Top 8 Tech: Grand Prix Sao Paulo

I was very disappointed a couple weeks ago when CFB never posted the Top 32 of Grand Prix Calgary for analysis. So I made do with the Top 8 and presented the most interesting deckbuilding choices among them. To my surprise, the response was great so I have decided to do it again for Grand Prix Sao Paulo. Today I will cover the best pieces of technology that winning players utilized in their decklists. All eight decklists are available here.

Burn: Light Up the Stage
Burn itself making Top 8 was a surprise in and of itself. As anticipated in our set review, Skewer the Critics brought renewed interest to the Burn archetype. Many were surprised that we did not list Light Up the Stage among them. Stock Boros Burn does not support the card adequately. Light Up the Stage is a solid card that helps the deck to not run out of gas. However, too many Spectacle cards and/or too few one drops will make it inconsistent. So how did he fix it? Simple, he cut two-drops to make room for it. With all of the Skullcracks moved to the board, he can maintain his one drop count to consistently enable Spectacle. With this build, the strategy becomes leaner and more able to net card advantage as the game goes late. It is a small change but I am willing to bet that it paid dividends all weekend.

Izzet Phoenix: Lightning Axe and Set Adrift/Echoing Truth
The format may have adjusted and forced Phoenix to land but it was still among the best decks. Chief among the recent trends is Lightning Axe. When Phoenix first hit the scene, my biggest gripe was how few discard outlets for Phoenix it ran. At the moment, answering hefty creatures such as Titi or Anafenza or Kalitas is vital to the deck’s success. Lightning Axe covers both of these concerns in a neat little package. The other choice I really enjoyed among Leonardo and Henrique’s decklists was Set Adrift/Echoing Truth. Not only do these answer the aforementioned troublesome creatures, they act as a “get out of jail free” card for any permanent; Chalice of the Void comes to mind. They may not be permanent answers but often a turn is all that this deck needs to go off. When you are public enemy number one, an unconditional answer to the hate is a huge boon.

Titanshift: The Summoner’s Pact Package
It is entirely standard for Titanshift lists to run a number of Summoner’s Pacts with a handful of silver bullets as Pedro did. Usually they grab a Titan but grabbing a Baloth in response to Liliana of the Veil’s +1 is one of the best feelings in Magic. Of course a copy of Reclamation Sage makes an appearance to answer especially frustrating permanents such as Blood Moon. My favorite among them, and a criminally underplayed one in my opinion, is Ruric Thar. He will double Bolt any player that casts a non-creature spell but when you have a 6/6 Vigilance, the only noncreature spell you usually would want to play is Scapeshift. This leaves the opponent to Path or double Bolt him to get back on track. Taking 12 damage to answer him is not an enticing proposition and many decks board Path out against Titanshift. The only target for it is Titan and once the Titan has entered, ramping the Shift player will result in a Bolt if not death. I know I am gushing but Ruric is the definition of a “fun-of” and I fully support it.

Bogles: The Open the Armory Package
I am very happy to see Bogles in another Top 8 and I am pleased that Sergio utilized Open the Armory. As explained in our recent deck guide and sideboard guide, it is a solid choice right now. I do wish that he did more with it though. Mana Tithe and Dromoka’s Command in the main are neat choices, but I think he would benefit from a second Open and more options for it. In particular, I would like to see Wheel of Sun and Moon out of the board. Regardless, it a great decklist and it obviously served him well throughout the weekend. I do not fully understand why he would want a second Plains, but I am very tempted to make room for Spheres as he did. Perhaps it was for Blood Moon insurance against Izzet Phoenix. Either way, I will absolutely be using an Open the Armory package going forward.

Humans: A Full Set of Auriok Champion
The big story of the weekend was Humans rising up to rival Phoenix. Andres opted to use Chris Carlile’s exact 75 from GP Calgary and clearly it paid off; you can read Chris’s tournament report here. There is little I can say about it that we have not already said; it is a great list. The other Humans player, Matheus, made the interesting choice to utilize a full playset of Auriok Champion. It is a great card, particularly against Shadow and Burn, but it is quite rare to see a playset. It is possible that he has adopted the strategy of superdan_7; a prolific Humans player on MTGO. He has been using the full set of Auriok for some time now and supposedly values them highly in the Izzet Phoenix matchup. I find this quite strange but he consistently succeeds with the strategy on MTGO and it seems that Matheus rode it to the Top 4 of the Grand Prix. This is something that I will have to test for next month’s sideboard guide.

Tron: Following the KISS Principle
Honestly, I was somewhat disappointed at first glance of Marlos’s list. There is the Sanctum of Ugin package. With Sanctum in the deck they can tutor it before casting a large threat which will then allow them to find tutor up a large threat. The most interesting is World Breaker as an out to various troublesome permanents. However, this is a longstanding entry in the Tron playbook as well. Then it hit me. The key to the success of this list, and Tron in general, is the KISS principle. For those not familiar, it means “keep it simple, stupid”. He played the most stock list of Tron possible because it is not a deck that you want to get cute with. You should not shut out the opportunity for innovation but do not needlessly modify the strategy. This deck does one thing and does it extremely well. In Sao Paulo, that “thing” was taking home a trophy.

Wrap-Up
The Top 8 Tech series was meant as a consolation prize when CFB failed to present the Top 32 decklists of Grand Prix Calgary. However, our faithful readers made it abundantly clear that this is something they enjoy. We always appreciate your feedback so please let us know if there is anything else that you would like to see us write about. So what was your favorite piece of technology in this entry? Did we overlook anything? We would love to talk it over 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 revisit one of our favorite decks from the Brewed Up series. Until then my friends.

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