OBC Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on August 22, 2003

By Isamu Fujieda

810 players have come this weekend to Grand Prix Yokohama, the first premier event to feature all three expansions of the Onslaught block. With no pre-event trial held on Thursday, questions and doubts about the strongest decks remained until the first round began. In there end, there ended up being three dominant deck types in the metagame, which together make up over half the field—Cycling Control, Goblins, and Bidding.

• White Control—342 players

Eternal Dragon

This deck type was pegged from before the tournament as being the most popular. There are several different versions being played today, including some mono-colored decks. Two of the more popular builds are analyzed below.

White-Red Control—235 players

While almost a full 50% of the players today have chosen to run the powerful White Control deck, based around the recursive Eternal Dragon and the board-sweeping Akroma's Vengeance, the most popular version is a White-Red build. This deck is designed to take advantage of the power of cycling cards through the use of Lightning Rift, certainly one of the environment-defining cards. Many of the red cycling cards support and compliment the white cards in this block, in particular the versatile Starstorm, which doubles as card advantage and creature control. The inclusion of red also gives the deck access to another, perhaps the ultimate, reset card in Decree of Annihilation. Most players have chosen Exalted Angel as their finisher. Given the sheer number of people using this deck, and the fact that many top players have chosen to use it, has many observers predicting that it will be the one to win this weekend.

White-Black Control—32 players

This deck has access to spot removal in the form of Smother, and can deal with potential threats from the graveyard with Fade from Memory and Withered Wretch, making it more adaptable than the red deck. Still, not many players have chosen to use it, probably because not being able to use Lightning Rift to control threats is too great a risk in this format, where Goblins and Elves are a force to be reckoned with, and morph creatures have to be dealt with immediately. Still, with the graveyard removal available to this color combination that allows it cope with Eternal Dragon, it may have an advantage over other White-based control decks.

• Goblins (including Red-Black)—137 players

Goblin Warchief

The Goblin deck, which has become associated with Japan since GP Bangkok, is out in force at Yokohama, with 137 players choosing it to place their hopes of making Day 2 on it. This deck got a huge boost from Scourge, with the addition of the Goblin Warchief, who speeds up the entire deck, and the Siege-Gang Commander, whose mere presence signifies a game-ending threat. Players are clearly attracted to this deck by its raw damage-dealing potential.

Some of the players running Goblins are playing a version that includes Black for Smother, to get around walls and the hard-to-deal with Silver Knight. Splashing Black also gives access to Oversold Cemetery, which gives the deck more staying power.

• Patriarch's Bidding—172 players (Zombies—111 players/Goblins—61 players)

Patriarch's Bidding

If the White cycling decks are the rock, and the Goblins are the scissors, then these decks are the paper of the environment. They start off with 1 and 2 mana creatures for early beats, hoping to draw into a Patriarch's Bidding with a timely Read the Runes. The Goblin version uses Goblin Warchief and Goblin Piledriver to finish off the opponent, while the Zombie version uses Noxious Ghoul to wipe out any resistance and then Gempalm Polluter for the win. Since the introduction of Scourge, there has been an increase in the incidence of both Goblins and Zombies, as these two tribes benefited greatly from a number of powerful cards in that set. However, as these decks have both a combo element and a creature element, if the cards don't come together the deck simply folds, making it more of an advanced player's choice.

Other Deck Types

• Red-Black control—28 players

Form of the Dragon–19 players

• Red-Blue control—17 players

• Beasts—15 players

• Elves—12 players

• Mono-red burn—7 players

• Mono-black control—6 players

Silvos, Rogue Elemental + Decree of Annihilation—5 players

• Others—31 players

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