Best of Three: ETS Season 5, Week 3 – The First ETS of Set 2!

Set 2 hype? SET 2 HYPE!

Set 2 finally came out, on Friday, July 14. After a long wait, it finally happened! It does exist! We decided that for players to get a chance to acquire new cards and test decks, that we would wait a week for Set 2 to be legal, so the July 15th ETS event did not have Set 2 cards. Thus, the ETS on the 22nd was the first event to have these cards be legal. Because of this, we had a record turnout of over 100 decks registered and 95 people playing in the event after cutting no-shows, causing us to run a 7 round Swiss. We also peaked at about 700 people watching the event on Twitch – landmarks all around. Thanks once again to all our players and everyone that came out to watch.

A playlist of the VoDs from the event can be found on our YouTube channel. And thanks to ExKirby, who made a highlight reel of clips from the event.

As always, the bracket and decklists for all events from Season 5 can be found on our tournament results page.

For anyone that see this and wants to join ETS events, check out the #tournament-info channel on the Eternal Discord and the ETS Page here on our site. We have an event on both Saturday (a standard ETS event) and on Sunday (A special, Set 2 Only event with a $100 prize pool).

Meta Breakdown

We always have an incredibly varied meta at the ETS, and the first week after Set 2 made it even more crazy. The Deck Breakdown chart doesn’t even fully do it justice, as I did my standard bundling of all the decks that only had a single list representing them. Without that, we had 46 different decks represented!

A quick reminder: All winrates below are excluding mirror matches, as those tend to artificially bring winrates closer to 50%.


Aggro (58%)

Rakano Plate (70%)

The only addition to this deck was Spirit Guide, although I think Pummel has potential if people wanted >4 pump effects in the deck, although Pummel does not allow 3 attack Quickdraw units to get through 6 health blockers (like Sandstorm Titan and also Sandstorm Titan). Spirit Guide itself is a meta call against Burn decks, and I think it might be a better choice than Righteous Fury, although Fury has more explosive, game-ending potential. Very little has the surprise damage potential of End of Turn Righteous Fury -> Deepforged Plate on a unit … but that’s an unreliable combo that opens you up to being 3:1’d, whereas the effect of Spirit Guide is basically card “free” with just the cost of a bit of tempo.

Skycrag (58%)

  • Skycrag Burn (50%)
  • Skycrag Aggro (65%)

There seems to be 2 versions of aggressive Skycrag that were submitted – a more unit based version, and a version with a ton of face-pointed burn. The more unit-based version did well this week, but I’m separating these out in the interest of tracking how well both versions of the deck do as they evolve.

Midrange (52%)

Elysian Midrange (71%)

This is both BillMurray’s standard Elysian Midrange and RodeoRex’s Elysian Horn list. This is another split that I’ll be tracking, if both deck styles become popular, but at the moment, it’s just 8-2 and 4-3. I mostly felt like this should be included for completion’s sake.

Argenport Midrange (68%)

This was not a very commonly played deck archetype – this is Clarity, Tobboo, Lv13David, and Mouche’s combined results – but the archetype posted impressive results. A thing to note – all 4 of the decks had Auric Vigilante, a card that has been widely panned. Hmm.

Two of the decks (Mouche, Lv13David) were Memory Dredger decks, a deck type I’m excited to see explored. We also saw Xenan Dredger, but those decks didn’t have as much success.

Praxis Midrange (59%)

AKA Heart of the Vault.dek?

Heart certainly seems to be what pushed this deck over the top, into viability. We saw both a 0 cost Backlash and a Heart single-handedly stabilizing and then winning a game on this week’s stream. No one seems to agree on what cards are worth including and in what quantity – though all of the lists did include Heart and Shatterglass Mage and all but one included at least 2 Champion of Impulse in the main. Shatterglass Mage joins Furnace Mage as an actually maindeckable answer to relics, though I feel like Shatterglass stands better on its own.

… And apparently Mages in this setting hate relics? Interesting.

