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By: olaw, Oliver Law
May 27 2016 12:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another Modern Musings!  Last weekend there were Modern Grand Prix events taking place in Charlotte and Los Angeles.  In this article I take a look at some of the most exciting decklists from the weekend and discuss the state of the format.

Grand Prix Charlotte
2399 players turned out for Grand Prix Charlotte.  I understand there were a few issues with the tournament pairing system that caused some serious delays to the tournament but I believe eventually things got back on track.

Let's take at the Top 8 from GP Charlotte:

  1. Andreas Ganz ( Ad Nauseam )
  2. Jon Bolding ( Naya Company )
  3. Robert Greaves ( Kiki-Chord )
  4. Mike Sigrist ( Jund )
  5. Jack Wang ( Bring to Light Scapeshift )
  6. Adonnys Medrano ( Jund )
  7. Sam Black ( Death's Shadow )
  8. Eli Kassis ( KnightFall )

Let's start by looking at the winning deck, Andreas Ganz's Ad Nauseam:

Ad Nauseam is a deck that really hasn't changed much in recent times.  It's been a very solid Tier 2 deck for some time but it managed to really shine in the hands of Andreas Ganz.  With the recent bans to combo decks like Splinter Twin and Amulet/Summer Bloom the combo contenders have been reshuffled.

The most successful Collected Company deck of the weekend surprisingly didn't feature any combos:

This deck is just a straight aggressive Zoo deck.  There are some very interesting card choices in Jon Boulding's deck, including Tireless Tracker and the lesser-spotted Domri Rade.  Some creative choices managed to take Jon to second place.

A familiar face in the Top 8 was Sam Black, making his 12th Grand Prix Top 8, piloting a Death's Shadow/Suicide Zoo deck:

In case you haven't seen this deck before the aim is to hyper aggressive at the expense of your life total.  The deck is filled with ways to make you lose life which allows you to make a huge Death's Shadow to wrap up the game.  The deck started seeing a bit of a revival during Eldrazi Winter and that seems to be continuing now that time is over.  An interesting option.

One of my favourite decks from the Top 8 was by Eli Kassis's Bant Knightfall deck:

The KnightFall deck was one I took a look at a while back.  Since then it really hasn't garnered a lot of attention or success.  Eli Kassis' decklist cleverly harnesses the power of Collected Company to assist in putting together the combo and otherwise making the deck's non-combo route to victory more viable.  Eli got a feature article about his deck so check that out if you want more tips on how to play the deck.

Outside the Top 8

I was interested to see Mark Rankin's Bushwhacker Zoo deck make it into the Top 16 of the tournament:

There has been a lot of talk about Bushwhacker Zoo being one of the better aggro decks in the format but I hadn't seen a lot of results to back it up.  Mark's 12th Place finish adds a little more credence to those claims.  I like the Dryad Arbor tech here so you fetch up an extra creature to the board for a lethal Bushwhacker attack.

Another decklist that stood out was Zhengdong Shan's Rakdos deck:

It may have ultimately finished further down the standings but Zhengdong Shan's deck went undefeated on Day 1 of the tournament.  The deck attacks the greedy manabases of the format with Blood Moon and Boom/Bust and combines that with a powerful suite of removal, creatures and planeswalkers.

Grand Prix Los Angeles
There were 2239 players who turned up for GP Los Angeles 2016.  Let's take a look at the Top 8 from LA:

  1. Simon Slutsky (Merfolk)
  2. Ethan Brown (Affinity)
  3. Pascal Maynard (Bant Eldrazi)
  4. Javier Dominguez (Jund)
  5. Alex To (Affinity)
  6. Erik Carson (Abzan Company)
  7. Corey Burkhart (Grixis Control)
  8. Joe Lossett (RG Tron)

Simon Slutsky managed to take first place with his Merfolk deck:

As with GP Charlotte, the winning decklist is far from a revelation.  Merfolk is a well-known deck but one that many would consider to be Tier 2.  Merfolk seemed to have a very good weekend judging from the some of the top performing decklists of the weekend.

Massive praise has to be given to Ethan Brown, not only for greatly representing Affinity, but for taking second place at a Grand Prix at just 13 years of age.  Those are some serious skills, particularly when you consider what a complex deck Affinity is to pilot.

Affinity seems to have had a bit of resurgence this weekend and has proving to still be a very powerful deck.

A deck I was very surprised to see in the Top 8 was Grixis Control piloted by Corey Burkhart:

I haven't seen many people doing well with Grixis Control and Jeskai Control is certainly the preferred Control deck at the moment.  It appears though that Grixis Control had a better run of it here.  The deck runs a full 4 copies of Ancestral Vision, which perhaps indicates that others are missing out sidelining it into their sideboards.  I am a bit surprised by the lack of creatures/finishers in the deck but Corey must have been doing something right to make it into the Top 8.  A very interesting build.

Outside the Top 8

There was a lot of talk about Matt Nass' innovative decklist early on in the tournament.  Some commented on how it looks a bit like a Standard deck with Nissa and Gideon being major parts of the deck.

A series of very powerful token producers combine in this deck to overwhelm the board.  The tokens also help protect the planeswalkers to build up an insurmountable advantage.  There are a lot of nice synergies in here that are worth exploring.

Conclusions
Modern still appears to be a very diverse format and there does not appear to be any clear best deck emerging just yet.  It is great to see some decks that I would have previously considered to be second tier to pulling themselves up and winning tournaments.  I also feel like this was a bit of a revival of the more aggro-based decks after last weekend's Control and Combo decks.  Affinity, Merfolk and various Collected Company decks did well this weekend which might have been a response to the results of last weekend and people preparing for a more Control heavy field.

All in all I think the picture is looking very good for Modern, there a lot of very different decks that are viable and proving successful.   The banning of Eye of Ugin has produced a strong and diverse format and I suddenly don't miss Splinter Twin so much.

I hope this deck helped highlight some of the more interesting decks from the weekend and gave you plenty of ideas for your own Modern adventures.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)
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