Nearly six months of tournaments led to the Players Tour Finals, where 145 players showed up to battle it out on MTG Arena for the title and invitation to the 2020 Season Grand Finals. It was a Standard format dominated by
Prinz Dominates Day One
By the end of Day One there was only one undefeated player: Kristof Prinz, connected via his home in Hannover, Germany at a little past 2 a.m. his local time, became the only player to finish with a 7-0 record.
Like more than 50% of the field, Prinz was playing a
Lurking just behind him were plenty of notable names. Pro Tour 25th Anniversary winner Allen Wu lost to Prinz in the last round, and next to him at 6-1 were Magic Pro League members Seth Manfield and Piotr Głogowski.
But the day belonged to Prinz, who finally made his mark after a series of 12-4 finishes as he kept searching for his breakthrough.
"I like competing in high-level Magic tournaments and challenging myself, and today I was able to beat Reid Duke and Seth Manfield," Prinz gushed after his win over Wu. "I'm gunning for the qualification to the Grand Finals, but it's 2 a.m. in Germany and two hours past my bedtime!"
How Did Players Attack the Temur Reclamation Metagame?
The Players Tour Finals boasts one of the strongest tournament fields this year. Just 145 players qualified, and in a metagame where Temur Reclamation was known to be the best deck the gaming began long before Round 1. Would players pilot the most powerful deck, or take a risk and play something that traded weaker matchups across the board for a perceived position of strength against
The answer became clear quickly: More than half the field arrived with a Reclamation variant, most of which looked something like either Prinz's or Wu's deck.
"I think Teferi is pretty sick in the mirror, and I was expecting a bunch of it; I was correct in that department," Prinz explained. "Plus you get
Prinz was right about more than just the expected metagame. The Four-Color Reclamation list he played had the highest conversion rate of any deck in the tournament, with an astounding 73% of Four-Color Reclamation pilots advancing to Day Two.
Elsewhere, players turned to aggressive strategies to combat the ramp metagame. Mono-Green has been the go-to aggro choice for weeks, but the introduction of Core Set 2021 has turned that on its head. In addition to Mono-Green, Mono-White Aggro put half of its eight pilots into Day Two, while Riku Kumagai went 6-1 with Mono-Black Aggro.
MPL member Ken Yukuhiro did what he always seems to do: make a deep run with a rogue deck. This time it was a deck is officially labeled as Esper Midrange, but it may as well be called "every card that Temur Reclamation players never want to see." Yukuhiro has all the hits, from
"I started building a deck with two cards that were strong against the Reclamation decks: Teferi and
Yukuhiro wasn't the only competitor to find success thinking outside the box. Bolun Zhang advanced to Day Two with Four-Color Planeswalkers, with a number of exciting moments along the way.
"I hate to play non-interactive decks in the mirror, like ramp or Mono-White," Zhang explained. "I've been playing this deck since War of the Spark and
"I love Nicol Bolas insanely. I'm
Longtime player and streamer Michael Jacob also excelled with an unexpected deck. He was the only player to (virtually) sleeve up
Sights and Sounds of the Tournament
Of course, the tournament is more than just the decks and the standings. It's the casters and the cameras and the moments. The Players Tour Finals did not disappoint in that regard.
Take, for example, Cedric Phillips making coverage history with his first on-air sneeze.
Or a few new viewers.
We have @coL_AliasV and @CoreyBaumeister in the #PTFinals booth this morning.— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) July 25, 2020
More importantly, they have Riot and Henry supporting them on the sidelines at home!
Are you watching coverage with any MTG pets?https://t.co/glt0Vc0v0l pic.twitter.com/kHBXMpi9pR
There are some upsides to playing from home. I mean, namely, dogs.— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) July 25, 2020
Just look at the adorable French bulldogs, Stella and Lulu, keeping @doctormongo company during the #PTFinals! pic.twitter.com/4ge7bi5ReG
We got an update on the "journey" to the Players Tour Finals undertaken by MPL players Brad Nelson and Brian Braun-Duin.
But nothing topped Mike Sigrist literally flexing on friend and fellow competitor Reid Duke during their match.
That was all just Day One. 74 competitors return Sunday to compete for their shot at the Top 8 of the Players Tour Finals.