Category Archives: Pro Tour Coverage

Pro Tour Aether Revolt: Financial Preview

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The second stop of the 2016-2017 Pro Tour season finds Standard in a pretty weird spot. Fresh off an early winter Standard scene that was heavily warped by the presence of Emrakul, the Promised End, WOTC elected to ban the Eldrazi titan along with Reflector Mage and Smuggler’s Copter in an attempt to hit the reset button and open up the field.

Unfortunately, the printing of Felidar Guardian in Aether Revolt introduced a Splinter Twin style combo to the format alongside the previously ignored Saheeli Rai, and now the format is warping alongside the combo and the GB aggro and delirium decks that seem best suited to keep pace with it.

Over in Dublin, Ireland, the best Magic players in the world have been stealth testing to answer a pressing question: facing down one of the most dangerous Standard combo decks in recent memory, can a foil be found that still has game against the rest of the field?

Saheeli RaiFelidar Guardian

With over $250,000 USD on the line, and a cool $40,000 for the champ, players angling for the Top 8 will need to be both lucky and good while they pray their team has both read and answered the meta-game correctly. Taking a look at the results from the first two major Star City Games Standard tournaments including Aether Revolt, the Top 8 field has been more or less evenly dominated by GB and Jeskai Combo decks.

So far, dark horse decks striving to break out might include any of the following shells that have put up a smattering of relevant results:

As per usual, it is worth noting that the Pro Tour currently requires that players succeed in a mixed schedule of booster draft (AER – AER – KLD) and Standard play with 3 rounds of draft Friday morning Ireland time, followed by 5 rounds of Standard starting around 8am EST/5am PST, Friday.

Given the European time zone of this tournament, early morning speculation has the potential to be more successful than usual here.

Will any of the pros find a way to unlock a new archetype with game against the known 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?

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Cards to Watch

Complicating matters this weekend is the fact that WoTC has announced that bannings can now take place at the release of a new set and five weeks later. As such, investing in cards that are most heavily played in the Saheeli Rai combo decks (including Saheeli herself) is potentially very risky. A top 8 dominated by the combo could easily get Felidar Guardian banned and result in Saheeli plunging back down towards $5. This scenario should be predisposing the financially minded to pursue cards that are likely to be in high demand with or without the Saheeli decks in the format, and especially cards that are useful in a variety of deck shells.

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

Saheeli Rai: Too good for Standard?

Saheeli Rai

Saheeli Rai + Felidar Guardian is the pivot point for the entire format at present and anyone that can’t figure out how to beat it consistently this weekend might as well join the crowd and field some version of the deck. Both Jeskai and 4-Color builds have been doing well, with a green splash being put to good use to help find combo pieces via Oath of Nissa, ramp with Servant of the Conduit or grind value with Rogue Refiner.

So far I am finding it hard to believe that any of the pro teams will find a brand new deck that is so good against both the combo and the rest of the field that it dominates the Top 8 from nowhere. Instead I predict a Top 8 with 2-3 versions of Saheeli Combo, 2-3 versions of GB decks, 2-3 sggro decks and a perhaps a random Tier 2 deck that slipped past the ramparts. If the combo decks field 5+ versions in the Top 8, the clock for a banning will be counting down and Saheeli will likely tank as players anticipate an imminent banning. The ideal scenario for the risk takes among us is that the deck only fields 1-2 copies in the Top 8, marking it as strong, but not overwhelming and potentially allowing for some upward price motion. Once the near term ban decisions are made, another spike could be possible as well. Having already gotten in at $5 and out at $20 on this card, I’m steering well clear of this uncertainty, but do as you will.

Current Price: $18
Predicted Price Monday: $15
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 4

Torrential Gearhulk: Best card in the format?

Torrential Gearhulk

Sure, Saheeli Rai may be hogging the spotlight, but a compelling argument can be made that beyond the combo, it’s the blue artifact creature that best defines this format. Showing up in both combo and control Jeskai variants,  Torrential Gearhulk provides tremendous value in the late game. A typical sequence might involve flashing in the ‘hulk to block and kill a threat, while flashing back an instant to kill another threat, stop an opposing combo turn, draw some cards or simply close out the game on the back of a burn spell.

