Showdown Recap: March 12 – Frontier
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, we dove right back into Frontier, after a 2k Bonus Showdown a few weeks ago!
That event featured a plethora of familiar faces, but also a healthy serving of Dig through Time fighting against various aggro strategies. A mere three weeks later, the winning metagame has changed completely. While some decks like Hardened Scales continued to post results, there were a staggering zero copies of Dig through Time or Torrential Gearhulk in the top 8, with only one deck bringing Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy to the table. What happened to shut the entire colour blue out of this tournament so effectively? Let’s take a look…
Let’s start with one of our outliers: Ivan Pienaar brought a deck that dominated a Standard season, but has been surprisingly absent in Frontier top 8s – until now! His Bant Collected Company deck featured many of the hard-hitters of days present, past, and banned, from Tireless Tracker to Lambholt Pacifist and Reflector Mage. His list specifically is a bit of a hybrid between the Thalia’s Lieutenant/Thraben Inspector versions of the deck we saw in the latter half of the deck’s Standard lifetime and the original Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy build with more staying power. Of course, we couldn’t miss out on Aether Revolt’s most flavourful and powerful addition to the deck, another powerful 3-drop in Renegade Rallier. This card is downright absurd with Collected Company, and in a format with fetchlands, it’s poised to do lots of work in the coming months.
Dylan Harkness brought one of the more quietly powerful decks in the format to the tournament – Grixis Ensoul Artifact. This deck takes the concept of the Scissors decks that were popular at Pro Tour Origins, specifically using the powerful artifact synergies found in Origins, and adds a ton of utility and power from Kaladesh. Unlicensed Disintegration is as absurd here as it is in Standard, and this deck actually gets to play Tezzeret’s Touch! A set of Implement of Combustion ensures safety from any Saheeli Rai combos, and Metallic Rebuke out of the sideboard gives the deck solid interaction. Keep an eye on this deck! Despite it not posting results, it’s very powerful, and much like Affinity in Modern, shines strongest when it’s out of the spotlight and players cut artifact removal.
Matt Mealing maintained two trends this week: finishing in the top 8 of every Frontier Showdown, and doing so with increasingly confusing Abzan decks. When people think Abzan, they think Siege Rhino, but Matt clearly has some kind of blood feud with that card. He refuses to play it. However, he’s clearly doing it right, since he’s the most consistent finisher in this series, by far. This week, his innovative deck featured Sylvan Advocate as his two-drop of choice, alongside the typical comprehensive suite of Rally the Ancestors hate cards – expanded this week for the powerful Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. Having a wide variety of these powerful mid-to-late-game cards is stellar alongside Whisperwood Elemental, another sleeper card featured in his deck. Typically, Matt takes a more aggressive route, but he decided for this week to play a ton of removal spells, with full sets of Declaration in Stone, Fatal Push, and Abzan Charm in his maindeck.
This week’s big winner, however, was without a doubt big, controlling Jund decks. Matt Cherkas and Matt Murday both brought Jund Delirium to the table, a powerful strategy based on Standard’s pre-banning BG Delirium decks. These decks are focused on filling the graveyard with at least four card types to turn on both powerful roadblocks like Ishkanah, Grafwidow and utility cards like Traverse the Ulvenwald – with the end goal of jamming the unbelievably powerful Emrakul, the Promised End. This strategy gets a lot of help in Frontier, with fetchlands and Satyr Wayfinder smoothing out the games dramatically, and Kolaghan’s Command providing an unreasonable amount of gasoline. Speaking of gas, Jerico Reguirre took a decidedly grindier plan with his Jund deck, playing a huge Seasons Past strategy with only three creatures in the maindeck! This deck gets to play a staggering amount of card advantage between Read the Bones and Painful Truths, uses Collective Brutality and removal to turn that advantage into game presence, then uses the Nissa’s Renewal/Dark Petition/Seasons Past engine to lock up the game. If that’s not dreamy, I don’t know what is.
Did I call Jund a winner? Just kidding, the red wasn’t necessary. Andrew Oyen has been playing Hardened Scales in this format forever, and both him and the eventual winner, Quinn Gregg, brought the deck to another set of top finishes, showing that Aether Revolt’s addition of Winding Constrictor makes the deck no slouch. As is expected with a linear strategy such as this one, both decks were mostly similar, with Quinn choosing to play the more powerful Greenwheel Liberator over Andrew’s safer Narnam Renegade.
Quinn’s win qualifies them directly for the Ultimate Showdown, while Matt Mealing’s repeated consistent finishes pushes them ahead in the standings this week, pushing just ahead of Chris Ha. Expect him to start pushing back furiously in coming weeks! Join us next week for a special 2k Modern Masters 2017 Sealed Double Showdown, and don’t forget about Saturday’s Facetofacegames.com Toronto 3k Modern Open! We’re also running Modern Masters 2017 drafts all weekend at the store and at the Open – check out details here.
Quinn Gregg – BG Hardened Scales – 1st
Matt Cherkas – Jund Delirium – 2nd
Matt Mealing – Abzan Midrange – 3rd
Andrew Oyen – BG Hardened Scales – 4th
Dylan Harkness – Grixis Ensoul Artifact – 5th
Ivan Pienaar – Bant Company – 6th
Jerico Reguirre – Jund Seasons Past – 7th
Matt Murday – Jund Delirium – 8th