PT Finals – An Old School Report

Pascal Vieren

The Introduction

I read a lot of Magic content. A lot of depth can be laid in a well-written article. But there’s one kind of article I especially enjoy: tournament reports.

Those old school tournament reports, telling the story of preparation, the trip, the tournament, and the props and slops. This will be my tournament report on the Players Tour Finals.

The Preparation

For this tournament I tested with Rivals inductee Brent Vos, Thomas ‘Dutch Giant’ Hendriks and my good friend and Hareruya Hopes Thomas Van der Paelt. I’ve tested with these fine gentlemen before, and was looking forward to doing so again. Testing with only Dutch speaking players makes for easy conversation too.

Heroes' Reunion

Standard is getting dominated by Reclamation decks for quite some time now. M21 didn’t look like it would make a huge impact, so it was clear Reclamation would still be the deck to beat. In Players Tour 4 I played Bant Flash, which had a pretty good matchup versus Temur Reclamation. Bant Flash deck struggled against Bant Ramp however, which I was paired 5 times against. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake and settled on playing Reclamation early on.

In those Players Tours, Reclamation was 25-35% of the metagame. I was expecting a similar number for the PT Finals. The actual number was about 55%. This wrong expectation of the metagame impacted my decklist. I choose to play Temur Reclamation over 4c Reclamation, as I felt the matchup versus Bant Ramp is a lot harder for the 4c variant. 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 isn’t particularly good against them, while losing 《Blast Zone》 makes dealing with their 《Teferi》 harder. Another bigger, mistake was playing two 《Storm’s Wrath》 in my maindeck.

Storm's Wrath

This is the 75 Thomas Van der Paelt and I registered:

I won’t go into detail about all the card choices, but a better list would’ve had -1 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, -2 《Storm’s Wrath》, +1 《Mystical Dispute》, +1 《Shark Typhoon》, +1 《Negate》 in the maindeck.

In our last minute discussions before submitting our decklist I kept insisting Reclamation would be less than 50% of the field and the 2 《Storm’s Wrath》 were good. I also added a second 《Narset’s Reversal》 to the sideboard, which was pretty great.

The Trip

There was no trip of course. There also isn’t a story about spending 10 hours flying or some last minute scrambling for cards. I needed to import the deck in the account given for playing the PT Finals however. I aptly named it ‘Perfect deck + 2 Wrath‘ as the metagame was known by then.

Vital Surge

The tournament started at 6 pm for me. This meant I could spend most of my day with my family. For those unaware, I have four kids with the youngest being three months old. As you can imagine, this means waking up pretty early in the morning and having rather busy days. We spent most of Saturday and Sunday enjoying the sun in the park, so I felt pretty relaxed when it was time to play.

The Tournament – Day 1

Round 1 – Christopher Candreva – Temur Reclamation

Christopher’s list was better tuned for the mirror game 1. Literally every mirror I played was better tuned game 1, so I’d have to make up by making some great plays. Or being lucky. I was stuck with the list I submitted but was determined to make the best of it.

In game one, I was on the play with the turn 2 《Growth Spiral》 into staying ahead in land and Shark count. This forced action from Christopher’s side, which didn’t resolve, but allowed me to seal the deal with 《Wilderness Reclamation》 and 《Explosion》.

Narset's Reversal

The second game was a very long and drawn out affair. In the end, I emerged victoriously after using 《Narset’s Reversal》 on my own 《Negate》 to win a counter war and get back my 《Negate》 and using my second 《Narset’s Reversal》 on my own 《Explosion》 to prevent it from getting countered and getting it back. Getting 2-for-1s on your most important spells is pretty nice.

2-0 (Total Score: 1-0)

Round 2 – Isaac Egan – Jund Sacrifice

In the first game, I used 《Storm’s Wrath》 to clear the board and give me the time needed to set up 《Reclamation》 and 《Explosion》. I want to emphasize this to make it clear 《Storm’s Wrath》 wasn’t completely useless.

Shark TokenShark TokenShark Token

I don’t get anything going in the second game and Isaac quickly kills me. The third game is the opposite I have double 《Reclamation》 into 《Explosion》. I don’t find a second 《Explosion》 and settle for a hard cast 《Shark Typhoon》 and about 10 Sharks, which do the trick just fine.