This card is even seeing fringe play in Modern and I would be stunned if it didn’t make the Top 8 of this tournament. Often played as a 3 or 4 of, this ubiquitous mythic is highly unlikely to get banned in a few weeks, and could easily end up over $30 at the end of the weekend. Even if that doesn’t happen, the card has at least a year to spike again, and constitutes my top pick for the fall set mythic most likely to hit that number before rotation.  There isn’t a lot of meat left on this bone, but a playset for $88 could end up being outed at $120 minus fees, or about $105, for a $17 gain. Not amazing, but you could make worse decisions.

Current Price: $22
Predicted Price Monday: $26-28 (on a strong Top 8 presence)
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 4

Verdurous Gearhulk

Verdurous Gearhulk

GB aggro and delirium decks make up 20-30% of the metagame heading into this weekend, and nearly all of those decks are running multiple copies of the second most powerful gearhulk. In coordination with Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Winding Constrictor and Walking Ballista, Verdurous Gearhulk offers ratchets up the shenanigans level on +1/+1 counters to new heights in Standard. With a supporting cast this deep on deck for the next 18 months, there is a decent chance that additional role players will appear in forthcoming sets and keep the beefiest construct in demand for the duration of it’s time in Standard. Currently priced about $6 less than his blue brethren, and with a much lower chance of being impacted negatively by a fresh round of bannings, I think that picking up a couple of play sets of this card could be in order.

Current Price: $16
Predicted Price Monday: $22+ (on a strong Top 8 presence)
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 3

Aetherworks Marvel: Dead For Good or Amonkhet Ready

Aetherworks Marvel

Without Emrakul coming into play on Turn 5, and facing down the trigger countering abilities of Disallow with blue decks doing well, Aetherworks Marvel seems to be back on the shelf waiting to get broken all over again. I have to assume that the pros are at least attempting to make this happen, since they’re all too familiar with the power potential, but even if they don’t find it this cycle, there are several more sets forthcoming that might put this back in the spotlight in 2017. Heck, a great new Nicol Bolas planeswalker and a good discard spell might be enough to get this back in play alongside Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. I’m not moving back in yet, but I’ll be ready to pull the trigger as soon as someone gives me a good reason.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide if this 5-0 Temur Marvel deck from yesterday is reason enough.

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Current Price: $3.50
Predicted Price Monday: $3
Odds to Top 8: 10 to 1

Metalwork Colossus: Stuck at Tier 2?

Metalwork Colossus

Numerous versions of the Metalwork deck have put up decent results since the fall, but the deck has so far failed to find a configuration that can consistently lay claim to Tier 1 status. Between vehicles, Sanctum of Ugin and numerous value artifacts, these decks can pull together some pretty explosive turns, and I would love to see a fresh take on this archetype make it’s way to the top tables and give this card a reason to break $5 and set up some decent action for the folks who got in closer to $1.

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

Inspiring Statuary: First to Spike

Inspiring Statuary

The first buyout of the weekend belongs to this oft-overlooked artifact, and either the pros are feeling confidant about a rogue deck choice or someone decided to go deep indeed. If the deck is real, it likely involves Aetherflux Reservoir, Paradoxical Outcome, Crush of Tentacles (a $2 mythic!) and a poor man’s storm combo in Standard that was briefly seen on camera at SCG Richmond last weekend. Something nutty with Paradox Engine (currently at $7) could also be a thing. If one or more pro teams have actually built a finely tuned killing machine around this card and they manage to Top 8 with it, the current spike may hold for long enough to get back out, but it’s much more likely that someone is going to get stuck holding a lot of $2 rares without buyers. I’m happy to stay out of this and play it safe, as peak supply for Aether Revolt is still weeks away and anything over $2 for a rare is going to be tough to make money on.

Current Price: $4 ($1 this morning)
Monday Price: $2
Odds to Top 8: 6 to 1

Tezzeret’s Simulacrum: Sold Out?

Tezzeret's Simulacrum

I can barely find a copy of this card for sale anywhere in North America right now. Did the pros figure out a way to break this with Inspiring Statuary and Paradox Engine? Is Tezzeret, the Schemer going to end up a thing at $13? This would be big news if true and someone is certainly making a move here. Keep in mind that even though this card is labelled as an uncommon, it is only available in the Planeswalker sealed product, and it therefore effectively a mythic rare if it is suddenly needed as a four-of in a real deck. Could this be the biggest surprise of the weekend?

Herald of Anguish: Coming Out Party?

