Queza, Augur of Agonies Art by Josh Hass

Qualifier Play-In Event Guide: Streets of New Capenna Sealed

Looking to compete in this weekend's Qualifier Play-In event? Here's our guide on best-of-one Streets of New Capenna Sealed.

Hey Everyone! We’re heading into new territory with the inaugural Qualifier Play-In event on May 21 and May 27, 2022 with Streets of New Capenna Sealed – best-of-one and best-of-three, respectively. This is a great way to get into the Set Championship Qualifiers without having to deal with the ladder (top 250 Mythic). I’ve got all the information you’ll need to get started on your path to becoming the next Pro Tour Champion.

Event Information

May 2022’s Qualifier Weekend’s gameplay format is Traditional Phantom Sealedusing the Streets of New Capenna expansion. Players compete with a minimum 40-card deck (including lands) from their pool of cards, with the rest comprising their sideboard. Cards opened in the Sealed event will not be added to players’ collections.

Event Timelines

Best-of-One
Saturday, May 21

6 a.m. PT (13:00 UTC): Queue opens.

  • Cards will not be added to players’ collections.
  • Once a player has completed deck building, they can select the green Play button to enter the matchmaking queue.
  • Changes to the main deck’s configuration are permitted between rounds.
  • Matches in Best-of-One will utilize a round timer of 30 minutes per player.
  • Multiple entries are allowed (including those by players who already hold a Qualifier Weekend token), but all Qualifier Tokens earned beyond the first are redundant.
  • Each course of the Best-of-One event completes when either 6 wins or 2 losses is reached.

Sunday, May 22

6 a.m. PDT (13:00 UTC): Entry Window closes.

  • Players must have selected the green Start button and entered deck building prior to end of the entry window.
  • Note that starting this late may cause you to not complete your course in time—please plan accordingly.

8 a.m. PT (15:00 UTC): Matchmaking queue is disabled. Matches in progress will be allowed to finish until the event ends.

9 a.m. PT (16:00 UTC): Event ends.

Best-of-Three
Friday, May 27

6 a.m. PT (13:00 UTC): Queue opens.

  • Cards will not be added to players’ collections. 
  • Once a player has completed deck building, they can select the green Play button to enter the matchmaking queue.
  • Changes to the main deck’s configuration are permitted between rounds.
  • Multiple entries are allowed (including those by players who already hold a Qualifier Weekend token), but all Qualifier Tokens earned beyond the first are redundant.
  • Each course of the Best-of-Three event completes when either 4 wins or 1 loss is reached.

Saturday, May 28

3 a.m. PT (10:00 UTC): Entry window closes.

  • Players must have selected the green Start button and entered deck building prior to end of the entry window.
  • Note that starting this late may cause you to not complete your course in time—please plan accordingly.

6 a.m. PT (13:00 UTC): Matchmaking queue is disabled. Matches in progress will be allowed to finish until the event ends.

  • Note that this time is also the start of the two-hour entry window for Qualifier Weekend Day One—please plan accordingly if you are playing near this deadline.

7 a.m. PT (14:00 UTC): Event ends.

Do you hate grinding on the ladder, but still want a shot at making the Pro Tour? Then this Play-In event is just what you’ve been looking for. It’s similar to a Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier (PPTQ) in the old IRL system where winning this lets you play in the qualifier for the Pro Tour.

These are a great addition to the pathways for qualifying on Arena and shows that Wizards is trying to work with parts of the community besides the hard core grinders. There are a ton of really talented players who just don’t have the time to ladder due to work or family responsibilities that now have an opportunity thanks to these play in events.

The other important thing to note is that you can rebuy in as many times as you want.

Building Your Sealed

This section is the same advice I gave people for the Arena Open, but that was a Premium article so don’t say I never did anything nice for all of you.

Let’s be honest here… No matter what advice I give you, obviously the first thing you’re going to do when you open your sealed is to check if you won the rare lottery. So, we’ll start after you’ve done the victory lap around the room and received many a congratulatory high five for your triple busted mythic sealed. It’s important to also identify what the “mythic uncommons” are so that you can consider them as a pull into those colors or splash possibilities.

Now that we’re all nice and calm, the first thing I like to do is to separate out all the cards that I actively want to play so I have a better idea of how deep each color in your pool really is. This prevents you from thinking “my black is really awesome” when you actually have a lot of undesirable cards with a few that really stand out. It also gives you a good idea of what colors will work better as a splash.

