This weekend, we took a break from Standard, and the Grand Prix circuit altogether, and instead got to witness the SCG Tour visit Orlando with a Modern Open. The top 8 featured some extremely big names in Magic over the past decade, including Pro Tour champion David Sharfman and modern-day standouts John Cuvelier, Eli Kassis, Tom Ross, and Michael Majors.
At the conclusion of the top 8, Bradley Carpenter was victorious over Pro Tour champion Sharfman, as his Infect deck was too much for Goryo’s Vengeance to handle. The top 8 as a whole featured 7 different archetypes, with Infect being the only strategy to put multiple players into the top 8. Eli Kassis’s 4-Color Retreat and Tom Ross’s 8-Rack definitely stood out. Yup, I did just say 8-Rack. Tom Ross, the absolute madman, missed his flight but rescheduled it because he was so desperate to play 8-Rack, an archetype that most people believed was beyond extinct in the format. He proved everyone wrong. As it turns out, maybe 8-Rack isn’t as dead as people believe it to be.
The remaining decks that finished 32nd or better were consistent in their diversity. A couple of “spicy meatballs” here and there, but mostly just format staple decks that would not surprise anyone if they showed up en mass to a local event.
Takeaway 1: Modern is Diverse
Like, scarily diverse. I can’t possibly imagine my reaction if I sit down across from Tom Ross in the early rounds of a Modern Open and he plays turn 1 Inquisition of Kozilek into turn 2 Wrench Mind. What I do know is that going into any round of a Modern tournament, anything is possible. Trying to heavily metagame in this format can be pretty dangerous, which leads me to my next takeaway.
Takeaway 2: Play Powerful Decks
Even though the results in Orlando show the diversity of Modern, the deck selection of the successful players were similar in that they mostly chose to play very proactive decks to try to combat the extremely wide range in decks in this format. The only deck that could be considered reactive in the top 8 was Michael Majors’ RG Scapeshift, and even that is just a combo deck disguised as a ramp deck. I’ve long been an advocate of Ad Nauseam in Modern, due in no small part to its uninteractive nature, which makes your opponent’s deck rather poorly positioned. Play powerful, uninteractive decks! There’s just too many things happening in Modern for you to try to tune your reactive deck to beat!
Takeaway 3: Know Your Deck
In a format where everyone and their mother is playing something powerful and uninteractive, knowing how to leverage your cards in certain matchups can be the difference between playing 15 rounds of ships passing in the night and 15 rounds of Magic where you consistently have a better grasp on the game than your opponent. Tom Ross wouldn’t take a trip to Orlando, miss his flight, then be so sure about his wacky deck choice that he rebooked his flight if he didn’t have faith in his ability and knowledge of his deck. That’s why we see players stick with a Modern deck for long stretches at a time.
Kevin Jones is a great example of this. Firstly, a massive congrats to Kevin for winning the WMCQ this past weekend. But, what did Kevin win it with? Grixis Delver. Kevin is one of the few people I have seen play Grixis Delver consistently in this format, as most players would rather register something that is more powerful (see above). Not Kevin! Kevin now has a Modern Open win and a WMCQ win with his deck. Knowledge is power, or something like that.
This upcoming weekend is the Kaladesh Prerelease (HYPE!), so there will be no Weekend Recap next Monday. After that, we can start looking at the first results of this new Standard format, and then look forward to the Pro Tour. Exciting times!
What Kaladesh cards excited you most? Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time.
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