As is becoming a tradition here on StarCityGames.com®, another Pro Tour means another predictions article! I've done fairly well so far on these, with only one failing grade out of the last four Pro Tours:
Pro Tour Amonkhet - 3.5 out of 5
Pro Tour Hour of Devastation - 2.5 out of 5
Pro Tour Ixalan - 4 out of 5
Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan - 4 out of 5
And now we're back once more for our shot at Pro Tour Dominaria. This Pro Tour is a little different than recent Standard Pro Tours because it's happening a reasonable distance from the set's release, and with that in mind we get to our predictions:
Prediction One: No Deck Will Comprise More Than 20% Of The Field On Day 1
We're in for an awesome Pro Tour.
In its first few weeks, Dominaria Standard has proven to be a dynamic and exciting format. We've seen a ton of new and powerful cards make major impacts, as well as a revolving door of different archetypes vying for the top spot in the format. There's counter play to most strategies that have arisen, as well as a large amount of great sideboard options to shore up difficult matchups.
This is a far cry from the last Standard Pro Tour, where we saw various Attune With Aether-based Energy decks make up almost half of the field and lead to another in a long line of Standard bannings.
To put it mildly, recent Standard up until this point had been an almost unprecedented disaster.
This was the fourth round of bannings attempting to fix it and while it was successful in doing so, the damage had been done. Over a year of dreadful Standard formats, poor tournament attendance, and FNMs not getting enough players to fire had left the player base extremely disillusioned with Standard. Stores stopped running Standard events, and the SCG Tour® (much to my chagrin) went as far to basically remove Standard as a supported format. It takes time to regain confidence in a format and we're in the healing period now.
Pro Tour Dominaria will go a long way towards healing those wounds.
Prediction Two: There Will Be More Than 40 Mountains In The Top 8
While there will be a good amount of diversity and excitement abound at the Pro Tour, there's no denying " the best card in Dominaria ":
I've already spoken at great length of the effects that Goblin Chainwhirler would have on Standard and we are seeing that play out now. As one of the key cards in R/B Aggro and Mono-Red Aggro, Goblin Chainwhirler has made life as a one-toughness creature almost unpalatable. Of course, Goblin Chainwhirler comes with its own requirements: you need to play a metric ton of Mountains.
Thankfully, Standard has no shortage of awesome red cards.
Aside from the usual Mono-Red Aggro fare like Bomat Courier and Lightning Strike, the trifecta of Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Glorybringer, and Rekindling Phoenix form one of the most powerful groups of cards in the format. Mono-Red Aggro is still poised to be a powerful deck in the format, and R/B Aggro enters Pro Tour Dominaria as one of the format's top contenders. It would also not be surprising to see any of these three powerhouse red cards in other decks either.
No matter what, there will be plenty of players seeing red Sunday morning in Richmond.
Prediction Three: At Least Two Decks In The Top 8 Will Be Playing Karn, Scion Of Urza And Treasure Map Maindeck
There's no doubting that Karn, Scion of Urza is one of the most powerful and easy to play cards in Dominaria, and finding the right shell for him must have been one of the top priorities for anyone testing for this Pro Tour. So far we've been most likely to see him alongside Heart of Kiran, but there's another two mana artifact that isn't vulnerable to removal spells and forms quite the potent engine with Karn in Treasure Map.
Both cards provide card advantage for decks or colors that may not usually get it (also known as non-blue decks) and do so in a way that is extremely synergistic. Treasure Map stands to flip on turn five for only one mana, leaving you with four mana left over to play Karn and immediately make a 4/4 Construct token.
We've seen Karn riding in the Heart of Kiran a lot lately, but that's just because figuring out the good threats is always easier than figuring out the good answers. A deck based around the Karn and Treasure Map pairing and suited up with all the proper answers the format has to offer may just be the solution to the format.
Prediction Four: There Will Be At Least One Mono-Black (Or Nearly Mono-Black) Deck In The Top 8, With Nary A Dread Shade Or Cabal Stronghold In Sight
Piggybacking off of the previous prediction, Mono-Black Control (maybe with a splash) may be one of the best places for the Karn / Treasure Map engine to take flight.