The next thing I want to look at is what mana fixing you have available. This can let you know whether you can splash your power cards or if you need to try to build a more aggressive deck to go under the value decks. Especially in SNC, having a good mana base is a huge advantage over slower decks.

Unless your entire sealed is insane, it’s usually pretty easy to eliminate two colors that just don’t get there. Now look over the remaining colors and make combinations of two-color decks to compare which have the best mix of curve and power level. You can also see if any of the combinations are missing something like removal or a way to finish the game.

It’s highly unlikely that you are going to be able to build a straight two-color deck in SNC sealed, you are probably going to be at least a few cards short so try to fill in the gaps with splashed single pip removal or power cards. If you have the fixing for it, don’t be afraid to splash two colors if it is a big jump in power level.

Once you make your final choices, you’re just a mana base away from running the table.

Top Uncommons

As long as your mana can support it, these are all worth splashing and are just as important to consider as your rares. Just don’t get too crazy and try splashing a Maestros (Grixis) card in your Brokers (Bant) deck.

Corpse Appraiser is similar to Organ Hoarder with the minor benefit of removing something in the opponent’s graveyard such as Expendable Lackey or taking them off of having five different mana values in their graveyard. While requiring a creature in a graveyard seems like a drawback, it’s going to happen without too much effort. Just be careful because if they remove their card in response it fizzles your ability.

Dropping Disciplined Duelist turn three on the play just feels unfair. Unless your opponent has the Night Clubber trump card, they’re going to have a bad time. There are so many cards in these colors that make this better too. Revelation of Power on Duelist is just a sixteen-point life swing, no big deal, right?

Luxurious Libation is a hugely versatile spell that ranges from saving a creature to ending the game on the spot. Green Fireball can be disgusting on double strikers, tramplers, or evasive creatures. It can also wreck attacks where they weren’t expecting you to have both a much larger blocker and an extra 1/1 citizen. Easily splashable and good in pretty much every deck.

Night Clubber is completely filthy against some decks. You can ignore the double black in the casting cost, it only needs one because it’s almost always a blitz. Don’t forget that you can double up on it with Fake Your Own Death.

Psychic Pickpocket is amazing in a format that is often dictated by tempo. A decent sized body with a card filter and the ability to bounce any nonland permanent to its owner’s hand. What more could you ask for?  Being able to hit non-creatures is a big deal since it can move vehicles out of the way or bounce a pacifism effect to sneak in lethal. You can even get creative by bouncing your own creatures with comes into play abilities.

Important Instants and Their Play Patterns

Majestic Metamorphosis – This is one of the cards that continues to be underrated and leads to some real beatings when not played around properly. While picking off an important flyer or winning a combat with a card draw thrown in is great, it can actually do so much more.

One of the most important points to remember is that it can target artifacts and not just creatures.  For example, your opponent played Citizen's Crowbar on turn two and attacked in the next turn. If they play nothing and say go with three mana up, there’s a good chance they are planning to use Majestic Metamorphosis on their crowbar to cantrip kill your attacking creature. Sure, it might just be a Kill Shot, but they’re normally not going to holding that back to use on a two or three drop creature.

That also means that it can be used on treasures so be careful about running something important into that as well. If it looks like they are trying to walk you into that, try to find a way to make an attack that’s still effective, but not as devastating to you if they do have it.

On your side of the field, make sure you don’t miss out on lethal by forgetting about your soon to be 4/4 flying treasure. Also don’t be the person who doesn’t realize that it will have summoning sickness if the treasure entered play that turn.

Another trick is that if you think your opponent is on Knockout Blow, you can use Majestic Metamorphosis before blocks so you don’t lose the card.

The other neat trick is using this to turn on other removal spells you have. It can target opponent’s creatures to make it both an artifact and a flying creature. Conveniently you can now sacrifice your Citizen's Crowbar or use Broken Wings to kill their shiny new artifact creature.

Fake Your Own Death – This is another card that can be disastrous if you walk into it. It’s fine to trade a creature for this trick if you have to, just don’t let them get too much value off of it in the process. If your opponent is attacking their Corrupt Court Official into your Jewel Thief, just take one damage. Ninjutsu isn’t a thing here, it’s fine to use your life points as a resource.

