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Five Predictions For Pro Tour Murders At Karlov Manor

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It's time for the 2024 Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour season to commence! And it's doing so in a big way, headlining the largest MagicCon of all time in Chicago with an expected attendance of 12,000 Magic players!

The formats are Pioneer Constructed and Murders at Karlov Manor draft, and with both the recent unbanning of Smuggler's Copter as well as a brand new and exciting draft format, the season is certainly starting the right way. Pioneer has been one of the most popular competitive formats over the last few years, and with both the Smuggler's Copter unbanning as well as a number of new cards like Amalia Benavides Aguirre spawning new decks it's also been a very lively format as well.

I've been in Chicago all week preparing for the event, but as always if it's Pro Tour day that means it's Pro Tour predictions day! I'm gonna make my five big predictions for the event, and we'll see how I do.

Prediction One: Izzet Phoenix, Azorius Control, And Lotus Field Will Be The "Big Three" Of The Tournament

After taking five of the eight Top 8 slots at the big NRG Series event last weekend, there's no doubt that Izzet Phoenix is the top dog coming into the Pro Tour.

Arclight Phoenix
Picklock Prankster
Treasure Cruise

Arclight Phoenix has long been one of the best decks in the format, as it is one of the few decks in the format capable of using the "banned in pretty much every other format" Treasure Cruise to maximum effect. Picklock Prankster gave the deck a huge boost, being far more nimble and efficient than the clunky Pieces of the Puzzle, and at this point it really is just a well-oiled machine that is capable of being built to be good against almost anything.

No More Lies
Archdruid's Charm

Already big and successful decks getting new tools from Murders at Karlov Manor are Azorius Control and Lotus Field Combo, both of which were already excellent decks and major forces in the metagame. Both decks are also favorite decks of high level players, meaning it's very likely they will be out in force at the Pro Tour.

These three decks will be the most played decks in the field.

Prediction Two: Rakdos Midrange Will Have A Sub-50% Win Rate

Rakdos Midrange has been the darling of Pioneer players for what feels like years now.

Bloodtithe Harvester
Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki
Thoughtseize

Mixing the format's premium interaction of Thoughtseize and Fatal Push with fantastic midrange threats like Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse has been a recipe for success in more than one format, and Pioneer is no different. Like any good "Jund"-style midrange deck, the deck is a favorite of players who like to adjust their deck week to week to react to the format and want to have game against everything.

That being said, this metagame is not a great one for Rakdos Midrange.

Not only are there not really any good matchups among the top three decks, those decks have all also gotten new tools to power them up. Furthermore, they all do very different things, making it hard to build your Rakdos Midrange deck to be good against all three of them as well as the rest of the field.

Rakdos Midrange will likely be out in force because Pioneer players just can't put it down, but it will not have a good tournament.

Prediction Three: Among The Featured Draft Pods On Day One And Day Two, The 3-0 Drafter In Each Pod Will Not Be Playing Black

If you're a longtime Limited player, Murders at Karlov Manor draft can be a bit of a culture shock.

Murder

If you can believe it, Murder is not a very high pick.

This is for two reasons. One, Black is probably the weakest color in the set for Limited play. It's not unplayable or anything, but it definitely trails behind the other colors. Two, and perhaps most important, is how poorly Murder (and other removal spells) line up in this format. The best decks in the format are great at flooding the board with a bunch of crappy 2/2s, meaning there is rarely a great target for Murder. Secondly, because the disguise creatures have ward 2, Murder actually costs five mana a lot of time which is far too much.

You can draft a successful Black deck in this format, but it is more often the exception than the rule. Without opening a busted rare like Vein Ripper or something there isn't much reason to get into place.

As such, I am predicting that in both of the featured draft pods the player that goes 3-0 will not have black as a main color in their deck.

Prediction Four: There Will Be At Least Four Copies Of Vein Ripper In The Top 8

Wait Jim, you realize that the Top 8 of this event is Pioneer Constructed, not Limited right?

Yep!

Vein Ripper

One of the biggest dreams for any Magic player is to go into a Pro Tour with an unknown deck feeling like you broke it. Well, that's exactly what me and my 11 Team CFB & Friends teammates are going to experience at this Pro Tour.

Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord
Vein Ripper

Yep, that's us playing 48 copies of Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord and 48 copies of Vein Ripper.

We've spent the last two weeks working on this Vampires deck, which started from Paul Rietzl building a Mono-Black Vampires deck with Ichor Drinker in it and ended with with the majority of the team playing Rakdos Vampires (Paul stuck to his guns and stayed with Mono-Black Vampires, and we have three other players on various decks).

The deck has good matchups against most of the field, exploits something new and novel, and almost perhaps most importantly is something that nobody in the field will have played a game against. It's hard to ask for more!

As such, I'm banking on at least one of us to make Top 8 in the event.

Prediction Five: There Will Be At Least One Other Big Surprise In Top 8

As if a major team registering Rakdos Vampires wasn't enough of a surprise, there are still a lot of eggs to crack in the Pioneer format.

Gladecover Scout

While there have been many smaller events as well as a Regional Championship, nothing brings out the big guns like a Pro Tour. The last Pioneer Pro Tour had Gladecover Scout in the finals for crying out loud!

There's a lot of room for innovation and brewing in Pioneer, as well as a lot of deck-building space to explore, so I expect to see something sweet.

Starting The Season Right

With the biggest MagicCon of all time happening as well as a bunch of excitement surrounding both the event as well as the decks in the event, this has the makings of an all-timer Pro Tour. Hours upon hours of work has been put in, but now it's time to see if expectations make reality.

I hope I'm right!

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