Ben Stark won the Ruby Division of the Magic Pro League’s Core Split this weekend with Mono-Blue Tempo, defeating Reid Duke’s Orzhov Vampires in two matches.

Stark earned himself the first seed in the Upper Finals of Top 4 after having an impressive 6-1 record during the round robin matches with Mono-Red. He decided to switch to Mono-Blue Tempo for the Top 4.

The Ruby Division Top 4 bracket.

During the Upper Finals, Stark played against Andrea Mengucci on Esper Control, who went 5-2 during the round robin portion with the same deck. The match went to three games, with Stark moving on to the Grand Finals and Mengucci dropping to the Lower Finals where he awaited the winner between the Lower Semifinals match of Reid Duke and Rei Sato.

Duke, whose election to the Magic Hall of Fame was announced during the stream, brought Orzhov Vampires to the Top 4 and defeated Rei Sato, on Gruul Midrange, 2-0. Duke moved on to the Lower Finals where he beat Mengucci in three games, advancing to face Stark in the Grand Finals.

The Grand Finals

Game 1 of the Grand Finals began with Ben Stark playing Siren Stormtamer into Pteramander and Reid Duke played Legion’s Landing and Knight of the Ebon Legion. Duke was able to flip Legion’s Landing early which gave him another land. The Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord Duke cast after combat was met with a Spell Pierce. Stark was still getting in for one point of damage with his Pteramander and played Tempest Djinn. Reid Duke was also getting in with small amounts of damage and then drew four cards off Champion of Dusk. All four cards he drew was spells and it looked like Duke started to pull ahead. Stark was still able to get attacks in and played a second Tempest Djinn but Duke played Sanctum Seeker the following turn and began to gain too much life. Stark was unable to race the Sanctum Seeker and Duke took the first game.

In Game 2, Stark started strong with a Spectral Sailor enchanted with a Curious Obsession. On Duke’s side, he had two Knight of the Ebon Legion and a Legion’s Landing. Stark played a Tempest Djinn but Duke was still able to attack through it with the Knight of Ebon Legions and leaving three mana available to activate its ability. The Djinn took one damage after blocking the 1/1 Vampire token and Duke finished the four toughness creature off by playing Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord and sacrificing a Vampire. The rest of the game, Duke pressured Stark and his creatures with Sorin andm with two backup Sorins in his hand, Duke had the game locked up.

Though Duke took the first match, he had advanced from the lower bracket, meaning that a second Grand Finals match was needed to be played to decide a winner.

Game 1 of the second Grand Finals match began with Stark trading a Pteramander for a Skymarcher Aspirant and kept mana open to cast Merfolk Trickster. The Trickster tapped Duke’s Adanto Vanguard and then got enchanted with a Curious Obsession. Duke played Legion’s Landing and Vicious Conquistador, but Stark had a much more impressive turn of attacking with the Merfolk Trickster to draw a card and then played Siren Stormtamer with two more Curious Obsessions on it. Duke tried to Mortify the Stormtamer but Stark had the Dive Down backup. Duke couldn’t keep up with Stark’s massive amount of card advantage and conceded.

Game 2 began in a similar manner as the last game, with Duke playing a Skymarcher Aspirant trading with a Siren Stormtamer. Duke followed this exchange with another Skymarcher Aspirant and a Vicious Conquistador. A Spectral Sailor was flashed in to trade with the Skymarcher Aspirant and the turn after that, a Brineborn Cutthroat was flashed in. Duke attacked with all his creatures again only for Stark to cast Opt and put a counter on the Brineborn Cutthroat. An Essence Scatter took care of Duke’s follow up Adanto Vanguard, making the Brineborn Cutthroat a 5/4. The Cutthroat ended up becoming too large for Duke to play around and Stark won the second Grand Finals match 2-0.

Stark’s victory in the Ruby Division marks the end of the Magic Pro League’s Core Split. He will join Carlos Romao, Seth Manfield, and Lee Shi Tian on Day 2 of Mythic Championship V on October 18-20, 2019. All matches and results from the Core Split can be viewed at

The final split of the Magic Pro League’s inaugural season, the Eldraine Split, begins October 5, 2019.


Ben Stark's Standard Mono-Blue Tempo

Creatures (21)
Brineborn Cutthroat
Merfolk Trickster
Tempest Djinn
Spectral Sailor
Siren Stormtamer

Spells (15)
Dive Down
Wizard’s Retort
Lookout’s Dispersal
Spell Pierce

Enchantments (4)
Curious Obsession
Lands (20)
20 Island

Sideboard (15)
Brineborn Cutthroat
Wizard’s Retort
Lookout’s Dispersal
Cerulean Drake
Entrancing Melody
Aether Gust
Essence Capture

Reid Duke's Standard Orzhov Vampires

Creatures (27)
Adanto Vanguard
Champion of Dusk
Knight of the Ebon Legion
Legion Lieutenant
Vicious Conquistador
Skymarcher Aspirant
Sanctum Seeker

Spells (1)

Enchantments (6)
Legion’s Landing
Baffling End

Planeswalkers (4)
Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Lands (22)
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel

Sideboard (15)
Legion’s End
Noxious Grasp
Gideon Blackblade
Devout Decree

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