What A Pro Tour!

If you’re a fan of Emrakul, you got your money’s worth at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon! Join CVM as he celebrates his favorite archetypes and strategies as we head to #SCGNY’s Standard Classic!

Pro Tour Eldritch Moon has come to an end, and I must say that it was one of the most exciting PTs that I have ever been able to watch. The narrative was great: LSV placing in his third Top 8 in a row, Reid and Owen both making it into the Top 8, along with Owen possibly overtaking Seth Manfield for Player of the Year (spoilers: he did), and Sam Pardee getting his first, and well overdue, Top 8. The story was great indeed, but that’s not exactly why I am so hyped about this Pro Tour.

The day that Emrakul, the Promised End was spoiled I tweeted that everyone was going to be very tired of getting Mindslavered for the next X months while Emrakul is in Standard. I knew she was good. This thought was only reaffirmed when I helped Jacob Bough and Chris Andersen work on the various delirium decks leading into the Columbus SCG Tour® event the weekend Eldritch Moon was legal.

The problem was that we never dared to Emrakul hard enough. We missed Gather the Pack and more importantly Grapple with the Past, so we ended up focusing hard on Bant Company.

Granted, there were still two copies of Bant Company that made it into the Top 8 of the PT, and LSV did have a pretty sweet build, but Emrakul is out and about and she is here to stay.

Check out these sweet decks:

Owen’s Temur Emerge deck is probably the one that Emrakuls the hardest. With a full four of Vessel of Nascency, Grapple with the Past, and Gather the Pack, Owen’s plan was to find Emrakul more consistently than everyone else and guarantee that he could get maximum reduction.

I mean, he even played Corrupted Grafstone, which when you think about it was absolutely genius. If it gets binned from one of our search spells, then it’s -1 cost to Emrakul. If it doesn’t and we happen to draw it, it’s like an Emerald Diamond, which feels like it’s even too good to see print right now. With all of the dig, we are pretty much always turning on the Grafstone, and either way you slice it, it’s still a one-mana cost contribution to Emrakul either through being in the graveyard or adding mana from the battlefield.

Pilgrim’s Eye is also a huge role-player in the deck in a similar manner to Corrupted Grafstone. Finding us a land to help us get to Emrakul is nice, and if it’s in the graveyard it can even give -2 to Emrakul’s cost (creature and artifact), but it also plays a secondary role in the deck by giving us fodder for emerge. Getting the back side of Kozilek’s Return is very important if we ever hope to stymie Bant Company or any other semi-aggressive strategy, and getting that off only three mana from emerging a Wretched Gryff off a Pilgrim’s Eye, or four mana by emerging an Elder Deep-Fiend off a Pilgrim’s Eye, is quite a bit of value.

Basically this deck is designed to take advantage of the cost reduction of emerge creatures and the cost reduction portion of Emrakul, the Promised End by flying through our deck and stockpiling our graveyard.

Cheaper stuff is great! Anyone remember delve? Obviously it’s not the same, but everyone was right about emerge when it was spoiled. It’s very good and finding the best way to take advantage of it is going to be key.

The cutest part of this deck, besides the three Emrakul, the Promised End, has to be the Coax from the Blind Eternities. I love it, and here is how I imagine the thought process went.

· Emrakul, the Promised End is busted. Everyone will play it. How do we beat the other Emrakul decks? More Emrakuls and Emrakul harder and faster than them.

· If Emrakul, the Promised End is busted, what will people do to fight it? Summary Dismissal and Infinite Obliteration are likely alongside Transgress the Mind.

· How do we fight that?

· Coax from the Blind Eternities! It lets us get back Emrakul, the Promised End if it gets exiled. We can swap it with an Emrakul in the main while sideboarding. Alongside Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Den Protector, it means we can Emrakul even harder!

It really is smart. Kudos to Wizards for printing such cool cards, and well done to Owen and company for building what felt like the most busted deck in the tournament.

There were more Emrakul decks, though!

Ken Yukuhiro also made the Top 8 with a sweet R/G Ramp deck featuring three copies of Emrakul, the Promised End, although he planned on using red cards to try to reduce her cost and hit delirium for Traverse the Ulvenwald.

It didn’t really occur to me before that the Windfall mode on Collective Defiance could be perfect for not only finding Emrakul, the Promised End but also reducing her cost. The same goes for Tormenting Voice, but both of these cards are great at gassing up in the late-game when we are sandbagging lands.

Ken also has some Chandra, Flamecaller like Owen did, and along with the rest of the deck, we can get Emrakul all the way down to the bargain-bin discount of only seven mana.

Land. Artifact. Creature. Instant. Sorcery. Planeswalker.

Seven mana 13/13 flying, trample, protection from instants, Mindslaver you?

Granted, we did see some Emrakuls be defeated on camera this weekend, but in most of those situations the players were extremely far behind, and even still, Emrakul gave them a chance. That is very powerful!

Ken’s deck is sweet, but I especially love the sideboard. Tireless Tracker is such a huge value card and really helps in long games, and getting to Goblin Dark-Dwellers back a Collective Defiance (yes, you can pay Escalate costs here) is quite awesome. Weaver of Lightning is another one that seems like it can catch on. One of the ways to beat the Emrakul decks is to try to go under them and hope they can’t utilize Kozilek’s Return before you kill them. Weaver of Lightning does a very good job at putting a damper on that plan. Being a decent-sized body and turning all of your removal, ramp, and dig into even more removal is a great way to fight against something like Humans or an aggressive Vampires deck.

