Players Tour Finals Top 8 Decklists and Coverage

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Preview

Welcome to the Players Tour Finals! Today is the last day of the tournament and soon we’ll learn the name of our champion! On this page we will provide you with all the info and coverage of the events and matches of the Top 8. The official livestream coverage begins at 9 a.m. PDT.

Top 8 Decklists

Top 8 Bracket

(all pairings were determined randomly during an official draw ceremony that took place July 31)

Click on the link below to inspect complete standings, pairings and stats of Players Tour Finals:

Metagame and Winrates

(non-draw, non-mirror, non-bye matches leading to the Top 8)

Also please visit our other resources dedicated to Players Tour Finals coverage:


Upper Bracket Round 1

Top eight double elimination bracket kicks off with Riku Kumagai’s Mono Black facing Azorius Control piloted by Raphael Levy. Levy’s is quite happy about the Round 1 pairing as aggro matchup should be much more favourable than any of the four Wilderness Reclamation decks he could’ve faced at this stage.

French player has admitted on Twitter himself, that luck was a big factor in his Top 8 placement. His deck choice was heavily influenced by another French pro Gabriel Nassif, who himself didn’t do well against the field of Reclamation lists. Let’s see if Levy’s impressive streak with Azorius Control continues!

Game 1: Both players kept 7 cards, though Levy’s hand definitely lacked enough efficient answers to Kumagai’s early board presence. By turn four when Azorius ideally wants to see Shatter the Sky, the best play Levy had was instead to bounce Spawn of Mayhem with Teferi, Time Raveler. Luckily for control player, Riku missed out on the 4th land to slam Rankle, Master of Pranks.

And yet, Levy struggled to draw removal, spinning his wheels with Omen of the Sea and chumping with Shark Typhoon token as Riku’s wide board finally was able to push through for the lethal.

Kumagai’s sideboard plan:

InOut
3 Agonizing Remorse1 Castle Lochtwain
2 Tymaret, Chosen from Death

The sideboarding here is pretty straightforward for Riku. He brought in an additional hand disruption in form of Agonizing Remorse. His Mono Black build plays 4 Kitesail Freebooters and 3 Duresses in main, so with a total of 10 disruption spells after sideboarding Riku has to feel pretty confident in his ability to dodge Shatter the Sky.

Tymaret, Chosen from Death goes out to make way for turn 2 Agonizing Remorse as his ability to exile cards from graveyard is irrelevant in this matchup. Also, given that in game 2 he will be on the draw, Kumagai felt confident enough to take out a land.

Game 2: After seeing a 6-lander initially, Levy had to mulligan. Even then his starting hand wasn’t that great – meanwhile, Riku got off to a strong start with early creatures and hand disruption in form of Duress and Kitesail Freebooter. The Japanese player played carefully around turn 4 Archon of Sun’s Grace as well, denying Levy a crucial path to potential comeback.

Hasty Rankle came down on schedule this time, and once again Azorius faced a dominant board without an access to the sweeper. Levy flashed in Brazen Borrower to block Rankle, but Riku followed with a Spawn of Mayhem immediately. The French player stuck awkwardly with Omen of the Sun in hand, which was very underwhelming given Mono Black’s presence of flyers. Kumagai closed out the game very soon, sending Levy to the bottom bracket.


Upper Bracket Round 2

We saw an unstoppable force that Kumagai’s deck was against Azorius Control. In the Upper Bracket Round 2 match, Riku faced Allen Wu, whose Temur Reclamation successfully fought off Michael Jacob’s sensational Mardu Winota list in the previous Round. Interestingly, Kumagai did lose to Wu in the Swiss Round. Allen’s Temur build is skewed a bit to do better against aggro, with two Nightback Ambushers in maindeck helping to push back against creatures in pre-sideboarded games, and a ton of anti-aggro option available in sided games.

Game 1: Kumagai’s early draws were once again just impeccable. Knight of the Ebon Legion, followed by Kitesail Freebooters to take away Wu’s Wilderness Reclamation and Mystical Dispute put Temur deck into a very unfavourable position. A Nightpack Ambusher on turn 4 just was not enough to hold off Riku’s wide board. The Japanese Pro closed the game quickly with his trademark fast Mono Black start – so many times already we have seen this scenario unfold.

