|Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan|
|Date||2–4 February 2018|
|Format||Modern and Booster draft|
Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan was the second Pro Tour of the 2017–18 season. It took place on 2–4 February 2018 in Bilbao, Spain. It was the return of the Modern Pro Tour, the first of its kind since PT Oath of the Gatewatch in 2016. The event was won by Argentina's Luis Salvatto, whose Lantern Control deck took him to victory in the final against PT Amonkhet champion Gerry Thompson.
Modern had not been a Pro Tour format for two years, but the Grand Prix events featuring the format were still hugely popular, and Modern events generally had the highest viewership, and so it was brought back for the 2017–18 season. The banlist had been stable since the Eldrazi Winter, having only (re-)added Golgari Grave-Troll - which did not destroy Dredge as a deck - and Gitaxian Probe - which in particular weakened Infect and Death's Shadow decks. The biggest innovation since PT Oath of the Gatewatch was the development of the Death's Shadow strategies in early 2017, creating the newest midrange deck, with powerful threats and strong disruptive capabilities. A new player in the field was 4C or 5C Humans, using Unclaimed Territory and Kitesail Freebooter for near-perfect mana as well as combo disruption.
The previous Modern GP showed a metagame development from Death's Shadow domination into big-mana Tron and Scapeshift decks, whose gameplans are difficult for Death's Shadow decks to interact with.
The Rivals of Ixalan Booster draft followed World Championship finalists Seth Manfield and Owen Turtenwald, drafting Blue-Green Merfolk and Blue-Red, respectively. However, neither player fared well in their pod, with Seth taking one win and Owen taking none. Instead, the pod was won by the relatively unknown Colin Rountree, who drafted White-Blue. Other players who won their respective pods included Paul Rietzl, Raphaël Lévy, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, and Ben Stark.
The breakdown of the Modern format seemed fairly balanced, with the top represented deck of 5C Humans taking up only 9.8% of the metagame. With the format shifting to big mana decks, aggressive strategies such as Burn, Affinity, and Humans took the top tables, which left room for the control decks heavy in removal to take over. At the end of the day, Italian 2017 World Magic Cup competitor Adriano Moscato was the last undefeated player, wielding 5C Humans, with PT Aether Revolt champion Lucas Esper Berthoud barely behind at 7–0–1, also on 5C Humans.
The top eight players after day one:
|2||Lucas Esper Berthoud||22|
|7||Tay Jun Hao||21|
The second Rivals draft followed the undefeated Moscato and Hall of Famer Rietzl, drafting Blue-White Ascend and Red-Black removal; unfortunately, like the Day 1 featured drafters, Rietzl went 0–3 and Moscato 1–2; the pod was won by Jon Stern, who thus took the overall lead in the tournament at 10–1. Following him was Pascal Vieren of Belgium, who trailed by one point due to two draws on Day 1, at 9–0–2.
The cutoff metagame rewarded those who read the format shift accurately, with most aggro decks suffering while blue control (excluding Blue-White) flourished. Additionally, Valakut based strategies, non-Shadow midrange, and most combo fared poorly, due to increased nonbasic and graveyard hate. The first lock for the Top 8 was Pascal Vieren with Blue-Red Pyromancer in round 14, with an unusual 12–0–2 record that ultimately led to a 12–0–4 record and technically undefeated. Ken Yukuhiro piloting Black-Red Hollow One landed his fourth Top 8 in the same round. Round 15 lined up the next four players at 12–3 - Reid Duke on Abzan, Gerry Thompson on Mardu Pyromancer, Javier Dominguez on 5C Humans, and Jean-Emmanual Depraz on Traverse Shadow. Luis Salvatto on Lantern Control also landed on 12–3, but had the worst breakers and was paired down against Lucas Esper Berthoud at 11–3–1. Salvatto won his win-and-in, and Andrea Mengucci defeated Matis Matsoukas for the only 12–4 spot; Jon Finkel was edged out by 2.7% on tiebreakers and finished 9th.
|1||Luis Salvatto||$50,000||30||Lantern Control||Second Pro Tour Top 8|
First Argentinean to win a Pro Tour
|2||Gerry Thompson||$20,000||28||Mardu Pyromancer||Third Pro Tour Top 8|
|3||Pascal Vieren||$15,000||24||UR Pyromancer|
|4||Ken Yukuhiro||$12,500||22||BR Hollow One||Fourth Pro Tour Top 8|
|5||Javier Dominguez||$10,000||20||5C Humans|
|6||Reid Duke||$9,000||18||Abzan Midrange||Third Pro Tour Top 8|
|7||Jean-Emmanuel Depraz||$7,500||17||Traverse Shadow|
|8||Andrea Mengucci||$6,000||16||5C Humans||Third Pro Tour Top 8|
Player of the Year
Seth Manfield had a massive 20-point lead coming into the event thanks to winning Pro Tour Ixalan and then finishing in the top eight of three Grand Prix events. He did not make it to Day 2 of competition, and Reid Duke, already in second-place before the event, made it all the way to Sunday play. However, Manfield's lead was such that even this left him with a sizable 5-point lead in the race going into the latter half of the season. 9 points behind Duke was the winner of the Pro Tour, Luis Salvatto, followed by John Rolf and Gerry Thompson.
Pro Tour Team Series
After the Pro Tour, Ultimate Guard become a big winner of the event: coming into the event in fourth place, with Reid Duke's Top 8 and one 12–4 (which is the maximum finish for non-Top 8 players in terms of Pro Points) finish, they become the mid-season leader of team series. Similarly, inaugural Team Series winners Musashi, despite a disappointing 15th-place start at Pro Tour Ixalan, they made a big comeback with Ken Yukuhiro's top 4, one 12–4, and three 10–6 finishes or better, and jumped all the way to 2nd-place. Inaugural Team Series runners-up and previous leaders Genesis, despite having a decent outing with five players scoring a 9–7 record or better (the prerequisite for earning more than the minimum 3 Pro Points) in this pro tour, including one 12–4 and one 10–6, it was not good enough to keep the lead, and they slipped down to third-place. Hareruya Latin, with the help of Luis Salvatto's win, was in fourth-place. Notably, these four teams were only separated by a 9-point margin. In fifth was Connected Company, which had two Pro Tour top 8s.
Seven players went 6–0 in the Draft, most notably Elias Watsfeldt, who now had a perfect 12–0 record over two Pro Tours. Top eight members Andrea Mengucci, Pascal Vieren, and Jean-Emmanual Depraz also went 6–0, and rounding out the rest were Jon Stern, Mattia Zapparoli, and Elliot Boussaud.
Gerry Thompson posted a near-perfect record of 9–0–1 with his Mardu Pyromancer deck; he was trailed by Jacob Nagro on Eldrazi Tron, Alex Majlaton on Blue-White Control, and Immanuel Gerschenson on Traverse Shadow, all at 9–1. At 16–4, Gerschenson tied with World Champion Brian Braun-Duin in second-place, but first-place was John Rolf, whose intentional draw at Pro Tour Ixalan put him in the lead in the Constructed Master race at 16–3–1.