Season 12 Top 32 Player Showcase

by Looter-Scooter

Playoffs started last week, but the winners of each division get a bye into top 32, making this their first week in playoffs. I talked to some of those division winners, as well as some players I haven’t talked to this season yet.


Dana is playing in her first VML event, winning her division playing mostly Golgari Midrange. This week she’s playing Bant Toxic versus Worldwaker2 on Boros Convoke. 

What does your testing process look like?

My testing process is I look at what decks my opponent has played in the past and try to spot a common archetype to go off of. Then I look at what decks match well into those decks and pick the one that best suits my play style. Once the matchup data comes out, I usually test with my dad on my opponent’s deck so that I can find what helps me to win the matchup.

What goals did you have going into the season?

I didn’t really have any goals coming into this season as this is the first season I am playing in. I just wanted to try my best and see how it works for when I play future seasons. Now that I am in the playoffs, I really want to make top 8 to play in the VML championship.

What does the VML mean to you?

The VML is my first competitive online tournament. It gives me hope that if I was able to find a way to lower this event’s age minimum, then maybe others can come next and I and others will be able to play in them. It is also nice not having to worry about being intimidated by large, and mostly older men as I play my matches.

Paige Smith

This is Paige’s third VML season, having made top 32 last season. She’s played a variety of decks this season and is facing Ollie Davis in the Dimir Midrange mirror. This matchup is difficult to play as the deck can either be more aggressive or controlling depending on its draw, and Ollie’s build has more copies of Gix and Preacher of the Scism, both great cards in the mirror. 

Why did you choose your deck this week?

Ollie has played a different deck every week utilizing a ton of different playstyles, making it hard to predict what I’d run into. I felt like playing some kind of Midrange list might be fine due to comfort and I settled on Dimir due to its high average win rate across the board at events taking place the weekend of RC Dallas.

What goals did you have going into the season?

My main goal this season was to try playing a different deck each week and taking myself out of my comfort zone a little bit. This ended up not paying off so much thanks to expected matchups and non-VML event prep, but I felt like I’ve gotten a solid variety so far, even if I haven’t gotten to try harder to pilot decks like Gurk, Temur Analyst, or Azorius Control as I wanted.

What does the VML mean to you?

Having the VML around as a specific space for people of marginalized genders to not only participate in high level play, but also lift each other up to help one another improve is nothing short of incredible. It’s an awesome tool for people who might not have access to these resources and that’s always wonderful for a game like Magic.


Feather is making their first playoff appearance in three seasons, going 5-2 in their division playing a mix of established decks like Dimir MIdrange and Boros Convoke and wild brews such as Izzet Combo and Mono Blue Control. In the playoffs, they’ve switched to 5 Color Slogurk and are facing Lady J on Boros Convoke.

What was your toughest match this season?

My toughest match was when I tried to be really fancy and metagame a little (lot) too hard and my opponent swapped decks for the first time in multiple seasons and I ended up with an unplayable deck. It didn’t go well.

What goals did you have going into the season?

My goals going in were just to make it to the next stage this time, hopefully showing off some spice (this did not work well. The times I showed spicy brews are also my losses for the season) along the way, and now that I’ve made playoffs they’ve changed to hoping for a top 8 finish.

What does the VML mean to you?

VML is really meaningful to me honestly less for what it actually is and more for the fact that despite how much hate it gets from the less savory parts of the magic community, the program continues to grow and thrive and that really means a lot to me and hopefully to other marginalized members of the community as well.


Aspi is the only player this season to go undefeated in division play, and has been in the playoffs twice before. This week, she brought Azorius Control against Hamannator12 on Domain Ramp.

How do you feel about your match this week?

Underprepared! With Amsterdam and the short turnaround from results to decklist submission I played the old reliable UW with my teamate’s Talia spin. Come home morning after a 6h drive, it’s decklist time and I’m pretty confident my opponent is on Gruul Slickshot so I make a couple tweaks. Night comes and opponent is on Domain so game one is looking rough

What was your hardest match this season?

