Hello everyone! It’s time again for the Pizza Box Tournament Report. This past Sunday August 6th was the Pizza Box Open: Explorer & we had a variety of decks in the event as well as some spice in the Top 8. Don’t forget these tournament are free to play with cash prizes so if you haven’t played in one yet there is always time to do so with 3 a month! Here is a link to all of our tournaments including the yearly Jankathon Championship: https://tinyurl.com/pizzabox-tournament-schedule For all information on the Jankathon Championship event go here: https://magicjank.com/magicjank-pizzabox-2023-jankathon-tournament
Congrats to Lordan for taking down the event with Izzet Creativity! Pictured above we see that Azorius Control Variants were the most played deck at 18.4% meta share. Rakdos Sacrifice follows up with 15 decks at a 14.6% meta share. Mono Green Devotion at 13.6% with 14 decks. Indomitable Creativity variants 11.7% with 12 decks. Rakdos Midrange a little lower than usual at 10.7% with 11 decks rounding out decks in the double digit representation. Mono White and Mono Red both with 5 decks at 4.9%. Gruul, Boros, & Spirits at 3.9% with 4 decks each. Dimir decks with 3 decks for a 2.9% meta share. Mono Black & Selesnya Midrange with 2 decks at about a 1.5% meta share. One of decks of note include Mardu Midrange & 5 Color Elementals. Top 8 was diverse with 7/8 decks being different decks.
The Top 8
Izzet Creativity was the deck that gained the most from Explorer Anthology 3 coming to MTGArena. As we see here in the tournament winning decklist its now packing a one-shot combo kill so the deck has an easier time closing out the game. As we saw in the finals and throughout the tournament, this deck is very consistent & it’s here to stay. Going forward making sure you have enough sideboard hate for Creativity decks is crucial. From cards like Containment Priest to simple multipurpose cards like Abrade the format is sure to find a way to adjust.
Coming in 2nd place we’ve got an Explorer mainstay in Rakdos Sacrifice. This list is a pretty stock list with a few key sideboard cards that we saw throughout the tournament in Kroxa & Ob Nixilis which both provide disruption & an endgame. Still a great choice in ranked or tournaments Cauldron Familiar continues it’s dominance in Explorer.
The breakout deck of the weekend, we’ve seen U/W control before but it is primarily Lotus Field variants that have taken over as the main version of the deck to play. The deck was picking up some steam on the MTGA ladder and has translated the success into two Top 8 finishes in this event. It was not one of my choices in last week’s article but it shows it can hang in big tournaments as well as enjoying its stay as a tier 1 deck in MTGA ranked. First deck pictured came in 3rd and the second pictured deck came in 6th. Surprisingly enough the 6th place deck was a more straight control deck with Yorion Companion. The Meta Game has settled out so these control decks are great options going forward.
The biggest surprise and the award for Certified Jank goes to Scott the Murloc with Boros Goblin Rally! If you read my article from two weeks ago (https://tinyurl.com/Explorer-Overview) You’d know that Goblins was a legit deck in the format. Previously we’d seen Rakdos versions playing Call of the Death-Dweller for recursion. In this version though the Goblin Chainwhirlers were ditched for cheaper threats like Exuberant Fuseling & the Death-Dwellers became Rally the Ancestors for maximum recursion. Also helping the deck go wide is the inclusion of Goblin Instigator. Though primarily a Mono Red deck sideboard options in Destroy Evil & Reidane showcase options available when dipping into white. Be on the lookout for this new solidified beatdown deck & all its variants.
Powerhouse Mono Green Devotion shows up in 5th place. Darth Xero took this version into Top 8 with maindeck inclusions such as Reckoner Bankbuster & Skysovereign. We also are seeing an increase in Polukranos Reborn in many version of the deck recently. Even though with the surge in Azorius Control decks, Mono Green continues to be one of the best decks in the format.
Gruul Midrange makes an appearance in Top 8 without any boats maindeck. The lone copy of Skysovereign in the sideboard. We do see two maindeck Questing Beast & Embercleave to help finish the game quick as well as Voldaren Thrillseeker the latest addition to the deck. Of note no Lovestruck Beast in the deck. This is definitely a more aggressive slanted version of the deck & it makes sense it battled through all the control decks to get Top 8.
It is looking aggro is a good choice right in Explorer. Between the last deck Gruul & Mono Red Aggro above we see that these decks are able to take advantage of the slowed down meta from Azorius Control. Pretty stock list of Mono Red outside of the latest innovation from MTG_Joe: Leyline of Combustion. Up against removal heavy deck? Side in the enchantment, get one down free to start the game & every threat you play equal 2 damage for every spell. Lets not even factor in drawing more than one in your opening hand and the game ends quick. Mono Red is one of the oldest decks in the format but remains a good choice when the meta is slower control decks like this tournament’s was.
There were a few decks that missed Top 8 due to breakers, let’s take a look at a few.
At 6-1 this Azorius Lotus Field just misses Top 8. Soul Partition & Supreme Verdict main are different inclusions than the winning list.
This was the highest placing Rakdos Midrange deck in the tournament with a 5-2 record. Two Kroxa main with Liliana of the Veil give the deck more disruption with tools like heartless act that can kill any target without a +1/+1 counter. Still a mainstay in the format and tournaments.
Mono White Humans with a Top 16 finish at 5-2. Still one of the best aggro decks in the format yet it may be missing some reach when compared to the red aggressive decks that play more direct damage spells or creatures leaving it open to board wipes more often.
As mentioned in my article two weeks ago, Auras though not with the best winrate overall in the format can still show up in a tournament and put in some work! This version play toolbox with cards like Kaya’s Ghostform for resilience & Hammerhand to stop an opposing blocker thats standing in the way of a lethal swing. Still recommended for any events as the deck takes opponents by surprise and almost always has a good showing at tournaments.
Rogues shows up in the Top 16 as well. Invasion of Amonkhet as an interesting inclusion for added value. A pretty strong choice in the meta right now providing the counter magic plus beatdown strategy well. This deck seems to have taken a meta share from its other tempo counterpart Spirits recently in ranked.
Pondering the Future
It seems as though Explorer is in a healthy place. Aggro decks are back on the rise due to slower Control decks coming into the limelight. We should be expecting Midrange decks to come in and take down these aggro decks and maybe even use tools like Fires of Invention to try and go over the top of the control decks as well. We’ll find out soon with Qualifier weekend on the horizon! Stay cheesy & stay safe. I’ll catch you this week on twitch (https://tinyurl.com/HOLLYWOODPIZZA-TWITCH) & this weekend for The Pizza Box Open: Standard (https://tinyurl.com/PBO-August-13th)!
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