The first-ever Flesh and Blood Pro Tour officially took place this past weekend, with players from all around the world cashing in ProQuest invites and PTIs to be a part of history. From May 13-15, Legend Story Studios hosted the Pro Tour: New Jersey at the Meadowlands Expo Centre, with the 1,400 player capacity venue sold out before the event even began.
The event opened with a players' banquet on the Thursday night, a chance for friends and acquaintances from all over the world to catch up, or in many cases meet in person for the first time. Matt di Marco also hosted a special Q&A session with James White the creator of Flesh and Blood. The session covered topics from the design of Bravo, Star of the Show through to the future of lore and the world of Rathe; you can check out 983 Media's footage of the event via their YouTube channel if you'd like to see the event in full.
While the community turned out in force for the Q&A, the biggest stage was yet to be unveiled. On Friday morning, the doors opened to welcome players for one of the most exciting moments in Flesh and Blood history. The Pro Tour was about to begin.
In total, the Pro Tour field consisted of 361 players from 25 countries: the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Poland, Germany, Singapore, Spain, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Portugal, France, Ireland, Denmark, Hong Kong, Greece, Thailand, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, and Switzerland.
On the opening day of the weekend, excitement was high, and players gathered for group photos all around the hall. The newly formed Team Dragon Shield (Matt Rogers, Tariq Patel, Rob Cygul and Nick Butcher) dropped their testing house video, and the hall seemed to be full of the red and white shirts being worn by members of Team Poland.
The field at the Pro Tour included eleven National Champions, 6 Calling Champions (including both two-time Calling Champions), and 7 Battle Hardened Champions (including our two-time Battle Hardened winner).
- Tariq Patel - United States National Champion
- Yuki Lee Bender - Canada National Champion
- Matt Rogers - New Zealand National Champion 2020, Calling: Auckland 2021 Champion
- Jonas Benzarti - Denmark National Champion
- Filipe Camacho - Portugal National Champion
- Lukasz Cichecki - Poland National Champion
- Hayden Dale - Australia National Champion, Calling: Sydney 2019 Champion
- Matthew Foulkes - United Kingdom National Champion
- Christian Franco - France National Champion
- Pietro Gerletti - Italy National Champion
- Immanuel Gerschenson - Austria National Champion
- Christian Huack - Germany National Champion
- Kevin Lerens - Belgium National Champion
- Philip van Donselaar - Netherlands National Champion
- Sasha Markovic - Calling: Austin 2019 Champion, Calling $10k Auckland 2020 Champion
- Michael Hamilton - Calling: Orlando Champion, Calling: Indianapolis Champion
- Michael Feng - Calling: Cincinnati Champion
- Tyler Horspool - Calling: Las Vegas
- Nam Vo - Calling: Dallas Fort-Worth Champion
- Yuanji Li - Calling: Krakow Champion
Battle Hardened Champions
- Charles Dunn - Battle Hardened Pittsburgh Champion, Battle Hardened Philadelphia Champion
- Joshua Bausch - Battle Hardened Frankfurt Champion
- Francesco Giorgio - Battle Hardened Leeds Champion
- Maciej Janik - Battle Hardened Krakow Champion
- Sergio Sanz Guerrero - Battle Hardened Madrid Champion
- Brodie Spurlock - Battle Hardened Dallas Champion
- Yongji Yang - Battle Hardened Indianapolis Champion
The format of the Pro Tour was Classic Constructed, the first major tournament since April's Banned and Suspended announcement, and despite the changes, Bravo still took centre stage as the Star of the Show, amid fierce speculation as to whether he was still the best deck in the format following the loss of Autumn's Touch and Awakening. Chane and Prism followed close behind, with Briar reappearing in the field after a months long absence. Warriors were few and far between, with Dorinthea one of just two heroes absent from the field alongside Azalea. Levia snuck onto the field with three players, including famed Brute tragics Ethan van Sant and Iain Kenderdine, and Flesh and Blood's original wizard, Kano, also made an appearance.
While Dorinthea didn't see any players join the metagame, there was one representative who brought her to the Pro Tour. Cspranklerun brought the warrior of Solana to life once again, attending the event alongside fellow cosplayer Olivia Gobert-Hicks, who fittingly donned the mantle of Illusionist with her Prism cosplay.