There's no denying that black has some of the best removal spells in the format. Fatal Push is one of the best early game removal spells of all time, while Vraska's Contempt handles just about every big threat the format has to offer. Other role players like Ravenous Chupacabra and Cast Down help to fill in the holes, leaving black with the ability to handle almost any threat.
The question is which deck wants access to all this removal?
We've seen black removal used to clear blockers in G/B Constrictor decks, as well as keep the battlefield clear in U/B Control decks, but there's no clear consensus as to what the best black deck is at the moment. The Scarab God has gone from "format terror" to MIA in a very short period of time, and most black decks seem to lack the focus of the aggressive Goblin Chainwhirler decks or the glacial U/W Control decks.
The Karn plus Treasure Map engine gives these black decks a unique and powerful card draw engine that can also end games while being resistant to many of the format's removal spells. However, there's another planeswalker that needs some attention too:
Liliana, Death's Majesty is the other half of the Mono-Black Control puzzle, forming another powerful and synergistic connection with Gonti, Lord of Luxury (and to a lesser extent, Ravenous Chupacabra). Liliana, like Karn, is another difficult to remove and powerful planeswalker that's easy to set up with a lot of removal and/or discard spells, and also provides a steady stream of cards and threats in conjunction with Gonti. Furthermore, Gonti offers the unique ability for the Mono-Black deck to answer problem cards like artifacts, enchantments, and spells by letting it steal your opponent's copies of Cast Out and Disallow to use against them.
The tools are there, and when put together they form quite the resilient midrange pile of cards.
However, don't go looking for the Cabal Coffers and Nantuko Shade wannabes anywhere in top 8. Just because someone is playing Mono-Black Control doesn't mean they need to reach for relics from the past. Planeswalkers are where it's at in 2018 Standard, and planeswalkers is where Mono-Black Control needs to go to succeed.
Prediction Five: There Will Be A Copy Of Metallic Rebuke In The Top 8
I always like to take a leap with one of my predictions, and my last one here is one I just have a gut feeling on. Whereas I can pinpoint exactly why I think there will be so many Mountains or Karns in the top 8 of Pro Tour Dominaria, all I have when it comes to Metallic Rebuke is vague intuition.
Metallic Rebuke is a sweet and powerful card, but hasn't found much success in Standard. Most Vehicle decks don't end up blue, and it can be hard to put non-threat, non-removal cards into them. Furthermore, most Heart of Kiran decks end up playing Scrapheap Scrounger, which means they can just use black removal to answer threats and black discard if necessary to answer problem cards.
Yet, I can't help but want to scratch the Metallic Rebuke itch.
We've got two pure artifact sets in Standard in Kaladesh and Aether Revolt, and now with Dominaria entering the fray there are even more cards that care about artifacts and historic cards. New cards like The Antiquities War and Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp are temping us into playing more artifacts, and that's to say nothing of Karn, Scion of Urza. Karn is fine on his own, but if you're able to use his -2 to ability to make a sizable threat, he jumps up into the stratosphere in power level. Karn is a big deal and finding cards that work well with him is important.
There's been a lot of Metallic Rebuke murmurs in Magic Online competitive Leagues, some of which are downright intriguing:
- 4 Merchant's Dockhand
- 4 Metallic Mimic
- 3 Scrap Trawler
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 4 Artificer's Assistant
- 4 Tempest Djinn
- 2 Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp
...and truly wild brews like this Standard Storm deck.
There's also the option of a more traditional Heart of Kiran-based vehicles deck simply splashing for a few counterspells - it's not that hard to add a color to R/B or W/B Aggro with Spire of Industry, and sideboarded counterspells could help shore up the UW Control matchup.
I don't know where it will be, either as a maindeck playset or a one-of in a sideboard, but Metallic Rebuke will be playing on Sunday in Richmond in some way, shape, or form.
The Dawn Of Pro Tour Dominaria
As you're reading this, Pro Tour Dominaria should already be underway, and we're going to find out pretty quick how right or wrong I may be.
Will one of the pro teams break it and take the tournament by storm? Will Karn, Scion of Urza be everywhere? Will anyone be able to play a creature with only one toughness and feel good about it?
All will be answered, and hopefully I'll be right!