Grand Prix Vancouver promised to be an unforgettable event, and it didn't disappoint. The departures of Gitaxian Probe and Golgari Grave-Troll opened up the format, allowing forgotten decks to emerge and new brews to ferment.
5. Aether Revolt's Impact
Of course, the most recent set added some valuable new cards to the format as well. There's been quite a bit of chatter about Fatal Push of late, and sure enough, Jund and Abzan midrange decks were packing copies. But the most unexpectedly impactful card out of Aether Revolt was Renegade Rallier, which is becoming a new role-player in Collected Company decks. Kitchen Finks is still the most prominent three-mana 3/2 in the format, but we think this guy will stick around.
4. Titanic Teamwork
Several teams in the Pro Tour Team Series – including Mutiny, Massdrop East and West, and Channel Fireball's Fire and Ice squads – had a presence at GP Vancouver, but there were also plenty of smaller teams hoping to make a splash or defend their home turf. Calgary's Team Badgers had a good showing, with Chantelle Campbell and Jennifer Crotts finishing 24th and 28th, respectively, with Titanshift variants.
We also got to meet this group of travelers from the small Alberta town of Grande Prairie, who traveled twelve hours to represent their community.
3. The Haymakers!
There were plenty of exciting games on camera this weekend, but few packed quite as much punch as our Round 13 feature match between longtime Amulet Titan player Bobby Fortanely and Tron enthusiast Michael Lee. These two "big-mana" decks were designed to make big plays, and Game 2 saw Ugin, Karn, and multiple Primeval Titans hit the battlefield. Twitch chat went wild, particularly when Lee's Chromatic Stars (or "Chromatic Tutors," as our commentators called them) found another one of his haymakers.
2. Merfolk Resurfaces
Speaking of swingy matches, Merfolk – a deck with a reputation for come-from-behind wins – quietly made its way into the Top 8 at the hands of Canadian streamer Jonathon "Nikachu" Zaczek. Zaczek vowed to restore Merfolk to greatness this weekend, and he put up quite a fight, fending off Jon Stern's Affinity and Sam Black's Death's Shadow on the way to the finals. Merfolk may not be the flashiest Modern deck, but its consistent results at the Grand Prix level have cemented it as a pillar of the format.
1. Death's Shadow Takes Over
The weekend belonged to another deck, however, and that deck was Death's Shadow. Jund Death's Shadow builds had been picking up steam online, and members of Mutiny and Team Channel Fireball Fire took notice. Three pilots – Sam Black, Gerry Thompson, and Josh Utter-Leyton – had an incredible weekend which ended with all three making Top 8. Utter-Leyton and Thompson faced off in the semifinals, with Utter-Leyton forging ahead to eventually defeat Zaczek, who had bested Black. The format will surely keep evolving in the weeks to come, but for now, we're living under Death's Shadow.