Wu’s sideboarding plan:

InOut
2 Elder Gargaroth2 Nightpack Ambusher
1 Flame Sweep3 Aether Gust
4 Scorching Dragonfire1 Expansion/Explosion
1 Storm’s Wrath3 Negate
1 Brazen Borrower1 Shark Typhoon
1 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Allen Wu is very well-prepared to fight against aggro of any color, including Mono Black. Elder Gargaroth is an ultimate show-stopper for any kind of low-to the ground deck, and Temur can get to cast it pretty fast thanks to all the ramp spells. Scorching Dragonfire, Flame Sweep and Storm Wrath are all pretty necessary removal spells, while Brazen Borrower can trade decently into Mono-Black’s 3-mana and 4-mana creatures.

Trimming a single copy of Expansion/Explosion and either Shark Typhoon or Wilderness Reclamation is a popular move with Temur as those are the cards that you don’t want to see in multiples early.

Game 2: Wu kept a 2-lander with 2 copies of Growth Spiral in hand and a single Uro. He had no access to color red, but with this much of ramp and cycling he was set pretty well to find it. However, Temur player got pretty unlucky as he never managed draw that red source to resolve Flame Sweep. Meanwhile, Riku’s Mono Black train kept running straight at the opponent without any stops – Kumagai smashed for lethal on turn 4.


Lower Bracket Round 1

In the lower bracket, you have no wiggle room – a loss eliminates you for good. Raphael Levy fought for stying alive in the tournament against Michael Jacob’s Mardu Winota – the two did meet during Day 2 Swiss. Azorius dispatched Jacob’s spicy creation pretty easily then as go-wide Winota deck folded to Levy’s sweepers always arriving on time. How will it develop this time, when so much is on the line?

Game 1: Jacob got off to a pretty solid start: turn 2 Raise the Alarm into turn 3 Venerated Loxodon is probably as good as it gets. Followed by Judith, the Scourge Diva, Mardu aggro start pushed a lot of damage initially past Levy’s lonely wall created by Birth of Meletis. Jacob slammed Winota down on turn 5, though his triggers were quite disappointing – Kitesail Freebooter was the only creature to provide value. It was still enough to get the job done though!

Levy’s sideboarding plan:

InOut
1 Archon of Sun’s Grace4 Narset, Parter of Veils
1 Brazen Borrower4 Dovin’s Veto
1 Disdainful Stroke1 Mystical Dispute
1 Giant Killer1 Elspeth Conquers Death
1 Glass Casket
2 Sky Tether
1 Shatter the Sky
2 Aether Gust

The plan for Azorius here is two-fold: board in more answers to Winota, Joiner of Forces, and max out on sweepers. Aether Gust, Disdainful Stroke, Giant Killer and Brazen Borrower are all able to hold off the linchpin of Michael Jacob’s deck mana-efficiently.

Sky Tether and Glass Casket are all additional ways to stop the bleeding, though spot removal is not that great against cards like Raise the Alarm and Lazotep Reaver. Shatter the Sky is the single best card to deal with Mardu Winota – unless they were able to stick Basri’s Lieutenant with a bunch of counters that is.

Game 2: This time Levy managed to get Shatter the Sky in his starting hand, while Jacob went down to 5 on the draw. His hand contained Winota in it, but needed to draw two lands in a row to keep the curve going. The topdecks delivered, but Jacob’s attempt to resolve Winota was denied by Aether Gust. Shatter the Sky followed once Azorius untapped. Another wave of creatures from Mardu deck rose quickly; eventually Jacob was able to get one trigger off of Winota – and whiffed!

On the second try it worked much better though – Basri’s Lieutenant was the best possible creature to hit, and Jacob’s board pushed past Archon of Sun’s Grace and his Pegasus token. Next turn, Levy’s hopes were hanging on a Brazen Borrower bouncing a creature. It did help delay the things for a bit, but Azorius’s hand state at that moment was just not equipped to deal with the overwhelming board. Levy’s run in the tournament ended right there, without even a single game win in Top 8.


