vise-like grip on Gentry for almost a year. Is there room for a GB early to Midrange deck that doesn’t rely on the Nantuko and is not just Delirium? I don’t know, but I do know someone has been brewing up exactly that. Losing Elvish Visionary, while not that flashy hurts this deck a lot as well.
BW Planeswalker Control by Jelle Gyselinck
4 Blessed Alliance (U)
1 Murder (U)
1 Reave Soul
4 Read the Bones
3 Angelic Purge
2 Transgress the Mind (U)
1 Magnifying Glass (U)
1 Tapestry of the Ages (U)
4 Dead Weight
4 Flaying Tendrils (U)
1 Sorin, Grim Nemesis (M)
1 Descend upon the Sinful (M)
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited (M)
Jelle came into this event preparing for aggro and Nantuko Husk in particular with 4 Flaying Tendrils, 4 Dead Weight and 4 Blessed Alliance Main deck. This probably hurt him quite a bit in this field full of midrange decks full of cards against which these cards aren’t the best answers.
Survivability: Losing Duress and Read the Bones is tough. I am not sure Diabolic Tutor will be strong enough to just slot in. I fully expect BW control to remain alive but I expect it to be in a slightly different form.
The Semi Finals
On we went into the semi finals where the following two decks succumbed to better performing opponents:
BG Delirium by Frederik Mortier
3 Evolving Wilds
It will have come as a surprise to no one that knows him that Frederik chose to show up with BG Delirium. He has a sweet spot for the color combination and loves decks that use his graveyard as a resource. He also comes largely preboarded against aggro, so like Jelle, he probably had some issues in this Control heavier metagame.
This decklist is very close to what one would consider the stock list, leaning heavily on Autumnal Gloom to have game against control while packing plenty of main deck reactive cards to bring aggro to a halt.
Survivability: Read the Bones and Dark Petition are out, but there is a replacement waiting in the woods for these mid to late game oriented Delirium decks in Diabolic Tutor. I think these decks will become significantly stronger with that addition.
UW Tempo by Lars Meeussen
4 Whirler Rogue (U)
4 Reflector Mage (U)
1 Thunderclap Wyvern (U)
3 Thraben Inspector
4 Topan Freeblade
4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
1 Dragonlord Ojutai (M)
1 Spell Queller (R)
1 Archangel Avacyn (M)
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar (M)
4 Evolving Wilds
This deck had replaced BG Aristocrats as the deck with the best match-ups according to some people. There aren’t really any surprised in the list. The deck is solid and capable of punishing players with suboptimal decks or draws. The blue control package in the sideboard makes it resilient against anything late game and it has the tools to improve aggro match-ups as well while boasting a game plan that is hard to deal with.
Survivability: No more Whirler Rogue or Thunderclap Wyvern, gone are Topan Freeblade and Silkwrap. Of all these, the Rogue and Freeblade are the ones that hurt the most. I can see a comparable deck remaining viable in Kaladesh Gentry, albeit a bit slower and using cards like Cloudblazer to have more of a late game approach to winning.
After the semi finals only two people were left standing. The following deck took home second prize.
UR Rise ‘n Sphinx by Stijn Bogaert
4 Sphinx’s Tutelage (U)
3 Fiery Impulse
4 Galvanic Bombardment
3 Savage Alliance (U)
2 Send to Sleep
1 Collective Defiance (R)
1 Crush Of Tentacles (M)
2 Magmatic Insight (U)
3 Pore over the Pages (U)
1 Radiant Flames (R)
2 Rise From the Tides (U)
4 Take Inventory (U)
4 Tormenting Voice
1 Chandra Flamecaller (M)
4 Evolving Wilds
Yes, you saw that correctly, there are no creatures in the main deck. There are two Rise from the Tides to make a large army to hopefully kill in one or two turns. The amount of main deck Flaying Tendrils we’ve seen in other decks makes that this isn’t a reliable win condition though. Stijn went hybrid and turned back to the previous version of the deck that uses Sphinx’s Tutelage and more draw spells than conventional versions of the deck. This also lets him mitigate drawing bad removal spells in control matchups and lets him look for them in the aggro matchups he needs them.
This is the best deck at making a bunch of cards in an opponents deck dead by not playing creatures while limiting the impact of its own dead cards. The biggest problem this deck has is with extremely fast aggro that does not let it the time to find removal or big midrange decks against which the damage based removal is not enough to keep up and that are capable of controlling the game on their own .
survivability: This deck is losing quite a few cards, mainly the Sphinx’s Tutelage and Fiery Impulse. Future version of this deck will have to rely on Rise from the Tides more heavily to win.
And then we are left with the winner:
UGr “Temurge” by Michiel Van den Bussche
4 Evolving Wilds
This archetype was largely overlooked by the Ghent community as many thought it wasn’t good enough, that came to bite them Rabidly in the ass as Michiel wound up winning the entire event, going home with 26 boosters and a title.
The deck itself is interesting, the Sint Niklaas team put Duskwatch Recruiter in the spot all others had put Emrakul’s Influence, giving them a comparable draw engine in the late game while bolstering their early game and giving the possibility of curving out like crazy. The red plash for Kozilek’s Return is off a single Mountain and barely hurts the deck’s consistency. I assumed it was most used by putting it in the graveyard with Grapple with the Past and playing a big Eldrazi.
Survivability: Not a single card in this deck is rotating out. You can just copy it and bring it to your next event. Expect the metagame to speed up a little with Kaladesh, though, as this is probably this deck’s greatest weakness.
I like to believe the diversity in this top 8 and the event shows that Gentry is a healthy, divers and open format with a living metagame. I can’t thank the players enough that are putting time and effort into making it what it is.
If you are curious about what it is like and you live close to Ghent, Belgium, feel free to spot by the outpost any Thursday evening. If you are from further away, make a gauntlet and introduce the format to your friends.
May you emerge victorious,
Niels Viaene came into contact with Magic first through the Kazz & Zakk starter set in 1996, but it wouldn’t be until 2000, around the time Prophecy came out that he actually started playing magic thanks to his nephew. Niels’ Magic career has been a roller coaster up to now, including Grand Prix Paris 2009 top 8, Pro Tour San Diego 2010 top 8, becoming a L3 Magic Judge in 2015 and managing the community effort that is the League of New and Beginning Magic: the Gathering Players, the birthing ground for Gentry since 2012. All this comes from a deep love for the game that is far from diminishing.