If it’s Pro Tour time! That means it’s time for my world famous Pro Tour
Predictions article! This is becoming something of a tradition here on
StarCityGames.com, as I’ve now done a predictions article for each of the
last five Pro Tours to mostly positive results:
Pro Tour Amonkhet –
3.5 out of 5
Pro Tour Hour of Devastation –
2.5 out of 5
Pro Tour Ixalan –
4 out of 5
Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan –
4 out of 5
Pro Tour Dominaria –
1 out of 5
My only real bust was the most recent one in Pro Tour Dominaria,
but I did call Goblin Chainwhirler
the best card in Dominaria
when the set was first released so I’m calling it a wash. (Come on now,
work with me people.)
Now we’re back, not just with another Pro Tour, but perhaps the most
interesting Pro Tour in recent memory.
- Mixed teams?
- Legacy on the Pro Tour?
- More Modern?
- Tons of prize money?
- No Limited?!?
Aside from the awkwardly executed Silver Showcase, Pro Tour 25th
Anniversary promises to be an event for the ages. With three Constructed
formats instead of one, it also will be giving us a windfall of decklists
and information as the best players in the world tackle the three major
formats. What’s Legacy look like without Deathrite Shaman? Is Modern really
this open ended? Can
be overcome in Standard?
Let’s dive in.
Prediction One: Humans Will Be The Most Played Deck In Modern
We’ve been calling it Bugler Humans since #SCGINDY, but let’s be
realistic- it’s just the default Five-Color Humans list now.
- 4 Meddling Mage
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Phantasmal Image
- 4 Champion of the Parish
- 3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
- 4 Mantis Rider
- 3 Reflector Mage
- 4 Thalia's Lieutenant
- 4 Kitesail Freebooter
- 3 Militia Bugler
I breezed through the swiss of #SCGINDY last weekend,
and although I ran afoul of eventual champion Michael Olson’s Jund deck in
the quarterfinals, the deck was easily the best deck I’ve played in a
Humans was already one of the best decks in Modern, but it would struggle
at times with removal-heavy decks, had a few awkward flex slots that nobody
could pin down, and was occasionally vulnerable to flooding on lands or
Aether Vials. Militia Bugler solves all three of these problems, giving you
gas in longer games, letting you dump the underperforming flex cards, and
makes you actively want to draw multiple copies of Aether Vial.
Acting as a sort of Goblin Matron/Goblin Ringleader split card, Militia
Bugler takes an already great deck, solves its problems, and pushes it way
up the Modern format rankings to the very top. Considering the small amount
of time between #SCGINDY and the Pro
Tour, it seems very doubtful that anyone will get past the level of “Humans
is amazing,” which leaves Humans as the default deck choice for anyone
looking to win the tournament.
It’s aggressive, it’s powerful, it has a lot of play, and it just got a
huge upgrade that not everybody understands the ramifications of yet.
Humans is going to be everywhere.
Prediction Two: There Will Be a Proxied Copy of Nexus of Fate on Camera at
Some Point During This Pro Tour
The Humans prediction feels very safe to me, but you didn’t think I’d stay
on the rails for long… did you?
There was some significant backlash when Wizards of the Coast announced
they would be doing Buy-A-Box promo cards that would be Standard legal but
not available in booster packs, as the general worry was if one of them was
playable for Standard it would be both difficult to acquire and awkward to
play with (as it’s only available in foil and foils often warp to the point
of being marked).
The Dominaria Buy-A-Box promo eased this worry, as Firesong and
Sunspeaker is fun for casual formats but clearly unplayable in Standard.
Still the fear persisted, leaving everyone wondering how long it would be
before Wizards made an error and pushed a Buy-A-Box promo a little too
Well… that didn’t take long.
Time Warp effects have often found a place in Standard, and Nexus of Fate
is a reasonably good one when compared to the overall power level of the
format. Having it be an instant adds to the utility and flexibility as
well, furthering the possibility for it to see play. However, the real
kicker is Nexus of Fate’s excellent synergy with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria,
aka the best control card in the format.
We don’t need to spend any time extolling the virtues of Teferi, but Nexus
of Fate turns Teferi’s +1 into card advantage + actual mana ramp. You can
put Teferi’s delayed untap trigger on the stack, float two mana, and then
untap and tap your remaining lands to play Nexus of Fate on your end step
with only five lands on the battlefield.
Taking a Time Warp with one of the best planeswalkers ever printed already
on the battlefield? Sounds pretty good to me. Will a Pro Tour 25th
Anniversary Nexus of Fate deck look exactly like this? Probably not, but
much to the chagrin of everyone’s wallet we will certainly be seeing the
card. Or will we?
There was a
recent rule change
when Kess, Dissident Mage started seeing Legacy play, which allowed judges
to proxy cards that were only available in foil if they were marked and
unfit for tournament play. Which, of course, brings us full circle to our
There’s a chance that Wizards of the Coast will have some sort of solution
ready, or maybe they just force the players to use the foil copies if
they’re on camera, but the heart of the prediction is “I hope you’ve
already got your copies of Nexus of Fate, because they’re about to become a
Prediction Three: There Will Be More Combined Copies of Griselbrand and
Snapcaster Mage in the Top 4 Than Delver of Secrets and Stoneforge Mystic
Legacy is perhaps the biggest question mark going into Pro Tour 25th
Anniversary, as the banning of Gitaxian Probe and Deathrite Shaman has left
the format in shambles.
