It's hard to find eight people that have access to cards like Black Lotus on any given day. That's all changed on Magic Online, though. Vintage Masters gave people access to the Power Nine and suddenly Vintage is alive and well as a format on Magic Online. The sheer number of Vintage games being played right now has massively increased the velocity with which the format is evolving.
Magic Online streaming has also become more popular over the last year. One of the most exciting weekly streams is the Vintage Super League that's being run by Pro Tour Hall of Famer, Randy Buehler.
Vintage Super League unites ten high-profile Magic players in a weekly Magic Online event wherein players will battle with each other while the match is commentated by two of the other players. Vintage Super League consistently provides us with a high-profile game of Magic. All ten players are either all-time greats, Pro Tour staples, or legitimate Vintage masters. Vintage is easily one of the most complex formats ever, and observing the beauty with which the players navigate each game is always a treat.
Rich Shay, David Williams, Steve Menendian, and Bob Maher will all be battling in today's event. I sat down with each of them to talk about Vintage Super League and The Vintage Championship.
Jacob Van Lunen: "How has the Vintage Super League affected your relationship with Magic. Have you found yourself becoming more immersed in the game again? Or did you never leave?"
Rich Shay: "I never left the game. I've always felt that the Vintage community has known what a great format this is. Now, Vintage Super League is giving people that aren't familiar with Vintage a chance to see how interesting the format is. There's a misconception that Vintage is just a bunch of turn one kills, and that's not really the case. Vintage Super League is showing people what a great format this is."
David Williams: "I never left."
Steve Menendian: "I'm excited that other players are excited about vintage. I'm always enthusiastic about the format, but even moreso now that I have the opportunity to play high level matches on Magic online every week. There's always great competition and it makes me passionate about the format I love."
Bob Maher: "I basically never left. I play as much as I have time for. Vintage Super League has me playing constructed again. I've always drafted online, but I'm happy there's a Vintage community on Magic Online."
Jacob Van Lunen: "How has Treasure Cruise influenced the Vintage metagame? Which cards get better? Worse?"
Rich Shay: "Treasure Cruise is profoundly powerful. It's better than Thirst for Knowledge, which is restricted. It pushes out the bigger blue decks because they don't get going as fast. It also makes Mishra's Workshop decks much better. The traditional counter to this type of xerox strategy is making the player's spells cost more mana, thus making it more difficult for them to chain spells together."
David Williams: "Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer, and Gitaxian Probe all get much better. Meanwhile, cards like Duress and Thoughtseize get worse. Generally, decks trying to trade one for one get a lot worse. It's definitely made a huge difference in the format.
Steve Menendian: "The immediate impact of Treasure Cruise is that it bolsters the Delver of Secrets archetypes. The secondary impact is that it makes the Oath of Druids decks better because those decks prey on the Delver decks. There's a little bit of a blue arms race that creates openings for other decks. Oath is definitely a deck that can take advantage of this. The Delver decks have become streamlined for Treasure Cruise and no longer get to play with powerful situational cards like Trygon Predator."
Bob Maher: "The straightforward small cards are getting better. Cards like Lightning Bolt. All the decks that take time to set up get much worse. The decks with Treasure Cruise hit terminal velocity very quickly."
Jacob Van Lunen: "Do you feel like the Vintage Super League has affected the Vintage metagame at large? if so, how?"
Rich Shay: "I don't know if it's affected the metagame per se, but it's definitely increased the popularity of the format. Having more people means we'll have more ideas being explored. It might be hubris to think that Vintage Super League had something to do with the size of today's event, but I think that's entirely possible. I'm very happy about that."
David Williams: "Not really. We're metagaming against three players at a time. There's a really warped sense of what you're playing against. When you know what you're playing against, it's easy to prepare a specific tailored strategy. In a tournament like this [Vintage Championship] you need to be prepared for anything."
Steve Menendian: "Definitely. Yesterday, I overheard a lot of people talking about Vintage Super League. It's created more interest in the format and created more Vintage Players. I also think it gave Treasure Cruise more attention than it might have had otherwise. It also gave people more of a chance to see decks like Doomsday in action."
Bob Maher: "I think it's affected it [Vintage] a little bit. Coming into this, so many people were playing Delver. I don't think the Vintage Super League is representative of the Vintage metagame at large. All of our decks are cheated to knowing that decks like Dredge and Shops won't really show up."
Jacob Van Lunen: "What would winning the Vintage Championship mean to you?
Rich Shay: "Would I like to win. Of Course. I'd love to. I'd also be perfectly happy to see any of my friends or any of the great people in this community win. I'm out of contention at this point, but I got to hang out with friends and meet new friends. That's an ideal day for me."
David Williams: "It would be cool. It's a tournament I've always wanted to win since I started coming in 2007. There's not a lot of sanctioned Vintage tournaments, and winning the largest one of the year would be amazing. It's [Vintage] my favorite constructed format, it's the only one I play regularly and genuinely enjoy at all times."
Steve Menendian: "I'd have the honor of being the first repeat champion. I think the four or five of us [previous champions] that are here have a friendly competition between us over who is going to be the first repeat champion."
Bob Maher: "It would take a miracle for me at this point. I'm 1-2. For Dave and myself, we've had a lot of success in a lot of arenas of our lives. This is one of those things that I really want to do. Short of the World Championship, the Vintage Championship is the event I want to win. I've played every format and this is the one I'm most passionate about."
The Vintage Super League is making Vintage more visible as a format. It's exciting to see these players competing in a live event, their natural habitat, The Vintage Championship.