Over 250 of the best Magic players from around the globe converged in Minneapolis for Pro Tour March of the Machine, an event featuring Standard and March of the Machine booster draft with prize money and slots for Worlds at stake.
Reigning World Champion Nathan Steuer dominated with his Rakdos Midrange deck, defeating Cain Rianhard in the finals. Additional top 8 competitors included Javier Dominguez, Karl Sarap, Simon Nielsen, and Autumn Burchett.
Nathan Steuer isn’t worried about what others think he can or cannot do; after all, he’s the reigning world champion and an invaluable member of Team Handshake (dubbed “Team 50%”), which put four players in the Top 8. But that wasn’t all; the Pro Tour competition is just one step in his long-standing competitive journey, and another event needs preparation, learning a new format, and earning another top finish.
At Pro Tour March of the Machine, Steuer did just that by defeating Yiwen Chen in the finals for another top-eight finish and earning an invitation to the 2023 World Championship – an incredible achievement that further solidified his place among Magic’s best players.
Steuer’s win wasn’t without close matches: in the quarterfinals, he beat Javier Dominguez’s Rakdos Breach deck before losing to Autumn Burchett’s Orzhov Midrange deck in the semifinals and then facing Cain Richard, who had recently won Mythic Championship Cleveland using Five-Color Ramp as his deck of choice in the finals.
Richard had the best record and performance at this tournament, yet they couldn’t match Steuer’s skill at making near-uniform probability decisions. Although both decks used similar creature combinations, Steuer’s experience gave him the edge when making intelligent choices; his strategies paid off in an intense match that went down to the wire. With Rakdos colors dominating Standard play for so long now, it was great seeing other decks take part effectively despite this massive advantage over them.
Javier Dominguez has earned one of the most significant accomplishments in Magic history: He won the 2018 World Championship and earned himself a spot on the cover of 2021 expansion, then claimed two Spanish National Championship titles and several Top Finishes, including Mythic Championship V victory. Javier even has his own Magic card: Fervent Champion–perhaps more success awaits at Pro Tour March of the Machine should he avoid power matches against fellow team Handshake member Nathan Steuer.
As Team Handshake’s three members, Jim Davis, Karl Sarap, and Javier Dominguez, secured top-eight finishes in Constructed Standard play (Jim Davis was not one of them due to power matchups in Round 16), they went on to dominate Swiss rounds of the tournament sending two additional teammates Nathan Steuer and Simone Nielsen directly into the top eight positions as well.
Steuer advanced to the finals by defeating Cain Rianhard’s Rakdos Reanimator deck three games to one. His success with this deck has been seen at previous Pro Tours; over the last three years alone, he has recorded ten top-eight finishes using it!
Even after his loss, Steuer will take plenty of solace from this tournament’s conclusion. He currently shares first place with Jim Davis in overall standings and could win his fourth consecutive Pro Tour title with a victory here – adding this trophy to an already impressive collection that boasts one Grand Prix win and three top-eight finishes in Pro Tour events.
Simone Nielsen is an exceptional Danish Magic player and one of the greatest in the world. He first gained widespread notice in 2014 after clinching an almost impossible game against Nathan Steuer with an unprecedented Duneblast, cementing its place in the Magic lexicon worldwide. Since then, he has gone on to secure multiple Top 8 finishes at Regional Championships and other Grand Prix events; additionally, he won the gold medal in the team competition at the 2022 World Magic Cup, making him an icon within his craft.
He most recently won Pro Tour March of the Machine, his third consecutive Top 8 finish, and beat out a robust field, including two Team Handshake members; Rakdos Midrange was chosen as an archetype favored during this event.
Cain Rianhard was victorious in an intense, close final, where his powerful deck veered wildly between lines, ultimately overpowering Nielsen’s linear strategies with Fable of Mirror-Breakers that put Rianhard ahead by two cards each turn – particularly Serra Paragon’s value attached to each creature that put Rianhard ahead.
This tournament provided an ideal showcase of the current state of Standard metagame, revealing some surprising and intriguing results in terms of what to expect in terms of coming year’s sets. Some cards made an impression, while others went unnoticed – we will explore some noteworthy performances here and how they may impact the future metagame.
Autumn Burchett made history at Pro Tour March of the Machine by becoming the first gender non-binary winner of a significant Magic tournament. Her win with Rakdos’ midrange deck was one of the highlight performances at the game, but Burchett remains humble about her achievement, always looking for ways to improve herself and others around her. Fanbyte interviewed Burchett about her triumphant victory, her journey as a professional Magic player, and more.
This weekend marked the second Pro Tour of the 2022-23 season. Over 250 of the best players worldwide competed in Standard Constructed. A variety of cards from Etali, Primal Conqueror, and Breach the Multiverse made an appearance on the winner’s table; their stellar performances could establish themselves in Standard Metagame play going forward.
After two rounds of Standard Constructed, the field began to thin out significantly. Players needed to win seven matches on day two in order to qualify for the top eight; only three undefeated players survived from day one’s games: Jim Davis, Pedro Schiaveto, and Shota Yasooka remained undefeated after day one’s matches.
Steuer and Olsen played an exciting and close top semifinal matchup. Olsen’s Five-Color Ramp deck exploited weaknesses in Steuer’s Rakdos Midrange deck, but Steuer held off any last-ditch attempts from Olsen with two Fable of Mirror-Breakers that she held onto.
Steuer and his Rakdos Midrange deck defeated Olsen’s Five-Color deck for victory, marking three top finishes for him over time, including his 2022 World Championship and Top 8 at Pro Tour Phyrexia. Team Handshake also achieved their inaugural feat of four players finishing among the Top Eight at one Pro Tour event.
Pro Tour top eight was once considered an ultimate benchmark of talent among Magic grinders; it represented the pinnacle of accomplishment in competitive Magic and was an essential step toward entering the Hall of Fame. Achieve it was hard work; only a select few made it. Though now less prestigious than it once was, reaching Pro Tour Top 8 still represents a fantastic achievement for any Magic player.
Reid Duke and Yuuki Ichikawa would lose win-and-in games in the final round to David Olsen and Cain Rianhard’s remarkable match, complete with removal spells and planeswalkers, an exciting ending to an eventful day that showcased some of the best Magic players worldwide.
An impressive Standard meta and March of the Machine booster draft brought together some of the top players in Magic. Team Handshake dominated this event, with four members reaching the final rounds. Below is an overview of their decks played and winning percentages.
David Paul Olsen is an American actor and stunt performer best known for his roles in The Swiss Army Man and Transformers: Age of Extinction. Eric Christian Olsen, his brother actor Eric Paul Olsen’s older brother, is Eric Paul Olsen himself, while his wife Daniela Ruah from NCIS Los Angeles also stars in that television show.
Rakdo midrange may have dominated the field, but there were other strong contenders such as five-color Ramp, Azorius Soldiers, and Grixis Reanimator, which made an impressionful showing – seeing significant play during Swiss rounds and finishing within the top 50% win rate.