Let’s Metagame – GP Vegas and Modern

This past weekend was a blast!

I attended GP Vegas, one of the premiere GPs of the year, and technical difficulties aside, it was a great tournament and one for the books. The atmosphere was amazing, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Magic’s 25th anniversary.

My record wasn’t the best, and while disappointing, Modern continues to be a great format with many viable decks to play. So, let’s dive into what we learned from GP Vegas.

The Top Decks

As I said above, Modern is still wide open, and you can basically play whatever deck you desire. However, there are still several decks battling it out at the top tables.

To some, Humans is considered to be the best deck in Modern right now, and I’m one to agree with them. I played Humans at the tournament, and while my results may not speak to Humans success and how great of a deck it is, this deck still finds it’s ways to the top tables, and it’s no surprise.

Humans is an aggro deck with a disruptive package all in one. The deck’s ability to pump out threats while keeping its opponent from playing theirs is a testament to why this deck has been so successful. The sideboard is also packed with a ton of value providing that extra edge against the other best decks in the format.

Humans
Martin Juza
3rd Place at Grand Prix Las Vegas on 6/15/2018

Creatures (37)
4 Champion of the Parish
1 Dark Confidant
1 Kessig Malcontents
4 Kitesail Freebooter
4 Mantis Rider
4 Meddling Mage
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Phantasmal Image
4 Reflector Mage
4 Thalia’s Lieutenant
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Lands (19)
1 Plains
4 Ancient Ziggurat
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Horizon Canopy
2 Seachrome Coast
4 Unclaimed Territory

Spells (4)
4 Aether Vial

Sideboard
3 Auriok Champion
1 Dark Confidant
2 Izzet Staticaster
2 Reclamation Sage
2 Sin Collector
3 Gut Shot
2 Kataki, War’s Wage

With a “stock” Humans list, Martin Juza showed us that Humans is still a deck to be reckoned with. While some may prefer Restoration Angel in the two flex spots, Kessig Malcontents and Dark Confidant turned out to be the better choice for the tournament. Considering the rise of Jeskai Control to combat the Humans deck, Tron consequently became more popular, which makes Restoration Angel a little bit worse and Malcontents and Bob a little better.  So, great call to Martin and those who helped him achieve a nice 3rd place finish at the GP.

Ironworks Combo
Matt Nass
1st Place at Grand Prix Las Vegas on 6/15/2018

Creatures (6)
2 Myr Retriever
4 Scrap Trawler

Lands (18)
4 Darksteel Citadel
2 Forest
2 Aether Hub
3 Buried Ruin
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
3 Inventors’ Fair

Spells (36)
3 Chromatic Sphere
4 Chromatic Star
3 Engineered Explosives
4 Ichor Wellspring
4 Krark-Clan Ironworks
4 Mind Stone
2 Pyrite Spellbomb
4 Terrarion
4 Mox Opal
4 Ancient Stirrings

Sideboard
1 Defense Grid
1 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Ghirapur Aether Grid
3 Guttural Response
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Nature’s Claim

Matt Nass has been grinding the artifact based deck for some time now, and putting up some crazy results as well. While some consider this deck to be difficult to pilot, there’s no denying how powerful it can be in the right hands. Accounting for the Emrakul, the Aeons Torn variant, Matt has essentially shown how effective his Pyrite Spellbomb orientated list can be.

This deck combos off with an infinite loop of Scrap Trawler, Myr Retriever, Mox Opal, and Krark-Clan Ironworks to also loop Pyrite Spellbomb to finish your opponent off. This combo can be assembled very fast, and the lack of a lot of creatures and the graveyard synergies make this a nightmare for control decks. Slower decks like Tron can also have issues as this combo can go off quite quickly.

While confusing on the surface, it’s no accident that this deck has been putting up some serious numbers. I don’t expect this deck to go anywhere anytime soon. A deck like this, packed with a ton of value cards, has proven to be very consistent. So, keep a lookout for this deck at the top tables for time to come.

Mono-Green Tron
Yuri Ramsey
2nd Place at Grand Prix Las Vegas on 6/15/2018

Creatures (8)
2 Walking Ballista
3 Wurmcoil Engine
1 World Breaker
2 Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Planeswalkers (6)
4 Karn Liberated
2 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Lands (19)
4 Forest
1 Field of Ruin
1 Sanctum of Ugin
1 Urza’s Factory
4 Urza’s Mine
4 Urza’s Power Plant
4 Urza’s Tower

Spells (27)
4 Chromatic Sphere
4 Chromatic Star
4 Expedition Map
4 Oblivion Stone
3 Relic of Progenitus
4 Ancient Stirrings
4 Sylvan Scrying

Sideboard
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
3 Thought-Knot Seer
3 Thragtusk
3 Nature’s Claim
2 Spatial Contortion
2 Warping Wail
1 Karn, Scion of Urza

We all know Karn and company, Tron needs no introduction. This big mana deck has been beating down for awhile now, and with the rise of Jeskai Control, it was only a matter of time before we started seeing more Expedition Map coming our way.