Lower Bracket Round 2

Defeating Azorius Control convincingly inspired Michael Jacob on his way through the lower bracket. In Round 2 he had to face Christoffer Larsen’s Jund Sacrifice, which is not in the least an easier matchup for Mardu Winota. Mayhem Devil’s pings do terrible things to the opponent’s board, so Jacob had to dodge that threat – or outpace it. Winota deck runs almost no removal or interaction, so there’s very few ways way to deal with that engine once it’s on.

Game 1: Both players had to overcome some hurdles early: Larsen mulliganed to 6 but still never saw any Mayhem Devils, while Jacob failed to develop any two drops. However, Woe Strider into a huge turn 4 with yet another Strider and Venerated Loxodon set up pretty nicely for Winota. Larsen’s two Trail of Crumbs and two Gilded Gooses were of no help to him when Winota triggered 6 times, ending the game on the spot.

Jacob’s sideboarding plan:

InOut
2 Devout Decree4 Selfless Savior
1 General’s Enforcer1 Kitesail Freebooter
1 Eliminate1 Judith, the Scourge Diva
1 Noxious Grasp
1 Kenrith, the Returned King

Sdeboarding in this matchup completely revolves around the threat of Mayhem Devil. Michael Jacob sided in all the removal options he had – Eliminate and Noxious Grasp, as well as two copies of Devout Decree. Mardu Winota deck has a linear gameplan and the danger of the over-sideboarding is real, so you can’t go too wild here in building your 15.

Game 2: Once again, Jacob was able to pull off an impressive Venerated Loxodon start – Larsen matched it barely with double Priest of Forgotten Gods into Mayhem Devil setup. On turn 4 Mardu Winota had 24 power on the battlefield with yet another Loxodon convoke – Jund’s situation was looking very grim. Even without Winota, Joiner of Forces, the attack that followed was quite devastating and forced a lot of unpleasant chump blocks on Larsen’s part.

Mayhem Devil did a lot of face damage pinging down Jacob during that same combat phase, and Larsen even attempted to push an attack through on his own turn. After what seemed like an unbeatable early game draw by Jacob, Jund thanks to Larsen’s excellent piloting managed to stay in the game for much longer than anticipated. He even had a chance to win in the very last turn given the right topdeck!

Unfortunately for the Norwegian, he did not hit his out, and the raw power of Mardu’s double Loxodon board knocked him out of the tournament. An incredibly close game that ended in a very dramatic fashion!


Lower Bracket Round 3

It was Allen Wu who sent Michael Jacob into the lower bracket, and Mardu Winota was eager to get the revenge on Temur Reclamation. Given how insane the draws of Jacob were during the previous few rounds, he was pretty well-set for that!

Game 1: Turn 3 Venerated Loxodon, followed by another elephant on the turn after that, and Jacob was missing only Winota to call it a nuts. Meanwhile, Wu found himself on a triple Wilderness Reclamation hand, but without Expansion/Explosion to make use of all the mana. Two Shark tokens roadblocked Mardu Winota for a turn, Blast Zone did put in some work as well, but Jacob’s board sprawled just too wide at that point.

Jacob’s sideboarding plan:

InOut
1 Giant Killer1 Selfless Savior
2 Legion Warboss1 Knight of the Ebon Legion
1 General Kudro of Drannith2 Judith, the Scourge Diva
1 Noxious Grasp1 Venerated Loxodon
1 Despark2 Woe Strider
1 Kitesail Freebooter

Game 2: Jacob was quite happy to see two Raise the Alarm and a Venerated Loxodon in the starting hand. Landrops all hit the battlefield on schedule as well, so Wu definitely felt a ton of pressure – he even found it necessary to Dispute one of the 2-drops. Temur player had no counters prepared for Loxodon though, so the board got out of hand once again.

