27, Jun, 24

Pro Tour MH3 Metagame Highlights Major Modern Problems

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Starting June 28, Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 is set to showcase all of the incredible new cards on the big stage. From Nadu, Winged Wisdom combo to mono-black Necrodominance shells, it’s truly incredible how much of an impact the release of MH3 had on the format.

Recently, the metagame breakdown for the Pro Tour was revealed, further highlighting the dominance of MH3 cards. Nearly all of the top archetypes were nonexistent before the set came out. Meanwhile, many of the best strategies from months ago, such as Amulet Titan and Rakdos Scam, make up only a tiny fraction of the field.

Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into the Pro Tour metagame and discuss these major shifts. To kick things off, it’s important to start with the elephant in the room: Nadu’s representation.

A Concerning Number

Nadu, Winged Wisdom

Nadu is an unbelievably powerful card. It provides a flow of card advantage whenever any of your creatures become targeted by spells or abilities. If that weren’t enough, you get to put lands you reveal directly into play untapped. The goal behind Nadu combo in Modern is to pair Nadu with Shuko, an Equipment that you can move around from creature to creature at no cost.

Nadu may have the restriction of having the ability trigger only twice each turn, but notably, this counts for each creature you control. As such, if you have a card like Springheart Nantuko in play, it’s easy to generate a slew of tokens to target with Shuko and churn through your library in short order. Assuming you keep putting lands into play and making more Insects, you’ll eventually get low enough on cards to win the game with Thassa’s Oracle or a complicated Endurance loop.

Even before the Pro Tour metagame breakdown was revealed, many players had a suspicion that Nadu would make up a large percentage of the field. Now that the numbers are out in the open, Nadu’s representation is quite concerning. Between Bant Nadu, Four-color Nadu, and a lone Devoted Nadu decklist (presumably adding Nadu and Shuko into a Devoted Druid shell), Nadu combo makes up about 26% of the field.

For comparison’s sake, this is roughly 5% more of the field than Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis decks saw at Mythic Championship IV. Rakdos Scam saw nearly 7% less play at Pro Tour Lord of the Rings, and Eldrazi aggro made up an even smaller portion of the room at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.

While some Standard cards like Oko, Thief of Crowns have had significantly more egregious Pro Tour showings, Nadu is still an outlier when it comes to major Modern events. In fact, all of the decks listed above required bans soon after blowing up at the Pro Tour level. There’s another ban announcement coming in August, and a Nadu ban would not be the least bit shocking.

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Other Elite Strategies

Ruby Medallion

While Nadu combo is far and away the most populous deck at the Pro Tour, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a wide range of potent challengers. We’ve seen underdog strategies take down top archetypes at Pro Tours before (Tron emerged victorious at Mythic Championship IV, not Hogaak). Could we be in for an upset once again?

Only time will tell, but many of the other popular decks at this Pro Tour have the tools necessary to fight the Nadu menace. For example, the second most played deck at nearly 10% of the field, Ruby Storm, is fully capable of beating Nadu combo with its blistering speed. Ruby Storm emerged with the printing of Ruby Medallion and Ral, Monsoon Mage. The goal is to pair them with various Rituals and cards like Wrenn’s Resolve that build up Storm count. From there, Past in Flames alongside Grapeshot can help you cross the finish line.

Because Ruby Medallion and Ral can be played with red mana specifically, turn-two kills with this deck is not out of the ordinary. Just cast a Ritual turn two, follow with a cost reducer, use the last floating mana to cast another Ritual, and go off before the Nadu deck can even get its engine rolling.

Jeskai control, the third most popular deck, also has some nice tools against Nadu combo. Like a typical control deck, Jeskai control features a nice mix of countermagic, removal, and finishers like Phlage, Titan of Fire’s Fury. However, the MH3 energy package comes in clutch against Nadu combo. With some Energy in reserve, Galvanic Discharge can remove Nadu for only one mana. On top of that, Wrath of the Skies can clean up a wide battlefield, hitting Shuko and Urza’s Saga along the way.

Past that, there are still a multitude of other powerful archetypes to keep an eye on. Mono-black Necrodominance decks looking to pair the elite Enchantment with life gain from Sheoldred, the Apocalypse and Soul Spike represent 7% of the field. Eldrazi Tron abusing the power of Ugin’s Labyrinth comes in close behind. Overall, it will be cool to see if these decks can effectively keep Nadu combo in check during the event.

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MH3’s Immense Impact

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

Nadu’s impressive showing is certainly concerning. However, perhaps the most amazing aspect of the Pro Tour metagame breakdown is the sheer number of decks that arose solely thanks to MH3. Nadu combo obviously is an entirely new entity, but the trend doesn’t stop there.

Storm decks haven’t been top-tier in years. Now, Ruby Medallion and Ral have opened the door for the archetype to surge. Energy cards have never had their time in the sun in Modern, and now a slew of them appear in a multitude of different decks. Outside of mono-black Grief decks (and Eldrazi Tron to a lesser extent), the top 10 most popular strategies at Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 are all heavily built around the new cards.

Interestingly, this means that many previously well-established decks have plummeted down the tier list. Golgari Yawgmoth, once the most feared deck in Modern, is only being played by four players. Amulet Titan, a deck that has been elite for many years, was registered by only two players. Domain Zoo, which maximizes the power of Scion of Draco and Leyline of the Guildpact, was submitted by only one player. This combo that once dominated the format and had players clamoring for bans is now largely a thing of the past.

In some ways, it’s nice to see such a large metagame shift. After all, the format is definitely not stale in any way anymore. That being said, many players have voiced their frustration with the effects Modern Horizons sets have had in Modern in general. Once considered a format where players could invest in a deck and play it for years, the constant influx of powerful cards makes it much more expensive to keep up with. Modern may not be a rotating format like Standard in the traditional sense, but many players have been highlighting the similarities.

Who Will Emerge Victorious?

The Modern Horizons 3 Pro Tour metagame is truly indicative of the massive change that Modern Horizons sets can bring to the table. Nonetheless, it will still be interesting to see how the Pro Tour plays out. Will Nadu combo emerge victorious, or could we see another deck take the crown? Make sure to tune in to find out.

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