Welcome to another weekly Showdown Recap, where we take a look at what happened at Face to Face Games Toronto’s weekly Sunday Showdown, a series of 1k events feeding into the Ultimate Showdown 5k Invitational. This week, players battled in Frontier for the top prize.
As has become typical of our Frontier events, Dig Through Time was a huge part of the successful decks on Sunday. Simon Tubello—who seemingly can’t lose in this format—was the lone control Dig Through Time deck while three others opted to pair their card-draw with the Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian combo. Of these combo players, three opted for a midrangey build that’s heavy on planeswalkers and Renegade Rallier, while Michael Lambert took a more controlling approach with Torrential Gearhulk. Playing with the combo obviously adds the “free-win” element to a format where it’s hard to get those, which is something we’ve seen players have success with in older formats before. The ability to play with mana open and a combo piece in play really can’t be understated, especially in these “mirrors” where both players have instants as powerful as Dig Through Time.
Tubello said that the best way to beat these Saheeli combo decks is to put pressure on them early, which explains why the rest of the Top 8 is filled with aggressive strategies like Peter DeVries first-place mono-white aggro deck. It’s likely we see a shift toward these faster strategies, and slower decks find away to speed up if Saheeli is going to be such a large part of the metagame going forward.
DeVries’ deck is a lot of what you’d expect out of a mono-white aggro deck. It picked up some valuable additions in Amonkhet with Glory-Bound Initiate and Cast Out as both another powerful attacker and a catch-all answer. Cast Out is particularly important as so much of Frontier revolves around planeswalkers, particularly the Saheeli combo decks. The biggest stand-out in Peter’s list is the full four copies of Archangel of Tithes. This is a huge flier that can’t be killed by a lot of the formats premier removal. Grasp of Darkness, Kolaghan’s Command, Fatal Push and Fiery Impulse all do nothing against the five-drop. The angel also operates as a hatebear for the Saheeli Combo as it’s static ability makes it so your opponent’s combo is impossible to execute while Archangel of Tithes is untapped, which becomes easy to ensure in combination with Always Watching. It’s also worth mentioning the full for copies of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in the sideboard which are likely a powerful sideboard option to sure-up the Grixis Control matchup which has been a popular deck of choice in Frontier.
In speaking with Simon, he thought the most interesting thing about the event was what was absent from the room. The Jund Delirium decks that cast Emrakul, the Promised End had a bad day on Sunday, and both the Hardened Scales and Four-Colour Rally archetypes didn’t even show up to play. The downtick in delirium decks is a big change from the past two Frontier Showdowns where Emrakul seemed to rearing her powerful head. But, it looks like these Saheeli decks which pad their combo with a high number of planeswalkers and sticky threats, were too much to handle for the BG midrange strategies. According to Tubello, Hardened Scales should have a really strong matchup against Saheeli and might just be the next shift in the Frontier metagame. Scales combines enough pressure and removal to get under the combo in time to finish out games.
With his win Peter qualifies himself for the next Face to Face Games Ultimate Showdown and the rest of the Top 8 have started their march toward the top of the Showdown leaderboard. Join us this weekend to try to cement your spot on the leaderboard as we’ll be battling Triple Modern Masters Draft !
First Place: Peter DeVries, Mono-White Aggro
Second Place: Asha Mills Emmet, Jeskai Visions
Third Place: Simon Tubello, Grixis Control
Fourth Place: Andrew Abela, 4C Saheeli
Fifth Place: Brad Burden, Atarka Red
Sixth Place: Liam Kane, 4C Saheeli Rai
Seventh Place: Michael Lambert, Jeskai Saheeli
Eighth Place: Michael Bennet, 4C Saheeli