The World Championships took place last weekend and boy was it exciting! 24 of the best players in the world played 14 rounds over 4 total formats. For this article, I’m going to focus on the Modern metagame. Players selected stock versions of known decks mostly, but there were still quite a few surprises both in the decks selected and even a couple of brand new archetypes that I’m excited to see potentially catch on! I expect these decks to have a big influence on next weekend’s World Magic Cup Qualifier.
The metagame was surprising, to say the least:
4 Living End
3 Twin (1 Grixis, 1 UR, 1 RUG)
2 BW Tokens
2 GBx (1 Jund 1 Abzan)
1 UR Pyromancer Control
1 UW Control
Interestingly two “teams” decided to bring Affinity to the tournament and were rewarded with some solid finishes. Jacob Wilson and Michael Sigrist had unfortunate 0-4 and 1-3 records, but the other 4 participants all went 3-1. Affinity is obviously powerful, but I think at least part of its success had to do with the surprise factor. Only one competitor has ever played Affinity in the 3 prior World Championship events. Going forward, I would steer clear for a little while as I expect the Stony Silences and Shatterstorms to come back in a big way.
Living End was another big surprise but for a different reason than Affinity. No one doubted that Affinity was one of the most powerful decks available to you if you could dodge the hate, but Living End doesn’t have nearly the same tournament pedigree. Team Thommo ended up going exactly 8-8, for a solid but unspectacular showing.
Living End is already somewhat underplayed, and I would expect a slight uptick going forward. I think they picked the deck as a metagame call hoping to prey on what everyone would assumed would be a very popular deck in Grixis Control. It turns out no one played Grixis, but they still picked up a great matchup in Bogles.
Speaking of Bogles, here’s the first deck that we’ve seen before at the World Championships, last time in the hands of Reid Duke. This deck is fantastic in a metagame of mostly fairer decks, and attacks from an angle that people are sometimes completely unprepared to beat. Of course, the problem with Bogles is that if that angle is cut off, either by speed against decks like Infect and Grishoalbrand, or by disruption from the likes of Living End, you really don’t have a plan B that’s going to get the job done. I think Bogles will be a decent choice going forward, but be wary of a potential uptick in Living End.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Twin decks was that there weren’t more of them. Twin would’ve certainly been my choice had I been qualified for the event. I still feel favored against pretty much every non-BGx deck with Twin if you build it properly. Despite his poor 1-3 record in the event, Antonio del Moral Leon’s classic UR build is the best for an open field, as it gives you the best chance of executing the combo plan in game 1.
Most of the other decks are business-as-usual decks that are fairly typical in an open field like Modern, but we do have 2 brand new decks that I’ve never really seen before.
First up we have Yuuya Watanabe’s very exciting UW Dragonlord Ojutai Control deck that he took to a 3-1 record.
UW Dragonlord Control
This is an old-school style UW Control deck that astonishingly omits Snapcaster Mage in favor of one of my favorite Modern staples, Kitchen Finks! This deck looks to me like it would be well positioned against any fair deck by going big with 2 copies of Dragonlord Ojutai and a Sun Titan, making it very hard to out-midrange you. Note also the adorable combo of Minamo and Ojutai, giving you hexproof at instant speed at a very low cost. I imagine this deck will struggle with degenerate combo decks due to the lack of early non-Spell Snare interaction and a high number of expensive sorceries.
I love the sideboard, and it looks excellent at helping combat some of the possible problems you might encounter in game 1s. Crucible to go with Ghost Quarter is particularly exciting as a long game option for grindy matchups.
I’m curious to see how this deck continues to evolve as more people iterate it over more tournaments. My starting point in preparing for the upcoming World Magic Cup Qualifier will be to try the list unchanged, and if my fears about fast combo are validated, to add some Mana Leaks or perhaps Negate or Remand.
Next up we have Shaun McClaren’s UR Pyromancer Control deck that he piloted to a 2-2 record.
UR Pyromancer Control
It looks like Shaun’s deck would be great against any matchup with small creatures, as it takes advantage of a full 4 Grim Lavamancer and Electrolyze. He also has his deck packed full of counterspells, with seven 2-mana ones and five 1-mana ones, meaning that his combo matchups ought to be pretty good as well. UR decks also get to play some extraordinarily powerful sideboard cards such as Dispel and Blood Moon.
That being said, I’m somewhat worried about how this deck would fare against BGx. It doesn’t have the “go bigger” game plan that Twin usually boards into as there are no Keranoses, and doesn’t have a ton of ways to remove a Tasigur or Tarmogoyf. I think that this deck was probably a metagame call for Shaun, with him banking on Lavamancer being great and midrange decks not showing up in huge numbers. Going forward, I expect this deck to be somewhat similar to Blue Moon decks of old—a consistent metagame player, but not one of the most popular decks in any given event.
Bonus: Top 5 “Techy” Modern Cards from Worlds
5. Sigarda, Host of Herons in Abzan
4. Glen Elendra Archmage in UW Control
Glen Elendra seems awesome as a way to completely shut the door on combo decks and as a big threat to land if your opponent makes the mistake of tapping out in a mirror.
3. Hangarback Walker in Jund
2. Voice of Resurgence in Abzan
This card has seemed well positioned to me for a while, but I haven’t really found a deck that I like it in. One of Abzan’s biggest weaknesses over Jund traditionally has been its lack of 2-drops. It’s a match made in heaven.
1. Ghirapur Aether Grid in Affinity
This is one I feel stupid for not thinking of before, but this card is just perfect against any kind of token strategy or the mirror. It also gets around Stony Silence (although it can be difficult to cast while under its effects).
Thanks for reading! Join me next week when I talk about how I won the ChannelFireball WMCQ in Santa Clara (hopefully).