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In a couple of short days, we'll have the first major individual Legacy tournament since the banning of Sensei's Divining Top as the absurd triple Grand Prix fiesta kicks off in Las Vegas.
Brief aside: Why are these marquee Las Vegas events always in June? I would pay twice as much money to have them in January. I'm struggling with the heat in Roanoke right now, and even though the lack of humidity in the desert helps, I'm putting the odds of my death this week at about 0.1%. People should not live in deserts. We're defying nature and it should stop.
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Without the pressure of consistent SCG Tour® events on the Legacy metagame, the format has remained mostly stagnant since the printing of Monastery Mentor and the subsequent emergence of Miracles as the default best deck. The entire format seemed to revolve around the centrality of Miracles and combating Sensei's Divining Top, Counterbalance, and Terminus.
Legacy is large and varied enough to allow for archetypes that were soft to Miracles to compete, but it was clear that those decks would not last long were Legacy to be iterated as often as it was a few years ago.
The removal of Sensei's Divining Top leaves a significant vacuum in the Legacy metagame for the first time since Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise were removed in the same year. In preparation for #GPVegas, here are my expectations for the metagame that we'll see later this week.
The New Default
While the European metagames have typically been more exotic, we Americans tend to stick with powerful blue cards in a shell that can be aggressive or defensive, depending on what the situation dictates. That has meant Delver of Secrets for many years now, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Delver maintained a significant presence in the format in the face of Miracles and will assume the top spot again after the previous bogeyman has left. Toward the end of the format, we saw a move toward Delver-less blue decks like the deck Reid Duke used to win Grand Prix Louisville, and if the metagame is especially flush with Delver decks, a list similar to Reid's could be well-positioned, but I think the bulk of the fair Brainstorm players will be playing Delver of Secrets for one very important reason: the return of combo in full force.
The difference between Delver decks and Blue Control decks in Legacy is almost entirely in the presence of Delver of Secrets and Daze over more robust cards. This pair is a nod to the speed of many decks in Legacy, yet is a liability in the pseudo-mirror between these similar archetypes. The two cards are also not ideal against Miracles, which is why the move to bigger blue decks in Legacy before the Top ban made sense. The pair is at their best against combo decks, where pressure backed by disruption is the formula for success.
But combo decks were already hampered by a metagame where Miracles was the top deck, as the Sensei's Divining Top / Counterbalance Combo is excellent and the addition of Monastery Mentor meant you couldn't as a combo player sideboard into a slower strategy, draw your Abrupt Decay, and go off after sculpting an ideal hand. With this predator removed from the environment, combo decks are free to return and feast on anyone expecting to play fair, attrition Magic.
Legacy is about to speed up, so the more one-mana threats and free counterspells, the better. In a few months, when combo decks are on the downswing, then it will be a good time to go big with your fair blue decks, but for now it's time to go small.