This past weekend was an exciting one for Invitationals. We had the TCGplayer Invitational in Las Vegas with an insane list of players in attendance (David Williams, Alexander Hayne, Shahar Shenhar, Shuhei Nakamura, AJ Sacher, Reuben Bresler, Craig Wescoe, Owen Turtenwald, Seth Manfield, Andrew Baekstrom, Paulo Vitor, Huey Jensen, Adrian Sullivan, Eric Froehlich, Adam Yurchick, Christian Calcano, Chris Fennell, and Caleb Durward to name a few), with live coverage courtesy of myself and Marshall Sutcliffe.
But that wasn't all! We also had an SCG Invitational the same weekend.
While Team TCGplayer member Chris Fennell defeated none other than Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa in the finals of the TCGplayer Invitational, my own Freshly Brewed podcast co-host and fellow TCGplayer columnist, Ali Aintrazi, ended up winning the SCG invitational! To say I was thrilled and excited would be an understatement.
The best part? He won it with a deck that he wrote about a couple weeks back, where he stated in the article…
"I think this deck is amazing. Not only is it a "new" or "rogue" deck, but I seriously believe it's one of the best decks in the current metagame."
Maybe he was onto something after all! While this might not be the exact list he showed off in the article, this is the list he took down the event with:
The deck looks a lot like a cross between GR Devotion and GW Devotion and RG Midrange. Only it doesn't rely on devotion at all (unless you count Xenagos, God of Revels). It's basically just a good stuff deck with some of the best cards and dragons in white, green, and red.
I was super excited to try the deck out after Ali's unquestionable success, so let's see if lightning can strike twice.
I'd like to make a slight addendum. At the end of that last match, I say "Dragonlord Dromoka. That's a dude!" In truth, Dragonlord Dromoka is actually lady. So I apologize for my faux pas, miss Dromoka, ma'am.
This deck was just awesome and I can easily understand how Ali won the Invitational. Part of the reason I wanted to start out podcast about brewing was because we see things in Magic in a lot of the same ways, which is the same reason Ali would take a deck outside of the established metagame like Naya Dragons to something as serious as an Invitational, where a $10,000 first prize is on the line.
Ali definitely has some innovative tech in the deck, the best of which in my experience was Xenagos, God of Revels. This is a card that no one is playing, but I guarantee you they will be in the coming weeks. Being able to give anything from your Satyr Token, to your Dragonlord Dromoka, to your Dragonlord Atarka haste and +X/+X can be game breaking on numerous levels. The ten life gained from Dromoka's lifelink or the 16 damage Atarka Threatens are just unbeatable in so many situations. There are also times, albeit rare ones, where Xenagos will simply be a 6/5 capable of attacking and blocking. The one downside is that the god is susceptible to Dromoka's Command, which is pretty ubiquitous in Standard right now, unfortunately. I didn't come across any in my games, which gives me the impression that it definitely isn't the end all, be all of Standard.
While I was worried about the fact that the deck had 24 lands and 12 mana creatures, it didn't affect me as much as I thought it would, surprisingly enough. That's 36 cards that are solely used for mana, but at least Rattleclaw Mystic is a pretty reasonable attacker. I think the reason it works is because nearly every other card has some inherent form of card advantage built in, specifically Whisperwood Elemental, Dragonlord Atarka, Mastery of the Unseen, Xenagos, the Reveler, Hidden Dragonslayer, Ajani, Mentor of Heroes, and Courser of Kruphix.
Speaking of Ajani, while I managed to win a 5k with this guy back in the day, I was incredibly impressed with how well he worked in this deck. From putting counters on our smaller creatures, or our lifelinking creatures, to drawing us any one of 33 qualified cards in our deck, he was useful at every point in the game. As someone who once ultimated Ajani twice in an on-camera feature match, his ability to gain 100 life is not completely irrelevant either in long games.
This deck was just awesome, and I could not be more thrilled for my buddy for winning the Invitational. In the meantime, feel free to catch my stream on TwitchTV today (6/11) where I will be streaming an exclusive Modern Masters draft at 1 pm PST, or my brand new podcast with Ali Aintrazi, Freshly Brewed (which you can find on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or the link). We just put out a new episode on Tuesday night! Thanks for reading and I'll see ya soon!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Thursday afternoonsFreshly Brewed Podcast with Ali Aintrazi (also available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio)