Sunday, 11:15 a.m. - 20 Reasons To Like Modern

Posted in Event Coverage on September 18, 2011

By Rich Hagon

Rich Hagon combines a deep knowledge of the players of the Pro Tour with a passionate love of the game. He's a regular commentator for Pro Tour and Grand Prix live video coverage, and is the official Pro Tour Statistician. He has been covering Magic events since 2006.

Earlier this month, Samuele Estratti brought the first ever Modern format Pro Tour to a close, defeating Josh Utter-Leyton after three days of Modern awesomeness. It's possible that Modern may come into focus sooner rather than later, as the response to the format has been very positive. Maybe Worlds, maybe a PTQ season next year, who knows? In any case, there were plenty of players here at Brazil Nats wanting to talk about Philadelphia and the new format.

We asked the entire field what they'd play if, instead of Standard, the constructed rounds had been Modern. There's obviously some overlap between how different people define archetypes, and we didn't ask for decklists (!), but there were still twenty different answers, which went something like this:

Counter-Cat 36
Splinter Twin 32
Mono-Blue Infect 14
12 post 9
Pyromancer Ascension 5
Mono-Red 3
Affinity 3
Swath Storm 2
Naya 2
BGW Pod 2
B/R Vampires 1
Mono Green Infect 1
UB Reanimate 1
Next Level Blue 1
BG Death Cloud 1
Eggs 1
Vial Merfolk 1
Faeries 1
Hive Mind 1
Melira Combo 1

It's no surprise to see Counter-Cat and Splinter Twin up at the top, and equally not to see the Sam Black mono-blue Poison deck being given plenty of support. Twelve post is interesting, because it was clearly the default deck coming into Pro Tour Philadelphia, but like many frontrunners before it, it fell victim to the fact that everyone knew about it. It was largely passed by, although Vincent Lemoine came very close to making the top 8, only a paired down loss in the final round preventing him from showcasing twelve post in the top 8.

Another who narrowly missed out was Australia's Jeremy Neeman, playing Goblin Storm, using Goblin Bushwhacker (what else would an Australian deck use?) to turn Empty the Warrens into an 'instant' kill. There's almost certainly a lot more to come from Pyromancer Ascension/Goblin Storm/Swath Storm decks.

Of course, not all the decks on this list are necessarily going to get the job done in Modern. Vial Merfolk, Eggs, and Faeries all seem like choices that wouldn't get you all that far, although there's every chance that the initial banned list will be altered. Who knows? Maybe Bitterblossom will be available to Faeries players by the time Modern next rolls around.

To me, having watched it all unfold up close, what's so exciting about Modern is that the 'correct' answers almost certainly haven't been found yet. Maybe they never will be. In any case, there's a huge amount of territory to cover, and the real possibility that Modern is waiting to be 'beaten' by someone down the line. Counter-Cat was an awesome deck, but you can be sure that people are gearing up to be ready for it.

If you haven't tried the Modern world yet, check out the PT Philadelphia coverage, and get a deck together. I've been playing and watching Magic for fifteen years, and this is about as exciting, involved, and entertaining format as I've ever seen.

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