A Modern Grand Prix, a (lack of a) banned list update, and information on PAX West! It’s the run up to the Magic World Championships in this week’s news brief!

Banned and Restricted List Update

Monday, August 20th, was the most recent chance for Wizards of the Coast to update the Banned and Restricted list in the various formats of Magic. This time around, no action was taken. With Standard rotation just around the corner the lack of movement in that format makes sense. In Modern, a lot of the talk centered around Krark-Clan Ironworks combo and folks opined on potentially banning either Ancient Stirrings or the eponymous artifact. Other discussions focused on Faithless Looting as a potential target for the ban hammer. The hammer stayed in the toolbox this week and we will have to wait until October 1, 2018 to see whether it will come out swinging.

PAX West

After a blowout at PAX West two years ago for Kaladesh, Wizards’ presence last year was quiet in comparison. That will change next week as the folks that make Magic return to PAX West in earnest between August 31 and September 3. Josh Lee Kwai (of the Command Zone podcast) will host a panel on September 1st at 6:30 pm. All weekend there will be a learn-to-play booth and cosplayer TappyToeClaws will be there in full regalia, including a potential sneak peak at a Guilds of Ravnica character.

When Magic rolled into PAX West last time around there was a parade and a showcase of the first Vehicles and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. While the spectacle may not be as grand in 2018, it is safe to say that some new and exciting elements of Magic are going to be revealed in Seattle.

Grand Prix Prague

After back-to-back wins for red decks in Standard at Grand Prix last week, the circuit traveled to Prague and the format switched to Modern. Just under 2,000 players came to game in the Czech Republic. With no bans lingering over the format like a guillotine, players were able to pilot the deck of their choice with no fear of losing a key piece in the immediate future.

Krark-Clan Ironworks did make the Top 8 in two decks, but it was another one-mana green card that made the biggest waves. Hardened Scales Affinity in the hands of Lauri Pispa down the tournament. The deck uses Hardened Scales alongside cards like Arcbound Worker and Steel Overseer to generate an obscene amount of counters. Pispa took it another step further and added Animation Module, which generates Servos each time counters are placed on a creature. Combine the tokens with Arcbound Ravager and things could get out of hand quickly, as evidenced in his final game against Ondrej Strasky in the semifinals where Pispa was able to deal 19 damage in a single turn thanks to a plethora of +1/+1 counters on Arcbound Ravager and subsequently Walking Ballista.

Hardened Scales

Strasky made the Top 8 but was calling this his farewell tour as the Czech Pro is putting Magic on the backburner for the time being. Other players used Grand Prix Prague as their stepping stone to the next Pro Club Status level. With only four events left (the Grand Prix in Richmond next week hosts two tournaments), the chances to level up are drawing to a close. Congratulations to Immanuel Gerschenson and Aleksa Telarov on locking in Gold and to Piotr Glogowski for achieving Platinum status!

Looking Forward

Next week hosts a Legacy and Standard Grand Prix in Richmond. The race for Player of the Year remains unchanged as Luis Salvatto failed to pick up any points in Prague. Seth Manfield has a one point lead on Reid Duke, who in turn has a one point lead on Salvatto. All eyes will be on Virginia next week, especially since Duke will be featured on coverage every round of the Legacy event. The heat is on and we could all be in for an exciting finish to the Player of the Year contest!