Event Spotlight: Grand Prix Oakland (1/19)

This will be a reoccurring column here at Good Grief Games in which we review the results of a recent event. This week we are taking a look at 2019’s first Modern Grand Prix from Oakland, California. This one has stirred up some controversy and ban list discussion. For today though we will be focused on reporting the results and the trends in the data. A graph representing the Top 16 results is found above.

New Year, New Meta
For many, the new year brings new things and Modern players are no exception. Izzet Phoenix proved that it is in the upper echelon of Modern decks. It put four lists into the Top 16 (tied for most), was the second most represented deck on Day 2, and won the entire tournament. Not a bad start to the year for a deck that has only existed since the release of Guilds of Ravnica in October. Now that Izzet Phoenix has shown what it’s capable of, we will have to see if it is able to continue to put up such great results with such a large target on its back.
Speaking of large targets, there was another deck that managed to put four copies into the Top 16. Kark-Clan Ironworks Combo was able to put four pilots into the Top 8 and almost take down the entire tournament; Hunter Cochran needed to catch a flight. KCI has consistently proven that it is a force to be reckoned with at the GP level. Over his last 5 Grand Prix with the deck, Matt Nass has shockingly managed to maintain a win rate over 80%. Barring a ban, KCI is here to stay and you must learn how it works and how to beat it if you want to be successful at the highest levels.
Burn was the only other deck to put multiple lists into the Top 16 with three pilots. Despite not making a Top 8 appearance, this is a very impressive showing for the deck. This is surprising as the deck was dormant toward the final months of 2018. It does have access to some of the great sideboard tech that we will discuss this week and Eidolon punishes spell-slinger decks quite well. We will be keeping an eye on it to see whether this was a flash in the pan or a legitimate metagame response to decks like Izzet Phoenix.
Hardened Scales, U/W Control, Titanshift, Living End, and Grixis Death’s Shadow round out our Top 16. The deck that really jumps out from that list is Living End which has not seen such success in quite a long time. It will be interesting to see if other pilots can have success with it in the current meta. The other decks are Modern mainstays which are not all that surprising to see in a Top 16.
The most surprising phenomenon for many is the disappearance of Spirits. This was the deck to beat going into Day 2 and in the eyes of many the best deck in Modern. However, Day 2 was very unkind to Spirits pilots as not one of them managed to make it into Top 16. This may have been an effect of tough matchups like Izzet Phoenix and Burn in Day 2 but I would not expect Spirits to stay down. After all, what is dead may never die.

Grand Prix Oakland left us with many storylines for us to look out for in 2019. Will Phoenix and KCI continue to put up such great results at the GP level? Will the tribal decks such as Spirits and Humans be able to bounce back? Only time will tell, but the first big event of 2019 has given us a lot to think about. Tomorrow we will be returning to our 2018 retrospective by looking at the Top 10 Sideboard cards of the year. I hope to see you there.

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