We typically reserve the Top 8 Tech series for Grand Prix level events but this Open was special. This was our first real look at the post-B&R format and the decklists did not disappoint. From former format titans to brews, today we will take a look at the pieces of technology put on display by the players in their winning runs. As always, all decklists are available here.
BW Smallpox: Reinvigorating with SFM
I was so excited to see this deck have a significant performance again. We last saw this strategy in the Top 16 of GP Oklahoma City nearly two years ago. At the time, folks were going hard on ramp decks to crush Grixis Shadow. At this event, folks were going hard on ramp decks to crush SFM. This created an opportunity for the deck to succeed but SFM is what really put it over in my eyes. In my experience, the deck struggled with aggression and closing games. Stone–Skull patches up those issues in short order and helped Jacob to a 9th place finish.
Tron: Beating Up Burn
In recent times, Tron has had a close but losing matchup to Burn; a 43.9% MWP according to CFB. Sam knew he could crush the midrange decks that were rising but Burn would rise to face them as well. Predicting this, his seventy-five was very well set up for them. In the mainboard he ran two Wurmcoil Engine and two Thragtusk to gain huge amounts of life. Then out of the board he had a Witchbane Orb to grab with Karn the Great Creator and a miser’s Weather the Storm. It clearly paid off and helped him to earn an 8th place finish.
Rakdos Midrange: Leaving the White Behind
This build is very reminiscent of the long-forgotten Mardu Pyromancer. The Looting ban then seemed like a death sentence. But John went back to the drawing board and came up with something quite different. Young Pyromancer and Lingering Souls, all white mana really, have been given up for a more consistent Blood Moon plan. He has added Dreadhorde Arcanist and fifteen one drop spells to capitalize on it. The build also has additional planeswalkers, including Chandra AoF, and Hazoret at the top end. It is a new and interesting take on the strategy and after John’s 7th place finish I would be keeping an eye out for it.
Grixis Shadow: Swapping Back to the Classic
The former reigning king of the format has returned. I am partial to the Mardu builds but Grixis has swiftly and clearly pulled ahead post-B&R update. Mardu may have had some significant advantages in the old format but not so much now. In particular, the Burn matchup is much kinder to Grixis thanks to the full set of mainboard Stubborn Denial. Outside of that, Russell did not make any wild choices and rightfully so. This is a tried and true archetype that fell out due to metagame conditions. He fell back to old faithful and it took him to a 4th place finish.
Titanshift: Field of the Dead
I find Field of the Dead very exciting in a deck that is usually so stock. This deck could struggle with Surgical effects like Crumble to Dust on Valakut or a Leyline of Sanctity/Witchbane Orb. Field of the Dead is the perfect work-around; spawning zombies rather than Bolts. It is not difficult to enable the seven different lands clause either. Snow-Covered basics have different names but are functionally identical in the deck. The same can be said for the green fetches beyond Wooded Foothills. This allowed him to fit thirteen unique lands in the deck without breaking a sweat. Ross came up with an awesome build and I think it may just be standard going forward.
Burn: Cannibalizing the Strategy
This was clearly Burn’s weekend and many players recognized this. However, the best Burn players recognized that other players would come to the same conclusion. Collins, Zan, and Dylan all made it to Top 8 and they all jammed a full set of Kor Firewalker in the board to whomp the other Burn players. Now that is some next-level metagame prediction. They all settled on near-identical maindecks as well; the only variation being meaningless fetchland choices. It may not be all that exciting but Burn never is. They made a masterful metagame call and that brought them 6th, 5th, and 2nd place finishes.
Whirza: Getting Ready to Grind
Harlan managed to take down the tournament by playing the format’s best deck. I kid, I kid. It is a tough deck to play, he performed wonderfully, and built an ideal seventy-five. For the current format, that means beating Burn and being prepared to grind. Brutalities cover Burn but the real highlights are the two copies of Tezzeret AoB. His +1 nets card advantage and helps you to assemble the combo. His -1 is a reasonable alternate path to victory. But his ultimate, which can be used the turn after he comes into play, really packs a wallop. This will easily swing the race by twenty life points or more in this deck. I personally see this card as an auto-include and I am glad Harlan used it on his way to taking the trophy home.
Modern looks pretty sweet. Sure it is just Week 1 and Burn is not fun or interesting to play against. But look at the diversity and innovation! Where do you see SFM going from here? Are there any decks that we are sleeping on? Please share your ideas 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.