Tron just cheats very large creatures and planeswalkers into play, and trying to do it as early as turn three, really stopping most of the slower decks in their tracks. The deck has many avenues of approach as well, Karn Liberated, Walking Ballista and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon do a lot of work to keep the board clear and to get rid of troublesome threats to buy time for the big hitters, or can also just win the game by themselves. Wurmcoil Engine and World Breaker provide recursive bodies that are hard to deal with, hard to block, and hard to get around. And finally, if all else fails, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger will surely end any worries that the Tron player may have, and it’s even tutorable with Sanctum of Ugin.

This deck provides a lot of consistency, and can be a nuisance to deal with. Tron will continue to find success, and with two copies in the top 8 of GP Vegas, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria replacing Jace, the Mind Sculptor, who would have ever thought? But, Teferi has proven that he is the best control planeswalker there is right now, and Jeskai Control is definitely using him to his full potential. Paired with Search for Azcanta and is respectable flipped side, Jeskai has risen to fight Humans, and is doing a great job to fight most other decks as well. It may have some bad matchups in the winner’s metagame, but Jeskai has the tools to lock games out fast.

Jeskai Control
Patrick Tierney
8th Place at Grand Prix Las Vegas on 6/15/2018

Creatures (4)
4 Snapcaster Mage

Planeswalkers (2)
2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Lands (24)
3 Island
1 Plains
4 Celestial Colonnade
2 Field of Ruin
4 Flooded Strand
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Sacred Foundry
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
2 Sulfur Falls

Spells (30)
4 Cryptic Command
2 Electrolyze
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Lightning Helix
2 Logic Knot
2 Mana Leak
4 Path to Exile
1 Spell Snare
2 Search for Azcanta
4 Serum Visions
2 Supreme Verdict

Sideboard
1 Damping Sphere
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Izzet Staticaster
1 Blood Moon
1 Runed Halo
1 Celestial Purge
2 Disdainful Stroke
2 Dispel
1 Negate
1 Settle the Wreckage
1 Wear
2 Geist of Saint Traft

This is a well known deck, and for good reason. Jeskai has a good matchup against a lot of the field, save KCI and Tron. The mixture of a great removal package, exceptional card filtering, and ways to lock out a decent amount of the field. Jeskai is a great choice in Modern right now. Expect to see it in high numbers going into the coming weeks.

Rounding out the rest of the top 8 we have Grixis Death’s Shadow and Counters Company, and while not “top tier” by most accounts, are still very reputable decks.

We know GDS’s gameplan, lose a bunch of life and drop a massive Death’s Shadow, pair in some great removal in Lightning Bolt and Fatal Push, disruption like Thoughtseize and Stubborn Denial, and more great threats like Snapcaster Mage and Gurmag Angler and you have yourself a very powerful deck that can lock out a lot of creature decks.

Counters Company is very straightforward. Pair Devoted Druid, and Vizier of Remedies to make infinite mana, and use that mana with Duskwatch Recruiter to go through your whole library to find a Walking Ballista, and finally to cast an enormous Ballista to machine gun your opponent’s face until their dead. Add in some other value cards like Tireless Tracker, Selfless Spirit, and Reflector Mage, and you have yourself a deck that can win in other fashions as well. A combo deck at heart, but not seemingly a glass cannon deck like combo decks in the past.

Closing

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it another thousand times, Modern is in a super great spot right now. There aren’t any so called “oppressive” decks, and hopefully it stays that way. GP Vegas was a blast, and the love for Magic was real in that tournament hall.

We have nationals coming up at the end of the month. I’m undecided if I’ll be attending, but I wish the best of luck to all of those who are going to battle it out to represent their country at The World Magic Cup.

Also, as always. Huge shoutout to MTG DeckTechs, we’re a great group of people who love Magic and are striving to bring you the best content that we can. Our twitch presence is growing rapidly, so go check it out and give us a like or subscribe, any support is great. We have also launched our Patreon, and any support there is also greatly appreciated, help us make the best content we can, and I promise you that we won’t disappoint.

So, thanks for checking in, I hope you enjoyed this article. The deck analysis was fairly shallow, but the idea was to provide an accurate look at the top 8 from the previous GP, and to use that to help keep you updated on what you could expect moving forward. I hope I helped a little bit.

Again, thanks! I very much appreciate all of you who read my articles, it means a lot. Until next time, this has been your Metagame insight! Here’s to another 25 years!!

– Logan Simmons

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While not playing Magic as long as others, Logan strives to be the best he can be. With a preference towards constructed formats, he prides himself in his ability to constantly evaluate and adapt his choices to everchaning metagames. You can find him frequently at Grand Prix and SCG Events alike.

Twitter: @logan_actual
Facebook: Logan Simmons (https://www.facebook.com/logan.simmons.372)
Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/loganactual

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