My Pro Tour Gatecrash Predictions by Grant Hislop

Analysing the Modern Ban List – Spread the Sickness with Grant Hislop

My Pro Tour Gatecrash Predictions by Grant Hislop

Hello again, it’s me.

There’s a Pro Tour at the weekend, which is brilliant for many reasons.

Firstly – Magic coverage has gone from terrible to acceptable over the last couple of years, and the Pro Tour is very much the jewel in the crown – Wizards goes all out to project the big match atmosphere to the players at home, and it shows.

Secondly – it’s the Standard Pro Tour, which are usually awesome as a place to see what the format is going to look like for the next few months, while PTQs and WMCQ’s start up again using the format. Thirdly, it gives us another chance to mess around with the Fantasy Pro Tour application on Facebook.

2012 Fantasy Pro Tour

I thought I’d written about this a couple of times now, but from what I can see looking at my archives, I only did it the once, for Pro Tour Avacyn Restored. Basically, the aim of the game is to draft a roster of cards – one of each type, and you’ll be scored based on how they perform in the winning decklists at the Pro Tour. As I’ve previously stated, there’s no reward to identifying the winning deck, you’re just looking to understand what the majority of people will play, and pick the key cards in that deck.

I did pretty well, for the most part at this last year – fininshing 168th in the world for last year’s 3 Pro Tours, which isn’t too bad at all. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going with a solid start in Standard. Obviously, there’s nothing at stake beyond bragging rights, but really, Magic players like bragging about their knowledge of the game almost as much as they like growing poorly maintained beards, wearing black band T-Shirts and hitting people with their oversized backpacks combined.

Anyway – my picks for Pro Tour Gatecrash are as follows:-

Planeswalker – Liliana of the Veil

liliana of the veilAs mentioned, you’re not looking for the breakout walker, like I think Domri Rade might be. You’re looking for the card that most people will play, and win with. Liliana of the Veil is a known quantity. She fits in many decks, from Midrange to Control. She sees play in both maindecks and sideboards, and is an excellent foil to many strategies – Bant Hexproof, I’m looking at you.

I don’t really expect the format to have returned to the days gone by where Walkers ruled the tables, but it’s not unreasonable to see two or three Liliana of the Veil in the decks at the top tables.

Other notable mentions:-

Jace, Memory Adept – A one or two of in one or two deck types. Solid, but will not be as prevalent as Liliana of the Veil.

Garruk, Primal Hunter – Same as Jace.

Domri Rade – An unknown quantity, and I’m not willing to bet on it. Pros are lazy.

Large Creature (CMC Five or greater) – Thragtusk

ThraguskOf all the large creatures in current Standard, this is the one (who costs five or more) that is most likely to see play as a four-of. The format used to be about Thragtusk battles, and while it’s thankfully moved away from that, and the best Thragtusk decks have been found, and risen to the top, it’s not being played much less than it used to be.

This is a four of in Jund and Naya midrange, and in Bant, though that’s on the downswing in terms of popularity, plus being a potential sideboard card in every green deck, or even non-green with Cavern of Souls, if you’re in the market for that sort of thing. I expect this to be the most popular large creature by quite a large margin. If you’re picking anything else, you’re wrong.

Other notable mentions:-

Angel of Glory’s Rise – A four of, but only in one deck. Reanimator would need to be putting up Delver like numbers for this to be a possibility.

Obzedat, Ghost Council – An unknown quantity, and one which is far narrower than Thragtusk. Will be nowhere near as popular.

Thundermaw Hellkite – The closest possibility. Thragtusk gets the nod here due to being a regular four of, while Thundermaw is typically only a two or three kind of card.

Medium Creature (CMC Three or Four) – Restoration Angel

Restoration AngelAs I’ve said before – we’re looking for the winningest card in the most decks. Restoration Angel is that card. It’s in aggressive decks all the way to control decks, with every stop on the way. Pretty much every deck playing white wants them, and it wants them as a four of. I can’t see the introduction of Gatecrash bringing anything that will unseat Restoration Angel as king of the mid-game creatures.

Other notable mentions:-

Geist of Saint Traft – An objectively powerful card, but one that is narrower in application than Restoration Angel. For the most part, outside of the hexproof deck, any deck that’s running Geist will also run Angel, but the reverse isn’t also true.

Falkenrath Aristocrat – This is the only other real possibility in my mind. I expect more white decks than I do Rakdos aggro, so Restoration Angel takes the nod. I’d be surprised if either of these two wasn’t the top medium creature.

Small Creature (CMC One or Two) – Augur of Bolas

Augur of BolasThis is the one that I’m least confident in. I like Augur as I expect a lot of UWR Flash and a decent amount of Blue control decks to be winning, as well as being popular choices for the under-prepared. I think that logic’s probably talked me out of this card, and I’ll probably change it before the tournament starts on Friday.

