Category Archives: Pro Tour Coverage

Pro Tour Hour of Devestation: Financial Preview

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The third Pro Tour of 2017 is about to go down in Kyoto, Japan.  Mercifully, the oncoming festival of excellence lands just as the Standard format has finally escaped the shadow of recent card bannings.  After two seasons ended up requiring the banning of cards, the entire community wants to see a diverse and balanced metagame emerge at this tournament.  With Emrakul, the Promised End, Reflector Mage, Smuggler’s Copter, Aetherworks Marvel and Felidar Guardian[/mtg_Card] all banned, the format is by all accounts in a pretty diverse and health spot heading into the weekend.

As per usual the world’s best players have been hunkered down in their various Oni dens in Kyoto, Japan for the last week or two, all seeking to answer the only query that matters: is there a fresh deck or reconfiguration of existing archetypes out there that will allow them to catch the field off balance while offering consistent play against the known quantities in the field?

With $250,000 USD on the line, and  $40,000 for the champ, players looking to Top 8 need to marshall both luck and skill to lock down the trophy.

Taking a look at the results from the last major StarCityGames Tour Standard tournament, the Top 8 field features elements both familiar and relatively recent. Here was the Top 8 from SCG Open Cincinnati.

  1. Four-Color Control
  2. W/U Monument
  3. Four-Color Emerge
  4. B/G Energy
  5. W/U Monument
  6. Mono-Red Aggro
  7. Mono-Black Zombies
  8. Temur Energy

Meanwhile over on Magic Online, the meta seems to be featuring variations on the following decks:

  • Mardu Vehicles (11%)
  • UR Control (11%)
  • Mono-Red Aggro (10%)
  • W/U Monument (8.5%)
  • Temur Energy (8%)
  • GB Energy (6%)
  • G/R Pummeler (5%)
  • Mono-Black Zombies (3.5%)
  • U/B Zombies (2.5%)

For we finance types, this is not a super exciting scenario. With a wide open field, play skill and nuanced sideboard choices + luck may carry the day, and that’s without accounting for the six rounds of draft factor. All of that adds up to an event that is likely to generate the usual number of hypes spikes, but may not be able to sustain those prices heading into next week unless a truly dominant strategy emerges.

‘As per usual, it is worth noting that the Pro Tour currently requires that players succeed in a mixed schedule of booster draft (HOU/HOU/AMK) and Standard play with 3 rounds of draft Thurs night , followed by 5 rounds of Standard starting around 2pm EST/11am PST, Friday.

Will any of the teams find a way to unlock a hot new deck with solid game against the entire field? Will a fringe deck from the early weeks of the format suddenly end up perfectly positioned to take off? Will there be a chance to get in on a must-have card that shows early promise or will the hype train leave the bandwagon speculators out in the cold without enough buyers come Monday morning? Follow along as we explore Pro Tour Hour of Devestation all weekend!

Editor’s Note: We will not be providing round by round coverage this weekend, due to vacation scheduling but we will provide relevant notes as the weekend progresses. 

Cards to Watch

Heading into this Pro Tour stop, many of the most obvious specs have already played out and plenty of advance speculation has been going down. The potential for further spikes is still on deck, but so is the strong likelihood that some of these specs will collapse when they inevitably fail to join the central meta narrative of the weekend.

Here are a few of the interesting cards that seem like they should be on our radar this weekend:

God-Pharoah’s Gift: Grind King?

Gate to the AfterlifeGod-Pharaoh's Gift

There are at least a few versions of the God-Pharoah’s Gift decks floating around and they all look like a ball to play. Basically, you get a bunch of good creatures in your yard and then start overwhelming your opponent by bringing them back more often than they can find removal or good blocks to deal with them. If the format isn’t dominated by aggro, this might be a great place to be and at $3 (up from $0.50 or less), there’s still some room to grow here. I won’t be surprised if this pairing of cards makes the Top 8, but I will be surprised if they dominate the tournament. As such, the spec seems too risky in the fact of better options, and I think I’ll sit this one out.

