MTG organized play has returned in dramatic style this weekend at Pro Tour: Phyrexia. Pro Tour: Phyrexia is running from 17/02/2023-19/02/2023, as a part of MagicCon: Philadelphia. After the first day of the tournament, only one competitor emerged with a perfect 8-0 win record. Benton Madsen, a player from Manhatten who has been playing the game since 2012. Madsen states that he qualified for entry for Pro Tour: Phyrexia through an MTG Arena event which he completed on his phone. In the first event, a Phyrexia: All Will Be One Draft, he built a White/Blue artifacts deck and went 3-0.
Madsen claimed in an interview after the match: “I was not very experienced with my deck or in the draft format, when it came to draft I picked a friend’s brain last night over dinner.”
He continued: “One of the things that was mentioned at the table was that Blue/White Artifacts felt meh but really good if you had the cranial plating 0/5 (a reference to the card Cephalopod Sentry). I second picked that in the draft, largely on that advice, and it ended up panning out better than I could have hoped for.”
Madsen then went 5-0 in the second event, a Pioneer tournament where he piloted an off-meta aura-focused deck.
Madsen’s deck is a Boggles-like deck which he named: “Selesnya Auras“. The deck’s strategy revolves around attaching a number of low-cost but impactful auras such as All That Glitters, Cartouche of Solidarity and Ethereal Armour to his creatures. Many of the creatures in the deck are designed to synergize with auras, like Lightpaws, Emperor’s Chosen, Generous Visitor, and Sram Senior Edificer. The deck also runs four copies of Gladecover Scout a card that makes a good target for auras, as it has Hexproof and is thus difficult to remove. Finally, the deck contains four copies of Skrelv, Defector Mite which is included in the deck due to its protection effect that also makes a creatures harder to block.
The deck also makes use of the companion card Jegantha, the Wellspring, a powerful mana dork. Jegantha, alongside three copies of Mana Confluence, enabled Madsen to run the off-color cards Kaya’s Ghostform and Hammerhands which were useful as an aura-based way of protecting creatures, and for pushing damage through respectively.
A particular card Madsen needed to watch out for was the Dominaria United enchantment Temporary Lockdown. As all of the cards in Madsen’s deck, apart from Jegantha, have a mana value of two or less, they are all susceptible to being removed by the lockdown. In a dramatic moment in his seventh game, Madsen played a copy of Boseiju, Who Endures to destroy a Temporary Lockdown, returning the auras trapped beneath it to play, and making his attack lethal.
Madsen stated that the deck was inspired by a Regional Championship deck devised by Michael Letsch. He made some modifications, changing up the land base, a few cards from the sideboard, and removing Paradise Druid in exchange for Skrelv, Defector Mite. Skrelv is from Phyrexia: All Will Be One which had not been released when the original version of the deck was designed.
In an interview prior to his final match of the day, Madsen stated: “I expected roughly 0-8, maybe like a 2-6 “. He was pleased with his performance, modestly stating: “I’m happy to be here, I’ve no idea how it happened.”
The MTG community have been hugely supportive of Maden’s results. With the Pro Tour returning Madsen’s story is being looked upon as an example of why organized play matters, and how it can provide previously unknown players with a chance to win big and become a part of Magic’s history.
On Reddit, Shinra_Temp wrote: “This is the dream the PT has always been trying to sell just with Arena added alongside your local LGS as the starting point. Glad to see it.”
ChestersJensen responded: “That’s very incredible stuff and exciting to see someone new burst into the scene like that. This sort of thing is the whole fun of the Pro Tour and now it’s back!”
These sentiments were echoed by F0me who wrote: “This is why competitive play is so great. It gives you something to aspire to. Commander is a great pastime with friends and beer, but organized play is where dreams are made.”
On the second day of Pro Tour: Phyrexia, Madsen’s undefeated win strike came to an end and he suffered three losses. Enduring these defeats, Madsen performed well enough to earn a place in the top eight and advance to the finals. Madsen ultimately finished Pro Tour: Phyrexia in second place, losing to Reid Duke’s Izzet Creativity deck in a dramatic final bout.