The world’s most dangerous Magic: The Gathering players are once again coming together to kick off the 2016-2017 Pro Tour season in gorgeous Honolulu, Hawaii. After a couple of weeks of highly secretive testing, and more than a few drinks with little umbrellas, the top teams from around the world are locking in their decks and making plans to take home the trophy. With over $250,000 USD on the line, and the champion taking home $40,000, players will need to be both lucky and good while they prey that their team has read the meta-game correctly. Coming out of the first big Standard tournament of the season, SCG Indy two weeks ago, the pros were facing an incredibly aggressive format that featured the full 32 of 32 possible copies of Smuggler’s Copter in the Top 8. With Patrick Chapin joking that it’s a great format where you can “play any Copter deck you want”, the stage is set for a very odd meta that may include multiple deck styles and color combinations, with the caveat that they are all running the overpowered two-mana vehicle.
So far, big decks in the format have included the fast and furious W/R Vehicles and W/R Humans decks, the graveyeard recursing Grixis Emerge deck, various flavors of B/G Delirium, as well as R/B Aggro.
It is worth remembering however, that current Pro Tour stops all require that players succeed in a mixed schedule of booster draft (KLD – KLD – KLD) and constructed play (Standard in this case) with 3 rounds of draft Friday morning Hawaii time, followed by 5 rounds of Standard starting around 8pm EST/5pm PST, Friday.
For the MTG Finance community, the biggest question is whether the pros have been able to uncover a new archetype not previously on the radar of the masses. Of note, given the pacific time zone of this tournament, overnight speculation has the potential to be more successful than usual.
Will any of the pros find a way to unlock a new archetype with game against the known field of infinite thopters? Will an underplayed deck from the previous weeks results suddenly end up perfectly positioned after adding a few new pieces of tech? 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 buyers come Monday morning?
Cards to Watch
With many SOI/EMN cards already commanding high price tags, most of the speculation potential lies this weekend should reside in cards that have yet to make an impact.
Here are a few of the interesting cards on our radar this weekend:
Smuggler’s Copter: Here to Stay?
There is very little indication so far that Smuggler’s Copter is a flash in the pan. As a 3/3 flying looter, the card is simply too powerful to be left out of any deck that can crew it effectively, especially given that most colors only have a couple of instant speed solutions that they must have on hand to prevent the early value train from rolling across their skies. The fact that the sweepers in the format mostly operate at sorcery speed, as do the abilities of the planeswalkers, makes the card a tough to answer early threat that can show up in nearly any color combination this weekend. If a control deck manages to break out, it’s possible we might see 1-2 decks in the Top 8 that aren’t running this card, but otherwise, I’d expect it to be running rampant just like it was at SCG Indy.
Financially, if you got in on extra copies of the Copter anywhere under $10, you can likely garner $20 in trade or $15 cash for your copies at present, and get out with a smile. A fall set rare holding more than $5 is impressive, let alone $15, and an unexpectedly poor showing for the card would knock it back below $10 for certain. That being said, there are relatively limited amounts of inventory priced under $16 at present, and the market seems primed to make a move to $20 if the card settles in as a dominant Standard staple.
Interestingly, utter dominance of the card has a chance to lead to a banning, especially if it’s usage ends up consolidating under the banners of just a couple of stand out decks, or possibly, if the format dissolves to aggro Copter decks vs. the only control deck that can battle them. If the format stats diverse on the other hand, with many viable decks, and Copter as the shared staple between them, Wizards may leave well enough alone and avoid the issuance of a rare Standard banning. If banned in a month or two, this card drops to $2, so be aware of the risks of too much success here.
Current Price: $15
Predicted Price Monday: $15-20+
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 4
Chandra: Destined to Fail?
Chandra has a lot to prove at this Pro Tour or her price rebellion may be over with. Originally held up as the stand out card of Kaladesh, this multi-talented planeswalker has failed to put up a strong performance, with even the WR Vehicles and Humans decks preferring to run Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in either the main or the board. In the world of Copter beatings, Chandra’s inability to control the board at sorcery speed or add board presence like Gideon or Nissa, may see her price drop hard towards $10 by next week. I have stayed well clear of this card so far, and would be outing any copies I had before the price party stops. On the outside chance that she makes Top 8 in an impressive and sustainable deck, her price could float back towards $40, but only if she were a main deck three or four of.