Current Price: $3
Predicted Price Monday: $4-5
Odds to Top 8: 2 to 1

Champion of Wits: Good to Go

Champion of Wits

Originally underestimated and available under $1 during pre-order season, actual play with this flexible card selection/card draw spell sandwiched between two different bodies has proven it out as one of the better cards in the format. Four-color emerge decks run the full four in the main, alongside play sets of Elder Deep-Fiend, Grim Flayer, Haunted Dead and Prized Amalgam.  From a financial perspective, as a rare from a new set that is already close to $10, this one feels like an auto-sell to me. There could be a few more dollars left to reap here, but if you were in early I think you need to be happy with $24 play set exits and move on.

Current Price: $7
Predicted Price Monday: $8-10
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 1

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Hazoret, the Fervant: Ripping Red

Hazoret the Fervent

Mono-red aggro decks make up a solid 10% of the online meta, and their most promising spec (now that Earthshaker Khenra has popped) is likely the hasty god from Amonkhet. This will end up more promising if the decks that show up at the Pro Tour are running more than the usual two copies. with a full 15 months left in it’s Standard life, this is a solid spec with multiple possible inflection points given how frequently we see this deck post up in the meta. Alternatively you might look at Falkenrath Gorger, but generally mythics will beat rares for gains.

Current Price: $5
Predicted Price Monday: $10+
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 1

Torrential Gearhulk: Can Control Get it Done?

Torrential Gearhulk

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It’s hard to believe we had a shot at this card around $8 when it first released last fall. The power level on Snapcaster Mage’s big brother is undeniable, and the number of good control cards to flash back has only gotten better between all of the card draw, kill spells and counter spells now in the format. U/R Control is the most likely home for the big blue brute this weekend. This card featured a $30+ price tag a few months back but the weak interest in Standard in combination with a broadening format has weakened it’s ability to hold a higher price tier. There is an argument to be made to pick up a few playsets looking to unload them in the fall closer to $120 per play set, since it’s hard to imagine a shrunken Standard card pool not leaving this card near the top of the creature heap, but I’m going to stay away from this until I’m certain the format is regaining some of the bodies that were lost in the first half of the year.

Current Price: $20
Predicted Price Monday: $20
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 1

Cataclysmic Gearhulk: Emergent Tech?

Cataclysmic Gearhulk

With U/W Oketra’s Monument decks spewing out a ton of tokens, there has been some early chatter that this card might show up in a God Phraoah’s Gift build that looks to reset the board in the mid-game and take over with a heap of Eternalized creatures. This deck is still emerging, but has been gaining momentum over the last couple of weeks, and the only problem is that the Cataclysmic Gearhulk slot is not necessarily a lock, given that there are multiple ways to build the deck.

Current Price: $2
Predicted Price Monday: $8+ (on a Top 8 presence or strong early camera time)
Predicted Price Monday: $2 (on a muted presence or absence)
Odds to Top 8: 6 to 1

Fatal Push: Nowhere to go but down?

Fatal Push

The price of Fatal Push has fallen a bit since the last Pro Tour, but it’s future in Modern and Legacy is super secure for the foreseeable future. In Standard things have been getting very grindy and mid-game focused, and as a result there are likely to be less copies of the card in the Top 8 versus last time. That being said, your first play set is an easy hold since you’ll be using them for years. Beyond that, trading out next fall or early winter may be your best bet, but remember that there is a sweet FNM promo that may head off your road to profit.

Current Price: 7
Predicted Price Monday: $7
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 2

Heart of Kiran: Dominating the Skies

Heart of Kiran

Through all the bannings Mardu Vehicles has remained a very steady presence in the Standard meta, especially at the local level, where many players who started on the deck are likely still on it. Some versions of the deck have taken to running Gideon of the Trials instead of the Zendikar version, but otherwise all the usual suspects are still in attendance in most lists. Heart of Kiran is still a four-of, but with the deck likely to represent a much more muted presence at this event, I think this card is likely to stall until rotation gives it a shot at being a strong gainer as the fall meta shapes up.

Current Price: $7
Predicted Price Monday: $7 ($15+ possible by Nov)
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 1

Angel of Sanctions: Ready to fly?

Angel of Sanctions

U/W Monument may not be running this main most of the time, but they certainly enjoy pulling three or four copies out of the board in their grindier matchups. This powerful angel is just $2 at present, so any kind of significant showing could easily push it up over $6 on a hype spike, with your resale potential strongly dependent on how many copies make the Top 8. This is a risky pick, but in a field this open, most of your options are.

