Fact not Fiction – My Return to Ravnica MTG Fantasy Pro Tour Picks by Michael Maxwell
The Pro Tour is just over a week away, and as with the last two you have the chance to test your metagame prediction skills by playing the MtG Fantasy Pro Tour on Facebook. The premise is quite simple, just pick the Planeswalker, small creature (CMC 2 or less), medium creature (CMC 3-4), large creature (CMC 5 or higher), enchantment, artifact, land, instant, and sorcery that you think will show up the most in constructed decks which accumulate at least 18 points.
Note that this is not the same as picking the best card in each category; even if you think affinity is the absolute best deck by a mile I would still advise you not to pick Arcbound Ravager as your small creature, since the actual players at the Pro Tour may well disagree, and even if affinity is popular the ravager only goes in that deck so still wont get you that many points.
Here I’ll go through each category, mention a few cards that I think are reasonable picks, and then tell you which one I went for and why. With the largest card pool of any Pro Tour format, Modern provides the most challenging test of your metagame prediction skills.
Planeswalkers are worth the most points (5) per copy in the top decks, and has only a few realistic picks. Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Jace Beleren and occasionally Gideon Jura show up in small numbers in U/W decks, and Karn Liberated sees play in various Tron decks, but the only ‘walker who is a regular 4-of is Liliana of the Veil.
I expect Jace, Architect of Thought to show up in reasonable numbers, but I’d rather go with the proven card than risk this pick on a new card.
My Pick: Liliana of the Veil
Large Creature (CMC 5+):
Few creatures this expensive see play in Modern, especially as 4-ofs, so there aren’t too many cards to choose from. Tron decks often ramp up to Eldrazi and Wurmcoil Engine, but I don’t think those decks will be too popular.
A dedicated reanimator deck has yet to really make a mark in Modern which makes cards like Griselbrand a risky choice. The titan cycle will likely show up in some numbers, with Primeval Titan in ramp and Sun Titan or Grave Titan in control the most likely candidates. Thragtusk may make an appearance if people are expecting a lot of aggressive decks, but again I’m going to go for the tried and tested pick of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.
Even though I don’t personally rate Splinter Twin as a particularly strong deck I expect it to show up in reasonable numbers and Kiki-Jiki is a staple 3-4 of in that deck. Some pod decks also play him as part of a combo finish with Restoration Angel.
My Pick: Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Medium Creature (CMC 3-4):
Those first two picks were relatively simple, but now it starts to get pretty interesting. There are several creatures in this category that are staples in some of the strongest decks in the format. Bloodbraid Elf is an automatic 4-of in Jund, Geist of Saint Traft appears in both U/W and Delver decks, and Pestermite and Deceiver Exarch are crutial to the Splinter Twin decks.
Restoration Angel is a regular in U/W and pod decks and Vendilion Clique is a common sight in a whole slew of decks. Clique and Geist were very close to being my pick, but in the end I went for Kitchen Finks. Great in midrange, control, and combo alike, the annoying little ouphes are everywhere thanks to their versatility and casting cost.
My Pick: Kitchen Finks
Small Creature (CMC 0-2):
As with Medium Creature, there are many picks in this category that are perfectly reasonable. Dark Confidant is one of the most powerful 2-drops of all time, as is Snapcaster Mage, and whilst I expect both to show up in large numbers, neither of them quite made the cut.
Delver of Secrets is bound to be out in force, as will Arcbound Ravager and Steppe Lynx, but I think Tarmogoyf will be the most played of the lot. Popular in Jund, Zoo, RUG, and basically any creature deck playing green, everyone’s favourite Lhurgoyf is going to be a constant presence on the battlefield. Snapcaster Mage comes close, but Tarmogoyf just edges it for me.
My Pick: Tarmogoyf
Modern is replete with powerful instants, making this one of the harder choices. Cheap removal and counterspells are everywhere, and there are new cards such as Abrupt Decay to consider too. Cryptic Command, Spell Pierce, Mana Leak, and Spell Snare are all found in the various numbers in the blue decks of the format, with Spell Pierce perhaps being the most popular of those.
Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile are the best 1-mana removal spells in the format, almost always as a 4-of, and either would make a decent pick. Ancient Grudge is always a factor when looking at sideboards, but I expect Remand to outshine them all. Ubiquitous in tempo, midrange, and combo, Remand stops anything you want for a turn whilst replacing itself, and again it’s the versatility which makes this my pick.
My Pick: Remand
Going through the list, I was surprised how few sorceries of note there actually are to choose from. Various wrath effects show up in sideboards, and discard such as Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek are popular throughout various 75s, but I felt there had to be a better pick.
Dreadbore may well make an impact, and Life from the Loam and Maelstrom Pulse appear in Jund coloured decks. Scapeshift could be a major force and may well be worth a punt, but I wanted to go for something a little more proven.
My Pick: Serum Visions
There aren’t a huge number of enchantments to pick from, and nothing really jumps out at you. Detention Sphere might show up in small numbers, and Prismatic Omen might be a good choice if you think Scapeshift is going to be the breakout deck of the tournament.
Pyromancer Ascension, Seismic Assault, and particularly Splinter Twin are all build-around-me enchantments which could be reasonable picks, but for the first time I’m going to go with a sideboard card.
Blood Moon is regularly included in the sideboard of affinity and RUG, with Splinter Twin and other combo decks also making use of the powerful enchantment. Not a 4-of or a main deck card, but the variety of decks that can use it make it my choice.
My Pick: Blood Moon
Anything from the affinity deck is a defensible choice, but none of those cards really see any play outside of that deck. Birthing Pod is another build-around-me that I’d rather avoid. If you think Shouta Yasooka’s deck from the Player’s Championship or a tribal deck like merfolk is going to be popular then Aether Vial could be the pick, but I doubt it.
Graveyard hate, such as Relic of Progenitus, might not be a bad shout, but I think Vedalken Shackles will edge it. Any deck with a decent number of Islands, from RUG to U/W to Faeries is going to consider the shackles and all those one and two-ofs will add up. Another category without a stand-out pick.
My Pick: Vedalken Shackles
At first this pick seems pretty hard, since so many lands are part of cycles, but actually I don’t think it’s too difficult. The fetchland/shockland interaction is what makes up the majority of Modern manabases, and the fetches are more typically included as 4-ofs. Misty Rainforest and Scalding Tarn are the two which I expect to see the most play, and the propensity for combo decks to be U/R rather than U/G was the deciding factor.
My Pick: Scalding Tarn
Tiebreaker – Pro Player:
Up to you really, everyone has a favourite player or two so as long as you’re picking a big name pro you cant go too far wrong. Anyone who qualified for the Player’s Championship or was a team captain at the World Magic Cup is a perfectly fine choice. I’ve got for PV due to his ridiculous top 8 per appearance record, and he’s due to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the start which may just give him an extra boost.
My Pick: Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa
What do you think?
Am I totally wrong?
Did I miss something entirely?
Let me know in the comments, and get to Facebook and prove me wrong!
Thanks for reading,