by Adrian Sullivan
The first U.S. Open is often the largest, and this year was no exception. With 212 competitors hoping to make it into Nationals, the first Open had more than a few well-known names in the mix - competitors like former U.S. National Team Member Bryce Currence, New Wave columnist Seth Burn, Junior Super Series great Geddes Cooper, and Atlanta deckbuilder extraordinaire Sol Malka. Like every other competitor, though, they'd have to go 6-0 if they wanted a shot at the National Team.
The field was quite diverse. While Rebels, "Trinity" Green, and Replenish were the most popular decks, there was a very broad representation of other decks as well.
Trinity Green 19
Black Control 18
Blue Control 16
Other popular decks included Merfolk, Red Deck Wins 2000, Enchantress, Ponza, Ankhtide, Sneak Attack, Suicide Black, and a smattering of Artifact based Mono-Brown decks.
With over a third of the competitors playing decks other than the expected decks, there was a clear indication that people felt a lot of decks were viable. Most of the statistics seem to bear this out, with nearly all the decks played suffering similar attrition rates as the most popular decks.
After the first few rounds, Bargain and Replenish players achieved some stability after initial losses. A combination of factors probably caused this to happen. First, both Bargain and Replenish might be easy to copy and play when the pressure isn't on, but during difficult moments for decision-making, only the best players could be up to task. Secondly, sideboard pressure likely caused problems for both decks. Replenish is considered by many to be the Deck to Beat, and is the most expected deck for a lot of players, while Bargain isn't as hated, many cards that would be useful against other popular decks, such as Rapid Decay and Cursed Totem, are also quite effective against the Bargain player. Even before the finals rounds were beginning, only one Replenish player remained among the masses of Bargain and Replenish.
Stompy was also very well represented, but ended up having some of the biggest heartaches for the tournament. After just two rounds, only three players remained from the initial 17. A combination of decks popular in the tournament proved to be too much for the Green Attack deck, with Rebels and Trinity Green both supplying ample defences for the green hordes, and Black Control having easy access to powerful creature destruction.
Rebels were easily the most popular deck. Recent articles on the internet have given Rebels a small amount of hype, and the options in White sideboarding add to it being an attractive choice. Attack decks have always been well-liked and are among the oldest of deck archetypes, so it is also quite likely that players looking for a deck more casually might turn towards Rebels simply out of a combination of habit and nostalgia. Rebels did quite well throughout most of the tournament, though suffered the most losses when Black Control was more prevalent in the swiss. With simple, effective answers like Massacre, Black Control was probably one of the few surprising hurdles for Rebels to overcome.
Black Control seemed to be doing fine for several rounds, but virtually disappeared in the middle of the tournament. Like Stompy, Black didn't seem to have staying power. This was likely the result of simple and effective sideboard options from Replenish decks with Enlightened Tutor to fetch them, a reliance on Dark Ritual for dangerous draws, and a weakness against the occasional random opponent. By round five, nobody was playing black.
Trinity Green was the very unsurprising success story of the tournament. After a rash of wins throughout the European Nationals Championships (including wins in four National Tournaments thus far), the mono-Green Plow Under deck's success was not surprising at the U.S. Open either. What is surprising, perhaps, is the very steady success of the deck. At no time did the deck take large losses. Round after round, Trinity remained a large portion of the field, with mirror matches accounting for a significant amount of the losses for the deck. In the end, Trinity Green comprised four of the Top 8. It will be no surprise when the deck rears up its head in the main event.
Blue Control was represented primarily by Accelerated Blue and Draw-Go, and while the decks are quite different, they both experienced similar results. They were rewarded with some initial success, probably as a result of the deck's ability to play well against a large portion of the very diverse field. As the field crystalized into fewer decks, the Rebel and Trinity Green decks punished Blue, and knocked out most of the blue players, except for a single Draw-Go player creeping into the Top 8.