Unless it’s an instant, consider playing the last card in your hand before attacking into a Corrupt Court Official when they have two mana up. The value of withholding information isn’t worth the chance of losing the card for nothing. I’ve seen people lose everything from a land to a Sanctuary Warden by going into autopilot and attacking first.

If you’re planning on using FYOD on a blitz creature, but are worried about them having Kill Shot or Knockout Blow, you can use it before attacking to make sure you’re still getting your creature back.

For the Family – I think this is actually a pretty easy trick to sniff out because they will have priority with only a green open as long as a creature is on the battlefield. One of the biggest tells for this card (and something you should be doing when bluffing that you have it) is playing a fourth creature without haste precombat.

Because this format is based on tempo and a lot of the removal is sorcery speed, tricks will play out much better than they do in normal formats. For the Family is still being underrated in drafts so take advantage of that if you can.

Quick-Draw Dagger – This card was insane for the first week of the format because everyone had PTSD from Neon Dynasty. I promise you there is no Kappa Tech-Wrecker coming. If they make a suspicious attack, you can just choose not to block.

Three mana is too much for them to hold it up on defense early. If they look like they are waiting for you to walk into this, let them waste their mana. Don’t attack, continue to develop your board and they are forced to either continue to fall behind or play it as a three-mana short sword.

Sealed Pools and Example Builds

While we already talked about the general strategy for building, now I’m going to give you some examples from the Arena Open Bo1 sealed that managed to make day two. I picked out ones that didn’t have a bunch of busted rares to show that you can still get there even with a medium open.

Example Sealed Pool #1

The first one was done live on stream by fellow draft lab member TaJoordan.

Here is the pool:

Here is a sealed deck version you can play around with: https://sealeddeck.tech/ucJbLY4GEp

Tajoordan’s initial response was, of course, to go Bant because of the nature of the format and the strength of the green cards in this pool. That was backed up by some strong gold cards like Celestial Regulator, Civil Servant, Endless Detour, and Lagrella, the Magpie. The problem was that the remaining white and blue cards weren’t adding much of note to the deck.

Knowing the meta can provide a huge advantage before you start building. In a format where a particular deck is dominant, you don’t want to be playing the same deck that everyone else is playing if you can’t compete on the same power level. A great example of this was in Kaldheim, where you didn’t want to be playing five color snow if your bombs weren’t going to beat someone else’s bombs. The plan there was to flip into a deck that could possibly go under those decks. On the Streets of New Capenna, that means that playing an average Brokers deck is a sure fire way to end up with a hasty exit.

Oppa_169 came into chat and suggested that the typically easily dismissed Riveteers might be the way to go. The big difference here is that it ended up being a much more aggressive deck with some decent removal to help push enough damage to get across the finish line.

The deck he ended up playing was almost entirely the much-maligned Gruul splashing a few black cards that fit with the theme while leaving out a traditionally “good card” like Corrupt Court Official. He also didn’t splash for the high-power Corpse Appraiser or Incandescent Aria despite having the fixing lands to support them.  The reason for all of these decisions was that he knew if he didn’t win quickly, he wasn’t going to win at all.

What was the payoff for recognizing that a traditional build wasn’t going to get there?  A quick 7-1 and an easy trip to day two. Of course, he also very skillfully won seven coin flips in a row so a little luck never hurts either.

SNC Sealed Tajoordan Trophy
by j2sjosh
Limited
best of 3
0 mythic
2 rare
5 uncommon
33 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (14)
1
Civic Gardener
$0.25
2
Jewel Thief
$0.50
1
Sanguine Spy
$0.25
1
Plasma Jockey
$0.25
1
Wrecking Crew
$0.25
1
Cleanup Crew
$0.25
Instants (5)
1
Prizefight
$0.25
1
Broken Wings
$0.25
1
Deal Gone Bad
$0.25
Sorceries (1)
1
Light ‘Em Up
$0.25
Artifacts (3)
1
Capenna Express
$0.25
Lands (17)
7
Forest
$1.75
5
Mountain
$1.25
3
Swamp
$0.75
40 Cards
$10

Example Sealed Pool #2

The next sealed pool we are going to look at is by another member of the Draft Lab, Ekil.

