Thoughts on Pro Tour Atlanta/Regionals

This past weekend saw some pretty dominating performances from a new archetype in modern. The early results are pretty scary and it’s possible that the format is in trouble.

Many people expected Pro Tour Atlanta to have a ton of highly aggressive modern decks show up, and that the best decks going in would be Infect and Affinity due to their ability to win very quickly. Turns out that people were only half correct here, as a new aggro deck reared it’s head: Eldrazi Aggro.

Blue-Red Eldrazi

Creatures (33)
Drowner of Hope
Eldrazi Mimic
Eldrazi Obligator
Eldrazi Skyspawner
Endless One
Reality Smasher
Ruination Guide
Thought-Knot Seer
Vile Aggregate

Spells (3)
Dismember
Lands (24)
Cavern of Souls
Eldrazi Temple
Eye of Ugin
Gemstone Caverns
Island
Scalding Tarn
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents

Sideboard (15)
Chalice of the Void
Gut Shot
Hurkyl’s Recall
Ratchet Bomb
Relic of Progenitus
Spellskite
Stubborn Denial
Tomb of the Spirit Dragon

Colorless Eldrazi

Creatures (26)
Eldrazi Mimic
Endless One
Matter Reshaper
Reality Smasher
Simian Spirit Guide
Spellskite
Thought-Knot Seer

Spells (10)
Chalice of the Void
Dismember
Ratchet Bomb
Lands (24)
Blinkmoth Nexus
Eldrazi Temple
Eye of Ugin
Ghost Quarter
Mutavault
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Wastes

Sideboard (15)
Gut Shot
Oblivion Sower
Pithing Needle
Ratchet Bomb
Relic of Progenitus
Spellskite
Warping Wail

These decks are able to power out a swarm of small creatures primarily through abusing Eye of Ugin. Even past that point they are still able to play very powerful cards as early as turn 2 or 3. Turn 2 Thought-Knot Seer is hard to deal with. Getting rid of a SSG to instead cast a Reality Smasher turn 2 is even worse. Then there are the busted hands that go something like this:

Turn 1: Eye of Ugin, 3 Eldrazi Mimic
Turn 2: Eldrazi Temple, exile Simian Spirit Guide, Reality Smasher, swing 20

Yes this is an aggro deck that can nut draw kill on turn 2, while also having the flood protection of tutoring a creature every other turn (not to mention that a bunch of the lands also happen to be creatures when needed).

Why It’s a Problem

The new Eldrazi aggro decks, while broken up into a few different builds, dominated the Pro Tour. Some of the decks boasted a 90+% win rate in modern on their way to the top 8. Pros have described it as feeling like a legacy deck playing in modern. Since the “discovery” of these builds MTGO has had them everywhere, with multiple versions hitting 5-0 in leagues very quickly. The deck is quickly becoming a (the?) dominant force in modern. While I do not believe an emergency ban is necessarily the best thing to do, I would not be surprised to see a targeted ban at this deck in April when Shadows over Innistrad comes out. In the meantime we have multiple modern events, between SCG Opens and the first weekend in March (with 3 modern GPs held worldwide), where we can hope to see these decks be proven safer than they at first appear.

So what’s the likely ban? Eye of Ugin, without a doubt, is the offender here. Eldrazi Temple allows you to play one of your creatures a turn early, but that’s generally not a big deal. Eldrazi midrange decks have been a thing for a few months now using both lands, and even with the release of the new cards they seemed totally fine until the above lists dominated. The biggest reason Eye is such an offensive card is because it “produces” more mana than any other land in modern, and can do it at every point of the game. Depending on your hand you can conceivably get 6+ mana out of it on turn 1. 4 mana on turn 2 to play double Matter Reshaper (with the help of Eldrazi Temple) is also a thing I’ve seen in testing.

If the format can’t adjust to this, which I personally find not super likely, I would not get too attached to this deck.

In Happier News

This past weekend also saw SCG Regionals happening around the country, with a lot of spicy deck lists. Here are links to a few of the ones that really caught my eye.

There may even be more hidden gems out there among the top 8s from Regionals. Maybe half of them don’t have lists posted yet as of the time of this writing.

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.