¡Bienvenido a nuestro artículo de vista previa de Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan! Our teams and I are so excited to be here in Bilbao, Spain, playing, and bringing you coverage from our Twitter account @TeamCardhoarder. Let’s take a look at where Modern is currently at, the decks people are talking about, and some players to watch going into this weekend.
The last Modern Pro Tour was Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, in February 2016. The format was dominated by a variety of Eldrazi decks, and the months leading up to the banning of Eye of Ugin in April 2016 are often referred to as “Eldrazi Winter.” Since then, Modern has seen two additional bannings in Gitaxian Probe, and Golgari Grave-Troll, and a couple of unbannings in Ancestral Vision, and Sword of the Meek. All of which has helped turn Modern into an incredibly fun, and diverse format.
Currently, Death’s Shadow is the deck to beat, and has even supplanted Abzan and Jund as being the best midrange strategy in the format. While nobody can agree on which version is best, be it Abzan, or Grixis, the basic strategy remains the same: disrupt your opponent’s gameplan while also chipping away at your own life total with cards like Fetchlands, and Thoughtseize. Once your life total gets low enough, you pivot into a more aggressive gameplan with a very large Death’s Shadow. Gurmag Angler, and Tasigur, the Golden Fang provide additional support as large creatures that can take over the game.
Speaking of taking over games, Lantern Control has been a hot topic these past few weeks as players have discovered that Whir of Invention from Aether Revolt is a fantastic addition to the deck, giving players an efficient way to tutor for pieces to lock someone out of the game. Whereas traditional Control decks use counterspells, and removal spells, Lantern Control uses Lantern of Insight, and cards like Codex Shredder to make sure you never draw anything you can actually use. This deck can be frustrating to play against, and games usually go long, as the lock is typically their only real win condition. So, it remains to be seen who, if anyone has the fortitude to play this deck on Magic’s biggest stage.
Lastly, the printing of Baral, Chief of Compliance in Aether Revolt has made Storm a Tier 1 strategy again, and if there is a Modern Pro Tour, you can rest assured that diehard fans like Jon Finkel, and Huey Jensen will at least give it a try. Storm players win by casting a string of cantrips and Rituals, and then casting a lethal Grapeshot once their Storm count is high enough. Gifts Ungiven is a recent addition to the deck, which adds a layer of redundancy, and lets you tutor for the package of Desperate Ritual, Manamorphose, Past in Flames, and Pyretic Ritual, which all but ensure you will win the game.
We’ve talked a little bit about some of the best decks in the room. Now let’s talk about a couple of the players who will be battling at the Pro Tour this weekend.
Guilherme Merjam has become one of the more visible members of Team Cardhoarder Brazil, thanks to winning his local RPTQ to qualify for this Pro Tour, and for participating in the Brazilian Rivals of Ixalan pre pre-release. He also has a respectable resume with a Top 4 at Brazilian Nationals, two Grand Prix Top 8’s, one Pro Tour Top 16, one Pro Tour Top 32, and one Pro Tour Top 64. Let’s see if he can add a Pro Tour win to the list this weekend.
Noah Walker is coming off an exciting weekend at SCG Philadelphia, where he and friends Zan Syed and Dylan Donegan made Top 8 at the Team Constructed Open. This is Noah’s second Top 8 finish at a Team Constructed Open, the first of which was a first place finish back in November 2017 at SCG Baltimore. As a Gold level pro with recent success under his belt, the coverage folks will certainly be keeping an eye on him, and you should, too.
Be sure to Follow @TeamCardhoarder for all the latest updates on Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan, including pictures, standings, and much more!