Sunday, 3:29 p.m. – Playing for the Top 8: Round 14 Metagame Recap

Posted in Event Coverage on May 11, 2014

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Finding the way into the Top 8 of a Grand Prix invariably comes down to the crucial last couple rounds. It's a small spread that separates those vying for a title from those settling for just Top 16. This is how the leaderboard looked at the end of Round 13:

Rank Name Points Archetype
1 Kaplan, Louis 36 Kiki Pod
2 Laehn, Taylor 36 Tarmo Twin
3 (19) McLaren, Shaun 36 White-Blue-Red Control
4 Orange, Gregory 36 White-Blue-Red Control
5 Swailes, Michael 34 Blue-Red Twin
6 Bonham, Nick 33 White-Blue-Red Control
7 Holiday, Nathan 33 Melira Pod
8 McCullough, Matt 33 Kiki Pod
9 Park, Jun Young 33 Scapeshift
10 Ward, Daniel 33 Jund
11 Wijaya, Vidianto 33 Melira Pod
12 Braun-Duin, Brian 33 Melira Pod
13 Burnett, Kai 33 White-Blue-Red Control
14 (15) Edel, Willy 33 Jund
15 Han, Bing 33 Black-Green Rock
16 Huska, Andrew 33 Jund
17 Scott-Vargas, Luis 33 Melira Pod
18 Barbeau, Jeremy 33 Melira Pod
19 Beltz, James 33 Melira Pod
20 Olson, Alex 33 Storm
21 Tellis, Adam 33 White-Blue-Red Control
22 Mackl, Valentin 33 Blue-Red Twin
23 Babbitt, Nicolas 33 Blue-Red Delver

From the four players at 36 points, two would be ensured to make Top 8. Behind them a wall of players with 33 points set up a sieve of win-two-matches that would sift out the remainder. There would be no room for anyone with more than two losses to sneak into the final showdown, and it would take a near miracle for anyone with two losses and a tie to overtake one of the twenty-three above.

Archetype Count
Melira Pod 6
White-Blue-Red Control 5
Jund 3
Blue-Red Twin 2
Kiki Pod 2
Scapeshift 1
Black-Green Rock 1
Blue-Red Delver 1
Tarmo Twin 1
Storm 1

Compared to the start of Day 2, the metagame for Top 8 potential players has one significant difference: Affinity is missing from the list of archetypes being played. A typically powerful deck, one that carried itself to the finals of the largest Modern tournament in history at Grand Prix Richmond, it isn't clear why it's not visible here.

What is clear is that White-Blue-Red Control improved in rank to second overall played. While it may be the case that it's simply a well-positioned deck for the weekend, another consideration is the relative stability across Modern. Expecting to see Birthing Pod , Affinity, Splinter Twin, as well as Jund and general Rock-type decks means players that have chosen this control path have had more time to learn their decks. All things being equal, formats tend towards control strategies as they mature since the answers and tools needed for other decks become well know.

Assuming some combination of Birthing Pod and White-Blue Control decks in the Top 8 the last remaining question is this: Will Scapeshift, Tron, or another less-popular deck find its way into the finale of Grand Prix Minneapolis? It will take the last round to find out.

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