Going into Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, the only takeaway from the large-scale Standard tournaments was that the format had largely been solved, as a rock/paper/scissors format of Bant Company, Mono-White Humans, and [everything else], respectively. Hindsight is 20/20, but even so, this take is hilarious in retrospect.
There were eight different archetypes in the Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad Top 8. The Top 8 itself will go down as one of strongest Top 8s ever. Let's go over it briefly.
Three Hall-of-Famers, three Platinum pros, and three former PotY. While this Top 8 looks great now, it's important to remember that Rubin, Salvatto, and Mengucci are still in the early phase of their careers — odds are, as good as this Top 8 looks on paper, it'll look even better in a couple years' time.
Stybs is recovering from PAX, so I'll be your stand-in guide as we dive into TCGplayer's Top 10 Sellers over the weekend. It's a given that Pro Tour coverage steered lots of the sales in terms of what cards sold the best, and here's how they broke:
LSV's deck had three copies of the enchantment, and anyone who caught his Standard feature matches can attest that it contributed to his most explosive draws. He's only playing three because drawing multiples of horrendous, but when the B/G Sacrifice deck draws one and only one, the deck takes on a whole other identity. One last and three creatures untapped suddenly becomes Collected Company. All your creatures cost one mana less, given that you can tap them for mana with Cryptolith Rite. One of the most-hyped cards during Shadows over Innistrad preview season, it took until the Pro Tour for this one to catch, but now that players have seen it in action, there's no denying its power.
The Pantheon's B/G Control deck, sporting Seasons Past loops abound, captured the imagination of all of Magic Twitter, and propelled Jon Finkel to the #1 seed in the Top 8. Drawing five cards is awesome, and rebuying your best cards allows you to play a different game and use your removal more liberally than you otherwise would.
It's safe to say that last weekend was Dark Petition's breakout performance — this card was everywhere. Three out of four black decks in the Top 8 had the Magic Origins tutor somewhere in their 75. This robust card offers tutoring without losing tempo thanks to its spell mastery clause. It's safe to say Dark Petition isn't going anywhere.
When a player slices through the swiss rounds as effortlessly as Jon Finkel did at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, they're going to get a lot of feature matches. Anyone that saw Finkel's feature matches could see Nissa's Renewal pulling a ton of weight at the six-drop spot — not only did it give him an insurmountable life buffer, but it ramped him, big time. In a deck with as many mana sinks as Finkel's, getting three lands was huge — not only did it make the top of his deck more live, but the three lands in play were always put to good use. The seven life gained is just gravy.
Our Oath of the Gatewatch preview card! There's not much to say about this one we didn't say already, but to sum up, mana fixing + creature-land + deathtouch = great.
The heir apparent to lands like Kjeldoran Outpost and Urza's Factory, it's hard to see why this land took so long to catch on. LSV described the B/G sacrifice deck as a "Westvale Abbey deck," as opposed to "a deck with Westvale Abbey in it," such as Steve Rubin's. Despite the differences in how both players chose to utilize Westvale Abbey, both players could regularly be seen stalling their respective boards with creature tokens, only to break them wide open with a timely Ormendahl, Profane Prince.
Watching Brad Nelson double these up with Pyromancer's Goggles in play and dome folks out of nowhere was wonderful.
The second coming of Hero's Downfall gained a lot of clout in the new metagame, with all its Planeswalkers, so it's easy to see how this card popped up on our Top 10.
As the weeks of Shadows over Innistrad Standard fly by, it's harder and harder to conceptualize of a format where this card isn't absurd in at least one deck. Conservatively speaking, it's a fine card that requires an immediate answer from a slower deck. More realistically, it's one of the better Grizzly Bears ever printed and every green deck should have four.
One of the role-players in Oath of the Gatewatch Standard's best deck, Four-Color Rally, Catacomb Sifter has finally made the transition to Shadows over Innistrad Standard as an integral piece of LSV's B/G Sacrifice deck. Much like Cryptolith Rite, the deck operates completely differently once it summons a Catacomb Sifter; the additional creature is a huge deal when you're trying to win with Nantuko Husk, Zulaport Cutthroat, and Westvale Abbey.
Continuing the trend of Finkel's deck dictating a lot of our sales last weekend, Languish landed at the #12 spot. Despite the Humans decks' apparent fall from grace (there were no Humans decks in the top 8), Always Watching held strong in the Top 25. Sideboard standout Tragic Arrogance cracked the Top 25 as well — take a look at the effect Tragic Arrogance had in the finals and tell me that card isn't destined for big things.