With Pro Tour Bilbao coming up and given the fact that I can’t really talk about the Pantheon’s super secret Modern testing just before the tournament, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the decks I’ve played in all the previous Modern PTs—a little trip down memory lane if you will.
Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
The very first Modern Pro Tour—this one is a bit fuzzy. I don’t remember much about my preparation besides the fact that I was still trying to figure out what to play the night before the tournament and settled on my Tezzeret brew.
It looks like I built the deck with combo in mind, and my sideboard was there to help patch the issues I had with fair decks. I remember being especially worried about Dark Confidant. I didn’t do well, going 3-7 in Constructed and 5-1 in Draft. The deck wasn’t great, but I think a lot of my matches were close and I remember running somewhat bad on matchups.
The Top 8 was fairly diverse, featuring six different decks.
Josh Utter-Leyton and his seemingly fair Counter-Cat deck managed to navigate a sea of combo and “broken” decks, and make it all the way to the finals, but he fell short against Samuele Estratti, who was able to produce an infinite number of Faeries one too many times for the American to handle.
Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, Seattle 2012
I was testing with the Pantheon for this one and decided to run Affinity. Most of my team played Storm and I remember considering playing 1 main-deck Ethersworn Canonist because I legitimately thought it was correct against the field, which included a lot of the unfair decks and Bloodbraid Elf. My teammates thought I was being super inbred and “strongly advised” that I don’t play the card main deck. Here’s what I end up registering:
As you can see, not much has changed. To the surprise of no one, I was playing Thoughtcast over Galvanic Blast, which usually gets the nod nowadays.
I was paired against Living End in round 1, never drew a Ravager in either game, and started off the tournament with a loss—but didn’t drop another match for the rest of the day, ending Day 1 with 21 points but the worst breakers. I 2-1’d the second Draft, but picked up my fourth loss of the tournament in round 14 (back then, the Swiss was still 16 rounds long) in an incredibly close match against Ari Lax and his Infect deck. I won my last two to finish with a 12-4 record, but the round 1 lost came back to haunt me as my tiebreakers weren’t good enough to sneak into the Top 8.
Once again, it was a battle of fair versus combo in the finals, and once again combo took the trophy as Stan Cifka rode Second Breakfast, a.k.a. Eggs to victory, edging out Yuuya and his Jund deck.
Pro Tour Born of the Gods, Valencia 2014
My team was pretty much split between a Big Naya deck and Storm, while I decided to play Blue-White Control.
I’m guessing the deck wasn’t perfect. Spreading Seas wasn’t a thing yet, and 4 Spell Snare main seemed like a lot. You’ll notice Misty Rainforest and Arid Mesa since they hadn’t reprinted Flooded Strand at the time. I was expecting a lot of Zoo (which ended up being the most played deck), hence some of the card choices.
This PT started horribly for me as I 0-3’d the first Draft, but that didn’t stop me from getting featured in round 4 against Timothée Simonot. You can find the match here:
Despite what Randy and Rashad seemed to believe, Tim was gracious enough to concede as time ran out. I was decently far ahead and given our record, a draw would have been a disaster. I thought that I might make it count as I won my next four rounds of Modern and 2-1’d the draft on Day 2, but wasn’t able to ride the momentum in the second Modern portion, going a disappointing 2-3 to finish out of the money.
The Top 8 featured eight different archetypes if you make the distinction between Tarmo-Twin, Blue-Red Twin, and Jeskai Twin.
Shaun McLaren and his Jeskai Control deck was able to defeat Jacob Wilson’s Melira-Pod in another close finals, ending the combo’s win streak.
Pro Tour Fate Reforged, Washington D.C. 2015
I wasn’t able to test much for this one. I was sponsored by Pokerstars at the time and decided to prioritize the European Poker Tour in Deauville that was held just before the PT. I managed to get a few Drafts in online and play a bit of Modern, but showed up with no expectations. For the first time, I even flew in the Thursday before the PT, and despite my whole team being on Infect and seeming very confident about it, I decided to stick to my guns and play Blue-White Control again. I didn’t want to play a deck I had zero practice with (when in fact it might not have been a big deal since the games didn’t tend to go long anyway) and didn’t want to have to scramble for cards either.
Things were looking up as I actually drafted a very good deck but drew poorly in-game and started off the tournament 1-2. Constructed went even worse as I messed up a bunch and wasn’t able to pick up a single win, dropping after round 6. Given how poorly I did, I didn’t have access to the deck list, but I’m guessing that it wasn’t much different from what I played in Valencia.
Infect performed well, with Finkel making an unfortunate mistake against Sam Black to miss out on Top 8, but it was Jelger who came out of nowhere to make it all the way to the semis. Huey had been working on a version of Blue-Red Twin with Blood Moon main. Jeggles, who showed up late with no cards at all, saw the deck lying on a table, picked it up, played a few matches, decided he liked it, tweaked it a bit, and just ran with it. He managed to dispatch Modern master Jacob Wilson in the quarters but fell to the eventual champion Antonio Del Moral Léon in the semis.
Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch Atlanta, 2016
I was obsessed with trying to make Kiki-Chord work in testing, spending way too much time on the deck, lighting ticket after ticket on fire on Magic Online. Most of my teammates ran Infect once again, and I believed that it was the best deck in the format, but by the time I came to my senses, I felt like it was a bit late to pick up the deck and decided to fall back on Affinity.
Huey barely missed Top 8, coming 9th on breakers. I had an honorable run in Constructed, going 7-3 again and finishing in 60th place. Most of the team did okay despite the fact that we completely missed the Eldrazi deck in testing.
JC Tao won the Eldrazi mirror match in the finals against Ivan Floch and Eye of Ugin got the ban hammer shortly thereafter.
So what will it be this time? Am I going to fall back on good old Blue-White Control? Is it going to be me and my trusty Affinity deck once again? Am I going to put my fate into the hands of Knight of the Reliquary? Did the Pantheon break it? I guess you’ll have to wait a few days to find out!