Today's Standard rounds featured plenty of players who were far from dead to Rites. That probably had to do with the fact that Cryptolith Rite was perhaps the defining card of this portion of the tournament, with four competitors all representing 4-Color Rite decks that make incredibly good use of the enchantment.
However, despite that, the deck was not a prominent feature for the players at the top of the standings, as the players who all brought it for Rounds 4-7 had a rough time in the first three Legacy rounds of the day. Instead, the top three tables by Round 7 featured a Game 3 in every match, and the top three tables all piloting the following:
Table 1: Jonathan Anghelescu (piloting Naya Control) against Alexander Ivanov (piloting Red-Green Goggles Ramp)
Table 2: Sam Black (piloting Black-Green Aurora) against Peter Yeh (piloting Grixis Control)
Table 3: Magnus Lantto (piloting Bant Eldrazi) against Oliver Tiu (piloting Bant Eldrazi)
The decks in that last matchup, Bant Eldrazi, was only represented by Lantto and Tiu. That's because the two players worked together on Standard to determine their deck choice, a more streamlined version of the Bant Company deck from Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad with a heavy lean towards Eldrazi Displacer, Eldrazi Skyspawner, and main deck Reality Smasher. Both decks, capable of flooding the board with Eldrazi Scions, were also taking advantage of Cryptolith Rite.
Cryptolith Rite was easily the key card in the majority of the Standard decks this weekend.
Unsurprisingly, both players were gridlocked in a creature board stall, which meant that the match was coming down to who could gain a board advantage over the other. In this match, that came down to Eldrazi Displacer and Reflector Mage being in play at the same time. Lantto was on the wrong side of that exchange, finding both of those creatures locked in his hand when Tiu got the jump on him with both of his copies of Displacer and Reflector. With a larger board presence, and Duskwatch Recruiters firing on all cylinders should Lantto find a way to get his creatures to stick, Lantto found himself on the back foot. Ultimately it was Tiu that took down the former World Champion 2-1.
Meanwhile, Anghelescu, after starting off the tournament strong in his most experienced format, had found success with the revamp to his Standard selection. Going into Round 7, he sat at 5-1, facing off against Ivanov's Red-Green Goggles Ramp. The two traded blows in the first and second games, Anghelescu found himself buried under an avalanche of cards from Ivanov, courtesy of a Pyromancer's Goggles that stayed in play for far too long, and Tireless Tracker's unending supply of clues. Both Anghelescu and Ivanov found themselves at 5-2 records at the end of the day.
And finally, Sam Black and Peter Yeh squared off in the feature match area. After Yeh brought the match to a third game, his Grixis Control deck found a very brutal draw that left Black without any means of pushing ahead on cards. Duress into Goblin Dark-Dwellers, re-casting the Duress, left Black without any real threats and without a Seasons Past. Infinite Obliteration ensured no comeback cards would be coming off the top, as Yeh's sorcery stripped Black of any Tireless Trackers and Gaea's Revenge. Ob Nixilis Reignited put the final nail in the coffin, ensuring Black would not be running away with the day.
With the final match slip turned in, four players found themselves at 5-2 records: Sam Black, Jonathan Anghelescu, Peter Yeh, and Alexander Ivanov. Day One featured a very close field of competitors headed into tomorrow's drafts.