Wow! What a weekend of magic we had. We had SCG Regionals and of course we had Pro Tour Eldritch Moon in Sydney, Australia. First off, what a show that Luis Scott-Vargas put on by top 8’ing his 3rd Pro Tour…in a row! We have also crowned a Player of the Year in Owen Turtenwald, who is also now a Hall of Famer-elect. Oliver Tiu had another great finish which earned him both the Rookie of the Year and Constructed Master titles. A ton else happened, as well, but let’s dig into the top 8 lists and look at some breakout cards from the weekend. In the top 8 we had: 2 Bant Company, 2 G/R Ramp, 2 Temur Emerge, 1 B/W Control, and 1 G/B Delirium. Here are what I believe were the top 5 breakout cards of the tournament, in ascending order.
5) Vessel of Nascency
This one mana enchantment was out in numbers at the Pro Tour having 8 copies in the top 8. This draft common showed its worth when it comes to getting delirium online. For just 1G you can sacrifice it and look at the top 4 cards and you may put a land, enchantment, creature, Planeswalker, or an artifact into your hand and the rest in the graveyard. Seems simple enough, but when you’re trying to cast a discounted Emrakul, the Promised End, this card becomes a great enabler. After all, playing a 13/13 creature that Mindslavers the opponent when you cast it and has protection from instants, flying, and trample is usually good enough to take the game.
4) Grapple with the Past
Another green common that surprisingly took the Pro Tour by storm. This gem of an instant had 12 copies in the top 8. This card was expected to be good going into the event but just hadn’t found the perfect home yet. Well, leave it to the Pro Tour to find the right spot for powerful cards. Grapple with the Past is an enabler to delirium, similar to Vessel of Nascency. I can see a lot of the Emrakul decks keep a 2 land opening hand when Grapple with the Past is in their opener and be perfectly fine in the game. This card plays a very similar role to Vessel of Nascency, but I think the instant speed spell holds a little more value in Standard than the enchantment.
3) Grim Flayer
When I first saw this card I absolutely loved it and tried forcing it into all of the G/B decks I was testing. Sam Pardee was able to top 8 the PT with G/B delirium which I think is the perfect shell for
this creature that has the potential to be a 2 mana 4/4 with upside. However, this creature will most likely need one hit or more in order to enable delirium. The card synergizes well with Liliana, the Last Hope, as it puts creatures in the graveyard that is later able to be brought back with Liliana’s -2 ability. Since Grim Flayer also has trample, Liliana’s plus ability makes it able to beat through blockers early in the game and trigger its ability as often as possible. The card is a knockout and I’m glad it found a deck to call home.
2) Kozilek’s Return
This colorless mythic has seen some play when it first came out especially in the U/R Eldrazi Control deck championed by Ali Antrazi. Throughout the Pro Tour, many decks that played this powerful red spell, including Team EUreka’s Jund Eldrazi and Channel Fireball Team Pantheon’s Temurge and GR Ramp. The ability to ditch the card early with a Grapple to the Past or Vessel of Nascency and still have access to a late game board wipe is a testament to how powerful this card can be. This card gives a lot of the slower decks time in the early game against the aggro decks and it gives those slower decks a powerful board wipe against the midrange decks with the pseudo flashback that it has. I think if Emrakul, the Promised End and Elder Deep-Fiend stay in the Standard metagame, then I believe Kozilek’s Return will be played heavily until it rotates out of the format.
1) Emrakul, the Promised End
We all knew that this card was good even before the Pro Tour. However, in the two Opens prior, we didn’t see too many spaghetti monsters rolling around. Boy did that change at the Pro Tour. Emrakul was out in force and swallowing victims easily throughout the 10-plus rounds of Standard. There were 10 physical copies in the top 8, but all the Emrakul decks played at least 3 Traverse the Ulvenwald, which can act as a virtual 4 extra copies in all the decks. I think for the time being this card will dominate Standard and continue being the menace that we all knew it would be.
So now that we looked at what I believe were the top 5 breakout cards from the Pro Tour, let’s see how we can combat these cards and strategies with some powerful sideboard cards.
1) Infinite Obliteration
This card became much better now that we have a lot of haymakers in the format. Against Temur Emerge, we can name Emrakul/Elder Deep-Fiend, against Ramp we can name Emrakul/Dragonlord Atarka, and you can even argue that its good against Spell Queller out of Bant Company. Expect to play against this card out of the Abzan/BW Control/GB Delirium decks for the next couple of weeks, or even the rest of the format.
2) Invasive Surgery
I think this card is gaining a lot of traction in the format thanks to various blue decks needing this type of card. There are a couple of huge sorceries out there that are worth countering with this, namely Languish, Infinite Obliteration, and Tragic Arrogance. The delirium bonus is great, but I think in general one mana counter spells themselves will be great going forward in this format.
3) Summary Dismissal
This card should be at least a one-of in any blue deck’s sideboard. The utility this card has is extremely useful in this format. My A1BN teammate, Christain Calcano, was talking highly about
this card’s ability to counter Emrakul and her trigger. The best part of this spell is that it exiles, so it stops decks from getting Emrakul back from Grapple from the Past. If you are expecting a lot of Emrakul in the near future, which I am, this card should build a home for itself in many sideboards.
Overall, I feel like with all these new decks from the Pro Tour, life has been injected back into Standard, and it’s at the healthiest it’s been in a while. Sure, there were some Bant decks in the top 8, but there were also a lot of sweet new decks that I’m sure people are excited to try out. So as you guys prepare for FNM later today, make sure you’re playing some of these break out cards or at least playing the cards that beat them. Let me know what you guys are sleeving up for FNM in the comments and don’t forget to let me know how it goes for you.
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