Hello everyone, welcome back!
The past two weekends have each featured a Modern Open on the StarCityGames circuit, and we have seen a decks cement themselves at the top of the format, along with some new innovations on old favorites.
Over the past few months, there has been a ton of controversy over whether U/R Gifts Storm was a tier 1 deck. The past two weekends have shown that not only is Storm tier 1, but it is actually one of the top two, if not simply the best deck in Modern.
As someone whose first “big” tournament finish was 10th at Modern States in 2015 playing a pretty bad version of Storm, this is something I never thought would happen, and I love it. However, I realize that Storm is miserable to watch, even for an aficionado like myself. At some points during the weekend, I found myself wishing the non-Storm player would win, just because of how infuriating Storm is to watch, something I only understood when I started playing against it. Overall however, it seems as though Storm is here to stay (barring any bans from Wizards of the Coast).
Shockingly, one of the format’s most popular decks going into Charlotte, Eldrazi Tron, only put 1 copy into the top 32 of each event. This is huge news, but it is yet to be seen whether the deck has been fully pushed out of tier 1 or if it was only a fluke. The deck has certainly had a terrible two weekends, but could easily bounce back with a top finish.
Affinity had a very good two weeks, with 3 copies across two top 8s. The deck is fast, hard to disrupt game 1, and has solid matchups across the field. No surprises here.
Now to the interesting part!
These weekends brought about innovation from multiple decks. For instance, at SCG Cincinnati, Kyle Boggemes changed up the classic Counters Company deck to include Blue. Here is his list:
Counters Company by Kyle Boggemes at SCG Cincinnati – 17th
1 Walking Ballista
3 Birds of Paradise
4 Devoted Druid
3 Duskwatch Recruiter
3 Eternal Witness
4 Noble Hierarch
1 Reflector Mage
1 Scavenging Ooze
4 Spell Queller
1 Tireless Tracker
3 Vizier of Remedies
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
I have played the Counters Company deck a decent amount, and I always hated the fragility of the combo. In the Abzan Counters Company deck, removing your toolbox pieces for combo pieces instead of keeping the Melira shell made your deck a hard combo deck with a very bad backup plan. With the addition of blue however, the deck has Reflector Mage and Spell Queller, which allow you to play a tempo game, much closer to what Standard Bant Company was doing, but still keep the threat of the combo alive. I think Spell Queller is one of the most underrated cards in Modern, and Boggemes made a great choice in including it.
Another interesting card in the main is Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. I would take any reason as a great one when Jace is involved, so I was immediately sold. In reality, Jace is very strong against any deck trying to play a fair game. Jace smooths out your draws, and if he goes unanswered, he can flashback Company or Chord, which gives you a ton of card advantage in the late game, allowing you to beat all these G/B based decks that are trying to trade 1 for 1.
Blue also adds a bunch to the sideboard of the deck, with Unified Will being a huge pickup. Will gives you game against control decks, and is always great against decks such as Death’s Shadow. Geist of Saint Traft is sweet tech, and it also gives you great game against control, combo, and Death’s Shadow. The card is hard to kill and presents a quick clock, which is awesome when your opponent can’t tap out for fear of the combo killing them.
U/G Merfolk is another standout deck from this past weekend. The deck utilizes some of the new Ixalan green Merfolk to power up an already strong archetype. I think we will see more of this deck for sure moving forward. Here is Jeremy Bertarioni’s list from Cincinnati:
U/G Merfolk by Jeremy Bertarioni at SCG Cincinnati – 4th
4 Harbinger of the Tides
4 Kumena’s Speaker
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Master of the Pearl Trident
1 Master of Waves
4 Merfolk Branchwalker
4 Merrow Reejerey
4 Silvergill Adept
1 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner
1 Kopala, Warden of Waves
Infect by Zan Syed at SCG Cincinnati – 10th
Infect is back, baby! This is one of my favorite decks in the history of Modern, and I am stoked to have it back! I actually ordered the deck online after seeing these results, as Infect is what I want to be playing in Modern. The deck also put up a top 8 finish in Cincinnati, which I believe shows it has legs. I love the Jace tech in this deck as well, but would like to try new things in place of it.
Personally, I am thinking of trying some number of Peek, as a Gitaxian Probe impression, but Kenyon Collins may have been on the right track with Wild Defiance and Rancor mainboard. Kenyon also had 4 Invisible Stalker in his board, which is interesting to say the least. Overall, I think the deck is great and potentially well-positioned, and hope people continue to underestimate it, as unprepared opponents often get trampled by experienced Infect players.
As always, I hope you enjoyed the article. I’m anxiously waiting for the results of the Pro Tour, and have two back to back Standard tournaments lined up: SCG Baltimore and Grand Prix New Jersey. Lets hope I don’t have to play energy. I wish you luck in this week’s tournaments, and I’ll see you soon!
Thanks for reading,
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