Here’s the Pool:

Feel free to mess around with the build here: https://sealeddeck.tech/o9wEaXGUCs

The first thing that we’re going to be looking at is that the only real power rare is Depopulate. The main problem with Depopulate is that it is really hard to build a white based control deck in SNC without being in Obscura colors. While there are a few decent cards for that combination, it’s really missing some key commons like Corrupt Court Official, Fake Your Own Death, Inspiring Overseer, and Murder.

Ekil’s solution to still be able to take advantage of Depopulate was to play an equipment heavy deck with Ceremonial Groundbreaker, Citizen's Crowbar, and Quick-Draw Dagger. This lets him play what appears to be a normal game plan without giving away that he’s sitting on a sweeper. On top of building a battleship that his opponent is going to have to go wide to get around, it leaves him with some gas on the field after he sweeps the board.

Even if he didn’t manage to draw his rare, he had the fallback beatdown plan of curving Raffine's Informant into Celestial Regulator. While he had some suboptimal cards in the deck, I think he managed to make the best of a bad situation. He struggled through some really tough matches and finished up at 7-2 to make day two.

Ekil SNC sealed trophy
by j2sjosh
Limited
best of 3
0 mythic
2 rare
7 uncommon
31 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (3)
1
A Little Chat
$0.25
1
Make Disappear
$0.25
Sorceries (1)
1
Depopulate
$0.25
Artifacts (3)
Lands (17)
1
Forest
$0.25
6
Island
$1.50
5
Plains
$1.25
1
Botanical Plaza
$0.25
3
Brokers Hideout
$0.75
40 Cards
$19.24

Tips and Tricks

The usual caveat that sealed is slower than draft because “most” players don’t open a busted pool so decks aren’t as linear. This gives you more time to set up, but also means you might want some ways to break through a stalled board.

Permanent enchantment removal such as Witness Protection can play better than Hold For Ransom because you are less likely to be playing as much of a tempo game as you would in draft. It’s also a key card to shut down annoying reach creatures in the flyers deck.

The competition should be a little bit easier than the Arena Open because everyone who already qualified will be sitting this one out. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, just that you have about 2400 top players skipping it.

Broken Wings is a totally reasonable one of to play because Bant is so heavily played that it should have a few targets.

Even if you are already playing three colors, it’s fine to splash any single pip bomb as long as your mana base can support it. Without the fixing in your deck, splashing gets really punished on these streets.

If you are on the Brokers train, Security Bypass can be sneakily good in the mirror and can outright steal some games.

Don’t be afraid to change your build between rounds if you think you made a mistake.

Inspiring Overseer and Jewel Thief are THE power commons of the set. They are performing amazingly and in the two best colors. They are first picks over A LOT of rares.

Flying is very powerful in this set. Some decks will feel like they are unfair against other ground decks, but have no chance against a pile of flyers. Don’t forget to snag a couple of Broken wings for your sideboard.

There are a lot of games that are so close that one small mistake can be the difference between a phenomenal victory and a crushing defeat. Tight play is rewarded here much more than it has been in recent sets.

The biggest advantage someone can have in this format is being able to properly predict combat. Take the time to determine how the blocks will line up and the range of possible tricks. I know its easy to fall back on things like “This is a profitable attack”, but stop for a second and try to figure things out because it actually might not be.

There are a lot of variables to consider and it can lead to extremely mentally intense matches. Take advantage of being on Arena and take a break between rounds. Just get up, grab a drink, take a deep breath, preferably pet a dog, and then come back fully relaxed to play at the peak of your powers.

Don’t underestimate how important having good mana is. That said, don’t go crazy on them. Having too many tapped lands can cause just as many problems as missing a color. If you can’t play your two or three drops on curve, they are much worse. I’d say five is the maximum number of tap lands that I’m willing to run.

Deciding when to blitz and when to just play the card can be a pretty big decision. In at least 75% of the cases I’ve encountered, blitzing was the right option.

If you’re debating on a splash card, focus on how it will play put later in the game when you’re more likely to have the mana for it.

Wrapping Up

I hope all of this helped you prepare for the Qualifier Play-In event and I would recommend checking out my tier list here on MTG Arena Zone as another helpful guide along with all of my other articles. Now go get started on living that Pro Tour dream!

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

You can find me at:

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j2sjosh

Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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