Insiders: My Picks for Pro Tour Ixalan

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Hello, everyone!

The Pro Tour is just around the corner. It's time to pick up some Standard cards specifically for PT speculation.

I'll start with my prediction on the Pro Tour meta based on MTGO results, Worlds, and the Nationals decklists from various countries. I think the top five decks to watch out for are: Temur Energy, Blue-Black/Blue-White/Esper Control, Esper Tokens, Sultai Energy, and Ramunap Red.

Out of the five decks mentioned:

  • Three of them always have The Scarab God in their 75.
  • Energy-themed cards are still very strong.
  • Graveyard hate is useful against at least four of these decks.
  • Three or more decks are playing more than three colors.

Based on part on these predictions and observations, let's jump into some of my picks for the coming weekend.

This card reminds me of Blood Baron of Vizkopa, one of the best card from Dragon's Maze. I think this card is under-priced right now, because its abilities are actually very powerful. It's true that there is lots of removal in the format that can deal with this card; however, this is a threat that the opponent must deal with immediately.

I think this card is best suited to a control deck, most likely Esper Control or Esper Tokens. Once its controller untaps with Vona in play, if Vona manages to deal combat damage to anything, it only costs a net amount of three life to destroy any nonland permanent on the board. And don't forget – this ability can be activated during combat, which means there is plenty of opportunity for blowouts at instant speed. I suggest buying playsets of this card.

Ripjaw Raptor is one of the hype card during the Ixalan spoilers period. This card does not see much play because Bristling Hydra is a way better option for the decks that want a green four-drop, which are mostly energy focused right now. However, that does not make Raptor a bad card. With two years in Standard and a price floor on the near horizon, picking up copies now gives us plenty of opportunity to see this one pay off.

We have talked about Search for Azcanta // Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin before. The deck that plays this card is Blue-White Approach the Second Sun, which need a lot of filtering. In my opinion, this card still provides lots of room for brewers to innovate with graveyard filling and card selection. Two ways this card will go up in price: Blue-White Approach becomes the deck to beat at the Pro Tour, or a new archetype emerges and wins lots of events. At 4 tickets, its a bit risky to stock up on copies of this card right now. I'll probably observe the MTGO events for a couple more days and buy in on playsets of this card if there are more convincing results online.

Once again, lands are one of the best ways to gain easy tickets. One strategy we can take before a Pro Tour is to pick out a few lands at low points in their cycles, especially if they are in color combinations likely to see play at the Pro Tour.  Of the lands in Standard, the duals that were reprinted in Ixalan are least likely to spike, because there are so many versions available on the market. Besides those, the cycling lands do not seem very playable, as they will always come into play tapped – and there aggro decks in this format. So we are left with the fast lands cycle. Blooming Marsh is my pick for this week, because Sultai Energy is currently the best deck in my opinion, and this specific fast land is at its low point right now. I suggest buying in on copies of Blooming Marsh at a price below 3.7.

Regal Caracal was a bulk rare two months ago, and it's now a four-of in sideboards of Blue-White Approach. Its basically a transformation sideboard plan for when the Approach combo is too slow or the pilot simply wants to surprise the opponent with a bunch of Cats.

I always thought that this card was legendary because of its abilities – until I recently played against multiple copies online, and once multiple hit the battlefield, it suddenly became very strong. This Cat has the ability to win the game single-handedly, especially when the opponent doesn't have removal in hand, or worse – they sided out all their removal and don't even have it in their deck. I'm not sure when the price will peak, but 1 ticket is still a reasonable price if you think this card will become even more popular in the near future.

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is a card that can fit into most creature decks. Brad Nelson recently played two copies of Skysovereign in his Temur Energy deck at an SCG IQ to a top-four finish. It's interesting that Brad is the only player that I found who plays the sky ship – my impression on Brad's style is that he always tweaks the best deck in the format to better versions for the metagame.

After trying Skysovereign in some games, I feel  that it's powerful in most situations and can put a decent amount of pressure on the opponent and their planeswalkers. Players have compared the Flagship with Glorybringer, with many deciding the Dragon seems stronger, but I think the ability to survive sweepers like Fumigate is a good reason to consider Flagship over Glorybringer. At 2 tickets, I suggest picking some copies up for investment.

Vizier of Many Faces recently showed up in most blue decks as a way to generate card advantage. It's rare to see clone effects in Standard except when there's another card that is both in a ton of decks and worth copying for four mana. If you haven't seen it in action yet, most of the time Vizier is used to copy The Scarab God. There are a lot of interactions between Vizier and Scarab God, as explained on CFB by Josh Utter-Leyton:

A card that is so good but still under 0.2 tickets? What are you waiting for?

Alright, guys, that’s all for this week. I wish you guys good luck on your picks for the PT weekend. I want to thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you all again next week!

–Adrian, signing out.

2 thoughts on “Insiders: My Picks for Pro Tour Ixalan

  1. Upon some further reflection, I definitely think I undersold Vona in my article. I’m not interested in its utility in a pure control deck (you can’t give up that amount of life), but in God Pharaoh’s Gift decks or Annointed Procession Token decks it could be good enough to see play (and if a mythic is seeing play, it’s price will generally be higher than $1). I do wish I could buy lower since this card does carry some risk to it.

    I’ve been mulling over Search for Azcanta as well, and for the reasons you state in your article, but I think I’m going to go conservative and wait until I can buy a bit lower, even if that never occurs or occurs closer to Christmas.

    Blooming Marsh is a good potential sleeper pick for the PT. I’ll mull over buying those. Thanks!

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