Metagame Mentor: August 2022 Alchemy Qualifier Weekend

Posted in News on August 25, 2022

By Frank Karsten

Hello and welcome back to Metagame Mentor, the weekly column in which I highlight the decks to beat in Constructed on the path to the Pro Tour.

Last weekend featured several premier events. While my column will normally focus on Standard, Pioneer, and/or Modern—the available formats for tabletop Regional Championship Qualifiers—this week I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight an online path to the Pro Tour. Specifically, I'll go over the top decklists from MTG Arena's Qualifier Weekend. But first, let me briefly spotlight two tabletop events.

Last Weekend's Largest Tabletop Events

At the Grand Open Qualifier in Copenhagen, 477 players entered with their best Modern decks. Gianluca Boaretto was the only TitanShift player in the tournament, but thanks to his extensive experience with his TitanShift deck, he made it all the way to the finals.

There, he faced Danish veteran Christoffer Larsen, playing Four-Color Omnath. Boaretto was quite happy with that pairing. "Four-Color is a good matchup; it's why I chose this deck!" he said after emerging victorious. If his list is indeed well-positioned, then Boaretto's victory might lead to a resurgence of TitanShift in the competitive Modern metagame. In that case, don't leave your Blood Moons at home.

At the Team Constructed $25K in Baltimore, 531 players entered the competition, divided over 177 three-player teams. Each team member had an assigned format: Legacy, Modern, or Pioneer. In the end, Chase Martin, Cameron Lantz, and Adam Sensenig took it down. Their decks were Reanimator in Legacy, Burn in Modern, and Humans in Pioneer.

All these players earned an invitation to their Regional Championship, which will be held on November 19–20 in both Europe and the U.S.A. Top finishers at these Regional Championship then qualify for the first Pro Tour in 2023.

The MTG Arena Path to the Pro Tour

Would you also like to qualify for the Pro Tour (and by extension, for the corresponding Regional Championship in your region)? Then beginning in September, you'll be able to do so by reaching seven wins in Day Two of a Qualifier Weekend on MTG Arena!

Full details can be found in the announcement, but as a summary, there are three ways to earn a spot in a Qualifier Weekend:

  • Finish in the Top 250 of the Constructed or Limited ladder at the end of the preceding month.
  • Reach a sufficient number of wins in Day 2 of an Arena Open. The next one will held on October 1–2; the format is Dominaria United Sealed.
  • Reach the maximum number of wins in a Qualifier Play-In event. This is the most common way to earn a seat in a Qualifier Weekend.

The dates and formats for the next two Qualifier Weekends are:

  • September 17–18: Dominaria United Phantom Sealed
  • October 15–16: Standard

Besides Pro Tour invitations, seven-win earners from Qualifier Weekend Day Twos also clinch a spot in the Arena Championship, which represents the apex of the MTG Arena Premier Play pyramid. To bring this thrice-yearly event to 32 competitors, remaining invitations are given to players with the most total match wins in contributing Qualifier Weekend Day Twos. You'll find the latest standings in the leaderboard; make sure to select the right season in the dropdown menu. (Tiebreakers are described in the Premier Event Invitation Policy.)

The first Arena Championship, with a total prize pool of $6,250 per player, will take place September 24–25. It was fed by Qualifier Weekends from May, June, July, and August.

The Top Alchemy Decklists from the August Qualifier Weekend

To highlight some of the players you'll see at that Arena Championship 1, let's go over the top decklists from the August 20–21 Qualifier Weekend. The format was Alchemy, the ever-evolving MTG Arena format that is based on Standard while incorporating new-to-digital cards and rebalanced cards. Five players earned five or more wins on Day Two: two on Jund Revels, one on Mono-Red, and two on Esper. Let's take a closer look.

Australis' Jund Revels – 7 wins in August Qualifier Weekend Day Two

Download Arena Decklist
Sideboard (15)
1 Undead Butler 2 Citystalker Connoisseur 2 Culling Ritual 2 Gravelighter 2 Unleash the Inferno 3 Mind Spike 3 Ray of Enfeeblement

Pascal "Australis" Vieren, a Pro Tour veteran from Belgium, earned the maximum number of wins with Jund Revels. The recent rebalancing of Cabaretti Revels and Racketeer Boss didn't faze him: he still brewed up a deck capable of lengthy value chains and infinite combos.

When Goblin Trapfinder seeks Ominous Traveler, you create a zero-mana creature. Two copies of Cemetery Prowler also accomplish this. To bounce Ominous Traveler, you need to cast the creature drafted from its spellbook, but this can be mana-neutral if you control Birgi, God of Storytelling and Cemetery Prowler. This means that you can cast, bounce, and recast Ominous Traveler numerous times and flood the battlefield with creatures.

To win the game before your opponent has a chance to untap and sweep the board, you can grab Dominating Vampires from Ominous Traveler's spellbook and grant haste to your own creatures. Alternatively, if you are looping with Cabaretti Revels on the battlefield, then you'll eventually seek Prosperous Innkeeper and Dina, Soul Steeper, which together will drain out the opponent.

