#24 — It’s great how BFZ & OGW have a combined impact on Modern.
I obviously can’t speak for anyone else here, but personally, I really like how the combination of Eldrazi lands from the original Zendikar block and aggressively-costed Eldrazi creatures from BFZ and OGW makes for a (very, very) strong deck in Modern without breaking their respective Standard formats.
Even though it took five years for the deck to come together, this gives me hope that Modern won’t become too stale in the future, at least not due to a lack of fresh strategies. That’s a great thing, and I wonder which old cards will be broken in half next.
#25 — Modern is bad as a rotating format.
I never really wanted to talk about this, but I dislike that Twin is banned in Modern. It really seems to me that Wizards tries to rotate cards in and out of Modern via banlist management. I’m not a fan. When I first talked about Modern a few weeks back, I said that I like stability in the format. That is still true. But seeing the same matchups being played time and again is quite boring. I’d like to see a more focused format that gets some new toys every now and then.
PTOGW was a great example of how to bring new decks into the format. But it would have been interesting to see the Eldrazi compete in the old format. If not for the Eldrazi decks, this probably would have been the most boring Modern Pro Tour of all time. Despite a ban that was supposed to facilitate format diversity, there were barely any new decks. If anything, Modern is too wide of a format — outside of proactive, linear decks, it’s very hard to build something that is reasonable against the big range of decks you have to expect to face in Modern. And if you have a new linear deck, that only makes the format even worse.
I think the best way to rotate strategies out of Modern is by making them obsolete. PTOGW likely accomplished that through the Eldrazi, but it also failed miserably with the Twin ban.
#26 — The Eldrazi deck is completely different now.
This is really only a note I took during the early rounds of the Pro Tour. It’s fairly obvious now, but before the Pro Tour, the Eldrazi decks were all slow and interactive with a focus on processing. These new decks have pretty much nothing in common with those decks, except for the use of Eldrazi lands.
#27 — Breaking it for a tournament doesn’t mean the format is broken.
With six Eldrazi decks in the top eight of the Pro Tour, I have seen many players express their lack of faith in the health of the format. I’m not sure how broken the format actually is now, but it’s definitely worth pointing out that a deck can be ridiculously broken for one tournament while being quite beatable in general.
If I remember correctly, LSV also mentioned this on stream, pointing out that while PT Berlin (the one he won with Elves) also had six copies of Elves in the top eight, Elves did not go on to dominate the format afterwards.
In general, whenever you play a linear deck that other players are not prepared for, you will be heavily favoured, given that your deck has a strong proactive gameplan. But when you give people the opportunity to react to that deck, they are usually able to beat it. That is very much the story of Modern, which is often about picking the linear deck people are least prepared for.
#28 — Pro Tour was great for deckbuilding, but not for playing.
#PTOGW was probably the most exciting Pro Tour for me to watch since Worlds 2011. I like seeing teams break tournament metagames, and there was definitely no shortage of broken decks this weekend. On the flip side, the new Eldrazi decks were so powerful and really just unusual that few games came down to interesting decisions; often players would just jam whatever they drew. To be honest though, that didn’t matter much to me. It was great to see other skills than making good decisions in-game being rewarded.
#29 — Sometimes things are completely unnecessary but make for great coverage moments.
#30 — Good to watch doesn’t equal good to play.
Another thing that made this Pro Tour great to watch (for me) was the swingy nature of many of the games. There were some crazy topdecks that completely turned around boardstates. There were games where one player put on heavy pressure during the early turns and their opponent was just decimated. These games were exciting to watch.
But if we’re being honest, they are not the kind of games I like playing, and I had the impression many players in the Pro Tour felt the same. As a viewer, I like to see big swings, but as a player, I prefer making decisions that matter.
#31 — Chrome Mox, Simian Spirit Guide and the like are underplayed.
This has been on my mind for a while, but seeing Simian Spirit Guide and Gemstone Caverns at the Pro Tour made it clear for me. Players are quite reluctant to put Chrome Mox in their Legacy Storm decks because it costs them a card, but default to playing first whenever they have the choice. Guess what? That also costs you a card.
Players constantly try to jam mana dorks into their decks (for good reason), but why are we not building more decks that try to reverse or amplify the effects of playing first? When I play Living End in Modern, I always get excited to Fulminator Mage my opponents on turn two. I also like cycling an extra creature before casting Living End. Shouldn’t casting an extra cantrip feel similarly great? I honestly think it should.