2-1 (Total Score: 2-0)

Round 3 – Akira Asahara – Temur Reclamation

Spectral Sailor

Akira has 2 《Spectral Sailor》 instead of my 2 《Storm’s Wrath》. Seems like a better choice.

Both games are very one-sided, but sadly the wrong side. Credit to Akira’s deck building prowess, as his 《Spectral Sailor》 absolutely dominates the first game. I fail to play a fourth land in the second game, which is an easy way to lose the game.

0-2 (Total Score: 2-1)

Round 4 – Kensuke Kato – Temur Reclamation

Commence the Endgame

Kensuke had 2 《Commence the Endgame》 instead of my 2 《Storm’s Wrath》. Also seems like a better choice.

All three games were pretty close I think. Game three I had a spot where I could resolve 《Reclamation》, but instead misclicked and cast 《Uro》. Even with the 《Reclamation》, I would’ve been behind. With the misclick, I just lost on the spot however. My notes are somewhat lacking this round, which might be a result of me getting tired. It would also explain the misclick.

1-2 (Total Score: 2-2)

Round 5 – Shahar Shenhar – Monogreen Stompy

The moment for 《Storm’s Wrath》 to shine!

Lovestruck BeastScavenging OozeVivien, Arkbow Ranger

Game one, I mulligan to 5 and keep a very awkward hand with only one land. Shahar has double 《Lovestruck Beast》, 《Scavenging Ooze》 and 《Vivien, Arkbow Ranger》. Even if I had a 《Storm’s Wrath》, it would’ve been very mediocre. At this point, I’m seriously wondering what I was thinking of registering that card.

Shahar is stuck on three lands in the second game, while I have an early 《Elder Gargaroth》. He tries to kill it with a pumped 《Scavenging Ooze》 and 《Primal Might》 with 《Ranger’s Guile》 as a backup. My last two cards are 《Aether Gust》 and 《Brazen Borrower》, however.

Stonecoil SerpentGemrazer

In the third game, I have 《Bonecrusher Giant》, 《Aether Gust》 and double 《Nightpack Ambusher》 to control the board. Shahar goes 《Stonecoil Serpent》 into 《Gemrazer》 to make a huge trampler, killing an 《Nightpack Ambusher》 with 《Primal Might》 and putting me very low. When he goes for another 《Gemrazer》 on a new 《Stonecoil Serpent》, I’m dead if he attacks with everything. If my last card is an interactive spell, his attack would leave him dead however, so he decides to not attack. Nothing happens for a couple of turns, except I get more Wolves that kill him in the end. My last card? A very useless 《Storm’s Wrath》.

If Shahar attacks there, I’d gone from 2-0 to 2-3 and be mentally devastated. Having a good or bad tournament can really hinge on these crucial moments.

2-1 (Total Score: 3-2)

Round 6 – Kevin Perez – Sultai Ramp

Thought Distortion

Kevin’s maindeck only plays 《Aether Gust》 as counterspells, but had two 《Thought Distortion》, with the third one in sideboard.

The first game I get the turn 3 《Reclamation》 on the play into 《Explosion》. Kevin has a double ramp into 《Thought Distortion》 however. With the help of a leftover 《Brazen Borrower》 and a 《Castle Vantress》, I manage to find enough action and win. I made some mediocre decisions in this game due to fatigue. I use the old trick of slapping myself twice during sideboarding to refocus.


The second game Kevin had three 《Narset, Parter of Veils》, which gives him a steady flow of cards. With my two 《Narset’s Reversal》, his 《Thought Distortion》 plan is a risky proposition and he wisely doesn’t cast it. This gives me plenty of time however and ultimately, I stabilize at 1 life and get 《Narset, Parter of Veils》 of the board. I take over with 《Uro》, 《Reclamation》 and 《Explosion》. I use my 《Narset’s Reversal》 to get my 《Explosion》 through a sideboarded counter in the final turn.

2-0 (Total Score: 4-2)

Round 7 – Ivan Floch – Temur Reclamation

Jolrael, Mwonvuli RecluseOpt

Ivan is playing a list with 《Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse》 and 《Opt》s. I found both these cards to be lackluster in my testing, so I was surprised to see Ivan playing them. He is an absolute master however, so I’m sure there’s merit to it.

