Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Tokyo

Posted in GRAND PRIX TOKYO 2016 on May 8, 2016

By Chapman Sim

These are the Top 5 cards at grand Prix Tokyo 2016.

#5: Westvale Abbey

It's not often that lands make it to the list of Top 5 cards, but Westvale Abbey is truly one of a kind. Firstly, it's the only land which transforms and I'm going to go ahead and point out that Zoetic Cavern doesn't count.

A total of 11 copies were sported across four Top 8 decks, namely Kazuki Yada's Black-Green Aristocrats, Takuma Morofuji's and Ballester Carlos' White-Green Tokens as well as Eng Chu Heng's 4-Color Company.

The ability to churn out an endless stream of tokens would prove helpful in slower matchups, and the threat of it transforming into Ormendahl, Profane Prince is not something that anyone can simply ignore or shrug off. To put things in perspective, finalist Kazushige Suzuki even went to the extent of pointing Ruinous Path at a supposedly lowly Human Cleric token, an indication of how scary Westvale Abbey can be.

#4: Archangel Avacyn

Going into this weekend, White-Green Tokens was the force to be reckoned with. Aside from housing a nice range of threats and game-changing Planeswalkers, it was all topped off with 4 copies of Archangel Avacyn.

One of the reasons that Black is occupying a healthy percentage of the metagame largely stems from the fact that the Black mages can deal with whatever the White players are putting up. Grasp of Darkness and Ultimate Price has gone up in popularity considerably, while Languish was the preferred board wipe since it doesn't get trumped by Archangel Avacyn's "enter the battlefield" ability.

The ability to mess up combat simply by leaving five mana untapped is solid proof that Archangel Avacyn is format-defining and fear-inducing!

#3: Collected Company

Ever since it was printed in Dragons of Tarkir, Collected Company has never stopped playing a pivotal role in Standard. Despite deck construction constrictions (you're forced to play with loads of creatures and very few noncreature spells), which many players were happy to accept, it has been utilized in numerous archetypes, enabling varying strategies.

For instance, Eng Chu Heng played it in his 4-Color Company deck that attempts to assemble Eldrazi Displacer and Brood Monitor, while Yuuya Watanabe used it to a 10th place finish in his Bant Human shell, a metagaming move to trump other Bant Company decks. Black-Green Aristocrats also use it to assemble a wide board in the hope of eventually finishing things up with Nantuko Husk and Zulaport Cutthroat.

Is Collected Company here to stay? I'll bet my hat on it if I had one.

#2: Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

What makes a control deck tick nowadays?

Seasons Past makes Seasons Past viable (you don't say?), while White-Black relies on Anguished Unmaking and Sorin, Grim Nemesis. Esper has those tools at their disposal as well, but can also take advantage of Painful Truths and/or Dragonlord Ojutai. There have also been Grixis and Mardu Control decks running around, which attempt to abuse Goblin Dark-Dwellers.

However, none of them can work without Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, which is the card that defines the control archetypes.

A threat that is tide-turning when combined with spot removal, Kalitas enables the control player to gum up the board, regain precious life points and even act as a win condition. While it is weak to certain cards such as Reflector Mage and Ultimate Price, its utility and sheer power is something that Black players cannot do without. It even meddles with graveyard strategies and stops Zulaport Cutthroat in its tracks, which is very relevant considering that the Black-Green Aristocrats deck are a strong contender in Standard.

In Ken Yukuhiro's words, the phenomenon is known as "the rise of the Kalitas-control decks".

#1: Needle Spires

When the cycle of enemy-colored ceature lands were revealed, Needle Spires didn't quite get the respect that it should, overshadowed by compatriots Wandering Fumarole, Shambling Vent, Hissing Quagmire and Lumbering Falls.

Riku Kumagai's Naya Midrange deck feels like any regular White-Green deck, except that it was able to trump the mirror with the Red splash. Nahiri, the Harbinger was an integral part of his deck, but with the help of Sylvan Advocate, Needle Spires burst to life as a 4/3 double striking creature which snatched the title of Grand Prix Tokyo Champion away from his opponent, Kazushige Suzuki, in the finals.

It turns out that every dog has its moment in the sun, and we'll never look at a Grand Prix winning Needle Spires the same way ever again.

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