Pro Tours and the Future of Modern

This article is based on a very interesting discussion in a forum found in another page. We hope our wonderful forum will in no time be the place to find such discussions, and we will work in this direction, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t look for knowledge from all around the net. So let’s.

Wizards made a decision to devote the Pro Tours in 2015 to Standard. The response from the players was not enthusiastic, and some voices feared Modern was being abandoned. The feedback was energic enough to make the powers that be back down and give a Pro Tour to the Modern format. The first one, in February.

Why could Wizards think Modern was not the best format for the Pro Tours?

Shmanka, an MTG Salvation forum member, had the opportunity to talk to Aaron Forsythe. He got to some conclusions, which were later commented upon during 16 pages, and growing. The conclusions were:

The Pro Tour line up for 2015 was decided because Modern is stale, and Wizards thinks this is bad for the format. There just isn’t enough innovation. They expected some negative impact, but they did not expect the amount of hate this news received, and by the time the conversation with Forsythe took place they were already reconsidering it. Forsythe wanted it to be clear they did not have any intention of dismantling or disrespecting the format in any way.

Wizards expects Modern to have a few viable decks of each archetype (aggro, control, aggro-control, combo) and they are not happy they haven’t been able to make this happen. They do understand that, even though it is not perfect, players want to see it in the big stage and this is always taken in consideration. On the other hand, they want the first Pro Tour in every block to be something else other than Modern.

There was time to talk about the banlist too, which is always interesting. The summary: [c]Bloodbraid Elf[/c] could get unbanned, or at least it is a possibility. The same goes for [c]Golgari Grave-Troll[/c]. Both were seen in a similar light as [c]Wild Nacatl[/c]. [c]Sword of the Meek[/c], on the other hand, was not seen as ununbannable (that is most definitely not a word), but rather a tool to use if Aggro is too good at some moment. [c]Preordain[/c] is not even considered for the moment being, which guarantees [c]Serum Visions[/c] will keep on being a 4 euro common: Blue has strong enough tools as it is in Modern, in Wizards’ opinion. [c]Green Sun’s Zenith[/c], [c]Seething Song[/c], [c]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/c] and [c]Stoneforge Mystic[/c] are never going to be legal in Modern, unless things change a lot.


What can we infer from this?

Out of everything that has been said about the subject, some things struck me as interesting.

The banlist is no longer the preferred tool to stir the format and induce innovation. Those fearing a trigger-happy DCI shutting down entire decks should they be too good can relax a bit. Innovation will be introduced through other means. Modern will be a stable format and staples will retain their value. This is good news for those who have paid hard-earned currency for their [c]Snapcaster Mage[/c]s.

The folks at Wizards are absolutely conscious of the problems Modern is facing at the moment: stagnation and a lack of both Aggro and Control viable strategies, with a big dominance of combo and aggro-control (which is how Wizards define Midrange and Tempo together).

Part of the problems in Modern are probably inherent to eternal formats: some decks just become dominant. Luckily, new cards are printed all the time. New cards can be printed that favour both control and Aggro: good removal, good and efficient beaters, not so difficult. The biggest problem is Standard, which cards have to go through to get to the Modern pool. Steps have been taken already though: [c]Hushwing Gryff[/c] is an excellent example of a combo-hoser that can be printed in Standard yet can have a big effect in Modern. We need many more, though.

Lastly, there could have been an effort to temporarily reduce the interest in Modern to buy some time. The economic aspect of Modern is a problem, as the kind of prices Modern decks are commanding now are turning it into a Legacy v2. This is pure baseless speculation now, but Khans of Tarkir could bring out cards good enough to increase variety in Modern. And then Modern Masters could bring enough reprints to lower the prices. Maybe the only thing Wizards need is time.