Weekly Pioneer Tournament Write-Up and Commentary

We’ve got another Pioneer tournament write-up for you MTG fans—and for today, we’ve actually got a write-up for the most recent weekly Thursday night tournament.

Tournament Results

This past Thursday, February 6th we had a real treat, where the two players who went 3-0 decided to play each other in a fourth “championship” round (I even personally threw in an extra pack to sweeten the deal). I’ll still post both lists, but I’ll focus a little more of my deck commentary on the champion:

Boros Aggro by Tournament Champion Kirk Sturgis
Road to 4-0

Round 1—Mono Blue Devotion
Round 2—Dimir Inverter
Round 3—Mono Green Stompy
Round 4—Bant Spirits

Deck Introduction

Some might feel that an aggressive red deck needs no introduction, but that actually gives very short shrift to the amount of innovation and change currently taking place in Pioneer with red-oriented decks. For starters, there’s the “rise and fall of Chonky Red” phenomenon, an active discussion about which cards should be the “curve-topper”, how many (and which) creatures to run, how low the curve should be, and many more considerations. In fact, Kirk and I discussed “the state of red in Pioneer” at some length and I’ll start by sharing a few takeaways from that discussion:

  • The fall of Chonky Red as the most popular red deck coincides with Theros Beyond Death’s release—and the related rise in popularity of the combo decks Dimir Inverter and Lotus Breach. Chonky Red just doesn’t compete very well against these decks.
  • Red players have begun to look at ways of going faster in order to beat the combo decks.
  • Kirk shared he felt that people were too quick to give up on lower curve burn lists when they made the “switch” to Chonky Red in the first place.

These facts all contributed to Kirk’s particular list, which can be described as an aggressive deck with some notable differences to other lower-curve aggro decks:

  • More burn spells than most—enabling it to attack from a different angle than the more creature-heavy aggro lists (I would compare it somewhat to a “sligh” strategy or a traditional “burn” strategy).
  • With four Searing Blood in the main deck, the deck has a lot more “game” against other aggro decks—or any deck that relies on its creatures to stick around to win.
  • The choice to go Boros—giving him access to cards like Boros Charm in the main deck, and Deflecting Palm and Chained to the Rocks in the sideboard.
  • More copies of  Chandra, Torch of Defiance

I personally really like Kirk’s choices here, which he expanded on during the more formal “interview” portion of our chat (which I’ll remind you that the responses are not word-for-word, but paraphrased):

Kirk’s Interview Comments

Why did you choose to play Boros Aggro tonight?
I typically play Red/Burn oriented strategies—for me, its simply the most fun way to play Magic:The Gathering

Are there any card choices you’d like to highlight?
Boros Charm—It’s a card I can put in my maindeck that gives me leverage against wraths in addition to being one of the most efficient burn spells. It’s the reason to play aggro right now. The four copies of Searing Blood—with the prowess cards I run, Searing Blood not only gets rid of mana dorks, but also a high number of other creatures. Goblin Rabblemaster and Eidolon of the Great Revel—these cards, in addition to a few others are “must answer” cards is designed to overload their removal and create some tough choices for the opponent.

Are you considering removing any cards from the maindeck or sideboard?
Yes. I’m considering removing the four Goblin Rabblemasters. I’m considering adding Rampaging Ferocidons… but perhaps they will end up in the sideboard. I’m definitely taking out the 3 Skullcracks from the side.

Bant Spirits by Tournament Runner-Up Shane Ball
Road to 3-0

Round 1—Mono Black Aggro
Round 2—Atarka Goblin Cavalcade
Round 3—Niv to Light

Shane’s Interview Comments

Why did you choose to play Bant Spirits tonight?
I feel like it’s the best deck… and I had the cards!

Are there any card choices you’d like to highlight?
Collected Company—it’s a great card and it jumps the deck’s win percentage by ten points.

How did you feel about the deck’s performance tonight? How about the deck’s strength overall?
Pretty good except for the Niv to Light matchup—that one’s rough! I look forward to facing Dimir Inverter. Game one feels difficult, but winnable. I feel very good post-sideboard.

Are you considering removing any cards from the maindeck or sideboard?
I feel pretty confident with my deck as-is. Collected Company is a house and I recently tuned my sideboard to better handle Inverter.

Any other comments or shout-outs?
Thanks to Kirk for ST△Ying to play the fourth round!

Pioneer Format Commentary

Instead of providing some Pioneer format commentary in this article, I’ll direct you to look out for tomorrow’s article where I’ll share my commentary on the format by taking a closer look at the results from all the “big” tournaments that have taken place lately. However, I would like to make a fun announcement related to the weekly Thursday night Pioneer tournaments…

Meta Coming to Thursday Nights!

Starting this Thursday, we’re going to be collecting the deck names/archetypes (not decklists) from all players who attend the weekly tournaments. It will only require a few seconds from each player to record their deck name and archetype, and it will be fun to always report the meta each week. I’ll be able to do things like compare it to the general meta (as reported by MTGGoldfish) and it will give us all an opportunity to watch how our local meta shifts.

See you Thursday!

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