SCG Top 8: August 22, 2016

What a week! Between the three days of the Season Two #SCGINVI in New Jersey and the latest Conspiracy: Take the Crown spoilers, there’s a lot to take in. Danny West has your Top 8 guide to what happened and what’s next!

1. Liam Lonergan Is Your #SCGINVI Champion

You want a story from the New Jersey Invitational weekend? Look no further than first place. Liam won an IQ, came to battle a few short weeks later, and now he’s a much richer mage with a Pro Tour ticket and a token on the way.

The SCG Tour® is about established traveling Magic veterans, to be sure, but it’s also about opportunity. If you want to play competitive Magic and need a place to do it, Liam is living proof that it’s out there for you.

Excellent work, Liam!

2. Welcome to the Woods

Was Liam’s weapon the breakout Dredge deck? Was it an established villain like Tron, Affinity, or Burn? Heavens no.

It was one of the oldest tricks in the Magic book: put a bunch of Elves on the battlefield and watch as your opponent is helplessly buried beneath them in a dogpile of pointy ears and angry mouths.

Liam crushed the Modern format beneath his Elven heel, getting through the most competitive field on the SCG Tour® without a match loss to show for it.

3. Season Two Comes to a Close

In addition to Liam Lonergan, a handful of other names punched a ticket to the crown jewel event of the SCG Tour® at year’s end! Tom “The Boss” Ross closed out an incredible season with yet another Top 8 in the main event. Kevin Jones and Andrew Jessup of the currently untouchable Team MetaGameGurus also locked in their place alongside teammate and defending Players’ Champion Jim Davis.

With multiple instances of SCG Tour® mega-teams making the event, it’ll be a fascinating dynamic to see how the event is prepared for. How will the “lone wolf” competitors fare?

4. The Good Standard

A number of players brought off-the-beaten path brews to very strong records in the Standard portion of the event, headlined by the control mage that will not concede to creatures, Shaheen Soorani.

The records of these mages show that you can play what you want and win. However…

5. The Bad Standard

No matter what, Bant Company is still putting up more winners than other decks. Every week is a different environment with different players and lots of metagame tweaks, but Bant Company is the one unchanged constant.

It’s obvious that the deck is powerful for fundamental reasons, but why does it continue to perform well while other decks are continually allowed to exist?

It may be that we’re looking at a “Delver” Standard format, rather than an Affinity or Caw-Blade Standard format. In the latter case, the deck is so obscenely powerful that playing other decks is mostly a lost cause if you have any goal of winning. In the former instance, it isn’t that the power level of the deck is destroying everything without much variation; it’s that what the deck is doing in its best-case scenarios is so consistently good and reliable that you need to really want to play something else to do it. Which you can. But a lot of people aren’t. And it’s hard to say that many players are wrong at this point.

6. Meanwhile, on Fiora…

Conspiracy: Take the Crown is mostly available for all to see at the time of this writing, and the set is loaded with something for literally every kind of Magic player in existence.

The reprint-hungry players who want a cheaper way to acquire Legacy and Modern staples…

Then you got your Commander and multiplayer fans…

And then you have cards that are too cool to be omitted from anyone’s Cube:

Conspiracy: Take the Crown is available for preorder here, and you can view the official Wizards of the Coast image gallery for the set here.

7. No Fear

The most eyes were on the #SCGINVI main event, there was plenty of other action all around the convention hall. The fields for these events are thick with talent because of their proximity to the Invitational, and a strong performance in one of these events speaks volumes.

Case in point?

One match win away from taking it all. And yes, this decklist is accurate.

Every upkeep is a thrill. Every turn with Dark Confidant is Russian roulette. This deck is wonderful.

As long as you’re fearless.

8. The Rich Get Richmond

The SCG Tour® is off this weekend, but there are tons of Invitational Qualifiers all over the place to get yourself into the SCG Tour® fray, to become the next Liam Lonergan.

Already qualified?

Don’t get too comfortable. Season Three is kicking off at #SCGRICH in two weeks. Because of its proximity to SCG HQ in Roanoke, you can bet some of the strongest players on the circuit will be there to battle.

Bring your A-game.