GerryT’s 10 Things: Pro Tour Wrap Up!

Gerry Thompson recaps the Standard week that was! What SCG CON Standard contenders matter most coming off the Pro Tour? What gems were hiding behind those draft records?

With Pro Tour Dominaria in the books, it’s important not only to
look forward to the future of Standard, but also the past to figure out if
there are any valuable takeaways. Since high level Magic has been
team-centric as of late, it’s easy to pick out the various groups at the
Pro Tour, see what they decided to do and why, and see if we can learn from

10: The MTGO Hero

The grinders of Magic Online should certainly be referred to a collective
or a group in their own right. They test together, iterate on each others’
ideas, and eventually figure out what’s the best choice for any given week.
It would be foolish not to trust them.

One of the few Magic Online inspired decks to have a reasonable showing was
Esper Midrange. Between Syncopate, the various four mana removal that
exiles, and The Scarab God, it should have a reasonably good matchup
against the slower R/B decks in the format.

There’s some tinkering to do, as cards like Banewhip Punisher, Fatal Push,
Walking Ballista, and even Knight of Malice could potentially be on the
chopping block. Esper has no shortage of powerful options, so there’s no
reason to dilute your deck with weak cards.

9: The Forgotten Hero

Pro Tour Valencia champion Cloud Strife updated W/B Aggro by removing
Toolcraft Exemplar entirely and adding Skysovereign, Consul Flagship as the
five-drop of choice. Both of those changes make sense to me, so assuming
Remi’s R/B matchup is passable, this is a deck I could get on board with.
Quad Cast Out might be better served as copies of Ixalan’s Binding, but
that makes you significantly worse against U/W Control, although it could
be a stronger choice if you’re fighting U/B Control with all their Scarab

Cast Down is another card I could potentially see making its way into the
maindeck to answer everyone’s maindeck Glorybringers, but that would come
with some sacrifices. You can’t have a pile of Fatal Pushes and Cast Downs
in your deck against control (which is one of the reasons why having Cast
Out is so nice). Maybe some amount of Doomfalls is what you want.

8: The MTG Mint Karns

Slanting your control deck into a counterspell and planeswalker-heavy deck
isn’t that uncommon, but at the cost of the four mana draw twos like
Glimmer of Genius and Hieroglyphic Illumination? That’s kind of crazy.
Kelvin Chew, Raphael Levy, and Jeremy Dezani all posted reasonable records
with the deck, so there’s clearly something here.

Jamming a big threat is a good way for U/B to win games in this format, so
I’m not completely surprised to see this sort of take on the deck. Twelve
counterspells is a lot, but that configuration really punishes the slower
R/B decks in the format. I wouldn’t be surprised if they continually beat
up on R/B decks that didn’t have access to as many Arguel’s Blood Fasts as
they should have.

7: The Archeologist

Brad went digging deep on this one. I prefer Torrential Gearhulk to
Approach of the Second Sun, even if it does seem like it’s walking directly
into Unlicensed Disintegration. Approach of the Second Sun is weak to cards
people are already using to target your Settle the Wreckages, like Duress
and Spell Pierce, but maybe that doesn’t matter since how you win the game
is usually trivial in those matchups.

No Commit is odd, as are the presence of Ipnu Rivulets when you have
Approach of the Second Suns as a win condition for control mirrors. I’m
curious to hear Brad’s take on his PT decklist at some point.

6: The Innovators

The CFB/Face to Face contingent was the one team to show up with something
entirely unique, and I’d be curious to see how they’d fare if their
decklist wasn’t spoiled almost immediately on coverage. Ivan and Sam put up
the best results with the deck, and while the rest of the team mostly did
poorly, it still shows their deck can compete at a high level.

Wrapter’s claim of “Aethersphere Harvester is the best card in the format”
might not be entirely off the mark. This deck is something worth looking
into for the future.

5: The Underdog

Mono-Green Aggro was the dark horse choice going into the Pro Tour. Legions
of people were playing the deck online and typically doing quite well with
it. Many refused to give it credit because it was just a pile of big
creatures. Against R/B, they either fail to remove one threat, which
snowballs, or they kill everything with Chandra and Glorybringer. It
doesn’t seem like the green deck should have a favorable matchup, but if
R/B doesn’t respect the deck enough, it can give them huge issues.

Five toughness might as well be hexproof against R/B considering all the
Cut, Chandras, and Glorybringers in those decks, so I like the addition of
Territorial Allosaurus. Sticking a single threat can go a long way.

4: The One Who Missed The Memo

Goblin Chainwhirler, Abrade, and Teferi exist, so I’m not sure how
God-Pharaoh’s Gift is still a thing, especially without any relevant
counterplay to those cards. There’s also no shortage of Sorcerous
Spyglasses running around, some even maindeck.

How do you end up playing this sort of deck at a Pro Tour?

3: The GOAT

Every once in a not-so-long while, there’s a tournament where Owen is so
entirely dominant, he reminds you why people say he’s the best player in
the world.

You might be tempted to pick up his exact 75 in the hopes of recreating his
success, but just remember that this deck didn’t provide anything truly
unique and can be weak in mirrors due to how few removal spells he plays.
Plus, the format is always shifting and you have to shift with it.

2: The Tuners

Andrea’s list is one of the more innovative takes on R/B Midrange, but it
wouldn’t surprise me if he fell short in the mirrors a bit. Karn, Scion of
Urza and Ruin Raider help you grind, but against the more aggressive
versions, I could see how he could get overrun. Maindeck Ruin Raider could
potentially be strong, but I’d guess you need more aggression to go along
with it. By having a complete lack of one-drop creatures, it doesn’t seem
difficult for his opponents to keep him off raid entirely.

Thomas’s deck is closer to the Mono-Red side of things with his Lightning
Strikes and Ahn-Crop Crashers. His black splash is basically at a minimum.
Going forward, I would likely merge the two lists.

1: The Constructed Master

Of all the various takes on R/B in the tournament, Matt Severa’s was the
most successful, although it’s worth noting he didn’t play against a single
Mountain the entire tournament. That’s certainly an odd position to be in
considering the results of the tournament as a whole.

The takeaway is probably that Matt’s deck is good against the field and
might be a great choice assuming you double check and make sure the mirrors
are solid.

Overall, there wasn’t anything too crazy to come out of this PT, but that
shouldn’t be surprising given the amount of lead-in time we had. The
biggest thing to note is that the small changes each player made did have
an impact, whether it be positive or negative. Focus on the details and you
too could find Standard success.