There's been so many awesome things going on here this weekend, spread across so many cards and so many archetypes. Narrowing it down to just five seems a fool's errand, but I must persevere!
After waiting in the wings for too long, Sidisi's time is now! Making a decent showing at Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, the Sidisi Whip deck—featuring the Brood Tyrant alongside Whip of Erebos and big hitters like Hornet Queen—has only been gaining steam in the meta. And it's been for a very specific reason: Mardu has become a thing.
It's not surprising that the rise of Mardu and the rise of Sidisi Whip are so closely correlated—Sidisi destroys Mardu. Both Albert Ake, who piloted the deck in the Top 8, and eventual winner Ryan Scullin on Mardu, said that Mardu was Sidisi's best match-up, and Sidisi was Mardu's worst.
Mardu was the third-highest represented deck in Day 2, behind only Abzan and Jeskai. Sidisi Whip already had good game against Abzan, so if Mardu keeps rising, no doubt will Sidisi too. This card could have been Whip of Erebos, that has shown up in decks Sidisi does not, but No way Legendary Enchantment Artifact! Sidisi is the prom queen tonight; you're just serving punch.
There were a full 12 copies of Goblin Rabblemaster in the Top 8 main decks and there were no archetype overlapping. It went in Gareth Aye's Mono-Red Treasure Cruise concoction, and in both Larry Li's Jeskai and champion Ryan Scullin's Mardu clan decks.
Everything you know about this card is still true. It doesn't matter what else has happened in the game, if you can't answer a Goblin Rabblemaster there is a high likelihood you are going to die. And let's not even start on two copies. Just look at how quickly Scullin won the first game in the semifinals, and tell me what that would look like if it those cards were Boros Reckoners instead. The answer is not as Goblin-y for one, and second, you'd say that the opponent would've survived to the fifth turn. With the Lifeburglar that doesn't happen (you see, the McDonald's character, the Hamburglar says "Rabble, Rabble"—get it? No? Nevermind.).
Half of the nightmare removal suite in the Mardu Midrange deck, Chained to the Rocks is sometimes the more feared card than the (spoiler alert) higher-ranked Crackling Doom. If a deck can afford the Mountain requirement, Chained to the Rocks is one of the best removal spells in the format. No matter the size, no matter the color, no matter the converted mana cost—get it out of here. And no, it doesn't go to the graveyard, so no Whip of Erebos shenanigans for you.
The basement cost on the card means that decks running it *cough cough Mardu* don't have to spend anything close to a turn to answer the threat presented. Both prominent White-Blue Heroic players, Tom Ross and finalist Orry Swift, said that though it might seem otherwise, it's Chained to the Rocks that makes the Mardu match so miserable.
Ryan Scullin used it against the Mono-Red Cruise deck to nab early attackers like Firedrinker Satyr and Goblin Rabblemaster in the quarters, but had been using it all day to take out 10/10 heroic guys, opposing Butcher of the Hordes, and everything in between in the later games. This thing is your one-stop shop for getting' stuff gone.
Just watch out for the sideboard Erase.
2. Gods Willing
Gods Willing is the lynchpin that made finalist Orry Swift's White-Blue Heroic deck work the way it did. He said that this humble Theros common won him more games than any other card this weekend. He did it in the semifinals to steal the game right out from under his Sidisi Whip opponent Albert Ake—right when he was hoping to take control of the game. And the end of Ake's turn, Swift cast a Feat of Resistance, then with his only remaining land, protected his Battlewise Hoplite from certain instant-speed destruction with the Gods Willing, untapped and smashed face.
Going "all-in" on a Heroic creature is less scary if you have a one-mana catch-all to guarantee you at least get some damage in (or more specifically, "some damage +1"). And the scrying is not insignificant. Much of the heroic deck is crafting your extra draws to be the precise card you need. Having the scry isn't so much a bonus, as a necessity.
Oh, how I love me this card. This kills things dead, and gets you ahead in the process (no Gods Willing for you). If you've yet to kill a Stormbreath Dragon and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker midcombat, I highly suggest it. This card has cost countless creatures their lives, at a time when they least expected it.
Because of the instant-speed and the two damage, this has that same upside that Chained to the Rocks has—not taking up your entire turn just to remove a creature.
David Ochoa said of the Mardu Midrange deck, that it plays like Jeskai but in different colors. Perhaps that's why the stock in Jeskai has gone down so much—they don't get to play Crackling Doom.
San Antonio winner Ryan Scullin honored it the highest win-getter in his deck. And he's the winner, as I said, so he probably knows what's up.