cover image credit - Corbin Hosler (@Chosler)
The Calling: Las Vegas took place over the weekend, marking the return of professional level Flesh and Blood Organised Play to the USA for the first time since December 2019. The world has changed immensely since back then, but despite everything one thing that has stayed strong is the spirit of the Flesh and Blood community, and the passion for in person play. Las Vegas was our chance as a studio to say thank you to all our fans in North America who have stuck with us through everything that has happened over the last two years, and to finally give you all the in-person play experience that we envisioned way back when the studio was first founded.
What was truly amazing though was the number of fans that actually turned out over the course of the weekend; over 1,000 people came through the doors over the three days of the event, and so many people commented on the positive vibe and fantastic community spirit on display. Thank you so much to everyone who came and made the weekend such a special event, and to our partners ChannelFireball for hosting it. Below we take a look back at the event and everything that happened over the weekend!
Tales of Aria World Premiere
Friday afternoon and the event kicked off with something very special; the World Premiere for the new Tales of Aria set. Excitement for the set had been building over the previous fortnight as the preview season rolled on, but Friday was to be the first day that anyone had the opportunity to crack packs and finally get to see the set in its entirety. In total 877 players showed up for the event across six rounds of sealed.
The first adventurer in the world to discover the fabled landmark of Aria - Korshem, Crossroad of Elements - was none other than Mark Chamberlain, narrator and contributor at the Rathe Times.
The field featured mostly players from the US, but a contingent of 10 players had travelled from Canada for the event, alongside one player from New Zealand (who incidentally managed to go 6-0 for the day!). A lot of excitement pre-event had been around the new Ranger Lexi, but after six rounds it seemed that Briar had taken the lead for the day, with players battling to contain her continuous output of arcane damage, even with Oldhim's activated ability.
With the event in the books, most players headed off to rest up ahead of the main event, though a few enthusiasts stuck it out until late playing Ultimate Pit Fight!
Come Saturday morning, and over 1000 players were in the hall, with 750 lining up for the main Calling event, and plenty more lining up for the range of side events. We welcomed a number of special guests to host and participate in the event, including competitive players, content creators, and fantastic cosplayers.
ChannelFireball's official Twitch stream was hosted by triple threat team Tannon Grace, RedZoneRogue, and DMArmada. Tannen Grace brought his considerable competitive TCG experience to the table, while RedZoneRogue and DMArmada are both long-standing members of the Flesh and Blood community, as two of the first content creators to come on-board.
The Professor from Tolarian Community College was also present at the event, joining fellow player William Jensen, who drew on his formidable competitive play experience for this event, and Saint Hung, who has worked to build the Flesh and Blood community from day one.
On the field, cosplayers "The Second Professor" TappyToeClaws, CSprankleRun, and Olivia Gobert-Hicks joined the fray as 'Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire', 'Dorinthea Ironsong', and 'Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light'.
The Calling Classic Constructed event kicked off on Saturday; the largest event in Flesh and Blood history with over 750 registered players. The event capped off the Monarch season of constructed play as the final top level event before the release of Tales of Aria. In the lead in to the event, the focus had been on Chane, Bound by Shadow as the hero to beat, having taken out around one third of all Road to Nationals events worldwide.
A number of other heroes had performed strongly through the season however, with Katsu, Bravo and a variety of different Boltyn builds putting up wins, alongside Dorinthea, Dash and Prism who had all taken out ten or more wins through the season. However, Chane had significantly outperformed in terms of converting top eight placings into wins, while Prism had one of the worst conversion ratios of any hero in the metagame. The scholars and generals had conferred and agreed that the forces of Shadow looked likely to prevail in the battle that was to come.
It was no surprise to see Chane being the most represented deck making up 22% of heroes players chose to play as on day one, with Katsu, Bravo and Prism all cracking the 10% mark.
With seven rounds to be played on Day One, a 6-1 record was going to be necessary for players to guarantee a place in the top 64. Six players made it through the day undefeated, including Alberto Miracle (Dash) and Justin Salmon (Prism) from Team FAB Foundry, Joe Colon (Chane), Christopher Clay Jr (Bravo), Shane Martin (Chane) and Tyler Horspool (Prism).
Top ranked Canadian player Dante Delfico and New Zealander Sean Yang made it through to Day Two on 6-1. Alexander Vore managed to take one of a handful of Kano decks in the field through to a 6-1 record as well, taking his chances on a metagame light on Arcane Barrier. Top ranked American Players Rob Cygul and Brendan Patrick just made it through on 5-2 but opted to drop from the event in favour of playing the Pro Quest event on Day 2. So, 60 players would go on to contest Day 2 and their share of the $10,000 USD prize pool, the holy grail - the extended art golden cold foil Fyendal’s Spring Tunic- and of course, the trophy and title of “Las Vegas Calling Champion.”
Day two kicked off with 29 Chane decks still in the event, making up 45% of the field, significantly outperforming the 22% of decks that started the tournament. Bravo and (to many people's surprise) Prism had held their own qualifying 16 players. 18 of the other top tier heroes had qualified, alongside the one rogue wizard.
With four more rounds to play, a 9-2 record was going to be necessary to even be in contention for the Top 8. Tyler Horspool's Prism defeated Alberto Miracle's Dash deck in the first feature match of the day, before going down to Justin Salmon in Round 8 despite getting a Great Library of Solana into play. Alberto Miracle managed to defeat Michael Boyd's Boltyn deck by running him out of cards and hitting through with the pistols for the win. Brandon Webb managed to take his Katsu Deck all the way through to 9-2, ultimately defeating Kyle Waple's Prism in the final round of qualifiers, while Christopher Clay Jr's Bravo went down at 8-2 to Shuo Feng's Chane.
