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1 Last Week: 1

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Arguably the most oppressive single card in the format, Gideon might decide more games than the Copycat combo. Any card with flying or that can deal damage past blockers like Skysovereign, Consul Flagship automatically gets a buff. Archangel Avacyn has also been the bane of many a planeswalker. These cards are necessitated by one presence. There’s not much else to say about Gideon that hasn’t already been said.
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2 Last Week: 2

Walking Ballista

With Ballista being adopted into 4c Saheeli, the metagame has come full circle. Ballista isn’t a particularly strong card. It just has the distinction of being a playable 2-drop that also provides utility. In Ben Friedman’s list, it helps provide delirium and another play on the draw in the mirror. Being a respectable card in every matchup you’re likely to see makes it an easy, if boring, inclusion.
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3 Last Week: 3

Saheeli Rai

After a successful last week, 4c Saheeli failed to take the title at both Shizuoka and Porto Alegre this weekend. Jeskai Saheeli is effectively dead at this point, but there’s no agreed-upon best iteration of the 4c Shaeeli build. Moving forward, Chandra, more controlling elements, Bristling Hydra, or delirium will be the key decisions for many players.
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4 Last Week: N/A

Archangel Avacyn

It turns out that U/W Flash wasn’t the only deck that liked having a large flash finisher. Both Mardu and some Saheeli sideboard plans have turned to Avacyn to provide a self-contained threat. Not only does she pressure planeswalkers better than nearly anything else in the format, she can dominate a game by herself if she’s allowed to flip. As Mardu adopts a more midrange role, expect to see more of her.
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5 Last Week: 7

Oath of Nissa

Perhaps we underrated this card. Not only does it give green the best filter spell in the format, it helps allow these 19-20 land decks to cast a variety of planeswalkers on-curve. Playing multiples has no drawback and potentially even upside if you plan on casting Traverse the Ulvenwald. This is quietly one of the best cards printed in Oath of the Gatewatch.
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6 Last Week: N/A

Dynavolt Tower

Credit where credit is due. People had some fun memes about the two-deck format and many writers have come around to that state of the format. But just because the optimal plan may be Mardu or Saheeli doesn’t mean you can't win with a different deck. Victor Fernando Silva took down a Grand Prix jamming a playset of Dynavolt Tower and beat the top decks plenty of times along the way.
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7 Last Week: N/A

Chandra, Torch of Defiance

While the red Gideon doesn’t get quite as much love, Chandra has made her mark on the format after a disappointing start. She’s one of the better card advantage avenues in Saheeli and provides a strong turn-4 play for the deck. While she won’t win a straight fight against Gideon, in Mardu she acts as a 1-2 punch with Gideon combining his blockers with her removal.
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8 Last Week: N/A

Winding Constrictor

Both Jund Energy and B/G Energy have had blips of success in a format dominated by the big two. Fatal Push slowly creeping back into sideboards instead of main decks also increases the chance of your Constrictor living long enough to create value. Jund Energy in particular showcases how close the Constrictor/Ballista/Greenbelt Rampager package is to regaining its intended role in the metagame. Perhaps the addition of one more great removal spell in Unlicensed Disintegration will keep the Snake showing up in Top 8s.
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Rankings Updated:  March 20, 2017
1 Last Week: N/A

Become Immense

Delve was about as big a mistake as storm, and we’ve seen the continued fallout of Khans in the format. Infect is the best deck in Modern and decks like Death's Shadow Aggro have taken full advantage of having a green +6/+6. There’s just too much power at such a low cost, and even when players focus on keeping these broken decks in check, they continue to overperform.
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2 Last Week: N/A

Cathartic Reunion

See the above. Dredge is not, and will never be, a fair deck. It sometimes ends up unplayable, which it was for awhile after the DCI unbanned Golgari Grave-Troll, but it all came crashing down after Prized Amalgam and Reunion were printed. Dredge joins Affinity deck as the sideboard check for Modern—you either have the proper hate to win or you hope their deck collapses and you can steal a game. Nobody would miss this deck.
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3 Last Week: 4

Noble Hierarch

Noble Hierarch has been a staple of Modern for such a long time that it’s finally overtaken stalwarts such as Tarmogoyf and Spellskite for the most played creature in the format. Infect and Bant Eldrazi have continued to put up strong showings and will keep the stock of mana dorks high. Formerly the staple of bad fair decks, Hierarch has now joined the ranks of decks that actually win tournaments.
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4 Last Week: N/A

Monastery Swiftspear

Burn has always been solid, but Naya Burn has slowly become the de facto "fair" aggro/combo of the format. It turns out when you play cards like Swiftspear and Wild Nacatl that Wizards is okay with winning on turn 3 now and then. We’ve finally hit the point where every deck outside of grindy midrange tries to win on turn 4 or earlier. Swiftspear is one of the most popular cards in Modern simply because of how many Burn players there are.
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5 Last Week: N/A

