Day two of Pro Tour Lord of the Rings has concluded and there are some interesting points of data to take away from it. Rakdos Scam came in as the most played deck by a wide margin. In fact, the deck saw nearly 20% of the room playing the deck in day one. For reference, the Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis deck that resulted in Hogaak getting banned from Modern was played only slightly more at 21.4% at the Modern Horizons Pro Tour. Rakdos Scam is clearly a very powerful deck, and the Evoke Elementals from Modern Horizons Two, especially Grief and Fury, continue to rule the Modern landscape.
That being said, coincidentally, the Hogaak-dominant Pro Tour was also in Barcelona and was actually won by none other than mono-green Tron! While Pro Tour Lord of the Rings certainly has some differences, it’s interesting to see the sheer dominance of mono-green Tron at the top tables of the event. Rakdos Scam did put one player into the top eight, but mono-green Tron put three players into the top eight. Not only that, but they were among the four players with the best records through day two, all ending with 12 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw or better. What made Tron have such a dominant weekend? The deck definitely has an interesting spot in the metagame, and to understand how Tron players adjusted and succeeded, it’s important to take a look at the core of the deck and what has changed.
Tron is a relatively simple deck in how it functions. By assembling all three “Urza” Lands, you get access to tons of colorless mana. If you have all three Lands by turn three, you will have access to seven colorless mana. The main goal of the deck is to assemble these Tron Lands as quickly as possible, and from there cast big, colorless haymakers ahead of schedule.
In order to help the deck assemble these Lands, Tron plays a number of ways to go and find them. First, the deck plays a playset of Expedition Map. It’s quite common to keep a hand with two of the three Tron Lands alongside an Expedition Map, and simply spend the first two turns playing and cracking the Map to set up Tron for turn three.
Beyond Map, the deck also plays Sylvan Scrying and Ancient Stirrings to help dig for the necessary Tron Lands. Despite Tron being largely a colorless deck, it makes use of cards like Chromatic Sphere to filter colorless mana into green mana to cast these two cards on time. The deck also plays a few basic Lands to help cast its green cards, along with some utility Lands, such as Boseiju, Who Endured. Tron has been around for many years, and this core of the deck has largely stayed consistent. However, some key adjustments were made by the top performing mono-green Tron players that are absolutely worth noting.
Necessary Adjustments and Additions
When preparing for an event against the top echelon of players, it’s important to try to adjust to the expected metagame. It came as no surprise that Rakdos Scam was the most played deck in the room, followed by four-color control centered around Omnath, Locus of Creation. The One Ring and Orcish Bowmasters, along with the Evoke Elementals from Modern Horizons Two, were absolutely everywhere. Well, the best performing Tron players hit the nail on the head not just with their deck choices but also with the changes they made to the deck. For a colorless deck focused on consistency and big haymakers, there isn’t a ton of flexibility to be had.
Still, the flex slots that the deck has available were made full use of by these players. First up, one unique feature from the decklists of two of the three top performing Tron players is the presence of three copies of Dismember in the maindeck. With tons of sideboard slots taken up by a Karn, the Great Creator toolbox, many players have simply forgone cards like Dismember and Spatial Controtion.
While this may seem like a minor inclusion, Dismember is super important in fighting Scam’s best draws, especially in game one. Even assembling Tron on turn three may be too slow against a turn one combination of Fury and Feign Death from the opponent. Dismember completely punishes this all-in style of play from Scam players. Beyond preparing highly for the Scam matchups, players went even further to maximize their chances of victory.
Making Plays Without Full Tron
In addition to adding removal, both of these decklists also have gotten rid of a couple mainstay utility Lands in favor of Urza’s Saga. Cards like Sanctum of Ugin and Blast Zone have been removed for the powerful Modern Horizons Two Land. The idea is that Saga is consistently powerful on its own, whereas Sanctum and even Blast Zone to an extent work much better when you have already assembled your Tron Lands. While assembling Tron in game one can likely go unhindered a lot of the time, many opponents have cards that can disrupt the Tron manabase and force the deck to play more fairly in the earlier turns.
Obviously Urza’s Saga is still weak to Blood Moon, but even Blood Moon is beatable thanks to the choice of payoffs these players registered. Rather than relying entirely on cards that cost seven or more mana, like Karn Liberated, many players trimmed on this card to make room for a full playset of The One Ring.
The One Ring can be played without access to every Tron Land because it only costs four mana. It then buys you time and digs for your missing Tron Lands, which will then help you cast all of your massive payoffs and close the game before the One Ring’s life loss becomes a problem. For a deck that mulligans frequently to find its mana, having a card to recoup these lost cards is a big deal.
Beyond the One Ring, Karn, the Great Creator is another card that scales with access to every Tron Land but can still function just fine without Tron at only four mana. It can even tutor cards like Haywire Mite to get rid of opposing copies of Blood Moon. With a full four copies of the One Ring, Karn, the Great Creator, and even Oblivion Stone, the top performing Tron players truly came prepared to fight through hate.
A Good Metacall
In addition to deckbuilding decisions, registering Tron in this field period ended up being a strong move in general. The reality is that the Rakdos Scam matchup can be tough. A quick clock backed up by Discard spells like Thoughtseize and Blood Moon out of the sideboard can be scary. However, even as the most played deck, Rakdos was less than a fifth of the room. Tron players had tons of slow, value-based decks like four-color control and Dimir control to feast on as well.
Tron’s biggest weaknesses are that it doesn’t interact much in the early turns and it can be weak to specific hate cards. By slightly lowering the curve and adding extra disruption, players like Javier Dominguez who ended with 14 wins and Simon Nielsen who started the event with 12 wins and zero losses truly came as prepared as possible. Players clearly did respect the deck enough this weekend and didn’t register enough hate cards like Blood Moon. Of course, definitely be prepared for additional Tron hate in the coming weeks if you are looking to play Modern. This deck’s sheer dominance is certainly not going unnoticed.