Ken wasn’t the only R/G player in the Top 8, though.

Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Reid Duke, AKA “Teen Heartthrob” Reid Duke, slammed his way through the Swiss into the Top 8 with a sweet G/R Delirium Ramp deck that basically took both the elements from Owen’s deck and Ken’s deck and just melded them into a nice little brew.

Rather than use the chaotic red card drawing, he has opted for the Vessel of Nascency / Grapple with the Past / Gather the Pack package that Owen did, but here he also has Traverse the Ulvenwald, which allows him to find some sweet creatures!

We know that I love me some Dragonlord Atarka, but there is one thing I want to point out. I intentionally didn’t mention Ishkanah in the previous sections because I wanted to point out that all three Emrakul decks in the Top 8 utilized Ishkanah, Grafwidow solely on her ability to gum up the ground and stop Bant Company in its tracks, even without having access to black mana to activate her secondary ability.

A 3/5 reach plus three 1/2 reach tokens is just good enough.

Having some bodies to run your opponents’ creatures into when you Emrakul them is pretty important, and Ishnakah has proven itself as the army-in-a-can of choice.

The other card that I want to point out from Reid’s list is Shaman of Forgotten Ways. We see it here in his sideboard and in Owen’s sideboard, but it was a three-of starter in Team East West Bowl’s Temur Emerge deck that Andrew Brown took into the Top 8.

Shaman of Forgotten Ways seems pretty awesome alongside emerge, since it can technically add five mana for an emerge spell, but also just adding two mana to cast the creature normally is probably fine too. This is the perfect deck for Shaman of Forgotten Ways with 24 creatures and some high-cost bombs in our sideboard like Emrakul, the Promised End; Ishkanah, Grafwidow; and World Breaker. I do wonder, though, if they ever activated the formidable ability on the Shaman?

Andrew was dispatched by Sam Pardee in a pretty interesting five-game set where we saw Liliana, the Last Hope and the pure card advantage of the G/B Delirium grind away, which by the way is another deck with both Emrakul, the Promised End and Ishkanah, Grafwidow in it.

Back to this sweet Temur Emerge deck, though. On Premium, Ari did a very good job earlier this week in talking about just how broken this Standard format is, and I have to agree. It is pretty great, though! We have all of these powerful strategies and awesome cards, but nothing is unbeatable.

I remember when I was casting the Legacy Open in Worcester with Andrew Boswell and he kept talking about how he thought that Primal Druid was actually awesome and how he wanted to play it alongside emerge creatures.

Oh boy is Andrew smart.

Ari talks about it in his article, but having an enabler that doesn’t die to Liliana, the Last Hope’s +1 ability is pretty huge, but I also really like how it works alongside Sanctum of Ugin. When I was playing with other emerge decks before the Columbus Open, I was running into situations where I could go find another emerge creature with my Sanctum of Ugin, but then I wasn’t going to have enough mana to do “all the things” the next turn. With Primal Druid, when we emerge, we get to fetch a basic land that can replace the Sanctum of Ugin so that we can just keep doing everything that we want to, even while chaining Wretched Gryffs and Elder Deep-Fiends.

With all the excitement of these new and fun decks, I have to say I was a little disappointed that B/W Control won the whole thing. Lukas Blohon played very well and I am quite happy for him, but I was really rooting for Emrakul, the Promised End to take this one down.

I will say, though, that seeing the Liliana, the Last Hope ultimate beat Emrakul multiple times over the course of the weekend was a delightful flavor win for sure.

I won’t be able to make it out to #SCGNY for the Modern open this weekend, but I will be at #GPPORT to battle some Standard as I prepare for the Invitational the following weekend. I’m honestly contemplating just playing this B/W deck. It’s very good and has game against everything. Liliana, the Last Hope is actually insane, and watching just how awesome Blighted Fen is against Emrakul, the Promised End really makes me like where this deck is right now.

I don’t have much time, and these green-based Emrakul decks look like they aren’t the easiest thing in the world to pilot, so I’ve got to get to work sooner rather than later.

Comments from Last Week

What I’m really surprised at is the lack of red. I personally have built a Mono-Red Midrange deck (I know sounds odd, but bear with me). It has tons of spot removal like Lightning Axe, Fiery Temper, and even Nahiri’s Wrath. Then in the board it has Rending Volley’s, Tears of Valukut, and Roast. Could someone please shed some light on why Red is being so under-played right now?

– Scott Maxey

Well, Scott, I’m sure that the main issue comes from Dromoka’s Command being a huge foil against the damage-based removal and that green just has absurd card advantage. We did, however, get to see a lot of red being played at the Pro Tour this last weekend. Kozilek’s Return (an honorary red spell) and cards like Tormenting Voice and Collective Defiance were pretty big role-players in some of the Top 8 decks.

“I can only guess, but I imagine Hangarback Walker in the Crush deck is also pretty nice for the option of Surging Crush for no mana, in addition to helping with delirium/Emrakul.”

– Brecken Pisenti

Brecken, yes, you’re right! I forgot to mention this in my last piece, but it does provide another piece of cost reduction for Emrakul, the Promised End in addition to building towards delirium. We saw a lot of different artifacts being played at the Pro Tour to serve these same purposes, and Hangarback Walker was indeed one of them!

Like I mentioned before, this weekend I am off to #GPPORT. Good luck to everyone heading there, and even more luck to those of you battling Modern at #SCGNY! What’s going to win? I’m thinking Infect might have another good showing…