Pro Tour Kaladesh was full of action, with epic plays and big inventions. Here are five moments to remember from this fantastic show.
5. Combo Returns to Standard
There was a time when combo decks were permanently part of the Standard metagame. In fact, the three major Standard archetypes were always aggro, control, and combo. Over the years, those archetypes changed to aggro, control, and midrange, as combo decks simply didn't exist in the environment, and when they did, they were fringe and usually failed to put up strong finishes at the highest levels.
Kaladesh changed all that. The latest Magic expansion gave us strong build-arounds to enable powerful combo decks. This weekend, we saw plenty of combo decks at the top tables, but the deck that really took off was Aetherworks Marvel. The deck works by building up energy and getting an Aetherworks Marvel onto the battlefield. A single activation from this powerful artifact can put a big Eldrazi into play as early as turn four. Aetherworks decks were among the most played this weekend, and one copy managed to make Top 8 in the hands of Matthew Nass.
4. First Pro Tour, First Top 8s for Ben Hull and Makis Matsoukas
The Pro Tour is tough, and many players fail to perform well in their first professional event. It's even tougher when you're a newcomer and don't have a team to test with and are flying solo.
Two players managed to Top 8 their very first Pro Tour this weekend. Ben Hull, a Canadian player, didn't even playtest for this event. He did a few practice drafts with some locals, but he didn't test Standard at all. His plan was to take Chris VanMeter's winning Red-White Vehicles deck from the last StarCityGames.com Open to the Pro Tour this weekend.
Unlike Hull, Greek player Makis Matsoukas did test for the event with his friends from back home. They came up with a unique Red-White Tokens deck, and Matsoukas piloted it all the way a first place finish in the Swiss, netting him a pass to the semifinals.
What an impressive finish for the Pro Tour newcomers, and a great way to start a new season!
3. Matthew Nass Gets his Long Overdue Top 8
Matthew Nass's Pro Tour debut was in 2010, and he's played on the Pro Tour eighteen times. With seven Grand Prix Top 8—including three wins—on his resume, it was surprising to many that he never played in a Pro Tour Day 3.
Matthew is known for being an expert of combo decks. His first Grand Prix win was with Elves Combo in Oakland back in 2010, and since then, he has always been an advocate of combo decks in Constructed formats. It seemed like the obvious choice to pilot Temur Aetherworks Combo in Standard this weekend.
With the help of team ChannelFireball, Matthew perfected his Temur Aetherworks deck for Pro Tour Kaladesh and played it masterfully this weekend. He also crushed the Limited portion of the Pro Tour with an undefeated draft record.
Congrats to Matthew on his overdue, well-deserved Top 8 this weekend.
2. Carlos Romao Goes Back-to-Back-to-Back
Carlos Romao was a Magic World Champion in 2002. Since then, he's been pretty quiet on the Pro Tour, achieving some respectable Pro Tour finishes and a few Grand Prix titles, but nothing as memorable as his World Championship win.
Romao won Grand Prix São Paolo back in July, putting him back on the map. His next premier event was Grand Prix Atlanta, and he won that too. Two Grand Prix, two wins for Romao. As Romao began to crush the top tables, everyone wondered if he could he repeat it here in Honolulu.
While Romao didn't win Pro Tour Kaladesh this weekend, he did make it to the Top 8 in his third consecutive event. Romao has been dominating lately, and with his recent results, he's arguably one of the strongest players in the game right now.
1. Shota Proves he's a Control Genius
Shota Yasooka is known for playing blue-based control decks in Constructed formats. He designs them himself and usually doesn't work with a team. Control decks are really difficult to build for a Pro Tour due to an unknown metagame, but Yasooka manages to build a strong control deck every time.
Control was not expected to perform well this weekend. The format was hyper aggressive, with efficient Vehicles and one-mana creatures, and finding the right combination of removal spells was not easy. That didn't stop Yasooka from building the perfect Grixis Control deck for the tournament and plowing through the competition.
Yasooka played his Grixis Control deck not only masterfully, but also at lightning speed. He often made decisions before the commentators could talk about lines of play. He made the Top 8 look easy, especially his control mirror finals, where he skillfully ran his opponent out of resources and win conditions in his games.
Yasooka worked by himself for this Pro Tour, which made his win today look even more impressive. He is truly a master of control, and his performance at Pro Tour Kaladesh was easily the top moment of the weekend.