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath escaped in time to stem the bleeding – Jacob had no clear answer and had to just keep powering through. Wu kept scrying with Castle Vantress and managed to find Storm’s Wrath in the last possible moment – Jacob conceded immediately once the sweeper had resolved.

Game 3: Early Kitesail Freebooter cleared the way for a Venerated Loxodon on the next turn. Meanwhile, Wu had no ramp to get to that Elder Gargaroth chilling in his hand fast, and he did not not find a single Scorching Dragonfire for early interaction either. The game was over in a matter of minutes, just like that!


Upper Bracket Round 3

The winner of this match would advance to Grand Finals, while the defeated player would still get one more shot to make it right in the lower bracket finals against Michael Jacob.

Game 1: Kumagai started the match being on the play, which generally skews the matchup in his favour significantly. Gutterbones, Knight of the Ebon Legion and Spawn of Mayhem created a threatening board presence for Riku’s side, but Prinz was able to stall with Teferi and Brazen Borrower bounces for a while. Hunted Nightmare came down soon to create huge problems for Reclamation deck, and chumping with Shark tokens wasn’t the answer. Prinz was scrying desperately for a way to come back, but kept drawing dead cards like Dovin’s Veto until the very end.

Prinz’s sideboarding plan:

InOut
1 Deafening Clarion1 Aether Gust
2 Glass Casket1 Dovin’s Veto
2 Justice Strike3 Mystical Dispute
1 Spectral Sailor1 Negate
1 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath1 Kenrith, the Returned King

Game 2: Riku missed his third land drop, while Prinz did get a pretty nice opening hand with a lot of red removal. Mono Black was late to the board, but kept annoying Temur with hand disruption. However, in this war of resources and without a board presence, Kumagai was doomed going against the Four Color Reclamation. Prinz eventually ran away with his card-drawing spells to equalize the series.

Game 3: Kumagai was on the play once again in this game, but his mulligans were too unmerciful – he had to go down to five. He rushed in extremely agressively, choosing to pump Knight of the Ebon Legion on turn 3 instead of developing a 1-drop. Kitesail Freebooter took away a single copy of Justice Strike and Prinz was sweating under the pressure.

However, a clutch Expansion on Riku’s Murderous Rider allowed Prinz to remove a Spawn of Mayhem; then next turn a Justice Strike on pumped Knight of the Ebon Legion led to it killing itself due to the deathtouch keyword. Prinz stabilized his life total thanks to an escaped Uro and Mono Black had no tools anymore to claw back into the game at that point. Kristof Prinz advanced to the Grand Finals!


Lower Bracket Round 4

The players here in this pairing probably had very rough idea how this particular matchup would go. Both Mono Black Aggro and Mardu Winota are anti-Reclamation decks, and very rogueish decks at that. Michael Jacob and Riku Kumagai had to fight here in their battle of rogues for the right to give Kristof Prinz and his Four Color Reclamation deck a final stand in the Grand Finals.

Game 1: Both players were on their best starts. Riku curved Knight of the Ebon Legion into Kitesail Freeboter into Rankle, Master of Pranks. Jacob’s good starts can be even better than Kumagai’s – double Loxodon board by turn four is Mardu Winota’s true win condition apparently, and not Winota herself. It was still not quite enough to race Mono Black’s fliers though – Rankle dealt a lot of damage over the course of two turns, and Jacob couldn’t interact with the flying threats at all.

Jacob’s sideboarding plan

InOut
2 Devout Decree1 Basri’s Lieutenant
1 Eliminate2 Judith, the Scourge Diva
1 General Kudro of Drannith2 Selfless Savior
1 Giant Killer1 Kitesail Freebooter
1 Kenrith, the Returned King

Game 2: Both players started the game with a lot of reactive cards in their hands – multiple Cry of Carnarium’s for Riku; Devout Decree’s for Jacob. Kumagai kept drawing removal (Noxious Grasp, Heartless Act) and for a while didn’t let any of Mardu creatures stick to enable a Loxodon. Mono Black Aggro essentially transformed into Mono Black Control with Knights of the Ebon Legion leading the attack. It wasn’t long before Riku completely exausted Jacob out of resources and sealed the victory in the series!