Our commentary team was also hard at work bringing the heroes of Rathe to life. Matt di Marco was a commentator for the US National Championship, is the face of the Instant Speed podcast, and has previously written strategy content for Flesh and Blood. Tannon Grace was a member of the commentary team through all four of our US Calling events last year, and Bryan Gottlieb joined the team for the Calling: Indianapolis last month. Alongside Tannon, our triple-threat commentary team at the Calling: Las Vegas last year - which, up until now, was our largest Flesh and Blood event to date - also featured long-standing community members and content creators DMArmada and Red Zone Rogue. DMArmada has been a part of the community since his first FAB video in October 2019, and Red Zone Rogue joined with his first video in March 2020.
For those attendees who weren't competing in the Pro Tour, Friday saw a number of side events underway, with players queueing between matches to meet our special guests in Artist Alley; Steve Argyle and Federico Musetti.
Steve Argyle created the hero art for Viserai, Rune Blood, Viserai, and Iyslander; alongside the weapons Nebula Blade and Kraken's Aethervein. Federico Musetti created artwork for the heroes Chane and Lexi, the art for the fabled Great Library of Solana, and memorable cards such as The Librarian, Invert Existence, Mangle, and Ursur, the Soul Reaper.
By the end of the day, there were three undefeated players from seven rounds of play - Andrew Rothermel and Chris Ray with Bravo, Star of the Show; and Alexander Vore with the surprise showing of the tournament Kano, Dracai of Aether.
Saturday opened to a fresh cut in the Pro Tour, with all players who had 4 or more wins from the previous day surviving today two. Those who failed to make the cut joined the field for a landmark in Flesh and Blood history - the Calling: New Jersey.
Last year, the Calling ventured outside of New Zealand for the first time since 2019, landing down in Las Vegas for the world premiere of Tales of Aria, and the return of the Calling series for players in the United States. But as big as Las Vegas was, New Jersey set a new record, with 782 players participating in the Calling event.
In contrast to the opening metagame at the Pro Tour, all heroes were in attendance, and some heroes had a much larger presence on the field. The Star of the Show yielding more of the stage to his fellow heroes of Aria, with Lexi, Briar and Oldhim all seeing a stronger showing from players.
An honorable mention goes to two players whose hero choices are missing from the above graph. A couple of super fans were determined to represent their favourite heroes on the grand stage, with a Benji, the Piercing Wind and a Kassai, Cintari Sellsword joining the field of adult heroes.
Meanwhile, the metagame for the second day of the Pro Tour saw a number of heroes eliminated from the field - Bravo, Showstopper; Levia, Shadowborn Abomination; and Katsu, the Wanderer. However, our two sole Boltyn and Rhinar players did make the day two cut!
An 11-3 record was going to be necessary in order for players to have a chance at the Top 8, and the day two action was as hard fought as ever. Alexander Vore was the first player to lock in a place in the cut, taking 11 wins from the first 12 rounds. As the day wore on, a lot of big names remained right in contention for a top slot.
Lexi representative and Canadian National Champion Yuki Lee Bender started out in the first feature match for the day against Bravo player Maciej Janik, and came close to the cut, ultimately losing the spot to Alexander Vore in a Ranger-Wizard matchup. Her feature matches showcase the dormant power of Ranger in the metagame, one that may yet break into the forefront. Australian National Champion and Arsenal Pass host Hayden Dale ran strong all day long with his Kano deck, losing his make or break final round to fall just short of a spot in the knockout rounds.
Team Covenant member Zach Bunn made the call to switch from Viserai to Briar and was right in contention going into round 13 before losses in the final two rounds dropped him just short of the break. Similarly, New Zealand National Champion Matt Rogers put in a strong run on the Team DragonShield Starvo deck before dropping one win short of the break. A number of other well known players ended day two on 10 wins, including two times Calling winner Michael Hamilton, Calling Cincinnati Champion Michael Feng, and well known Polish player Grzegorz Kowalski, while Dennis Zhang, one of only five Oldhim players in the field, also cracked the 10 win bracket.
