Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan was this weekend, and the Pro Tour brought a few surprises, but largely confirmed that Modern is a wide open format, with no specific deck or macro achetype dominating the field. The event was won by Luis Salvatto piloting Lantern Control, and the rest of the top decks were quite diverse.
To begin, let’s see how I did on my predictions from last week.
1. Affinity and other proactive decks will shine
On this count, I was pretty close, and 5-Color Humans, a very proactive deck, was the most played deck of the tournament, putting both Andrea Mengucci and Javier Dominguez into the Top 8.
Affinity didn’t have such stellar results at the end of the weekend, but 37 people brought the deck, and 24 of the players made it to Day 2. Of course, Draft was a big part of this Pro Tour, so the results don’t only reflect the Modern portion, but I think it’s safe to say that proactive decks did well here, and will continue to do well in Modern.
2. Blood Moon will be one of the most important cards of the tournament
Wrong. In fact, there were only two Blood Moons in the Top 8, and both were in the sideboard of Ken Yukihiro’s Hollow One deck. Looking at the top decks, I think Blood Moon truly had the potential to shine at this Pro Tour. Being able to disrupt what someone is playing as early as turn three can win you a ton of games, and provided you have a way to kill them quickly before they find basics or blow up your Moon, the card can straight up be the difference between a win and a loss. The three-drop enchantment is, however, pretty susceptible to discard, so if Death’s Shadow variants and people other than Reid Duke start winning with BGx decks, I would be careful when relying solely on the Moon to fix the matchup.
Going forward, I wouldn’t sleep on Blood Moon, as I think the card will continue to see play, and anyone who isn’t prepared will face the consequences.
3. Control decks will have a bad weekend
This is the one I got totally right. While many players brought blue control decks to the Pro Tour – a whopping 65 of them actually – only four players managed to get 22 points or more with the deck. This is in large part due to the powerful early game of the other successful decks, but also just a side effect of Modern’s enormous field. Control decks simply don’t have the tools to answer a majority of the threats they are presented with anymore.
The decks that did end up doing well in the control category were Lantern Control, which I correctly identified, and Mardu Pyromancer, a deck that came straight out of left field for people like me who don’t watch a ton of Modern content. Gerry Thompson piloted the deck to a second place finish, and it looked amazing while crushing the opposition, so I really hope it becomes a mainstay of the format.
At the end of the day, I think the Pro Tour will shake things up in Modern, but very slightly. The huge presence of Humans doing well at the tournament might force the spell based combo decks to decrease. Meddling Mage and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben are a nightmare for Storm players, and they hit other decks like Ad Nauseam and Living End pretty hard too.
This might also result in a slight uptick of various Primeval Titan strategies. Lately, Breach Titan has been picking up steam, but I think that in order to combat Humans, the old fashioned Titanshift lists will be much more successful. Not banking on one card resolving in order for you to win is very important against the aforementioned Thalias and Meddling Mages that Humans packs.
Lantern Control winning the Pro Tour may seem like a big deal, and people are already clamoring for bans. I, for one, wouldn’t shed a tear if Mox Opal, or say, Ensnaring Bridge (please Magic gods) were banned, but actively saying your format sucks because a single deck does something that is, admittedly, pretty abysmal for the opponent seems excessive. If you simply don’t like the way Modern works in general, that’s fine, but the format already includes cards like Blood Moon and decks like 8-Rack and Tron, so there is no reason Lantern Control should be made out to be the villain. I don’t expect to see the deck get banned, and also don’t expect to see huge surges in its popularity, so I would rest easy. One thing to take note of is to understand when a Lantern Player is playing too slowly, as that is the primary reason the deck goes to time.
Oh, and for crying out loud, please concede when your out is drawing four of the same card in a row in the next ten turns. Finishing the match is more important than continuing to play when you have a 0.002 percent chance of winning.
If I were playing in Toronto this weekend, I would stick to my trusty Angel’s Graces and Phyrexian Unlifes, but I could easily see switching to Burn or something like Tron fairly easily in this meta. I think the key to success now is to be proactive. Even though Control decks are largely ok to play in Modern, they do not punish stumbles at all, and in a format where mulligans are so common, and games are often decided in 3-4 turns, I always want to be the one punishing a stumbling opponent, not the other way around.
I think a fantastic choice going forward is Bogles, which put one player into the Top 32 of the Pro Tour. The deck has a quick clock, a great matchup against Burn and other decks trying to kill by damage only, and is largely unexpected. It also helps that it turns every single removal spell in your opponent’s deck into “hope to hit a Kor Spiritdancer or maybe a Dryad Arbor” or “do nothing” dual spell, and has a decent sideboard. Discard is a nightmare, but matchups like Tron are a full bye, which I think balances it all out. If you have any experience with this deck let me know, it seems like a very powerful choice and could catch many people off guard.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed the article, and the Pro Tour as well! I for one loved it, which is unusual, as I haven’t loved Modern ever since Vizier of Remedies was printed. Maybe this is a sign of great things to come when they unban Birthing Pod next week, (please Magic Gods) or maybe I’m just going crazy.
See you next week,
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