Drafting 6-0 at Pro Tour Aether Revolt

Posted in Event Coverage on February 4, 2017

By Tobi Henke

Four players were able to go undefeated in Aether Revolt/Kaladesh Booster Draft across two days: 2006 World Champion Makihito Mihara, two-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Yuuki Ichikawa, Grand Prix Sapporo 2002 quarterfinalist Yuta Hirosawa, and 2013–14 Player of the Year Jérémy Dezani.

The eight decks these players drafted were notable in a few regards. For one thing, red surpassed green as the most popular color. Also, red-green was these players' favorite combination, showing up three times. The average number of lands played was more than sixteen, despite all that'd been said about the best decks in the format often going lower even than that.

The most represented cards within the eight decks were Highspire Infusion with a total of five copies, followed by Aether Chaser, Druid of the Cowl, Enraged Giant, Ice Over, Irontread Crusher, and Scrounging Bandar with four each.

Jérémy Dezani considered the debate about cutting lands exaggerated. "Lots of people talk about going to fifteen or even fourteen lands, and it's crazy," he said. "Personally, I like seventeen lands. Maybe it's because I never play revolt, so I seldom have these 1-mana artifacts, no Implements or Renegade Map. Sure, if you have a Renegade Map or an Attune with Aether, you cut a land, but that doesn't mean that seventeen isn't still the correct starting point, same as always."

The French pro player didn't mince words here, and he hadn't done so at the beginning of the weekend either when he said that he felt very confident about the Booster Draft portion of the event. After all, Dezani had a title to defend, from when the Pro Tour had last made a stop in Dublin, in 2013. When asked about the likelihood of a repeat he said, "There are so many people here, and there's only one of me. So in a way, I guess I have one chance out of a couple of hundred, but I think it's a good chance."

Jérémy Dezani came into this event with high expectations of his Limited rounds, and he was not disappointed, securing a 6-0 in Booster Draft matches to give him a shot at repeating his finish in 2013, when the Pro Tour first visited Dublin.

The secret to Dezani's success in Limited this weekend was doing things his own way, making up his own mind, and not being afraid to go against conventional wisdom. For instance, he had his very own color rankings. "In my opinion, blue is the best color by far, then comes green, then red, then white, then black."

Interestingly enough, his first deck had been white and his second one black. "But first of all, they were both blue," said Dezani. "The first didn't exactly fit my preferences, but that second deck was basically mono-blue splashing black rares. I opened three rares and was passed another two. I just had to add removal, like Malfunction and Ice Over."

I had noticed that Dezani was very fond of the blue auras, more so than anyone else I'd spoken to so far. In his first draft deck on Friday, Dezani had Sram, Senior Edificer to make up for the possibility of running afoul of things like Acrobatic Maneuver or bounce spells. But Dezani's love for these cards ran deeper. He explained that the problem with the auras wasn't so much one of occasionally having one's expectations disappointed, but rather of setting the wrong expectations to begin with. "It really depends on your strategy. You can't just put Ice Over into an aggressive deck; it might as well be a dead card. But if your game plan is control or fliers, there's hardly a better removal spell."

The broader theme here—questioning commonly accepted ideas and not being afraid to do things differently—was certainly at play with the other 6-0 drafters as well. Running Consulate Dreadnought? Well, people might laugh at the card, but when you have an Aerial Modification and two Irontread Crusher, then why not? Playing the much-maligned Terror of the Fairgrounds? If the deck's lacking for another high-powered creature, sure. Bastion Mastodon and Watchful Automaton with neither white nor blue mana in your deck? If that's what you have to work with, work with it you must.

Indeed, you can find all of the above mentioned in the decks listed below. Check them out and keep in mind that there's more to a good deck than lacking bad cards!

Jérémy Dezani's First Draft Deck

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Jérémy Dezani's Second Draft Deck

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Makihito Mihara's First Draft Deck

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Makihito Mihara's Second Draft Deck

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Yuta Hirosawa's First Draft Deck

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Yuta Hirosawa's Second Draft Deck

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Yuuki Ichikawa's First Draft Deck

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Yuuki Ichikawa's Second Draft Deck

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