Current Price: $2
Monday Price: $5
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 2

 

Stay tuned for our MTGFinance coverage of Pro Tour: Hour of Devastation throughout the weekend!

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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Pro Tour Amonkhet: Financial Preview

The third stop of the 2016-2017 Pro Tour season finds the Standard scene feeling tentatively hopeful for a rebound in format health and interest. After two seasons ended up requiring the banning of cards, the entire community wants to see a diverse and balanced metagame emerge at this tournament.  With Emrakul, the Promised End, Reflector Mage, Smuggler’s Copter and Felidar Guardian all banned, and Mardu Vehicles decks looking dominant in the latest tournaments, the format really needs a win this weekend.

Many of the best Magic players in the world have been stealth testing in Nashville, TN for the last week or two, all seeking to answer the question of the day: is there a brew out there that will allow them to catch the field off balance while offering consistent play against the known quantities in the field?

Gideon, Ally of ZendikarHeart of Kiran

Fatal PushScrapheap Scrounger

Can anything unseat the most defining cards in the format?

With $250,000 USD on the line, and a cool $40,000 for the champ, players looking to Top 8 need both the fortune of the gods, and excellent skill to take home the trophy.

Taking a look at the results from the first major StarCityGames Tour Standard tournament since the release of Amonkhet, the Top 8 field has still been dominated by Mardu Vehicles builds, with five of the Top 8 decks from SCG Atlanta being of that lineage. Looking over the remainder of the Top 16 decks from that tournament however, glimmers of hope do jump out, with all of the following decks posting at least one result in that group:

As per usual, it is worth noting that the Pro Tour currently requires that players succeed in a mixed schedule of booster draft (AMKx3) and Standard play with 3 rounds of draft Friday morning, followed by 5 rounds of Standard starting around 2pm EST/11am PST, Friday.

Will any of the teams find a way to unlock a new archetype with hot game against the entire field? Will a fringe deck from the early weeks of the format suddenly end up perfectly positioned to take off? Will there be a chance to get in on a must-have card that shows early promise or will the hype train leave the bandwagon speculators out in the cold without enough buyers come Monday morning? Follow along as we explore Pro Tour Amonkhet all weekend!

Cards to Watch

Heading into this Pro Tour stop, many of the most obvious specs have already played out and plenty of advance speculation has been going down. The potential for further spikes is still on deck, but so is the strong likelihood that some of these specs will collapse when they inevitably fail to join the central meta narrative of the weekend.

Here are a few of the interesting cards that seem like they should be on our radar this weekend:

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar: Time To Get Out

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

There is no debating that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar has been an important card in Standard for virtually the entire time it has been legal. The card seems safe from a ban at this point, but with rotation looming in October, the odds of this card showing gains are slim to none whether or not it performs well this weekend. In an outcome where it maintains a dominant role, excitement for the format will be weak, leading to lower singles demand, and if it is finally laid dormant, there’ll be no impetus for the price to jump. Either way this is a card you should have sold months ago, and if you’re holding copies you aren’t using, you should be selling now.

Current Price: $20
Predicted Price Monday: $20
Odds to Top 8: 4 to 1

Torrential Gearhulk: Can Control Get it Done?

Torrential Gearhulk

It’s hard to believe we had a shot at this card around $8 when it first released last fall. The power level on Snapcaster Mage’s big brother is undeniable, and the number of good control cards to flash back has only gotten better between all of the card draw, kill spells and counter spells now in the format. U/R Control is the most likely home for the big blue brute this weekend. As recently as late April you could get the blue construct for $14 or so, but recent gains have left us at limited supply with a $35 price tag. This card is a sell at this price, as any further gains are purely theoretical, since even Gideon failed to hold over $40 as one of the top 3 most played cards in the format.

Current Price: $35
Predicted Price Monday: $35-40 (on a strong Top 8 presence)
Predicted Price Monday: $20-25 (on a weak showing)
Odds to Top 8: 2 to 1

Aetherworks Marvel: New Best Combo Deck?

Aetherworks Marvel

Aetherworks Marvel decks have been floating around in the format since the first few weeks of Kaladesh last fall, but with the printing of Felidar Guardian, Marvel has spent some time on the sidelines. Now that Guardian is banned, and with Marvel decks having gained some new tools and end game options, the stage may be set for the deck to make a comeback. We now have Temur builds using Dynavolt Tower (10% of online meta) as well as Bant versions running Approach of the Second Sun, as well as at least a few other possible configurations.