Andrew Rothermel faced heartbreak when, after going undefeated in the first ten rounds of the tournament, dropped the final four rounds to finish off the break, while fellow 7-0 player Chris Ray ended day two on 9 wins. was the last remaining undefeated player on the field, maintaining a perfect zero-loss record until the final few rounds of day two, where he was unfortunately knocked down to a final standing of 10 wins. Aaron Shantz was the only 11-3 player who missed out on the top cut, coming just shy of the cutoff for the quarterfinals. In the Top 20 final standings, we also see Oldhim player Dennis Zhang, one of just five players in the field.
While the final matches of the Pro Tour wrapped up, another competition was in the works, featuring a different Oldhim.
Olivia Gobert-Hicks and Cspranklerun stepped forward to host the cosplay competition, with a number of colourful FAB characters joining them for their shot at the exclusive Taylor prize card. Ethan van Sant represented Levia both at the Pro Tour and through cosplay, bringing a ritual stuffed rabbit sacrifice to offset his blood debt. Elaine Hamontree brought a cold front to the competition with Iyslander, Christian Mendoza resurrected the living legend Viserai, and Rachael Pope brought a new twist to Oldhim, Granddaddy of Eternity.
Congratulations to the winners of the cosplay contest - Carolina Alvarado claimed her first place Taylor prize card through bringing Exude Confidence to life; second place went to Anthony Harden with his incredible Kavdaen cosplay (hopefully only trading cards); and third place was a tie between our heroes Bravo and Lexi, also known as Tommy and Jillian, claiming a copy of the Welcome to Rathe World Guide.
The end of Saturday saw the Top 8 players claim their spot in the quarterfinals, ready to fight their way to the top the following morning. Amazingly, seven different countries were represented in the Top 8, along with five different heroes.
Despite claiming a 20% share of the day two metagame, only one Prism player made it into the Top 8. Viliam Kubik from Slovakia took twelve wins from fourteen rounds. He was joined by three other European players on eleven wins. Maciej Janik of Poland, winner of Battle Hardened Krakow, took his Bravo, Star of the Show deck into the quarterfinals. Fellow Bravo player Florin-Cristian Loghin of Austria also broke through to the Top 8, making it two events in a row after his Top 8 showing at the Calling: Krakow. And locking up the fourth spot by a European player, Spain's Pablo Pintor Espinosa took his Chane deck through into the quarterfinals.
Briar was a relatively under-represented hero in the meta game, but United States player Jacob Shaker managed to take her through to the Top 8 in his first ever top level Flesh and Blood event. Isaak Krut from Canada also made the cut with Starvo, backing up from his appearance in the semi-finals of the Canadian National Championship in 2021.
But the meta game call of the first Pro Tour was one of Classic Constructed's forgotten heroes, Kano. With wizard having fallen out of favour in recent months, many players had chosen to go down to one, or in some cases even zero null rune in their decks. This left an open door for the seven players brave enough to try and push through three days of play with the hero many describe as the most mentally taxing in the game.
US player Alexander Vore finished day two with a 12 win record, winning multiple feature matches as he blazed a path to the top of the final standings. He previously competed at the Calling: Las Vegas, where he also played Kano, Dracai of Aether. New Zealander Sasha Markovic was the other Kano player to make the Top 8. Sasha was a finalist in the first ever Calling event in Auckland, New Zealand back in 2019, and went on to become the first player in Flesh and Blood history to become a two-time Calling Champion.
The final day of Pro Tour New Jersey featured a huge lineup of events. Alongside the Top 8 of the Pro Tour, there was the day two cut of the Calling, alongside the Battle Hardened Blitz event. The metagame for day two of the Calling saw strong showings from Starvo, Chane, Prism, Briar and Lexi, while one legendary player managed to break through to day two with their Azalea deck (sadly both Benji and Kassai failed to make the cut).
For those players who didn't make the cut, the Battle Hardened was about to begin, offering two PTIs for the finalists to use at future invite-only events like the Pro Tour! 451 players gathered to compete in this Blitz format tournament, setting a brand new record for the largest Battle Hardened to date; the size of the events in Indianapolis and Dallas combined!
The Top 8 for this event included Francesco Giorgio, winner of Battle Hardened Leeds; Donovan van Beek, Top 4 at the Netherlands National Championship; and Matthias Hittel, Top 4 at the German National Championship. Kristian Čurla won two events during Skirmish Season 4; Easton Douglas (Iyslander) and Merrick Kemp (Dash) both won one event each; and finally, Mark Johnson won a Road to Nationals event and Matthew Vore came Top 4 at a Road to Nationals, both with Chane.