Herald of Anguish

Here we have a 5/5 flyer that can potentially be cast cheaply, force your opponent to discard and kill small creatures at will. This bad boy demon was bought out early in Japan during preview season, but has yet to put up relevant results. Now down to $7, with deep inventory that’s only getting deeper, this weekend would be an amazing time for these to suddenly start doing work on camera and drive a hard spike to $15 that would probably fade on Day 2 when it’s pilot failed to ace their draft pod and got knocked out of the tournament. A long shot for sure, but solid profit potential if someone proves this card is real.

Current Price: $7
Monday Price: $6
Odds to Top 8: 20 to 1

Aether Hub: Most Popular Kid in the Class

Aether Hub

Aether Hub is the most played non-basic land in Standard, and it’s not close. Unless Amonkhet provides some great new color fixing, this essential uncommon could end up pushing $4-5, but only if Standard play regains momentum at the local level and starts draining down inventory on what is currently a pretty deep stock. Blooming Marsh and Spirebluff Canal also have a chance to make you a few bucks/copy based on their current demand profile and their limited Modern play, though foils may be the better bet there.

Current Price: $2
Monday Price: $3
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 100 (ie inevitable)

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: Aether Revolt 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 Kaladesh: Top 8 Coverage

Check out our Top 8 Deck Analysis, Day 2 and Day 1 Coverage to get caught up and then follow along as we track the progress of the march to greatness today at Pro Tour Kaladesh.

Matches are best of five today, but the first two games are played without sideboards.

Our bracket looks like this today, forcing the bottom half of the bracket to battle four times today (a potential twenty total games) if they want to take it all home:

bracket

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Both Makis (R/W Tokens) and Shota (Grixis Control) are safe until the semi-finals, giving their decks a better than average shot at the title. Notably the bottom half of the bracket forces most of the aggro decks to eliminate each other before facing combo, control or the red/white tokens list.

Quarter-Finals Stage 1: Ben Hull (R/W Vehicles) vs. Lee Shi Tian (Mardu Vehicles)

Game 1 plays out as expected here with Ben Hull managing to stabalize and managing to transition into a Skysovereign, Consult Flagship late game that quickly turns the corner and puts Shi Tian away. Off camera Hull takes the next game as well, but Lee takes Game 3 quickly to fight back, but falls in the next game to put the fledgling Canadian in the Top 6.

Quarter-Finals Stage 1: Carlos Romao (Jeskai Control) vs. Joey Manner (UW Flash Spirits)

Carlos takes Game 1 off camera. In Game 2 Manner gets Carlos down to 1 life, but a Dovin Baan is able to stabilize the game for a few turns, and Romao starts to drown Joey in card advantage until Torrential Gearhulks are able to close things out. Joey loses the third game as well, but Romao’s roll is not to be stopped this weekend, and a series of kill spells sees Manner knocked off the podium for the weekend, putting the Brazilian one step closer to his third big tournament win in as many months.

carlos1

Quarter-Finals Stage 2: Carlos Romao (Jeskai Control) vs Matt Nass (Temur Aetherworks)

Game 1 finds Nass predictably running multiple copies of Marvel Aetherworks into counterspell after counterspell, and eventually Romao gets his Torrential Gearhulks down to close the game. Game 2 goes much the same and Carlos is up by two.

Quarter-Finals Stage 2: Ben Hull (R/W Vehicles) vs Pierre Dagen (UR Control)

Ben Hull is able to quickly dispatch Dagen, who never really manages to establish his control of the board over the course of a quick three games. Hull moves on to the semi-finals vs. Shota Yasooka and his Grixis Control deck.

semis

Semi-Finals: Makis Matsoukas (R/W Tokens) vs Carlos Romao (Jeskai Control)

LSV points out Torrential Gearhulk as the key card for Romao.

Had to take a quick break, but upon my return I find Romao up 2-1 on Makis. The final game is a grind and Makis nearly gets his aggro amped up high enough to win a few times only to be met by stiff control opposition in the form of Torrential Gearhulk and multiple kill spells, including a key Radiant Flames. Romao is on to the finals!

Semi-Finals: Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control) vs Ben Hull (R/W Vehicles)

The players trade the first two games, with Thing in the Ice and Smuggler’s Copter featuring prominently. Yasooka in Games 3 and 4 however is a lesson in tight control play and when Hull stumbles on land in Game 4, the writing is on the wall. Yasooka is going to a Pro Tour final yet again.

