|Pro Tour Amonkhet|
|Date||12–14 May 2017|
|Location||Nashville, Tennessee, United States|
|Format||Standard and Booster draft|
Pro Tour Amonkhet was the third Pro Tour of the 2016–17 season. It took place on 12–14 May 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee, United States, and was the first premier Constructed event featuring Amonkhet. It was anticipated to be dominated by Mardu Vehicles after the banning of the Copycat deck, but in a top eight with many household names, such as Eric Froehlich, Yuuya Watanabe, and Ken Yukuhiro, none of the players used the deck. Instead, it was Gerry Thompson, on Mono-Black Zombies, who defeated two-time Player of the Year Yuuya Watanabe in the final to become the Pro Tour Amonkhet champion.
Structure and payout changes
The top 8 playoff system was reverted to traditional single-elimination starting with Pro Tour Amonkhet, as WotC deemed the bracket format used in Pro Tour Kaladesh and Pro Tour Aether Revolt to have little effect on reducing intentional draws among top players. However, as a purpose to favor high finishes in the Swiss portion of the event, the money and Pro Point payouts were slightly adjusted; players finishing in third- through eight-place receive payouts based on relative finish in the Swiss. Additionally, players who finished with 31-32 match points receive one fewer Pro Point than under the previous system.
The Standard format prior to the release of Amonkhet was dominated by Mardu Vehicles and Felidar Guardian/Saheeli Rai combo decks, and many commented that the Felidar Guardian decks in particular stifled innovation in what was considered one of the least diverse Standard formats of all time. Felidar Guardian was not banned on the March 14th B&R update, but when Amonkhet did not prove to have the tools to fight the combo, it was widely expected to be banned on April 24th, prior to the Pro Tour. However, no changes were announced to the Standard format; instead, it was stated that WotC would re-evaluate the situation a few weeks after the Pro Tour. But two days later, citing a stale Magic Online Standard format, WotC posted an addendum to the B&R announcement with the immediate banning of Felidar Guardian.
Prior to the Pro Tour, there was a Star City Games Open event in Atlanta featuring Standard with Felidar Guardian banned. The top eight sported five Mardu Vehicles decks, not unlike the decks that were used to great success at Pro Tour Aether Revolt. This led to the question of whether Mardu could be dethroned in Standard.
The event kicked off with a triple Amonkhet Booster draft, with Martin Jůza, hot off of a top eight at Pro Tour Aether Revolt and the leader in the Draft Master race for the 2017 World Championship, being covered. Jůza drafted a Blue-Red spells deck that he described as "the best deck he ever had", though he still fell to Gabriel Nassif in the second round. Jůza finished 2–1, while Nassif got the 3–0 with his Red-Green deck. Other famous players to 3–0 their draft included Eric Froehlich, Shōta Yasooka, Owen Turtenwald, Yuuya Watanabe, Jelger Wiegersma, and Seth Manfield.
In Standard, by far the three most popular decks were Mardu Vehicles, Temur Aetherworks, and Mono-Black Zombies, with no other decks making up more than 5% of the field. The largest, unsurprisingly, was Mardu Vehicles, being favored by 26% of the players. Hot on its heels at 20% was Temur Aetherworks, built around the namesake Aetherworks Marvel, hoping to use the powerful artifact to play an early Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Mono-Black Zombies was in third, occupying 17% of the metagame. Several new cards from Amonkhet with significant Zombie synergies allowed the deck to rise from obscurity to competitive, with the most important cards being Lord of the Accursed and Dread Wanderer. At the end of the day, there were two remaining undefeated players: Team Opportunity's Pierre Dagen (playing Green-Black Energy) and Chris Fennell (Black-White Zombies) of team Lingering Souls. In terms of team standings, Genesis was the best performing team on day one, with Martin Müller setting the pace at 7–1, and four additional players on 6–2 records. Co-leader in the team standings from Pro Tour Aether Revolt, Musashi, was the second most successful team.
The top eight players after day one:
|1||Pierre Dagen||24||5||Christian Calcano||21|
|2||Chris Fennell||24||6||Shōta Yasooka||21|
|3||Kazuaki Fujimura||21||7||Eric Froehlich||21|
|4||Oliver Oks||21||8||Gerard Fabiano||21|
For the second Amonkhet Booster draft, coverage followed the drafts of the two undefeated players, Chris Fennell and Pierre Dagen. Fennell had been an outspoken dissenter against the conventional wisdom that the format was very fast and all about Exert creatures, and drafted a fairly slow Blue-Green deck that took him to a 2–1 record, losing in the last round of draft to Eric Froehlich. Dagen, on the other hand, struggled in the first pack to find his colors; he settled into White-Blue, but could only post a 1–2 finish with the deck. On pod two, also on 7–1 going into the draft, Denmark's Martin Müller pulled off the 3–0 to advance to 10–1 and in joint lead with Fennell and Froehlich.