The Temur Reclamation mirror is an interesting match. The general plan is to get ahead in lands and get some pressure. The tough spots are those games where you are behind and need to determine when to pull the trigger to try and force a 《Reclamation》. When one player has a clear advantage, the other needs to make desperate plays in the hope of getting somewhere.

Turn the Tables

The first game was an example of this as Ivan copied my 《Growth Spiral》 at the end of his third turn and then 《Negate》d my 《Growth Spiral》. This puts me 2 lands behind Ivan. But the use of 《Negate》 told me Ivan didn’t have 《Mystical Dispute》. With only 2 《Negate》 and 2 《Aether Gust》 in Ivan’s main deck, I decided to just jam 《Reclamation》 turn 4, a play otherwise rarely made, but handily rewarded this time.

The second and third games were more straightforward as the player with the advantage also took the game, but I felt I played pretty tight in this match.

2-1 (Total Score: 5-2)

The Tournament – Day 2

The structure of this tournament is somewhat odd, as the goal is to be top 16. That qualifies for the Grand Final, a 32 player $250,000 tournament. Despite not having the best maindeck, I’m very confident in my sideboarding in the mirror and felt I played pretty good overall the day before. So I’m very much looking forward to getting there.

Round 8 – Andrea Mengucci – Bant Ramp

I’m downpaired against Andrea, who knocked Thomas Van der Paelt out of the tournament in the last round yesterday, so I’m ready for some revenge.

Campaign of Vengeance

I’m on the play game 1 and have the turn 2 《Growth Spiral》 into a couple of big Sharks, which get there easily. The second game my deck gives me perfect draws again and I take the win in less than 20 minutes.

This gives me an excellent opportunity to eat dinner with my family. Round one of the day was perfect, dinner was perfect. The confidence level is pretty high!

2-0 (Total Score: 6-2)

Round 9 – Allen Wu – Temur Reclamation

This time I’m unpaired. Allen’s list isn’t playing dead cards maindeck, so that’s a pity. Allen is also one of the absolute best players in the world, so I’ll have to bring my best.

Rise to the Challenge

We split the first two rather uneventful games. The third one is a drawn out affair in which both of us have lots of land and at some point 《Reclamation》 in play. This leads to the following situation:

Narset's ReversalExpansion+ExplosionMystical Dispute

I have 5 untapped lands (4 tapped) while Allen had 6 lands untapped. He casts 《Aether Gust》 on my 《Reclamation》, I 《Narset’s Reversal》 on his 《Aether Gust》, he 《Reversal》s on his 《Aether Gust》, I 《Expansion》 on his 《Reversal》, he 《Expansion》s on 《Reversal》, I 《Mystical Dispute》.

So my 《Expansion》 resolves, and becomes a 《Reversal》, targeting my own 《Reversal》, so I get back my initial 《Reversal》 and 《Reversal》 his 《Aether Gust》 again. The result is his 《Reclamation》 is on top, mine stays in play, he has 《Aether Gust》 in hand and I have 《Reversal》 in hand and untap all my lands. This puts me way ahead and I win game three.

2-1 (Total Score: 7-2)

Round 10 – Benjamin Weitz – 4c Reclamation

Teferi, Time RavelerDovin's Veto

Ben is playing 4 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and 2 《Dovin’s Veto》 maindeck. Looks pretty good.

Game one we are trading a lot of resources until we both have two cards left in hand. His cards are good and mine are 《Storm’s Wrath》. You reap what you sow.

Storm's WrathStorm's Wrath

In the second game, I fail to hit my fourth land drop while Ben had a decent draw. This leaves me time to take a refreshing shower, so it’s not all bad.

0-2 (Total Score: 7-3)

Round 11 – Jacob Wilson – Temur Reclamation

Jacob is playing 2 《Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse》 and 《Opt》, so I don’t feel too disadvantaged game 1!

Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse

Both games are pretty straightforward with me having and keeping the advantage from early on. Jacob has 《Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse》 in both and 《Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse》 doesn’t do a whole lot in both, so I’m still pretty sceptic as to how good this card is.

2-0 (Total Score: 8-3)

Round 12 – Michael Jacob – Mardu Winota

Mardu Winota isn’t exactly something I prepared for, but it looks like 《Storm’s Wrath》 should be pretty good.

Game one my opening hand is 3 lands, 《Reclamation》, 《Shark Typhoon》 and 2 《Storm’s Wrath》. Let’s go! Michael has a T2 《Kitesail Freebooter》 and takes my 《Shark Typhoon》. He proceeds with his one-off 《Tajic, Legion’s Edge》 while I miss my fourth land drop for three turns.

Tajic, Legion's Edge

Game two I have T3 《Reclamation》, interaction and 《Explosion》, which is as good as it sounds.

Game three I mulligan to a mediocre 6 cards, while Michael goes down to 5. Not much happens until Michael goes 《Raise the Alarm》 into 《Winota, Joiner of Forces》, which leaves me behind sad.

1-2 (Total Score: 8-4)

Round 13 – Seth Manfield – Temur Reclamation

Seth also chose to not add useless cards to his maindeck.

Chemister's Insight

《Chemister’s Insight》 did a lot of work in game one, as it put me ahead on useful cards. The Jump-start also allows me to discard certain less useful cards. I manage to keep making land drops and resolve 《Reclamation》 to keep getting further ahead.

The second one was very close. Seth had a lot of pressure with a 《Nightpack Ambusher》 and a Shark. I managed to get 《Reclamation》 and 《Explosion》 for his 《Nightpack Ambusher》. Seth had a big Shark at the end of turn, which I bounced with 《Brazen Borrower》. This left me tapped out and Seth’s next attack and 《Explosion》 were exactly lethal.

Game three had Seth missing his third land drop for multiple turns. I resolved a 《Reclamation》, but was missing interaction when Seth cast his 《Reclamation》. My 《Explosion》 in response and draw step only revealed land and I died a couple of turns later.

1-2 (Total Score: 8-5)

Round 14 – Dominik Görtzen – Temur Reclamation

Another round, another well-build Reclamation deck.

I won the first game again in unexciting fashion, being on the play and having 《Growth Spiral》.

The second game was more interesting. I had a lot of ramp and a 《Reclamation》, but little action. I have 《Castle Vantress》 to dig for that, while Dominik is also running low on cards. At some point I have both my 《Narset’s Reversal》 (of course) on top, with only 《Explosion》 in hand, while Dominik has 2 cards.

Next turn, Dominik casts 《Uro》 from his graveyard and plays 《Reclamation》. He also keeps a card on top with his 《Castle Vantress》 in his end step. After I drew the first 《Reversal》, I make a lot of mana in my end step and cast a lethal 《Explosion》. He casts 《Reversal》, I 《Reversal》 my 《Explosion》, he 《Negate》s my 《Reversal》. So now I don’t have any cards left and he gets a huge 《Explosion》, right? Nope, I get back Explosion in hand and he gets a copy on the stack. I cast 《Explosion》 for 1 and use my last mana to cast the second 《Reversal》.

2-0 (Total Score: 9-5)

The Conclusion

The PT Finals featured 145 great players and was probably the hardest tournament I’ve ever played. I finished in 20th place, good for $2.500, which is definitely a result I should be proud of. Losing both round 12 and round 13 cost me a top 16 spot, so I have some mixed feelings. Qualification for the Zendikar Rising Championship, basically the next Pro Tour, needed an honestly mindboggling 30 match points. Unless Organized Play changes this decision, I’ll need to find another way to qualify.

My decklist wasn’t perfect, but I think I played pretty good during the tournament. Correctly predicting the metagame is a tough thing to do. All in all, I’m happy with my preparation and the result.

The Props

The Slops

Pascal Vieren (Twitter)

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Pascal Vieren Pascal is a Gold Level Pro from Belgium. Before the beginning 2018-2019 season, he was advanced from Hareruya Hopes to Hareruya Pros with Jacob Nagro, and his countryman, Branco Neirynck. He has some sweet results like 2 GP top 8s and the runner-up at Worl Magic Cup 2016 with the greatest Belgian team in the history. Though, the most impressive one is Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan where he went undefeated in the Swiss portion (12-0-4) and 3rd place at the end. He piloted an interesting UR Pyromancer deck which was designed by his big brother Peter Vieren. Read more articles by Pascal Vieren

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