Finals: Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control) & Carlos Romao (Jeskai Control)

All control finals featuring multiple copies of Torrential Gearhulk on both sides of the table. Definitely the card of the tournament, despite the heavy presence of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in the Top 8, and most copies are now in the $30-35 range online.

Game 1 lasts nearly forty minutes, with both players trading resources left and right in typical control fashion. Shota had even chosen to draw rather than play, a hallmark of control mirrors. Late in the game Carlos has Dovin Baan in play and seems to be setting up shop, only to have Shota squeak through the exact amount of damage necessary with a pair of Wandering Fumeroles and an Unlicensed Disintegration.

Game 2 puts the spotlight on Dovin Baan once again, with Carlos managing to ultimate the control-centric Planeswalker to prevent his opponent from untapping more than two permanents per turn. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, Shota is able, through masterful play, answer only the threats that he absolutely had to, and the Japanese Hall of Famer manages to run Romao out of every threat in his deck, with more gas in the tank. The players move to sideboarding, removing a lot of their dead cards against each other.

In Game 3, Romao starts a bit behind on land drops, but manages to steady the ship by dropping a Torrential Gearhulk in against a Transgress the Mind from Shota, forcing the Japanese master off a Summary Dismissal in hand. A few turns later a large scale counter war over Shota’s Torrential Gearhulk, ends in Carlos favor and he’s able to glide Avacyn home to take his first game of the match.

In Game 4 however, Shota gets a Gearhulk and an awakened Thing in the Ice into the red zone, and Shota is able to clear away both a knight token and Dovin Baan with a Delirium enabled To the Slaughter, putting Carlos on the back foot. A turn later, Carlos attempts an Immolating Glare on the incoming attackers, only to be met with a final Negate and Shota Yasooka with Grixis Control is your Pro Tour Kaladesh champion!

finals

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Pro Tour Kaladesh: Top 8 Deck Analysis

Pro Tour Kaladesh Top 8 Deck Analysis

After sixteen rounds of excellent draft and Standard play full of fantastic strategic matches and a plethora of viable decks, the Top 8 of Pro Tour Kaladesh is shaping up to be one of the most varied and interesting in years.

Here are what has made it to the final stage of the tournament and the relevant cards:

  1. Makis Matsoukas (R/W Tokens): 2x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, 4x Smuggler’s Copter, 4x Declaration in Stone, 4x Toolcraft Exemplar, 3x Pia Nalaar. Sideboard: 2x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
  2. Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control): 2x Torrential Gearhulk, 4x Thing in the Ice, 1x Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
  3. Pierre Dagen (UR Control): 1x Torrential Gearhulk, 4x Dynavolt Tower. Sideboard: 4x Niblis of Frost, 4x Thing in the Ice, 1x Torrential Gearhulk
  4. Matt Nass (Temur Aetherworks): 4x Aetherworks Marvel, 4x Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, 4x Emrakul, the Promised End, 3x Kozilek’s Return
  5. Carlos Ramao (Jeskai Control): 3x Torrential Gearhulk, 2x Dovin Baan, 2x Archangel Avacyn, 2x Fumigate. Sideboard: 3x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
  6. Ben Hull (R/W Vehicles): 2x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, 4x Toolcraft Exemplar, 3x Selfless Spirit, 3x Depala, Pilot Exemplar, 2x Pia Nalaar, 4x Declaration in Stone, 2x Fleetwheel Crusier. Sideboard: 2x Gideon, 1x Chandra, Torch of Defiance 
  7. Lee Shi Tian (Mardu Vehicles): 4x Smuggler’s Copter, 4x Toolcraft Exemplar, 4x Scrapheap Scrounger, 3x Depala, Pilot Exemplar, 2x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Sideboard: 2x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, 1x Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
  8. Joey Manner (UW Flash): 4x Selfless Spirit, 4x Spell Queller, 4x Archangel Avacyn, 4x Smuggler’s Copter, 4x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, 2x Westvale Abbey, 3x Rattlechains. Sideboard: 2x Jace, Unraveller of Secrets, 1x Linvala, the Preserver

The Most Financially Important (Non-Land) Cards in the Top 8 By Copies Played (Main and Board) Are:

  1. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar: 19
  2. Smuggler’s Copter: 16
  3. Toolcraft Exemplar: 12
  4. Declaration in Stone: 9
  5. Torrential Gearhulk: 7
  6. Selfless Spirit: 7
  7. Archangel Avacyn: 6
  8. Depala, Pilot Exemplar: 6
  9. Aetherworks Marvel: 4
  10. Dynavolt Tower: 4
  11. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger: 4
  12. Emrakul, the Promised End: 4

Note: There are 22 Harnessed Lightning, and 18 Ceremonious Rejection in the Top 8 but I removed these from list as lower rarities. Ceremonious Rejection was as popular in the Top 8 as the $4 Aether Hub (also an uncommon) so it might be good for some minor gains.