As the format changed to constructed, Fennell kept winning, and locked up a top eight berth with three rounds to go. The next players to clinch tickets to Sunday were Germany's Marc Tobiasch, and Christian Calcano. Calcano had been a Pro Tour fixture for seven years, having played every event since his debut at PT San Juan 2010, but had never reached the top eight before; his emotional response in the post-match interview got a lot of positive reactions on social media. Round 15 had multiple win-and-in matches: Eric Froehlich against Ken Yukuhiro and Gerry Thompson against Daniel Gräfensteiner, and Reid Duke would advance if he beat Chris Fennell (Fennell was already ready for quarterfinal play, but opted to play in order to improve the position of his team, Lingering Souls). Lastly, in the match between William Jensen and Martin Müller, Müller would advance with a win, while Jensen needed to win in round 16 as well. Yukuhiro, Thompson, Fennell, and Müller won, meaning six of the top eight players were decided. The final two were most likely decided by the round 16 matches Eric Froehlich against Seth Manfield and Yuuya Watanabe against Reid Duke. All players were on 11–4, but a win would likely be enough thanks to good tiebreakers. Froehlich and Watanabe won, and indeed advanced. Three players missed on tiebreakers, including Gerard Fabiano at 9th, and the highest placing Mardu Vehicles deck also missed on tiebreakers, leaving the top eight completely without the incumbent dominant archetype.
The first couple of quarterfinals were Chris Fennell (Black-White Zombies) against Yuuya Watanabe (Temur Marvel), and Christian Calcano (Mono-Black Zombies) against Martin Müller (Temur Marvel). Hall of Famer Watanabe, in his fourth Pro Tour top eight, took the first game from Fennell on the back of a couple of early Censors staving off the early offense from Fennell's Black-White Zombie deck. The second game was much closer, with Fennell long looking like he was advantaged, but a clutch Kozilek's Return off of a Marvel brought the game back for Watanabe. The third game, again thanks to Kozilek's Return, quickly became a one-sided affair, and Watanabe took the match 3–0. In the other quarterfinal, Müller quickly won the first game from Calcano, and looked in good position to take the second. However, thanks to a series of misses with Aetherworks Marvel, Calcano came back from a mulligan and a slow start and threatened to take the game, but ultimately, after a back-and-forth game, a Chandra, Flamecaller swept the board of Zombies and put Müller two games up. In the third game, Calcano took advantage of Lost Legacy to remove Chandras and Ulamogs from Müller's deck, and looked like he was winning quite comfortably, but Marvel found a Sweltering Suns, and a couple of Harnessed Lightnings off the top removed all of Calcano's blockers, allowing Tireless Tracker to attack for the win. Müller advanced to the semifinals.
The next quarterfinals featured Ken Yukuhiro (Black-Green Energy) against Eric Froehlich (Temur Marvel) and Marc Tobiasch (Temur Marvel) against Gerry Thompson (Mono-Black Zombies). Yukuhiro was playing in his third Pro Tour top eight versus Froehlich's five, and Yukuhiro got the first game after Froehlich had to avoid dying to Yukuhiro's creatures by using Marvel in order to hit Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, but failed to find the big Eldrazi titan. Yukuhiro quickly won the second game as well, and when he got a virtually perfect draw against Froehlich's mulligan in game three, Yukuhiro advanced to the semifinals. Tobiasch and Thompson split the pre-sideboarded games of their quarterfinal match, and Thompson won game three thanks to a topdecked Dark Salvation on a key turn coupled with Tobiasch failing to find an Aetherworks Marvel. In the fourth game, Tobiasch successfully found Ulamog with Marvel and looked like he had stabilized against Thompson's aggressive start, but a timely topdeck of Lord of the Accursed allowed Thompson to win even past Ulamog.
Semifinal one pitted Yuuya Watanabe against Martin Müller. Both were running Temur Aetherworks variants, with Watanabe being more control heavy, having Glimmer of Genius and Censor in his deck, whereas Müller had Chandra, Flamecaller. In the first game, Müller was unlucky to draw all three copies of his Ulamogs, leaving his Marvel ineffective compared to Watanabe's, who did find an Ulamog to win. In the next two games, Müller mulliganed, and his draws couldn't match Watanabe's. As such, Watanabe advanced to the final after winning 3–0.
The other semifinal was a relatively quick affair between the two aggressive decks of Ken Yukuhiro and Gerry Thompson. Yukuhiro was able to take the first game thanks to three cheap Bone Pickers, a card that out of every competitor in the tournament, only he played. Thanks to his many Zombie lords and on the back of efficient removal spells, though, Thompson convincingly took the next three games and proceeded to the final match to face Yuuya Watanabe.
