This past weekend saw another Modern Grand Prix and the results were very exciting. Grand Prix Sao Paulo marks the sixth straight Grand Prix with Phoenix on top. However, this was a turning point for the format. Phoenix was not toppled but we at least managed to have a deck tie with it. Today we will break down the Top 32 decklists and sort out where the format is headed. The Top 8 decklists are available here and the other listings are available here.
Soaring… Next to the Competition?
It finally happened… sort of. The first Modern Grand Prix after the printing of Arclight Phoenix saw Izzet Phoenix tie with, the now banned, KCI for most pilots in Top 32. Post-ban Phoenix was the most represented archetype among the Top 32 of every major Modern event until now. It took six Grands Prix but we have done it. The format has adjusted enough for another deck to tie with Phoenix. It took this long for a deck to tie with it and that is a testament to how powerful and format warping Phoenix is. However, I am taking this as a win for the format. To me it is a sign that we are finally figuring it out; something I worried would never happen. I am hoping that this continues and that Phoenix can remain in the format going forward. The deck that finally caught up to it is Humans. It was considered by many to be the best deck in 2018 but fell off as the year came to a close. Supreme Phantom pushed Spirits to the forefront and Humans was in the doghouse. However, a horrendous Phoenix matchup has cast Spirits back into the shadows. Humans has a solid Phoenix matchup currently as Deputy of Detention has provided additional ways to answer Titi and Chalice is big game. A quality Shadow matchup is also very helpful. Our up to date sideboard guide for it is available here.
Shadow came in behind the big two but the drop off was quite significant. It and Valakut, which has been surging this month, combined match the number of pilots carried by either one of the top two decks. Shadow missed out on Top 8 but there was one Valakut player among them. These are great decks but this really is the time to play Humans or Phoenix; or to find a deck that beats both. Behind this we see the decks that had two pilots each. Tron really should be no surprise as it has been climbing back up to the upper echelon ever since Damping Sphere was printed. It was the deck of choice for the eventual champion of the event. Affinity also had a respectable performance with both players opting for the Hardened Scales build. Behind this we see the biggest surprise in Bogles. As explained in our recent deck guide and sideboard guide, the deck is actually quite well positioned currently. One of the pilots even fought their way into the Top 8; keep an eye on this one. The final recognized archetype was GBx Midrange but just as we saw at SCG Cleveland, it is best to drop the x entirely. Abzan and Jund truly are not bad decks but in the Modern format as it currently stands you should opt to play straight Golgari.
Finally we come to the rogue decks of the tournament. The highest placing among them is Burn, which we have seen very rarely as of late. However, it made it all the way to Top 8 this time around. All other rogue archetypes fell outside of the Top 16. In order of final standings they were Dredge, UW Control, Whir Prison, and Ad Nauseam. Dredge has been seeing a slow descent since last month as more players add incidental mainboard graveyard hate. This is somewhat disappointing for UW after the exciting Esper finish at SCG Cleveland. Lastly we have Whir Prison and Ad Nauseam who popped up last month with the reputation as Phoenix killers but have quickly fallen off. Any of these decks are very playable but they would not be my first choice heading into a large tournament right now.
On a personal note, I am a huge fan of Phoenix and appreciate that Humans and Shadow, two of my favorite decks, have seen a resurgence under its reign. However, all of the results leading up to this tournament indicated a deck that was far ahead of the curve and I had to give an honest assessment of those results. Let us all hope that the format continues to balance itself as we work through the London mulligan and Modern Horizons. In the coming weeks, various members of the writing team will be working through their Horizons wish lists. We are kicking around the idea of doing a community wish list as well though. Please join our discussion group to submit your picks. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. The response to the GP Calgary tech article was very favorable so we will be back tomorrow with one for GP Sao Paulo. Until then my friends.