We were practically yelling for months that the card was too cheap under $4, and now that there are hardly any copies available under $10, a strong showing this weekend could set the stage for this fall set mythic to hit $15-20+. Watch for two things to figure out whether you should be selling or holding: firstly, how many major teams are on the deck, if any, and secondly, what % of the total field is on Marvel vs. the win through rate for Day 2.

Note: Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger ($20) is still a 4-of finisher of choice in nearly all Marvel builds, and regardless of what happens this weekend, it’s fall rotation makes it a strong sell moving forward.

Current Price: $10
Predicted Price Monday: $20+ (on a strong Top 8 presence)
Predicted Price Monday: $8-12 (on a muted presence or absence)
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 1

Fatal Push: Nowhere to go but down?

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Fatal Push

Heaven forbid Fatal Push had been a rare! It’s not often that we see $10 uncommons from in print sets, but strong cross-format demand for one of the strongest removal spells of all time has been driving this price for weeks. Contacts in Europe have been offering to trade me Masterpieces for piles of Fatal Push, which speaks volumes about how liquid this instant staple has become. Inventory is currently pretty solid, but there isn’t going to be a lot more Aether Revolt opened this year, so there is a decent chance that Fatal Push gets to $15 heading into the fall. Foils at $50 are pretty crazy, and I’m a bit worried that this card could get a promo version this year or show up in a supplementary product to challenge the price. There might be money to be made here, but I’m steering clear for a less volatile playing field.

Current Price: $10
Predicted Price Monday: $10
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 4

Heart of Kiran: Dominating the Skies

Heart of Kiran

The future for Heart of Kiran is at least partially tied to the continued  dominance of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Toolcraft Examplar and Scrapheap Scrounger, the creatures most likely to crew it, but as a two-mana colorless mythic from a small set, further opportunities for gains seem likely before it finally rotates in fall of 2018. I don’t think major movement is in the works for this card this weekend given the depth of current supply, but if the format plays out well and leads to renewed overall player interest at the local level then this is a card that should be able to hit a fresh peak in the next 18 months.

Current Price: $13
Predicted Price Monday: $13 ($20 before fall)
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 2

Sphinx of the Final Word: Unlikely to Soar?

Sphinx of the Final Word

Some MTGFinance folk seem to have made a move on this card leading into the Pro Tour, but I can’t fathom why. Sure, this has all the hallmarks of an excellent control finisher, but it hasn’t even cracked the Top 50 Standard cards on Magic Online. Further, despite showing up in multiple control shells, it is usually played as a 1-of, which is hardly a recipe for a sustained spike. As an Oath of the Gatewatch card, the clock is likewise ticking on fall rotation and I want nothing to do with this. Sure, getting in at $1.50 and out at $5 after fees is some decent math, but it’s a lot more attractive when you can sell a play set at a time. You probably have a couple of these lying around from draft leftovers and I think you should be selling now before this guy falls back to reality.

Current Price: $6 ($1 last week)
Monday Price: $5
Odds to Top 8: 6 to 1

Relentless Dead: Zombies MVP?

Relentless Dead

Heading into the weekend, the copies of this powerful zombie mythic that I stocked up on last summer at $4 have been selling well over $16. That’s a great return, but is there more meat left on this bone? Well, inventory is very low online and a solid showing this weekend at the Pro Tour might push this zombie staple, usually played as a 4-of, up into the $25-$30 range. 4-of mythics that only fit into one deck aren’t always your best bet, but when they rest at the intersection of zombie tribal and aggro in a format that rewards speed and a smooth mana base, the stage may be set for the undead to steam roll the tables.

Current Price: $20
Monday Price: $30 (On a strong zombie showing)
Monday Price: $15 (On a weak showing)
Odds to Top 8: 3 to 1

Liliana’s Mastery: Rolling in the Deep?

Liliana's Mastery

The zombie deck pilots have been quickly coming around to the benefits of having this combined creature creation spell and team buff effect sitting at the top of their curve. Most of those decks are running three or four copies of the card at this point, and I suspect that Zombies is going to be a lot more popular at your local LGS than all of the combo and control decks combined. This is one of the only cards I’ve been buying into a bit, on the basis that Standard success or not, this card will be an auto-include in casual and EDH zombie decks for years to come.

