What were the biggest cards of the weekend? Then read on to learn more about Grand Prix Pittsburgh's Top 5 Cards!
Choke is the kind of game-changing threat green decks rarely have access to. Not only is it good against some of the obvious contenders — Merfolk, Storm and the Mono-Blue Extra Turns deck — Choke was a game-ender against many a blue-based control deck, as 25th-ranked Craig Wescoe demonstrated in his Top 8 victory over Corey Burkhart's Grixis deck.
With all the abstractly powerful things possible in Modern, Wescoe's run to the semifinals proved that you can still find success with small green creatures, and Choke was a big part of that.
4) Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Magic Origins had already made its impact on Modern felt — Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Abbot of Keral Keep saw to that — but it was Pia and Kiran Nalaar that stole the spotlight in Pittsburgh. The Nalaar duo was a key part of two Top 8 decks, with Corey Burkhart using one in his Grixis Control deck and GP winner Alex Bianchi calling it the best card out of his sideboard, a designation it lived up in his semifinal victory over Rob Cucunato. The combination of creatures, power, evasion and reach it provides all in one package made it one of the breakout cards of the weekend.
3) Summer Bloom
When most people think of Amulet Bloom, they think about the first half of the deck's namesake, Amulet of Vigor, but sometimes forget about the second half, Summer Bloom. But it's the latter that makes the deck as scary as it is. Amulet of Vigor is scary — it helps players accelerate and creates shenanigans with Primeval Titan — but it's Bloom that powers the deck's most degenerate draws, including a Primeval Titan that can attack on the second turn of the game.
Amulet Bloom was the deck of choice for many pros this weekend, and while none of them advanced to the Top 8, Player of the Year Mike Sigrist finished ninth on tiebreaks with the deck.
Affinity is looked at by many as a colorless, or at least mono-colored, deck. The main deck of the ubiquitous robots typically run either blue or red, but not much more.
But everything changes after sideboarding, when the deck suddenly brings in cards of any color. From Thoughtseize to Rest in Peace to Spell Pierce to Blood Moon to Ancient Grudge, the deck can comfortably play sideboard cards of any color, all thanks to Glimmervoid. While it's not the only piece that makes any color — Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum also help — it's Glimmervoid that ties everything together. And it's that flexibility that makes Affinity always a potent choice for an event, and a key reason why the deck put two players into the Top 8 here in Pittsburgh.
1) Stony Silence
Stony Silence has always existed on the edge of Modern, making its way into sideboard whenever Affinity was deemed too strong. And while Affinity may not be the boogeyman it once was (though it's still extremely good, as the two copies in the Top 8 proved), Stony Silence has never been better.
The reason is that it hits more of the field than ever before. While always great against Affinity to stop Mox Opal, Arcbound Ravager, Darksteel Citadel and more, Stony Silence has uses against the Lantern of Insight control deck popping up across Modern and even serves to slow down decks like Ad Nauseam that seek to cast Lotus Bloom.
And it was never more important than in the Top 8, which winner Alex Bianchi played against two Affinity opponents in a row. His finals opponent Aaron Webster had already defeated Stony Silence once, from Craig Wescoe in the semifinals, but he couldn't repeat the trick against Bianchi, who rode the enchantment to win Game 2 before assembling the Splinter Twin combo to cap off the tournament and earn the title.