Let’s jump right into this Weekend Recap, since we have a lot to get through, including the SCG Invitational, which featured Standard and Modern, a Standard Open, and 2 Standard Grand Prix. First up, we’ll go to Atlanta to look at the results of the SCG Invitational and the Standard Open.
At the Invitational, SCG’s quarterly premier invitation-only event, Jacob Baugh took home the trophy and prize money, after he piloted Naya Aetherworks and Dredge through 16 rounds of swiss and 3 top 8 matches. Ben Friedman, who piloted Naya Aetherworks and Bant Eldrazi, came up just short, losing to Baugh in the final. The rest of the top 8 featured notable SCG names, such as Jim Davis, Chris Andersen, Adam Snook, and Joe Bernal. 15 Standard decks were able to achieve a record of 7-1 or better. They were: 4 B/G Delirium, 4 U/W Flash (including Jim Davis’s Esper Aggro deck), 5 Aetherworks Marvel variants, a copy of Temur Energy, and a copy of R/B Aggro. In Modern, there were only 4 decks that broke the 7 win threshold, due mostly to the fact that those who made top 8 intentionally drew their later rounds to guarantee themselves a top 8 spot, and those later rounds were only Modern. Those 4 decks were: Jund, Burn, Amulet Titan, and Jeskai Aggro (if you want to know more about this deck, read this article by Charlie Rinehart-Jones). As expected, Modern’s most successful decks of the weekend were each unique strategies, and there was no overlap among the top decks. If you’re curious, the decks that the top 8 players piloted in Modern were: Bant Eldrazi, Grixis Delver, R/G Breach, Dredge, Jund, and Infect, with only Grixis Delver and Dredge putting more than one copy into the top 8.
Before we move on to the other Standard events of the weekend, let’s do some Modern takeaways:
- New innovations can bring success. As former spellsnare.com writer Zack Kanner showed at the Invitational, picking up a new deck that has only put up one decent result is not a bad thing. Zack piloted Jeskai Control to a 7-1 record in Modern, consistently defeating more established archetypes along the way.
- Grixis Delver is a real contender, even if your name isn’t Kevin Jones. This weekend, 2 players managed to make top 8 with Grixis Delver as their Modern weapon of choice. We’ve regularly seen Kevin put up impressive results with the deck, and it’s finally time for more players to try it out. If you have a Modern event coming up, definitely consider building Grixis Delver for it.
- Play what you know and know what you play. This is a recurring theme in the Modern takeaway sections of Weekend Recaps, but it holds true. Todd Anderson’s impressive Modern record with Jund and Jacob Baugh’s winning run with Dredge show that Modern rewards you for knowing your deck and how it plays against the format. If you have a favored deck in the format, do not be afraid to play it.
SCG Atlanta Open
In the accompanying Standard Open, Brennan DeCandio and B/G Delirium emerged victorious over Eli Kassis and his innovative Bant Aggro deck in the final. Outside of the top 2 competitors, the top 8 contained 3 more copies of B/G Delirium, a copy of Seth Manfield’s U/W Panharmonicon deck, one Mardu Vehicles deck, and an innovating W/R Humans deck. Holy moly! That’s a lot more diverse than the past few major Standard events. Where’s U/W Flash? Well, it only put one copy into the top 16, as Jeff Hoogland finished 15th with the deck. Where’s Aetherworks Marvel? G/R Aetherworks made an appearance just outside of the top 8, finishing in both 8th and 9th, with more copies appearing lower down the standings. The results of this tournament suggest that B/G Delirium is the base, level 1 deck that many top players are choosing to go to in this format. The rest of the format seems to be shaping around that, and not the 2 deck paradigm that we were witnessing for the past few weeks. The results of the two Grand Prix over the weekend also add to that theory.
Grand Prix Madrid
In Madrid, Carmine D’Aniello from Italy took home the trophy after he piloted R/G Aetherworks past Nicolas Legendre and R/B Aggro in the final. Notable pro Marco Cammilluzzi also piloted R/G Aetherworks to a top 8 finish, but could not take home the trophy. Outside of those three players, the top 8 featured 2 more copies of R/G Aetherworks, a copy of B/R Zombies, and two copies of U/W Flash. From these results, even though B/G Delirium was not represented in the top 8, we can see its effect on the format. It’s clear from results that B/G Delirium was heavily represented at the Grand Prix, shown by the surprising minimal number of U/W Flash decks in the top 8, but more importantly by the incredible number of Aetherworks Marvel decks that ran wild on the swiss rounds. If B/G Delirium is the base level 1 deck, logic dictates that Aetherworks Marvel will succeed, as we saw play out in Madrid. Would the same hold true at Grand Prix Denver?
Grand Prix Denver
In Denver, Matt Severa earned his third Grand Prix win of 2016, after he piloted Mardu Vehicles past Steve Rubin’s Temur Aetherworks in the final. The rest of the top 8 featured Seth Manfield with U/W Panharmonicon, another Aetherworks deck, two copies of U/W Flash, another Vehicles deck, and an innovating U/R Emerge deck, which is similar to the deck that Rafael Levy played at Pro Tour Kaladesh. Where’s B/G Delirium? Similarly to Madrid, B/G Delirium was very well-represented as the level 1 deck, but was bested by decks that were targeting it, such as the Aetherworks and Vehicles decks that found their way into the top 8, despite being thought of as relics of the format in previous weeks.
Here are my Standard takeaways from this weekend.
- There is a new tier 1. As I discussed in previous Weekend Recaps, rock, paper, scissors doesn’t really work without each one of them in place, and it surely appears that Aetherworks decks have staked their claim as the third piece of the puzzle, alongside B/G Delirium and U/W Flash. Look out for this deck in the coming weeks.
- Panharmonicon isn’t a joke. Seth Manfield could top 8 a Grand Prix with Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and basic lands, but to see both him and a competitor at the SCG Open top 8 with the deck leads me to believe that while the namesake card may seem cute, it’s all but that, and could end up as a force to be reckoned with in the future.
- B/G Delirium is alive and well. Don’t worry B/G Delirium fans, Magic formats are cyclical, and B/G Delirium will likely be out in force next week, as players try to attack the new “top deck”. A relatively weak weekend for the deck shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.
This coming weekend features a Sealed Grand Prix in Milwaukee, so there will not be a Weekend Recap next week, but I’ll see you all the week after.
Until next time.
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