Note: Dark Salvation is also in a similar boat.

Current Price: $1
Monday Price: $1 ($4-5 Long Term)
Odds to Top 8: 2 to 1

Glorybringer: Flametongue Kavu 2.0?

Glorybringer

There isn’t any doubt this card is going to be a part of the format. It pressures Gideon, gets in tough to block damage and eliminates opposing threats when you have the breathing room to exert. If you were on the ball during pre-order season you have a chance to enter at $2 and exit over $10 when the hype was flowing, but now the card has settled back toward $6 as Amonkhet marches toward peak supply. There’s a good chance that this card gets a shot at a higher price point during its tenure in Standard, but we really need a dominant showing or an increase in copies played (typically 2-3) to push the price. I’m holding off for now, but it’s a card to look at if it generates repeated big plays on camera this weekend.

Current Price: $6
Monday Price: $10 (on multiple Top 8 showings)
Monday Price: $5 (on a weaker showing)
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 2

Approach of the Second Sun: Dawning Champion?

Approach of the Second Sun

This card is sweet, and there are Aetherworks Marvel builds that run it, but it’s rarely a full playset, and the Temur builds seem to be favored. It could also show up in the New Perspectives combo deck, but it only plays one copy as well. I don’t think this is where you want to be for speculation right now, given that this card has building supply and modest demand.

Current Price: $.50
Monday Price: $.50
Odds to Top 8: 20 to 1


New Perspectives: Last Minute Contender?

New Perspectives

Saffron Olive posted a video series on a recently discovered combo deck revolving around this card and those videos might end up with more viewers than the Pro Tour. Supply has been draining out of the market and there is currently less of this card out there than most of the other cards on this list. I went ahead and grabbed twenty copies on the expected reach for the deck list via Saffron, but combo is generally less attractive to a broad audience than aggro, and if the deck fails to show up at the Pro Tour, it won’t help move the needle. The more cycling cards we print however, the better this card gets as a build around long term in casual circles, so I’m fine sitting on my copies for as long as it takes to show a reasonable gain given that it’s nearly always a 4-of when played.

Current Price: $1
Monday Price: $3-4
Odds to Top 8: 20 to 1

Do you have an outsider pick for the tournament? Share it in the comments!

Stay tuned for round by round MTGFinance coverage of Pro Tour: Amokhet all weekend!

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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Pro Tour Aether Revolt: Top 8 Analysis

Check out our Pro Tour Aether Revolt Preview, Day 1 and Day 2 coverage to get caught up.

So here we are, heading into a Pro Tour Top 8 dominated almost entirely by Mardu Vehicles, with only a single copy each of Jund Energy Aggro and BG Delirium to try and keep the highly efficient vehicles deck in check.

The competition includes a Hall of Fame inductee (Paulo Vitor Dama De Rosa) and a likely future Hall of Famer in Martin Juza. Matches are best of five on Sunday, but the first two games are played without sideboards so main deck inclusions matter more than usual.

Let’s take a look at the Day 2 conversion rate for the various deck types:

And here are the decks that did better than average getting their pilots into Day 2:

Despite having three decks in the Top 8, there is actually a fair amount of overlap between the key cards. The full list of Top 8 decks can be found here.

Heart of KiranScrapheap Scrounger

So what insights can we glean from these stats? Well, first of all, Mardu Vehicles is clearly the new deck to beat looking forward. Despite a large sample size of 95 players from many different teams, a full 75% of players on this deck made Day 2, which is very impressive indeed. Across all six copies that managed a Top 8 finish, five cards were included at the maximum of four copies in each build: Concealed Courtyard, Inspiring Vantage, Toolcraft Exemplar and Scrapheap Scrounger.  All of these cards are still cheap given this level of play, and if the deck keeps doing well, I would expect both Scrapheap Scrounger and the dual lands to show gains, especially since they are often played in the competing decks as well, as Inspiring Vantage shows up in Jeskai lists as a four-of, and Scrounger is also in the rest of the aggro lists as well.

