These were the cards that shaped the tournament, that sparked discussions and were the most debated, the cards that won games and turned Grand Prix London into an event to remember …
5. Revoke Existence
In the aftermath of Pro Tour Magic Origins, the blue-red artifact deck was all the rage, but players quickly adapted. Soon sideboards started filling up with cards to combat the Thopter menace. As a consequence the deck began to lose some of its appeal and, in turn, one might have expected to see less sideboard hate as well. However, then came Sphinx's Tutelage and took down Grand Prix San Diego.
So dedicated removal continued to be in high demand and two cards stood out in particular this weekend: Unravel the Aether and Revoke Existence. Both can get rid of any enchantment or artifact, but what puts these two ahead is their mode of removal. Being able to kill Hangarback Walker without the need to worry about its legacy of Thopters is a crucial advantage, and being able to point the spell at Darksteel Citadel instead of the Ensoul Artifact enchanting it is a nice bonus!
4. Tragic Arrogance
Tragic Arrogance may look like a symmetrical effect, but really it is not. Nowadays, thanks to Hangarback Walker, almost everyone seems to have a handy Thopter token hanging around, and after Tragic Arrogance, well, that's all they will have left. Meanwhile, one's own best creature sticks around and that's quite nonsymmetrical right there.
For one example, let's look at Matteo Moure's semifinals against Erik Skinstad. There, Moure found himself in a losing position, facing a bunch of Soldier tokens plus Elspeth, Sun's Champion as well as a monstrous Fleecemane Lion that usually would be almost impossible to remove. Then he cast Tragic Arrogance and attacked with Siege Rhino to take Elspeth, Sun's Champion from loyalty 3 to 0 in one swift, and game-ending, move.
3. Anafenza, the Foremost
The ubiquitous Hangarback Walker didn't just influence the choice of removal spells at Grand Prix London. Among the creatures fighting alongside or across from Hangarback Walker, one card in particular ranked foremost, and that was, naturally, Anafenza, the Foremost. Not only does Anafenza prevent an opponent's Hangarback Walker from bequeathing a bunch of Thopters upon its death. No, Anafenza is also pretty strong when combined with one's own Hangarback Walker. Normally, Anafenza's +1/+1 counters are reserved for creatures that charge into battle with the 4/4, but any tapped creature is fair game, for example a Walker that's just been tapped for its own counter-adding ability.
Hangarback Walker is making more and more enemies every week, it seems, but also continues to find new homes and allies. One such home is Abzan Aggro, and there Anafenza, the Foremost proved a potent ally.
2. Stormbreath Dragon
"Stormbreath Dragon is the best card in the format this weekend." Brad Nelson didn't mince words, when he declared this, and he did so in the middle of Day 1. At that point, most people wouldn't dream of making such a bold claim but, then again, most people aren't ranked No. 7 in the world.
Brad Nelson continued to prove his point by going on a winning spree that ultimately ended just before the Top 8. Nelson was forced to watch from the sidelines, but Martin Jůza rode the Dragon all the way to the Top 8, the 23rd of his career. Jůza called Stormbreath Dragon the most important card in his deck
1. Siege Rhino
Since its introduction into the format, Siege Rhino has always been the defining feature of Abzan, and Abzan decks, in various for or shape, have always been a major player in Standard. Other cards may come or go, but Siege Rhino remains a fixture. Sometimes it teams up with Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor, sometimes it moves in with Languish and Elspeth, Sun's Champion, sometimes it fights alongside Hangarback Walker and Anafenza, the Foremost …
Three players in the Top 8 named Siege Rhino the most important card in their deck, including eventual champion Fabrizio Anteri who delivered the rhinoceros beats like no other this weekend.