Want a quick recap of the event as seen through the eyes of the cards slung across thousands of matches over the past three days? These are the Top
5 6 cards (we just couldn't resist) that defined Pro Tour Magic Origins.
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Over the course of the weekend, pretty much all of the new double-faced Planeswalkers made an appearance in the feature match area. Red players burned alongside Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh, Rally the Ancestors players brought back Liliana, Heretical Healer multiple times, and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy fueled graveyard decks up and down. But none had quite the quiet impact of Nissa, Vastwood Seer. As the most represented Planeswalker in the Top 8, Nissa fit in to Abzan Control and Green-based Devotion decks up and down the standings, providing value every step of the way. Jace may have gotten much of the attention (Team Pantheon famously all played different Jace decks), but it was Nissa who found her way to the top of the standings.
Nantuko Husk looks so innocent, but every time it comes into Standard it makes a splash. In this case, it was a key part of the Rally the Ancestors deck that set hearts (and graveyards) aflutter. Players such as Pierre Dagen, Timotée Simonot, and Kenji Tsumura packed Husk into Rally decks to combine with Grim Haruspex to create formidable draw engines.
Speaking of Limited, no card did more work in 40-cards than Topan Freeblade. The top two archetypes on the weekend were red-white and white-blue, and Topan Freeblade was the white common everyone wanted on their side. Renown sped up the format and virtually ensured that successful players had to interact with the red zone on turn two, and Topan Freeblade was the primary culprit. Able to grow to 3/3 if an opponent faltered, Topan Freeblade would dominate combat early on, and still prove a reasonable threat later on. If white was the best color to draft (and it was), Topan Freeblade was a big part of the reason.
The powerhouse artifact from Magic Origins, Hangarback Walker, likely deserved a spot on this list because of its impact on Limited alone. But because of the wild success of Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact, it's a Constructed standout as well.
Both Stephen Berrios along with finalist and 2014-15 Player of the Year Mike Sigrist played the full four copies of the Walker their contrasting Top 8 Blue-Red builds. And in each version, the Hangarback Walker takes on a heavy load.
Hangarback is one of the few cards in the deck that help it transition from the early to the mid-game, and the mid-to-late game. It's a chump blocker that makes more blockers; it's an attacker that makes more attackers; and it's an attacker that leaves back blockers. It does it all, really. And when that versatile stage-straddling card combines with say, Ensoul Artifact—a card that makes 5/5 hasty fliers as early as turn two—it's the makings of a deck that can do everything.
We all knew Hangarback was a Limited all-star, but apparently we weren't giving it enough credit.
Abbot of Keral Keep/Exquisite Firecraft
Magic Origins has a little something for everyone, but when the set hit shelves, red mages around the world sensed that the Mountains were seething with unexpected power. Abbot of Keral Keep and Exquisite Firecraft were tools that clearly looked capable of pushing red decks to the next level. The pros came to Pro Tour Magic Origins expecting mono-red decks to be a factor, but might have underestimated it.
It would be easy to gloss over Exquisite Firecraft in a first pass over the set. It's a very straightforward card. The card is 4 damage for three mana, and it's sometimes uncounterable. The thing is, when you're interested in going to the face, four is a LOT of damage, and now red decks had access to an eight-pack alongside Stoke the Flames. It was even given the stamp of approval by our plane's incarnation of Chandra Nalaar, Patrick Sullivan.
The Abbot of Keral Keep is more viscerally exciting. It's a prowess body that battles well. In a deck with nineteen one-mana spells, you can reasonably expect a free card as early as turn three. If you've failed to draw your third land, it either serves it up or gets you one card closer. It plays perfectly into a strategy of spending your early turns asserting yourself on the board and then finishing things off with burn.
Many players picked up on these upgrades to a deck that won the previous Pro Tour, and it ended up being the second-most played deck on Day Two of the Pro Tour.
And it was this pair, four of each, that pushed Joel Larsson to his first Pro Tour championship title. For those and many other fiery reasons, we hereby dub Abbot of Keral Keep and Exquisite Firecraft as the cards of Pro Tour Magic Origins.