Is Hogaak The Deck To Beat In This Weekend’s Modern Events?

Sam Black and Ari Lax take on five statements about Modern as we head into SCG Columbus and Mythic Championship IV, answering “Fact” or “Fiction.” Or “Factish.” Or “Opinion.” This one gets a little weird…

Welcome to another edition of Fact or Fiction! Today, Sam Black and Ari Lax are here to render their verdicts on five statements about the current state of Modern leading into Mythic Championship IV and SCG Columbus. Don’t forget to vote for the winner at the end!

1. With Piotr Glogowski’s 12-0 run through last weekend’s Modern Challenge on Magic Online, Hogaak is the deck to beat in Modern right now.

Sam Black: Fiction. We’re talking about Modern and this isn’t anywhere near as powerful as it was with Bridge from Below. The language I would use is, “Despite the banning of Bridge from Below, Hogaak is clearly a Tier 1 deck.”

It needs to be respected and it will show up at the Mythic Championship, but I don’t expect it to be the most-played deck, and for me to consider something a deck to beat, I believe it needs to be appreciably more of the field than the next most popular deck.

Ari Lax: Fact, minus one word. Saying a deck is the Deck to Beat in Modern without a reasonable number of tournament results backing it is rough. How long was it before Izzet Phoenix was the Deck to Beat? You can’t even cite format memory from before the Bridge from Below ban, because this Hogaak deck is a completely different animal. You could even draw a direct comparison to the first week of the old Hogaak deck, where basically half of the top finishers from the Modern Challenge were Hogaak. This is one person, one deck, one day.

But a Deck to Beat? I would struggle to argue against that. A Turn 2 8/8 with trample with a backup plan of “just” Vengevines is still a crazy powerful threat. This status as a Deck to Beat is boosted by Hogaak requiring a different brand of graveyard hate to fight from Dredge. You have to respect Hogaak as a Deck to Beat because it isn’t incidentally swept up in planning for the rest of the format, and this weekend’s result showed it was clearly on the right power tier to compete with that rest of the format.

2. Even though Shaheen Soorani’s win at SCG Philadelphia was at a Team Constructed Open, it’s further proof that Azorius Control is the best control deck in Modern.

Sam Black: Fact. This question is a bit weird. Supporting data basically has to be further proof, so the question is really asking about the buried assumption that it’s the best control deck in the first place. Regardless, all of that is accurate. Azorius is the best control deck and Shaheen’s result is further evidence of that. I’d offer further explanation or evidence, but I’m honestly not sure which part of this statement is really in question—team results should obviously be given less weight, but not no weight; results offer supporting evidence for claims that they match; and I don’t even know what other deck one might put forth as a better control deck in Modern based on any recent results rather than just promoting their pet deck.

Ari Lax: Fact. When was Azorius Control not the best control deck in Modern? Even before the Jace, the Mind Sculptor ban, Azorius Control went 9-1 at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan. If you try to say Lantern was a control deck, you have failed the Mishra’s Workshop test. You probably have to go all the way back to 2017 when Jeskai Control was putting down the first influx of Humans into Modern to have an argument otherwise. Sure, some people played Jeskai Control last summer, but it was quickly obvious it was a bad Azorius Control as soon as people realized Terminus just ended half the format.

So regardless of whether Shaheen wins an Open or elects to drop before the Modern portion of an Invitational to save face, Azorius Control has been the best control deck in Modern and will be until something drastically changes.

3. Despite the deck becoming worse under the London mulligan rule, Izzet Phoenix will still be the most-played deck at Mythic Championship IV and SCG Columbus.

Sam Black: Fiction? This one’s hard. It is currently the most-played deck according to Mtgtop8.com by a solid margin, but I think decks are close enough and high-level events can get weird enough that I wouldn’t bet on any single deck being the most-played at both unless something were very far ahead of the other decks, so I’d say this one is “too close to call,” even if it’s the most likely deck to achieve this feat.

