This past weekend LMS Trieste took place in Italy and the format was everyone's beloved Modern. There were fifteen rounds of Swiss plus elimination rounds. 400 players, one winner. Let's get to it!
Let's take a look at the metagame coming in. On Day 1, there were 400 players, out of whom around 67 players brought Izzet Murktide. This deck had widely been expected to sit at the top so most players must have been happy to see their deck-building concessions pay off. The second most popular deck was Hammer with a representation seven percentage points smaller. What I think players may not have expected is that Underworld Breach would appear as the fourth most popular shell. This Modern-legal variation on Yawgmoth's Will is picking up steam and there will surely be more of it in the upcoming weeks.
In order to advance players had to end up in the Top 64. Unfortunately, not all the 6-3s got in, so it was quite tough to get to the next day of competition.
When looking at the Day 2 metagame, you could easily confuse it with Day 1 as the top six decks remained the same and even kept a very similar order. What is particularly worth mentioning is that not only was Murktide still the most represented deck, but it actually gained metagame share, moving from 16.5% to 21.9%. This is even more impressive considering how many of these players must have played mirror matches along the way and eliminated each other.
For all the fans of decks outside of tier one, we had some nice treats for you as well. Four Merfolk players advanced to Day 2! Merfolk has always been a fan favorite, and here it appeared again at the top tables. We also saw a fair number of Elementals, Zoo, and Azorius Control.
In order to get to the elimination rounds, a player had to go at least 11-3-1, and still there was one unfortunate soul who got ninth with that result. In other words, 11-4 was not enoug, so quite a high bar. A lot of players also drew into Day 2 to secure the cash prize, which further complicated all the standings math. Consequently players were unsure if they could take an intentional draw and usually decided to play it out.
When live, I asked chat how many unique decks they thought would be in the Top 8. Most leaned to two, three, or four, with a few people hoping for five or six. But in fact, all the decks were unique! This is why I personally love both playing and casting the format—such diversity is truly heartwarming.
Before we get to the decks that made it to the quarterfinals, it may be interesting to look at the decks that did not. Much to my surprise we saw no Golgari Yawgmoth or Rakdos Scam. I fully expected them, especially as the Top 8 at LMS Amsterdam had included three copies of Yawgmoth, with one Scam in the finals. A tad less popular but still real contenders, we did not see any Amulet Titan, Living End, or Burn even in the Top 32!
You can find all of the event's decklists here. As for the eight at the top, let us take a look at them together.
|Hammer Time by Simon Nielsen|
The first after Swiss with a record of 12-1-2 was Simon Nielsen. Yes, the Simon Nielsen. He completely destroyed the competition with Colossus Hammer, losing only a single match up to this point.
There are two interesting aspects that I need to point out regarding the deck. First, it actually is monowhite rather than one of the Azorius builds that have access to Mana Leak or Lavinia, Azorius Renegade. Though you can find a single Temple Garden here as a way to activate Haywire Mite, which is certainly gaining popularity amongst Urza's Saga players. The second surprise was Kor Outfitter as a cheeky singleton. Its main purpose is to take a previously played Hammer and immediately attach it. I have heard from the floor that many players were caught off guard by this Kor.
|Izzet Murktide by Mattia Rizzi|
Another pro, Mattia Rizzi came second after Swiss with Izzet Murktide—a deck that he has been playing for a long time now. His is mainly a stock version, but there are a few card choices worth pointing out.
He went with two Spell Pierce and two Spell Snare main in addition to four Counterspell. Snare specifically is something we don't see often. It's great at snagging opposing Ledger Shredder, Expressive Iteration, Underworld Breach, or even the previously mentioned Kor Outfitter. There are multiple solid targets in the format. He also ran three copies of Consider, a card that I have heard very good things about. Some players go as far as to say that they'd play a fifth copy if they could and here's Mattia triming it!
|Jeskai Breach by Sascha Schwarz|
While we saw an uptick of Underworld Breach alongside Grinding Station, players have also started to adopt a more fair approach to the shell. This deck has no combo in it, but do not be fooled—you may still get quadruple Lightning Bolted out of nowhere. Thanks to the wording of the escape mechanic, the escaped card still lands in the graveyard, so you can cast the same copy multiple times. It is especially relevant with Mishra's Bauble, which can turn Breach into Treasure Cruise.
|Izzet Prowess by Walter Wölfler|
While no Burn made it to the top tables, its cousin Izzet Prowess still showed what it can do. It's a very aggressive shell that relies on creatures that grow every time you play a spell. This deck does not lack card advantage with both Expressive Iteration and Light Up the Stage so it can also play a bit of a longer game.
|Five-Color Creativity by Nicolò Zaffaina|
A true combo control deck that aims to get Archon of Cruelty on the board as early as turn four, interacting through the early turns. This version includes all five colors and utilizes Leyline Binding as the most versatile removal spell one can have.
|Monoblue Merfolk by Michele Bandera|
Fishy fish is a deck that is always thought to be not good enough. Now all the naysayers have to see the truth in blue tempo creatures. The sideboard is particularly hateful with triple Chalice of the Void for cascade, quadruple Force of Negation for all the combo decks, and the old classic Kira, Great Glass-Spinner to blank opposing removal. Monocolored decks are still viable!
|Five-Color Zoo by Manuel D.|
Speaking of monocolored decks, let us talk about the second five-color deck in the Top 8. I don't think anyone expected Zoo, but we were lucky enough to watch Zoo versus Merfolk on stream—a true 2016 matchup. The deck is aggressive, interactive, and can burn you out with Tribal Flames if you are not careful.
|Temur Rhinos by Stefan Steiner|
The eighth seed in elimination rounds turned into the eventual winner! The deck is very stock, but I certainly want to draw your attention to the two copies of Gemstone Caverns. They allow you to sort of steal being on the play and deploy Rhinos or Blood Moon on turn two. Every time I watched Stefan play, he had Caverns on turn zero. It proved exceptionally strong for him throughout the tournament, not least in the Top 8 where his opponents all got to play first because of the higher Swiss ranking. In the end he got to hoist the trophy and take home $5,000, 25 booster boxes, and an invitation to Athens, with accommodation and flight paid for! Congratulations!
The event was full of interesting storylines and moments. The one that affected me personally was one player who had seen my Breach sideboard guide online, went with the same list, printed out the guide, and actually finished in the Top 16! I talked with him multiple times between rounds and featured him like four times on camera. Well done, Tadej!
All the eyes were also on the pro players in the event. Much to nobody's surprise, two of them made the playoffs and another, Andrea Mengucci, finished in eleventh place. They still got it.
On camera, we watched multiple fun, emotional, and sometimes heartbreaking moments. We saw both players mulligan down to four, Monastery Mentor dominate a match, and wild game swings where players went from a losing position to winning in two turns. We witnessed some curious deck-building decisions such as Become Immense in Rhinos, Subtlety and Celestial Purge in Azorius Control, or Peek in Murktide. There were multiple Blood Moons that heavily punished the person casting it.
All in all, the weekend was a blast! I highly suggest you tune in when other LMS events are live or just join the tournaments in person. See you in Naples and Prague!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, not of Cardmarket.