Great players build great decks. Great players with great decks make Top 8s. In order to make Top 8 on the greatest stage, it takes a unique combination of great play and deck building. It also doesn’t hurt to have some serious innovation in your back pocket! Today, I’m going to rank my 6 favorite pieces of technology featured in the Top 8 decks.
First of all, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out that 5 of the Top 8 decks were delirium and sought to summon Emrakul, the Promised End.
In case you hadn’t heard, Emrakul is Emrakool. In other news…
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” -Red in Standard.
It turns out that Kozilek’s Return is strong in a world where Queen Emrakul rules.
3 Top 8 decks ran the full suite of Kozilek’s Return and played on Sunday. In a world where Bant Company is public enemy #1, “burn ‘em up” is a serious strategy.
Ken Yukuhiro’s take on the metagame in Sydney was a hybridization of RG Ramp and delirium that turbo’d out Emrakul, the Promised End. It turns out that an Emrakul rebuying Kozilek’s Return from the graveyard is devastating. Who would have thought?
Ken Yukuhiro, PT Eldritch Moon
Removal, ramp, hang around, and BAM! Emrakul. The first two pieces of tech I’m looking forward to trying come from Yukuhiro’s RG Ramp.
6. Weaver of Lightning
Hello friend. Were you planning on playing UW Spirits? K thnx, bye.
Weaver of Lightning is not a card aggressive mages are going to like. 4 toughness and reach make the card a formidable blocker. The true value lies in the “ping” effect it generates throughout the game. I’m going to remember Weaver for when Spirits or White Weenie make a push back!
5. Collective Defiance
The most unique cards in Ken’s RG deck were the 4 Collective Defiance. Charms and Commands have taught us the value of cards with a bundle of modes or abilities—add this one to the list of utility Standard cards.
Although it may not even be the best “Collective” card in Standard, it is still a difference maker. Efficient removal is great, but the real strength is the Winds of Change effect tacked onto the card. The ability to interact with the board by killing creatures or planeswalkers while also digging for threats and enabling delirium is a big game.
Escalate is a great mechanic and I love abusing it in a ramp-style deck.
4. Shaman of Forgotten Ways
If you had told me that Shaman of Forgotten Ways would be in the Top 8 of PT Sydney I would have been skeptical. If you had told me there would be 7 copies spread across 3 different decks I would have laughed. Well, here we are!
Andrew Brown maindecked a whopping 3 copies, while Owen and Reid both found space for the card in their sideboards.
I dig the interaction with Emrakul. Shaman helps power Emrakul out quickly and has an ability that allows the Eldrazi to kill in one shot! Not a bad 1-2 punch.
3. Coax from the Blind Eternities
Owen is a straight-up master. I’m not going to presume to say I understand every application of Coax, but I have a good idea about at least one…
I imagine that one application is to retrieve Emrakul from exile in the event that a black control deck casts Infinite Obliteration. It is frightening to think that after Obliterating Emrakul, you’ll now need to check to make sure they don’t have a Coax too! Very Emrakool tech.
2. Gnarlwood Dryad
I like this card because I can imagine myself casting this card and doing the “hang loose” hand sign and saying “Gnarly duuuude…” in my best surfer impression voice.
In case you needed a better reason than “DeMars can’t help himself with terrible impressions when playing Dryad,” here is another strong reason to play the card: Owen, Reid, and LSV all had the card in their deck in Sydney and in different archetypes.
Owen actually had the full 4 copies in the main deck of his Temur Emerge deck!
I’ll admit that I overlooked Gnarlwood Dryad because it felt like Typhoid Rats and those were certainly not playable in Standard. But a big difference is that Typhoid Rats are black—a color that has a swath of great removal spells, whereas green has not so much.
Trading 1 mana and a card for any non-evasive creature suicidal enough to attack into it is a great deal. I expect this “gnarly dude” to be widely adopted.
1. The “Delirium Package”
All of these decks are sweet and worth investigating, but I’m particularly fond of Owen’s list because it really pushes the envelop for maximum effect and plays the full playset of all 3 cards!
Owen Turtenwald, 2nd Place at PT Eldritch Moon
The combination of these powerful graveyard enablers is going to be a big part of Standard in the coming weeks. The key is that these cards dig quickly, replace themselves, and juice up the graveyard in order to enable delirium and make Emrakul, the Promised End cheaper.
Do you want a fully delirious Ishkanah, Grafwidow on 5? Well, this is the way to get there!
The fact that all 3 of these cards are green virtually ensures that green and Emrakul will go hand in hand from here on out. I also suspect that red will stay in the equation since it allows Kozilek’s Return to join the party. But it is not beyond the realm of possibility to imagine a green/black deck that uses these graveyard enablers as well.
One of my favorite parts about playing on the Pro Tour has always been the intricate struggle to invent useful tech for the metagame. I’ve certainly played my share of weird cards at tournaments because they were attempts to solve various unique problems.
Gnarlwood Dryad and the “delirium package” are the two that probably have the most legs as far as becoming Standard mainstays in the coming months. I think these are pieces of tech that will be widely adopted. But my favorite piece of tech is Owen’s Coax from the Blind Eternities, because even when they exile all of the Emrakuls, you want to still have Emrakul!
PT Eldritch Moon looks to have been a very important tournament for pushing Standard forward. It was fun to see how the best in the world approached and solved the Bant Company situation.
If only for a weekend.