Inspiring VantageConcealed Courtyard

Keep in mind that many of the pros that didn’t field Mardu Vehicles seemed surprised at the percentage of the field that brought the deck, so the control decks will now be reworking their game plan to skew more towards defending the early game vs. aggro plans and less against the Saheeli Rai combo. Jeskai Control, UR Control and Grixis Control all still have a shot at making inroads at future Top 8s, and you can expect them to get better at doing so as the aggro decks become more predictable. The core control color thus far has been blue, largely due to the power of Torrential Gearhulk, so I still have faith that the card will get to $25-30 at some point this spring.

Speaking of Saheeli Rai, despite the combo not putting a single copy in the Top 8, and representing a brutal Day 2 conversion rate of just 41%, there is reason to believe the narrative isn’t over yet. Josh Utter-Leyton and seven other pros brought 4 Color Aetherworks/Saheeli Combo to the tournament and managed an impressive 75% Day 2 conversion rate that could allude to further refinements of the shell contributing to greater competitive potential.

Also worth noting is that there are plenty of GB decks of both the Delirium and Winding Constrictor varieties in the Top 32 and 64, and with conversion rates around 70% it seems likely that the staples of this archetype, including Verdurous Gearhulk, Winding ConstrictorMindwrack Demon, Rishkar, Peema Renegade and Walking Ballista should stay on your radar if the tables turn. GB deck success has been the most consistent aspect of the Standard season thus far, so take the single Top 8 player with a grain of salt.

On Friday I predicted that the Top 8 would include a single dark horse deck, and indeed, we were gifted with a sexy new Jund Aggro Energy build in the hands of Martin Juza to mull over as an alternate approach to the early game on the go forward. This deck leveraged Scrapheap Scrounger alongside Longtusk Cub and Greenbelt Rampager and Voltaic Brawler to attempt to field an aggro army with slightly more power than the competition. According to Juza, he cut a few cards from the middle of his curve to install a late game package of three copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and a single copy of Nissa, Vital Force.

Chandra, Torch of DefianceNissa, Vital Force

You should also keep an eye out for Inspiring Statuary decks or Aetherflux Reservoir decks like the one written up over here, to possibly evolve into a more competitive form in the coming weeks.

With the odds stacked for a Mardu Vehicles finish Sunday, and this handy guide to the results in your hands, we’re going to call our coverage for the weekend here and regroup again in a week or two once we see the results of the next big tournament.

Take care and may your specs all be double ups!

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Pro Tour Aether Revolt: Day 2 MTGFinance Coverage

Editor’s Note: Relevant financial details in blue, folks.

Coming into Day 2 of the Pro Tour Aether Revolt, the field has proven to be a mix of the expected and a smattering of attempts to get ahead of the metagame with outsider cards.

For reference from our Day 1 article yesterday, the metagame broke down as follows for the initial field.

Between Jeskai Copy Cat, Jeskai Marvel and 4 Color Copy Cat, the Saheeli Rai/Felidar Guardian combo was the archetype that the greatest number of pros showed up with at 25% of the field, despite the shell having a big red target on it’s back as the deck to beat heading into the tournament.

BG decks, in both Delirium and Winding Constrictor focused builds made up over 23% of the field, as the other archetype that had been performing well in the first couple of weeks of the format. LSV pointed out on coverage that a lot of pros had leaned in this direction because they expected the vehicles deck to be popular and felt that these decks were the trump.

Almost as many pros showed up with a Mardu Vehicle build that was tuned in an effort  with a full 22% of the field trying to leverage a highly aggressive game plan to try and get in under the format defining Saheeli Rai infinite combo.

A few different control shells also made up a combined 10% of the field, with UR Dynavolt Tower, Grixis Control and Jeskai Control showing up in roughly equal proportions.

Dark horse decks that were whispered about before the tournament in chat rooms and forums did not show up in force, and have so far failed to make a major splash at the top tables.

Willy Edel failed to Day 2 with this brew.

Interestingly, many of the cards that have seen the biggest gains this weekend, including Inspiring Statuary, Paradox Engine, Tezzeret the Seeker and Tezzeret’s Simulacrum, all belong to a class of decks that ended up practically unplayed. As such, all of these spikes have a strong chance of back sliding heading into next week as speculators that went deep attempt to mitigate their losses by selling off.

Perhaps more important is the fate of the key mythics of the format: Verdurous Gearhulk, Torrential Gearhulk and Heart of Kiran. Each of these mythics are often played as three or four-ofs, are lynchpins in their respective archetypes and are very likely to see continued play in 2017 regardless of what happens with the potential Saheeli Rai combo banning later this month.