The biggest under the radar story here is that Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is by far the most important mythic in the Top 8, with a tremendous seventeen copies across four of the top decks, including two different archetypes (RWx Vehicles & UW Flash). With copies still available under $20, it makes little sense if this card doesn’t swap prices with Chandra and head for $30 soon.

Smuggler’s Copter may not be dominating to the extent many feared, but is certainly included in nearly every major aggro strategy as a four-of and the folks that were counting this card out based on camera coverage Friday were dead wrong. Looking at the bigger picture, this is a great sign that the format is healthy and likely to feature many options for players at the local level. The Copter that could shows up in every aggro deck in the Top 8, including four decks and three archetypes (RW Tokens, RWx Vehicles and UW Flash). I suspect it will continue on as an acceptable monster in lower level tournaments through the rest of the fall. Holding $12-15 seems likely for now, pending further SCG Open level results in the next few weeks. Toolcraft Exemplar is also a persistent four-of in the RWx Vehicle/Token strategies and could be a rare with room for growth at $2.50 or so.

Despite the dominance of the Temur Aetherworks decks on both Day 1 and Day 2 of the metagame at 18% of the field, our Top 8 is full of unique decks that made up relatively small percentages of the field throughout the weekend. And while Aetherworks Marvel lead to both amazing and terrible turns all weekend as it’s pilots embraced the combo deck variance, Torrential Gearhulk looked fantastic every time it was on screen and in several different decklists, including Jeskai Control, Grixis Control and UR Control. The blue behemoth was definitely one of the breakout cards of the tournament (alongside Marvel) and is now carrying a $20 price tag as a result. Keep in mind that control cards tend to sell worse than aggro cards in Standard, and most of the decks running this card aren’t running the full complement.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance seems doomed to failure this season, and I’d expect the card to fall towards $15 in a hurry now. Panharmonicon, which spiked earlier this week on speculation that it could be at the Pro Tour, was nowhere to be found, and is quite likely to fade back toward $5.

Metalwork Colossus decks didn’t make the Top 8, but seem like a potentially more reliable combo strategy vs. Aetherworks Marvel, especially when combined with Sanctum of Ugin to chain the Colossi. The card is up to $4 from $2 this weekend, but may have trouble holding that price point pending further results at a high level. Likewise, Dynavolt Tower has made the Top 8, and has proven effective in both UR and Jeskai control builds throughout the weekend. This Kaladesh rare is available under $3 so far (up from just $.50), but could spike toward $5 if Degan makes the finals.

If we include lands in the mix, here are the non-basics that dominate the Top 8 field and may indicated demand heading into next week:

  1. Aether Hub: 17
  2. Inspiring Vantage: 15
  3. Spirebluff Canal: 12
  4. Wandering Fumerole: 10

Join us at 3pm Sunday EST (5pm PST) for Top 8 Coverage!

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 Kaladesh: Day 2 MTGFinance Coverage

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

Coming into Day 2 of the largest (466 players) Pro Tour field of all time, the field has proved to be a mix of the expected and a plethora of attempts to get ahead of the metagame with cards previously thought to be nearly unplayable in constructed Magic.

Aetherworks Marvel decks were the archtype that showed up in the greatest numbers, constituting nearly 18% of the total field on Day 1. When they work, the various flavors of Marvel decks can drop a gigantic threat such as Ulamog or Emrakul into play as early as Turn 4. They have also generated some truly embarrassing moments for their pilots however, with too many of their top end threats stuck in hand resulting in fail to find adventures when activating the Marvel. Heading into Day 2 it will be important to identify whether a proportional number of these decks have made it through to Day 2, or whether the group think on going big was off the mark. The spike has already taken place however, with the card pushing from $10 to $20 early Friday evening. It will need to make Top 8 to avoid a wholescale sell off by the speculators come Monday.

