Top 4 Cards of Modern Masters Weekend

Posted in Event Coverage on June 1, 2015

By Mike Rosenberg, Tobi Henke, and Adam Styborski

Rather than bring you one Grand Prix's Top 5 Cards, we are instead bringing you the Top Four Cards—covering the key cards that earned the eventual champions their trophy—of Modern Masters Weekend.


Grand Prix Chiba – Mirran Crusader

It was a tight race between 2011 World Champion Junya Iyanaga and eventual champion Yuki Matsumoto. While Iyanaga's black-green deck was filled with synergy and power, Matsumoto's possessed a similar level of synergy. In the second game, a first-turn Kor Duelist into a second and third-turn Copper Carapace and equip inevitably forced Iyanaga into chump-blocking with some eldrazi spawn.


However, that equipment got a lot more frightening when in the hands of Mirran Crusader, a creature that may as well have said "protection from Junya Iyanaga's deck." The powerful double-striking creature allowed Matsumoto to push his match to a third game in short order, where he was able to inevitably win.


While many of Matsumoto's cards were clutch in his victory, it was Mirran Crusader that let him bust down the door Iyanaga was attempting to close on him.


Grand Prix Utrecht – Rampant Growth

It is such an unassuming card, but so very, very important. No other card played such a huge role in Davide Vergoni's triumphant travel through the Top 8. Modern Masters 2015 Edition is chock-full of awesome cards, after all the set features some of the strongest and most popular cards from the modern era of Magic. But everything comes at a price, and the price in this case is mana, often of various colors or in vast amounts, and Rampant Growth can help with either.


Vergoni's deck included powerful fliers, a pair of Helium Squirters and an Air Servant, but he never would have been able to cast any of them, what with his single Island, if it hadn't been for his two copies of Rampant Growth. Likewise, his Etched Oracle or Skyreach Manta may have never made it to 4/4 without Rampant Growth.


In fact, Vergoni himself may have never made it this far without the ramp spell, and it was instrumental in his victory as well as countless victories across three continents this weekend.


Grand Prix Las Vegas – Event 1 – Arrest

Before the draft, Aaron Lewis wasn't convinced that white-blue fliers was a particular archetype for Modern Masters 2015 Edition. While Gust-Skimmer, Cloud Elemental, and other splashier fliers did the damage that won the games Lewis needed to claim victory in one of the two Grand Prix at Las Vegas over the weekend, it was the humble Arrest that provided the role-playing his deck needed.


While Arrest is a ubiquitous answer that can stop everything from Swans of Bryn Argoll to the humblest of 1/1 Saprolings, it's real talent in Lewis's deck was giving him the tempo he needed to win. Clearing the way for his cadre of fliers to push through the final points of damage, Arrest was the universal answer that appeared when it was needed.


Simple. Common. Without a hint of flair. It's exactly the straightforward way white-blue takes to the skies to claim Limited wins in almost every format.


Grand Prix Las Vegas – Event 2 – Cranial Plating

Scott Markeson's deck didn't stand out, exactly, when the Top 8 started. He was, after all, one of three Blue-White Affinity decks, all of which looked pretty similar. They all had Glint Hawk Idols—one of the archetypes most important cards—they all had small artifact creatures and a few rare bombs that fit the theme.


But only Markeson had Cranial Plating, a card so good it defines the Affinity archetype in Modern. In Modern Masters 2015 Edition Limited, the card is only slightly less impressive. But just slightly.


In the finals, Markeson's Cranial Plating delivered scores of damage in the first and third game. In the second game, the one he lost? He didn't even draw it. Coincidence? Maybe. But I don't know that I'd be comfortable saying for sure.


In the final game it was Cranial Plating that forced David Heineman to use his Tumble Magnet, using up all of the counters to keep the powerful equipment at bay. Giving creatures like the lowly Frogmite and Gust-Skimmer as much as +8/+0 at times, Cranial Plating was the notch in Markeson's quiver that no other player in the draft had access to. And it was Markeson who took home the trophy.


Coincidence? Unlikely.

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