I got some good rolls of the matchup dice this season, I can’t say I didn’t feel favored in any match before this one. (If I had to choose it’d be week 5 against Kora because I cannot win against Slogurk but luckily she burned out of the deck before)

What does the VML mean to you?

It gives me a competitive outlet every week and something to shout out every time I meet another girly at an RCQ. The diversity from best player of this year to just some casual brewers feels awesome to have as a community!

Emily Anders

Emily went 5-2 in her division, playing mostly Azorius Control. This week, she registered Esper Midrange versus Sylverfyre’s 5 Color Slogurk deck. 

Why did you choose your deck this week?

I asked my little brother what standard deck had good vibes and somehow the answer was Esper mid.

How do you feel about your match?

I feel good about my match! I think my deck interacts well with my opponent’s and I’m on the play.

What does the VML mean to you?

The VML is a chance to compete without traveling, which is fun. A bunch of my friends are pretty involved with the VML, so it would be cool to have a solid finish in a season. My greatest hope would be that it becomes a path to the Pro Tour for me, but I try not to count chickens before they hatch.


Mienie is playing in her first VML season, going 6-1 in her division with Boros Convoke and Golgari Midrange. She’s playing Boros Convoke against Jason Ye on 5 Color Slogurk. Boros is favored against Slogurk, and Mienie does have two Rest in Peace in the sideboard for it, but Jason came prepared with a maindeck Pest Control and two more in the sideboard. 

What does your testing process look like?

I’m super happy to be on a testing team this season, shout-out to Violet and the Underslimes! Really helped me nail down my fundamentals and learn some new concepts that I hadn’t really thought about before. I’ve been lucky to get some practice matches in against my scheduled opponent as well as help for developing a sideboard plan (a skill I am not great at). They also give great advice on what exactly the opponent’s deck is trying to do and what are key threats. Past that it’s mostly ranked best of 3 just to get reps with the deck so I’m familiar with good lines, what to mulligan for, and how to push through the mid game. I was a little better about it earlier in the season of recording my ranked games to watch back and see what mistakes I’m making and taking notes about how to be better.

What goals did you have going into the season?

My original season goals were to try and learn a really different type of deck and to have fun. I think the first was a little too ambitious as I did not come into the tournament with enough wildcards, but I have fully completed my other goal. It’s been a blast getting to play some hardcore magic every week, think about match-ups, and chat/learn about magic. I really didn’t expect to make it to playoffs but hoping from this point on to just at least make it slightly competitive. Hoping for some good games!

What does the VML mean to you?

I’m so glad to have been introduced to and play in the VML! When I was younger, there was a very noticeable lack of diversity in magic and it definitely gave me the feeling that magic wasn’t for me. But I recently got back into magic since the end of Wilds of Eldraine, and getting to play in the VML has really taken my love of magic to new heights. I’m just excited to be part of this community and cheering for everyone

Anna Madison

Anna has been a part of the VML since its first season, but hasn’t played in most of them. She won her division, going 6-1 playing multiple decks throughout the season. This week, she’s on 4 Color Slogurk vs Renz on Golgari Midrange.

Why did you choose your deck this week?

4 Color Legends is the best performing deck in my ladder testing and it has game against most decks in the format.

What goals did you have going into the season?

I wanted to record and upload my matches to YouTube but I put it off too long and the quality was bad so I abandoned it. Now I’m just playing until I can’t anymore.

What does the VML mean to you?

A lot. I was involved with the VML broadcast team since before the first week of the first season back in 2020, and helped coach some new casters we brought on during the season. It was something I was incredibly proud of and wanted to continue to be a part of its growth. Not being invited back to the casting booth after the first season was heartbreaking, and it’s been an emotional sore spot for me for a while since. I didn’t want to play because of my own personal feelings, but seeing it grow from afar was still uplifting. I played in season 7 to help me face my own feelings of rejection, but it wasn’t until this year where I felt like I could leave all my negativity in the past and push forward. Nowadays I’m just happy that we have this amazing opportunity for marginalized players from across the world to play competitive magic and to qualify for larger events, and I’m personally proud to have played a part in the very beginning.