Other notable mentions

Avacyn’s Pilgrim/ Arbor Elf – The two one drop accelerators. If I were forced to pick one, I’d go for the Pilgrim, due to its better creature type, but they’ll probably be pretty close. There are decks that run both, and there are decks that run one or the other. Both are about as good as the other, so it’s very difficult to separate them.

Snapcaster Mage – My logic is Augur of Bolas was that, as with Restoration Angel and Geist of Saint Traft, the decks that play Snapcaster Mage would also play Augur of Bolas, but the reverse wouldn’t be true. I think that’s still accurate, so if I were to change cards, it wouldn’t be Augur for Snapcaster.

Rakdos Cackler – This is probably the one that I’ll hum and haw with in this slot. I expect Rakdos aggro to also be a good choice for the unprepared, and probably a better one than UWR. I’m really not sure on this one. Any help would be appreciated.

sphinx's revelation

Instant – Sphinx’s Revelation

This card is the only reason we’re not all playing aggressive decks. It’s easily going to be the most popular instant, and I don’t think it’s going to be close. Picking anything else is a mistake.

Other notable mentions:-

Nothing on the same level as Sphinx’s Revelation

Sorcery – Farseek

This is a boring pick. I wish I could pick something exciting and flashy here, like Bonfire of the Damned, but it’s just not going to be correct. Farseek is a four of in the majority of green decks, and enables both control and mid-range strategies, which are likely to be popular. The fact that it’s always a four of makes it a far smarter bet than the other options, for my metaphorical money.

Other notable options:-

farseekPillar of Flame – This will be close. The number of Pillars versus the number of Farseeks will be determined entirely by people’s perceptions of the metagame. I expect that either of these two is the correct answer, but I’m leaning towards Farseek for now.

Duress – A sideboard card in most black decks, but it’s typically a two or three of. I don’t think this is the worst idea, but it’s not as good as the other two.

Lingering Souls – I just don’t expect as many Souls as I do Pillars and Farseeks. I might be off, but I think the widespread adoption of Thundermaw Hellkite has pretty much shifted Lingering Souls out of the format.

Enchantment – Blind Obedience

This is likely the most popular non-land card from Gatecrash for tournament play. It’s an excellent way for decks for minimise the impact of the plethora of hasty red creatures, and isn’t an unreasonable win condition in a deck with Sphinx’s Revelation.

This is unlikely to be a four of in many decks, but it’ll be a two or three of in a lot, and really, there’s not all that much in the way of competition in this slot.

Other notable mentions:-

Battle of Wits – Just kidding.

Detention Sphere – Unflashy, and usually under-represented. This is probably the second best option here.

Artifact – Runechanter’s Pike

runechanter's pikeThis is the only artifact I’ve seen in recent decklists, and then, it’s only in UWR. But, if it’s the only one seeing any play, it’s probably the best choice, right? The card is stupidly powerful in the right deck, and even if there is only one, it’s not like there’s much competition. Really, am I going to pick Akroma’s Memorial here? Unlikely…

Other notable mentions:-

Rakdos Keyrune – Sees play as a one or two of in some Jund midrange lists. Seems like this is unlikely to warrant being the pick here.

Door to Nothingness – It’s a one of in a gimmick deck. Moving on…

Pithing Needle – A one or two of in the sideboard. This is probably the other realistic option here. I like Pike better than Needle for now.

Land – Cavern of Souls

Cavern of SoulsWith such a plethora of excellent lands in the format, I’ve chosen the great uniter. It’s in most decks as at least a two of, even in decks where it doesn’t pull double duty by fixing, and I expect it to be everywhere. I just don’t see any lands that will be as visible over the weekend as Cavern of Souls, and I think anything else is wrong.

Other notable mentions:-

Take your pick – most of the other lands are excellent, and will see play, but nothing like at Cavern of Souls numbers.

New Set Card – Sacred Foundry

Again, this is such a cop out. It’s quite sad, but the biggest impact Gatecrash looks to have on Standard is improving our already excellent manabases. For me, the only other option here is Stomping Ground, though Watery Grave might do some work as well.

Other notable mentions:-

Stomping Ground – Yeah.

Watery Grave – Uh huh

Godless Shrine – Yup

Breeding Pool – Mmm hmmm

Pro Player (for tiebreakers) – Jon Finkel

Shadowmage InfiltratorThe man’s a machine, and the smart money doesn’t bet against Johnny Magic.

Other notable mentions:-

David Ochoa – Ridiculously consistent at the PT Level

Josh Utter-Leyton – On a roll, top 8’ing GP’s at will

Yuuya Watanabe – In form Player of the Year

As with anything that’s based on personal opinion, it’s likely that your choices will be somewhat divergent from mine. I’m always interested what people think about my opinions, so feel free to sound off if you think I’m wrong.

Stay classy mtgUK,


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