In the first game of the final between longtime professional players Yuuya Watanabe and Gerry Thompson, Watanabe kept a hand with several strong answers to Thompson's Zombie horde, including Kozilek's Return; however, it had only a single land, and as he failed to draw a second one on time, he quickly succumbed. In the second game, thanks to a very fast start from Thompson, Watanabe was forced into playing and activating Aetherworks Marvel hoping to hit Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. When he didn't find Ulamog, he lost, giving Thompson a 2–0 lead going into the post-sideboarded games. Watanabe took a game from Thompson when the latter struggled on mana while Watanabe deployed a quick Ulamog, but in game four, despite an early Radiant Flames to wipe Thompson's board, the American utilized a Cryptbreaker to win the grinding game, and came back to take the game and match. During the match, commentators questioned Watanabe's decision not to kill Cryptbreaker, and instead save his Harnessed Lighting for a Lord of the Accursed; the play did not work out for him, and Thompson won the Pro Tour, while Watanabe lost in the final for the second time.
|1||Gerry Thompson||Mono-Black Zombies||$50,000||30||Second Pro Tour Top 8|
|2||Yuuya Watanabe||Temur Marvel||$20,000||26||Fourth Pro Tour Top 8|
|3||Ken Yukuhiro||Black-Green Energy||$15,000||24||Third Pro Tour Top 8|
|4||Martin Müller||Temur Marvel||$12,500||22||Second Pro Tour Top 8|
|5||Chris Fennell||Black-White Zombies||$10,000||20||Second Pro Tour Top 8|
|6||Marc Tobiasch||Temur Marvel||$9,000||18|
|7||Christian Calcano||Mono-Black Zombies||$7,500||17|
|8||Eric Froehlich||Temur Marvel||$6,000||16||Fifth Pro Tour Top 8|
Player of the Year race
Marcio Carvalho came into the event with a substantial lead (19 points) over Shōta Yasooka. Since Carvalho only picked up 3 Pro Points from the event and Yasooka looked like he might make it to the top eight, it was possible that the big lead would disappear, but Yasooka ended up finishing 19th, meaning that the first two positions in the race remained unchanged, albeit the difference between the two had been reduced. A runner-up finish at the Pro Tour propelled Yuuya Watanabe to third-place in the standings, while Reid Duke posted yet another solid finish. Rounding out the leaderboard was Singapore's Kelvin Chew; formerly a perennial Silver-level pro, Chew found himself locked for Platinum status in the Pro Players Club thanks to three strong Pro Tour finishes (41st, 22nd, and 28th) and a win at the previous weekend's Grand Prix in Beijing.
For the Team Series standings, team Musashi was the runaway winner, putting two players (Watanabe and Yukuhiro) into the top eight. Already in the lead coming into the weekend, Musashi looked very likely to take one of the top two slots and advance to the Team Series final held at the 2017 World Championship. Team Genesis also had a fantastic tournament and found themselves in second-place before the last Pro Tour of the season, while team MTG Mint Card and team Lingering Souls rounded out the top four; this meant that all players from these teams would be invited to Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, which was especially crucial for most of these teams; With the exception of Genesis consisted with solely Gold/Platinum members, the rest has non-Gold/Platinum member(s) who had not yet been invited to Pro Tour Hour of Devastation.
- Six players went undefeated (6–0) in Booster draft: Ken Yukuhiro, Marc Tobiasch, Eric Froehlich, Daniel Gräfensteiner, Josh McClain, and Raymond Perez, Jr..
- The two best Standard records, each 9–1, belonged to Chris Fennell (Black-White Zombies) and Yuuta Takahashi (Temur Marvel).
- The Standard Master standings narrowed after Steve Hatto posted a medium 6-4 finish with Black-Green Energy, and tied at 69 points with Shaun McClaren piloting Black-Green Constrictor.
- David Brucker returned to the Pro Tour after a 10-year absence. He finished 41st.
- Pro Tour Amonkhet coverage
- 24-27 point Standard decklists
- 21-23 point Standard decklists
- 18-20 point Standard decklists
- Pro Tour Amonkhet invitation list
- Helene Bergeot (2017-04-18). "IXALAN, WORLDS, PRO TOUR, NATIONALS, AND RPTQS". Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards Can't Ban Away Standard's Problems (But They'll Probably Try). MTGGoldfish (2017-03-13).
- Aaron Forsythe (2017-04-24). "APRIL 24, 2017 BANNED AND RESTRICTED ANNOUNCEMENT". Wizards of the Coast.
- Aaron Forsythe (2017-04-26). "ADDENDUM TO APRIL 24, 2017 BANNED AND RESTRICTED ANNOUNCEMENT". Wizards of the Coast.
- SCG Open in Atlanta top 8 decklists. Star City Games (2017-04-29).
- Can Mardu Be Dethroned?. ChannelFireball (2017-05-05).
- An Emotional Christian Calcano (clip). Reddit (2017-05-14).