I can state with confidence that most of the Pantheon is playing a deck that few others will be playing at the Pro Tour. Right now, Seasons Past is selling for about 0.4 tickets on MTGO. Come Sunday, one of two things will have happened—the price will have increased by at least one order of magnitude, or we will have had a terrible Pro Tour. This deck is a combination of peak Reid and peak Billy, with a little bit of Cuneo thrown in for good measure. What is Reid’s favorite deck? Black/Green-Midrange-that-might-also-be-an-unplayable-trap (but for some reason you can never tell before the tournament). And what is more Billy (and Cuneo) than do-nothing-plus-Sphinx’s Revelation?
Get them brewing together and this is what you end up with. Discard, removal, Read the Bones (or Reid the Bones), and then build-your-own Sphinx’s Revelation with Seasons Past and Nissa’s Renewal. We’re probably the only one playing Nissa’s Renewal in the Pro Tour as well.
So what does this deck do? It beats up on small creature decks and then goes over the top—hard. All the Humans-based strategies have a hard time beating Languish with backup, and if they play too conservatively and you get Seasons Past going, it’s game over.
It’s well positioned against midrange decks too, because none of them have an engine to compare to Nissa’s Renewal and Seasons Past. If you resolve a Seasons Past and get a discard spell, Dark Petition, and Nissa’s Renewal plus some other value, pretty soon you’ll have all your lands in play, be at 40 life, and have an opponent with no hand. Then you can kill them with whatever method you see fit. Be sure to spread the glory between Kalitas, Hissing Quagmire, and Nissa—you don’t want anyone to feel left out.
What decks are a problem? Sadly, Bant Company. I expect it to be the most popular deck at the Pro Tour (I like making predictions I could be terribly wrong about) and Seasons Past was somewhat disadvantaged versus it in our testing. Our hope is that when we play against opponents who haven’t had the luxury of practicing against this deck dozens of times, we can pick up a few percent to put us over the top. It’s rare that there’s an unknown deck in Standard approaching the game from a different angle, so it’s important not to underestimate the value of playing an opponent who isn’t sure what you’re doing. But while Bant Company may be a little rough, Seasons Past is positioned to excel against decks metagamed against Bant Company. It should feast on midgame decks that are optimized for dealing with lots of efficient creatures, and might also pick up an edge versus Bant Company decks tuned to beat other Company decks.
The other interesting matchup is Ramp. For most of this deck’s existence, its win rate versus Ramp hovered around 5%. The addition of 1 Infinite Obliteration to the main deck turned an almost unwinnable matchup into one where you’re a favorite. A Dark Petition with spell mastery on turn 5 can eliminate all their World Breakers, and that’s usually fast enough (though not always). Then you can Seasons Past before Ulamog comes out, and you have enough removal and discard to take out the Atarkas and Chandras. Most of the other silver bullets stay in the sideboard, but Infinite Obliteration swings the match win percentage so much that it merits inclusion in the main deck.
In the spirit of making predictions, my Pantheon pick to make the Top 8 is Reid. GB Midrange Control is his specialty, and he’s put up a lot of really solid performances recently, even while that second Top 8 has eluded him. After that, Billy and Cuneo (obviously), followed by the rest of us. Normally, I’d put Owen higher, but the universe may have cursed him. I think he might be the first person ever to play a deck in the Pro Tour after having multiple 10+ game sets against the expected most popular deck in which he achieved 1 or fewer wins. Only time will tell whether it’s the mark of insanity or if his unflagging trust in his teammates will pay off.