After the end of the qualifiers, three players had battled their way through to a 10-1 record; Joe Colon, Sebastiano Cavallo and Canada's Dante Delfico all piloting Chane decks. Thirteen other players made it through to 9-2, but on tiebreaker count back, two Prism players, Tyler Horspool and Kyle Waple on Prism; Andres Perez and Zachary Burrell on Chane; and the lone Dash played by Alberto Miracle.
There are some notable players in the Top 8 of this event, such as Dante Delfico, who was one of a group of players travelling from Canada to participate in the event. Dante was the first player in Canada to reach 1000XP, and quickly made a name for himself during the Skirmish seasons earlier this year.
Joe Colon regularly appeared in the finals of events during the Road to Nationals season which concluded last week, making the Top 4 of four separate events with his Chane deck. Kyle Waple, owner of The Local Game Store, placed in the Top 8 of two Road to Nationals events. Sebastiano Cavallo won two Road to Nationals events and three Skirmishes, Zach Burrell has made three Top 8s at Road to Nationals and Andres Perez placed in the Top 4 of two events, including one win.
Meanwhile, Tyler Horspool played his first Flesh and Blood event in July, participating in two Road to Nationals events, and winning one to join the fray at The Calling. With only ten events to his name, he was the underdog of the Top 8, with other players sitting on 200, 300, 500, 700 or even 2000 XP.
The quarter finals saw two Chane mirror matches, a Chane versus Prism matchup and a tough rematch of Dash versus Prism, with Tyler Horspool taking down Alberto Miracle for the second time. Joe, Tyler, Sebastiano and Dante made it through to the semi-finals after a series of very close games.
The forces of Shadow were gathering stronger. Dante Delfico faced off against Sebastiano Cavillo in a Chane mirror in one the semifinal, while Tyler Horspool's Prism went in to battle against Zachary Burrell's Chane. Sebastiano won a very close match against Dante Delfico in the Chane mirror and secured his spot in the final! Tyler's deck was in it's element now though, with his control Prism being custom built to take on Chane decks. With a combination of Arc Light Sentinel, Snag, and a devastating Herald of Judgement, Tyler was in control the whole way through, closint out the match on 29 life and an opponent with 13 soul shackles and no cards left in their deck.
Then there were two. Tyler vs Sebastiano. Light vs Shadow. Solana vs Demonastery. Prism vs Chane. After two days, 750 players and 13 games of Classic Constructed Flesh and Blood at the largest event in history, The Calling Las Vegas, this was the grand final.
Chane and Sebastiano started things off strong and turn by turn added to the pressure, intensity and Soul Shackle count, banishing more cards and attacking harder and wider each turn. The rumours of “fatigue” strategy decks’ deaths have been greatly exaggerated. Snag’s “right place, right time” stigma has been broken. In a deck-emptying, Ursur-summoning epic for the ages, Tyler Horspool’s Prism beats Sebastiano Cavallo’s Chane, making his weekend record 7-1 against the Shadow Runeblade, proving that the combination of interrupting colossal Chane attacks with Arc Light Sentinel and Snag, defending until Chane runs out of deck and applying constant pressure with Heralds and Spectral Shields is one Calling-winning way to put the pain on Chane.
In this final match of the Monarch season, the Light's victory over the Shadow was decisive, catapulting Tyler Horspool and Prism into the spotlight. Having faced off against eight Chane decks over the course of the weekend, and successfully taking down seven of them, he had broken the metagame and in doing so became the first Calling Champion of the new era!
- Tyler Horspool - Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light
- Sebastiano Cavallo - Chane, Bound by Shadow
- Dante Delfico - Chane, Bound by Shadow
- Zachary Burrell - Chane, Bound by Shadow
- Joe Colon - Chane, Bound by Shadow
- Kyle Waple - Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light
- Alberto Miracle - Dash, Inventor Extraordinaire
- Andres Perez - Chane, Bound by Shadow
The Rest of the Weekend
Sunday's ProQuest event saw 298 players test their skills, with established players such as Jacob Burns, Brendan Patrick and Chris Ray in the field. Zach Bunn and Steven Wooley of Team Covenant also joined the fight, both narrowly missing the Top 8 cut at 4-2 each.
Rob Cygul made it through to the Top 8, but it was Brishen James who rose to the top of the event, winning a Gold Cold Foil Arcanite Skullcap.
- Brishen Jaimes
- Wyatt McHalffey
- Jonathan Wyatt
- Christopher Bates
- Tanmay Bhanushali
- Rob Cygul
- Ryan Baker
- Matt Kozmor
The side events also proved hugely popular, with multiple events cracking 100 players each and well over 1,000 entries into side events throughout the weekend. All in all the weekend was a great success.
Again, we want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who made the weekend such an amazing event. The Team at ChannelFireball put on a fantastic event and we're very grateful to them for the effort that they put in. The commentary team did a great job, along with the judge core, and all the special guests and cosplayers created a fantastic atmosphere.
Most of all though, we want to thank everyone who came and played. Thank you for your support of the game, and even more so, thank you for upholding the values of the game - fair play and respect for other players. It was fantastic to see so many comments about the strong sense of community spirit that was on display, and that is something that comes from the attitude that everyone brings to the game. We're so grateful that the values that are important to us as a studio are also the values of the community at large. It was a bittersweet moment for us down here in New Zealand, watching what for many of us was the culmination of years and years of work without having the chance to actually be there in person. We hope that the Calling series continues to go strong, and as international travel opens up, we hope to actually be at some of these events.
In the meanwhile, stay safe, and we hope to see many of you back in Dallas for the first Tales of Aria Calling event!