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Insider: SCG Columbus Invitational Tournament Finance Report

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I’m sure you’ve read many tournament reports over the years. This article is not like those articles.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an idea for a very different type of article. Instead of a typical tournament report, we could have a financial tournament report of an event. There could be some competitive information, because much of Magic finance stems from tournament results, but the majority of the article would document the financial state of competitive play.

Let’s start with a reminder about something from last week. One of my main points in my previous article was that it’s worth your time to shop around for buy prices. If you are looking to purchase a card or some product, you take the time to find the cheapest price because saving money in small increments adds up. The same goes for buy prices.

Here’s an example for you. I preordered three play sets of Ulvenwald Hydra at $3 or under for each card. Since the metagame doesn’t appear to be heading in a ramp direction, I felt I needed to move this spec as soon as possible. If the card breaks out at the Pro Tour my decision could cost me some profit, but I am always one to lock in my profit when I can.

There were five dealers at the Star City Games Invitational in Columbus this past weekend. They offered me $1.50, $2, $3, $4, and $4, respectively, for each Hydra. Once I got the last $4, I mentioned that the highest price I was offered matched the $4 they were offering and asked if they could do $4.25.

Now you may think that adding another quarter doesn’t accomplish much but those $.25 and $.5 piles add up and really help your margin. In this case, I made an extra $3 because I found the best price and asked a question. Don’t get your hopes up for this happening every time, but sometimes it will turn out this way. If I had stopped at the first dealer I came to, I would have walked away with $3 per card and made a tiny profit. This way, I made the most money possible for this investment at the time of selling.

I wouldn’t be looking for this card to jump in price anytime soon, but it’s a possibility. My current stance is still to get out if you can fetch a good number.

For this tournament I switched to Bant Company, as did what seemed like half the participants. My list was fairly standard except I squeezed three copies of Clash of Wills into the main deck. That card was amazing for me all weekend. The rest of my deck was quite similar to the stock lists.

There were 752 players at this Invitational, but due to changes in the point structure, this should be the last of its size. What that means for you is that the other Invitationals going forward will be higher value. Keep that in mind if you are qualified or plan on trying to get qualified.

Day 1

Standard

Round 1 - R/B Vampires

Sitting down across from my Vampires opponent I was a little surprised. I thought everyone had agreed that this deck wasn’t playable and should be avoided.

My opponent had a different take on the deck. His focus was more on enabling madness than playing all the sweetest new cards from the vampire tribe. It’s possible that the cards in this deck like Olivia, Mobilized for War and Drana, Liberator of Malakir are destined for the finance spotlight, but at this point I’d have to say it’s unlikely.

Despite its weakness to flyers, my Bant Company deck was able to pin the opposition relatively easily. I feel this is the same way for the other decks in the format as well. I still think that the pros might be able to solve this puzzle and come up with a better build, but what we have right now isn’t good enough. Treat the staple vampires in your collection and trade binders accordingly.

Round 2 - Mono-White Humans

The other deck that was all over the meta was Humans. This deck comes in a variety of colors and sizes, but they tend to use many of the same cards. The key cards are Declaration in Stone and Always Watching.

Declaration was being bought as high as $11 onsite and one dealer was sold out at $20. If you follow me on Twitter @mtgjedi, you heard about this as soon as I found out during the event.

I don’t expect Declaration to be $20 tomorrow but I think it could easily hold at $15. Either way, the best removal spell in the format will be desirable for its duration in Standard.

Additionally, Always Watching at or under $4 is a good deal. I don’t know how this hot card is still that low. Players love this set and are opening a ton of packs but with how popular the enchantment is right now, I’m shocked it can be had for this cheap.

Round 3 - Naya Planeswalkers
Round 4 - B/W Midrange

The biggest hit from my round three and four opponents has to be Archangel Avacyn // Avacyn, the Purifier. We all know this card is bonkers but we're unsure of where she will go from here. My assessment is that she will hold her value because she is just that good. This angel also sees play in tons of archetypes and that will help her stay on top of the price layout in Standard.

All of these matches were interesting but the short story is that I came out on top in each of them. Starting out 4-0 in Standard felt great, but Modern is another story altogether.

Modern

For the Modern portion, I chose to try to break the format. Rather than playing a deck like Kiki Chord or something else that I have a lot of positive results with, I tried to revitalize Splinter Twin in Modern. My route took me through Midnight Guard plus Elemental Mastery for my infinite combo.

Since I’m sure you didn’t hear about me playing this crazy deck, you can guess how my Modern rounds turned out. Take a look at the list though because it’s definitely an interesting one.

Round 5 - Tron (Joe Lossett)
Round 6 - Zoo
Round 7 - Melira Company
Round 8 - Lantern

As you can see, this isn’t your typical Modern deck. This brew was developed over the past four months and even though I had fun losing a lot with it, it’s one of the worst-positioned decks I’ve ever played.

I was close to beating all my opponents, but ultimately didn't get there. If I was on the play I would have beaten Tron in my feature match against Joe Lossett. If I didn’t misplay against Zoo, I would have had a chance to win. Melira beat me on mulligans to four and five so I’m not sure that matchup was winnable.

I did best against Lantern but I think my opponent had to get pretty unlucky for that to happen. I do have a lot of burn post-board plus artifact removal, but I still don’t think the match is favorable.

Modern seems to be back to where it was before Eldrazi came and distorted the format. I played against a different Modern deck every round and there are plenty of other good options as well.

All of these decks will be picking up more followers, so my financial stance on Modern is to pick up any staples you can at good prices. Follow normal tips and tricks here---for example, trade Standard cards into any Modern staple and buy discounted Modern cards whenever possible.

I made Day 2 based on my performance with my Standard deck. I was excited to get back into action in Standard and hopeful that I could lean on that deck for my record instead of my Modern brew.

Day 2 (251 Players)

Standard

Round 9 - Bant Company (mirror)
Round 10 - Goggles
Round 11 - Bant Company (mirror)
Round 12 - W/r Humans

Day 2 started off with a mirror match of Collected Company. I was able to split my mirror matches, losing the first to start Day 2 but winning the other one two rounds later. Company seems likely to hold strong even after rotation. It’s played in Abzan Company in Modern as well as a few other decks. I would even say it has become a Modern staple.

This is the type of card I would try to isolate in trades whenever possible. It may dip in price after rotation but it should bounce back with continually steady growth. There will only be more and more creatures printed to pair with the green instant so it will get better over time.

Goggles got beaten up pretty badly by the format’s bad guy. I’m not sure that will be a deck going forward. It is definitely decent but not the best. I’d be looking to trade those cards while they're hot. Chandra, Flamecaller into another copy of herself did win a game though, and that card is really strong right now. I’m not sure she can go up any more, so I’d still be looking to unload any extra copies.

Someone needs to identify a deck that can beat both Humans and Company. If such a deck exists, there are huge financial possibilities hidden within. This is the tech I’m looking for from the Pro Tour this weekend. Speculating on Standard is a risky proposition, but in a semi-established metagame like we already have, a breakout deck can easily make prices go crazy.

This deck might be the W/r Humans deck I was defeated by in Round 12. I spoke with my opponent, Zan Syed, at length about his deck and its capabilities. You will likely see him on the Pro Tour soon because he is grinding hard for Pro Points to qualify. Take a look at his very fast version of this deck.

This deck’s goal is to outrace every opponent. You have Always Watching to pump your team as well as Gryff's Boon to give evasion. The deck is very fast but my favorite part is how resilient it is to the card Reflector Mage. There are very few creatures that are reasonable to bounce because they all have effects when they enter the battlefield.

If you enjoyed playing Atarka Red last season, then this is likely the deck for you. This is yet another deck utilizing the powerful new white cards. Any of those cards are good investments because they will move easily.

Modern

Round 13 - Infect
Round 14 – Affinity

After these two Modern rounds my record had dropped to 7-7, with six of those wins coming from Standard. Despite my horrendous record in Modern, I learned about how the format is reshaping itself.

Modern is back to where it was before Oath of the Gatewatch was released. There are tons of viable options. Ancestral Vision and Sword of the Meek don’t seem to be destroying the format but they are on the list of playable decks. I think we are back to a place where knowing your deck can get you far.

Most of the financial advice I have in Modern is what I said before: pick up staples and hold them. There are a couple of low-end cards that would be worth having a stack of though.

The first is Sanctum of Ugin. This Battle for Zendikar land is now seeing play in Tron as a replacement for Eye of Ugin. It functionally works the same as a single Eye activation. The upside is that you don’t have to pay mana for the ability and you can trigger it from any colorless spell. We’ve only seen this used with creatures in Standard, but Karn Liberated can let you tutor for something too. At less than $1.5, you can’t go wrong stocking up on this Standard card.

The other investment I want to mention is the Lantern Control deck. I see this deck gaining more and more popularity. It was great against Eldrazi, but I’m not sure it has a place in this metagame. Players disagree with me, but the deck has a rough matchup against many staple decks.

There are some cards in it though that could increase in value if the popularity continues to grow. The first is Pyxis of Pandemonium. Currently Pyxis is a bulk rare so you aren’t risking much by getting some copies, but the deck only plays one copy so I’m not sure its trajectory is quick enough.

The other card is Surgical Extraction. As a staple of Lantern Control, players have been reminded of the power of this Phyrexian mana spell. Although it was reprinted in Modern Masters 2015 last summer, the card has grown back to the $5 it was previously worth.

I think Surgical is a great long-term investment. Many decks want this as a sideboard option and any deck can play it. Make certain you have your copies for whatever Modern deck you are playing because graveyard shenanigans come up time and time again.

~

Well, that’s all for me this week. How did you like my first tournament finance report? Let me know what you thought in the comments. What was missing from the article that you would like to see in the future?

Until next time,
Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

4 thoughts on “Insider: SCG Columbus Invitational Tournament Finance Report

    1. Thanks! I hope the readers like it too. I’m the competitive finance guy so this format would work out pretty well for me for future events.

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