Ari Lax: Fiction. I’m playing the odds on this one. If you asked me what deck would be the most-played and made me choose one, Izzet Phoenix is on the short list of “right” answers. But there are five or so different choices I could see in that top slot, and I’ll take the field against Izzet Phoenix.

Izzet Phoenix is a good deck and a fallback for a lot of players who spent a bunch of time on it already, but it’s definitely put up worse results lately. Azorius Control won the last Modern Grand Prix, despite Hogaak’s best efforts, and still sits atop the Magic Online leaderboard and possibly the Mythic Championship metagame. You could see the same Mono-Green Tron surge at Mythic Championship II push Eldrazi Tron to the top. A couple of organized teams could last-minute switch to Hogaak and easily make up a bonus 10% of the field. Jund could prove extremely popular for whatever Jund reasons people have.

I don’t have a clean answer, but betting on any one deck in Modern without a prior event setting the stage is a bad idea.

4. Given the addition of Karn, the Great Creator and its consistently impressive results over the past few weeks, Eldrazi Tron should be taken more seriously as a top deck in Modern.

Sam Black: Fact. I can’t really handle this question. If a deck gets a card that makes it considerably better and both the card and deck perform well after its addition, you’d be a fool not to take it more seriously.

This structure is plainly true for any particular example unless the rest of the format is improving even more. In this case, Eldrazi Tron is definitely gaining on the format, as Karn is a perfect fit to give a deck that was previously somewhat one-dimensional, or else had to play very awkwardly expensive cards to have another angle of attack a perfect solution, a card that attacks from an entirely different dimension, slots smoothly into the deck’s curve, and can still take advantage of the explosive Tron draws.

Ari Lax: I sure hope Fiction by now. Listen, there are only so many weeks in a row a deck can keep Top 8ing events and you can afford to disrespect it. I certainly made some “Top 18 decklist” jokes about Eldrazi Tron when it finished 17th and 18th at SCG Louisville.

That was two full months ago. If you didn’t notice when the deck made Top 8 at Grand Prix Dallas-Fort Worth despite Bridge from Below, or when it had a bunch of copies in back-to-back Modern Challenge Top 8s, or when it went 8-0 in the MOCS monthly, or when it won the SCG Worcester Modern Classic, this last weekend’s two copies in the Top 8 of SCG Philadelphia was probably too late to change your mind.

At this point, if you weren’t taking Eldrazi Tron seriously three weeks ago, you may as well be waking up from a coma. Sit down and let someone else tell you what you missed in two huge sets for Modern.

5. Wrenn and Six and Seasoned Pyromancer have transformed Jund from a poor choice in Modern to a Tier 1 deck and a great choice for Mythic Championship IV and SCG Columbus.

Sam Black: Factish. Really, whatever transformation has happened for Jund is almost all Wrenn and Six and Seasoned Pyromancer might just be along for the ride. I don’t enough know if it’s a better upgrade than something like Plague Engineer. Also, only monsters play Jund, so it’s a horrible choice.

That said, Wrenn and Six is fantastic in Jund, answering a wide variety of threats, offering far more reliable card advantage than Dark Confidant, pairing excellently with Liliana of the Veil, and threatening a devastating ultimate. I do expect it to prove itself among a realistic top tier of Modern decks, where it certainly wasn’t before.

Ari Lax: Fiction / Opinion. (CEDitor’s Note: Ari’s outright refusal to follow the rules never ceases to amaze me.)Calling Jund a Tier 1 deck is a hard fiction. Modern Horizons printed three very specific exploits for the deck: Wrenn and Six, Seasoned Pyromancer, and Plague Engineer. Not one inherently flips the matchups Jund needed heavy sideboard commitment for already, and the problem with Jund was always that it was 55% against the decks it could beat, and only 55% against the six decks it couldn’t beat if it showed up with the right five sideboard cards for them. What these cards do is push some specific matchups Jund was sliding down to 40% in back up to 60% matchups.