It's unclear where this year has gone, though this weekend it's already time for the Star City Games Season 2 Invitational. These events tend to have a higher viewer count, and are near the highest level of exposure that Modern gets now with the cancellation of the Modern Pro Tour. I expect to see some cool decks this weekend, and to get a better feel of the direction of the Standard and Modern metagames.
With regard to Standard, what I can say for sure is that Bant Company will be the most played deck among the masses. This is not to say that it will be the best performing deck or that the best players will be piloting it---rather the opposite. This is a safe, very strong choice, and it will be out in numbers.
Three copies of the deck top-eighted in Portland last weekend, and six made the elimination rounds in Rimini. Bant Company prays on people who think they can play whatever they want, and has enough play and sideboard options to keep even bad matchups guessing.
Collected Company is a very known quantity with its namesake about to rotate, so there's really nothing worth investing in here barring some significant innovation that looks like it will carry on post-rotation. In particular, I'm looking out for the floor on Tamiyo, Field Researcher, as I suspect she will be great once the tension between her and Company is no longer a factor.
Expect Golgari and Jund Delirium decks, Temur Emerge, and Orzhov Control to be out as well, though again we're talking about a bunch of known quantities. Should something spicy show up on camera some investment opportunities could arise, though it's important to remember not only that we're in lame-duck status for Standard, but also that the Top 8 will be Modern. As such, Standard will simply get less exposure.
The only Standard deck that I'm keeping particularly close tabs on is Izzet Spells. In part because it's just my style, but also because most of the deck will survive rotation---certainly enough to create a functionally similar shell. Sure, Jace is rotating, but Lucas Blohon wasn't even on Jace for his Rimini Top 8:
Sure, Jace is in the sideboard, though that's certainly replaceable. From the maindeck, only Stormchaser Mage, Exquisite Firecraft and Shivan Reef are on the outs. The mana still looks functional without Reef, and Stormchaser Mage can just turn into Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror assuming that this deck gets nothing from Kaladesh.
Todd Anderson won the Syracuse Classic with a list more closely resembling the Pro Tour deck with a focus more on sideboard changes, which helps to demonstrate the point that this deck will be sticking around:
I dig the sideboard Bedlam Revelers, and I could even see them making the maindeck as a one- or two-of. I wasn't sure of Collective Defiance initially, though it looks to be a unanimous staple that is already $5+, which makes it too steep of a target for a regular rare.
The two cards that I'm watching here continue to be Thing in the Ice // Awoken Horror and Fevered Visions. You might have some time on Thing, as it's not universally accepted as stock though it likely will be post-rotation. Meanwhile, Visions is already slowly creeping up, and as this deck continues to prove itself I expect this card only to continue to grow.
Of course, Modern is going to be the format with more exposure this weekend, and Modern is at an interesting point now. Eldritch Moon has introduced some interesting cards to the format, and the Dredge menace has finally made itself known in paper Magic after seeing increasingly more success online. Of course, much like Standard, the most popular Modern deck is likewise going to be a boring one:
Maybe this is the week that we start seeing more movement on Scavenging Ooze, a pick that has been too cheap for a long time at $5, though it's worth noting that Scavenging Ooze is generally too slow to hack it against Dredge.
I recommend checking out Sheridan's article on investing in beating Dredge for some great picks. In particular, Leyline of the Void looks like a great pick in no small part because it's Dredge's choice for the mirror, and Rest in Peace is likely the most under-valued and due for a spike in general. Grafdigger's Cage is the card that can go into any old sideboard, though given that it just spiked recently it's my third pick here.
With regard to how to build Dredge, there is some skepticism with regard to Greater Gargadon and Bridge from Below. Given the spikes that these cards have seen, I believe the time to invest has passed, and now or soon is the time to sell on those positions. Currently, I still think it's worth paying attention to Bloodghast.
Going into last weekend, Bloodghast was already $20, and has about 70 listings on TCG Player. Currently, there are about ten listings with the cheapest copy being $30. I've been watching this one through the week, and what I've noticed is that copies in the low $20's keep showing up. This suggests that some owners of the card are skeptical of the card's staying power, though realistically the card is a $20 card on its casual merits alone.
What is particularly amusing about the lower-priced listings, is that these copies are being sold for last week's price. I assume that these sellers just didn't know that they already could have sold Bloodghast for $20 for a while now and were jumping on a "new" opportunity that already existed. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that if you're vigilant you can probably still find $20-25 Bloodghasts while the price continues to increase from $30, assuming a good weekend for Dredge.
There will be a lot of hate for Dredge this weekend, though the question is whether or not the deck is resilient enough to survive. There was definitely hate in Syracuse and the deck still put two players in the Top 8 and took the trophy. If players pack too much hate they can just get cannibalized by the non-Dredge decks as well. Modern sideboard slots aren't free.
I won't be surprised to see Dredge have a good weekend despite hate in Somerset, and as such I'd be willing to take the Bloodghasts off of apprehensive owner's hands.
Despite getting some flack for liking Modern on Twitter, I think it's in a solid place as a format right now, and I'm excited to see what happens this weekend. Even if you hate the format, Modern continues to present great investment opportunities, and I'm curious to see where graveyard hate cards and Bloodghast end up next week.
Thanks for reading.
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter