When I wrote last week’s article about Block, somehow in my head I thought the Pro Tour was still a few weeks off. As it turns out, it’s happening this very weekend!
There are several noteworthy things about this event in particular, Pro Tour Journey Into Nyx, worth discussing, so I’m just going to dive right in.
Journey Into Nyx finally hit Magic Online this week, and a few things are certain. First off, Elspeth is still insane. Secondly, we’re not going to see any breakout decks show up in Magic Online lists before the event starts. All the pros are huddled in their secret houses pounding out the newest decks, and it’s not likely we’ll see those results on Magic Online before everything breaks loose tomorrow.
That said, we can find a few gems. First of all, Prophetic Flamespeaker has found a home in Mono-Red as a four-of. I’m not positive how much of the deck’s success is tied to its power compared to its accessibility on Magic Online, but Flamespeaker features as a prominent four-of in a couple of the rare 4-0 lists we have access to.
Sitting at $7 or so right now, it’s too high for me to really like a buy-in, but if Mono-Red does well this weekend there’s no reason this wouldn’t spike to $20. If you’re a believer in the deck this is your target. The only other noteworthy card from the deck is Eidolon of the Great Revel, which is less widespread but still present.
That said, I have a hard time believing the pros would sleeve up Mono-Red, and it’s not usually a random PTQ grinder from Montana who makes cards spike. It’s Channel Fireball or Star City (or I guess just Channel Fireball in terms of teams right now), so paying attention to what they’re playing early in the tournament is the best indicator of success.
Another play that seems to have remained popular is the turn four Gild into the turn five Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Elspeth probably has some upside heading into next season, but it’s from the most widely-opened set in Magic’s history and is already pricey. So, while there could be money to be made, I’m more inclined to look at something like Gild or Silence the Believers.
This thing is a bulk rare, and it’s not Mana Bloom. It’s a card that has some long-term demand built in (I mentioned it in my casual targets article a few weeks back due to the unconditional exile clause), and it will probably have some Standard appeal after rotation.
In a smaller card pool, unconditional removal into the best planeswalker in the format is hard to beat. This is a card I can see hitting a few bucks and allowing you to turn your 15-cent buy-in into a dollar on a buylist. Very low risk here.
As expected, Mono-Black is still very good. I’m sure that will surprise no one, but this might: Master of the Feast is only showing up in a small percentage of these decks, and Agent of the Fates is in all of them.
It’s a small body of evidence, to be sure, but it definitely points us in the direction of Master dropping while Herald of Torment (a card we’ve already made money on) and Agent seem to be taking care of the three-drop spot. Agent is also bulk right now, which along with Herald I still like.
That’s what we know about the format, and while I’m sure plenty will change in the next week, it’s a good place to start and probably your last chance to get in reasonably cheaply on the cards you believe are worth speculating on.
Because one thing we know is that cards won’t last long, at least in the United States. The event is being hosted in Atlanta and streamed worldwide. It’s not like the window for card purchases has been overly large lately, but I can guarantee you that it’s going to be nonexistent when the Magic players in the States don’t have to stay up until 4 a.m. to watch the event. We’re going to know what’s what at the peak of the day, and cards are going to move fast.
Our loss is your gain, rest of the world. I know markets already tend to move a little more slowly in Europe and elsewhere, and this will be even more of that since I imagine this event will be ungodly hours for you guys. So, by all means, take advantage of it.
Precursor, Not a Preview
Alliteration aside, remember that Block is not the same as next year’s Standard. If it were, green-white would have dominated this season instead of mono-black and mono-blue. While this Pro Tour is definitely a sign of things to come in next year’s Standard, it’s only a sign. I don’t remember Wolfir Silverheart dominating Standard even though it wrecked at the Pro Tour.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made, especially in the immediate aftermath. But when it comes to next year’s Standard, I think it’s much more important to look at archetypes and power levels rather than individual card choices.
Something like Elspeth is going to find a home next year because she’s so powerful, regardless of what shell it’s in. Similarly Mono-Black will be a deck next year, even if something like Agent of the Fates doesn’t make the cut. That’s why it’s so important to actually watch and play with these decks rather than just look at decklists, because unless you do it’s a lot more difficult to know what is a core card and what is a role player or curve-filler.
Then again, sometimes it’s best to just forget all that and enjoy the show. After all, there’s a lot you can learn if you stop looking ahead and start looking around.
Thanks for reading,
@Chosler88 on Twitter