Day One of this year's Magic Online Championship featured three rounds of Aether Revolt/Kaladesh Booster Draft and four rounds of Standard. Sixteen competitors went in, but only one player emerged at the top with a 6-1 record, positioning themselves well for Day Two.
The draft came down to two undefeated players in each pod. In the first, Brian Braun-Duin faced off against Ben Weitz.
Both players featured decks with some beefier green creatures, though they went about it in different ways. Braun-Duin was green and blue, featuring sixteen lands and a lot of energy synergies but some heavy hitters at the top of his curve, including an incredibly difficult to answer Aethertide Whale.
"I thought my draft went pretty well," he said. "I usually avoid drafting blue in this format, but blue and green is one of the few combinations that I actually like." He knew, going into the pack that both colors weren't exactly open, but the packs were deep enough to provide him with a powerful deck.
It served him well...at least until he went up against Ben Weitz in the third round. Weitz, who had a red-green deck that lacked any significant bomb rares but had a relatively solid curve and a whopping six removal spells alongside Pacification Array to give him a lot of control of the battlefield.
"My draft was okay," Weitz said. "I think my deck was pretty average. I didn't have any bombs but I had good cards and a good curve. I also had big creatures which can end a game quickly."
Weitz spent some time after the Pro Tour working with Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch champion and Massdrop West teammate Jiachen "JC" Tao in preparation for the draft rounds this weekend. "In particular, JC would watch me while I was drafting, and we'd talk about the picks," he said. "He was really helpful for me."
Weitz went on to defeat Brian Braun-Duin 2-0 to remain one of the two undefeated heading into the Standard Constructed rounds.
The other 2-0 drafters—Márcio Carvalho and Lukas Blohon—squared off long after the match between Weitz and Braun-Duin long concluded. That's one you can watch for yourself in its entirety.
The Standard Metagame
Once three rounds of draft finished up, players switched to their 60-card decks for the remainder of the day.
|Deck||# of Copies|
|Four Color Copy Cat||5|
|Black-Green Energy Aggro||1|
The obvious juggernaut in the room was Mardu Vehicles, which was split into two flavors: One was more traditional from the Pro Tour, with some sideboard modifications. The other was the Mardu Ballista variant, which we saw in heavy force in Utrecht.
Only Márcio Carvalho opted out of Walking Ballista in his Mardu Vehicles deck, instead only placing two in his sideboard. Everyone else has at least two in their sideboard, classifying them under the Mardu Ballista definition, with Owen Turtenwald running two, and the other six pilots all running three or more.
Across all the decks, Walking Ballista was among one of the most played cards this weekend, with 36 copies spread out among eleven different decks. Nine of those decks feature the card in the main, and two in the sideboard. It even beats out Heart of Kiran, sitting at 33 total copies among eight main decks and one sideboard.
In a field as difficult as this one, it's not easy to remain undefeated, and while Lukas Blohon was able to maintain the longest winning streak at 4-0, he was dethroned in Round 5 by Thiago "Bolov0" Saporito in the fifth round, equalizing the playing field from then on. Ben Weitz, the other 3-0 from the draft, had the wheels fall off in Standard, as he was unable to pick up a single win in Constructed and landed at 3-4.
However, the real story of the day ended up being two players from opposite ends of the competitive spectrum. One was Márcio Carvalho, Pro Tour Aether Revolt finalist, No. 1 ranked player of the world, who headed into the final round of the day at 6-1.
The other was Ryosuke Urase, a relatively new player to the Pro Tour, who just made his debut at Pro Tour Kaladesh in October of 2016. While his Pro Tour experience may have been on the lower end for this field of competition, his Magic Online experience boasted the expectedly good numbers that the rest of the field did, with win percentages of over 60% across Constructed and Limited. However, his Constructed prowess—Urase had a 65% win rate in that format in comparison to Limited—shined in the Standard rounds, as he went 3-0 in Standard alongside Carvalho.
In the seventh round, the both Carvalho and Urase were the last round of Day One's feature match, which you can watch below.
Carvalho ultimately triumphed in two games over Urase, putting him in the lead at the end of Day One at the Magic Online Championship in what has been one of the most dominating seasons by a single player in years. A deep run or a win from Carvalho, at this rate, would likely be just another achievement among a series of accomplishments in 2016-17.
We will see in Day Two if this lead converts into a Top 4, but the renowned draft master is not expected to lose his lead during Saturday's draft rounds, and given his experience with Mardu Vehicles, it's not looking like the pilot is ready to hit the break just yet. Is this going to be another runaway event for the DEX Army pro?