Grand Finals

Riku Kumagai came back from the lower bracket to try and steal the win from the clutches of the Four Color Reclamation. The Grand Finals are played as a best-of-3 series of matches, and each of those matches are best-of-3 games as well. Buckle up!

Match 1, Game 1: Perfect draw for Prinz in the opening game: Growth Spiral into Wilderness Reclamation turn 3, an Expansion/Explosion for X=6 on turn 4. Meanwhile, Kumagai failed to slam that very crucial Knight of the Ebon Legion turn one, so Kristof wasn’t even under any kind of noticeable pressure. Utilizing its mana advantage, Reclamation deck quickly ran away with the game, and Uro made sure to keep Prinz’s health out of reach for Kumagai.

Match 1, Game 2: Once again, no Knight for Riku, but hand disruption spell at least took care of Rec’s interaction. Hunted Nightmare stuck onto the board, blanking a Justice Strike in Prinz’s hand. Two Wilderness Reclamations on the board for him were of little help as Kumagai equalized the score.

Match 1, Game 3: Prinz mulliganed to 6, kept a 2-lander with a Growth Spiral, but still failed to hit his third mana-source in time. His land-development was very slow as he kept drawing exclusively tapped sources – the price to pay for playing four colors. Meanwhile, it was business as usual for Kumagai – two Knights and a Hunted Nightmare pressured opponent’s life total until it was all done and dusted.

Match 2, Game 1: Prinz’s early game was incredibly awkward for a while as he kept drawing only Growth Spirals and lands. Eventually he ripped an Expansion/Explosion in conjunction with Wilderness Reclamation and filled his hand with gas. It was at this point when the Rec deck usually turns the corner – pure amounts of mana and cycling will let it answer everything an opponent is able to throw at it.

Match 2, Game 2: Once again it looked like Four Color Reclamation will be fighting against its own manabase in this game. However, a lucky Stomping Ground off the top solved all Prinz’s problems instantly and Riku had now an opponent to deal with who played an actual deck that functions. Kumagai’s plan was simple and trusted: pumping his Knights, fishing for removal with hand disruption, and targeting Uros and Sharks with Heartless Acts.

That was working swell until Prinz topdecked a lucky one-of Deafening Clarion to clear the board. Riku followed up with a Rankle off the top of his own library, but with another Uro entering the battlefield the game was soon out of reach for the Japanese player.

Match 3, Game 1: A sketchy keep by Prinz without any green sources – it looked like Reclamation started things off just too slowly. But after yet another fortunate Stomping Ground draw Kristof eventually got there to resolve Wildreness Reclamation on turn 4. The German player did get to cast a big Explosion after that, though had to go to 2 life on the following turn during Riku’s big attack. Uro helped get back some of that life and get though just one more turn until another Explosion pointed at Kumagai’s face sealed the game for Prinz.

Match 3, Game 2: Kumagai finally got to play out his game plan – spammed the board with cheap creatures and turned them sideways a few times. Meanwhile, Prinz’s draws were all just lands, and Riku took the series to the last one, the ultimate and decisive game.

Match 3, Game 3: Knight of the Ebon Legion was doing its favourite thing once again – hitting face for 4 damage on turn 3 and growing, and getting counters. However, Prinz managed to find Wilderness Reclamation on turn 5 to enable a key Explosion. The draw from that spell was all lands unfortunately, and Kristof had to rely only on escaped Uro to get him out of this.

Riku didn’t have a removal to deal with the titan and had no choice but to bruteforce his way, putting Prinz at two life. Kristof kept drawing and scrying lands off of the top until he finally found Brazen Borrower to bounce Kumagai’s Hunted Nightmare and stay alive. He went from there to turn the corner, stabilize with Uro – and eventually resolve a championship-winning Expansion/Explosion.

Kristof Prinz piloting Four Color Reclamation is your Players Tour Finals champion!

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1kNeedles
6 days ago

Super glad to see Mono Black making a huge showing and Riku playing amazingly