Category Archives: Pro Tour Coverage

Pro Tour Amonkhet: Financial Preview

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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.

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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.

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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?

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:

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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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Pro Tour Aether Revolt Finance: Standard Day 1

Check out our Pro Tour Aether Revolt financial preview over here, and join us for round to round coverage in live blog style below all day.

Round 4 (1st Round of Standard) started at 9am EST/6am PST, Friday, Feb 3rd, 2017 after three rounds of draft. Here’s how things are playing out.

Round 4 starts off with the introduction of a Grixis improvise based deck including Herald of Anguish , which I will cover in more depth once I have full details. It’s worth noting that Inspiring Statuary had spiked to $4 last night on early whispers of a potential breakout deck, but is already falling back on MTGO as any such deck has failed to show up on camera thus far.

Round 4: Pierre Dagen (4C Marvel Cat) vs. MIke Sigrist (Jeskai Copy Cat)

Here we have two greats of the game, representing major teams in the tournament and both of them on variations of the Copy Cat combo. I’m sure WoTC development members are cringing at their desks watching Dagen field Aetherworks Marvel alongside the combo in a hybrid combo brew. The final game comes down to Sigrist going for the combo, only to have Dagen cast Negate, and allowing Siggy to respond with a Negate of his own to take the match.

Deck Tech #1: Paul Cheon (Team CFB Fire) on Jeskai Copy Cat

Paul is 1-0 in Standard so far, but went 0-2-1 in the draft portion. He’s on a controlling variant of Copy Cat that runs some card draw alongside a package of board control and counterspells to address both aggro decks and fellow combo decks. Nothing especially relevant from a financial perspective here, other than the indication that major teams failed to find a new deck that could beat Copy Cat consistently and still address the rest of the field.

Round 5: Martin Juza (Jund Energy Aggro) vs. Jon Finkel (Mardu Vehicles)

Both players are at 4-0 coming into this round, having 3-0’d their drafts and won their first round of Standard. Juza’s deck includes the Greenbelt Rampager to crew Heart of Kiran before returning to hand combo. Pretty slick. Finkel has a Heart of Kiran of his own however, alongside Depala, Scrapheap Scrounger and a heap of good removal. Finkel takes the first game after Juza fails to answer his threats quickly enough. In the 2nd game, Juza manages to field both Voltaic Brawler and Longtusk Cub into a Fatal Push to clear Jon’s Veteran Motorist, and unable to find the necessary lands, Finkel concedes the game and moves to the tie-breaker.

In the final game, Juza sideboarded into a more mid-range configuration with Skysovereign, Consul Flagship, and Finkel is caught drawing dead in the mid-game to fall to 4-1, as Juza moves to 5-0.

Deck Tech #2: Jund Zoo (Simon Nielsen)

Nielsen outlines that they were focused on early game, so cut two copies of Ballista, which is better late. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar also failed to make the cut and was replaced with Aethersphere Harvester for additional aggro pressure. Longtusk Cub called out as essential when partnered with Constrictor. Catacomb Sifter is there to provide multiple bodies to add counters to as well as minor ramp as necessary.

Day 1 Metagame Breakdown

The official tally from WoTC on the Standard Metagame for Day 1 shows a full 22% of the field on Mardu Vehicles trying to apply early pressure on the combo decks while holding answers for both other aggro decks and the Copy Cat combo. The cat decks still managed to hold onto 17% of the field, and BG decks combined for another 23%. A smattering of various control builds make up most of the rest of the field, leaving little room for widespread surprises on the weekend. Note that seven players are on the aforementioned new Herald of Torment Grixis Improvise deck but they are facing a steep road to the Top 8. So far I’m not seeing any cards more important to the format than Torrential Gearhulk and Verdurous Gearhulk, regardless of whether or not the cat combo ends up banned.

Round 6: Victor Fernando Silva (BG Constrictor) vs. Alexander Hayne (Mardu Vehicles)

Both players at 4-1 heading into this round. With a Gideon on board, a key Unlicensed Distintegration allows Hayne to press his advantage in Game 1 and take the lead. In Game 2, stuck on a couple of in play vehicles without crewmates, Hayne is forced to Game 3. IN Game 3, the late game finds Hayne with a mighty board force topped off by Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Hayne takes it in three.

