TOP 5 CARDS

Posted in Event Coverage on September 13, 2015

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.

It was a historic weekend for Modern at Grand Prix Oklahoma City. With the continuing effects of Magic Origins and the dominant success of a new archetype all the way through the finals, the impact from two days of play will ripple across the format for months to come.

These five cards capture the biggest stories and moments that we found along the path to Zac Elsik's victory.

5) Master of Waves

The Merfolk deck Paul Rietzl piloted to the Top 8 of Grand Prix Oklahoma City has no lack of synergistic cards in it, but nothing in the 75 is as blatantly powerful as Master of Waves.
Perhaps even more important than its power has been its resiliency. With the most-played removal spell in the format being Lightning Bolt — with Terminate and Kolaghan's Command not far behind — Master's built-in protection from red renders it immune to most of the Modern format. Combined with its raw game-ending power thanks to the token army it invariably brings with it in the Merfolk deck, no other card in Merfolk was responsible for more match wins over the weekend.


4) Dwynen's Elite

After Day 1 undefeated player Chris Lopez showed what both Dwynen's Elite and Shaman of the Pack can do in a black-green shell, Top 4 competitor Andrew Sullano put a full four copies of the Elite to work to get him there. Leveraging big green mana with Ezuri, Renegade Leader as a finisher, Dwynen's Elite filled a crucial role in giving him consistent aggressive starts. Putting multiple creatures down in a hurry meant his army went wide, swinging through the tougher and taller creatures that often stood in their way.

Sometimes more really is more.


3) Hangarback Walker

Already a terror in Standard, Hangarback Walker has also made its impact on Modern. While it appeared in multiple decks over the weekend – including some Jund and Abzan lists — the artifact unsurprisingly was most at home in Affinity. While some builds opted to go all-in on Hangarback and play Shrapnel Blast as a sacrifice outlet, Top 8 competitor Joseph Reiter played a more traditional list that nonetheless featured two copies of the Walker. Much like in Standard, its resiliency to removal is what made it so dominant and it's inevitability in gaining +1/+1 counters ensured opponents would need to answer it sooner rather than later.


2) Keranos, God of Storms

While there are plenty of cards that make Splinter Twin decks of all flavors deadly, more games of Modern are played with sideboards than without. For Brian Braun-Duin, and many other Splinter Twin players across the weekend, bringing in Keranos, God of Storms meant adding a powerful angle to win on. While the technology isn't new, it was the way Braun-Duin stole the game he won in the finals against Zac Elsik. Setting himself up to ensure he drew the God, Braun-Duin put it to work after forcing Lantern of Insight off the battlefield.

And like in the other games where the God comes down, once the spells started to roll off the top during the upkeep, Braun-Duin's opponent wasn't long for remaining in the game.


1) Lantern of Insight

What other card could serve to stand in for Zac Elsik's Grand Prix-winning run with Lantern Control? After debuting the deck at Grand Prix Charlotte to a Top 16 finish, Elsik bettered that in Oklahoma City, going undefeated on Day One and lighting up the Top 8.

The deck's namesake is the reason why it works. It allowed Elsik full knowledge of both his and his opponent's draw step, and combined with cards like Codex Shredder and Ghoulcaller's Bell then allows him to control those draws. The combination locks opponents out of the game and grinds it to stall that allows the Lantern Control player to win.

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