Current Price: $28
Predicted Price Monday: sub $20
Odds to Top 8: 6 to 1
Panharmonicon: Too Cute or The Real Deal?
Earlier this week, Saffron Olive over at MTGGoldfish ran an Against the Odds article that featured him playing a Panharmonicon deck that was absolutely devastating once it got rolling. The deck centered around it’s namesake artifact, doubling up on comes-into-play triggers on everything from Glint-Nest Crane, Filigree Familiar and Prophetic Prison to Reflector Mage, Verdurous Gearhulk and Cloudblazer. Panharmonicon spiked instantly on Magic Online, moving from 1tix to over 2 tix and providing 100% gains overnight. Paper copies have now spiked from $2.50 to nearly $10 and inventory levels are low across the board. Could this be the super secret tech of Pro Tour Kaladesh?
I wouldn’t get too excited about the possibility until it shows up on camera and does well. The games Saffron played earlier this week weren’t against the world’s best, and a four mana artifact may still be too clunky for a format this fast. That being said, paper copies of the card have spiked hard from $2.50 to close to $10, so people are clearly excited about the card.
Ultimately, Panharmonicon does exhibit one of my favorite speculation scenarios: a potentially undervalued Standard breakout that will be a great long term hold regardless based on casual and EDH demand. So far, I’ve purchased a few playsets at $10/set, and I’ll be happy to hold those if a crazy streamlined version of the Standard deck doesn’t appear at the Pro Tour or I don’t get a chance to out them over $30/set this weekend.
Current Price: $10
Predicted Price Monday: $6
Odds to Top 8: 3 to 1
Electrostatic Pummeler: A Push To Pummel?
Some of the early buzz heading into this Pro Tour is coming from a RG Energy deck that looks to pump the power on an Electrostatic Pummeler and add double strike to offer up a decent impression of Modern Infect. This deck is currently hovering under 3% of the MTGO meta, but with the right draws this may be the fastest way to deal twenty damage in the format. The card has spiked from $1 to $5 in the last few days, so it has plenty to live up to this weekend.
Current Price: $5
Predicted Price Monday: $4
Odds to Top 8: 3 to 1
Metalwork Colossus: Too Big to Battle?
Another deck that has been making in-roads in the online meta is a U/B deck that features four copies of Metalwork Colossus and three copies of Skysoverign, Consul Flagship, Foundry Inspector, Elder Deep-Fiend and Cultivator’s Caravan and a pile of incidental artifacts. The deck also finished 45th at SCG Indy two weeks ago, and with the Colossus still available at $1 in paper, while it has tripled up online might be a hint at a bigger future for this card.
Current Price: $1
Predicted Price Monday: $3
Odds to Top 8: 5 to 1
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar: The Real Chandra?
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is showing up in multiple decks at present, including WR Vehicles, WR Humans, WG Aggro and even UW Control, and often as a 3 or 4-of. A case could be made, that should this powerful mythic planeswalker show up in the Top 8 in at least a couple of different decks, this card should be headed toward $25 or $30, trading off some value with Chandra, the falling star.
Current Price: $20
Monday Price: $20+
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 2
Aether Hub: The Little Uncommon That Could
Aether Hub is quietly one of the most purchased cards in Kaladesh, with the mana fixing land making appearances in the majority of decks in the field in a format with limited options for color fixing. An uncommon from a fall set setting up shop at $5 is nearly unheard of, but looking at the current online inventory levels, it’s possible that this card could finish the weekend even higher.
Current Price: $4
Monday Price: $6+
Odds to Top 8: 1 to 20 (ie inevitable)
Do you have an outsider pick? Share it in the comments!
Stay tuned for Round by Round MTGFinance coverage of Pro Tour: Kaladesh 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.