On the back table, Kelvin Chew on Mardu Vehicles is battling Ben Rubin on BG Delirium, both at 5-0. Ben wins Game 1, but in Game 2 Kelvin gets Ben down to five life and forces Ben to find a quick succession of answers.

Deck Tech #3: Marvel Saheeli with Josh Utter-Leyton

Josh is at the tournament on an Aetherworks Marvel/Saheeli Rai hybrid combo deck that looks to combo people out as quickly as possible and puts Marvel back on the map as a potentially undervalued mythic available for less than $5 and often played as a 4-of. There aren’t a lot of these decks at the tournament, so one of them will need some luck to make it through to the final rounds.

Round  7: PVD (Mardu Vehicles) vs. Simon Nielsen (Jund Constrictor)

Game 1 is a grindy affair that ends up with Paulo staring over at an empty board and a quick concession. In Game 2, Pia Nalaar turning off blocks lets PVD push through the final damage he needs to convert to 6-1.

In the meantime, Verdurous Gearhulk, one of my picks on MTGFastFinance this week, is quietly moving towards $20. Could it hit $25 on the strength of the BG and Jund aggro decks this weekend?

Deck Tech #4: Sam Pardee on Mardu Vehicles

Sam outlines that the Mardu deck puts enough pressure on Saheeli combo decks to keep their Saheeli Rai off the table and has solid game vs. GB decks. Sam calls out Heart of Kiran as potentially better than Smuggler’s Copter in the deck, and they’re playing it as a 4-of. Along with Torrential Gearhulk and Verdurous Gearhulk, this could be one of the key mythics to see price motion this weekend. Currently available around $14, this could be a card that breaks $25 at some point this year, if not this weekend. There is plenty of inventory in stock however, and we haven’t even hit peak supply for Aether Revolt yet, so buyer beware.

Round 8: Thien Nguyen (BG Constrictor) vs. Cesar Segovia (BR Aggro)

Both players are at 7-0 heading into the last round of Day 1. In Game 1, Thien leads off with a double Winding Constrictor draw that threatens to end the game in a hurry with a Rishkar, Peema Renegade in hand.  Cesar however has the red direct damage necessary to break up the pressure, and we roll into the mid game with two Scrapheap Scroungers and a Heart of Kiran applying counter pressure as the Central American player switches gears. Weldfast Engineer from Segovia puts yet another uncommon card from Aether Revolt on the map, providing combat phase buffs for the RB aggro player turn after turn. Unfortunately, a debatable missed trigger costs Cesar the first game.

Yet another deck that is making use of Heart of Kiran in multiples. Card could make a move for $20 if it ends up appearing in multiple Top 8 shells.

In Game 2 the players trade off resources, and LSV notes the value of Skysovereign, Consul Flagship coming out of the sideboard for Thien against an aggro deck that has many vulnerable threats. Segovia keeps the pressure up however, and Thien is unable to find a creature to crew his vehicle. Game 2 to Segovia. Game 3 turns on Thien getting stuck on three lands and no black mana, and Cesar goes to 8-0 on Day 1 with BR Aggro!

In other action a UR Dynavolt Tower control deck in the hands of Toru Inque tries to prevent a loss against BG Delirium by using Torrential Gearhulk to flash back Brutal Expulsion, exiling a Scraphap Scrounger and bouncing a plant token while blocking a Grim Flayer. The game ends up in extra turns, and the aggro player, Jan Ksandr is able to take the match on their final attack phase.

WoTC posted an article highlighting the power of Heart of Kiran on the main site over here. At the news desk Winding Constrictor is dubbed the Card of the Day, potentially setting up the uncommon for modest gains from $1.50 to $2 or $3. Overall, the blue and green gearhulks and Heart of Kiran are the mythics that seem best poised for gains.

WoTC also posted a story about the Inspiring Statuary deck that didn’t end up played that might be of interest to folks who spec’d too early on it.

Join me bright and early tomorrow for Day 2 coverage of Pro Tour Aether Revolt!

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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