I had a terrible week. It all started on Wednesday when I was teasing my roommates for being sick all time while I never got ill. Karma was swift to strike and I woke up on the next day with a sore throat and runny nose. What followed was the worst flu I've had in a while. I was bedridden. I couldn't even play Magic Online because I got an incredible migraine if I played more than 2 games.

Luckily, coverage of GP Vancouver began and I finally had something to do. Credit where credit is due—the coverage was fantastic. Nowadays, I don't get to watch GP coverage that often because I'm mostly playing in them, so I was blown away by how good it was. Marshall and Paul are a great casting pair and I absolutely loved the segment with the pros by Rich Hagon. I'm looking forward to watching more in the future.

Now let's talk Modern. Two GPs went down on the weekend, and both were dominated by one deck. In Brisbane it was Dredge, piloted by Lee Shi Tian and Zen Takahashi—they both finished in the Top 8. They had a combined record of 23-3, which is impressive. Here is the deck list Zen played, losing only in the finals to one of my favorite decks: Lantern Control.

Dredge

Halfway across the world in Vancouver, there was also one deck that stood above the rest. It was a Death's Shadow deck that was supposed to have gotten worse after the banning of Gitaxian Probe. It turns out that by changing just a couple of cards, a new beast was created. Here's the list Josh Utter-Leyton took to first place:

Death's Shadow

Now I believe both of these deck are great, but I'm not here to talk about them. Instead, I'm here to talk about my favorite deck, Merfolk.

Merfolk and I go way back. Merfolk was the deck I used to qualify for PT Hawaii in 2014. It was the deck I played at my first Worlds. It's the deck I played at basically every Modern GP I ever attended. When it came to Worlds last year, a bunch of my fellow competitors were joking that they would put Merfolk Assassin in their sideboard just to crush me. Well, the joke's on them because that was one of the few tournaments I played something else. But now I'm back on the Merfolk train and baby does it feel good.

Jonathon Zaczek a.k.a. Nikachu a.k.a. The Merfolk Extraordinaire finished 2nd in Vancouver, which made me very happy. Coming into this weekend, I was afraid Fish wouldn't be as well positioned as it was. With Aether Revolt, a bunch of new cool combo cards were printed, like Sram, Senior Edificer, Baral, Chief of Compliance and the Expertise cycle, and I don't really like the combo matchups as they're mostly draw dependent. Still, Merfolk prevailed, and Jonathon finished strong with this deck list.

What a beautiful list! It feels like Jonathon tried to build this with the combo metagame in mind. You have the classic 4-ofs that you have to play in every Merfolk deck list, of course—Vials, 2-mana Lords, Silvergill, Spreading Seas, Cursecatcher and Master of Waves. You round out the creature base with 3 extra Lords in Merrow Reejerey, and 3 Harbinger of Tides and 1 Tidebinder Mage as your anti-creature package.

Now, where it gets interesting is in the 2 copies of Vendilion Clique, which you don't see in Merfolk very often, but makes a lot of sense when you see the number of combo cards being printed. Jonathon uses 3 Dismember as his only removal, omitting the previously popular Vapor Snag. I have always been a fan of this as I prefer the permanent answer.

What I love most about this deck list is the sideboard, because it's not messing around. You have the extra Tidebinders against Burn and green creature decks, and Relic for Tarmogoyf and graveyard decks. He has the full 4 Unified Will, which I like in a combo metagame. The same goes for Dispel, which I felt was one of the best counterspells to play in Merfolk. Rounding it all out are 4 copies of Tectonic Edge, which shines against all the heavy mana decks like Tron and Scapeshift.

I also like that Jonathon completely removed any Hurkyl's Recalls from his sideboard. Affinity is not going to be a great matchup even if you include it, so it's better not to waste your slots. Plus, Magic is so random that you can win against it anyway, as Jonathon proved by beating Jon Stern in the quarterfinals.

As for changes moving forward, I could see myself adding more Relics to the sideboard as a way to battle Dredge. I would also probably go up to 4 Harbingers in my 75, as it's one of the best cards against Death's Shadow. Other than that, I really like what Jonathon has done with the deck, and I'm not surprised he finished well.

Sideboard Guide

Modern is such a wide open format that I can't possibly cover all the decks, so I decided to take the 10 most popular decks on MTGGoldfish and create a sideboard guide for each. As always, these are not set in stone, and you should be prepared to adapt.

Affinity

Out

In

Like I said, this is your worst matchup. Just close your eyes, draw the best hand possible and hope they stumble. This strategy has worked well for me in the past.

Eldrazi Tron

Out

In

This is a new deck, but it is popular online and I believe our deck is well suited to beat it. They don't have much removal, they're slow, and all their creatures get killed by Dismember. Just be careful not to get blown out by All is Dust, and you should be good to go.

Death's Shadow

Out

In

Very close matchup. The games can play out in many ways. Your best card is Harbinger of the Tides as it stops their Death's Shadow, and one turn is usually all you need to race them.

Abzan/Jund

Out

In

I believe this matchup is positive overall, but it takes practice. It's mostly about attrition as your deck plays fewer lands, so they should run out of gas sooner than you do.

Bant Eldrazi

Out

In

On the play, you can also take out some Vials instead of Cursecatcher.

Burn

Out

In

This is a race where the game often depends on the last turn where you have to counter their final burn spell. I like this matchup unless they start with multiple creatures, which can be problematic.

TitanShift

Out

In

Tidebinder Mage isn't great, but it's better than Harbinger as it can answer Obstinate Baloth and stop Sakura from chump-blocking.

Tron

Out

In

When I started playing Merfolk, I thought this was going to be a great matchup as you have Spreading Seas to disrupt Tron. It turns out that it's tougher than I thought—Oblivion Stone is really good against you.

Grixis

Out

In

You can also side out Spreading Seas if you want to keep your threat count high, but I like it as it can mess up their mana base, which isn't perfect.

That's it from me for this week. I love Merfolk and it always warms up my heart to see it finish well. It definitely made my sick week a lot better. I am healthy now and can't wait to play more Magic.