What a weekend for Pioneer.
Magic’s newest format has been absolutely flooded with new decklists, metagame shifts and information lately as the first wave of Player’s Tour events have blessed the format with some major competitive results.
Those events in Nagoya, Brussels and Phoenix helped to inform the massive Pioneer weekend we just hosted on the F2F Tour, with events in both Hamilton, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta. In total more than 250 players competed this weekend on the F2F Tour in Pioneer, and we got an incredible snapshot of what exactly is going on in this format right now.
Starting in Hamilton, we had some of Ontario’s best players turn out to battle and Brian Farrenkopf was able to take down the whole event with his Bant Spirits deck.
Brian was able to take down one of Toronto’s local heros and Face to Face Games writer Daniel Fournier in the finals. Fournier played Dimir Inverter all the way to the finals, figures that after all this time complaining on Twitter about Splinter Twin being banned in Modern he’d jump on this new archetype.
As we saw this past weekend at the Players Tour in Phoenix Pioneer has become a format that centers around combos. Gone are the days of mono-coloured Mutavault decks smashing into green stompy decks. Now, we have a metagame that revolves around the Dimir Inverter and Lotus Breach combos decks and their opposition’s ability to beat those combos. Now, that doesn’t mean combo is always going to be the most popular style of deck in the room, but you need to show up to Pioneer events with a plan to beat it right now.
Interestingly enough, that was prominently on display in our finals matchup. Spirits is a tribal creature deck that has a quick clock and access to Spell Queller and Mausoleum Wanderer as a way to interact with spell-heavy combo decks. This has been a recipe for beating combo players for years, and that proved to be true again in our finals.
Joining them in the Top 8 was Chris Ha on Mono-Black Aggro, Omar Beldon playing Five-Colour Niz-Mizzet, Ryan Ascott and Noah Clark on Izzet Ensoul and finally Cody South playing a pretty sweet Bant Company list.
If you take a look at the metagame breakdown we prepared for the entire event, you’ll see that it was actually Azorius Control that was the most popular deck in the room on Saturday in Hamilton. But with that said, it didn’t manage to convert any copies into the Top 8, whereas Izzet Ensoul converted two copies from under nine percent.
As you can see Hamilton was primed with the Dimir Inverter deck this weekend but hadn’t quite caught up to the popularity of Lotus Breach from the Pro Tour in Phoenix. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not that number will increase at our upcoming Pioneer F2F Tour stops.
In general, the next time Pioneer reaches the F2F Tour in Ontario, you better be prepared for some aggro decks.
Now, like I said off the top, Hamilton wasn’t the only place the F2F Tour stopped this weekend. We also hosted a Pioneer event in Edmonton. But before I get to those results, take a look at the Top 8 decklists from Hamilton:
F2F Tour Hamilton Top 8 Pioneer Decklists
First Place, Bant Spirits – Brian Farrenkopf
Second Place, Dimir Inverter – Daniel Fournier
Third Place, Izzet Ensoul – Ryan Ascott
Fourth Place, Mono-Black Aggro – Chris Ha
Fifth Place, Orzhov Heliod Combo – Mike Dojcsak
Sixth Place, Five-Colour Niv-Mizzet – Omar Beldon
Seventh Place, Bant Company – Cody South
Eighth Place, Izzet Ensoul – Noah Clark
While Brian was lifting the trophy at F2F Hamilton, players were battling it out in Alberta trying to become our F2F Edmonton Pioneer champion. In Hamilton we saw Bant Spirits put on a display with it’s ability to apply a ton of pressure and back that up with just enough disruption to beat combo decks like Dimir Inverter.
But, in Edmonton the script was flipped. Zak Turchansky was able to overcome multiple copies of Bant Spirits in the Top 8 on the way to his victory with Inverter.
As I’m sure you know if you ever played with the card Splinter Twin in Modern, sometimes even in the face of a fast clock and some key disruption, a quick combo can just be too much to overcome. Inverter really has that kind of un-tap and kill you capability that we’ve seen from many of the top decks across all the eternal formats these past few years, and Zak harnessed that on Saturday.
The finals of our Edmonton event featured the exact same two decks as Hamilton, but of course Inverter was able to prevail over Spirits this time. Zak beat Andrew Padlesky to lift the trophy!
Joining those two players in the Top 8 was Doug Potter who also played Bant Spirits, Jan Ong and Jeremie Asselin-Maule who both played Five-Colour Niv-Mizzet, Kyle Gellert playing Sultai Delirium in his second consecutive F2F Tour Top 8, Teran Hancock on Mono-White Devotion and Remy Rozmahel piloting a sweet Rakdos Midrange deck!
Taking a look at the metagame, you’ll see many of the same trends we saw in our Hamilton breakdown. Azorius Control was definitely over-represented but was kept out of the Top 8, both Inverter and Spirits showed up in middling numbers but had a ton of success and after those major archetypes comes a slew of aggressive decks that did just fine on the weekend.
Notably, there was a ton of Mono-Red Aggro in Edmonton, but not even that many Wild Slashs was enough to keep Spirits down.
I’d be remiss to move on without spotlighting what has been a dominating start to the F2F Tour season for one of the country’s most prolific performers. Kyle Gellert put up yet another Top 8 on Saturday with his Sultai Delirium deck. This comes directly on the heals of his Top 8 performance with Simic Urza in Modern last weekend in Saskatoon.
Apparently, Kyle likes himself a few copies of Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and who can blame him with these results. To my knowledge this finish brings Kyle to EIGHT total Top 8s going all the way back to the Open Series, which is an absolutely absurd statistic. It truly feels like whenever we travel west for an event, this guy does not miss.
To me it’s actually astonishing how similar our Edmonton and Hamilton events were when it comes to their respective metagames. We had more that 250 players playing this brand new format on Saturday between our two events and somehow it seems like many of them landed in similar places in the metagame.
For my money, Dimir Inverter is the deck to beat in Pioneer right now. We saw in Edmonton how even though Bant Spirits can be a tough matchup for the deck Zak Turchansky was able to power through and rely on his deck’s power level to get him across the finish line. To me that’s a sign of a truly great deck.
With that said, this is still a format where you can play whatever you want and have success. Hell even Five-Colour Niv-Mizzet, a deck that players had written off after it’s performance at PT Brussels had three copies between our two Top 8s. If you’re looking to brew and battle in a wide open format, Pioneer is where it’s at right now.
Now, without further ado, here are the Top 8 decklists from F2F Tour Edmonton:
F2F Tour Edmonton Top 8 Pioneer Decklists
First Place, Dimir Inverter – Zak Turchansky
Second Place, Bant Spirits – Andrew Padlesky
Third Place, Bant Spirits – Doug Potter
Fourth Place, Five-Colour Niv-Mizzet – Jan Ong
Fifth Place, Five-Colour Niv-Mizzet – Jeremie Asselin-Maule
Sixth Place, Sultai Delirium – Kyle Gellert
Seventh Place, Mono-White Devotion – Teran Hancock
Eighth Place, Rakdos Midrange – Remy Rozmahel
Congratulations once again to Brian Farrenkopf and Zak Turchansky from everyone at Face to Face Games on their outstanding performances this past weekend! Before I leave you for the week, I’d like to also extend a special thank you to both our judge staff and our sponsor Ultimate Guard for helping us put on a great event.
The next stop on the F2F Tour is coming up on Feb.22 when we’ll be traveling to Lethbridge, Alberta to battle it out in Modern. Maybe Kyle Gellert can make it three straight Top 8s! Make sure to pre-register and we’ll see you on the battlefield!