The first Pro Tour of the season is in the books, and here I’m going to take a look at 5 cards which you can expect to see a lot of in the coming weeks, and 5 cards that perhaps didn’t perform to expectations. I’ll be looking at the decks which gained 18 points or better in the Standard portion of the PT, which can be found here.
This card has already seen success in aggressive strategies such as Boros and Naya, where it was most commonly seen tutoring for Basilisk Collar to go with Cunning Sparkmage. Well, it turns out control decks can use equipment too, and Stoneforge Mystic was seen tutoring everything from Sword of Feast and Famine to Sylvok Lifestaff at the Pro Tour.
Anyone who has played me in the last few months knows I love this card. A 4-for-1 which attacks planeswalkers, defends your own, and can pick up equipment, this card does everything. Mulliganing to 5 never felt so good when you’re playing Squadron Hawk. When the best control deck and the best aggro deck in the format are playing the same set of two-drops you know there must be some serious power in those cards.
Not many people showed up with Tezzeret decks, but those that did showed promise and were certainly built to take full advantage of the hottest new planeswalker in town. The ability to kill Jace even if they +2 him is nothing to be sniffed at, and gaining loyalty to draw a card is pretty good, or so I’ve heard. Reliably coming out on turn 3, this guy is card draw, attacker, blocker, and win condition all in one. Expect to see much more of him once the third set in this block is released.
4. Gideon Jura
With Boros, Kuldotha Red, WW Quest and Vampires all showing up in reasonable numbers it wasn’t a great surprise to see Gideon make a resurgence in popularity. Often coming in at a staggering 8 loyalty counters whilst leaving you defenseless against sworded-up hawks and mystics, he can end the game in a couple of turns by picking up equipment himself.
5. Spell Pierce
Spell Pierce saw widespread adoption from both U/W and U/B players. With more cheap threats in U/W only having to hold up one mana instead of two has become much more important. Spell Pierce is also much more effective at fighting Explore and Khalni Heart Expedition that Mana Leak. Being able to force planeswalkers through opposing countermagic is also a major plus.
Valakut failed to put a single player in the Top 8, despite being the most played deck, and only got 12 players to 6-4 or better. Putting a clock on Valakut has always been the key to beating it, along with disruption, and Sword of Feast and Famine has given U/W decks the tools to do that. The widespread adoption of Spell Pierce has also made resolving early ramp spells more difficult.
2. Grave Titan
U/B control also has a disappointing weekend, with most people probably expecting more than zero Grave Titans in the Top 8. 16 players got to 18 points or more, better than Valakut but still not overly exciting for the second most popular deck. Sword of Feast and Famine also does a number on this deck which is pretty much cold to it. Grave Titian isn’t quite the game-ending machine he was when everyone has pro-black, flying, or both.
Only 4 players who made it to 18 points ran maindeck Summoning Trap, and the two most successful Valakut players didnt have any in their 75 at all. Green Sun’s Zenith seems to have taken over that role, at least for now. The ability to tutor for a Lotus Cobra or Overgrown Battlement early on seems to be more useful than the chance to get an early titan against anyone foolish enough to counter an early creature.
Baneslayer Angel didnt show up in a single maindeck that made it to 18 points or higher, although it did appear in most U/W sideboards. This statistic seems to be more an indication of the near-universal adoption of Caw-Go as the U/W deck of choice, as only 20% of players who went with ‘traditional’ U/W made day 2, a pretty pathetic return.
I wouldn’t want to call this deck a flash in the pan, but only 6 decks making it to 18 points is not overly promising. People knew about it, and were prepared. Decks as linear as this cannot stand up to significant hate, as was shown in Paris. There is still no doubt a lot of tuning to be done so I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty more of this in the future. It is interesting to note that Contested Warzone was put to good use in other decks such as WW Quest and Tempered Steel.
So, there it is. Is Caw-Go now the deck to beat? Can Valakut, U/B, and the various aggro strategies adapt to beat it? Which other cards did you think punched above their weight, and which turned out to be surprisingly ineffective?
Let us know in the comments!
Thanks for reading,