Coming out of a highly aggressive first couple of weeks in the new Standard, many wondered aloud whether a control deck could be configured to beat the variety of aggressive and combo strategies in the meta. So far it has been Grixis Control in the hands of Hall of Famer Shoota Yasooka that has been most impressive in controlling the field.

grixis

Shoota’s deck has put both Thing in the Ice and Torrential Gearhulk back in the spotlight on the financial front, with Gearhulk spiking Friday night up toward $20 before fading back a bit to $18 on significantly lowered inventory.

Heading into the weekend, Smuggler’s Copter was the card that seemed to define the format, but we haven’t seen a lot of the card so far on camera, and it is unclear how many Copter decks have made it into Day 2.  Metalwork Colossus decks were sprinkled through the field, and a couple of them may be doing well enough to make a bid for Top 8. Consequently the card has moved from $1.50 to $5 overnight. Dynavolt Tower, as seen in the Travis Woo championed Jeskai Control build (with three players over 50% Day 1) and the Degan UR build, is also on the move. The card is currently available around $2, but inventory is draining and this card can easily top $5 if it makes Top 8.

Dynavolt TowerAetherworks MarvelMetalwork ColossusTorrential Gearhulk

The RG Double Strike aggro deck hasn’t had a good showing so far, with Brian Kibler looking fairly foolish with a few obvious misplays during his feature match with the deck. Electrostatic Pummeler may still end up a popular card at the LGS level however, as the deck is fairly cheap and easy to play.

As I expected, Chandra, Torch of Defiance has not made it on camera as of yet, and by all accounts she is essentially absent in the format. Look for this Planeswalker to crash hard heading out of the weekend. Panharmonicon spiked earlier this week on the back of a prominent video series by Saffron Olive, but the card is not in the field this weekend, and seems likely to slide back toward $5 from $10. Foils on the other hand, propped up by EDH demand, are likely to hold their current plateau a bit better.

Day 2 Meta looks as follows as reported by coverage staff:

  • Temur Aetherworks holding steady, 1.17% up to 18.77% of the total field
  • BG Delirium down 1.5% to 10.24%
  • BR Aggro steady at 8%
  • RW Vehicles steady at 7%
  • RG Energy steady at 6.5%

Ten other decks between 2-5%.

Worth noting that no one deck has gotten blown out of the format thus far, nor have any of the newer decks proven to be true solutions to the format. Meta is looking wide open at present. The continued prevelance of the Aetherworks decks may indicate upward pressure forthcoming on Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Emrakul, the Promised End.

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 9 (6th Standard Round): Lee Shi Tian (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Kentaro Yamamoto (Grixis Emerge)

The Tian deck is splashing black for Unlicensed Disintegration. Yamamoto’s deck leverages the Prized Amalgram/Scrapheap Scrounger engine via Perpetual Timepiece instead of the red discard spells favored by other pilots. In Game 1, Tian overruns Kentaro, essentially unopposed, within the first five turns. In Game 2, Tian comes out to another aggressive start but this time Yamamoto is able to stabilize with a Kozilek’s Return and turn the corner to put it away. Game 3, a key Ceremonious Rejection off a freshly played Cultivator’s Caravan allows Shi Tian to brush past a Kozilek’s Return and put the match away.

Round 9 (6th Standard Round): Matt Nass (Temur Aetherworks) vs. Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control)

Matt Nass concedes Game 1 after being unable to ruin Nass with an Emerakul trigger.

Round 9 (6th Standard Round): Makis Matsoukas (R/W Tokens) vs Rich Hoaen (Temur Aetherworks)

We come into this match with the players tied one game a piece. In Game 3 we quickly see Hoaen spin his Aetherworks Marvel, only to whiff on a solution to the quick RW clock from the Greek player, and Makis takes it.

Round 9 (6th Standard Round): Steve Rubin (BR Aggro) vs.  Mike Hron (Mardu Vehicles)

These players split the first two games before we check in as well. The weakness of aggro decks in this tourney is looking to be premature. There are plenty of aggro decks keeping the combo and control players honest in the top ranks.

Deck Tech #5: Zac Elsik (UR Control), 5-1 in Standard so far

  • 4x Torrential Gearhulk
  • 2x Nahiri, the Harbinger
  • 3x Dynavolt Tower
  • 4x Galvanic Bombardment
  • 4x Incendiary Flow
  • 4x Harnessed Lightning
  • 2x Void Shatter
  • 1x Spell Shrivel
  • 2x Negate
  • 4x Glimmer of Genius
  • 4x Anticipate

Dynavolt Tower has moved up to $3.00 online, but vendors are adding copies as low as $.50. One of these decks needs to Top 8 to avoid a backslide.

