With Round 4 underway, and all of the players with three byes thrown into the mix, it was time to check around the room to see what people were playing, and, more importantly, what was doing well.
Starting at Table 1 and wandering around, a few things became clear. First, Monoblack Devotion is nowhere near as thoroughly played as it has been and continues to be online. It is still likely one of the top five decks being played this weekend, but it is riding the bottom of that list rather than sitting pretty at number one or two. Monoblue Devotion is in the same boat, and it appears that many of the players who have opted to display their devotion to Thassa have also decided to show Ephara, God of the Polis, a little love, running the version of the deck that splashes for white.
One of the biggest decks in the room, especially at the top tables, is Esper Control.
Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa summed up my feelings on the deck nicely, complaining that he could never beat the deck when playing against it but never win when he himself played it. There is just something about the deck, and there has been since Pro Tour Gatecrash. It has access to some of the most powerful cards in the format, but it just can't seem to put it together in a consistent manner. Still, that hasn't deterred players from making it likely the most-played deck in Grand Prix Buenos Aires. Surprisingly, the deck gained very little from Born of the Gods. Other than Temple of Enlightenment and the occasional Fated Retribution, the deck is virtually identical to the version that players brought to Pro Tour Theros in October.
Right behind Esper appears to be RG Monsters. This is another deck that has been seeing a resurgence as of late. With the addition of Xenagos, God of Revels, and Courser of Kruphix, RG Monsters gains a new source of card advantage, as well as a new set of hasty threats to combat the rich slurry of removal that permeates the format.
While there are a few players around the room who opted to just leave Domri Rade and Xenagos to their own devices, far more appear to have opted to add the hilariously aggressively-costed Reaper of the Wilds and a few more black cards in the newest incarnation of Standard Jund. This is clearly the more popular version of the deck in the field here in Buenos Aires, even if it hasn't really put up particularly impressive numbers on Magic Online recently.
Rounding out the prospective top five decks of the early part of Grand Prix Buenos Aires is Monored Devotion. This one is easily the biggest surprise of the event for me thus far. After a disappointing showing at Pro Tour Theros, many people had written the deck off. Yet here in Buenos Aires, Boros Reckoner, Hammer of Purphoros, and Fanatic of Mogis are out in force. Even more surprising, the deck appears to be winning, as there are far more copies of the deck in the higher tables than in the lower.
It'll be interesting to see the metagame breakdown on Day 2 to see if this is merely an optical illusion, or if Monored Devotion truly is making a comeback in Latin America.