Setting the Stage in Indianapolis

Posted in Event Coverage on August 27, 2016

By Frank Karsten

This weekend marks the first batch of Modern premier events since the release of Eldritch Moon. Simultaneous Grand Prix events are held in Lille, Guangzhou, and Indianapolis, which are poised to influence the metagame for the World Championship and the final World Magic Cup qualifier.

So let's set the scene with an overview of what to expect this weekend in terms of schedule, decks, and people, at least here in Indianapolis.

Practical information

As always with any Grand Prix, there are nine rounds on Saturday, with any player reaching at least 18 match points (that's 6 wins and 3 losses) advancing to the next day. On Sunday, there are six more rounds of Swiss competition, followed by a Top 8 cutoff and playoffs. In the end, one victorious player will hoist the trophy and the first-place prize of $10,000 and 8 pro points. Any player who clinches a 13-2 or better record will earn an invitation and airfare to Pro Tour Kaladesh in Honolulu in addition to prize money and pro points.

To follow along with Grand Prix Indianapolis, you can watch live coverage at twitch.tv/channelfireball, starting every day at 6:15 a.m. PT/9:15 a.m. ET/1:15 p.m. UTC. Gaby Spartz, Luis Scott-Vargas, Marshall Sutcliffe, and William Jensen will guide you through the matches. You can also check back in on the text coverage page for deck techs and deck lists, and you can follow @magicprotour for results and photos from the site.

The evolution of Modern

The biggest metagame developments since the release of Shadows over Innistrad (besides the banning of Eye of Ugin) are the rise of Bant Eldrazi, Dredge, and Death's Shadow Zoo. Bant Eldrazi is best capable of exploiting the still-legal Eldrazi Temple; Dredge abuses Shadows over Innistrad's Insolent Neonate and Prized Amalgam; and Death's Shadow Zoo, which has secretly been one of the best decks in Modern for over a year, has gained prominence recently. Meanwhile, Abzan Company has fallen a bit in popularity.

But Modern is deep, and we can certainly expect Jund, Affinity, Infect, Burn, Jeskai Control, Merfolk, R/G Tron, and plenty of other top decks as well over the course of the weekend. If you are new to the format, then Craig Jones has you covered with an introduction-level breakdown on all of these decks.

Meanwhile, Eldritch Moon is poised to leave a big mark on Modern as well. Over in Guangzhou, Chapman Sim already discovered that the following cards are seeing play:

This list doesn't even include Gnarlwood Dryad, Haunted Dead, Bedlam Reveler, and Thalia, Heretic Cathar! All in all, with so many potential new additions, we're bound to have a good weekend from a coverage perspective.

Who's here?

Day 1 started with almost 2,000 players, amongst which 28 Gold or Platinum pros with three byes. All of those players are listed below. Numbers in front of player's name indicates their ranking in the Top 25 and a bolded font means that they are invited to the World Championship​ starting this Thursday.

  • (2) Seth Manfield
  • (5) Steve Rubin
  • (12) Andrea Mengucci
  • (14) Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa
  • (14) Mike Sigrist
  • (19) Samuel Black
  • Andrew Brown
  • Corey Burkhart
  • Justin Cohen
  • Patrick Cox
  • Andrew Cuneo
  • Paul Dean
  • Dan Lanthier
  • Ari Lax
  • Scott Lipp
  • Valentin Mackl
  • Pascal Maynard
  • Matthew Nass
  • David Ochoa
  • Gregory Orange
  • Matt Severa
  • Eric Severson
  • Shahar Shenhar
  • Benjamin Stark
  • Samuel Tharmaratnam
  • Craig Wescoe
  • Jacob Wilson
  • Jarvis Yu

We'll keep an eye on all of them throughout the weekend.

What's the 3-bye metagame like?

We can't tell you about the whole of the Day 1 metagame, but the archetype breakdown of the above 28 players with three byes is as follows:

Bant Eldrazi - 4

Jund - 4

Affinity - 3

Abzan - 3

Infect - 2

Kiki-Evolution - 2

Lantern Control - 2

R/G Through the Breach - 2

Death's Shadow Zoo - 1

Jeskai Nahiri - 1

Ad Nauseam - 1

Amulet Azusa - 1

Burn - 1

G/W Hatebears - 1

So Bant Eldrazi, Jund, and Affinity are popular, perhaps unsurprisingly, but there are several exciting new and exciting archetypes as well. The standouts here are Kiki-Evolution (which aims to cast Eldritch Evolution to assemble an infinite combo involving Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker) and Amulet Azusa (which tries to reinvigorate the Primeval Titan deck after the relatively recent banning of Summer Bloom).

You can expect to see deck techs on these and plenty of other interesting Modern decks over the course of the weekend.

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