This past weekend was headlined by the SCG Modern Open in Charlotte, and there are now a few decks which have emerged into the spotlight as major format contenders.
Let’s start with the big winner from this weekend: Tron. More specifically, Todd Stevens and the Eldrazi Tron deck he has been singing the praises of lately.
Eldrazi Tron by Todd Stevens at SCG Open Charlotte – 1st
This deck had some great success this weekend, with another copy also cracking the top 8. The Eldrazi Tron deck is a variation on the normal Tron deck that has a few different strengths and weaknesses compared to the original version of Tron.
For one, this deck is much lower to the ground, and its “top end” threats mainly come in the form of Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer. While there are 2 Karn Liberated in the deck, it still clearly differs from the R/G Tron threat base of Karn, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. While this deck “hits Tron” less consistently and quickly than the other Tron decks, and it has a different game plan of just crushing the opponent with fast Eldrazi.
The deck is extremely powerful because all of the threats in it are extremely hard to remove, or at least provide some value every time they stick. Matter Reshaper replaces itself, Walking Ballista can snipe a small creature or deal some damage to the face, Thought-Knot Seer takes the opponent’s best card, and Reality Smasher is a 2 for 1 every time. This, coupled with a fantastic late game in the form of Ballista activations, Endbringer, or Karn Liberated provides ample ways to win the game for the Eldrazi Tron deck. The deck also gets to play a fourth “Tron piece” in the form of Eldrazi Temple, which helps cast huge monsters many turns before you should be able to.
The deck is also fantastic because it shuts out many deck’s game plans through the combination of Chalice of the Void (which is a disgusting card and should not have been printed by the way), Dismember, and All is Dust. Chalice is in a fantastic spot right now, as so many of the cards in the consensus best deck, Grixis Death’s Shadow, cost 1 or 2 mana. Shutting down the opponent’s 1 mana cards on the play is absolutely incredible in this format. For reference, here is a Grixis Death’s Shadow list that made the top 8 in the hands of Andrew Jessup:
Grixis Death’s Shadow by Andrew Jessup at SCG Open Charlotte – 4th
1 Engineered Explosives
2 Nihil Spellbomb
2 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Stubborn Denial
2 Surgical Extraction
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Anger of the Gods
3 Collective Brutality
In this deck, a Chalice of the Void on one shuts down 25 of the spells in the deck. That is over half of the deck’s possible plays, and the only mainboard way to remove a Chalice comes in the form of 2 copies of Kolaghan’s Command, which can be easily stopped by a Thought-Knot Seer. Once a Chalice has landed and is safe, the Eldrazi Tron deck can easily overpower the Grixis deck’s large threats.
Another disruptive element that is very important is Walking Ballista. Having Tron with a Ballista on the field oftentimes spells game over for your opponent, and even just a 2/2 Ballista on turn four can be a huge hassle for a deck like Counters Company to deal with, and because of it being one of the most popular decks at the moment, Eldrazi Tron’s stock rises, as it kills the opposition quickly and can shut down other’s game plans incredibly efficiently.
The weakness of the Eldrazi Tron deck comes at the hands of uninteractive combo decks based on spells, not creatures. This brings us to our next deck, Storm.
Caleb Scherer, storm master, top 16’d the Open with the newest version of an age-old deck:
U/R Storm by Caleb Scherer at SCG Open Charlotte – 16th
Non-Creature Spells (34)
1 Apostle’s Blessing
4 Desperate Ritual
4 Gifts Ungiven
1 Noxious Revival
4 Pyretic Ritual
1 Thought Scour
2 Past in Flames
4 Serum Visions
4 Sleight of Hand
This deck has been constantly targeted by Wizards of the Coast for regular bannings, even when not spectacular (Yes, we know you banned Gitaxian Probe just to hurt us, Wizards. We know.) Strangely, the latest banning of a card in Storm has made the deck better, as people have figured out a version of the deck that does not rely as heavily on the graveyard and can use 4 more copies of Goblin Electromancer in the form of the recently printed Baral, Chief of Compliance.
This deck is different from the previous Storm deck because it actually has interaction, and also has a slower, but less fragile game plan thanks to Gifts Ungiven. This is one of the decks which could have a great matchup against Eldrazi Tron. The only problem with that is the presence of Chalice of the Void, which can wreck you if you do not have a Remand for it or another way to win. While I do not think Storm is the correct choice for your next tournament, it may be a legitimate choice if you think you will see a lot of non-interactive decks in your metagame.
Overall, this tournament featured a pretty diverse array of decks, but Grixis Death’s Shadow still seems to be leading the pack, as it put 4 copies into the top 8 and had another in the top 16. The deck is fantastic, and can disrupt almost anything with its assortment of hand disruption, removal, and a fast clock. I believe it will continue to perform well, and unless we see some major change come in Hour of Devastation or in the form of a ban announcement (which you will know about by the time this article goes up!), I can’t see it going away.
As always, thanks so much for reading! This week I’m really hoping to see some positive change, especially in Standard which, quite honestly, has been horrendous for the past 6 months. Other than that, good luck in any tournaments you might be playing, and I’ll see you next week!
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