Yesterday we did a high-level breakdown of the Grand Prix Denver results. Admittedly, I was not thrilled with the outcome as Scapeshift decks took up half of the Top 16 spots. However, I can always find something to love among the decklists. Today we are breaking down the hottest pieces of technology that the players utilized in their Top 8 runs. Today’s entry will unfortunately be a bit short as Scapeshift decks ended up taking three of the Top 8 spots. As always, all decklists are available here.
Jeskai Superfriends: A Whopping Twenty Planeswalkers
I highlighted this deck in yesterday’s article and I am more than happy to do so again. WotC should have seen such a deck coming when they decided to flood Standard with a metric ton of planeswalkers. But I am not complaining one bit. I strongly prefer this deck to boring old Esper Control. This really is planeswalker tribal and I love it. Three color decks already have access to great mana in Standard if they are willing to take some damage. However, this deck has access to Interplanar Beacon for painless mana fixing. In fact, it will gain you life so that you can stabilize. So how does it win? That is my favorite part. Once they have a significant board presence, Sarkhan transforms himself and each other planeswalker into 4/4 dragons and slams the opponent in the air. This is a very cool, although very expensive, deck and I hope it sticks around through rotation; it does not lose much.
Orzhov Vampires: The Full Four Duress
I am not sure the last time we have seen such a clear delineation between creature decks and non-creature decks. In the current format it seems like your deck is very creature heavy or runs none at all. Of course this is not entirely true; just look at the 20-20-20 Mono-Red decks. Regardless, Orzhov Vampires is pretty well positioned against creature decks with mainboard lifegain and removal. However, it can be a tad difficult to race down these ramp and control decks that laugh at your removal spells and could care less how much life you gain. This is where the classic Duress comes in. I know it is simple but it is brutally effective in the current Standard format. Against the aforementioned slow decks it is nearly a painless Thoughtseize. The perfect way to cheaply disrupt them and buy precious time; and clearly good enough to make Top 8.
Boros Feather: KISS Principle
I wish I had more to say about this one as I have quite the soft spot for growth spell decks. This one does much less growing than we have seen in the past but makes up for it with card advantage. Feather and Arcanist keep the targeted spells going and going as the game goes late. So what did this Top 8 list do differently? Nothing at all really. Keep it simple, stupid. It is the very stock and very effective Boros Feather list that we have come to respect. Shout out to the spicy singleton Aurelia in the sideboard at least. The deck is great and there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Simic Nexus: Going Against the Grain
This one is somewhat surprising to me. Simic Nexus has received significant hate since it first became a deck last year. Then in more recent times it had mostly fallen out of popularity. Ramp players opted for Hydroid Krasis and Mind Control gimmicks for greater closing power. They are looking for huge turns that take the opponent out of the game but this is what led to the rise of Scapeshift. Scapeshift is doing similar things but goes wider thanks to the zombie combo. By going back to Simic Nexus you can go even over that. Scapeshift made the format slower on average and no deck can play the lategame as effectively as good old Simic Nexus. An army of zombies, planeswalkers, etc. is irrelevant if the game went long enough for fogs and extra turns to take over. It worked in Denver and I do wonder if ramp is the answer to ramp; an unappealing prospect to say the least.
Bant Scapeshift: Playing the Best Deck
Finally we come to it, the toast of Denver. It took home the trophy and took up half of the Top 16 slots. Clearly the tech on display here is playing the best deck in the format. I recently wrote that I thought the deck was underrated but I had not realized it had so much potential. It appears that Bant is the proven best build and it is not surprising given the pedigree that Simic ramp has in the format. Probably the most notable deckbuilding choice that the pilots agreed on was Veil of Summer out of the board. Duress and Dovin’s are cheap, effective ways for opponent’s to disrupt the deck and are hard to get out in front of. Veil is the perfect way to counter an uncounterable spell or net card advantage against discard. I also appreciate that two of them are packing Ajani’s Welcome in the board. It gains bits of life over the course of the game sure but when you combo off and spawn your zombie army, it gains you enough life to swing your army with impunity. This deck will be a tough cookie to crack.
And so those were the best pieces of technology put on display in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Denver. I do wish that we had video coverage to enjoy it but that is a dead horse at this point. I would have tuned out during the ramp mirror matches anyways. So which of these will you be adding to your list? Do you have any spicy tech of your own to share? Please let us know 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.