One could argue that the Gateway is a really important tournament. Think of it as a hundred man competition where the two winners get $2000 each, not to mention an opportunity to win even more money. On top of everything else, it is free to enter. On the other hand, you have to defeat many of the better pro players to claim the prize – and you have to seven Pro points to enter it. And so, many of the players who are qualified for this tournament chose to have a little fun at an expense of seriously trying to win.
What's she doing here?
By far the most unorthodox deck of the tournament was "The Rock and His Millions" variant played by Andrew Stokinger. Dismayed by how boring and slow the mirror match for "The Rock" is, Stokinger set out to break the mirror in a series of online articles. Eventually, he came up with monstrosity that splashed a Plains, a Mountain and an Island to cast a pair of Sliver Queens... and Coalition Victory. Stokinger's strategy was not about to come in handy as he was the only one playing the sub-par "Rock" at the gateway out of the ninety three competitors – but he was here to have fun. Stokinger faced what he admitted to be "the only favorable matchup the deck has" – James Halter's B/G/W Junk variant. He won a very close Game 1 after top-decking a Sliver Queen and a Phyrexian Plaguelord. But it was the secong game that will go into annals of Pro Tour history – as Stonkinger became the first player to actually pull off the Coalition Victory win at this level of competition. Of course, Stokinger went on to lose his next round as his opponent was playing neither Junk nor Rock.
A number of players were "somewhat under prepared" for the gateway – showing up with their type 2 decks only. Steve Shears showed up with a Black-White control decks sporting powerful Extended spoiler such as "Innocent Blood" and "Death Grasp". A pair of Psychatog decks also made their appearance.
Another truly impressive display of deck engineering comes from Japan in the capable hands of Jun Nobushita. His Oath deck is sporting Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor – which is supposed to be tech against Miracle Grow decks – and three copies of each Donate and Illusions of Grandeur! It may sound crazy, but it certainly does help an Oath deck defeat Sligh, which is otherwise a very poor matchup. Nobushita's sideboard features yet another strange card – Alter Reality – which is capable of countering a pair of Pyroblasts.
In a field full of Sligh decks, one of the more interesting sideboard solutions is Savage Firecat. Enemy red mage will find it very difficult to burn through a 7/7 trampler, if the game lasts long enough for it to come into play. Another anti-Sligh card to show up in the gateway was Rejuvination Chamber. Christian Luhrs' Welder Red deck (think of it as a red Tinker variant) was using it in combination with Voltaic Key to gain obscene amounts of life. Even without such a combo, it lets a player gain eight life for the total cost of three mana, making it an interesting and viable sideboard choice.
It is almost certain at a time this article is being written that a more traditional deck is going to win the gateway. However, it is great to see variety of exciting decks being used in a competitive environment – which has long been one of the greatest strengths of Extended.