June 30, 2015

Standard Super League Finals and the Return of Vintage

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Not sure what Standard Super League is? It’s an online competition between Magic celebrities with matches played on Magic Online and commentary provided by a pair of Hall of Fame pros. Learn more here.


Tonight is the most exciting time of the Super League season, as Standard Super League is down to its final two competitors. Vintage Super League is ready to take over the Super Tuesday time slot next week. If you just want to read about the return of Vintage, then click here to skip to that part of this article. Meanwhile, let's start with tonight's spectacular championship match.

Owen Turtenwald has led the Standard Super League from wire to wire, but now Josh Utter-Leyton has emerged from a scrum of chasers and the two of them will play Unified Standard at 6 p.m. Pacific time (UTC-7) on twitch.tv/magic. It'll be a best-3-out-of-5 matches final, with both players building three different decks with no more than four copies of any one card (other than basic lands) appearing across all three decks. They play them in order and are then able to choose freely for matches 4 and 5 (if necessary).

The same format was used last week in the semifinals, where Josh decided to go with Esper Dragons, Green-Red Devotion, and Mardu Dragons. He wound up with no Den Protectors in any of his lists, but didn't have to make many sacrifices from the regular Standard versions of those decks. Tom Ross, meanwhile, went with a creatureless Blue-Black Control, a Green-Red Dragons list, and Ojutai Jeskai. Tom did have to split his Dig Through Times between his two blue decks, but seemed otherwise to make pretty good use of all the good cards in Standard right now. Interestingly, neither player chose to run any Siege Rhinos, as Abzan decks are pretty "greedy"—typical lists demand both the good green cards (like Courser of Kruphix) and also the good black cards (like Thoughtseize and Hero's Downfall). Putting all that into one deck can make it pretty hard to build two others. It'll be quite interesting to see if Josh mixes things up tonight (especially since Owen got to see how Josh lined everything up last week) and also how Owen handles this deckbuilding challenge.

Owen has certainly been up to all the challenges put in front of him so far. He started by winning Week 1 with an Abzan Aggro deck. He only managed to go 1-2 in a couple of weeks with Mardu Dragons, but in Week 4 he went back to the Abzan colors and chose a deck from the opposite extreme of the tempo scale: Yuuki Ichikawa's winning deck from Grand Prix Shanghai. Owen promptly won Week 4, and then after a short break for Modern Week, Owen made the finals with the deck in both Week 6 and Week 7. And that Modern Week? Yeah, Owen won that too, piloting a Red-Green Tron deck that featured fully four copies of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (and no Oblivion Stones).

Josh took a more circuitous route to the finals, and showed off some awesome experimental designs along the way. His masterpiece had to be the Immense Rage deck he brought to the table in Week 2. It was designed to point Become Immense and Temur Battle Rage at the same creature as soon as possible. Unmorphing Temur Charger (by revealing a green card) could give the target trample and the deck even sported four copies of Conifer Strider as the hexproof 5/1 was the safest target available! Josh also attempted a Monastery Mentor deck in Week 1 though neither of these decks got out of the first round. Josh's experiments with Jeskai were much more successful in Week 3 and those 35 points kept him in the running despite a 1-2 stretch with Jeskai Ascendancy combo decks (a Meletis Astronomer version in Standard and a Modern version that included Pyromancer Ascension as a back-up plan! The brews just kept coming as Josh showed off a Mono-Red Dragon Devotion deck in Week 6, complete with two Generator Servants and four Dragon Whisperers.

Going into the final week of the regular season, Josh was only barely alive for the playoffs. He had to win the week, and get some help along the way (in the form of Paul Cheon losing Round 1 to Andrew Cuneo, which is exactly what happened). In the end, the Week 8 finals turned out to be a clean win-and-in for a playoff spot, and it was one of the best matches of Magic I have ever seen. If you're a fan of watching great players play Magic at an extremely high level, I recommend finding the time to watch this:

And now it all comes down to tonight: The Brewer versus the Beast for the first-ever Standard Super League title.


The Return of Vintage!

Before there was a Standard Super League, there were a bunch old-school enthusiasts who were just looking for an excuse to play with the most powerful cards ever printed. Ever since Vintage Masters released on Magic Online last summer, Vintage has been a viable Constructed format—and I suspect there's now more Vintage play happening online than there is in the real world! I started Vintage Super League on my own twitch channel as the competitive equivalent of a fantasy football league—just a bunch of friends throwing down for bragging rights. It proved popular enough that we got picked up by Wizards and have now played two full seasons with most of the same players. (You can read a lot more about the previous seasons on http://ift.tt/1yzd56o.)

We do still plan to play another full round-robin season (complete with a play-in bracket to determine who our new tenth member should be), but first we're going to kick off the Super League Championship campaign with a double-elimination "mini season."

Tune in starting next week to see if Mishra's Workshop and Doomsday decks continue to wreck people, or if anyone dares to run Dredge this time around after the mind-boggling 0-10 mark it posted in Season 2. Tune in as well to see if Vintage aficionado Luis Scott-Vargas can finally close the deal on one of these seasons, after getting knocked out of the playoffs by both eventual winners so far (Stephen Menendian and Eric Froehlich).

Meanwhile, the plan for Super Leagues for the rest of the year is now set as well, and it all culminates in a Super League Championship in the fall that gets fed by the best players from Vintage, Standard, and Modern:

That's a lot of Super Tuesdays. I'll be there, I hope you will be too.

Follow me on twitter @rbuehler for regular updates on all the latest Super League news.

For more information about Magic Online visit mtgo.com/SignUp.



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