Despite the presence of six Oldhim players in the Top 8, Kano player Mark Johnson blazed a path through the ice and dodged Frostbite on his way to the finals, meeting Oldhim player Donovan van Beek in the last match of the tournament. Donovan made the day two cut in the Pro Tour but fell short of the threshold for making the Top 8, but quickly found his footing in the Battle Hardened event, freezing out Mark to win the tournament.
Top 8 - Battle Hardened: New Jersey
1st: Donovan van Beek - Oldhim - Netherlands
2nd: Mark Johnson - Kano - United States
3rd-4th: Matthew Vore - Oldhim - United States
3rd-4th: Easton Douglas - Oldhim - United States
5th-8th: Merrick Kemp - Dash - United States
5th-8th: Kristian Čurla - Oldhim - Croatia
5th-8th: Francesco Giorgio - Oldhim - United Kingdom
5th-8th: Matthias Hittel - Oldhim - Germany
In another section of the hall, the Calling saw a Top 8 cut feature players with a wide variety of competitive backgrounds. Adam Little from New Zealand signed up before the release of Welcome to Rathe in 2019, making Top 8 at the Calling: Auckland in 2019, and then again in 2021. Ralph Schlauri from Switzerland made Top 4 at the 2021 Swiss National Championship, Oliver Phi from the United States made the day two cut at the 2021 US National Championship and Robert Catton from the United Kingdom won the Battle Hardened event at the 2021 UK National Championship.
The rest of the Top 8 players continued the trend of diverse national backgrounds; Mateusz Sass, a member of Team Poland; Christopher D'Agostino of the United States; Daniel Correas of Spain, and Josh Lind from the United States.
In the quarterfinals, two of our three Bravo players were knocked out of the tournament, alongside Prism player Christopher D'Agostino and Chane player Robert Catton. The semi-finals, featured a rematch of the 2021 Las Vegas final, with Monarch heroes Chane versus Prism, and in a repeat of that famous final Prism once again overcame the shadow hero Chane to take a slot in the final. Meanwhile, in the other semi-final, Starvo faced down Briar, with the second Runeblades also ultimately being eliminated from contention, leaving Mateusz Sass of Poland and Oliver Phi of the USA with the two storytellers of FAB to battle in the final match of the Calling.
Prism is currently second place on the Living Legends leaderboard, racking up points across a variety of events, but Bravo has consistently been Star of the Show across the last ProQuest season. In a very close final match, Mateusz Sass managed to weave his way through the illusions and auras of Prism, to claim the title of Calling Champion, and took Bravo, Star of the Show through to become the first ever Classic Constructed Living Legend. Starvo will see his final farewell ahead of the release of Uprising.
Congratulations to Mateusz Sass, Champion of the largest Calling to date!
Top 8 - Calling: New Jersey
1st: Mateusz Sass - Bravo, Star of the Show - Poland
2nd: Oliver Phi - Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light - United States
3rd-4th: Daniel Correas - Chane, Bound by Shadow - Spain
3rd-4th: Ralph Schlauri - Briar, Warden of Thorns - Switzerland
5th-8th: Adam Little - Bravo, Star of the Show - New Zealand
5th-8th: Christopher D'Agostino - Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light - United States
5th-8th: Josh Lind - Bravo, Star of the Show - United States
5th-8th: Robert Catton - Chane, Bound by Shadow - United Kingdom
But all day long, the big show in town was the Pro Tour Top 8. After such a strong run in the swiss rounds, Kano players Saha Markovic and Alexander Vore were both eliminated in the quarterfinals, eliminating any hope of the Wizard seeing a surprise win at the Pro Tour. Likewise, Prism player Viliam Kubik fell to Pablo Pintor Espinosa's Chane, making both semi-finals matches a Runeblade v. Guardian matchup.
United States player Jacob Shaker took his Briar to battle against Austrian Florin-Cristian Loghin's Bravo, with the Star of the Show claiming victory and the first spot in the Pro Tour final. In the other semi-finals match, Canadian Isaak Krut's Bravo didn't fare quite so well, and ultimately falling to Pintor's Chane.
