Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica has concluded, with 510 players making it the largest Pro Tour in history. Congratulations to Andrew Elenbogen, who took home the trophy! But it was a big weekend with a lot to take in.

Player of the Year

This Pro Tour started a day earlier than normal for two competitors, with Luis Salvatto and Seth Manfield competing to finally decide the winner of their Player of the Year race. Involving a brand new format consisting of a number of best of one matches similar to Hearthstone’s Conquest format, we got to potentially see deck choices that wouldn’t make the Pro Tour itself and tech choices due to lack of sideboards.

Winning four games to two, we finally had a winner in Luis Salvatto. The man who had been chasing Seth for almost the entire year finally managed to claim his prize. While there was commiseration for Seth Manfield, that feeling did not last long: the Hall of Fame ceremony later that evening would be crowning him and Lee Shi Tian members of the Magic: the Gathering Hall of Fame.


Going into the Pro Tour, the results we had from Grand Prix, Magic Online, and the SCG circuit showed us that we had a wide-open format for the first time in a long time. While Golgari was more popular than others, it was not the best deck in the format. In the days leading up the Pro Tour though, there was a lot of talk about white weenie splashing red making an impact. True enough, the Pro Tour metagame reflected this with Boros White Weenie being the second most popular deck, only surpassed by Golgari.

The Top 8 itself showed the impact of a known deck being tweaked for a Pro Tour metagame, with six copies of Boros Aggro taking the Sunday stage. Each had their own tech choices, with many going even lower to the ground and using built-in lifegain with Ajani’s Pridemate. Others expected Healer’s Hawk and countered by using Rustwing Falcon instead.

What this Pro Tour has confirmed is that Standard has no dominant deck, despite the Top 8. Looking at the Standard decks that went undefeated or 9-1, there are a fair share of Izzet Drakes, Golgari Midrange, Boros Weenie, and even Jeskai Control. With the variety of decks all putting up great Standard records, it looks as if this Pro Tour was decided more on a player’s Limited expertise rather than their Constructed expertise.


Pro Tour Atlanta had its fair share of controversies, so lets go through them.

The first was not gameplay related, but was instead the introduction of a security check in. While it is unknown if this was enforced by Wizards or the venue, it led to long delays for players, taking up to 45 minutes just to gain access to the venue. This information was sent to the players before they arrived at the Pro Tour, but 45 minutes is just simply not an acceptable length of time.

LSV was part of two of the more interesting developments during the top 8. These have sent viewers and members of the Magic community into fierce debate.

It’s the semi-final match of the Pro Tour between Jeremy Dezani and Luis Scott-Vargas. During the final turns of game three, Jeremy Dezani is working out his attacks while Luis has four mana untapped. Luis reaches for a vampire token, and this perhaps suggests to Jeremy that Luis does not have anything better to do than activating his Adanto, the First Fort. What then happens is that Jeremy attacks with his whole team and falls into LSV’s trap: the single copy of Settle the Wreckage from his sideboard. It prompts the concession of the game and the match, with LSV going onto the final.

What is the controversy here you may ask? It’s just a simple re-imagining of the pen trick (grabbing your pen in/before combat makes you appear you have nothing but wanting to update lifetotals when your opponent attacks, bluffing that you actually have a relevant spell). However, the controversy stemmed from Twitter and idea of gamesmanship within Magic, taking offense at the fact that LSV had done the act. Some critics went so far as to call him a cheat. Others noted that it was LSV performing the bluff, and due to his popularity he could get away with it; suggesting that if the roles had been reversed then Dezani would be called a cheater rather than receiving praise. In my opinion, this is way overblown and is being used to further the point of some of the more negative members of the community. Mind games are a part of Magic, as is the case with many card games, and using them should not be stigmatised.

The second, less-controversial moment came in the finals. LSV’s mulligan to four cards in game five of the Pro Tour final against Andrew Elenbogen provided an anti-climactic end to the tournament. People have argued that the final shouldn’t be decided by an opponent muliganning to oblivion. This complaint also seems based on the sympathy for LSV losing this way, especially since this was his ninth top 8 and would have been his second win. I agree that losing the final of a tournament—the Pro Tour no less—due to mulliganing to four cards is a brutal fate. But variance is a distinct part of the game, and we shouldn’t be re-evaluating the mulligan rules.

Ultimately this was a very memorable Pro Tour and almost certainly the last of its size that we’ll see with the upcoming changes to the Pro Tour and Pro Tour Qualifiers. That does not mean we’ll be missing out on any of the high level play that we’ve come to expect from the Pro Tour, though. All of the action will still be here. Standard currently is rewarding metagame choices rather than just learning the best deck. That is the sign of a healthy format, and one I hope to see continue.

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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