"I just like playing Modern the best. It's the format with the most interaction going on."
4,300 players at Grand Prix Richmond. Nearly 1,700 players here at Grand Prix Minneapolis. An entire reprint set –Modern Masters – dedicated to both sweet Limited and arming players with tools for Constructed decks. Modern has undergone burgeoning growth, becoming not just "another Pro Tour Qualifier and Pro Tour format" but a way to play that careers are built on.
Patrick Dickmann's quote above is testament to where the format is today. Both he and Shaun McLaren have found success with Modern, both making Top 8 (with McLaren winning) the Modern Pro Tour Born of the Gods and Dickmann winning Grand Prix Antwerp among another Modern Grand Prix Top 8.
Are these two players really specialists of the format?
"I think so," Dickmann said. "Modern is the format I play the most and like the best. It's the only format where I have excellent results in."
McLaren was less declarative. "I don't consider myself," he said. "I would say Modern was one of my weaker formats before winning the Pro Tour. I had won a PTQ in every formats except Modern. I'd never had a lot of success, partially because I like playing control decks which had never been the best deck in the format. Jund was always a huge problem, and I'm usually better at slower formats."
Specialists or not, what is it about Modern that hooked them? "I just like playing Modern the best. It's the format with the most interaction going on," Dickmann said. "It's slower than Legacy but there's much more interaction than Standard. The cards are powerful, not as broke as Legacy, and more complicated than Standard."
McLaren went further. "I'm really loving Modern now. The big book for me is the complete diversity of decks and they all seem viable," McLaren said. "It's nice to have an accessible, more internal format." What did McLaren mean by internal""Modern doesn't really change that often, more like sliding tectonic plates than eruptions of formats shifts. It's more about tweaking, changing, perfecting decks and your play with the deck. Plus there's some powerful Blue cards that have been printed over the games." As a fan of control it's hard to image a color McLaren would appreciate more.
Since new sets don't overhaul Modern like Standard or Limited, is there anything that's surprised these two about the format recently?
"I'm playing Keranos, God of Storms in my sideboard," Dickmann admitted. "There aren't too many relevant cards from Journey into Nyx but Keranos's effect is really powerful; you don't want to hit devotion to be a creature and it gives you a Lightning Bolt many times. From the Pro Tour I think the period of time was too short for any big changes: It's still between three decks: Affinity, Twin, and Pod. I consider them the best decks."
McLaren had a different card from Journey into Nyx to point at. "The biggest card I looked at was Eidolon of Rhetoric. It looks really powerful," he said. "It's perfect because Storm is a little bit oppressive and difficult for decks to deal with so it's nice to have a little more hate for it if Storm becomes a problem."
Keeping up with Modern isn't as tough as you may thing, according to McLaren. "I tested a bit online," he said. "Modern's great because all your previous format experience builds on the last. You can get back in and brush off the rust to see if your deck's good again."
Does McLaren believe in the "One format, one deck." pproach to Modern? "I'm familiar with most of the top decks of the format, but once I decide on one I really want to master it rather than searching for the "best" deck," he said. "Once I pick a deck I zone in on it and don't second guess myself."
Modern proclivities aside, what else brings these players to Minneapolis the weekend before the Pro Tour? "It's a nice trip," Dickmann said, "and I prefer Modern over Theros Sealed which I would have played in Warsaw."
"I'm just stopping by before the Pro Tour," McLaren agreed. "I love Modern, so I'm going to try and keep the Modern success train going. I love these Grand Prix before the Pro Tour. They're awesome because if you're not centralized in the US it's nice to fly out and stop by before and stay after. Being able to just stay for two or three weeks and hang out and play while you're going to the Pro Tour is convenient. It can get a bit tiresome if you're traveling away from where most of the Grand Prix are."