AlphaBetaUnlimited Breaks Format

Posted in Event Coverage

By Randy Buehler

Rarely does one team dominate a Pro Tour as thoroughly as dominated Tokyo. Their red/green deck, quite simply, broke the format. Eleven people played it and four of them (Ryan Fuller, Philip Freneau, Lucas Hager, and Chris Benafel) wound up in the Top 8. Others finished 15th, 17th, 29th, and 37th. While the other three missed Day 2, that's still an obscenely good performance by one team playing one deck. Not to mention the act that Ryan Fuller put up the first 14-0 record in the history of the Pro Tour with the deck and it's hard to ignore the fact that Fuller, Chris Benafel, and Noah Boeken not only won the Masters Gateway, but also won their two Masters matches so far to set up a date in the finals on Sunday with the Panzer Hunters. Fuller and Benafel each face the possibility of winning $50,000 on Sunday between the two events. Interestingly, they play against each other in the quarterfinals and then turn around an hour later and play next to each other in the Masters Series finals!

There were two different locations where ABU worked on decks for Tokyo. The Europeans (including Kamiel Cornelissen, Boeken, Vollebregt, and Fuller) tested mostly in Amsterdam and came up with one version of the deck. The Americans, scattered around the Pacific Northwest, came up with another that including Kavu Runners. I talked to Gabriel Wilson (who finished 15th with the deck) and he gave most of the credit to Justin Rider (who finished 17th). Benafel exchanged their version with his Dutch buddies, they both made tweaks based on what the other guys had come up with, and the rest it history.

Very few of them played precisely the same deck. They all ran Blurred Mongoose, Kavu Titan, Raging Kavu, Urza's Rage, Ghitu Fire, Thornscape Familiar and Battlemage, and two main deck Flametongue Kavus plus two more in the board. The four who made the Top 8, though, had four different numbers of Kavu Runners (0, 2, 3, and 4). Two had 3 Skizziks while the other two had 4. Their sideboards all varied considerably and it will be interesting if all these subtle differences determine who advances further into the Top 8 on Sunday. For now, though, everyone is just in awe of the performance those guys had on Saturday.

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