Verdurous Gearhulk is still hanging out in the $18 range, but if BG ends up dominating the Top 8, the stage could be set for the card to make a move into the $25-30 range as a dominant powerhouse aggro and mid-range card. Likewise, Torrential Gearhulk is the cornerstone of the blue based control decks in this format and at $23, offers slightly less upside than it’s green brethren in the quest to top $30.

The legendary Aether Revolt vehicle Heart of Kiran seems to be taking over the Smuggler’s Copter four-of slot in many aggro and mid-range decks and has edged up a few dollars, currently sitting at $15 or so. As a small set mythic, if four-of play continues this year, this card has a solid shot at $25+. On Magic Online the card is up over $10 overnight.

Kaladesh rare Scrapheap Scrounger, previously available for $1.50 is edging up toward $3-4 on the back of more frequent play in various aggro and vehicle/aggro builds. The card could possibly see play in Modern and Frontier, but is unlikely to yield significant gains from here on out.

Follow along with us as we track the final 5 rounds of constructed play before the cut to Top 8 and the establishment of the new Standard metagame.

Round 12 (6th Standard Round): Thierry Ramboa (BG Constrictor) vs. Lukas Blohan (Jeskai Control)

In the first game Lukas Blohan gets stuck on three lands and Ramboa is able to leverage some Winding Constrictor shenanigans into a quick win. Game 2 was all about Tireless Tracker and Fleetwheel Cruiser running over Blohan while backed up by Murder and Blossoming Defense. Match to Ramboa.

Round 12 (6th Standard Round): Martin Juza (Jund Energy Aggro) vs. Ben Rubin (BG Delirium)

This match pivots on a series of combat phases driven by the recent introduction of Verdurous Gearhulks to the battlefield, and Juza is able to leverage the heightened aggro pressure of his Jund Energy build to drive it home and move to 10-2.

Deck Tech #5: Willy Edel (Grixis Improvise)

Herald of Anguish">Herald of Anguish is a small set mythic at $8. Given the poor performance of the deck at the tournament, I wouldn’t be moving in on this card yet, but it’s worth keeping an eye on moving forward because there are definitely some interesting elements in play here.

Josh Utter-Layton has taken his fourth loss, knocking him out of Top 8 contention, and possibly relegating the cool Saheeli Marvel deck to a position out of the spotlight.

Round 13: Alexander Hayne (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Ken Yukuhiro (BG Constrictor)

Heart of Kiran powered up by Scrapheap Scrounger for Hayne puts away Game 1 in a hurry. In Game 2, Yukuhiro gains the benefit of highly skilled play, edging out a win from a position that seemed to have him beat and the match is evened up. In Game 3, Yukuhiro stabalizes at four life on a pair of Walking Ballistas, and a Verdurous Gearhulk and a Winding Constrictor facing a near empty board for Hayne names the Japanese player the victor and puts him at 10-3.

Round 13: Daniel Grafensteiner (4Color Saheeli) vs. Tatsuhiko Ohki (Mardu Vehicles)

We come into this match with the players at a game a piece and Ohki offering a commanding board position from his blisteringly fast aggro deck. In Game 3, Daniel stabilizes on three life, and starts going to work with Nissa, Vital Force and Felidar Guardian to scrap out a win without his combo.

Deck Tech #6: Deep-Fiend Saheeli (Gerry Thompson)

This version of the Saheeli deck tries to set up additional paths to finding the combo and delays the aggro decks with Elder Deep Fiend. Felidar Guardian has multiple ways of gaining value as you pursue the combo.

Round 14: Samuel Tharmaratnam (BR Aggro) vs. Lucas Esper Berthoud (Mardu Vehicles)

The life gain from Aethersphere Harvester ends up being the pivot point in Game 1, and Lucas takes the lead. In Game 2, Sam is force to mulligan twice and Lucas easily takes the match.

Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

Here are all the decks that showed up in the hands of at least four players, and their conversion rates (chance they made Day 2).

Perhaps more importantly, here are the decks that were played by at least eight players and managed a conversion percentage above the field average of 62.6%.