Cut for Top 8 is being reported as likely to extend only to 13-3.

Ben Weitz is talking to Marshall Sutcliffe about his White/Colorless Eldrazi brew, which went 5-1 on day 1.

Round 13 (7th Round of Standard): Oliver Polak-Rottman (Temur Colossus) vs. Pierre Dagen (UR Spells)

Both players come into the round at 10-3, needing to win to stay live for Top 8. Oliver takes Game 1 by repeatedly bashing in with 10/10s artifact creatures. In Game 2, he manages to get three copies of his signature beatstick into play and Dagen is forced to lean heavily on Niblis of Frost activations to hold off the metallic offensive. One stunning turn later however, Dagen pushes the match into a tie-breaker, by eeking through eleven damage between prowess triggers on both Niblis of Frost and the activation of a Dynavolt Tower.

Plenty of Metalwork Colossus inventory now posted in the $3.50-$4 range. Deck feels a bit niche to me, and I don’t see it taking more than 10% of the meta moving forward.

In Game 3, a Confiscation Coup from Oliver is met by Void Shatter, but it is countered by Ceremonious Rejection and Oliver manages to steal a Dynavolt Tower, leaving another on Dagen’s side of the board. Oliver is then able to get a Metalwork Colossus into play on the back of the extra non-creature artifact now in play on his side.
Dagen however, has a super-powered Harnessed Lightning to take down the first Colossus, with Oliver quickly following up with another from his yard. LSV calls out Niblis of Frost as doing amazing work out of the board, especially when opponents take out their removal. Indeed, Dagen uses the Niblis to hold back the remaining Colossus, gets a Torrential Gearhulk down and starts rolling a train of instants and energy generation to take control of the game. Dagen takes the match and stays live with his innovative UR Dynavolt Tower deck.

Reid Duke (RW Vehicles) vs. Kenji Tsumura (BG Delirium)

We come in on this and Duke finally puts Chandra, Torch of Defiance on camera out of his sideboard. The beleagured planeswalker is quickly killed however, and the match is split, heading to a third game after a key Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet makes combat too tricky for Reid. Off camera a bit later however, Reid is able to take the match.

Deck Tech #5: Frank Karsten (Mardu Zoo)

zoo

  • 4x Inventor’s Apprentice
  • 4x Toolcraft Exemplar
  • 4x Thraben Inspector
  • 1x Depala, Pilot Exemplar
  • 3x Pia Nalar
  • 3x Veteran Motorist
  • 4x Scrapheap Scrounger
  • 4x Smuggler’s Copter
  • 2x Fleetwheel Cruiser
  • 1x Incendiary Flow
  • 1x Declaration in Stone
  • 4x Fiery Temper
  • 1x Key to the City
  • 1x Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Franks mentions that he found that the other aggro decks were step behind this build in presenting early game pressure.

Standings after this round look like this:

rnd13

Decks in contention are all over the map so far, with no clear theme. RB and RW Aggro, Grixis Control, Aetherworks Combo, Colossus, UR Control and UR Emerge are all live.

Round 14 (Standard Round 8): Lee Shi Tian (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Raphael Levy (UR Emerge)

Lee Shi Tian’s consistent aggro plan plays out as per normal again this round, allowing him to claim first blood yet again. In Game 2 Levy is forced to mulligan on the play against the last deck you want to stumble against. Levy is running a copy of Nahiri’s Wrath out of the board, which boasts nice synergy with Stitchwing Skaab and Prized Amalgam. He puts the power to use to clear the early assault cluster from Lee.


Round 14 (Standard Round 8): Makis Matsoukas (R/W Tokens) vs. Rob Pisano (Temur Aetherworks)

Matsoukas has Reckless Bushwacker in his deck to assist in the go wide plan and he makes great use of it in Game 2 to take down the match in record time when he applies it to five attackers.

Round 14 (Standard Round 8): Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control) vs. Rich Hoaen (Temur Aetherworks)

The control is real as Yasooka takes this down without a lot of trouble. Counterspells are showing their value every round, but this one has a truly great sequence at the end.

