For how star-studded its Top 8 was, Pro Tour Eldritch Moon was eminently forgettable. Luis Scott-Vargas celebrated his third consecutive Top 8. Lukas Blohon, Andrew Brown, Yuta Takahashi, and Reid Duke all celebrated their second Top 8s, with the former winning the tournament outright.
Lukas Blohon won the tournament with White-Black Control, an archetype that had enjoyed brief success in Shadows over Innistrad Standard before getting overshadowed by White-Green Tokens. The most memorable thing about Pro Tour Eldritch Moon wasn't the winning deck, but the metagame of the tournament itself.
Pro Tour Eldritch Moon continued the trend of a Pro Tour metagame full of linear decks. As Eldritch Moon Standard matured, all the ramp and emerge decks fell into obscurity; the speed of the format had slowed considerably, as they all seem to do. By the World Championships in September, when Bant Company was widely thought of as the best deck in Standard, Paul Rietzl made this observation during the finals of the World Championship, a knock-down-drag-out fight (the match, in all its two-and-a-half-hour glory, is totally worth watching) between Brian Braun-Duin and Marcio Carvalho that the former would emerge victorious from:
As we watch this bant mirror, bant is winning the standard championship on mtgo. Not playing bant in standard is extreme malpractice.— Paul Rietzl (@paulrietzl) September 4, 2016
Credit where credit's due: the Eldritch Moon Standard iteration of Bant Company was discovered week one.
Bant Company wasn't discovered by players on the Pro Tour, but by an up-and-coming team of SCG Open grinders called the Metagame Gurus. The prevailing wisdom on Standard coming into the release of Eldritch Moon was that the mana was just too bad to support three-color decks, especially aggressive ones. Looking at the mana curve of Bant Company, it looks pretty aggressive, but the truth was that it excelled at all points in a given game; the raw power of Collected Company plus all the support of a bloated Standard gave Bant Company all the versatility and durability it needed to dominate Standard.
These are the best-selling cards of Eldritch Moon over all of 2016. Honorable mentions are comprised of cards that didn't crack the Top 10 best-sellers. Let's do this thing.
LOL. Remember Eldritch Evolution during preview season?
Green Tinker. It's busted. Should not have been printed. pic.twitter.com/AXxcS81MnY— Tom Ross (@Boss_MTG) June 30, 2016
Note that this tweet does not delegitimize Tom Ross at all. He's an incredible player, and Eldritch Evolution has all the hallmarks of a busted card, but the truth is that it made a minor splash in Modern and hasn't been seen since. That's not to say that it won't see play again, but I confess: I enjoy the hyperbolic comparison to Tinker. Preview season allows cards with high ceilings for potential to build hype.
Mono-Red Aggro and Burn are two different things. It's been a long time since Standard had a legitimate Burn deck, but Fevered Visions allowed for a nice little budget-oriented competitive deck that threw fire at its opponents' face. It just needed some constructed-playable cards, and Eldritch Moon delivered. Never underestimate the appeal of a competitive, cheap-to-build Burn deck.
Bedlam Reveler's seen more play in Modern, but it's great in Standard as well, serving as the rare threat that affects the board and yields card advantage simultaneously. Bedlam Reveler's effect is not easy to replicate.
However, part of what makes a Burn deck a Burn deck is its redundancy. Incendiary Flow is a strictly-better Volcanic Hammer, but the important part is that it deals three damage to a player. Burn decks can't have too many of those types of effects. Splashy card advantage-getters are nice, but at the end of the day, the deck still needs to get its opponent to zero life.
The value of versatile cards skyrockets in bigger formats, especially when the different modes are relevant in the metagame. Collective Brutality and Blessed Alliance each have a mode that gains life, making them strong against Modern's iterations of Burn (a deck dedicated to dealing exactly 20 damage to its opponent). Don't get these cards twisted with something like Naturalize, though; Naturalize is technically multi-modal, but it's still a one-for-one, and the rate is nothing spectacular. Against Burn, where four life can trade for more than a card, getting to kill an attacker and gain four life is huge. It's not only that these multi-modal cards can be a two-for-one in the right situation, it's that they're two-for-ones in common matchups with low setup costs.
As soon as Spell Queller was revealed during preview season, it was clear that it would be one of the best cards of the set. Selfless Spirit was viewed as more of a curiosity, but ends up playing much better than it reads on paper. Also worth noting is that both of these creatures are found by Collected Company. That bonus makes them Modern playable as well. The reason they've caught on in Modern and Tireless Tracker and Duskwatch Recruiter — similarly powerful Standard cards that hit with Collected Company — didn't is because their effects don't cost any mana outside the base cost of the creature. Mana isn't tough to come by in Modern, but on a per-turn basis, Modern decks do a lot of powerful things with their mana, placing additional value on free-effect creatures.
The Kaladesh review comes on Saturday. See you there.