Top 5 Cards

Posted in 2015 LEGACY CHAMPIONSHIP on August 23, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Capturing the stories and moments of a monumental weekend of Legacy is an impossible task for just five cards, but a few standout moments that matter can be qualified. These are the top five cards from the 2015 Legacy Championship at Eternal Weekend.

5. Splinter Twin

A first round loss is often the beginning of an early end for players in large tournaments. For Max Ansbro, it was an exception on an exceptional day of play. After hitting a loss he went losses thereafter, rallying all the way to a cheering crowd around him at the end of the Swiss rounds. Packing the Modern staple Splinter Twin, complete with Pestermite, Deceiver Exarch and a card draw-meets-disruption package similar to other blue decks, Ansbro proved the deck that can't be hated out of Modern is ready for the larger Eternal reach of Legacy.

The vanguard of change arrived.

4. Thespian's Stage

Pithing Needle set to Thespian's Stage isn't an everyday event, but in the Top 8 it made perfect sense: Lands made a resurgence over the course of the event, putting a several players into the Top 32. On the back of Life from the Loam, Top 8 contender Kevin King pressured opponents with Thespian's Stage transforming into a counter-free copy of Dark Depths, and the resulting flying 20/20 Marit Lage creature token it would bring.

The end was often all the followed from that.

3. Æther Vial

Another deck that made a splash this weekend was Merfolk, headlined by George Flete's Top 8 appearance and dominant finish at the top of the standings after Swiss rounds. How does a creature-driven deck survive in a world of counterspells and Emrakul, the Aeon Torns? It used both its own control elements – namely Chalice of the Void set to one – with an Æther Vial around to ensure the creature keep hitting play. With so many two-drops in the deck, such as Silvergill Adept and Lord of Atlantis, it was straightforward to set up a stream of efficient creatures that would islandwalk all over blue opponents.

2. City of Traitors

How does a known deck like Omni-Tell continue to find success when everyone knows it's coming? City of Traitors turns the expected mana situation into a startling surprise. Rattling off turn two Show and Tells into unprepared opponents brought Akash Naidu success throughout the Swiss rounds and helped propel him into the finals.

While Naidu wasn't always successful with the aggressive attempts at Show and Tell, it was always a one-shot win when he was.

1. Gitaxian Probe

There are plenty of one mana ways to keep one's hand full of cards. Ponder, Preordain, and the format-defining Brainstorm all smooth out draws, dig into answers, and set up the ultimate turns in a duel of minds and countermagics.

Gitaxian Probe is among the more unique and powerful ways to draw card. While it doesn't set up draws or increase the total card counts in hands, paying the 2 life instead of mana makes it effectively free and peeking into an opponents hand at opportune moments can make all the difference. In the decisive third game of the finals, Bob Huang used Gitaxian Probe to monitor what Akash Naidu was up to. With most of the information available at all times, Huang maneuvered the game into a race against his growing pile of Elemental tokens.

Forcing Naidu to answer them on Huang's terms meant the eventual 2015 Legacy Championship winner was ready every time. That information advantage was the incredible edge he wielded to victory in the end.