Yasooka is at four cards in library and has a Thing in the Ice with two counters. He casts Painful Truths for three, and then Negates it, flipping his Horror and drawing a concession. Hoaen was stuck with multiple not-yet-castable Eldrazi in hand, later versions of this deck may adjust the threats. More Gearhulks anyone?

The final Feature Match of the round doesn’t have more to add, except to show us how bad Chandra is against Vehicles. Her price is still on the decline until she’s able to stay in play.

Round 15 (Standard Round 9): Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control) vs. Reid Duke (RW Vehicles)

Game 1 felt over after two early Galvanic Bombardment from Yasooka blunted Duke’s early creatures, but aggro takes it down anyway.

Game 2 shows us the spell-Negate my spell trick to flip Thing in the Ice again, and only a couple of attacks are needed to win it. Yasooka is still playing Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, which seems amazing. If Duke attacks it, Jace has replaced himself and gained some nice life. If he doesn’t, the card advantage is real. It’s only a two-of, though, so big movement is probably unlikely.

Game 3 is a clinic, as the control deck uses life totals and Weaver of Lightning triggers very well, even managing to fire off a Jace ultimate! A late Chandra, Torch of Defiance just isn’t enough and Duke picks up his fourth loss. Will we get to see Chandra be good on camera as these rounds progress?

shota

 

Jun Ishihara (Temur Emerge) vs. Tyler Hill (BG Delirium)

This games ends up in a draw after an epic Game 2 with multiple Emrakul’s in play between the two players.

Matt Nass is in with Temur Emerge, so is Makis Matsoukas (R/W Tokens).

Deck Tech #6: Oliver Polak-Rottman (Temur Colossus)

Oliver describes how Sanctum of Ugin allows you to chain Metalwork Colossus, with the dream draw leading to four copies on Turn 4. It’s a combo deck and Sylvan Scrying adds consistency by finding the Sanctum of Ugins. More reliable than Aetherworks in his opinion. Colossus is pushing $4 at this point.

  • 4 Sanctum of Ugin
  • 2 Inventor’s Fair
  • 4 Sylvan Scrying
  • 4 Metalwork Colossus
  • 4 Hedron Archive
  • 4 Prophetic Prison
  • 3 Deadlock Trap
  • 4 Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot
  • 3 Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
  • 3 Cultivator’s Caravan
  • 4 Glint-Nest Crane
  • 1 Elder Deep-Fiend
  • 2 Select for Inspection (Oliver says he’d replace these with more artifacts)
  • 1 Hanweir Battlements

Pierre Dagen manages a tough match win against Ondrej Strasky, to keep his Top 8 hopes alive, making UR Control live for Top 8. Predicting Top 8 to include: Grixis Control, UR Control, Temur Emerge, R/W Tokens so far. This format is wide open.

My gut says that Temur Aetherworks is going to be dust binned after this tournament as a strategy that is simply too inconsistent. Need to see the win %s on this deck on Day 2.

Round 16 (Final Round of Standard): Tyler Hill (BG Delirium) vs. Carlos Romao (Jeskai Control)

Both of these players are playing for access to the Top 8, at 11-3-1. Hill’s delirium deck isn’t much different than versions from a month ago. Romao is running Dovin Baan, Torrential Gearhulk, and many of the UR control components we’ve seen all weekend.

Game 1 Carlos gets off a two target Quarantine Field on Kalitas and Mindwrack Demon to empty the board. This opens up a sequence a few turns later where Carlos finds himself with a pair of Torrential Gearhulks in play, and the onslaught is too much for Hill to deflect. Romao is now a game away from making Top 8 of the Pro Tour only a week after winning his 2nd GP of the season. Impressive!

In Game 2, Romao gets a Dovin Baan out onto an empty board, but it gets answered quickly by Hissing Quagmire. Hill then answers with Liliana, the Last Hope, only to have it countered. Another Liliana is answered just as quickly by a Torrential Gearhulk into Harness Lightning. A late Quarantine Field later takes out three threats on Hill’s side, and the board opens up for aggression by the Jeskai player and Romao pulls another control deck into the Top 8.

Round 16: Matt Nass (Temur Aetheworks) vs. Pierre Dagen (UR Control)

Dagen has taken the first game off camera. Pierre takes the match as well, and clinches Top 8 for both players.

Joey Manner is ghosting into Top 8 with a UW Flash Spirits deck, running Archangel Avacyn, Smuggler’s Copter, Spell Queller and co, knocking a Temur Emerge deck out of the final day.

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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