This week on Decks to Beat:
There were plenty of decks in the Top 8 of Portland and they get broken down one by one. Of special note were:
Chris Botelho’s Grixis Cat Pact Free Kittens!!! is definitely the flavor of the week — even if it is not an ideal Liliana, the Last Hope deck — and you should be aware of EXACTLY how Demonic Pact works before you face off against it at FNM. Is this deck going to follow the trajectory of other combo decks that were initially dismissed as flukes or will it be put down by the metagame in the coming weekends?
Speaking of less-than-ideal Liliana decks, Travis Woo brought a deck packing ELEVEN Planeswalkers, as per the updates suggested to the Pro Tour winning deck by its pilot Lukas Blohon. He also brought the added wrinkle of Oath of Liliana to create an additional layer of protection for the West Coast Gatewatch.
Woo made it all the way to the finals of the GP with his creatureless deck but ran afoul of Robert Santana playing Jund Delirium as inspired by Joel Larsson’s Top 16 deck from Pro Tour Eldritch Moon. The innocuous Pilgrim’s Eye might not be something you want to use a removal spell on for your turn three but after watching it hatch a Distended Mindbender on turn four you will definitely want to consider it.
Another sweet deck to keep an eye on finished in 9th place. It was the Simic Crush deck as played by Cody Lingelbach. GCB playtested quite a bit against this deck in the days leading up to GP Portland and identified some of the structural weaknesses should you find yourself staring down an Octopus this weekend.
Which Bant is best? Pro Tour Hall of Famer Paul Rietzl went with 29 creatures and zero copies of Dromoka’s Command in his main deck while Tanner von Difloe played a more classic version of the deck. Of course, if you want an all-you-can-(b)eat Bant buffet you need to look to Italy where a whopping total of SIX Bant decks made the Top 8 of Grand Prix Rimini, including the winning list. Of special note in these lists was Pro Tour Hall of Famer Shota Yasooka’s inclusion of a copy of Elder Deep-Fiend in both his main deck and sideboard (you can also find a copy lurking in Rietzl’s SB). GCB posits that Elder Deep-Fiend is an (nearly) uncounterable and (sort-of) cheaper alternative to the Subjugator Angel tech that emerged from PT: EMN.
The other deck archetype represented in the Top 8 was Blue-Red Fevered Burn and it underwent a major change with Things in the Ice becoming the long-awaited Stormchaser Mage. Pro Tour Champ Lukas Blohon abandoned his Orzhov creation from the PT and went with completely different 75 cards this past weekend.
At well over an hour and a half of discussion there was not time to dig below the surface of the Rimini Top 8 but they can be found here.
Good luck this weekend with whatever decks you set out to beat! See you all next week.