I have been looking forward to this weekend since the Grand Prix schedule for this year was presented. Not only would we have two Modern Grands Prix at once, but they would coincide with a Modern SCG Open. With all of this going on we have been able to generate a large Event Spotlight that comprises 96 decklists that have proven themselves at a high level event. With this large sample size we are able to paint a very accurate picture of the state of the Modern format.
The first set of data from the weekend and my personal favorite. The results themselves, no. Phoenix is the best deck, everyone knows it, and we have not been able to adapt to it. This dataset is my favorite because we have been given access to every single Day 2 placement and it was provided very quickly after the event. You can view it here.
Although an SCG Open is not quite equivalent to a Grand Prix, it is a high level event and the results are valid; also our discussion group voted for its inclusion. Here we saw Phoenix’s weakest performance; still tied for the best deck. At this smaller event Dredge managed to do just as well as Phoenix. Proving that you can do well in Modern without Phoenix as long as you still play a Faithless Looting deck. It is a smaller event but all Day 2 decklists are available here.
The frustrating dataset from Tampa. When this was originally written, long after all other results had been posted, we had not been sent the full results from Tampa. We did get them this morning though so everything has been updated to include them. It was not hard as these results just confirm that Phoenix decks are busted. You can view the Top 8 decklists here and the Top 32 decklists here.
Soaring Over the Competition (Putting it all Together)
There goes that heading again. Arclight Phoenix continues to soar over the rest of the Modern format. At the final GP that KCI was legal, Phoenix tied with it as the most dominant deck. With these results in the books, Phoenix decks have been the most successful archetype for five Grands Prix straight; every single one since it was printed. When we put all of the weekend results together the only deck that comes close to matching it, and it is not very close, is the other Faithless Looting deck. When it comes to the topic of a ban, naysayers will offer up the dominance of Humans last year and Death’s Shadow the year before. However, neither of these decks were near this level of dominance. This data is much more in line with Eldrazi Winter; though it is has not reached those 30% heights. At this point the only reason to not ban it is the forthcoming shakeups that could dethrone it; the London mulligan and Modern Horizons. I guess we will just have to suffer an unbalanced format until then.
Dredge is the other Faithless Looting deck and it performed about half as well as Phoenix this weekend. This does place it as the second best though and is quite impressive. After the second Golgari Grave Troll ban Dredge was a metagame call that performed once people skimped on graveyard hate. But with Creeping Chill the deck has ascended. They are a know quantity and everyone prepares for them, but they keep winning anyways. Dredge is not going anywhere unless there is a banning. A less significant step down takes us to Humans. It may not be getting significant fanfare currently but it lines up reasonably against the top decks and has an exceptional winrate based on a large sample size. It has displaced Spirits as proactive threats take precedence over reactive sideboard cards at the moment. It really is a great choice if you fear the ban hammer.
Whir Prison continues to surge, though one player was on Lantern, as Chalice gains stock in the format. I think that this deck is a great choice in the current metagame. If the format is going to adjust to Phoenix and balance out I am expecting this deck to be our savior. Shadow also performed admirably as it has since the beginning of the year. It is slipping a bit due to Whir and Human decks but it still is set up to do well against the Looting decks of the format. Believe it or not, it is still good to pay one mana for 5/5s and 10/10s in Modern. Tron also had it’s best showing in quite some time. I am honestly not sure what metagame conditions caused this slight resurgence but it likely has something to do with maindeck Relic of Progenitus.
Next we saw Burn as the king of the scarce decks. It saw a ton of play off of Skewer the Critics and a good Phoenix matchup but has been heavily suppressed by Dredge as of late. The rest of the decks are old pillars of the format and never truly go away. At the moment though they just do not appear to be as good as the top tier decks right now. I have spoken with pilots of these archetypes and most of them swore that they have positive Phoenix matchups. For one reason or another though they just did not convert quite as well. Regardless, they are clearly good enough to make Top 32 at a Grand Prix so there is not need to fret. I do believe that despite any weaknesses, you could choose any of these archetypes and come in second to a Phoenix player at your next tournament.
Death and Taxes
Here we see relics of the past still carried by faithful pilots and the fruits of labor for dedicated brewers. These players were the lone pilots of their archetype at the top tables. Do not let the scarcity fool you though as they all made their respective Top 32s and Bogles managed to climb up to a Top 8.
The most important Modern weekend for the foreseeable future is in the books and honestly it was not pretty. Everyone knew going into this weekend that Phoenix is the best deck in the format and has ruled every event since it was printed. We simply do not seem to be able to adjust to beat it. So should something be banned from the Phoenix deck? We would like to hear your thoughts in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow to present a guide to MtG Facebook Groups. Until then my friends.