Pro Tour Kaladesh 3-0 Drafters

Posted in Event Coverage on October 15, 2016

By Melissa DeTora

Melissa is a former Magic pro player and strategy writer who is now working in R&D on the Play Design team.

Welcome to Pro Tour Kaladesh in Honolulu, Hawaii! We've just finished three rounds of Kaladesh Draft and out of a field of 466 players, only 57 players have achieved an undefeated draft record to start the day. The Kaladesh Limited format is one of the most unique formats we've seen in a while. Build-around-me cards like Panharmonicon and Dynavolt Tower allow players to craft directional decks around one strategy. Artifact-matters cards give players interesting choices while drafting: Do you draft the powerful card for your deck or the weaker artifact to increase synergy? There's also good old-fashioned beatdown decks with aggressive vehicles and combat tricks. Kaladesh is truly an inventor's paradise.

Here's a breakdown of the 3-0 draft decks.

Archetype Quantity
White-Black 10
Green-White 9
Black-Green 8
Red-Green 7
Green-Blue 6
Black-Red 5
White-Blue 4
Blue-Black 3
Red-White 3
Blue-Red 2
Total 57

White, black, and green were the top performing colors of the day, with most of the decks coming from those color pairs. Red and blue appeared to be the weakest, unless paired with green, in which case they performed pretty well. Many pros felt that green was the color to draft today, as it had the strongest and deepest commons. Given the results, this appears to be true, as green decks were among the majority of the 3-0 decks.

One of the green drafters in the 3-0 bracket was former Player of the Year and eighth-ranked Mike Sigrist. Mike only wanted to draft green in this format, and managed to draft a pretty sweet Black-Green deck today. "Green has great fixing thanks to Attune with Aether and Servant of the Conduit," he said. "You can just take everyone else's cards and can play them."

Sigrist drafted a deck with lots of energy, including two Longtusk Cubs, his MVP. "I first picked Bristling Hydra," he explained. "I had two Live Fast and a Riparian Tiger." Sigrist feels that the format is fairly aggressive and combat tricks are important. His best trick was Rush of Vitality. This two-mana combat trick can completely change the tempo of a game. It not only saves a creature in combat, but can also trade with an opposing creature while gaining you life.

Mike Sigrist found the most success in this format by looking to take green cards, especially ones that made splashing a trivial task.

Another strong color pair among the 3-0 drafters today was White-Black. In Kaladesh Limited, White-Black is known as the "value" color with lots of two-for-ones, fabricate creatures, Restoration Gearsmith, and combat tricks like Subtle Strike and Acrobatic Maneuver. With all this value to be had, it's no surprise that the color combination is both powerful and appealing.

Salt Lake City resident Casey Bloodworth just managed a 3-0 record in draft at his very first Pro Tour with White-Black. As it's his preferred color pair to draft in this format, he was pretty happy with his deck. The deck was based around fabricate creatures like Glint-Sleeve Artisan, Visionary Augmentor, and Maulfist Squad. "The fabricate cards with blink effects like Aviary Mechanic and Wispweaver Angel make for a grindy game," he said. "You want to trade servos for real cards and just get ahead. The aggressive versions of this deck will even play Inspired Charge."

Casey had some powerful rares in his deck, including a Smuggler's Copter and a doozy first pick in Cataclysmic Gearhulk. "The Gearhulk was bad," he said. "I was making too many servos so I could never cast him. He caused too much tension."

Red and blue underperformed this weekend, but many strong players did well with these colors, including Hall of Famer (13) Paulo Vitor Damo Rosa. Paulo drafted a hyper-aggressive Red-White Vehicle deck. "This format is aggressive, so I want to play as many two-drops as I can. I like cheap vehicles, and I'd play as many as four if I have vehicle synergy." Paulo ran three copies of Sky Skiff and a Ovalchase Dragster in his Red-White Vehicle deck this morning.

"My most important card was the 3/2 that pings when it taps [Spireside Infiltrator]. You get to curve out into very aggressive starts with him, especially with turn two Sky Skiff. This format has lots of stalls and not many flying creatures, so you can get in a situation where you're crewing end-of-turn to deal extra damage."

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa saw success with Red-White Vehicles as his draft archetype today. In his deck, Spireside Infiltrator did some extra heavy lifting.

Paulo's other key card in his 3-0 deck was Pia Nalaar. Pia is great in any red deck, but strongest in a deck with artifact synergies and vehicles. It provides two bodies to help crew, pumps vehicles, and can clear out blockers.

One of the weaker 3-0 decks I've seen today was piloted by newly inducted Hall of Famer and first-ranked Owen Turtenwald. Owen drafted Black-Red with a splash of blue for Whirler Virtuoso. After a first pick Syndicate Trafficker, Owen had a difficult time finding a direction in the draft. "I had no bomb rares, no synergy, no themes, so I just took overall strong cards," he explained. The highlights of Owen's deck were two Unlicensed Disintegration, but he was forced to play some weak cards like Cogworker's Puzzleknot and a pair of Prakhata Club Security.

Owen ended up splashing blue, and felt splashing was easy in this format. A weak deck can usually recover through splashing a powerful off-color card. Prophetic Prism and Aether Hub help smooth out your mana, but even if you don't manage to draft those, having a high quantity of artifacts in your deck means you can get away with playing a shakier mana base, as you can cast your artifacts first while buying time to draw into your splash lands.

Newly inducted Pro Tour Hall of Fame Owen Turtenwald made the most of a difficult draft, and saw 3-0 success due to his ingenuity.

While blue appeared to be the weakest color today, there were many strong blue decks that performed well, including a White-Blue Control deck piloted by Hall of Famer Shota Yasooka. White-Blue is another "value" color that looks to gain card advantage off of creatures with enters-the-battlefield triggers and either blink and bounce effects. However, instead of going wide with servos, White-Blue looks to control the board with defensive creatures like Consulate Skygate.

The strongest finisher in White-Blue is Gearseeker Serpent. While this card looks weak in a vacuum, in a deck with cheap artifacts, it can come down as early as turn four. Yasooka played three copies of Gearseeker Serpent and artifacts like Cogworker's Puzzleknot, Fireforger's Puzzleknot, and Consulate's Skygate to get them onto the battlefield quickly.

Other strong players with 3-0 draft records included Eric Froehlich, Reid Duke, Martin Jůza, Ben Stark, Oliver Tiu, Ari Lax, Raphaël Lévy, Lee Shi Tian, Martin Müller, and Yuuya Watanabe.

Overall while Kaladesh Limited looks a touch more aggressive than what we're used to, there are still many interesting combos and strategies available to you. Plenty of defensive options exist to fight off the aggro decks, making combo and control viable strategies in draft.

Players are finished with Limited for the day and are getting ready to battle with Standard decks. Let's find out if build-around combo cards can make the transition from 40-card decks to a 60-card format.

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