Welcome to another installment of the Showdown Recap, where we take a look at the results of events run by Face to Face Games Toronto last weekend! We’ve got another special double recap for you this week, with a Facetofacegames.com North Bay Modern Open alongside a Standard Sunday Showdown back home in Toronto. Let’s get started!
Saturday brought the Facetofacegames.com Tournament Series road trip to North Bay, Ontario, where a solid 62 players showed up to play a Modern Open. There have been rumours of the format being solved as of late, with Death’s Shadow variants being heralded as the alpha and the omega of the format. Not only was that card absent from this top 8, some other staples of the format didn’t make an appearance at the top tables: no Jund or Abzan, and no blue-based control decks. In fact, all decks in the single-elimination point of the tournament are different more-or-less linear strategies.
Jeffrey Braid took down the event with a new build of an aggressive Reckless Bushwhacker Zoodeck, featuring a bunch of Aether Revolt cards with the Revolt mechanic. Kird Ape might be a powerful 2/3 for R, but how about a 2/3 deathtouch for G? Narnam Renegade is ahead of the curve, but the deck’s real strength lies in its ability to chain an absurd number of Hidden Herbalists and Burning-Tree Emissary into a Reckless Bushwhacker with Atarka’s Command as backup. The sheer amount of damage this deck can put out, thanks to fetchland-fueled Revolt cards, is completely absurd. This lightning-fast strategy was, unsurprisingly, able to take down Emerson Stillar’s Titan Shift deck in the finals, a powerful, yet slow and lumbering, combo deck.
The semifinalists, Ken Rydzik and Brendan Jarrett, brought Lantern Control and RG Tron respectively, two powerful decks that make up the diverse top tier of Modern strategies – but mostly bring out the worst in people. You haven’t played Lantern until your opponent rants about how it’s everything wrong with the game, and there isn’t a Jund player in the universe who hasn’t gone off about “Tron Guys” before. I hope they amassed some quality tilted opponent stories over the course of the day!
I’ve been saying for a while that Ad Nauseam is the premier combo deck of the format. It’s fairly fast, it’s surprisingly resilient, and it’s able to win certain matches disturbingly easily thanks to the power of Angel’s Grace. It should be no surprise, then, that Shawn Seguin put up a quarterfinals finish with the deck. He was able to prey on the lack of Thoughtseize decks to power through the field of slower, less interactive linear strategies. Chris Edmunds also made a deep run with the perenially-powerful Bant Eldrazi, featuring a maindeck Thragtusk. If you thought it was good with Restoration Angel, imagine Eldrazi Displacer!
Our last two decks are probably the most interesting. Collected Company hasn’t had the same impact on Modern as it did on Standard, of course, but every once in a while, we see a few non-Melira decks take up the card, typically to mixed results. Erik Duhamel used the card as a powerful midrange engine in a big Zoo deck, featuring Knight of the Reliquary and Renegade Rallier alongside the smaller Wild Nacatl. His sideboard featured a plethora of Modern’s best Collected Company targets, from Kataki, War’s Wage to Kor Firewalker. Take note of this deck – a resilient creature midrange strategy!
Last, but not least, is Al Gauthier’s UW Merfolk deck. Traditionally, the deck might play a few cards like Wanderwine Hub to play around Boil or Choke, but Al took full advantage of the many “free” white-splash lands available to him to add Path to Exile to his deck, a notable upgrade to the stock Vapor Snag in a world where Death’s Shadow is king. Between that, Spreading Seas, and Harbinger of the Tides, it’s quite possible that Merfolk has the weapons necessary to fight back against Modern’s public enemy #1!
Thanks again to everybody who came out, and congratulations to all our top finishers! Stick around for the Standard Showdown after the decklists.
Facetofacegames.com North Bay 1.5k Modern Open Top 8
Jeffrey Braid – Revolt Zoo – 1st
Emerson Stillar – Titan Shift – 2nd
Ken Rydzik – Lantern Control – 3rd
Brendan Jarrett – RG Tron – 4th
Shawn Seguin – Ad Nauseam – 5th
Chris Edmunds – Bant Eldrazi – 6th
Erik Duhamel – Naya Company – 7th
Al Gauthier – Merfolk – 8th
Mardu is the best deck in Standard! Nothing else can compete! It’s a one-deck format! Wrong. There are, in fact, three decks – and there’s plenty of deckbuilding decisions to be made within these archetypes! We’ll start with the lone outlier – Shawn Dhaliwal, with Jund Energy, who made it to the finals. There are tons of variations to Winding Constrictor decks – look at last week’s recap for the full lowdown. Shawn’s deck is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best by a significant margin. It’s relentlessly aggressive, which is essential for the deck to be able to beat Saheeli Rai strategies, and gets to play Unlicensed Disintegration effectively, by far the best removal spell and aggro card in the format. When this deck wins the dice roll and draws well, you can bet almost anything on it winning.
Next, we have 4-colour Saheeli Rai variants, which presented a massive flavour fail by putting five copies in the top 8 without adding any black cards to the deck. Here we have the same two major archetypes as I went over last week – except the Delirium builds are adding a single copy of Verdurous Gearhulk to help punch through the board stalls that the mirror match can create.
Last, but certainly not least, we have ourselves two variants of Mardu Vehicles decks. First off, we have Former Pro Tour Competitor Ryan Sandrin with the Walking Ballista variant of this deck. It’s gained popularity over the Veteran Motorist version of the deck over the course of the format thanks to its consistent reliability and improved 4-colour Saheeli matchup, but mostly due to its immense power with the unbelievable Archangel Avacyn. Grasp of Darkness was one of the premier removal spells in the format for quite a while, and Avacyn is generally poor against Black-Green decks. With those mostly out of the picture, however, she’s back and ready to rumble, and is by far the most impactful card in the two most prevalent matchups – the mirror and 4-colour. Avacyn’s power is multiplied by Walking Ballista, which allows you to flip her on a whim. You don’t usually lose the game after flipping Avacyn. Ryan’s list is extremely good and I strongly recommend it going forward.
I can’t just gloss over Liam Kane’s list, however, as he won the whole event, much to the chagrin of our deposed king, Chris Ha, who I convinced to drive me to a PPTQ on Sunday over playing this event. Liam’s list is a more traditional one, playing Veteran Motorist and Shock for a more red-centric deck. This has some upsides. Chandra, Torch of Defiance is objectively stronger than Nahiri, the Harbinger, and Shock is significantly better than Fatal Push against the popular 4-colour deck. Overall, I can’t get behind this, and much prefer the strict adherence to the church of Archangel Avacyn, but Liam proved that it’s nothing to be ignored! His win pushes him back to where he belongs at first place in the standings, while Shawn’s finals appearance gives him enough points to qualify for the Ultimate Showdown!
For the first time in three weeks, we’ve only got one major event this weekend – a Legacy Showdown which is a Grand Prix Trial for Vegas! Get your byes and Planeswalker Points! See you there!
Standard Sunday Showdown
Liam Kane – Mardu Vehicles – 1st
Shawn Dhaliwal – Jund Energy – 2nd
Eric Li – 4-colour Saheeli – 3rd
Ryan Sandrin – Mardu Ballista – 4th
Pasha Meshkati – 4-colour Saheeli – 5th
Sean Burke – 4-colour Delirium – 6th
Brad Burden – 4-colour Saheeli – 7th
Phil Bickle – 4-colour Delirium – 8th