"Worked pretty hard on the Revels combo deck after they nerfed it; proud of what I've made," Vieren said about the deck. "Wolf is sick. Went 14-0 with this." Look for an interview with him in Corbin Hosler's "The Week That Was" column tomorrow!

SamROLPH's Jund Revels – 6 wins in August Qualifier Weekend Day Two

Download Arena Decklist
Sorcery (2)
1 Check for Traps 1 Duress
Enchantment (4)
4 Fable of the Mirror-Breaker
Other (19)
2 Shattering Finale 3 A-Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes 3 Cabaretti Revels 3 Molten Impact 4 Goblin Trapfinder 4 Ominous Traveler
60 Cards

Sam Rolph, a member of the 2021–22 Rivals League, found success with a similar deck. However, his version looks closer to midrange than to combo.

In the slots where Vieren had Village Rites, Prosperous Innkeeper, and Cemetery Prowler, Rolph leans more heavily on interactive spells. Rolph also has Fable of the Mirror-Breaker and A-Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes to help grind in the long game.

Although Vieren's build looks more intrinsically powerful to me, both versions have merit. We'll also see Sam Rolph at the Arena Championship 1!

gyoza's Esper Midrange – 5 wins in August Qualifier Weekend Day Two

Download Arena Decklist
Sorcery (2)
1 Check for Traps 1 Farewell
Other (24)
1 Bind to Secrecy 1 Tasha, Unholy Archmage 3 Citystalker Connoisseur 3 Viconia, Nightsinger's Disciple 4 Calim, Djinn Emperor 4 Diviner of Fates 4 Forsaken Crossroads 4 Lae'zel, Githyanki Warrior
60 Cards

Esper comes in many varieties. This particular list by gyoza plays out like a midrange deck. Gyoza, by the way, earned three wins in Day Two of the May Qualifier Weekend and now added five more—enough to earn an invitation to the Arena Championship 1 as well, thanks to their leaderboard slot.

The centerpiece in this Esper Midrange deck is Diviner of Fates. Between its own connive ability, specialize creatures, and Calim, Djinn Emperor, you will be discarding cards frequently. This turns Diviner of Fates into a raw card advantage engine. Moreover, you'll soon collect three copies of Calim, Djinn Emperor, which allows you to return one from the graveyard for free.

To protect Diviner of Fates, the deck has various pieces of countermagic and discard. And even if Diviner of Fates were to die, then Viconia, Nightsinger's Disciple and Lae'zel, Callous Warrior can specialize to get her back. The card advantage train must keep rolling.

fsand's Esper Aggro – 5 wins in August Qualifier Weekend Day Two

Download Arena Decklist
Other (27)
1 A-Cobbled Lancer 1 A-The Meathook Massacre 2 Viconia, Nightsinger's Disciple 3 Sigardian Evangel 4 Diviner of Fates 4 Forsaken Crossroads 4 Inquisitor Captain 4 Klement, Novice Acolyte 4 Lae'zel, Githyanki Warrior
60 Cards

I believe that this is fsand's first Day Two finish in a Qualifier Weekend since the announcement of the Arena Championship. These five match wins in total were not enough to make it to Arena Championship 1 via the leaderboard. Nevertheless, their creature-centric Esper deck performed well overall.

This list, which largely matches the one that popular streamer Crokeyz ran last weekend, features hardly any noncreature spells. This helps break the symmetry on Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. In addition, Inquisitor Captain and Klement, Novice Acolyte are at their best in a creature-heavy build.

The only noncreature spell in the deck, A-The Meathook Massacre, leverages a funky infinite combo: When you control a specalized Lae'zel, Callous Warrior, then you can repeatedly return Glasspool Mimic, which copies Lae'zel and immediately hits the graveyard due to the legend rule.

Looking Ahead: Rotation!

Alchemy at the moment is defined by Jund Revels, Mono-Red, and Esper, but things are going to change soon.

With the release of Dominaria United—online on September 1; worldwide on September 9—four sets will rotate out of Standard and Alchemy: Zendikar Rising, Kaldheim, Strixhaven: School of Mages, and Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. They will remain legal in non-rotating formats like Historic and Explorer, but in Standard and Alchemy they will be replaced by Dominaria United, The Brothers' War, and other sets that will follow.

To highlight some of the more notable losses:

Due to the loss of staples and the influx of powerful new cards, competitive metagames will soon be shaken up considerably. For post-rotation Alchemy, I'm not sure if Jund Revels can survive the loss of Birgi, God of Storytelling, but Mono-Red Aggro and Esper Midrange should survive in slightly changed forms. For post-rotation Standard, I intend to provide an in-depth metagame analysis early in September.

Until then, the biggest tournament this weekend is the NRG Series $20k Showdown in St. Louis, MO, USA. Live coverage of this Legacy/Modern/Pioneer team event will be broadcast at twitch.tv/NRGSeries.

I'll be back next Thursday with an explanation of the Magic Online path to the Pro Tour, along with a metagame breakdown of at least one Magic Online Constructed format!

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