In a lot of ways it feels like the format has reverted back to how things
were before Deathrite Shaman was printed, but 2012 was quite a long time
ago. Six years is a lot of ground to cover, and while sleeving up Temur
Delver circa 2012 isn’t the worst choice in the world, it feels far from
the best. Without Deathrite Shaman, the Delver decks don’t feel nearly as
powerful, as they are easily outclassed by other fair decks and not quite
good enough against the unfair decks. But while Delver of Secrets got
worse, another blue creature got much better.
Snapcaster Mage was already a staple in U/W Miracles and various fair blue
decks, but with Deathrite Shaman no longer lurking around each corner,
Snapcaster Mage is perhaps the most subtle benefactor. Snapcaster Mage is
an obscenely good Magic card in longer games; if blue decks want to turn
away from Delver of Secrets then Snapcaster Mage is the obvious place to
These sorts of fair Grixis decks have been killing it on Magic Online
lately and feel like the next evolution of fair Magic in Legacy.
On the unfair side of things, Griselbrand has much to gain from the
Deathrite Shaman banning as well.
It was expected that decks like B/R Reanimator would be the biggest winners
after the Deathrite Shaman ban, and while the first few weeks of SCG Tour
results would refute that, it’s still very logical. Whether in the shape of
all in B/R Reanimator or a more tempered U/B Reanimator, the lack of
graveyard strategies in the first few weeks of new Legacy makes Griselbrand
look even more appealing.
- 4 Brainstorm
- 4 Show and Tell
- 4 Force of Will
- 4 Sneak Attack
- 4 Lotus Petal
- 4 Ponder
- 2 Spell Pierce
- 3 Preordain
- 1 Flusterstorm
- 2 Omniscience
And that’s to say nothing of the resurgence of Sneak and Show we are seeing
as well. If Delver decks aren’t up to snuff, that means combo is set to
come back in a big way. Sneak and Show also gained the new Arcane Artisan
as a tool to beat many of the format’s hate cards against it, further
It feels weird to say, but Delver of Secrets and Stoneforge Mystic just
don’t look all that appealing at the moment.
Prediction Four: The Biggest Surprise in the Modern Seat Will Be The
Emergence of the B/R Vengevine Deck
Collins Mullen got to
spill the beans
on this deck a few days ago, and it certainly looks like we’ve got
something brewing here.
- 2 Bloodghast
- 4 Goblin Bushwhacker
- 4 Vengevine
- 3 Viscera Seer
- 4 Gravecrawler
- 3 Hangarback Walker
- 4 Insolent Neonate
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 4 Stitcher's Supplier
We’ve seen a number of Vengevine decks through the years in Modern, but
they always lacked the consistency to become a major fixture in the format.
One game they’d be attacking for eight on turn 2 and you’d be picking your
jaw up off the floor, while the next they would be futzing around with
Insolent Neonates and doing nothing while they died… or worse sat under
the watchful eye of a Rest in Peace.
However, Core Set 2019 seems to have delivered exactly what they
were looking for:
A one-mana graveyard enabler that’s also a creature for Vengevine, a Zombie
for Gravecrawler, and has a good death trigger? What more could they want!
This new version of Vengevine is almost more of a Bridge from Below deck
than a Vengevine deck, making unbelievable use of the awkward Future Sight rare to the tune of many many Zombie tokens. The deck
is packed with a ton of awesome synergies that aren’t immediately apparent
at first glance, which leads me to believe this rabbit hole goes quite a
bit deeper. As the deck is currently built it can’t beat a Rest in Peace or
Leyline of the Void, but these are problems that can be solved.
Will there be enough time before the Pro Tour to solve them? We shall see,
but this is a deck we will see at least once before the tournament is
Prediction Five: Mono-Green Aggro Will Be The Best Performing Standard Deck
It feels very odd that a deck that’s over half creatures will be running
the show in both Modern and Standard, but that’s the world we currently
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 3 Greenbelt Rampager
- 3 Rhonas the Indomitable
- 3 Ghalta, Primal Hunger
- 2 Thrashing Brontodon
- 4 Steel Leaf Champion
- 2 Vine Mare
- 4 Thorn Lieutenant
Friend and format teammate
tore up #SCGWOR earlier
this month with his new take on Mono-Green Aggro, and has continued the
rampage on Magic Online as well. Mono-Green Aggro was already one of the
top performing decks on Magic Online before Core Set 2019 was
released, which gave it a great new tool in each of its important matchups.
Thorn Lieutenant gives the deck a solid two-drop that’s fantastic against
the Mono-Red Aggro strategy, making cards like Bomat Courier, Earthshaker
Khenra, and Ahn-Crop Crasher look foolish while also making removal spells
far less effective. Vine Mare is just a total house, laughing at the
ever-present midrange black decks that have populated Standard for a while
now and forcing them to completely rethink how they build their decks.
Is the deck simple? Sure, but it’s brutal and effective at what it does,
offers free wins, and has tools for most matchups – sounds like the perfect
Standard seat deck for the Pro Tour to me.
You’ve Got Questions…
While I am sad that my team lost our match in the top 4 of the RPTQ and I
won’t get to be playing in Pro Tour 25th Anniversary, I’m still very
excited to see what everyone has come up with.
Mixed format events are notoriously tough to prepare for, and all three of
the formats are in enough flux that there are many questions that need
answering. What are those answers? Who will answer them correctly?
We shall see!