Top 8 Tech: Grand Prix Dallas (6/19)

I am just going to go ahead and say it. The state of Magic coverage in 2019 is an absolute joke. If they do not believe that video coverage is worthwhile that is fine; though I bet they are wrong. But CFB has absolutely bungled text coverage. At best, we get the decklists days later. If we are lucky we get the Top 32. Last time we got just a Top 16. Well Dallas is the worst yet. The results of this event are a Twitter thread featuring low quality photos of incomplete decklists. Their coverage has been laughably unprofessional and it has been getting worse as time goes on. Depending on who you ask they also either fell for an old Google image search result or leaked the future of Magic. Anyways, that is the end of my rant. We will make the best of what we have and look at the best technology featured in the incomplete Top 8 decklists.

Update: We finally have full Top 8 decklists

Thopter Sword: Brewing Your Way to Success
Almost 25% of Justin’s spellbase did not exist a month ago. Thopter Sword was a Tier 4 deck with a non-infinite combo that folded to grave and artifact hate. He was new toys, got to brewing, and did it so well that he landed among the Top 8. The most modest addition is Arcum’s Astrolabe. Color-fixing outside of Mox Opal can be underwhelming for artifact decks. Chromatics were really the only option but costing two mana to make one and being single use are pretty junky. Astrolabe lets them pay one upfront, get the card immediately, and freely convert mana each turn from there. Goblin Engineer is extremely helpful with combo assembly. One of the benefits of the Thopter Sword combo is that you can begin with the Sword in the graveyard as long as you have a spare artifact to sacrifice. Even if you destroy the Foundry, the Engineer can trade in something for it to try the combo again next turn. Then finally we come to Urza. Urza allows the Thopter Sword combo to go infinite. With each iteration of the combo, you can tap the Sword to pay for its own sacrifice; gaining infinite life and tokens in the process. You actually can tap the Thopter tokens as you go to generate infinite mana as well. Which will allow you to use Urza’s ability to play out your entire deck if need be. It looks like artifact hate may just be great in Modern again.

Taking Turns: Mastering an Obscure Deck
Before we get into the decklist, I want to highlight the pilot Daniel Wong. He is an absolute master of the archetype and earned his spot. His first Grand Prix Top 8 with the deck was two years ago in Vegas. He has also earned a couple Top 16s in the interim. This is a reminder that the Modern format is still very open. If you commit to a non-tier deck you can still compete at the highest levels. Onto the deck, it a whacky one chock full of singletons. This does make sense though. With the Mine effects he will draw twice as many cards each turn and therefore see more of his deck. Furthermore, this is a Snapcaster deck and the more options you have in the lategame the better it becomes. Commandeer is an especially interesting one with two extra copies in the board. Of course the list features the Control-classic strategy of hiding a creature threat in the sideboard. You will want to side out removal against this deck, but Thing in the Ice will come in and punish you hard. There is no right answer to this dilemma.

Eldrazi Tron: Cheating To Increase Consistency
Samuel Cook managed to come in 2nd at the event by cheating. By registering only 56 cards, he was able to find Eldrazi Temple in his opening hand much more consistently. This is a joke. Sam did not actually do anything wrong. His maindeck is 56 cards and his sideboard is 10 cards because CFB coverage is trash. The real tech on display is reviving an old archetype with cards from WAR. In fact, he was the only player in Top 8 that did not use Modern Horizons cards. But between new Karn, new Ugin, and Blast Zone he cannot really complain. Karn opens up a ton utility that the deck simply did not have access to in the past. As is typical, Lattice and Bridge will decimate large swaths of the format. I do think that Blast Zone is the greater addition though. This archetype has long struggled with go-wide strategies and Ratchet Bomb was pretty horrible compared to Explosives. Now they have the effect on a land to be tutored with Expedition Map whenever needed. I do wonder whether Stompy or the Tron build will come out on top after the London mull comes into effect.

Humans: Being a Member of Modern Humans
This is again a joke. Obviously the Facebook group has helped him but this accomplishment was Chris’s and Chris’s alone. He featured a few new additions from Modern Horizons but only Silent Clearing made the maindeck. This may seem odd but it would help him to cast the sideboard Plague Engineers. This card can be extremely difficult to cast but according to Chris it is worth putting a Cavern/Territory on Carrier for it. He also featured a singleton Collector Ouphe for the few remaining artifact decks in the format. I am also overjoyed to see he utilized Chalice which I have advocated for over a year and strongly recommended going into the weekend. He also begrudgingly made the wise choice to devote a full four sideboard slots to Leyline of the Void. Hogvine is the best deck and we have to beat it somehow.

Hogvine: Playing the Best Deck Despite the Hate
This was the boogeyman going into the tournament and everyone was very prepared for it. Despite these preparations, Tom Ross and Paul Cullier battled their way into the Top 8 with it. The best way to fight this deck is Leyline of the Void and the best way to fight Leyline of the Void is Nature’s Claim. So both of them went with the green splash and clearly it paid off. We are all extremely aware that Carrion Feeder, Hogaak, and Altar were huge buffs for the deck. The question now is: Was it overrated or is it busted based on its ability to fight through the hate? I will let you draw your own conclusions but we will give our take in the coming days.

UW Control: Controlling the Outcome
The eventual winner of the tournament, Austin Bursavich, did so with UW Control. He was in good company though as Anthony Petropoulos made it into the Top 8 with it as well. The deck has gained quite a bit in recent sets with Threeferi and the new Narset. These cheap planeswalkers allow the deck to get the value train started much earlier. The only Modern Horizons card featured was Force of Negation. Dovin’s Veto is a great card but the prospect of a “free” counterspell is just too enticing to pass up. It is worth noting that both player also utilized Monastery Mentor in the board, which has triggered a significant price spike as of today. This is UW Control’s first Grand Prix Trophy in Modern and I would expect it to be a deck to beat going forward.

Wrap-Up
We do apologize for not putting up an article yesterday. We have been waiting for CFB to share the full results of the tournament, but it looks like it is not happening. This is disappointing but the format is a bit of a lame duck until M20 drops anyways. Do you expect Monday’s ban update to deliver yet another shakeup? How will the London mulligan change things? Please share your thoughts with us 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 with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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