Triple Showdown Recap! Feb 19-20: Sealed PPTQ and Frontier
Welcome to a special 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 had two unique Showdowns – an Aether Revolt Sealed PPTQ on Sunday, followed by a Bonus Double Frontier Showdown on Family Day Monday. So one Sunday Showdown and a double Monday Showdown makes for a… Triple Showdown Recap! Yeah! Math!
We’ll start with Monday’s Frontier event, since we’ve been getting a lot of interest in the decklists. A solid 38 players showed up to play the burgeoning Frontier format, and the first thing I noticed, snapping off pictures of players for Instagram, was the sheer diversity of the decks being played. There was a wide variety of Dig Through Time decks, Hardened Scales decks, Atarka Red, Rally the Ancestors, Abzan Midrange strategies… a very healthy format!
Fortunately for us, most of that metagame was represented in the top 8. Let’s start with the aggressive decks. Sam Wong brought one of the boogeymen of the format, Atarka Red. Sam’s build is more focused on the Temur Battle Rage/Become Immense combo, using Blossoming Defense to protect it. This strategy is much stronger in Frontier than it was in Standard with the addition of Kaladesh block cards. Smuggler’s Copter is a perfect addition to the deck, getting in for evasive damage, ensuring a steady stream of gas, and fueling Become Immense. Both Arkein Pangilinan and Matt Mealing brought Warden of the First Tree-fueled Abzan Aggro decks to top 8 finishes. Elvish Mystic ensures explosive starts, while Grim Flayer, Smuggler’s Copter, and Scrapheap Scrounger ensure a steady stream of threats. Arkein chose to top off her curve with the perenially-poweful Siege Rhino, while Matt opted for his pet card Hushwing Gryff to add some disruptive potential to the deck and improve its Rally the Ancestors matchup.
Jack Cooke brought a Spirit-based Jeskai Skies deck, popularized in the Japanese metagame. It relies on 3-power fliers like Mantis Rider and Smuggler’s Copter backed up by disruptive Standard all-stars Spell Queller and Reflector Mage and the best burn spells in the format to close out games quickly, while ensuring some interaction. Jeff Swaluk continued to put up stellar Sunday Showdown finishes with a finals appearance on the back of black-green Winding Constrictor – wait, didn’t he play that in Standard last week? It turns out the deck is amazing in Frontier, with Hardened Scales and Hangarback Walker providing resilience and power. His creatures become absolutely massive very quickly, and premium removal in Fatal Push lets him disrupt any deck more aggressive than him.
In the end, however, it was Dig Through Time-fueled Torrential Gearhulk/Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy control decks that stole the day. Brad Burden’s innovative Jeskai Black Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian deck brought him to a 5th place finish, eschewing some of the countermagic elements popular in typical builds of the deck for a surprising combo finish. Jon Teigesser went the other path, maindecking a full playset of Dissipate in his Grixis Control deck, sure to give him an edge in the mirror. The win, however, went to Simon Tubello’s Grixis list – the only one to play the full set of the powerful Dig Through Time. Three maindeck Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet must also have given him an edge, as the powerful Legend can be difficult to remove later on in the game, when there might not be fetchlands around to power Fatal Push.
Simon Tubello – Grixis Control – 1st
Jeff Swaluk – BG Hardened Scales – 2nd
Jon Teigesser – Grixis Control – 3rd
Arkein Pangilinan – Abzan Aggro – 4th
Brad Burden – Jeskai Black Saheeli – 5th
Sam Wong – Atarka Red – 6th
Matt Mealing – Abzan Aggro – 7th
Jack Cooke – Jeskai Spirits – 8th
Of course, we also had an Aether Revolt Sealed PPTQ Showdown on Sunday! Aether Revolt/Kaladesh limited so far has been one of those formats that are fast and furious, with board states snowballing out of control quickly. With the full 64 players at the event, we had some memorable sealed pools opened! There were multiple Tezzeret the Schemer/Heart of Kiran decks, one with Engineered Explosives, the other with Torrential Gearhulk – and neither top 8’d! There were so many powerful pools in the room, featuring countless Ajani Unyielding and tons of Herald of Anguish. As expected, we saw green decks pushing through win after win, fueled by the uncommon Verdurous Gearhulk, Ridgescale Tusker. In the end, Andrew Robinson, Andrew Gordon, Sam Tyler, Ben Wang, Cooper Albertson, Massimo Gordillo, and Simon Tubello cleared the packed and stacked room to draft in top 8.
Andrew Robinson was able to take it down with the ages-old UW Skies strategy, flying past Andrew Gordon’s triple-Restoration Specialist/double-Caught in the Brights RW Aggro deck. Robinson’s deck featured a powerful suite of oddly-evasive two drops, with the 3-power Audacious Infiltrator being one of the sleeper hits of the format, alongside the strictly better Welkin Tern of Skyship Plunderer.
With his win in Frontier and top 8 in Sealed, Simon also pushes past the vacationing Chris Ha to third place in the standings! Jeff’s finish also puts him at 112 points, one ahead of Simon, within striking distance of Liam, still the points leader. Andrew Robinson’s PPTQ win not only qualifies him for the RPTQ, but immediately gives him the 50 points necessary for an invite to the Ultimate Showdown. Ben Wang and Jack Cooke’s top 8s also put them above that threshold! Congratulations to our top 8s, and as always, thanks to everyone for coming! Join us next week for a Modern Showdown and see if you can join these fantastic players at the Ultimate Showdown (of Ultimate Destiny)!
Andrew Robinson – UW – 1st
Andrew Gordon – RW – 2nd
Sam Tyler – BG – 3rd
Ben Wang – RB – 4th
David Morris – UGr – 5th
Cooper Albertson – UWb – 6th
Massimo Gordillo – RB – 7th
Simon Tubello – URb – 8th