|Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch|
|Date||5–7 February 2016|
|Location||Atlanta, Georgia, United States|
|Format||Modern and Booster draft|
Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch was the second Pro Tour of the 2015–16 Pro Tour season. It took place on 5–7 February 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. It featured Modern Constructed and Oath of the Gatewatch-Oath of the Gatewatch-Battle for Zendikar Booster draft. It was the event that marked the 20th anniversary of the Magic Pro Tour, with the very first having taken place in February 1996. The Pro Tour was won by American Jiachen Tao, who defeated Slovakia's Ivan Floch in the final. The event was noticeable for the dominance of Eldrazi Aggro decks, making up six of the top eight decks, including both finalists'.
It was the first Pro Tour since PT Theros that featured a top eight playoff where all the matches were best-of-five.
Preceding the Pro Tour were the controversial bans of Summer Bloom and Splinter Twin, each integral parts of the two finalists' decks from the previous Modern Pro Tour: PT Fate Reforged. This essentially invalidated the established archetypes Amulet Bloom and Splinter Twin. This was the third Modern Pro Tour in a row immediately following a major shift in the metagame due to bannings and/or unbannings; in 2015, Dig Through Time, Treasure Cruise, and Birthing Pod were banned, and in 2014, Deathrite Shaman was banned, while Bitterblossom and Wild Nacatl were unbanned.
Additionally, the release of Battle for Zendikar had introduced a new deck to the format: Mono-Black Eldrazi, focusing on the Processor mechanic. Oath of the Gatewatch brought additional cards expected to play a role in the deck, among these Thought-Knot Seer, and was as such anticipated to make an impact on the Modern format.
As had been customary for three years at the time of the event, the Pro Tour began with a booster draft; featured players were Luis Scott-Vargas and Shuhei Nakamura. The commentators noted that they regarded Scott-Vargas' deck as being great, while Nakamura's deck was regarded as average. However, Scott-Vargas went 2–1 while Nakamura 3–0'd the pod. Other players who escaped the Oath-Oath-Battle draft with 3–0 records included Frank Karsten, William Jensen, Shota Yasooka, Ben Stark, Makihito Mihara, Eric Froehlich, and reigning Player of the Year Mike Sigrist. In Modern, popular archetypes included the expected Naya Burn, Infect, and Affinity, but additionally, Eldrazi decks based around new Oath of the Gatewatch cards such as Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer were also very popular, with in particular the ChannelFireball/Face-to-Face team being successful with the deck. The overnight leader, Jiachen Tao, also played an Eldrazi deck, but he had opted for a red-blue version with cards such as Vile Aggregate and Drowner of Hope. The other 8–0 player, New Zealand's Jason Chung, piloted a Blue Moon deck similar to the one Lee Shi Tian took to the top eight of Pro Tour Born of the Gods two years prior.
The top eight players after day one:
|1||Jiachen Tao||24||5||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||21|
|2||Jason Chung||24||6||Frank Lepore||21|
|3||Martin Müller||21||7||William Jensen||21|
|4||Bartłomiej Lewandowski||21||8||Scott Lipp||21|
In the second Oath-Oath-Battle draft, two 7–1 players were featured: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Martin Müller. Although the commentators thought Damo da Rosa's deck was great and Müller's was merely okay, both players went 1–2 in the draft, with Müller beating Damo da Rosa in a round 10 feature match, and as such were 8–3 going into the last five rounds of Swiss. Instead, it was Pro Tour debutant but longtime content producer Frank Lepore who went 3–0 on pod 1, joining Jason Chung at 10–1 with all the Limited rounds done. Overnight leader Jiachen Tao went 0–3 in the draft. In the final five rounds of Swiss, the various Eldrazi aggro decks rose to the top, with several copies making it to the top eight. ChannelFireball's Luis Scott-Vargas and Shuhei Nakamura both made it to their sixth final day playing the deck, and teammate Ivan Floch got his third. Although the eight top ranked players could have all intentionally drawn into the top eight in the last round, Floch and Nakamura, both already with their ticket to Sunday booked, opted to play instead, against Jason Chung and Jiachen Tao respectively. They both won, which opened up the space for two 12–4 players to make the top eight. Ultimately, these slots got taken by Tao as well as Frank Lepore, who despite his 11–1 start to the event needed to win his last round to have a shot at making it to the elimination rounds. Missing out on tiebreakers were William Jensen in 9th and Jason Chung in 10th.