PraxiScar Killers (59%)

This was a team deck, brought by Seek Power Gaming (HiThar, drolichek, trippedoutfish). It’s really closer to Praxis Killers, splash shadow (for Dark Return and Quarry) – it’s got the power of Copper Conduit and Dawnwalker with Predator’s Instinct combined with Heart of the Vault.

Control (42%)

FJP Control / Icaria Blue (79%)

Again, this is mostly indicative of a T4 placement by Marius and a 5-2 by Grumpyolman, but both of them had an impressive run and Icaria Blue / Blue Armory style decks feel greatly improved by Eilyn’s Choice, Kaleb’s Choice, and the possibility of Reforge and Duelist’s Blade. Both of them also included Kothon in their list. Marius even included Molot & Nakova in his list – which does raise the sum influence of the deck to FFFJJJPPP, although it’s a very late need for PPP.

Dark Combrei (54%)

These decks were Big Combrei based decks (with the exception of Tatsumaki, taking a slightly lower to the ground, more midrangeish approach), typically with Makto and Slay added, although Banish and Ayan appeared in a few lists. While getting to SS for Makto on 5 seems reasonable, I’m unsure of the inclusion of Ayan at 3.With Ayan and Valkyrie Enforcer in your deck, you want SS on 3 for Ayan, JJ on 3 for Valkyrie Enforcer… and then you also want T or TT on turn 2 for Find the Way or Temple Scribe. When playing this deck, you’re going to have to make some “blind” choices on Seeks/Find the Ways or choose which high influence cost card in hand you’re going to want to play, even with good hands. Banish, however, gives this deck a real answer to relics that previously gave it trouble. Despite Time having the best access to fixing, the high influence cost of otherwise cheap cards makes it seem hard for this deck to exist as a true 3 color deck, instead of Combrei splashing Shadow.

I’m also not entirely convinced that Ayan is actually any better against Aggro decks than Combrei Healer – I saw many lists running a split of the cards. I think the ceiling for Ayan is much higher – the dream is that you block a 2/1, gain 3, and it walls your opponent off and acts as an inevitability tool… but the floor is that it dies to torch and possibly fogs if the enemy unit doesn’t have overwhelm. However, I’m all for experimentation, and in metas that are low on Torch, I think it can be a strong card.

Chalice (50%)

The main additions for Chalice are Kothon, Archive Curator, and Eilyn’s Choice –  with Sunyveil bringing the spicy one-of Excavation Assistant. Really, these cards fit almost perfectly into the deck as it was, and don’t change the way it plays or is built, though it does have access to more silence. The main cuts seem to be a slight trimming of wincons, especially Parliament (as Kothon itself basically acts as a 2 Owl Parliament in the late game). I was slightly surprised that the shift was to Channel as main win-con, given the new existence of Kaleb’s Choice and Eilyn’s Choice, however.

Traditional Armory (43%)

The main additions to this deck for Set 2 were Makto, Slay, and Reforge, with Makto seeing the most play out of the new cards over the people that brought Traditional Armory. Personally, I don’t think Makto is good in Armory – he warps your powerbase even further, making you want SS by the time you have 5 power, on top of a deck that has very strict influence demands up and down its curve. I think if you’re playing Makto, you cannot run Charchain Flail, for instance, as you cannot reliably cast Flail on 2-3 with the changes to your Power base.

Winrate with Makto (brought by 4 people): 41%
Winrate without Makto (brought by 2 people): 46%

Again, these sample sizes are not at all relevant on a large scale, but this is something I’m going to track as Set 2 develops.

TPS Control (45%)
Xenan Control (38%)

JPS Control (21%)

These … definitely underperformed. They were not considered very strong decks in the Set 1 meta, and so did not have well defined “optimal” lists. I can understand wanting to experiment with these archetypes, with the addition of Kothon, Makto, Slay, Banish, Blistersting Wasp, Worldjoiner(?!) , Ayan… but I feel like the problem with these decks might have been bringing control decks that need an exact blend of answers into a very unknown event. I hope these decks come back with more iterative improvement – JPS was the first Feln-based Control deck I ever built, on the hype of Last Word kills!

