Controlling Modern with Patrick Chapin

Posted in GRAND PRIX CHARLOTTE 2015 on June 14, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

Patrick Chapin is known for a great many things in Magic. A prolific professional career that landed him a place in the Hall of Fame. Consistently strong content, including a pair of popular books. Strong deck design that earned him the nickname "the Innovator."

It's the latter that's been on full display at Grand Prix Charlotte. Chapin has long been a champion of control decks, and to no one's surprise he found a way to sleeve up Cryptic Command this weekend. Like 52 other players on Day 2 he decided to play a Grixis-colored deck. However, while most of his peers decided to play the Splinter Twin combo or the Delver of Secrets-flavored build, Chapin led the way in a much smaller group that opted for a pure control angle.

Control has typically struggled in Modern, a format that has traditionally featured a handful of midrange decks fighting against the aggressive and combo decks, but true control has mostly stayed in the background. Many a Splinter Twin has paraded as a control deck with a full suite of counterspells, or sideboarded into a tempo-only deck, but at the core it's still a combo deck.

Jeskai Control has been the previous standard-bearer for Modern with its array of Lightning Bolts, counterspells and Lightning Helixes, but the deck has fallen out of favor in recent months, leaving a void in the format. So why has control made a comeback in Modern, and why is Chapin piloting it today?

"The recent trends made me think moving away from Delver of Secrets would be an even better way to go," he said. "I think Cryptic Command is better now than it used to be. If there's a way to play Grixis, a way to play Cryptic Command, I'm going to do it."

While Cryptic Command's stock may be rising, it's Dragons of Tarkir breakout Kolaghan's Command that is the real command in Grixis.

"Kolaghan's Command has literally, single-handedly the thing that took Grixis up to being one of the defining decks of the format," Chapin said. "It's absolutely amazing. The versatility, the fact that you can play with artifact removal main deck, the fact that it gives you so many good options and matches up so well with a lot of things people are doing in Modern, and it chains so well with Snapcaster Mage.

Thanks to the sheer versatility of Kolaghan's Command, the hall of famer has been able to rely on Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Creeping Tar Pit and burn spells to end the game. It's a strategy that has worked to perfection, and he entered the final round of the tournament with a shot to advance to his fourth career Top 8.

To hear Chapin tell it, control decks are here to stay. And, watching him march through Day 2, it's hard not to believe him.

"In the past control hasn't been the color combination with the best cards, but right now Grixis is the color combination with the stuff it's gotten recently," he explained. "The format is going to adapt some, but as long as these cards are legal Grixis is going to be a tier one deck."

Patrick Chapin

Patrick Chapin – Grixis Control

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