"Stake your claim. Dominate the opposition. Rule the city."
In a nutshell, those were the most critical goals of the 464 competitors here at Pro Tour Rival of Ixalan. For hundreds of years, the untamed wildernesses of Ixalan harbored a coveted secret. Orazca, the city of gold, housed a mysterious artifact, the Immortal Sun. However, no secret could remain undiscovered forever! Silently and patiently, it lay in the dark, steeping in its own power. As time elapsed, the Secrets of the Golden City unraveled, but it would not be claimed without costly plunder.
The fight for control over the Immortal Sun between the four tribes had been the centric plot of this fascinating plane for the last few months. Not only did they clash in combat, planeswalkers Angrath, Vraska, and Jace also joined the fray.
Here, in Bilbao, we bring these epic battles to live at "The Rivals Table," a dedicated feature match which pitted the reigning Rival against an eager contender. After winning Pro Tour Ixalan in Albuquerque, we bestowed upon (1) Seth Manfield a Pro Tour Champion trophy, as well as the honorary Immortal Sun.
No. 1 ranked player Seth Manfield started the Pro Tour off at the Rivals table as the prior event's winner.
Manfield kicked off the day as the first Rival, where he would try to protect the relic for as long as he could. If he were able to slay an incoming usurper, he would be able to bathe in the energy of the Immortal Sun for another hour. Oh, the rush of vitality! So precious!
Otherwise, he would be expelled from Orazca, stripped of his Rival title. Or worse, become dinosaur food.
Sadly, Manfield was slain by Collin Rountree in Round 1. After axing Goliath, Rountree most likely rummaged through Manfield's Dead Man's Chest to acquire the Immortal Sun to take over the Rival spot. As mentioned in the 3-0 Draft Analysis piece, Rountree drafted an excellent White-Blue Ascend deck to clean out his draft table, defeating Manfield, Ari Lax, and Joseph Kambourakis in order. However, Rountree's winning streak and moments of triumph were put to an end as soon we stepped into the Modern portion.
No longer having the City's Blessing on his side, he was defeated by Adriano Moscato, one of Italy's 2017 World Magic Cup representatives. It was during Round 4 when Moscato had a first taste of the exuberance. He seemed to like it, so he didn't let go! Steamrolling through Round 5 (Toshiki Okai), Round 6 (Elias Watsfeldt), Round 7 (Lim Zhong Yi), and Round 8 (Michael Lagamba), Moscato not only won all his five Modern matches, but also closed Day One as the lone undefeated player out of the massive, massive field. The Immortal Sun was rumored to be more valuable and powerful than any artifact in existence, not only promising boundless wealth, the strength of empire, command over nature, and eternal life!
Adriano Moscato maintained control of the Rivals table throughout the rest of Day One.
Going into Day Two in the top seed, Moscato returned to the Rival table in Round 9 where he played against Lucas Esper Berthoud. The Pro Tour Aether Revolt Champion showed Moscato who was boss and wrested the Rival title as he rose to the very top of the standings.
In the next two rounds, the Rival lost their spots almost as quickly as they gained it. Esper Berthoud was defeated by Javier Dominguez in Round 10, and then Dominguez got himself killed by Jon Stern in Round 11. Pascal Vieren swooped in for the kill in Round 12.
At the end of the day, it was Pascal Vieren who gained control of the Rivals table in Round 12, and he never let it go.
It was all Vieren after that.
He defeated Kaczmarczyk Radek in Round 13 and Jean-Emmanuel Depraz (another fellow 6-0 drafter) in Round 14. In Round 15 and Round 16, Vieren took intentional draws with Ken Yukuhiro and Javier Dominguez (oh, hello again!) to enter the Top 8 with an undefeated record of 12-0-4! That's twelve wins, four draws, and no losses!
What were the cardinal rules if no battle took place? Since there was no defeat or abdication, the rules dictate that there would be no succession! Congratulations to Pascal Vieren, the one and only Rival of Ixalan!
If the road is easy, you're likely going the wrong way. However, when you survive the adversity, you'll come out a stronger person than before. Tomorrow, Vieren will face the biggest battles of his life. With the might of Orazca and the City's Blessing on his side, he might just be able to ascend above all at the very end.