And so the final match of the Pro Tour was set; Pablo Pintor Espinosa of Spain with Chane, Bound by Shadow, and Florin-Cristian Loghin of Austria with Bravo, Star of the Show. There had been much talk of avenging the honour of the European Flesh and Blood community after American Yuanji Li sensationally won the first-ever European Calling in Krakow a few weeks earlier. But with half the players in the top eight and both of the finalists, the European Flesh and Blood community showed that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with on the global Flesh and Blood scene.
The crowd held its breath for the showdown between these two incredible players, watching them whittle each other down in one of the closest matches in the entire tournament. As the tournament entered its last stage, Pablo bet everything on setting up one big final push, falling to one life on the penultimate turn. With Carrion Husk in the graveyard, he had to drive through the final three damage or Blood Debt would have finished him off. But Chane did what Chane has done so many times in the past year, and stringing together an Art of War sequence that culminated in a lethal Bounding Demigon; with Florin out of cards and out of armor, Pablo Pintor Espinosa seized victory and the title of the first-ever Flesh and Blood Pro Tour Champion.
Top 8 - Pro Tour: New Jersey
1st: Pablo Pintor - Chane, Bound by Shadow - Spain
2nd: Florin-Cristian Loghin - Bravo, Star of the Show - Austria
3rd-4th: Jacob Shaker - Briar, Warden of Thorns - United States
3rd-4th: Isaak Krut - Bravo, Star of the Show - Canada
5th-8th: Alexander Vore - Kano, Dracai of Aether - United States
5th-8th: Maciej Janik - Bravo, Star of the Show - Poland
5th-8th: Viliam Kubik - Prism, Sculptor of Arc Light - Slovakia
5th-8th: Sasha Markovic - Kano, Dracai of Aether - New Zealand
Congratulations to all of our Top 8 Pro Tour players, who fought their way to the top of the most competitive field in Flesh and Blood history. To all of our players who gathered from around the world for this landmark weekend, whether you competed in the Pro Tour, the Calling, the Battle Hardened, the Commoner event, any of our other side events, or the Cosplay Contest, thank you for joining us in making Flesh and Blood history.
Thank you to the hard work of our commentary team, who spent the entire weekend on camera bringing these matches to life, spotlighting the community, and allowing everyone around the world to be a part of this amazing weekend. You embody the spirit of the community by engaging with players and fans worldwide, and bringing your passion for Flesh and Blood to the screen.
Thank you also to everyone else who helped bring the Pro Tour to the global community, from Corbin Hosler, who brought live updates to our social media over the weekend, to the team who managed the livestream and kept up the action for everyone to watch.
Thank you to our guest cosplayers Olivia Gobert-Hicks and Cspranklerun for spending the entire weekend in cosplay, bringing the characters of Prism and Dorinthea to life; for judging the cosplay competition and encouraging members of the community to join you in the art of bringing fiction into reality through cosplay.
Thank you to our special guests Saint Hung and Rudy for joining us at the event, and to our guest artists Steve Argyle and Federico Musetti, who have long had a part in creating the world of Flesh and Blood through their incredible work; for all the long hours of signing, talking to players, and letting the community glimpse the world of Rathe through your art.
Thank you to the team at ChannelFireball for partnering with us for this event, working to bring the Pro Tour to life through months of careful planning and meetings, and to the staff on the ground for their tireless effort over the weekend making sure that everything ran smoothly.
And finally, to the pillars of every local Flesh and Blood community: our judges, without whom the Pro Tour wouldn't have been possible. Thank you for all of your work over the weekend to make sure that matches ran smoothly, and were played in the spirit of the Flesh and Blood community. The spirit of respect that you showed to players across the spectrum of skill levels was a huge part of making this a fantastic and welcoming event from top competitors all the way to casual fans.
Thank you to everyone around the world who joined us from their homes (and workplaces), whether through the official stream or through social media, cheering on players and sharing the joy from across land and sea. Whether you attended in person or logged in from afar, the global community showed up in force to showcase the very best of Flesh and Blood, giving encouragement to friends and fellow players, sharing the excitement, and welcoming every last member of the community to participate in any way they could.
Thank you for joining us in making Flesh and Blood history, and we look forward to continuing to share this journey with you throughout the rest of the year. There's so much more to look forward to. Until then, we hope that you continue to enjoy your games in the Flesh and Blood.