Feln Control (39%)

… I got nothing, really. Rhino wasn’t playing it. ¯\(ツ)

Seriously though – the additional cards for Feln were somewhat “sidegrade” territory in Trailblaze (is it worth running?) and Extract (very good against some decks, a dead card against others). This deck might have lost some of its meta-position because of that, or the deck might evolve into “Feln based” control, in Felnscar, TPS, and JPS Control.

Knucklebones (19%)

On one hand, I expected these results.
On the other hand, LightsOutAce swears by this card as a Control inevitability tool. And, in general, I trust Ace. To be fair – If you cast Knucklebones and it gets destroyed, you’re in bad shape, so it might be a case of being able to sideboard against this card. The Knucklebones strategy is to just drown your opponents in cards – bad cards, but still cards. So if Knucklebones gets broken… well, good luck. Fortunately, it doesn’t die to Banish, but Shatterglass Mage is a bane against Knucklebones.

3 Knucklebones variants were submitted, Hooru (splash fire only for Knucklebones), Knucklebones Chalice, and FJP Chalice. All did about the same.

Top 20 (The 5-2+ Bracket)



A special thanks to aReNGee for putting the data for this together. I’ll be discussing this later in the article.

Top 8

1st: Pupicitus (Rakano Plate)
2nd: BillMurray (Elysian Midrange)
3rd: Kcnabrev (Praxis Midrage)
     Marius294 (FJP Control)
5th: NotoriousGHP (Dark Combrei)
     Tatsumaki (Dark Combrei)
     Tobboo (Argenport Aggro/Midrange)
     IlyaK1986 (Big Combrei)

7 different archetypes, 5 of the decks either reliant on or significantly bolstered by Set 2 I’ll do some analysis of this in a bit, as everyone wants to focus on…

The Finals (ResidentSleeper)

Yes, the finals were 2 decks with 8 Set 2 cards between them and all of those in the sideboards of the decks. So, some thoughts about this:

First, yes, of course, I was a bit disappointed – My heart wanted a completely new, rogue deck to sweep in and win the event; my mind was not at all surprised by this result. Rakano Plate and Elysian Midrage are archetypes that have been being iterated on for over a year. Of course, there is still some amount of wiggle-room in the decks, but people generally know how to build a very close to optimal version of these decks.

People have also looked at this and questioned the “power level” of Set 2 which is… certainly premature. Further, there’s a fine line between releasing a set and it being underpowered and it being power creep – and I think DWD actually hit that line pretty well. One judge of that is that some people have been complaining about Set 2 cards being OP, some people have been complaining about Set 2 being too weak. If CCG players are complaining about both sides of the same coin, you know something is being done right. =P

Further, I don’t think it should be a goal for decks to be completely obsoleted by a new set coming out. Sure, as more sets come out and as sets rotate, one should expect the makeup of decks to change significantly, but that should be a phasing out over multiple releases and/or when rotation happens.

Looking at the actual #s from the Top 20 players, they had an average of about 15 cards from Set 2 in their 90. Assuming the average deck plays ~30 power/power fetches, removing those puts decks at 60 “spells”, giving us an average of 1/4th of the Top 20’s decks being Set 2 cards. Further, multiple archetypes in the Top 20 came into existence because of Set 2 – The Argenport variations, Skycraggro, PraxiScar Killers, and Praxis Midrange (while Praxis tokens saw a brief flare on ladder, this is a very different deck). 8 of the 20 decks were of completely new archetypes and Icaria Blue got a much larger base of options to work from.


I’d say that Set 2 Constructed came across as a success in this event (and on ladder). People were excited to try a lot of new archetypes and many old decks were revived and revamped – we just shouldn’t expect all decks to all be successful before they get iterated on. And I hope we see a ton of iteration on decks that didn’t do well this week.

Cheers! I hope to see a huge turnout again tomorrow.

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