Inquisition of Kozilek

This card is still the best disruption spell available in the format and part of the reason for the format's shape. Inquisition is a great way for fair decks to stay in the game and one of the only reasons Jund is viable. But the number of viable black decks continues to decrease and so this powerful card may soon be without a home. At least it can always be sideboarded in Death's Shadow Aggro.
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6 Last Week: N/A

Inkmoth Nexus

This card is a staple of Affinity and Infect, and one of the few cards that could be removed from the format that would damage both decks without killing them outright. It's one of the primary reasons why mass removal isn’t a catch-all and gives the decks even more play. Nexus’s popularity is the reason why Ghost Quarter is the second most played utility land.
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7 Last Week: N/A

Ancient Stirrings

A 1-mana filter spell that lets you see more cards than Preordain or Ponder ever did. If this card were blue it would’ve already been banned, but instead it continues to get a pass despite being a better card in green decks. The dearth of disruption in the current metagame reinforces just how good Stirrings is for the consistency of Tron and Eldrazi.
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8 Last Week: N/A

Thought-Knot Seer

Bant Eldrazi is one of the most played top decks in Modern if you take the Magic Online results alongside the recent big Modern tournaments. One reason for this is being able to play defensive-oriented cards while not disrupting your natural clock. In essence, Eldrazi is one turn slower than all of the unfair aggressive or aggro/combo hybrids, but in exchange you retain some of the best sideboard hate against Infect, Dredge, and Affinity, and game 1 disruption via Thought-Knot Seer and Spellskite.
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Rankings Updated:  November 15, 2016
1 Last Week: N/A

Abrupt Decay

Going into Grand Prix Seattle, Counterbalance was the card to beat. Well—what beats Counterbalance? Abrupt Decay is the natural answer, and buoyed BUG Shardless and BUG Delver to the top tables. On top of that, the very nature of the format that made Counterbalance such a dominant force—an environment filled with 1- and 2-mana spells—made Abrupt Decay the ideal answer to almost anything an opponent could throw at you.
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2 Last Week: N/A

Thespian's Stage

No, this card doesn’t power the Lands deck. But the combo with Dark Depths leveled Lands up from tier 3 to tier 1 singlehandedly. If you want to beat Lands, you play combo. End of story, right? Well, not so fast—literally. Mulligan a hand, miss a spell for a turn, and you might just find yourself on the wrong end of a 20/20 Marit Lage token. Aside from providing a grade-A kill condition, the Stage offers a kind of utility that gives you those small edges against, say, an unsuspecting opponent who might Wasteland you when you have a Forest in play to copy, that add to your win percentage every time you shuffle up against a new opponent.
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3 Last Week: N/A

Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration

On Day 2, coverage broke down the metagame by archetype. Then, they showed another graphic that combined all of the Delver variants into a single grouping—that was far and away the most represented Day 2 archetype. Sure, maybe the usefulness of that analysis is limited—RUG Delver plays nothing like BUG Delver—but it illustrates one point very clearly: a 1-mana blue creature is the best threat in the format.
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4 Last Week: N/A

Brainstorm

Oh how far the mighty have fallen! Yes, there were 28 copies of the card in the Top 8 of GP Seattle. But you know what? That’s 4 fewer copies than anyone would have predicted, and 4 fewer copies than anyone would have told you the winning deck would contain at the conclusion of the tournament.
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5 Last Week: N/A

Deathrite Shaman

It was just BUG’s weekend, and a big part of that success was a mana Elf that was too strong for Modern. Legacy’s all about finding small advantages or building toward a single huge play, and Deathrite comes packed full of different ways to develop those advantages or hamstring that big play—Liliana on turn 2, exile a Life from the Loam or Griselbrand, shrink an opposing ‘Goyf. When good card advantage is hard to find, Deathrite Shaman gives you an irreplaceable tool.
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6 Last Week: N/A

Reanimate

After once looming so large that Mystical Tutor had to be banned, Reanimator retreated to the shadows for a few years only to come roaring back this weekend. With a clock that makes even ANT players uneasy, access to hand disruption and counterspells, and, most importantly, a seeming absence of dedicated graveyard hate from most of the field, Reanimator is back in the spotlight with a Top 8 appearance in the hands of Chase Hansen.
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7 Last Week: N/A

Counterbalance

On one hand, Miracles took a beating this weekend. Ask anyone before GP Seattle which deck would put multiple copies into the Top 8 and they’d all give you the same answer. The former top dog could only muster a single slot, and Brian Demars’s version exited the semifinals in one of the fastest matches we’ve ever seen on camera. On the other hand, Counterbalance warped the format so much that Abrupt Decay reached our #1 spot. Despite taking everyone’s best shot, it still put up results, and for that Counterbalance hangs on to a position in the rankings.
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8 Last Week: N/A
No one saw this coming. Aluren gives you a BUG Shardless deck with a combo kill, and Martin Goldman-Kirst inspired a lot of brewers to keep working on their Legacy concoctions. If Aluren can make the Top 8 of a 2,000 player premier-level event, why not Painter’s Servant/Grindstone? Or Leyline/Helm? Or something we have yet to see? The format still has that wild west flavor, and Aluren showed us just how much fun that can be to watch.
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Rankings Updated:  11/12/2015

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