The quarterfinals were played two at a time, with Shuhei Nakamura against Jiachen Tao and Luis Scott-Vargas against Pascal Maynard being the first. Nakamura, who beat Tao in the last round of Swiss play despite a bad matchup, quickly won the first game thanks to three copies of Thought-Knot Seer, but Tao responded strongly and won the next three, knocking out the Japanese Hall of Famer. Luis Scott-Vargas, wielding the Colorless Eldrazi deck, looked like he was going to swiftly dispatch Pascal Maynard on Affinity, but Maynard came back from being 0–2 down to force a fifth and final game. It was Scott-Vargas who would advance, however, as Maynard stumbled in the face of an aggressive start from Scott-Vargas, allowing a topdecked Reality Smasher to take the win.
The other pair of quarterfinals pitted Andrew Brown against Patrick Dickmann and Ivan Floch against Frank Lepore. Dickmann, in his second Modern Pro Tour top eight, took down Brown in straight sets. Brown drew multiple copies of Hurkyl's Recall, a very potent weapon against Dickmann's Affinity deck, but he could not find creatures to pressure Dickmann, allowing the German to rebuild every time. The match between Floch and Lepore went the full five games in a duel between different Eldrazi builds. While Lepore's deck, built to go slightly bigger than Floch's, was considered the slight favorite to take the win, Floch got the final game of the match after a poor draw from Lepore.
Luis Scott-Vargas, playing an identical deck to Nakamura's, was expected to go down to Jiachen Tao's Blue-Red Eldrazi, but Scott-Vargas took the lead in the match 2–1 after a long third game in which it looked like Tao was going to win. But two games where Scott-Vargas mulliganed and couldn't find sufficient pressure later, Tao found himself in the Pro Tour final, playing in only his third PT. Modern specialist Patrick Dickmann faced Ivan Floch in the other semifinal. Although Affinity had been claimed to be the Eldrazi deck's worst matchup, Floch's deck with Ratchet Bomb, Gut Shot, and Dismember, backed up by a lot of pressure from cheap Eldrazi, caused a lot of issues for Dickmann. With three mulligans for Dickmann in the final two games, Floch took the match 3–1.
Ivan Floch, already a Pro Tour winner, was looking to bring home a second trophy on behalf of the ChannelFireball/Face-to-Face conglomeration. His opponent, Jiachen Tao, however, had already dispatched two of Floch's teammates playing his exacty 75, and was the definite favorite to win the event. Tao's Drowner of Hope in particular was a big issue for the Colorless Eldrazi deck, and Eldrazi Obligator could steal wins out of nowhere. Floch did win the first game, but after that, it was all Tao, who won the next three games to become the Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch champion.
|1||Jiachen Tao||Blue-Red Eldrazi||$40,000||30|
|2||Ivan Floch||Colorless Eldrazi||$20,000||26||Third Pro Tour Top 8|
|3||Luis Scott-Vargas||Colorless Eldrazi||$12,500||22||Sixth Pro Tour Top 8|
|4||Patrick Dickmann||Affinity||$12,500||22||Second Pro Tour Top 8|
|5||Shuhei Nakamura||Colorless Eldrazi||$10,000||18||Sixth Pro Tour Top 8|
|6||Andrew Brown||Blue-Red Eldrazi||$10,000||18|
|8||Frank Lepore||Eldrazi Processors||$10,000||18||Pro Tour debut|
Player of the Year Race
Owen Turtenwald was the leader coming into the event, and almost made the top eight, but lost his last two rounds to finish with an 11–5 record. This netted him ten Pro Points, which was enough to maintain his lead. Martin Müller and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa were both also looking like they might make it to the elimination rounds, but neither did. Their finishes did advance them further up in the Player of the Year race along with securing Platinum level in the Pro Players Club for the following season. Reid Duke followed up his win at Grand Prix Oakland a few weeks prior with an 11–5 record at the Pro Tour, making him enter the Player of the Year leaderboard. Fabrizio Anteri was looking to continue his momentum from winning the previous weekend's Grand Prix Mexico City, and lock up the Mid-Season Master World Championship slot; instead, this slot went to Owen Turtenwald.
|Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||46|
- The following eight players went 6–0 in draft: Shuhei Nakamura, Frank Lepore, Matej Zatlkaj, Alex Bianchi, Frank Karsten, Mike Sigrist, Shota Yasooka and Nicholas Connell.
- Two players finished the Swiss portion with 9–0–1 Modern records: Ivan Floch and Patrick Dickmann, playing Eldrazi Aggro and Affinity respectively.
After the tournament, players were anxious to see how the Eldrazi deck would impact the Modern metagame once it was a known quantity. After Pro Tour Berlin in 2008, an Extended tournament dominated by the Elfball deck, the format adjusted, and the deck ceased to be dominant; some speculated that the same would happen to the Eldrazi deck. At the first big Modern tournament after the Pro Tour, the StarCityGames Open in Louisville, with 725 competitors, 47.7% of the Day 2 metagame was made up of Eldrazi variants. The season was thus dubbed the "Eldrazi winter", and there were widespread calls for the banning of key cards for the archetype. Two weeks later, three Grand Prix events (at Melbourne, Bologna, and Detroit), each Modern GPs, were held simultaneously. For each event, the top 100 decks after Day 1 were tallied up; the combined percentage of Eldrazi decks across the three events was 43%, an unprecedented number for a Modern deck. In the end, it occupied a total of 14 out of 24 top eight slots, taking two titles. Towards the end of Grand Prix Detroit, R&D director Aaron Forsythe in an interview stated that they would look into banning a piece of the Eldrazi deck.
Although the versions of the deck played at the Pro Tour were colorless (as played by team ChannelFireball) and blue-red (as played by team East-West Bowl), the most popular iterations across the season were white-blue, taking advantage of the blue elements from Jiachen Tao's deck, but replacing red with white for Eldrazi Displacer; and red-green, featuring among other cards Kozilek's Return, Worldbreaker, and Ancient Stirrings.
On April 4, Eye of Ugin was banned in Modern. It was explained that it had made Eldrazi a dominant deck both in high level event metagames and on Magic Online, and that it had resulted in an unhealthy metagame.
- Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch Coverage
- Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch Final Standings
- 24-27 point Modern decklists
- 21-23 point Modern decklists
- 18-20 point Modern decklists
- Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch Invitation list
- Video coverage playlist
- PRO TOUR TOP 8 BEST-OF-FIVE MATCHES RETURN. Wizards of the Coast (2016-01-19). Retrieved on 2016-01-19.
- Neal Oliver (2016-01-16). "Bloom and Twin Banned in Modern: What Now?". ChannelFireball. Retrieved on 2016-01-19.
- Patrick Dickmann (2016-01-18). "Why Mistakes Were Made". mtgmintcard. Retrieved on 2016-01-19.
- Caleb Durward (2016-01-12). "Tying the Knot with Thought-Knot Seer". ChannelFireball. Retrieved on 2016-01-19.
- Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch: Day 1 Feature draft Luis Scott-Vargas. Wizards of the Coast.
- Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch Day 1 Feature draft Shuhei Nakamura. Wizards of the Coast.
- Nick Miller (2016-02-21). "Day 2 Metagame Breakdown". StarCityGames. Retrieved on 2016-03-06.
- BETESH COLLECTS FIRST ELDRAZI BOUNTY!. Wizards of the Coast (2016-03-06). Retrieved on 2016-03-07.
- APRIL 4, 2016 BANNED AND RESTRICTED ANNOUNCEMENT. Wizards of the Coast (2016-04-04). Retrieved on 2016-04-04.