Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar: Day 2 Coverage

After 8 hard fought rounds on Friday, including three rounds of draft and five rounds of standard, a metagame clustered around the best established constructed archetypes of the last few weeks has emerged. Despite more than 20 distinct decks making up at least 1% of the metagame, a full 60% of the field can be said to be on a variation of G/W Megamorph, Atarka Red or Jeskai Splash. Esper Control and Abzan take up the 4th and 5th slots by metagame at the event.

If there is a financial story on the weekend so far, it’s that many of the formats’ dominant cards are likely to hold and gain some value coming out of the weekend. In particular, cards such as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Den Protector all look likely to see plenty of play post this meta.

Over the last week, all of the following cards have put up 25%+ price spikes. A common theme here is undervalued rares from KTK block that are coming into their own in the new meta as they escape peak supply and find room to break out. Many of these cards are doing well enough thus far to hold position as card carrying members of the 3 top archetypes:

  • Crackling Doom (+200%): $1 to $3
  • Mantis Rider (+67%): $1.50 to $2.50
  • Dromoka’s Command (+60%): $5 to $8
  • Zurgo Bellstriker (+45%): $2.50 to $3.60
  • Dragonlord Ojutai (+40%): $20 to $28
  • Den Protector (+40%): $11 to $16
  • Ojutai’s Command (+33%): $3 to $4
  • Dragonmaster Outcast (+40%): $4 to $6
  • Anafenza, the Foremost (+25%): $6.50 to $8.25

After two more rounds of draft this morning, we now have the following players and decks within striking distance of a Top 8 berth and a date with destiny:

  • Christian Calcano on an innovative UB Aristocrats brew that pairs Liliana, Heretical Healer and Whirler Rogue with Nantuko Husk to great effect. Watch for Lilanna to pop if Calcano makes Top 8.
  • Eric Severson, our leader from Day 1 on Jeskai Black, with Jacob Wilson not far behind
  • Hall of Famer, Paulo Vitor Dama de Rosa cutting through the crowd with Atarka Red
  • Ryochi Tamada looking to make a mark with straight Jeskai
  • Reid Duke on Esper Control

Cards that are noticeable absent thus far at the top tables include Oblivion Sower and Ulamog, perhaps condemning ramp to Tier 2 status, at least until the release of Oath of the Gatewatch this winter.

Follow along with us as we stalk the final 5 rounds of Standard play before the cut to Top 8.

Round 12: (6th Round of Standard)

Patrick Chapin (Esper Control) vs. Shaun McClaren (Dark Jeskai)

Chapin takes Game 1 on the back of a pair of early Silkwrap, helping cement that card as one of the best kill spells in the format. Chapin’s build eschews dragons in favor of planeswalkers to close out the game. Both these players are on 8-2-1, looking to go at least 4-1 today in Standard to ensure a Top 8 berth. Efficient use of removal followed up by the power of Ob Nixilis, Gideon and Secure the Wastes puts McClaren away in Game 2, putting Chapin 3 wins away from the Top 8.

Paul Reitzl (Esper Control) vs Martin Juza (Esper Dragons)

This match provides insights into the future of control decks in Standard as we see the dragons take on the planeswalkers in a battle of long game stratgies. The players trade a game each, and end up in a strange final game, where both players on 8-3 are forced to accept a tie and bank on winning through to the Top 8.

Deck Tech: Blue/Black Aristocrats w/ Christian Calcano

Calcano calls out Liliana, Heretical Healer as the 2nd most important card in the deck after Nantuko Husk. The players on the deck are 4-2 and 5-1, which marks the deck for potential future success. Lilianna has already doubled this week on MTGO, so a strong Top 8 performance could possibly move the paper price from $15 up toward $20. A quick look at TCGPlayer shows copies under $17 already drying up.

Round 13: (7th Round of Standard)

Christian Calcano (UB Aristocrats) vs. Kazuyuki Takimura (Abzan)

Calcano takes a tight Game 1 after using Sidisi’s Faithful (!) to remove a key blocker and finish off Takimura. Calcano gets his opponent to 1 in Game 2, but can’t keep his synergies intact for the extra turn needed to put things away. A vicious Murderous Cut forces Calcano into a draw, and the Top 8 achievement is now in doubt for UB Aristocrats.

Jon Finkel (Jeskai Black) vs. Jon Stern (Atarka Red)

As we come in Stern is up a game but Finkel puts on a good show, using Radiant Flames and then recursive Lightning Bolts vis a vis Soulfire Grandmaster and Fiery Impulse to deal with successive waves of Goblins and manages to take the second game. Most players are at 10-3, so can’t afford the loss to be secure for Top 8.

Round 14: (8th Round of Standard)

Eric Severson (Jeskai Black) vs. Yuta Takahashi (Abzan)

Both players are on 10-3 and can earn a “win-and-in” with a win in this match. Takahashi wins the grind war to take Game 1. Brilliant sequencing by Takahashi in Game 2 takes the match and Abzan moves a big step closer to claiming at least one Top 8 spot.

Owen Turtenwald (Jeskai Black) vs. PVD (Atarka Red)

Owen defeats Pualo and ensures that both of these top tier players will make Top 8.

Round 15: (9th Round of Standard)

Jon Finkel (Jeskai Black) vs. PVD (Atarka Red)

This round brings us a match between titans and a possible foreshadowing for top 8 success. Facing down a horde of goblins both games, Johnny Magic makes his 15th Top 8!

Round 16: (10th Round of Standard)

Reid Duke (Esper Control) vs. Takimura (GW Megamorph)

Reid needs to win here, and possibly also have his friend Owen win his own match to give him his best chance at a Top 8 slot. After losing Game 1, Reid suffers when a Transgress the Mind exiles his Ugin, invalidating the power of Haven of the Spirit Dragon.

Owen Turtenwald (Jeskai Black) vs. Paul Dean (GW Megamorph)

Owen didn’t need to win this match to Top 8, but by “dream killing” Paul Dean he improves the odds that Reid makes Top 8. Owen wins his match and secures the top seed for Top 8.

Brandon Burton (Atarka Red) vs. Javier Dominguez (Atarka Red)

The winner of this match is set to likely take the 8th seed in the Top 8, ensuring at least one Atarka Red deck in contention. The games are tight, but some sweet tech in the form of Hooting Mandrills helps Dominguez take the match.

Yuta Takahashi (Abzan) vs. Ryoichi Tamada (Jeskai)

Winner of this match puts a tri-color deck into the Top 8. Tamada takes it down to put Jeskai in contention.

Top 8 Decks

Despite a plethora of pretenders to the crown in the form of innovative new decks, our Top 8 turns out very much as expected with a mixture of Jeskai Black, Atarka Red and GW Megamoph, almost exactly the same as the results from the SCG Open in Atlanta last week, with a single Jeskai Tokens build to add some spice.

  1. Owen Turtenwald (Jeskai Black)
  2. Ricky Chin (GW Megamorph)
  3. Paulo Vita Damp Da Rosa (Atarka Red)
  4. Martin Muller (Jeskai Tokens)
  5. Takimura (GW Megamorph)
  6. Jon Finkel (Jeskai Black)
  7. Ryoichi Tamada (Jeskai)
  8. Paul Dean (Abzan)

With this Top 8, I’d be selling Liliana, Heretical Healer, Oblivion Sower and Drana, and trading into Jace and Gideon. Otherwise most of the key cards have already jumped.

Join us tomorrow for live Top 8 coverage!

2 thoughts on “Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar: Day 2 Coverage”

  1. Thanks James for your timely coverage. Speccing on wingmate roc and languish after listening to the podcast.

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