Note that the conversion rate for the Saheeli Rai combo decks that weren’t also running Aetherworks Marvel was just 41%. The Marvel version on the other hand, in the hands of Josh Utter-Leyton and company, converted at an impressive 75%. With conversion rates between 68% and 76% both Mardu Vehicles and the GB variants look to be proving out as fantastic meta calls for the weekend. Also of note is the fantastic 82% conversion rate of the GW Tokens decks, an archetype that has been largely absent on coverage but is putting up results second only to RB Aggro, which placed 8 of 9 players into Day 2 on the back of ultra fast early game pressure. Jeskai Control decks lacking the Saheeli combo have advanced the theory that forcing your opponents to respect the combo potential while working a different angle can pay off well. Overall, the field looks to be diverse and healthy so far and unless upcoming tournaments this month suggest otherwise, the Copy Cat combo may end up safe from a ban for now.

On camera, LSV suggests that Ishkanah, the Grafwidow may be in demand based on the shift in the metagame, with so many flying vehicle threats and low power attackers flooding the tables.

Round 14 Standings

Round 15: Jeremy Dezani (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Craig Chapman (Copy Cat Control)

In Game 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Heart of Kiran go to work for Dezani and Chapman never really gets a chance to set up shop. Game 1, Dezani. Dezani also cleans up Game 2 pretty quickly and he now has an outsider shot at Top 8.

Deck Tech #8: Jund Energy Aggro (Martin Juza)

Martin outlined that he was the only member of his team that decided to go with this innovative aggro brew that capitalizes on synergies between cards like Greenbelt Rampager and Longtusk Cub. Three copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Heart of Kiran are again relevant here.

Round 16: Lucas Esper Berthoud (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Dimitris Triantafillou (BG Constrictor)

This match is a win and in for Top8. In Game 1 a key Grasp of Darkness from Dimitris on Heart of Kiran from Lucas lets him stabilize for long enough to capitalize on a blundered Needle Spires attack from his opponent. Game 1 for the Greek player. In the second game Lucas manages to redeem the misplay on the back of strong card advantage from a protected, Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

On the back table PVD beats Ben Rubin in two games to set up his eleventh lifetime Top 8!

Our Top 8 is starting to take shape. So far we know the following players/deck that are a lock:

  1. Marcio Carvelho (Mardu Vehicles)
  2. Lucas Esper Berthoud (Mardu Vehicles)
  3. Yuchen Liu (Mardu Vehicles)
  4. Donald Smith (Mardu Vehicles)
  5. Jan Kasandr (BG Delirium)
  6. Martin Juza (Jund Energy Aggro)
  7. Eduardo Sajgalik (Mardu Vehicles)
  8. PVD (Mardu Vehicles)

That puts our deck count at six (!) copies of Mardu Vehicles, a BG Delirium deck and a singular Jund Energy Aggro build that shares several cards with the other two archetypes.

This Top 8 is also notable in that the very aggressive metagame choices aimed at batting the Saheeli Rai combo decks and coming in under the control builds have paid off in a major, major way.  There are zero combo decks in the Top 8 and zero copies of Torrential Gearhulk, which likes chills the price appreciation on that card for the short term. Saheeli Rai is now in a weird spot where the deck likely isn’t good enough to force a banning of Felidar Guardian this month, and in fact, might not be good enough to set up the price appreciation that might have been on deck if the deck had put a couple of updated versions into the Top 8. Either way, I’m glad to have been a seller of the card during the initial spike as the future is murky on the boogeyman of the format.

The diversity of resilient threats and excellent answers in Mardu colors has set up the deck as the must answer shell coming out of the tournament, a result backed up by the archetypes excellent conversion rate this weekend in to the second day of play.  Four copies each of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Heart of Kiran and Scrapheap Scrounger mark those cards as the potential gainers from this deck. The fact that the GB and Jund Energy Aggro decks are also running both the 4/4 vehicle and the recursive construct threat means that few other cards in the format can claim an equivalent demand profile heading into the rest of the month. Seven of the eight decks in the Top 8 are running Heart of Kiran. Expect the spike to take place tonight.

Walking Ballista is also a card to watch as it is good at answering X/1s and holding down Saheeli Rai, though there can’t be much meat left on the bone of a rare that hasn’t hit peak supply yet.

Join us tomorrow for our coverage of the Top 8!

James Chillcott is the CEO of ShelfLife.net, The Future of Collecting, Senior Partner at Advoca, a designer, adventurer, toy fanatic and an avid Magic player and collector since 1994.

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