What a difference a day makes! Thursday night the sky was falling and the world's scariest combos were waiting in the shadows to jump out and take over the New Extended. Come tournament time, those combo decks were in for a rude awakening. Hype fed on hype and everyone was looking out for the "Big Guns".
Darwin Kastle leads the standings after Day 1
The most telling moment came when the dealers sold out of Gilded Drakes, defense against both Aluren and reanimator. And what's worse, the wide-open field was still as wooly as ever, it was just unified in its defense against two particular decks. Bad luck for those who went with what worked.
What was really strange was the amount of players running updated versions of The Rock. To the uninformed eye it looked like it didn't have much game against a lot of decks. It was slow, and the good decks were fast. It turns out that the addition of Cabal Therapy to The Rock's disruptive arsenal gave it a ridiculous leg-up against any single-minded strategy.
It was a good day to be running the green and black. Both Darwin Kastle and Tomas Krejsa played The Rock to a perfect 7-0 record. Three more Rock players joined them at 6-1. Not a single Morphling is to be found in the Top 16, but Spiritmonger? Unplayable in Standard has translated nicely to a major force in the New Extended.
If the dominance of a mid-range control deck isn't enough to vouch for the health of the format, take a look at the range of decks doing well. There are nine different decks in the Top 16. Beatdown, combo and control, anything that can work is being made to work. Players with accurate perceptions of the metagame are succeeding with all sorts of decks. The Dutch put Kamiel Cornelissen to 6-1 with their nutty "Angry Hermit Part 2" deck. But if you really want combo, you could go Rancor-Tog, or even Pattern-Ghoul. For beats there's Sligh, but also Suicide Black. Even Psychatog is good in Extended! To be fair, Gush does give it the ability to kill on turn four.
The Netherlands' own Kamiel Cornelissen
Of the three hundred and fifty-one players who started the day, just 117 earned the necessary 4-2-1 performance. Almost everyone took the safe way out, drawing from 4-2 to make the Day 2 cut, so there's plenty of names to clutter up The Pit. On the outside looking in from 118th place is none other than Kai Budde, missing his first Day 2 in about two years. This was at the hands of Ben Rubin, who wasn't content to draw into Day 2, and avenged Jon Finkel's round one loss by putting Budde on the sidelines. Budde realized too late that the hate the field had ready for him meant that, though Reanimator was the best deck, The Rock was totally under the radar and had the tools to do well. Joining Budde in the 4-3 bowery was Tomi Walamies, who only showed up for the Masters Series, and played a crazy Awakening deck just for kicks. Few other name players jeopardized their rating by playing out the whole thing. Conspicuously absent from Day 2 will be Zvi Mowshowitz and David Humpherys.
Tomorrow will be a good judge of just how right the Rock players are. There's plenty of other decks out there, and they all look like they've got what it takes.