These were the cards that shaped the tournament, that sparked discussions and were the most debated, the cards that won games and turned Grand Prix Prague into an event to remember ...
People hardly ever talk about Deathrite Shaman anymore but it continues to be one of the defining cards of the format. Whether it's about mana acceleration or graveyard removal or delivering the final points of damage—or most often all three—Deathrite Shaman remains a firm four-off in a number of decks, likely a fifth to a quarter of all decks that saw play on Day Two here in Prague for example. The battle between Deathrite Shaman and Snapcaster Mage in particular is always exciting. This weekend, the blue decks trumped the green and black decks, but Deathrite Shaman will surely be back.
4. Fist of Suns
Even in the early rounds on Saturday, Fist of Suns was the one card everybody seemed to be talking about. With a certainly not shy but rather vocal proponent (as well as pilot) like Jan van der Vegt, it didn't take long for news to spread. And it may just be van der Vegt found the missing piece of the puzzle that is the Goryo's Vengeance deck. Others had long been using Through the Breach (of which van der Vegt was only running one copy in the main deck) as an alternative to the reanimation spell, but actually being able to cast Emrakul, the Aeons Torn proved a definite improvement.
When my colleague Olle Råde wrote his "A–Z of Modern" and was looking for an entry for the somewhat pesky letter Y, we actually debated the merits of Young Pyromancer in Modern. Neither one of us could have guessed then that the card would have such a big impact on the tournament. It was a key card in the blue-red Delver deck which, despite seeing very little play, put four people in Day Two, two in definite Top 8 contention, and finally ended up once in the Top 4, in the hands of Carlos Moral. If anything, Blue-Red Delver could very well be the breakout deck of the weekend.
There are a lot of versions of Blue-White-Red floating around in Modern. A few are very aggressive with lots of burn spells and Steppe Lynx, some others are very much geared toward playing the control game and even manage to leave all creatures aside in favor of planeswalkers and big spells like Sphinx's Revelation. Most players went with an approach that's located somewhere on the vast middle ground between the two extremes. So did eventual champion Vjeran Horvat, and the creature to make it all work was Geist of Saint Traft. He called it the most important card in his deck, and the Geist certainly did deliver.
Posing for the final photo of the day, Vjeran Horvat decided three of his cards needed to be part of the picture: One was the Thundermaw Hellkite which had won him one game each in the quarterfinal, the semifinal, and the final; then there was his beloved Geist of Saint Traft; but at the front was Snapcaster Mage which had not only played a crucial role in his triumphant deck but also featured promimently in Carlos Moral's Blue-Red Delver and finalist Marcel Kachapow's Tempo Twin. Snapcaster Mage only put twelve copies in the Top 8 but it's telling that, once there, no Snapcaster Mage deck lost except against another Snapcaster Mage deck.